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Tutorial: Creating Ice Bases

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#1 MonkeySloth



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Posted 01 November 2011 - 11:37 PM


A while ago I stumbled upon upon a type of clear paint, named Distress Crackle Paint Rock Candy, that cracks while it dries and creates an interesting ice effect that can be used to make some nice wintry bases that are more then just dirt and snow. Now Distress makes more then just a clear paint and Massive Voodoo has an excellent write up that explains how they used the non-clear paint for mud and other effects. This guide will cover how to make a base like the one below as well as a few other different types of ice bases.


This is just an example of what you can do with the paint


The paint comes is a fairly large bottle, about twice the size of your normal paint pot and is thicker then regular acrylic paint--which is good since you don't want this running everywhere as your using it. You can easily grab paint from the pot or off the included brush, which I've found way to big to use in any meaningful way, and place it where you want it.


A few things to know about the paint before we start on the first base is this can take a while to dry and the thicker you paint it the more it cracks and the more brittle the cracks. Despite the brittleness you'll want to paint more of this on then you'll think you'll need and unless it's really thick you won't have a problem with this cracking when you drill through it with the pin vice. Its best to get something you don't care about, like a piece of cardboard, and experiment with some thicknesses before using it on any project.

Step 1: Making the Ice Chunks

This is the most time consuming part, but one you shouldn't have to do too often, and that's making the ice chunks that decorate the base. To do this you'll need to poor a lot of this stuff into something that's flexible so you can easily break out the "ice" once the paint has dried. You can use clay or a cheap plastic container, it doesn't really matter, just poor it in how big you want your chunks. Now the thicker you poor this the longer it takes to dry, as with anything, so expect at least 2 days for this paint to dry completely.

Icebase3.jpg Icebase4.jpg

Step 2: Prepping the Base

Once you have your Ice chunks you can start to make your base. You'll want to take a normal lipped base, I haven't tried a non-lipped one, and cover up the slot with tape then paint the base whatever color you want your base to be. Darker colors tend to pop more with the dry brushing but using a lighter color and then staining the ice effect with an ink works quite well (the first base shown off in this guide uses P3 Frostbite with a turquoise wash).

Icebase5.jpg Icebase6.jpg

The base colors here are Rackham Wizard Blue and GW Ice Blue


Next you'll want to glue your ice chunks where you want them and wait for the glue to dry.


Step 3: Applying the Crackle Paint

I find it easiest to hold the included brush over an open area where I want to place the paint and then, using an old brush, push it around to where I want the paint. I'll just keep adding more until I have the amount I want as it's easier to add then to remove this stuff. I haven't seen any negative effect on my brushes from using this paint but you don't want to get a nice brush in this stuff since you'll really have to wash to get it all out. Once you have the paint where you want it set the base aside and come back in 2-3 hours when it will be dry.

Icebase8.jpg Icebase9.jpg

Step 4: Finishing Touches


Once the paint is dry you'll need to decide if you want to stain the ice effect or not. I tend to always stain the ice chucks I've added with some Turquoise Ink heavily watered down (maybe 15:1) and do several coats where I want it to have a stronger color. Once the Ink is dry, if you've used it, you'll want to dry brush the ice effect with a white. This part is tricky as you'll need to have more paint on your brush then you're use to having but if you've got too much then you'll just end up painting over everything.


Your finished base


The above base is pretty simple and nothing fancy, but you can do various things with this method to make some bases that really stand out:

WP_001142.jpg WP_001143.jpg

Combing Dirt, Snow and Ice will give you a more realistic base



Part 2 will cover how to make this base



(Edited to remove a commerce link without changing the tutorial, TaleSpinner.)

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#2 MonkeySloth



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Posted 01 November 2011 - 11:37 PM


In this part of the tutorial I'm going to go into a more complex, but not complicated by any means, base using what was covered in the first part. We're going to create a base showing some poor soul who's been frozen in a lake so you'll need some spare bits from other miniatures to use as well as some type of clear expoy, usually called water effect.

Step One: Preparing your base

Since we need the poor sod to be below our ice level we'll first need to take our base and clip out the inner ring. I find it easiest to use a pair of hobby clippers to remove 90% of the plastic and then slowly remove the rest with a hobby knife. When using the knife have some surface that you can cut down into, like what's in my reference picture, for safety reasons. This isn't some obligatory warning, since that base is thin, wobbly and round the knife will more then likely slip as your cutting--it's better to ruin a piece of cardboard then a finger.

frozen1.jpg frozen2.jpg

Once I'm done I like to take a small file and smooth out the edges since the knife can leave things jagged. Finally you'll need to glue the base to a thin sheet of plastic. I'm using platicard in this example but you could easily use some plastic from a blister. You want to make sure that the seal is good--I use more super-glue then needed--but if you're worried about this you can always place some green stuff inside the base to make sure the seal is good.

frozen3.jpg frozen4.jpg

Step Two: Placing the Figure and Painting

Once the super-glue is dry you'll need to decide how you want to compose your unlucky frozen body. In my example I'm using some parts from a Manic Games Zombie sprue as it has the hand position and facial expression I want--Which is someone who managed to use their last ounce of strength to break through but then finally subcombed to the cold.

The first thing you'll need to do is check the head level, we don't want any part of the head to be above the ice so we'll have to cut off part of the head so that 1) our head lays parallel with the top of the base and 2) it's below the rim of the base so we know it will be under the ice. This is easily done with some clippers and a file. Once you have the head placed in your base you can decide where to place the arm, just make sure to keep it within a realistic distance from the head.

frozen5.jpg frozen6.jpg frozen7.jpg

Now we can start to paint the body parts. You'll want to make sure the colors you choose contrast well with the color you've selected as your base color (see part one). In this example I've chosen P3 Frostbite as my base color so I'm going to paint the body parts with GW Ice Blue and then shade it with Reaper Dusky Skin Shadow and line it with a dark liner. It's important to take the shading to an exaggerated level so you can see details below the ice as any highlights you add will be washed out by the drybrushing at the end (see part one). After shading you'll want to take your liner, probably a dark grey or black, and define parts of your face and hands. Here I made sure the eyes, mouth and some of the skin were overly defined with a liner so they'd stand out more.


Finally you'll want to paint the plastic that your base and body parts are glued too.


Step 3: Water Effect

Once your paint is dry from step 2 you can start to poor in your water effect. The reason why we're doing this is the crackle paint gets very brittle the thicker it gets and poring enough paint in the base to completely cover our head probably won't turn out well (I haven't tried it but if you've tried making the ice chunks from part one you'll see why I never have) so instead of placing a dangerously thick level of crackle paint into this base we're going to use water effect, which dries clear, to create a new "base" for use to apply the crackle paint too. It doesn't matter what type you use, if you're not familiar with water effect just do a search on the forums there are several topic on it, but I'm using some Woodland Scenes Water Effect that came in a diorama kit that I got at Hobby Lobby on the cheap.

If you've never used water effect it's not that complicated, the big thing to remember is to just lay it down in small amounts and build up to the level you want--this will minimize the amount of bubbles you get, if any, and it's always easier to add more water effect at a later time then to remove extra. You'll also want to wait until each layer completely dries until you place on the next. In this example I laid down two layers and waited about a day in between.


Layer one down

One thing you can do while your layers are drying is apply some icicles to the hand sticking out. Poor a little bit of water effect into a container you don't care about and wait for it to start drying--I can't really give you a time estimate but you'll want the epoxy to be more of a gel then a liquid. My water effect can has a supply of this gel on the top of the lid from just basic exposer to air so if you're using a pre-mixed water effect like I am this could save you the effort.


This is what you want it to look like

With our gel like water effect we'll add icicles to the fingers of our unfortunate Popsicle (make sure that the water effect in the base isn't runny first or you'll have a mess). Take some on a toothpick, or other like disposable device, and gently rub it over each finger in the direction you want the icicle to go. This can take several passes and you may, depending on how long you want to make them, wait for the first pass to dry so you can add more layers.

frozen12.jpg frozen13.jpg


Layer two and icicles

Step 4: Adding the Crackle Paint

Once your water effect is completely dry, you don't want it shifting or shrinking after you've done this step, it's safe to apply the crackle paint. But before you do decide if you want to add any ice chunks, rocks or anything you want to be at "ground level". Then use the included brush to drip some paint down onto your base and use a old brush that you don't care about to move it to where you want it to go.

frozen15.jpg frozen16.jpg

As I explained in part one it's better to apply less then you think you need and add more then to try and remove this stuff. Once you've got the paint where you want it you'll just need to wait a few hours for the crackle paint to dry.

frozen17.jpg frozen18.jpg

Step 5: Staining

After the crackle paint is dry we'll need to stain the newly formed ice. I do this because the P3 paint I used as the base color is rather week contrast wise with the white so a nice turquoise stain will make things pop more. But you could skip this step if you used a darker base paint or don't want a tint to your ice.


Plus I want it to look like this

For this we're going to use P3 Turquoise Ink at about a ratio of 1:15 with water and slowly stain the ice to give it a nice bluish tint.


Next we'll use the same Ink watered down about 1:5 and use this thicker mix to make the cracks pop even more. You can also use this to shade around the ice chucks that we added in the previous step to make this look more interesting.


Step 6: Drybrushing

Wait for the ink to dry and drybrush some white onto the base. You'll want to be careful around the head so you don't completely cover it.

frozen22.jpg frozen23.jpg

Enjoy your finished work

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#3 Evilmonkey



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Posted 02 November 2011 - 09:41 AM

So far I like what I see. I may go ahead and do something similar for several army projects in different systems.

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#4 Clever Crow

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 10:37 AM

Great work. VERY INTERESTING STUFF!!!! Thanks for posting this...

#5 Humansquish



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Posted 02 November 2011 - 11:15 AM

Thanks for posting this. I'm going to try to use this when basing my Icingstead army.

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#6 Bumble_B



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Posted 02 November 2011 - 12:56 PM

Awesome job. Can't wait to see part two
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#7 Kuro Cleanbrush

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 06:49 PM

I love the idea of winter-themed warriors, so thanks a lot for posting this! It really gives some good ideas!

#8 MonkeySloth



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Posted 07 November 2011 - 11:46 PM

Part two is up for your enjoyment. Sorry it took a few days longer, I got stuck working on a podcast all weekend, and it was a much longer write up then I originally planned--but I wanted to cover this in some detail since it was the tutorial people were asking for over in the show off thread.

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#9 MamaGeek



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Posted 10 November 2011 - 10:18 PM

Awesome tutorials! Thanks so much!
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#10 Sanael


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Posted 17 June 2012 - 07:19 AM

Great tutorial! Thanks for putting it up (and keeping the link to it in your sig, so people who weren't watching when it originally went up can see it now!).

I'm thinking about using this for a few character pieces in a tabletop army...so, a little over half a year later, how are these bases holding up? Is there any yellowing, or has it gotten more brittle over time?

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#11 MonkeySloth



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Posted 17 June 2012 - 04:16 PM

Good question.

Maybe and No.

It looks like there might be a tad bit of yellowing on the bases where I made bigger chunks but it doesn't appear at all on those sections I stained with ink so it might just be a trick of the eyes as this stuff was never 100% clear. Also I never sealed these bases so that could also prevent the yellowing if it's actually happening.

It definitely has not gotten more brittle over time and by playing around with a test base I have I can say they're not going to fall apart of crumble.
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#12 Anne



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Posted 01 August 2012 - 12:15 PM

This is an excellent tutorial, thanks for sharing the technique and materials! I'm curious to try this out as lava as well. ::):
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#13 kristof65


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Posted 09 August 2012 - 11:37 AM

Awesome. While I'm not going to do any ice-bases anytime soon, I can see some uses for this method for painted bases, such as lava flows, and dried mud, too.

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#14 Girot


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Posted 04 October 2012 - 02:25 PM

I am so going to try using this to make lava bases!!
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#15 ThornDJL7



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Posted 04 October 2012 - 03:33 PM

This is really cool! Too bad I'm not heading into any frozen campaigns...
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