Sunday, 3 February 2019

How to: Basing Middle-Earth

The finished bases
I'm trying to put more painting and modelling guides onto the blog so I thought I'd start a year likely to be filled with Middle-Earth miniatures with a guide to how I do them, alongside a few thoughts I have at the end on variations. For reference, I have largely followed GW's grassy plains tutorial for my Middle-Earth miniatures but with some minor difference.

I wanted a consistent basing scheme for all of my Lord of the Rings and Hobbit stuff, rather than a different one themed to each force. This is so that should I choose to ally forces I will still have a fairly unified looking army, and it will make using miniatures in different armies (for example, my orc warriors will turn up in the Angmar, Mordor, Barad-Dur, and Isengard forces I field) much easier from a visual point of view.

Sand --> Mournfang Brown
First up is applying the sand. The way I did this was to water down some pva glue (just a little bit), apply it all over the base, and then dunk the base into a tub filled with sand. I made sure to keep dunking the miniature until no more sand would adhere to the base, then I waited to let it dry.

Once the pva had all dried (I like to leave it overnight), I then covered the top of the base and the rim with watered-down Mournfang Brown. I'll come back and tidy the rim up to a firmer colour later.

Agrax Earthshade --> Mournfang Brown

I then deviated from the GW method linked above by washing the top of the base with Agrax Earthshade, before dry brushing with Mourning Brown. This is just to make sure any sand I may have missed with the first layer is at least stained brown, and also makes the recesses just that bit darker which is just personal preference.

Zamesi Desert --> Ushabti Bone
This is then followed by a dry brush of Zamesi Desert, followed by a dry brush of Ushabti Bone.

Mournfang Brown on rims and blood tidied around hooves
Once the dry brushing is complete the rim of the base can have Mournfang Brown reapplied to make the colour solid, and if there are any effect around the miniature's feet (like I have done with blood around the hooves of the Mouth of Sauron's horse) this can then be applied to the base around it.

Grass and any finishing touches
Following this add a bit of grass to finish off the generic 'plains' look. My plan is to use only dead grass (my favourite Mordheim Turf is great for this) on my evil armies, and living grass (I'll probably use the somewhat muted Scorched Grass) for my good armies. This will mean that allied forces will maintain a level of cohesion, while at the same time there is a subtle differentiation between good and evil. The only exception I might make is the Dead of Dunharrow, where I'd be tempted to use a mix of living and dead grass for thematic reasons.

Then you can add on whatever subtle touches you fancy like tree-roots or rocks. I plan on putting a skull or two on the bases of my Angmar heroes, and a few bits of ruins on my Moria bases, but otherwise I'll continue to follow the scheme laid down here. A bit of blood (if not already applied) may also be welcome if thematically appropriate, but I think I'd be tempted to keep gore to a minimum on Middle-Earth miniatures, don't know why I just would. Whatever you add, neutral and dark-to-mid toned colours are going to be the ideal.

These bases are ultimately designed to be fairly simple to do and also generally unobtrusive. While one would usually base dark miniatures on lighter bases and vice versa, this is more of a mid-tone so it can work fairly well with just about anything. The goal here is to allow the miniature to take centre-stage and not be overshadowed by a busy base.

I hope you've enjoyed this little how-to and best of luck with your own basing in Middle-Earth!

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