Doesn't matter what your army or game is, they need bases. You could just slap some paint on the little black plastic bit that comes with the mini but if you are putting work into the everything else, a boring base pulls your model down. At the cons you see folks with amazing looking display bases, or army boards. If you have been wanting to put more effort into the bases yourself to try and match those, hopefully this blog post will help get you started. Read it and we'll all be pulling out work as amazing as that of Matt Fontaine, pictured above.
I was fortunate to be able to attend a basing class run by misterJustin of Secret Weapon Miniatures at Great Escape Games in Sacramento, CA. The class was well attended, we filled the room we were in, and he spent a few hours addressing a number of techniques as well as Q&A with the attendees. The first part of my notes are below the fold. The rest will follow in a couple of days.
(its not finished yet, but makes a nice example)
Composition. remember your model is still the subject and more generally the models face. You may have some great ideas for bases, but if they pull too much focus away you need to realize you've made them the model, rather than just a good display base. Try to keep highlighted areas of the base near the models upper area to help draw the eye back towards them. Lastly, try and keep the model as open as possible. People like to look at the model from all angles so it would be sad to lose your amazing cloak work behind a wall.
Cork. Looks like cork. Unless you are planning on having you army based on Planet Corktopia you should avoid it. However, covered with something to add better texture it does make a great core for your bases that you can easily build upon.
Scale. 28mm is 1:48th. Anyone who tells you different is crazy in the head. When you are looking for parts from other sources to add to your bases, 1:48th is where it is at. The is O scale in the train hobby scene if you want to get bits from there.
Materials. If you want some glass for windows or such there is only one thing you can really use. Glass. Fortunately, thin glass is really cheap. Just be careful when you use it as we don't want to mess with blood effects just yet. If you want broken glass do it between pieces of paper and carefully tap it. Don't worry, we'll get to crushed glass later, and it is even more dangerous.
If you want wood, buy wood. Most craft stores sell tiny pieces for really cheap so there is a great range of choices. If all you want are some posts, matches make a good choice. You can use a wire brush (brass or steel bristles) to scrape up the surface to give it a bit more texture. Avoid balsa wood as it is far to soft and fuzzy and consequently much harder to work with.
General basing notes
Plaster is great for adding detail to your bases. A lot of what we worked on in this class was recessed bases filled with plaster. Plaster of Paris is fine, Hydrocal is better, dental plaster is best but it all gets more expensive. So, plaster of Paris then.
We were shown four simple techniques to use on the smooth plaster. First, for an asphalt look, go grab that wire brush and hit the plaster. Complicated huh. For a broken asphalt/concrete look knock the plaster out (or just break out a chunk) and glue the broken bit back in, unevenly. For a modern paving slab look get a straight edge and a probe (point metal stick like the dentist uses to torture you) and drag the probe across the plaster. Uneven and offset sizes look best. For an old style paving slab just get the probe and try and push it in straight lines.
As an add on to the push technique, this is also what you can use to make craters. The technique for impact craters is as follows;
Stab a hole in the plaster and open it up by twisting the probe around.
Push some lines away from this point, uneven directions, same as you pushed for the old style paving slabs.
Push some curved lines between the radial lines at varying distances.
Finally, push in more of the small center sections.
Below is a drawing that will hopefully make this a little easier to understand. It looks a lot better in reality than in MS Paint though.
I'll wrap the rest of the notes up on Wednesday. Hope these have got you thinking.