Tuesday, March 2, 2010

There's no basing like sno' basing

I guess it's kind of appropriate that I had a warrior from Thule in my last post on 28mm Thurian Age figures, as I've been working on painting the bases for my initial 2mm Thulian forces. I have a complete unit of reindeer-pulled chariots, a polar bear chariot leader unit, and partial units of polar bear chariots and mammoth howdahs.

Since Thule is the one real northern nation in the Thulian Age, and their mounts all have a basis in the snow and tundra, I decided to do up their bases differently than the others, trying to capture a wintery environment.

So I spent January and February looking out on the landscape as I drove or trained around. These are some pictures of what I've come up with, the bases have gone through a bit of a process of doing and re-doing things that didn't quite work. I'll give my "mostly final" method down below.

So to do these bases, my method was:
  1. Mount figures on base.
  2. Glue some spots on the base and add sand (my usual basing method).
  3. Where the base was still bare, add polyfill (spackle, what-have-you) for the snow drifts.
  4. Prime.
  5. Paint the sand areas a medium brown ('Mississippi mud' for me), representing dead, low ground cover.
  6. Paint the snow drifts (polyfill/spackle) an off-white (I used a 'winter white'); this will take a couple of coats if you prime in anything other than white.
  7. Dot and sponge white over the brown, representing vestiges of snow. If you have any flat areas (bare base, basically) in the sand areas, paint this white too.
  8. If you put in wheel tracks, run white along the track (when the wheels beat down the dead vegetation, they expose the snow underneath).
  9. Dot and sponge with a different brown ('spice brown' is my default dirt colour) anything you want to be muddy.
  10. Drybrush a dull yellow (I use 'antique white actually) the brown sand areas, representing taller dead vegetation (long grasses, corn, shrubs), which stays yellow during the winter.
  11. If any of your dotted and sponged white sand areas look like they could be improved, drybrush either your medium brown or dull yellow over them, representing the dead vegegation sticking out of the snow. This can be tricky, because I found that either the brown colour was now not dark enough (being on top of a white base) or I was painting the snow, rather than the sand bumps. Try somewhere, and see what your results are before going in whole hog.

Other than fantasy, or maybe some Viking uses, the only time I really see this basing method being useful is for 2 or 3mm WWI or WWII East Front stuff. Or the Winter and Continuation Wars of the USSR vs. Finland.

Now I just need to paint the blasted figures on the bases!


  1. Hey CJR, this is something I've been contemplating recently too - people talk about using Baking Soda, but I think for 2mm the crystals might be too large - your method looks really effective; have to give it a try myself.

  2. The polyfill worked well, I use the stuff that turns from pink to white as it dries. I went with mix of snow and barren areas because this army will be fighting guys on green bases, so I didn't want all-snow vs. all-grass. If you're going with all-snow, it will be simpler.

    There should also be more advanced tricks to do on the dead vegetation areas too, washes and using multiple shades of brown should give more depth than I got. I'm going to try it out on some leader stands my next time around.

    I avoided green and green-yellow as an under-colour as it seems in real life this only occurs on lawns. Natural areas are brown and yellow.