I’ve been working on my Privateers for about a month now and they are coming along nicely. Most of them are on custom resin bases that I bought with the miniatures. These bases represent wooden and stone piers, but I’ve run out and am waiting for a consignment of bases before I can start work on my next unit (the Press Gangers).
I’ve written a basic basing guide before, but this time I decided to attempt to sculpt a couple of simple stone pier bases. With these done I can get Lady Aiyana and Master Holt assembled and painted. Here’s a step-by-step guide of what I did.
Step 0: What You’ll Need
The base I’m planning to build is going to be quite simple. It will be based on a 30mm rounded edge base (the kind Privateer Press use for small-based miniatures). I’m going to use half of a Games Workshop 20mm base as the bulk of the pier. Green Stuff will be used to sculpt the stones and Super Glue to stick the components together. That’s all of the materials required. On the tools side I’m going to use a sculpting tool, but a tooth pick/cocktail stick would do fine. You’ll also need a sharp bladed hobby knife. I also have an old plastic blister to supply something with a flat surface. Other than that I have a glass with some water, a piece of tissue and a bit of rough edged balsa wood (to make impressions on the back of the base – I’ll get to that later).
Step 1: Building the Basic Structure
When performing and kind of sculpting you want to minimise the amount of Green Stuff you use. It should only really be used for the actual detail and if possible used something else to form the structure. This is where the 20mm base comes in. The slot in these bases is off-centre, so I’m going to cut of the large half using the hobby knife. I also clean any mold lines or sprue marks from the 30mm base. Once these components are ready I used the Super glue to stick the 20mm half base to the 30mm base, being careful to try to cover the slot in the 30mm base with it. Ok – that’s the basic structure built.
Step 2: Adding the Green Stuff
There are several different types of two-part modelling putty, but I’m using Green Stuff as it’s the one I’m most familiar with. To prepare the Green Stuff cut a section of about 1.5cm (1/2″) off the strip and remove the plastic. As the yellow and blue parts are in the strip side-by-side the bit in the middle usually cures (i.e. it’s a bit hard!). I use the hobby knife to remove this tiny middle bit. The first thing to know about working with Green Stuff is that it is sticky. Before working with it I wet my fingers with a small bit of water. Now blend the yellow and blue bits until it is green.
Again using your finger, spread it over the 20mm half base structure. If you wanted to leave it cure for 10-15 minutes it’d make the next step easier, but I didn’t and it turned out fine.
Step 3: Sculpting the Base
After step two the base will be covered in finger prints. Use the empty plastic blister to gently flatten and smooth the Green Stuff. Again – make sure the plastic is a little wet or it’ll stick to the Green Stuff and possibly pull it off the base. If the blister doesn’t quite smooth out everything us a flat part of the (wet) modelling tool to smooth the rest.
Now it’s time to sculpt the stones. Lesson one in any sculpting is to decide what you want to do before you put the tool to the putty. I wanted defined edging stones that were reasonably big. I wanted the vertical edge (i.e. the one that goes into the “water”) to have long stones, with the bottom ones looking like they were submerged. The stones on the top would be small.
Using the sharp edge of the (wet) tool I marked out the edge stones first. I did this by rolling the bladed edge rather than dragging it. Initially I treated the edge as one long strong and then added the separations. I took a similar approach to the vertical stones, but made them slightly narrower. The stones on the top were sculpted to run at 90° to the edge stones and these were smaller again. Slow and steady is the secret here. Keep the tool wet (I know, I know – I can’t stress that enough).
That’s the basic base built and sculpted now. I used the rough balsa edge to imprint on the back side of the base. I guess this would represent the fine rubble foundation on which the stone pier is built, but I did it as sculpting stones all the way around the base would look weird!
Leave your base to cure for about 24 hours and you can then pin your miniature to it. Viola, not too hard at all. If you are feeling adventerous, you can also add more detail at this stage. You could sculpt a sack of grain or dip a piece of fine string in some watered down PVA and add it to look like rope.
I’ve also built a wooden pier base from balsa. I’ll write a short article on that soon.