Convert or Be Darned to Heck #3: This Old Dungeon
It's high time we move on to some manmade and dungeon-style basing, since that's where the juicy stuff often happens. (Whatever my attractions towards a drawn-out storyline, full of excitement and plot twists, rich with characterization, and replete with a host of colorful places, sometimes I just want to pretend to kill shit.)
So, we've taken a look at natural outdoor basing surfaces of various kinds. It's high time we move on to some manmade and dungeon-style basing, since that's where the juicy stuff often happens. (Whatever my attractions towards a drawn-out storyline, full of excitement and plot twists, rich with characterization, and replete with a host of colorful places, sometimes I just want to pretend to kill shit.)
I'm surprised to see so few floor-style bases on miniatures. Part of what's holding people back might be the Games Workshop Goblin Green (or GWGG) basing that's become popular. Another part might be that flooring looks tough to make. It's not.
Let's start with a tile or flagstone pattern. Here's good ol' Ratflinger, Mordheim street-fighter extraordinaire, whomper of rodentiae. To begin with, I glued the figure to the base. I then covered the exposed slot in the slotted base with a little bit of newspaper soaked in white glue. (Masking tape also works well.) While everything was drying, I cut some of my blister packs into tiny squares and rectangles. Just for variation, I threw in a couple chips of balsa wood.
After the glue had dried, I began to set the tile. I glued the slick side of the cardboard to the base, figuring that the matte side would take paint better. I put down a layer of white glue and got out my fine-point tweezers. I set the tiles quickly into place, trying to vary the pattern to appeal to the eye and fill as much of the available space as I could. It's a painstaking process, and the glue dried quickly, so I had to dab on a little more glue once or twice. All the while, I kept the glue off the sides and tops of the tiles as much as possible, and left a very small gap around all the tiles.
When everything was in place, and had set for just a minute or so, I dipped the whole base into some very fine sand that I've got on hand. The fine sand works better for this sort of application, since the grains look reasonably in scale. I left a little pile of sand on top of the base and let it dry.
When all that was done, I carefully brushed off the loose sand, and chipped any stray sand off the tops of the cardboard tiles. I primed the mini and painted up the tile in slate blue and brick red scheme, colors that would look good together and which I could vary to complement or contrast with any miniature's overall paint scheme. Since Ratflinger ended up pretty reddish, I used mostly blue on the base. I painted the exposed sand along the cracks a medium gray, to look like ash (since Ratty's in Mordheim) or pale sand.
I've used the same basing on all my Mordheim figures, which serves to tie together a reasonably diverse set of paint jobs. It also gives me a way to put them all on a display base together -- the tiles are oriented along the base edges and are all blue and red, so I can set them into a road surface with a varied tile pattern, assuming I want to bring them to a painting contest or just display them, since I never end up playing them in a game anyway.
This sort of base can be varied to produce many different effects. Another example is a Saturday Night Fever orc I've got, sculpted by a buddy of mine. (Not commercially available. Neener-neener.) What good is a dancin' orc if he doesn't have a swingin' dance floor?
On this base, I was a little more careful to put the basing elements under the feet of the figure. If you've got a slot-based miniature, it's possible to raise the figure a little without the slot getting in the way simply by cutting out all of the slot except the pieces just under the miniature's feet. The bond is still strong (I recommend JB Weld or Zap-A-Gap), and there's some space to play with basing textures.
I cut out the slot and glued the orc to the base, leaving about a 64th of an inch between the bottoms of his feet and the top of the base. I then cut some tiny planks from a piece of balsa wood. I wasn't too careful about regularity in the wood -- however immaculate the orc's leisure suit, orcish dance floors are crude affairs at best. I glued all of the planks into place with white glue, making sure to slip the edges of the wood under the orc's feet and to overlap the edge of the base just a little. This helped avoid any embarrassing blank spots. Afterwards, I primed the miniature and painted it as normal.
It would have been possible to stain the wood with inks and thinned paint, but as I've said previously, I find that natural textures need a coat of primer and paint to make them look natural at 25/28/30mm scale.
If you continue on with other materials, it's possible to make up a host of different adventuring, warring, and exploring surfaces. Slices of GW sprue make interesting cobblestones for another type of street surface. More careful planking, maybe from scored styrene plastic, would make a nice tavern floor or pirate ship deck. Regular squares would work as a chessboard pattern for the obligatory chessboard trap monster. Sections of toothpick would make a really freaky floor of some kind, and circular cutouts (from a hole punch, maybe) would make a pretty cool pattern, as well. As with anything else in the hobby, keep experimenting and some good ideas should come of it.