Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Quick Basing Tutorial.

Below is a post I originally wrote 16th June 2013 so it's not exactly old as such, being under a year old but I think it's a post well worth pulling out and showing off again. Whilst it's been used for 6mm it works well up to 28mm with little or no change beyond larger tufts. Hope you enjoy

I have been asked to give a guide to my er Lee's basing system. This is a really easy and quick way of basing your figures but I think they come out looking really cool. I have used it for 6mm and 15mm but it can be used for 28mm which is how Lee normally works though this version has been dumbed down a little.

Paint your figures by your chosen method but paint the figures base a darkish brown. Then give them a good varnish as the basing stage can be a bit rough on the figures if you don't. You have two choices when you glue the figures down, either base them really close together or leave a large enough gap to get the brush between the rows. Either way it's best to paint the area the figures will be brown so any hard to get to spaces don't show up.

Bitter Chocolate. 
Sandtex Bitter Chocolate Smooth Masonry Paint is the best choice for using as the base coat as it is rather thick. This allows it to pool as you see from above and whilst it's not slow drying it stays wet long enough to move onto the sanding stage without the need to hurry the application stage. 

Awaiting the sand.
I use sharp sand that you can get from any DIY type store and whilst it is cheap it does have a few issues that need resolving. First some of the pebbles are huge no matter what scale you are working with and these need sifting out. The smaller the scale the more sifting you need to do. You do not want kids play sand or aquarium sand as these are too fine and you do want some pebbles and stone chips to get the uneven finish. Secondly it usually is damp. You need to dry it out before use. A nice sunny day helps if you can leave it outside spread out on trays. Also if you can get away with it, putting it in the oven at a low temperature in batches also works.

Deep in the sand.

I find the best way is to just place the base on top of the sharp sand and then pick up the sand mix and drop it down onto the base rather then use the base as a scoop. Once you have the base covered (nice and deep) then turn it upside down tapping the base to get rid of the loose sand and pebbles. Then check the base for any areas missing enough sand or any pebbles that are two big or too clumped together. Remove the excess stones or add a bit more sand as needed and set aside.

Now you see why they need to be varnished first.
On taking out of your sand box the colour will be really light, this should go darker as the paint soaks through the sand. If this does not happen you have either too much sand or not enough paint on the base (you need the paint to be fairly thick). It's a matter of trial and error and your taste will have the final say. If it is to bright you can always paint a dark brown over at this stage but to me that's an extra stage that can be avoided.

Fresh from a dunking.
The sand and Sandtex stage can dry within an hour or so so it's possible to get a long line of bases to this stage and then go back to the start and onto the next stage.

Drying out and ready for the next stage.
When you can see the brown showing through and looking dry it's time to move on. If it's still a little damp you can still move onto the next stage.

Dry brush the darker colour over the base.
You only want to do the dry brushing lightly, get most of the paint off the brush and then as light as you can start to brush over the sand, make sure you do this from all angles so you get a none patterned effect. Make sure the rocks get a heavier coating as they will be standing out. I use Miniature Paints 62 Sand, yes it is kind of ironic.

Light Colour added more sparingly.
Next it's the top coat, Lee uses MP Light Cream whilst I bought MP 71 Pale Flesh which works well. Why MP paints? well they are thicker than Vallejo which suits this task. I tend to tey to be a bit lighter with this stage, except the stones and rocks which get a more solid cover leaving the background colour of sand. This I think looks more natural than leaving the pebbles and chips natural.

Comparing sand against sand and pale flesh stages.
If you are painting troops for the desert then you may wish to change the colours in the various stages. Above left just has the first stage finished.

Flocked and ready for that last coat of varnish.
For flocking, again it comes down to personal preference. Lee advised two parts Autumn Grass and one  part Summer as this gives a good mixed look. When I got my three bags I though he was mad, the Summer grass just glowed! but once mixed in with the much darker grass it looked much better. When it comes to replenishing your stock don't worry about using another supplier, this just adds to the tone and it's well worth getting the replacement when you still have plenty left so as to help create a richer mix.

Just out of the static tub.
How much static grass you add is really a matter of choice though I find less is more. I use good old PVA but be aware that the glue spreads a little (more than you might think) so you add glue to a smaller area than you want it to cover. If you then want to add more you can which is a lot easier than taking the excess off. I break up the clumps of static as it tends to gather when left alone, I then drop the loosened clumps on to the base till it covers the whole base then turn it upside down and tap the base straight after. This gets the excess off and helps make the rest stand up.

Ready to take it to the French!
Before that last coat of varnish I use a large brush to remove all the dust and spare static on the figures. Then it's a coat of varnish for extra protection of the figures and to fix the grass in place. Last up it's flagging the battalions and then it's all done.


  1. I do mine very similarly, I use the microwave for drying my sand out though.

  2. That certainly looks the part, great tutorial Ian.

  3. Nice tutorial, interesting to see other peoples method of basing. I'll be borrowing a few of those ideas myself - cheers.


  4. Nice basing method. I would like to varnish after adding flock and static grass but don't think it is possible with brush on varnish.

  5. @ Andrew, Your a very brave man, the look I got from the wife when I was cooking waterslide decals onto plates from work told me I was on thin ice!

    @ Michael, Thanks, I need to do the building one soon.

    @ Matt, well the ideas were not mine but it's how we all grow, taking bts of others style that works for us.

    @ Sean, I have always feared brush on varnish. I agree that brushing on would not work, better to leave as is.