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Basing Preferences


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#1 Foxden Racing

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 01:43 PM

I'm putting this here because I'm mainly looking for opinions as it relates to tabletop play, but all opinions are welcome; if it turns out really useful, maybe others trying to make the same decision will find it. Before I fill too much of my travel case (a Sabol "Platoon" at about 20% capacity...I've got enough unpainted figures to fill it close to twice over without adding bases), I need to decide whether or not I'm going to start basing, and if so which supplies to use. Ideally, I'd like to make the decision before filling the case too far, if only because buying new trays to take the 1x1 or 1x1x1 (hex) bases would be wasteful.

Part of me doesn't want to, as a broccoli won't cause concern about flocking/substrate coming off in the bag [or through handling]. Part of me is afraid of mutilating figures...or myself...in removing the broccolis. Part of me wants to, as minis getting toppled on the table...not to mention the touch-up/re-clear process that inevitably follows being toppled enough times...gets old fast. Part of me is fascinated by what some guys do with basing...and part of me is afraid that they'll come off looking chintzy when I do it. Part of me knows I'm much better at making suggestions than at bringing things to fruition myself. Part of me prefers metal/stone/etc bases over plastic, but cringes at the cost, and part of me is afraid using plastic bases will get them assumed to be prepainted, rather than something that took many hours of TLC.

So...yeah, I have no idea what to do moving forward, and a lot of doubts in the present. What do various painters slash gamers here do? Are there any preferences for welled, slotted, flat, or pre-sculpted? What about preference for materials? I've seen some amazing things with presentation pieces, but I don't know how appropriate those techniques are for using on a weekly basis on a tabletop, or whether basing materials lose what they add to appearance once sealed. My first thought was to use the metal bases that come with things like CAVs, but shy of learning to sculpt and flock and substrate that might end up looking worse. Ultimately I'm torn, looking for wisdom, for guidance on making a decision I won't regret later.

With so much changing in my supplies...learning to thin in preparation for my RPPs running out, shifting preferences in brush size [I still prefer a 5|0 for general work, but the 20|0 I opened last night is insufferably thin for anything but ropes and belt buckles and etc; I used to love working with them], and reaching the point where I'm no longer satisfied with my level of skill and second-guessing both current and past works...this is the best time to do it, while I'm transitioning anyway.

If it affects any suggestions that might be given, my minis run the gamut...everything from DHLs on broccoli to minis with a built-in sculpted base and freestanding Big Stompy Robots with no base at all.

Thanks ahead of time!

#2 Sergeant_Crunch

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 06:31 PM

I'm going to assume you're using them for RPGs as most wargames will specify base sizes. If you're not having issues with stability and you're happy with the mini the way it is I say leave it. If not, look for the square recessed bases here, they're usually just deep enough that with a little putty or gel medium you can hid the broccoli base and build up what you want.

I'm not so sure I'd want to get hit by a missile with a "dog brain" AI.
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#3 Foxden Racing

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 12:26 PM

Thanks for chiming in, Sarge.

You assume correctly...most of what I play is RPGs, some with grid movement [1" square, so square or round bases would work]. The other stuff I do is a lot of Battletech, which if memory serves is either 1" or 1.25" hex. I'm being brought to the idea mainly because I'm tired of things falling over...repainting my Naga and Stalker 'mechs whenever they get used for play gets annoying fast.

I remember a tutorial of yours on the craft, I believe about camo...how well did the basing materials [substrate, flocking, etc] on your wife's army hold up to the wear and tear of tabletop use? I love the look of BSRs in real-looking terrain, but am wary of them from my model railroading days...where brushing the table was enough to pull up the 'grass'.

I suppose I'm just lost in general right now...dissatisfied with my current level (and the beatings my minis take), unsure if I have the chops to be passable at the next level, and afraid of enormous messes or hours of TLC being mistaken for unwrap-and-play if I choose the "wrong" basing technique.

#4 Lars Porsenna

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 12:55 PM

I base all of my 28mm figures in Woodland Scenics static grass, and use thinned wood glue, which I directly brush onto the painted base (which I have already textured, usually just with sand). I've been using this for several years and it does not readily come off, even in the (rare) instances I have the minis rattling around in a box (only done with plastics, granted). For battletech, substitute static grass for flock, but basically the same thing.

Also for my battletech minis I base using the metal hex bases. While expensive, all of my older figures were similarly based, and I prefer consistency. However, infantry and power armor are based on 30mm round lipped bases (similar to the ones that come with Reaper's Chronoscope line) I bought from EM-4 in the UK (cheap, don't hesitate to order!), so this might work with mechs too. Finally, you should be able to find 1.25 in washers at the hardware store.

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#5 Foxden Racing

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 02:53 PM

If I may, what's the use of the washers...just weighing down the plastic bases?

#6 Lars Porsenna

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 04:48 PM

I should have mentioned the washers are an alternative to the plastic bases. On the upside they're cheap. On the downside they look cheap (IMHO).

Damon.
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-My thoughts on D&D 4e: Link
-"Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum"
-"Warhammer40000 is your Standard Sci Fi Setting injected with a cocktail of every drug known to man and genuine lunar dust, stuck in a blender with Alien, Mechwarrior, Starship Troopers and Star Wars, bathed in blood and turned up to eleventy billion (and then set on fire). Twice. With chainsaws." Quote

#7 Sergeant_Crunch

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 05:33 PM

Those bases on the CAVs are simply Elmer's glue filling the gaps on the base, then dipped into a container with a mixture of medium ballast and art sand. Used the same glue for the flocking. Once you spray the matte sealer over all of that it sticks pretty well.

I'm not so sure I'd want to get hit by a missile with a "dog brain" AI.
My blog:  http://scsminimadness.blogspot.com/


#8 cerebro1974

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 07:40 PM

I use mini's for a lot of table play, and since basing I haven't had tip-over issues. I like plastic bases, I keep it simple with white glue and dirt, paint, some aquarium rock and a touch of woodland scenic static grass, and all is fine. I have only had one issue where the broccoli was very small so I used a small piece of paper to cover the "holes" on either side of the mini to keep the white glue and dirt from running through. The paper seperated from the base so a touch. Nothing detrimental, but it bugs me still. Now I use some wax paper when applying the white glue and if it falls through the pre-cut hole or slit in the base, it doesn't matter.

Hope this helps, -Joe

#9 Lars Porsenna

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 08:35 PM

I agree with keep it simple. I think there is a temptation to base figures dramatically, whether it is a giant rock for it to stand on, or the like. I did this with one set of figures for a wargame army. Once I put them all together, it looked like they were fighting in a field of rubble. On an individual basis it looked interesting, but for a mass of figures it looked silly. For RPG minis this is just as important. Get all the figures into a tight melee and that rubble look comes back...

Damon.
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-My thoughts on D&D 4e: Link
-"Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum"
-"Warhammer40000 is your Standard Sci Fi Setting injected with a cocktail of every drug known to man and genuine lunar dust, stuck in a blender with Alien, Mechwarrior, Starship Troopers and Star Wars, bathed in blood and turned up to eleventy billion (and then set on fire). Twice. With chainsaws." Quote

#10 Inarah

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 08:57 PM

For tabletop use most of the time I paint the base as simply as possible and leave it at that. I feel this lets the character figure stand out more and makes handling much easier. It's easy with slotta figures. For broccoli bases that stand on their own I have a formula for basecoat and highlight that doesn't look too bad.

Once in a while I get figures that won't stand up or don't really have a base and I put those on zinc washers and then add putty or sand to make some kind of base. I prefer this to sticking them on plastic bases as it keeps the height from getting built up too much.

Some of the Reaper Chronoscope figures come off the tabs real easy and those I have been pinning to cast resin bases. I have a variety of 3/4" and 1" cobblestone, brick and modern/sci fi bases that paint up nice yet don't distract from the game. I have a preference for round ones, but I use plenty of square bases, too.
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#11 Lars Porsenna

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 09:08 PM

Re: Plastic bases and "broccoli bases." Building up too much height is indeed an issue. One thing I do is I cut away the central part of a plastic slotta-base, tack it down to a sheet of wax paper. I then place the figure in the middle, adjusting height with bits of plastic or scrap metal, then fill it with epoxy. After the epoxy cures sufficiently, it's easy to pop off, and now you have a strong, permamently based figure that also fits in with the actual slotta-figures. It's a little bit of work, but worth it if you like uniformity (ALL of my man-sized RPG figures are based on 1" plastic round slottabases).

Damon.
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-Godlike since 9-09-04.
-My book blog: http://bookslikedust.blogspot.com/
-My Minis blog: http://minislikedust.blogspot.com/
-My thoughts on D&D 4e: Link
-"Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum"
-"Warhammer40000 is your Standard Sci Fi Setting injected with a cocktail of every drug known to man and genuine lunar dust, stuck in a blender with Alien, Mechwarrior, Starship Troopers and Star Wars, bathed in blood and turned up to eleventy billion (and then set on fire). Twice. With chainsaws." Quote

#12 Mckenna35

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 09:08 AM

I generally put figures on to either square or round bases for the additional stability and then blend the broccoli in with two part epoxy putty which gives me the working time to add matching texture. Flocking is usually Woodland Scenics stuff where appropriate. In the US you can pick up BIG jars from Hobby Lobby for a good price, especially if you use the 40% off coupon.

On another note - did you say you're using a 5/0 brush for most of your painting and are looking at a 20/0?! Wow! Unless you're painting eyes on micro armor scale figs, you should look into getting some good quality larger brushes. Largest brush I use is a 2, and the smallest is a 2/0. The paint stays liquid on the brush longer so you get better flow, and ultimately better coverage. Your choice of course, I just thought I'd throw it out there.


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#13 Foxden Racing

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 12:40 PM

On another note - did you say you're using a 5/0 brush for most of your painting and are looking at a 20/0?! Wow! Unless you're painting eyes on micro armor scale figs, you should look into getting some good quality larger brushes. Largest brush I use is a 2, and the smallest is a 2/0. The paint stays liquid on the brush longer so you get better flow, and ultimately better coverage. Your choice of course, I just thought I'd throw it out there.


Michael


I caught a lot of flak about that when I got a thread split off for asking about ways to keep my brushes from frizzing out as fast, too. My current working set is pretty pathetic, since I need to go get more; consisting of a GW one about the size of a pencil eraser that pulls drybrush duty, a half-frizzed 10|0, a weird long-bristle angled-head thing from AC Moore, and a brand-new, used-for-about-20-strokes 20|0. Once I recover from having to replace my beat up old knight of a car, I need to get a new set. For now, I'm making do with what I have.

The last time I had a full compliment, it was #0, #5|0, #10|0, #20|0, the same angled-head thing, and a medium-sized wedge for drybrushing...the #0 got used for slathering wide-open areas, then down to standard work [pants, boots, swords], small accessories [like pouches], and details [belt buckles], respectively. Call me uncoordinated or just unpracticed, but I find anything bigger than a #5|0 to be unwieldy. I can't get the brush where I want it without slathering all over nearby areas...especially on figures with a lot of crevasses, like my current project [#2823].

Granted, my mental images may simply be off; Reaper's 20|0 is ungodly tiny even with what I'm used to; my mental images for sizes are based on Robert Simmons Sapphires, the brushes I started out with back in '03. What they call a 5|0 is easily the size of a Reaper #0, possibly even the #1. That could be throwing discussions off.

My washing/glazing/shading/etc skills are also pretty pathetic; I typically work straight out of a pro pot and make a single coat, so all these years I've been overcompensating with detail work...work that I want to do once and be done with, rather than covering those details in mistake after mistake after mistake. Since I don't have a magnifier, most of what I do is glasses off, squinting through one eye and inches from my face. It has to be funny to watch.

But I'm in a period of transition, dissatisfied with where I am now but not confident enough to blindly make a leap of faith, hence pestering the forums about everything from basing to frizzing. Basing is part of it, as is learning how to thin and work with thinned paints in preparation for when my Pro pots start dying and get replaced with another; currently looking at RMS. So far either I've been thinning too much or just applying poorly, as even my RPPs are coming out weak and needing multiple coats just to get coverage.

Though thanks for giving me a chance to ramble...I have a wonderful awful great grinchy idea now. Does anyone know how well Pro paints or GW paints take to the MSP droppers, and do they still have problems with skinning if they sit in there? I'm tempted to start sticking them there to make measuring for mixing/thinning easier. Getting them in could be a pain, though, at least without an eyedropper that won't stain.

To go full circle and get back to the topic, though: thanks to everyone again for continuing to chime in. Are there any do-and-don't pointers to help non-wargamers recognize them as hand-painted versus packaged? And for that matter, when working with grids [either square or hex], what are you guys' preferences for same-as-grid vs round? Are rounds more conducive to no-grid games later [my CAV minis pull double duty as 'custom Battlemechs'; what base should I use for my Battlemechs to pull double duty as 'custom CAVs'...the included hexes with CAVs?]

Anyway...thanks again for all the input. I might seem like a pain now, but it's all helping an old brush-jockey get back in the saddle.

#14 cerebro1974

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 09:22 PM

No problem, one great thing about the forums is that it is a great community, everyone willing to help everyone. Relish it cause it is rare indeed!

#15 Sergeant_Crunch

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 10:48 PM

I've never had any BT minis (always played with the cardboard standees), but I believe the CAV hex bases are slightly larger. I suppose if you're more likely to use CAVs as custom 'Mechs or 'Mechs as custom CAVs to be the determining factor regarding basing them.

I'm not so sure I'd want to get hit by a missile with a "dog brain" AI.
My blog:  http://scsminimadness.blogspot.com/





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