Monday, 11 June 2012

Tutorial: How to make paved square bases.

Mid way through edge highlighting the lovely Doom Scythe my short hobby attention span struck again and I suddenly decided I needed to show my old Dwarf army some love. I hadn't done anything with them since the big push over Christmas and January so settled on actually finishing a unit completely. I knew I needed a movement tray as the last game I played it was a pain in the arse moving stuff without them. I'm also running dangerously low on blu-tac as that's what is holding most of my models together.

So here is my step-by-step guide to how I made those extremely cheap but effective bases.

I started off by measuring out and cutting lots of 17x17mm squares of plasticard. The variety I'm using is 1mm thick. You could go thinner since this is just giving you a flat layer over the slotta hole and a bit more height and style to the base.

Next up I measured and cut hundreds of 5x5mm pieces of plasticard to make the cobbles/paving slabs. This leaves about 3mm spare for the gaps, just enough so it's worth it but not so much that it looks weird.

This is definitely the part that I'll be improving on next time. The squares started off too perfect so even after step 3 they were still very regimented. I would recommend not using the measured lines as an absolute to follow but as a loose guide to freely cut over. Also I think that using different thicknesses of plasticard such as 1mm and 1.5mm would add some iterest and depth without making it impossible to mount your miniatures.

This stage is the most fun but definitely the most dangerous. Fucking up the surfaces and corners to add a bit of realism! Fortunately I'd finished 12 bases before I sliced right down my thumb halting play.

Just trim off any sharp corners, make divots and grooves using a hobby knife, modelling files and small drill bits. Just make sure you give them a thorough scrub with a brush afterwards to get all the bits off.

Once you're happy with the level of damage you're all good to undercoat and move onto stage 4.

The way I paint my bases is to heavily drybrush the top with the same colour I paint the sides, Deneb Stone in this case. Then it's time to slop on the Agrax Earthshade and wait for it to dry.

Then it's picking a few earthy tones to pick out random cobbles in. I used Ushabti Bone, XV-88, and Tau Light Ochre along with Scorched Brown from the old range. I don't fully cover the surface with it but there's too much paint on the brush to call it a drybrush. Maybe it's an over-brush?

So here are what the bases will look like once another wash has gone on, this time Gryphonne Sepia, and I'd gone around the sides with a second coat of Deneb Stone again to neaten it all up.

These are now ready to glue your miniatures on to. As I am using them for Dwarfs a got blob of superglue would do the trick. However for taller models or metals you might need to experiment with pinning.

A quick note on this part actually, you will need to slice off the slotta tabs if you're going to make use of these types of base. Sounds obvious but could be easily overlooked.

The movement tray is equally as quick and simple to make as the bases. Mine needed to hold 4x20mm bases across and 3x deep so needed to be 80x60, I added a couple of mil each way as a buffer then added a 6mm border to build up to the paving giving me a 94x68mm rectangle and a few 6mm thick strips. These were glued in place then again 5mm squares were glued up top, attacked with a knife then painted using the same method as the bases.

I prefer this type of base to others that have a narrower but higher lip as you get to add more to it and also see more of the bases.

Once you've followed each of these steps you should end up with something like this -

Overall I'm really pleased with the outcome. So pleased in fact that I'm wondering whether there could be a small business opportunity in this. Although paved bases do seem to be a very niche market and there are loads of base makers springing up every day! Maybe I could undercut them?!

And finally here's a shot of the bases with the unit glued on top. Let me know what you think of my first tutorial please.


  1. Well done for putting a tutorial together and good work. The bases and tray look great when they're all done. How long does it take you to make them? Say for a whole unit. Also, will you leave the base edges white or are they just not quite finished? :)

    1. Thanks mate. It took me about 5 hours not including waiting for primer and glue to dry. So I'd probably be able to do a tray for 20 in 2 days. The colours have got slightly washed out in the photos, I used deneb stone so it's a fairly light colour to contrast with the dark dwarfs.

      ps. Glad to hear from you again dude!

  2. Yeah I thought about it after I asked and looked at your Dwarf army shots again, I see the white edges work OK for the entire force. :) And thanks, I now have a two week old son (first child) so we'll see how much time I have going forwards (they're will be enough time to pick up 6th Ed. that much I know).