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Dioramas & Vignettes
Discuss groundwork, vignettes, bases, and the creation of situation or scene.
SBS - Base making for Beginners - With Snow
Kikladhes, Greece / Ελλάδα
Joined: September 30, 2003
KitMaker: 6,871 posts
Historicus Forma: 3,573 posts
Posted: Monday, November 06, 2006 - 01:49 PM UTC
Hello ladies and guys

I think it was about time to start releasing some SBS articles on base making since this is one of the DG "Situation" Tasks

I will make a series of small articles as SBS'S for different issues on bases.

From the making, and the usage of specific materials and features every time as water, sand, snow, ice, rocks and representing different kinds of construction methods and materials.

I will try to keep them simple and quick so you wont get bored at first and then i will be available to answer all possible questions and explain anything that maybe wasnt shown on the SBS,or even extend the technique to your demands.

So what i picked for the start is a base in winter that incirporates some snow. We will see the work from zero to the end . The figure to be used here is a Roman Soldier from Romeo Models amazing range of figures.

Lets get started guys

The Tools and Materials

We wont be needing many things or somethig exotic.

0)2 parts epoxy putty
1)Some thick or medium CA glue
2)X Acto or similiar Hobby knife
3)A small wooden base
4)Some small peebles from the yard
5)2 pieces of dry branch twig
6)A drill that its size will suit the openings for the figures feet
7)Some wooden stick to handle the epoxy putty
8)Transparent (crystallize) White glue
9}Microballons material for simulating snow

The Works

First of all we have to check if the metal base part of the figure kit is suitable at its size for the wooden base we will be using.

The base is already cross patterned scratched with the hobby knife to give the epoxy putty and other materials a rough space that they can safely grip on .

We can also put the miniature on the base to check the placing of it and if its satisfactory for what we have in our mind.

I usually place the miniatures off centered to the base as for me it gives more interest and drama . On a round base thats not always working good, so you have to dosome eye testing on this, before you decide

I also suggest that you build the figure , at least before making the base, so in any stage you can check the placing of the figure on the base, and also if putting other objects like branches or rocks will be bothering the figure when putted on the base.

If you also use to pin the feet of your base with metal pins as i always do you have to drill down to well sized holes for the pins. and make many tests that the feet will suit the ground firmly and with no gaps.

After we re confident of the relative sizes, we will take off with the knife slices of the upper lip of the metal base peripheria , so it will not cause us an ugly "step" while joining it with the rest of the groundwork that will be done with putty.

When we are ready we apply generously thick - gel CA glue on the trace of the metallic base of the kit to initially secure it down.

We leave enough time for the glue to set.

Try to find a roughly texturized small stone that will be used to give texture on the surface of the putty. Volcanic stones used in aquariums are ideal for this purpose. But you can use any peeble with rough surface

We also set aside 2 small parts of twig for giving some interest onthe base .

If you have a standing bark part, pin it with a small metal pin and try its placing on the base, securing that it will not hide or bother the figure .

Glue it down to its hole

Prepare the small peebles you wish to add, by cleaning them off from any dirt .

Now its the time to cover the total space of the base with 2 parts epoxy putty. Remember always to work the two parts enough time till theyre a perfect homogenous mix with no internal blobs that would prove a problem to our work.

Cover the surface of the wooden base by firmly putting the putty all over , with no gaps at all and also covering gently the surrounding border of the metallic base. Cover with a thing layer the upper base surface taking care not to stuff the feet and pin holes.

While working with the epoxy putty take care that many of them set really quick and you must be prepared on what you wish to do so you dont get with a hardened putty and no texture or other work you wish to do.

If something like this happens clean the holes immidiately so you dont have to redrill them.

While the keep has started to set, after 3-8 minutes usually depending on the brand, dip your texuring stone in water and start to emboss the putty surface with uneven marking in pressure and placing of the stone using all of its sides.

You have already given the texture you need on the base .

Start placing the peebles, with good pressure, in uneven pattern and making groups of 2-3 and also single ones here and there.

Put the fallen twig near the standing bark part.

Also raise the putty around them a bit .

Using the wooden stick raise the putty around them and the twigs, so that they show reallistically putted in the ground and not on the ground.

Arrange the putty around the feet holes, and clean them if theyre stuffed .

Dip the figures feet in water to test them if they now fit firmly after the putty work and while is still soft enough to make minor repairs so that the feet match perfectly with no further need of afterwards additional corrections.

Take care that the feet must not create huge holes in the ground, but in the case os snow some deeper than the usual ones is surely justified.

Leave untouched your putty work to set totally.

You can speed that up with a hair blower, or putting the base in the balcony under bright sun.

Once the putty is totally dry, you can start the painting. sometimes i prime, sometimes i dont .

Depends on the mood.

Generally i suggest you prime. Less paint needed and less layers needed, so thats less work !!

I prepare an acrylic mix of Burnt Umber, English Uniform, Golden Ochre and Flat Brown for my basic coat.

I pass 3-4 thin coats as i dont wanna build up the texture and loose the detail.

Thats a general direction. Here since we will cover with snow its not really important. But if you plan to simulate starting of snowing, then you must take care to show some groundwork.

After all base coating is totally dry in all crevices and tiny curves i use Buff to do a general highlighting, expecially to the stone tops, and also to the upper parts of the wood pieces.

Prefer to do 2-3 lighter passes than one heavy that will prove unrealistic.

Painting will be closed down with 2-3 washes of medium dilluted Cassel Earth oil paint .

Dont use black as many guys do cause that end to a very hard image of the ground that only a few places on the planet really have .

Your paint job is finished, Yes it was that easy !

Check once again the figure if it still fits ok in the holes

Get a small boul and putt some white glue - not too much and springle over some microballons - not too much. stirr till its a bit thicker than the glue alone . if its too flowing or glue dominates a lot you can add some baking soda to save the microballons.

Use the mix carefully to create the snow shaping on your landscape. dont cover everything in the same depth and height , keep the landscape's anatomy and be gentle .

This can be teached only withtrying and trying again. Believe me

Remember that even with a slight wind blowing the snow gets some direction of placing on the objects . so imagine a direction you d like the snow coming from and leave the opposite one on the objects slightly uncovered. Notice that effect on the woods especially .

Take care again not to cover the holes for the figure's feet !!

Leave the mix to set really good and you will see a nice fresh snow. if you want it more sparkling as many modellers do , add to the initial mixture some CA glue mineral filler - small crystalls, and that will give the sparkling effect . Dont overdo it.

Now its time to get the figure on the base .

Prepare a good even mix of 2 parts epoxy glue, or even use thick CA in gel form that fills gap and glues stronger. put some glua also on the figures pins.

Put the figure carefully in the prepared holes and check if its standing in the right position. leave it to dry enough time

The final step is the "still snowing" effect that can be recreated with small spray jets onthe figure with Valejjo's matt acrylic varnish, and immidiately and carefully pouring some microballon dust in a rather uneven manner to get the effect of snowd cloak for example.

Do this also on the surface in some spots to get a different effect of totally fresh and not frozen snow

Thats it .

Relax and enjoy guys. I hope you liked it . Any questions will happily be answered

Keep Safe and dont stop figuring !!


Evros, Greece / Ελλάδα
Joined: October 26, 2004
KitMaker: 161 posts
Historicus Forma: 142 posts
Posted: Monday, November 06, 2006 - 02:04 PM UTC
Bravo my friend Costas. That's a really simple but informative article on how to make simple but effective groundworks. People here can see how easy it is to enchace your figure groundwork, with simple and easy ways. I wait for a water groundwork soon

Kikladhes, Greece / Ελλάδα
Joined: September 30, 2003
KitMaker: 6,871 posts
Historicus Forma: 3,573 posts
Posted: Monday, November 06, 2006 - 02:07 PM UTC
Water technique for smallportions will be presented in a next article. My technique "Water in 90 seconds" i presented in last Athens Show Demo
Bayern, Germany
Joined: July 06, 2005
KitMaker: 1,056 posts
Historicus Forma: 1,023 posts
Posted: Monday, November 06, 2006 - 02:27 PM UTC
Hello Costas,

very interesting SBS !!! And a very nice setup for a really beautiful figure !!!

Best wishes my friend,

Victoria, Australia
Joined: July 28, 2004
KitMaker: 10,889 posts
Historicus Forma: 4,745 posts
Posted: Monday, November 06, 2006 - 02:37 PM UTC
Hi Costas,

Very nice SBS I think we'll definitely see this one become a main feature

Tekirdag, Turkey / Türkçe
Joined: August 21, 2002
KitMaker: 3,289 posts
Historicus Forma: 1,182 posts
Posted: Monday, November 06, 2006 - 02:50 PM UTC
No questions indeed Costas, the SBS is very nice presented, after all the pictures talk themselves. Thanks for sharing your methods here.
Kikladhes, Greece / Ελλάδα
Joined: September 30, 2003
KitMaker: 6,871 posts
Historicus Forma: 3,573 posts
Posted: Monday, November 06, 2006 - 03:09 PM UTC
Thanks a lo tguys i intend to bringout a series of 5-6 more of them as soon as i come back from my world tour!!!!
Staff MemberAssociate Editor
Warszawa, Poland
Joined: April 23, 2003
KitMaker: 1,923 posts
Historicus Forma: 628 posts
Posted: Monday, November 06, 2006 - 04:40 PM UTC
Thanks Costas. Very useful SBS. I can't wait to see your next article.
Kikladhes, Greece / Ελλάδα
Joined: September 30, 2003
KitMaker: 6,871 posts
Historicus Forma: 3,573 posts
Posted: Monday, November 06, 2006 - 04:45 PM UTC
I ll try to keep it soon Marcin. Thanks for your comments
Joined: July 12, 2006
KitMaker: 770 posts
Historicus Forma: 700 posts
Posted: Monday, November 06, 2006 - 08:07 PM UTC
Thanks for sharing this SBS. It is very well written and easy to follow. I'm not familiar with the microballons, is that something you'd find in a craft store?

Staff Member_ADVISOR
Florida, United States
Joined: October 17, 2003
KitMaker: 15,332 posts
Historicus Forma: 865 posts
Posted: Tuesday, November 07, 2006 - 12:08 AM UTC
Nice SBS Costas.
England - East Midlands, United Kingdom
Joined: December 16, 2005
KitMaker: 2,864 posts
Historicus Forma: 2,422 posts
Posted: Tuesday, November 07, 2006 - 12:56 AM UTC
Very well done SBS Costas,your snow effect and the tecnique you use are very good,one i will most definately be trying.

Kikladhes, Greece / Ελλάδα
Joined: September 30, 2003
KitMaker: 6,871 posts
Historicus Forma: 3,573 posts
Posted: Tuesday, November 07, 2006 - 10:24 AM UTC
Thanksa lot guys. My intention in this series of articles is to present them simple enough, so you get motivated ti try. Then you will lift it up wherever you like
Kikladhes, Greece / Ελλάδα
Joined: September 30, 2003
KitMaker: 6,871 posts
Historicus Forma: 3,573 posts
Posted: Tuesday, November 07, 2006 - 10:33 AM UTC
Microballons is a synthetic filler basicly for keeping light wight in joining materials butthey have the perfect use for snow as they dont come yellowand they also dont yellow withtime .

Woodland Scenics makes them but also many other companies

check here for example

Kobenhavn, Denmark
Joined: June 29, 2004
KitMaker: 6,718 posts
Historicus Forma: 2,028 posts
Posted: Tuesday, November 07, 2006 - 02:01 PM UTC
This is great stuff Costas. Very useful. Well writen and easy to follow SBS.
Thanks my friend.
Kikladhes, Greece / Ελλάδα
Joined: September 30, 2003
KitMaker: 6,871 posts
Historicus Forma: 3,573 posts
Posted: Tuesday, November 07, 2006 - 05:23 PM UTC
Thanks my friend. Happy to prove usefull to you
Attica, Greece / Ελλάδα
Joined: September 20, 2006
KitMaker: 10 posts
Historicus Forma: 7 posts
Posted: Friday, November 10, 2006 - 12:12 AM UTC
Excellent work kostas. Very good tutorial.
Queensland, Australia
Joined: April 10, 2005
KitMaker: 2,654 posts
Historicus Forma: 1,964 posts
Posted: Monday, November 13, 2006 - 12:54 PM UTC
Costas I really enjoyed the sbs and have got a lot of ideas from this one -also I was WAS??? going to ask about the microballons but mate you were way way ahead of me -A sincere thank you for all your work in Photographing this and putting up on the net
Pennsylvania, United States
Joined: July 13, 2004
KitMaker: 6,705 posts
Historicus Forma: 150 posts
Posted: Monday, November 13, 2006 - 06:22 PM UTC
Costas, I just caught this post today and I want to say, GREAT SBS, mate! . . .It's quality tutorials like this that make invaluable aids to many (myself included!) modelers.
Thanks for the time, thought, and effort involved, keep 'em coming!
Ankara, Turkey / Türkçe
Joined: May 30, 2003
KitMaker: 1,093 posts
Historicus Forma: 32 posts
Posted: Monday, November 13, 2006 - 11:56 PM UTC
Invaluable hints! Thanks,Costas!

Virginia, United States
Joined: November 19, 2005
KitMaker: 1,361 posts
Historicus Forma: 91 posts
Posted: Friday, January 05, 2007 - 09:59 PM UTC
This is the best snow tutorial I have ever seen! Very good work!
Kikladhes, Greece / Ελλάδα
Joined: September 30, 2003
KitMaker: 6,871 posts
Historicus Forma: 3,573 posts
Posted: Monday, January 08, 2007 - 11:16 AM UTC
Thanks a lot guys. I already have started toprepare a next one, with quick water techniques . keep Safe