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Article updated: 2016.12.01

There are several ways you can base your miniatures, and there are several philosophies regarding basing.

Basing philosophies

Basing for gaming: The main purpose of the base is that the figure would stand on the table. It doesn't really matter what kind of base you use.

Scenic basing: Miniature modellers prefer to use scenic basing, mostly grassy bases. This might come from Games Workshop guidelines.

 

For further information on miniature base types, read our Games Nexus article:

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No base

Put a bit of putty or self adhesive glue under the legs of the model and it will stand.

Benefits:

  • You don't have to worry about the base.

Problems:

  • Most wargaming systems require you the use of some kind of base. So even if you don't glue your mini on one, you might need to prepare some for gaming purposes.
  • Most miniatures are not perfectly balanced, so they can topple during games, even if the glue would hold.
  • Most glue won't hold the miniatures perfectly.

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Blank base

A blank base is a base that is not textured, usually a flat plastic base.

Blank base colour types: You have several choices.

  • Transparent: You can see through the base to reveal the terrain that's under the miniature.
  • Non-transparent: You can't see through these bases.
    • Dark: A plain dark base.
    • Coloured: A plain base that is painted in the chosen colour.

Markings: As your base is blank, you can use markings on the side or the top of the base. These can be engraved or painted on. Markings can include army signs, squad markings, or anything you fancy.

Blank transparent base

You use  a transparent base to help your miniature stand.

Benefits:

  • You can use it on any kind of terrain, and it will look okay.

Problems:

  • Most transparent bases glare, so it can detract from the effect of transparency. If you use matte varnish on them, it will reduce the transparency.

Blank dark base

A plain, dark (black or dark brown) base.

Benefits:

  • It doesn't require effort, as most companies sell black bases.
  • It's enough for gaming purposes.

Problems:

  • It will look out of place on every kind of terrain.

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Flat base

The flat base is painted with colours to look scenic.

Benefits:

  • It looks okay on the terrain it is designated.
  • It can be easier to do it, or more cost effective than scenic bases, but still look better than blank bases.

Problems:

  • It will look out of place on every kind of terrain.

Flat base - Resources

Sorastro's Painting: Sorastro's Zombicide: Black Plague Painting Guide - The Zombies: Tutorial video about painting flat bases with a medieval brick road or dungeon stones pattern.

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Scenic base

You texture and paint the base for a terrain type you've chosen. A simple scenic base differs from a diorama base in the amount of scenery - on a scenic base there's usually a couple of small rocks, or some tufts of grass, just to give a semblence of terrain. Gaming companies sell plastic bases with scenic textures, that you only need to paint.

When you create a scenic base, you need to decide:

1) Miniature first: Glue the miniature on the base, and create the scenic base around it. If you are using miniatures with slottabase, this is the only choice you have.

2) Scenic base first: Create scenic bases, and glue miniatures on them after they are finished.

Scenic base types: You have to decide what kind of terrain will you emulate.

  • Bare ground basing: You paint it brown, and texture the base like it's barren ground. You might also add small rocks on the base. Unless it's a sandy desert or a tropical rainforest, it won't look that much out of place as a grassy ground base. It won't look that good in urban environment though.
  • Specific terrain base: You paint it and put scenery on it to reflect the look of a specific terrain (grassy ground, arctic tundra, urban pavement, etc). It will look out of place in every other environment, and it can even look out of place in that specific environment, if the look of the base doesn't fit the look of table.
    • Home ground: The terrain on the base looks like the home of the miniature. Elves have forest ground, sand people have sand, urban humans have city streets, sailors have wooden boards on the base, etc.
    • Battle ground: The terrain on the base depicts the terrain where the imagined battle takes place. It could be any kind of terrain you imagine.
    • Model specific ground: The terrain is chosen to make the miniature look the best, or to reflect the character of the model. It might be totally different for every model in the same squad, or for every squad in the same army, if that would look good individually.

Benefits:

  • It will look good on the same type of terrain.
  • Bare ground basing could look okay in almost every terrain, except in buildings.

Problems:

  • The more distinct the base terrain is, the more out of place will it look on every other kind of terrain. The choice of bare ground can be better.
  • If you glue your miniature before creating the scenic base, you might damage the paintjob. If you create the scenic base first, then glue the mini on it, it might not look that nice.

Scenic base side types: You have to decide what do you do with the sides of the base.

  • Dark side: Paint it dark (black or dark brown). It will make the base stand out of the terrain so it will detract from the terrain effect. It's easier to see the base of the miniature.
  • Terrain colour: Paint it with a similar colour you use for the base. It will blend in more with the terrain. It will make it harder to see the base of the mini (this can be a problem in games).
  • Textured side: Texture it with the same method you do the top of the base. It will look better on photographs. It will make it harder to see the base of the mini (this can be a problem in games). The sides will chip off slowly unless you protect it very well.
  • Game-specific colour: Some games require you to use coloured bases. If you make terrain bases, the sides can still remain coloured.

If you are worried that the base will look out of place on any terrain, create a set of bases for every kind of terrain you can imagine, and make them removable (with pins, for example) so you can use the appropriate type.

Scenic diorama base

You choose a terrain type and create a little diorama on the base, as if the base were part of a scenic terrain, with additional parts, like large rocks, bushes, trees, barrels, parts of buildings, vehicle wrecks or casualty figures. You have the same choices for the top and side of your base as with any scenic base.

Benefits:

  • It will look very good on the same type of terrain.

Problems:

  • It will look out of place (or even stupid) on every other kind of terrain.
  • The fact that the diorama parts move around the battlefield can be strange for some people.

Scenic base - Resources

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Single and multibase

Single base

You put one miniature on every single base.

 

Multibase

You put more than one miniature on a base,

Multibase - Resources

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Additional options for every kind of base

Colour markers: You can use different colours to show game-related signs. You could use colours to differentiate between your squads, or in different types of units that wear the same uniform (it can be especially important if you are going for a realistic look, where the leaders of the squad look just like the others and don't wear a red hat).

  • Coloured base sides: You can paint a colour on the side of the base or just a part of it.
  • Coloured flags: You can glue little flags on your bases, or drill holes and insert flag poles when needed.

Text: You can write text on the sides of the base, or on the top of any kind of blank base.

  • Names: You can write the name or number of the squad, or the name of the specific miniature.
  • Game data: Adding game related data on the miniature itself can help speed up play as you and your opponent don't need to check it in the roster sheets or rulebooks.

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What is the most important for you?

Gaming

Every wargaming ruleset has guidelines (or strict rules) what kind of bases you have to use. That means, if you are using your miniatures for gaming, you'll probably need a base. Also, as different rulesets could require different bases, you either need separate miniatures for different games, or you need removable bases, so you can use the same figure with different bases.

Photography

If you'd like to take photos of individual miniatures, scenic bases will look better. If you'd like to take photos of large armies on gaming boards, use bases that will look good on that board. If you only use your miniatures for taking photos, you might not even need a base, you could just use temporary measures for your figures to stand (pin, glue putty, self-adhesive glue).

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What do you think of these miniature painting design concepts of basing? What is your take on this? What are your experiences? Do you have questions about these concepts? Tell us in the comments!

 

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