Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Building and painting a display base step-by-step

Hi again everybody and welcome at yet another step-by-step article. This means that this won't be a tutorial per say but you can follow the steps or just observe my experience making this display base / plinth.
I began by ordering some Sockelmacher plinths from sceneryworkshop.nl. I heard about the great quality of their product and honestly it would be easy to make these yourself but I'm lazy like that.

A 4x4cm plinth by Sockelmacher

I wanted to create a display base with a little bit of height difference instead of just a flat base. I began by chopping and cutting away one side of the cube. Depending on the hardness of the wood  On the opposite side, I glued on some plasticard where I wanted to make the base higher.

Some base building / destruction

So after I got the basic shapes done I pulled out the Milliput and started to fill up the base. I filled the gab in the plasicard and covered the majority of the base to give it a more natural shape. I choose Milliput instead of Greenstuff because I find it easier to apply, manipulate and sand. 

Applied some Milliput

After the Milliput was applied to the base I used wet fingers and tools to smooth it out a little bit before pressing small stones and pebbles into the Milliput. Don't forget that you can make a wash of Milliput to fill small gaps. The way to do this is to roll a little ball of Milliput and make an indent with your finger of the back of a brush. Then proceed to add a few drops of water into the bowl and use a brush to mix up a little wash. You can use this wash to fill the little gabs you might have created by pressing in the stones. 

Added rocks part 1

Added rocks part 2

Okay time to test-fit the miniature on the base. This will give you a perspective if everything is to your liking or something looks unbalanced.

Test fitting the miniature

After showing the "teaser" picture for this article a couple of people asked about how I made the base look so muddy and real. I feel I have to apologize beforehand because the picture is horribly fuzzy but I will do my best to explain it. The secret for the real looking dirt is because it is dirt. I used garden soil you can buy at one of those garden mega stores or at a florist. You could scoop some out of your garden but I prefer bought soil because it is "clean"... Well as clean as it can get I guess. I applied superglue between the rocks. I then proceeded to put a thick layer of soil onto the superglue. Be sure to crack open a window or perform this outside because the smell is horrible and might even cause headaches and/or nausea. I guess that is my disclaimer LOL. Let it sit for like ten minutes and then take an old toothbrush and scrub off all the soil that isn't set in the glue. 

Dirt on the base

Okay I kinda forgot to photograph one of the steps but it's really simple. I primed the whole base black and sprayed medium grey top down on the base followed by white to pick out the details I want to put focus on or increase contrast to make it look more interesting. Once the primer dried I continued by selecting a few colors I wanted to use for the base and applied drops of paint directly onto the base.  

Throw on some paint

I selected a range of different greens and browns and applied drops of paint randomly on the base. I then dropped some water on the base, about the same amount as the paint drops, and took a large brush to spread and blend all the paint all over the base.

Add some water

As you can see this gives you a real natural look. I ended up also blending in some sand colored paint instead of just browns and greens to add a bit more color variation. You might notice that the greens give the base a nice mossy look. Next step is picking out the rocks. For rocks I love to use Vallejo game color Cold Grey. I mixed in a little sand color to highlight the edges and make the rocks appear a little dusty.

Final result 1

Final result 2

To finish the base off you could apply some matching pigments. This can be done by drybrushing or making a wash of your pigments. I used a little bit of AMMO dark earth pigments. I applied them straight out of the pot using a damp brush and then blended them into the base using water.

That's it! I hope this step-by-step gave you a good impression how I made this base and maybe gave you some inspiration to make your own!

I hope you enjoyed this article and that I will see you next time. 


  1. If you let the soil dry compleatly bedore using it on the base it wont smell that bad. Great work!

    1. Thank you for your tip! It is true that it wont smell as bad but i find dry soil harder to work with.

  2. Very nice article mate, and great looking base

  3. Looks great! Can't wait to try it for myself. ;)

  4. Replies
    1. Hi Dave, thank you for your reply! I hope it helps!