Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Basing tutorial; basing my Canaanites

My Biblical project came with a new challenge; desert terrain. As such, I had to base my army accordingly. Now my regular basing technique  involves using Wood putty to texture the base, sand as grass and adding the occasional rocks and bushes. Usually I go with a brownish autumn as my main base colour. I really like the looks of putty for basing purpose a lot and as such the flock/sand method is dead to me!

I spent some time looking at pictures of terrain of the Levant (Israel, Liban) to figure that I was aiming at more of a "rocky desert" type of terrain than a "sandy desert".

Once I had an idea of what I wanted to achieve, I went to my local artstore and bought a bunch of colours, and made some tests. For basing, I use cheap Acrylic paint tubes, in my case Amsterdam All Acrylics. I'm quite loyal to a brand once I find something I like, and I've been using these for years. I'll spare you the details but after a couple of tests I found what I was looking for. 

I've had a few inquiries on my method in recent weeks, so here is how I do it. Pretty simple, really.

You will need :
  • Cheap acrylic paints
  • Wood putty
  • A couple of small differently sized artist spatulas
  • Some medium artist brushes
  • A large drybrush
  • Tufts of different seasons, I get the Stilflor ones from Scenic Express
  • Fish tank aggregates

First step is to cover the bases with wood putty. If the putty is a little dry, moisten with water and it should make it more malleable; the stuff dries fast though so once you start a base don't waste time and don't take a tea break! Cover the figure's base as much as possible. You don't want a smooth surface here, so don't hesitate to create cracks and such on the base. Leave it to dry for at least a couple of hours until it's rock solid. Then you can put a few rocks (fish tank aggregates) here and there; I use superglue but white glue will work just fine.

It's now time to start the painting. Paint the bases Burnt Sienna. A good first coat is important to avoid chipping in the future so I usually use two coats just to be sure.

Then apply a wet coat of Raw Sienna. If you still see faint traces of the base coat it's ok, it will look more natural that way.


Drybrush the whole base with Naples Yellow Deep. You want a much lighter colour to really bring out the details. For a better finish you can use successful highlights of lighter colour but I only do this on individual pieces as it really is more time consuming.

The magic of drybrushing!

Now just add a couple of tufts here and there et voilà! The job is finished. Give the base a good coat of matt varnish for extra protection and pour yourself a congratulatory drink; one more unit finished!


  1. Great work, Iannick.

    I've a bunch of biblical-era miniatures myself, and long ago realized that basing is the the key for such simply "uniformed" (costumed?) figures. You inspired me to take them out for another look!

    Great tutorial, too. I'll be coming back to this.

    Did you take a rest on the seventh day? ;)

    1. lol, thanks Robert! As you say good basing will really unite an army together.

  2. great SBS love the unit and the base's
    Peace James

  3. Nice work Iannick, I really like how it came out. I am curious about the last colour, you call it a yellow but it looks tan, what is a GW or Vallejo equivalent?


    1. Yeah, it's kind of a yellow beige, definitely on the beige side. I have to say I'm not sure what colour could be equivalent. Maybe GB Ushabi bones or bleached bones?