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Ogre Basing Tutorial

26 November 2012 | Luke Yates

Ogre Basing Tutorial

As we all know, bases are just as much a part of the total package as the blokes standing atop them and with a plethora of readily available themed resin bases these days, it’s an easy choice to pick some up for a character or particularly special unit to give them a bit of zip on the table. Some people will go so far as to use them for their entire armies, but the cost of this much resin can be something of a hurdle – especially if we’re talking for a horde army or an entire collection of miniatures. So, here’s a tute about some bases I did up for a WFB Ogre Kingdoms army– using a few things that can be easily adapted for many themes.

Also included will be some information on the use of oil paints and pigments – something I talked about in the last article, which a few people contacted me about. Whilst I’m sure most of us have a rudimentary understanding of the use of these things, there might be some who don’t know just how effective they can be, especially for quick dynamic basing. The relative speed and ease of an oil paint wash or pigment use is something everyone should get in on.

For these bases, we’re using slate as a basis for the theme and then adding to that to determine which way we’re going to go look wise. At the time of writing, I’m not sure if these will be snow or desert themed bases, but I believe the basics are still the same for either – with the theme being dictated more by the colour and later additions (tufts/snow) than anything else.

Step 1: Gluing slate. This is obvious, but lays the foundation for the additional details later on. Glue the slate down in the positions that will allow the models to be positioned on top, or where the model can stand in front of. You generally don’t want your models standing behind a big slab of rock – seems evident, but it pays to mention it. I had some Ogres nearby so I could estimate their footprints and where the slate could/should be placed. As cavalry have more feet, it pays to be a little more careful with them (four legs good, two legs bad).

As you can see from the pic, there is a piece of resin which made its way into this early stage – that’s because it will form the basis of a ledge upon which a character will stand. Anything large like this should be added now, but the smaller details will come later, so as to make it appear more natural.

Step 1

Step 2: Filling those gaps. Get some air drying clay (or poly filler) and just go spare. Neither of these is expensive and both have been a component of my tool box for years. I used rubber gloves and my fingers to smooth it out over the rock to give the appearance of snow drifts or sand piling up against the outcrops. It was a really quick process, but will add a lot of detail and contour to the flat sections of the bases. Use a tool (sculpting, kitchen knife, anything) and push the clay around the rocks so they seem to be jutting out of the surrounding terrain. You don’t need to be too neat with the levels of the clay - undulations will give the effect you’re after and make them more scenic. Also, as I knew I’d be using textured paint later to fill in small crevices, I was pretty slaphappy here – which is never a bad thing.

Now, get your bits and jam them in! Anything that looks good, slam it on in. Obviously, your choice of details/accessories will somewhat determine the theme of your base. For me, I wanted to use large scale stuff as these bases are for Ogres, so it seemed to fit the subject better. Use some super glue to secure the bits if you think it’s required, but I found the clay held most things in place. Also, you might want to get the models which will be on each base and press them into the clay where possible to give you a footprint guide to help glue the models down once finished.

As you can see from the second pic, these bases have some height to them. I was taking advantage of the openness of a WFB table, but for 40K or any other more “closed” games, you might want to keep the height down a little (boring).

Step 2

Step 2

Step 2

Step 3: Textured paint. Now comes the time for the textured paint. This is just to give the clay surface some grit and also to fill in any gaps between the slate/bits and clay. I used Coat d’Arms textured paint – its fluid enough to paint on and you get loads in a pot. Even so, all of these bases only used around 10ml of paint. If you wanted a thicker layer, by all means, or you could leave some parts bare for adding water or something. You can see in the pic some of the clay layer still showing through – this is where I pressed the feet in from Step 2, to make seating the model a little easier.

Some textured paint can be seen on the edges of the bases, but this will be cleaned off in a future step, so I’m not worried too much about that.

Step 3

Step 4: Airbrush base colours. Basic colours were now airbrushed on. I’ve opted for a heightened desert sort of look with red rock features – as I believe this will match the colour scheme for the Ogres better. The surrounding areas have been airbrushed with a light yellow colour to give the future layers something to sit on. This is deliberately patchy so as to give the ground a more natural appearance – all pretty obvious stuff really.

Step 4

Step 4

Step 5: Airbrush highlights. Highlights were airbrushed over the previous layers and the red was touched up a little to make it more prominent. These basic colours will be washed with oils of similar shade and then lighter pigments will be used over that to make the bases appear dusty and well worn.

Details could have been painted before this stage and blended into the background, but I opted to leave these till Step 6 and will just paint their edges a little rough so as to simulate them sinking into the sand.

Step 5

Step 6: Painting the details. The details/bits were painted in basic, bold colours and washed with Secret Weapon Soft Body Black – these will be highlighted later. Then the oil paints were brought out. Using heavily thinned oils is a good way to shade and define areas and it works superbly on bases/terrain/large surfaces. First, a red layer was washed over the rocks, then yellow was dropped over the sandy parts – easy enough. A second layer of each was used (see second pic), once the first had dried, adding a little brown to both. These washes are literally nothing more than strongly coloured water (well, white spirit), so when you’re trying to figure out how much of each to add, just remember two thin coats beats one thick one. You can easily brush more on, but getting it off is a different story. The white spirit really breaks the oil paint down and makes it flow smoothly over and around the details – even the individual grains of sand in the textured paint were picked out by these washes. This is why the highlight colours went quite bright, as the oils would knock them back substantially – keep that in mind if doing something similar, otherwise you may unintentionally end up with a dark and drab model.

You’ll note I didn’t seal the bases first, which is ‘usual’ practice. This is because the blotchier and more random the bases look, the more that is in keeping with the effects I’m trying to achieve. When using oils on an actual miniature though, you’ll want to seal it with a varnish coat first. Some say gloss, I use satin, but never matt!

Step 6

Step 7: Pigment washes. Once all of the above was dried, pigments were selected and made into washes; again using white spirit and again as thin as you like. Pigments are really heavily concentrated so you want to use just a small amount. Test it out first and wait for it to dry fully so you can see the effect and from there you can add either spirit or pigment as required. Several layers is again better than one big one and you can build up different colours and effects by layering these washes. I targeted specific areas with specific colours, to try and enhance the base coat underneath. You can also put the pigments on dry and then add the white spirit, but I find that a little fiddly, especially for this type of thing, and I prefer to slap it on – hence, a wash.

Where to buy pigments? Well, they are all over now. There are pre-made pots, like from Secret Weapon Miniatures and others, or you can go to an art shop and by some soft pastels, and grind them up. Either works as well as the other, just don’t mistakenly buy oil pastels as they won’t do what you want. As you can see, I’ve gone pretty heavy on this application as I wanted a washed out desert setting. There’s a red layer, a dark yellow and then a real pale sand colour over that – they are subtle, but all add to the effect. Also, with Step 8, I’ll be dialling this back a little.

Pigments are also very messy, so be sure to be careful. Leaving oils or pigment washes out in the sun is a good way to dry them off quickly. Just saying.

Step 7

Step 7

Step 8: Removing excess pigments. Once all solvents have dried, get a stiff bristled brush and scrub away any excess pigments to reveal the colour underneath and also provide some contrast. There will be some clumps where it’s gathered so just brush them away. This is a good time to neaten everything up, like the base edges. I used a little spirit on a cloth to clean the pigment from the edges and then sprayed on water soluble matt varnish over the lot with an airbrush. This stuff is pretty nifty as you can dilute it as much as you like and it’s not as thick and heavy as some other sprays. As you can see, I’ve double-sided taped the bases to my trusty breadboard to make this easy - another nifty trick.

Step 8

Step 9: Final touches. Finish painting any of the details and then start placing the models on top of that. Your bases are now finished. If required, I’ll be using some more pigment to hide any joins between the model’s feet and the base, at which point I’ll just spray the matt coat on again to seal it all up. Easy peezy.

Step 9

As an addendum to the above, I wanted to try out a couple of different bases to see what the effects would be. I then chucked some SWM Crushed Glass over the top to see if my ideas would work. The blue snow base was just prepared as above, but painted grey and then layered with a bright blue pigment wash – obviously trying to get a cold effect. The brown base was much the same – just seeing if the brown would show through the glass, to simulate mud for a later project.



As usual, any questions please let me know. Most of you seem to know about my Facebook page, but if not, check it out for pics and stuff. I’d be hesitant to call any of the above “advice”, but there might be some info in there which is handy to someone.

Cheers y’all!

Luke Yates - The Sound of Machines

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