Friday, 5 July 2013

How I base 15mm for the Western Desert

Newly based, 115th Kradschutzen Battalion swans out into the desert.
 Someone left a comment about how I base my WW2 stuff for the Western Desert, and since then I've received three emails asking for clarification on certain points. It's obviously time I did a "How I" on this subject.

Before I start, as with Eskimos and snow, there a lots of different types of desert, and mine is a specific patch of it.

I am concentrating my efforts on Operation Crusader (November - December 1941), which was mostly fought in Libya on the top of the escarpment that follows the coast to the north. Because of the season (there was torrential rain and sleet during the offencive), and because of the proximity to the coast and the rain showers that proximity brings, my bases are quite well foliated. Perhaps they are a little over foliated, it depends on what photographs you look at. Over foliated, or not, one thing that all first hand accounts attest to is the monotonous colour with subtle variation in texture, especially at certain times of the day. It is the variation in texture that I go for.

 Resin trucks and infantry are stuck to the bases. Tracked vehicles are not glued until after the basing is finished. The bases were cut from 2mm MDF obtained from a picture framing supplier. It cuts well using a steel rule and a Stanley knife. Also to be seen in this shot are my pre-mixed box of, children's sandpit sand and ground oyster shell, a small tub of cat litter in the pink tray (this cat litter is hard granules and is not crumbly; it is Tesco's own brand), and my grey 'cat litter box' basing tray.

 First basing step, PVA the base, with lots of slightly thinned (consistency of double cream) PVA.
  Add cat litter granules in the right places.
 Add the sand and leave until the PVA soaks through, then sand again.
 When basing tracked vehicles I add a further step. Immediately after the second sanding I add a sprinkle of fine sand.....
Then press the tracks of the vehicle into the surface of the base. Then shake off the excess fine sand.
This actually works!
 You can see here, how the second coat of sand builds up the 'top soil' around many of the 'rocks'.
 Next, using ink, watered down about 3 parts water to 1 part ink, I 'wash' the bases. Ink goes on much more easily and quickly than paint and the colour is more consistent. 
 Next I dry brush using cheap acrylics and household magnolia emulsion.
 I do three highlights. The Sd251s that go on these three bases were stuck onto the base with super glue at this point.
 Next up comes the foliage. I use Woodland Scenics coarse turf (chopped a bit finer than it comes) glued on with PVA.
Then, using artists acrylic, I paint the flora dark brown - and it comes out browny green
then I dry brush it so that it blends in with the rest of the basing. Although not shown here, I sometimes add Woodland Scenics clumps - painted dark brown and drybrushed brown, or I add pale coloured static grass shop made 'tufts', or I just leave.

I think the bases have a subtle variation of texture and colour that makes them a little more interesting than the sanded bases you sometimes see.


MarkG said...

Great tutorial. I like the idea of shading the foliage with ink. Something I had not thought to do.


It has the advantage of making it more 'rigid' for drybrushing and also flattens it down a bit.

Braxen said...

very well done, congratulations on your tutorial

fireymonkeyboy said...

Thanks for this, I love a good "How to".


Chris Stoesen said...

Great method. Thanks for posting.