Wargaming Tradecraft: Building Placeholder Bases (Earthy)


Building Placeholder Bases (Earthy)

I got some great compliments on my placeholder base at my previous FLGS the other weekend. As said by one played, "That placeholder looks better than most of my army!" So I wanted to share with everyone how I created it. It wasn't actually that hard and well within the realm of anyone else to create.

Not sure what I'm talking about?
Want to make one?

Click on through!

What is a Placeholder Base?

If you're not familiar, we often use these in Warmachine and Hordes to represent a model when it simply won't fit where you want it to be.

Never really ran into this in Warhammer because stuff usually fit on the base. Not so with Privateer Press models, especially with certain armies. If you do run into trouble fitting or moving Warhammer, 40k or Age of Sigmar bases together, this tutorial is still useful.

Won this at a charity tournament. Thanks!
The easiest solution is to turn the model around so it's facing backwards. Not ideal since model facing matters and it doesn't look great.

What we often do is use wooden or plastic templates the same size as the base of the model. (Usually just for the 50mm bases.) There's a number of services out there making these, or just use an empty base.
But I got thinking, why not use a regular base and make it look like the beast was there. It keeps the aesthetic of the battle while fulfilling it's purpose of taking the place of an otherwise overly large model in the chaos of close combat.
We also use these bases to check if there's enough space for models to base between other ones.
Building the Base

Pictured here is what we're going to start with, but first we need feet. If you've got a beast or a jack with accessible feet, you can just use them. I didn't, so I made molds of the feat of my Earthborn Dire Troll.

When you're building a base, always consider the Terrain you're building. I wanted this base to resemble the rest of my bases, so I went with an earthy look and mud preserves footprints. If you wanted to create a city-look, maybe some cracked up cobblestones roughly the site of the feet would be more appropriate.

Making a Mold

I've covered using 2-part molding epoxy to copy objects before, so I won't go into too much detail on the process. This time around, I used Amazing Mold Putty and liked it more than the blue stuff because it's a rubbery flexible product that withstands 3D objects better.

The Basics

This putty works just like Green Stuff. It's 2 parts, you mix it together and it cures within 20 minutes into a rubbery mold. (Wait for it to fully cure before using it.)

I used a couple old upside-down bases to create small containers for the molds and stuck them on my Dire Troll's feet, making sure to press it all around the edges. You can see all the detail is caught, right down to wrinkles in the skin.

Molding the Feet

The molding process is a really easy one.

  1. Mix up some green stuff.
  2. Dip the green stuff in water.
    This makes it less sticky.
  3. Press the green stuff into the molds.
    Be sure to really press it in there to work out any air bubbles and get in to all the detail.
  4. Create finger holds.
    You'll notice that I've created little stubbs on the top of the feet so I have somewhere to hold and (later) stamp with.
  5. Wait
    Wait for the green stuff to cure. (harden)
After, I also trimmed off the excess from the edges of the stamps we've created.

Molding the Base

Once the feet are fully cured and usable, mix up another batch of green stuff for the base you're creating. I suggest covering the whole thing to raise ground level up a bit. Create a rough surface with some ground contours.

Again, cover the base in water so your feet don't stick to it.

Then, push your stamps into the green stuff ground. Rock them forward and back to get a good imprint.

And here's what we're left with:

Adding the Terrain

So, uh, here's the thing. I kind of got carried away building the terrain on the base and didn't get any WIP photos. I'm sorry, as I hate when tutorials are like Step 1. Do X, Step 2. ?????, Step 3. Profit! So I'm going to try and break down my steps as much as I can. Many of the steps are the same as building Janessa's Wall.

Mud: I started by mixing some gel, sand and brown paint together and smearing it across the surface of the base. Go light in the footprints so the detail of the toes is still visible. If you don't have gel, white glue will also work.

This leaves you with a muddy build up like on my Mountain King's Base.

Grass: The next step is to build up the grassy base. Glue down flock, static grass, fake moss, brush, tea and herbs, etc. Basically whatever you usually use to cover your bases.

Building the base on my Waterfall Project.
All these steps left me with a nicely covered base with two muddy footprints.

Right Foot: I glued a small flower in the bottom of one of the prints then, for a touch of realism, used the foot stamp again to crush it into the ground.
Left Foot: I did the same thing to the other foot with some tall standing plants and crushed them into the foot again.

Both Feet: I poured in some water effects to finish off the mud look.

Put all that together and we have a muddy base covered in fake / static grass, tea and fake clumps of grass with two footprints that have trampled some real plants and a little water.

Mark the Arc

Oh, and remember to mark the arc on your base.. Consider supporting all the free tutorials on this site by ordering my handy Arc Puck.


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