Base Experiment: Wet, Dark Earth

I have been thinking for awhile now about how to base my miniatures because for the past five years or so I have almost exclusively based my figures by simply gluing sand and maybe putting in a rock or bush somewhere.  Works fine, but now I’m painting miniatures that I don’t want to put in the sand, like dwarves, so I’ve trying out some different things.

I liked some of the bases John did, over at Just Needs Varnish!, so his ideas served as a starting point and spurred me to buy some Vallejo texture pastes.  For my latest base, I wanted to use a fairly easy process to create some wet, dark earth and the pictures below are what I came up with.

The pictures show the bases a bit lighter and grainier than they actually are, but they do convey the general idea.  The basing process I used is as follows:

  • Glued a couple of rocks onto an old, unprimed base, then applied Vallejo Dark Earth Texture (26.218).  I watered a bit of the texture down and used it as a wash on the rocks too.  I used some texture wash on the plant as well.
  • Washed base and plant with Agrax Earthshade and Nuln Oil in two steps.  Used some watered down Agrax on the rocks, but I skipped Nuln Oil because I didn’t want to darken down the rocks too much.
  • Dry brushed with Gorthor Brown.
  • Applied Glossy Nuln Oil to base and plant.  Thinned the wash down greatly so I would achieve some shine without excessive darkening and applied to the rocks.
  • I think I could do some additional dry brushing with Gorthor Brown again, if I wanted to lighten things up more, but I’m happy with how it looks for darker earth.

For my next basing experiment I would like to try something like what I just did, but add a mud puddle or two to the mix.  This will serve the dual purpose of allowing me to learn something about puddles and to see if I can replicate a base similar to the one I already made.

I recently finished poxwalker #18 in my long-term project of painting the twenty that came in the Dark Imperium set.  I’m going to include this now painted worthy in my April Paint the Crap You Already Own! challenge, and I will put up some pictures of my newest addition to the Painted Horde for my next post.

Any advice about creating mud puddles?  If so, I’d love to read what you have to say in the comments.

It’s a deep subject….

20 thoughts on “Base Experiment: Wet, Dark Earth

  1. Pingback: Blood Bowl – Basing detour – Double Down Dice

  2. Nice bases. I have been using the GW texture stuff like Stirland Battlemire et al. Haven’t tried the Vallejo equivalents yet. For a mud puddle, I would use the texture stuff and make a tiny well, and let it harden. Then use PVA mixed with a dark wash to fill the well.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Mark. That is what I’m going to try. I’ve been taking a look at some real mud puddles lately and I think I might try something like mixing in a bit of an old pot of Graveyard Earth I still have kicking around. As for PVA, I have some clear (as opposed to just drying clear) Elmer’s that I bought as part of a project to make our own Slime with a friend’s daughter. I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks for the advice.

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  3. This looks really great, I could have done with this back when I did my AT-ST, maybe I will revisit it and try to soggy up the dirt. My basing isn’t really that advanced, at least I reallyake the kind of effort I appreciate that other people make. Really really nice work, it’s stuff like this that encourages me to try harder

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    • Thank you. I’m pretty happy with my experiment/session of flailing around. In a way I feel like I did as a child playing with finger paints, where I didn’t know what I was doing really, and didn’t care too much how it turned out but I had a lot of fun.

      I don’t know yet about the mud puddles though. I do know of a couple of bloggers, who seem to be really good at making exquisite terrain, so maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll chime in. In the meantime, I’ll poke around for information and then try some things.

      Glad to be of some small help. I big point in their favor is how easy the bases are to do. You don’t even need to prime them, I found. So far as washing the stones, I’ve found that brown inks like Agrax are a lot more forgiving in terms of preserving something of the originally color of the rock is, than black ink, so when I used black ink I thinned it down a lot and applied multiple coats. For these though, I just thinned a bit of the left over texture I was using, which had the desired effect and also reduced the particles in the texture a bit so my rocks didn’t end up looking fuzzy or furry, which had sometimes happened when I wash things with uncut Typhus Corrosion.

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    • I hadn’t really given it much thought until I read your comment. I don’t mind the price of it, in the amounts I’m using; I appreciate the convenience. Still, I think your idea is a good one and is something I will probably eventually look into so I know how to do it and because, also, I think it would be a good blog post too.

      Thanks for the idea.

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  4. Those bases look really good, Ann! 🙂 No doubt about them being wet, dark, earth! Now I’d cheat with a muddy puddle, since I doubt my ability to recreate one – I’d just put in a small piece of smooth plasticard and paint it a gloss brown shade to match the surrounding mud, so more a dirty water-filled puddle on a calm day! Anything beyond that and I’d be scuppered!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you. That is an interesting way to do it, I hadn’t thought of using plasticard. I bet you’d make it look really good. Yes, I’m thinking of a calm pond too. I think having the water actually moving is a bit ambitious for me right now. When I read in your Italian coastal navy post about not wanting to bother with trying to get waves and all of that on your ship bases, I remember nodding my head in agreement and muttering, “Yeah, I don’t blame you. Blimey!”

      “Scuppered.” Nice one, John! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. That turned out really nice. Love the color and texture. My jar of Dark Earth just arrived in the mail yesterday too! Thanks to your blog post. Not sure when I will start tackling it, as I already pre-made the bases for the team I’m painting now. But looking forward to it.

    Mud puddles, hmm. Sounds cool, but I’ve yet to do puddles or water effects. I have a bottle of Vallejo Water Effects to try out someday. The other thing that I would possibly try, is Nurgle’s Rot. I’d experiment to see if it can be tinted, maybe with some ink? At any rate, will be curious to see how you work out the puddles!

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    • Thanks, Faust. I’m glad you got your jar of the stuff; I really like it so far. Hmm … yeah, Nurgle’s Rot might work, especially for “suspicious” puddles. I too have a bottle of that Water Effects stuff so that is probably the direction I’ll start. I also have a bottle of Secret Weapon “Yellow Snow,” that I’ve had kicking around for years; I won it as a booby prize in a 40K tournament for going 0-3 with my mighty orks. So I’m thinking there is no shortage of tinting available to make toxic or weird liquids. I imagine something like Nurgles Rot as a base and then maybe tinting it a bright yellow or green color would be cool. You could even dry brush in some lighting effects too because the evil stuff is glowing!

      For now though, I think I’ll concentrate on mundane puddles. I’ll have to poke around and see what I can find that looks easy.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Ohhhh, I like that yellowish puddle idea, on a dark mud base. That could be sweet. I think I actually haven’t even cracked open my pot of Nurgle’s Rot yet! I figured I would need it when I got around to the Nurgle team or if I was making a swamp base. So far I’ve managed to dodge both of those! 😉

        Liked by 3 people

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