2mm scale companion site to 15mm Madness

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Basing in 3mm

Tip of the Day

After the last experiment with the 1/600 O8 figures, I had a few questions about the basing method.

So I thought I would share that here with you all.

Requirements for basing at this teeny weeny scale are a little different to what I am used to with my 15mm miniatures. These requirements are :
  • Models should sit as close as possible to the underlying board.
  • The basing material should be sculptable, to create small folds in the ground, dead ground, and distinct track marks.
  • The basing material should act as a glue to hold the models in place, although holding strength is not a huge issue, as the models are incredibly light anyway.
  • The basing material should offer some texture - enough for a light dry brushing, but not so much that it overwhelms the teeny weeny figures.
  • A little bit of fine scale flock works well - just a dab here and there is OK.
So with these requirements in mind, I get to work making up my own special 2/3mm specific basing mix.

Secret ingredient number 1) - Vallejo brown earth textured paint, and a couple of tubes of cheap art paint in various shades of brown.

The Vallejo textured paint is probably overkill for this - we can make up something similar anyway, but it does offer a great base to start with. Not cheap - these tubs are close to $20 each, but they do last forever.

Worthwhile if you are totally addicted to the hobby and have a lot of figures to base in different scales, as it saves a huge amount of messing around.  Designed for use with 1/35 scale armour, where it is the best thing around for putting mud on tracks and vehicles. Looks like peanut butter - but is not to be eaten !

Secret ingredient number 2)  Beach sand.

I actually bought this from Arcane Scenery in the UK (as part of a larger purchase) .. good value for around $2 .... but a bit silly, since I live 100m away from one of the best beaches in Australia, and literally have a lifetime supply of the stuff at my back doorstep. LOL.

Definition of a gaming geek must be someone who lives by the beach, but orders beach sand by the 200g packet from the other side of the world, rather than walk across the road. Thats me.

Secret ingredient number 3)  Monte Marte Modelling paste. Around $10 for a 500ml tub. It is a premixed modelling plaster, very useful for general artwork to build up textures on canvas, or for simulating stucco walls on little 15mm foamcore buildings.

Dries rock hard, and also acts as a glue / binding agent.  Its also the perfect medium for making basing materials.

Couple of flocking materials.  This one is that little sponge like material dyed green. Woodland scenics I think. Purchased a 200g pack about a year ago, and still have a tonne of it.

We only need some very small pieces of this, so sift it a little and grab the finer stuff that accumulates at the bottom on the container.
Here is a close up of the flock, so you know which one I am talking about. I dont use static grass at all on the 2mm bases, it looks way too big.

This stuff however blends in very well, and looks like it fits the scale.

I really love this gear - its 'Mid Green hedge material' by Javis. Got this from Arcane scenery in the UK again - you get a large packet for it for a couple of quid.

It is designed for doing little hedges and shrubberies for HO scale model railways, but at 2mm scale it makes for very awesome and substantial bushes and trees.

Its an odd sort of sponge material that has a strong level of cohesion, and is easy to work with.

A close up of the hedging material - showing off my poor photography skills. You may notice from the shot that this stuff does clump together well, making it easy to work with at this scale.

Next part - get some tiny airtight plastic containers from the cheap shop. $2 for a pack of 10 of these. If we mix up enough gloop to fill this thing, it will last forever.

Airtight is necessary. since the mix will dry hard very quickly. We dont want that.

Finished product !  Fill the container about 1/4 full with the modelling paste. Fill to half way with the paints. Not too much though.  Because the modelling paste is tinted white, the darker shades of brown paint mix down to a lighter brown.

Thats exactly what we want at this scale - you definitely want a few shades lighter than what you might be used to using at larger scales like 28mm or even 15mm.

This is an established best practice thing when dealing with colours and scales - the smaller the scale, the lighter the shade, since less area means less light reflected. Finally, pour in the beach sand as you are mixing it up to create a nice appropriate gloop of a semi consistent colour. Its also OK to add in a very small amount of larger 'rocks' like railway ballast at this stage as well.

Finally - Add a dollop of PVA glue to the gloop, to give it that little extra flow, and holding power.

Now for the actual basing once this gloop has been made - 

I have settled on the following steps :

  • Superglue the unpainted model to the MDF board (tiny dab of glue only) 
  • Let the glue dry. Nothing worse than superglue to ruin a good brush.
  • Now, lay out the gloop in a circle around the model. Use the brush to push the gloop towards the base of the model, gently filling up any gaps.
  • Overlap the gloop over the bases of the models (infantry / artillery models, etc), just enough to hide the hard and abrupt edges of the model base.  No need to cover the whole base of the model - just hide the edges by glooping over it. Hope that makes sense, bit hard to describe.  
  • Use a toothpick now to build up some interesting mounds of dirt on the base, put in tyre tracks, etc.
  • Put the lid back on the gloop ASAP. If required, add a bit of water before closing to keep the gloop moist till the next use.
  • Let it dry. Within an hour or 2, the gloop will have dried hard and act as the main structural part of the base.
  • Now, paint the whole of the model in a brown shade similar to the colour of the gloop. In my case, German camo brown (Vallejo) is a good match.
  • Let it dry again, and then hit the whole base with a stain / wash. Few options here - I prefer using Vallejo brown glaze, watered down about 1:1. Gets into all the nooks and crannies.  Vallejo transparent woodgrain also gives a cool effect. Whatever works for you.
  • Next, let it dry again. Heavy drybrush in a light shade - sand yellow or ochre, whatever suits. Dont go overboard on the drybrushing, or it may contrast too much and overwhelm the actual figures. 
  • Next, add a few dabs of lighter green ... light drybrush a hint of greenery here and there.
  • Next, glue on a few dabs of shrubbery.
  • Let it all dry, and your figures are now ready to paint.
Sounds involved, but its pretty simple, and fast. All the hard work is done already when you mix up the gloop. The initial stage of carefully pushing the gloop into the right spots on the model is the only time consuming part.  If you line up a dozen bases at a time, you easily base the whole lot in half an hour tops.

Finished Product 1 - Polish infantry. The main trick is to cover the edges of the model base to make it sit flush with the terrain. Really does trick the eye into believing it is real.

Finished product 2 - a little bit of shrubbery goes a long way.

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