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All Your Base Are Belong to Us

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A while back I promised Frank Franksson (Matbar) that I would do a short WIP or tutorial on how I use cork to make rock bases.

 

first%2520base.jpg

 

I figured since I was doing the work anyway, I would drag the rest of you kicking and screaming on a magical journey through the dark, and twisted recesses of my questionable creativity. There are many other resources out there for bases of this type, but I will do a quick WIP of my quick and dirty method. I frequently sit, and build bases while I'm watching Netflix on my PC. I will list all the materials I use, and break it down into sections in case anyone wants to build along with me. I will be using my phone for a camera since I am coming down with the crud again, and I don't feel like digging out my DSLR and tripod right now.

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First we will start with all the things we need for this project.

 

Mats.jpg

 

Many of you will probably already have some or all of these items on hand. For those who do not, all of the items needed can be picked up fairly inexpensively at Michael's or Hobby Lobby. Most of the items I've pictured are not strictly necessary. All you really need is a base, some cork, glue, paints, and some brushes you do not mind sacrificing for the greater good. However, the items I have shown are what I regularly use while making this kind of base. In addition to the absolute necessities I also use homemade washes (Black, Burnt Umber, and Burnt Sienna ink washes). For the bottom of the base I really like the wooden checkers you can get from the wood craft isle in Hobby Lobby. They are inexpensive, you get quite a few in a package, and they take glue and paint well. Any kind of base will work just as well. I use cheap craft paint. All the paint pictured here I picked up on clearance for 10-30 cents per bottle. I also like to use flock, static grass, dried flowers, field grass, and paper birch seed pods (thanks TaleSpinner) to dress up the base once I am done with the craftsy parts. 

 

Given the cheap, and easy nature of this type of base they lend themselves well to mass production. If you do them in stages the way I present them here you can easily build as few, or as many, at a time as you want/need. Also, because of the nature of the materials even if you go for the exact same color scheme on all the bases they will be individualized to some extent. It is also very easy to switch washes or drybrushing colors, and achieve varied results in the type of stone you are portraying. 

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Now we can start with the fun parts. First I like to decide what size I want the overall base to be, and how many layers. You can use as few or as many layers of cork as you want, and depending on what you choose you can achieve some interesting layered effects. Since I buy cork in 6x6 or so sheets I find that scoring it with a hobby knife allows me to break it into smaller more manageable sizes. Then I will use my hands to break those strips even smaller. This gives it a rougher, more textured edge. I also save the small pieces, and parts that come off. These are excellent for rocks, talus, or scree. 

 

Size.jpg

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After you have decided on your basic size go ahead and layer on some glue. I prefer tacky glue, but super glue or Elmer's will work just as well. 

 

Glue.jpg

 

Don't be shy with the glue. I usually slop it on pretty thick. Once you have your glue down start arranging your cork to create your rock. 

 

glued.jpg

 

For the checker base I used one larger piece on the bottom, and then layered several smaller broken pieces on top. You can also achieve an interesting look just by layering a couple of large pieces, but I like some cracks and crevasses in my rocks to give it a weathered and broken look.

 

For the black plastic base I just took a bunch of bits and bobs of leftover cork and mashed it all together into the lake of glue. Then I fiddled around with it, and pressed it down until I liked the jumbled look it gave me. This type of configuration is good if you want to add some sand or ballast later on in all the openings. 

 

At this point I like to give the glue a while to set up so I don't undo any of the work I've just done. 

 

Questions and comments are welcome, as are suggestions and critique.

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Watching this. Thank you for doing a step by step tutorial. Will try my hand at this. Where do you buy cork sheets?

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Pcktlnt I bought the ones I got at Hobby Lobby. They came in a pack of 4 6x6 inch sheets.

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 For the bottom of the base I really like the wooden checkers you can get from the wood craft isle in Hobby Lobby.

 

Kind Sir;

How big are these "wooden checkers".

I am taking a guess and saying about 1 1/2 inch in diameter ?

I don't have a hobby Lobby around me, but I think there is a Michael's in the area.

Thanks for the tutorial, looking forward to learning how to base...Cause I for one, am Clueless.

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They are roughly an inch and a quarter, or 30mm...ish. They correspond pretty roughly to a 30mm round base. What I like about them is they have a concave, and a convex side. They are very stable, and fairly lightweight. You can order them off of Amazon.com. To be completely honest you can probably get plastic bases cheaper. The base is mostly irrelevant for the purposes here. In fact you can not use a base at all, just use a flat piece of cork for the bottom. If you have access to scrap lumber and a drill they make a 30mm hole saw that is great for cranking out cheap bases. In addition if you have a hacksaw or wood saw you can easily take scrap lumber and just cut it down into small squares for whatever base size you want. Caps off of water bottles can make good bases for this too. You can actually see one in the picture I took of the supplies from my drawer of odds and ends. I use bases mainly to have a stable platform to glue the cork to, since it's a bit flexible. The purpose behind this is to make bases quick, and easy. If you don't have easy access to a hobby store you can try hardwares, or even cooking supplies in most big box stores are good sources of cork. 

 

These are the exact ones I use:

 

http://shop.hobbylobby.com/products/1-1/4-birch-stack-checkers-165647/

 

When I run out of checkers I will probably try some of the plain 1" wooden discs. They are a bit cheaper.

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Pcktlnt I bought the ones I got at Hobby Lobby. They came in a pack of 4 6x6 inch sheets.

Yep. I picked up 4 (12"x12") sheets at Michael's for about $5.

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Very interested in this, I tried breaking up a wine cork and it really wouldn't break into nice chunks at all.  I'll have to get some sheet cork.  Thanks for starting this tutorial!

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I found a Michaels "within Driving Distance", and they have a section of the store that deals with "Diorama's".

Flocking material, shurbs, trees.

Looks like small packages of landscape material.

I'll have to check them out on one of my pilgrimages south of here.

Thanks again !

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I found a Michaels "within Driving Distance", and they have a section of the store that deals with "Diorama's".

Flocking material, shurbs, trees.

Looks like small packages of landscape material.

I'll have to check them out on one of my pilgrimages south of here.

Thanks again !

In Michael's the cork sheets are with the framed corkboards and posterboard.

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I let the glue set overnight for these, though it is not necessary. Once your glue is good and dry we can move on to the next stage. 

 

gloppy.jpg

 

As the photos attest I just gloppily glop some paint all over. I decided to go with a bright sandstone color scheme for the larger base, but you are not limited. Remember, these are fantasy and sci-fi minis, if you can imagine it paint it. I don't worry too much about thinning my paint. A little thinner than out of the bottle helps it get into cracks and crevasses, but since we will be using a wash it's not paramount to get everything absolutely covered. I recommend an old brush, or a cheapo you use specifically for this. You will be poking down into some of the openings, and you do not want to damage your expensive brushes. Cork is porous, so it can soak up a bit of paint. You might want to throw on a few base coats. In addition if you wish you can prime it before you start painting, but I never mess with a primer. A good heavy base coat will also help adhere any loose little pieces. 

 

The mind-numbingly awful orange on the larger base was achieved by mixing pure orange and brown together with a bit of yellow. The smaller base was just straight dark grey. Greens, browns, or even reds can make for some interesting colors.  

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