Miniature Basing Tutorial

On the Miniature Realm tutorial pages you’ll find helpful articles and tutorials for miniature painting, conversion, and basing. Are you an artist or roleplaying guru and would like to share your knowledge? Contact me and lets talk about how you could contribute to the site and have your information added to the Contributor/Artist page.


Miniature Basing Tutorial – Making a Dead Tree

What not to do: In the photos you will see a white film covering parts of the armature. This was from my first attempt at creating the tree. The white film is styrofoam putty. It is what I had on hand at the time, but I quickly learned that it does not stick well to the metal armature and is extremely flaky and unstable. I started over with much more successful results after scraping off the styrofoam.

Items Needed:
20 gauge wire
Wood putty
2 sets of pliers (or 1 plier and a vice)
Tools for applying putty

Making the Roots:
Cut 15-16 pieces of wire approximately 6″ in length. (Add more or less wire for the desired thickness of trunk).

Taking two or three pieces at a time, twist wire together at one end. Twist approximately 1/2″ of wire from the end. Do not try to twist ALL pieces together at once, there are too many pieces to manage easily. It is best to work with them in smaller numbers building from the roots up.

Making the Trunk:
Once all roots have been twisted, it is time to make the trunk. This step will require two sets of pliers. Gather all the root pieces made in the previous step. Hold pieces together firmly with pliers approximately 1″ from the end. With the other set of pliers begin twisting 1/2″ from the tip of the roots. Once the trunk is securely twisted at the roots, bend the roots outward. Continue twisting up approximately 2″ to create the trunk whiling leaving approximately 2″ not twisted for creating the limbs.

Making the Limbs:
Making the limbs is similar to making the roots. Take the wire, two or three strands at a time, and twist. Leave approximately 1/2″ untwisted at the end. This will make the tips of the limbs.

Adding Bark:
Apply wood putty. Make sure it is very thin toward the tips of the limbs.

TIP: If the putty is too dry it will not stick to the wire frame. If this happens, moisten the putty with a small bit of water to make application easier.

Wood putty dries relatively quickly, 15 min or so depending on thickness. Once the putty is dry it can be sanded and/or sculpted. Once dry, take a sharp tool and scratch shallow grooves to create the appearance of bark.

The only thing left is to prime and paint. Happy painting!

Miniature Basing Tutorial: Scavenger Step-by-Step

A big THANK YOU to Jabberwocky for graciously allowing me to share his Scavenger Base Step-by-Step Tutorial on the Miniature Realm Basing Tutorials page.  If you would like to see more of Jabberwocky’s work, check him out on CMON.

I had gotten some positive comments on the basing for the Gentleman Scavenger and so I thought I would put together a small tutorial on the construction of the piece.

I began with the gate as that was the most interesting part of the base for me. I’ll admit this is definitely not the quickest way to do it, but I couldn’t find a prefabricated wrought iron gate that I liked. I did enjoy the process and it was a good learning experience for me.

Step 1: Supplies for the gate

I took some plastic tubing, watch gears and greenstuff for the bulk of the gate. The spikey bit was some GW Chaos sprue that I snipped to have just the very top.

Step 2: Gate Construction

I elected to make the gate just a bit larger than the model itself. I began with the outer structure of the gate. The tubing came in a pack of various sizes that were unlabeled, but measuring it came out to about 1mm in diameter. At this size, the plastic is still malleable enough to bend, yet will hold its shape. You could also gently heat the plastic to get it to bend to your liking. As it cools, it will hold its shape. The pieces were then glued with cyanoacrylate glue (or superglue as it is called here in the States). I then attached the spike to the top of the gate.

The smaller bars (about 0.5mm in diameter) were then carefully measured and cut to length. I tried space them equally moving toward the center of the structure. This part was especially fiddly and took some time and patience. The smaller bars were secured with superglue as well.

Once the bars were set in place, I took a couple of small watch gears (I got mine from a fine company called Skullcrafts) and laid them on top of each other to get a nice little pattern to set in the middle of the gate as a more elaborate decorative piece.

Finally, I rolled out some greenstuff and cut two small rectangles for the hinges and a thin piece rolled and curled for some additional decoration along the bottom of the gate. The broken lock was another small piece of plasticard.

Step 3: Column Construction

The center column was composed of a stack of cork cut in 2.5cm squares from standard cork sheets. The bricks on the bottom were small prefabricated ones that I glued to the bottom.

Once the core of the column was created, I added some thick plasticard to the top for the capstone and next took some spackle (thanks for the tip Boris!) and covered the cork. This was layer on a bit thick and smoothed initially just with my fingers. Once it had dried, I sanded it gently and then carved in the irregular brickwork and did some initial chipping of some of the corners.

Step 4: Wall Construction

The wall itself was again created from a center tile of cork. I glued two pieces of prefabricated plastic on either side. Spackle and carving would have been an option as well, but in the interest of time, I chose the prefabricated plastic and cut it to size.

The next step was to add the stucco, which was derived from gray texture paste, a product made by the Skullcrafts company. Vallejo makes a similar material–white pumice that I have used for the same effect in the past. I thinly layered it on and then once it dried picked and peeled off bits to reveal the stonework underneath. The material is quite versatile and I also used it for the asphalt on the base. I finished up with the capstones that were made from the same plasticard as the column and were cut to size. Finally, I pinned the wall with 3 paperclips to securely fasten the wall to the column.

Step 5: Concrete and asphalt construction

The concrete was simply done with thin plasticard cut to size and then carved with my metal putty tool to create the seams in the sidewalk as well as the deeper cracking. The asphalt, as mentioned above, was created from a layer of gray texture paste. The curb itself was modeled from standard Milliput. I chose this medium instead of greenstuff so that I could sand and carve it more easily to achieve the curved effect of the curb.

Step 6: Details, details, details…

For me this was the most difficult part. I am a bit of a perfectionist and have difficulty in creating asymmetry and randomness; I like things to be equal and symmetric. Nevertheless, I tried to achieve this using several other materials at my station. The fine bits of broken brick/stucco at the base of the wall as well as the small rocky chips around the concrete holes was done with fine ballast. The wooden planks were wooden stir sticks from Starbucks. The grass was, of course, static grass. Finally, I added the trash can and bottles to round out the base.

Step 7: Putting it all together

I added the Gentleman Scavenger last once the entire basework was completed.

Adding a Scenic Water Element (Coming Soon)