Groundwork Tutorial [Archive] - OSW: One Sixth Warrior Forum

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06-09-2005, 15:03
I have been asked a couple of times to put a tutorial together for basic groundwork. So here goes.

First things first. Have a Plan! Think about what you want to do. Different environments require different additions, not only the make up what’s lying around, but what items you use for visual interest. A solider standing in an empty street is not enough. You need to add trash, debris, spent cases, etc. Planning your presentation is just as important as the quality of your figure. The best figure in the world will not look as good as you think if you don’t make the base match. Spend a little time looking at pictures of the actual subject.

For a single figure I use a 7” round wood base. Remember scale is important. A figure is usually viewed from roughly 2-3 feet away. Your base has to be big enough to have room for the figure with a little groundwork showing. Some modelers may argue with me on this, but 3-4” bases are just too small. It ends up looking like your figure is standing on the head of a pin.

This is a 7” base and just big enough for your presentation.

06-09-2005, 15:03
Materials list:

Wood Base
Sculpting Tool
Railroad Modelers Ballast (Large to small)
Spray Paint (see Below)
Yellow Glue (Elmers Glue will work also)
Foliage (Grass, Weeds, Flowers etc.)

Lets get started. Most hobby stores carry different kinds of wood bases. The one on the left is my choice. It is a little more expensive but it is a good quality wood and costs less than $5. It is found with the clock making supplies. It is shrink-wrapped and sealed in plastic. This is important. Don’t un-wrap it when you get home leave the plastic on! You can peel off the labels if you want.

You are going to build your groundwork out of a material with a high water content. If you get the good base with the plastic wrap, you can sculpt your groundwork right on the plastic without getting the wood wet. Once its dry, remove the plastic and peal it away from the groundwork, then stain the base and glue on your groundwork.

The base on the right is the cheap Pine one that you find in the hobby store. I paid $1.50 for it but if it gets damp it will WARP! Don’t use it. I have used these bases and covered them with tin foil or plastic to do the groundwork. THEY STILL WARP!

06-09-2005, 15:04
For the groundwork itself I use “Celluclay” (the product on the right) it is cheap dries solid and last forever. The stuff in blue (“Claycrete”) is new to me. I just found it at the hobby shop and we will try it with this project. Another product you might want to try is “Sculptamold”, I have good recommendations for it. I guess it depends where you live as to what’s out there.

I am going to build a fairly flat piece of ground. It will represent a courtyard with a wall. There will be two figures looking at a map on a table, with other accessories for visual interest.

06-09-2005, 15:05
The groundwork is one of the last things you do. It is important that you finish your bashing and painting first, so everything is in the position you want and ready to go.

06-09-2005, 15:06
Here’s the basic groundwork part. Mix enough of the paper mache to cover your base about ¼ inch in depth. As you put it down leave it a little lumpy. No ground is flat! Once you are satisfied you have the base covered, get out some small rock and dirt. I use railroad modelers’ ballast that you get at the model railroad shop. You can also find it at your local hobby shop. It does not matter what color the rock is, you’re going to paint it. Start by adding some of the largest rock. Then add the ballast from medium to small. You should cover at least 95% of the groundwork. Then just press it down with your fingers. This will help it stick to the wet paper mache.

Now take a small tool like a plaster knife, paint mixing trowel, or just a sharp stick or pencil, and sculpt in some cracks and small holes in the groundwork. You are giving it some definition.

The last step is to take your figures and accessories and put them on the groundwork. You want to push them in to get them to stand straight and indent the ground. Remove any of the larger rocks that are interfering with the way they stand. Once your satisfied take them off and let it dry (about 2 days).

06-09-2005, 15:08
Base with Celluclay and Ballast

06-09-2005, 15:08
Once the groundwork is dry you can paint it while its still on the board or remove it and paint it separately. I usually remove it so I can stain and finish the wood base while I’m working on the painting. One note though. You only have to finish the edge and maybe the bottom of the wood plaque. The top will be covered with the groundwork and I don’t usually worry about it.

For painting I use only spray paint. (Or an airbrush.) First, I completely cover the groundwork in a dark earth color. Make sure no paper mache is showing through. This not only starts the coloring but it also seals the ballast stone to the base. Because I use acrylic and enamels I let it dry in between coats. Next. I might lightly spray it with a little lighter color like light earth. But I mean lightly, keep your angle to the base shallow and your spray can at least 12-15” away. One pass with the paint is enough. You can see in the picture what it looks like after these first two colors. I have also lined in red on the photo the indentations left by pushing in the wall and crate.

06-09-2005, 15:09
Dark Paints

06-09-2005, 15:10
The last step in the painting is to give it definition. With the light sand color dust it by keeping your angle to the base shallow and your spray can at least 12-15” away. All you want to paint is the rocks sticking up. I usually give it only one pass then turn the base 90 degrees, then another pass then turn and paint, turn and paint. You can see in the picture that the light passes of paint only stick to the high spots and leave some definition.

06-09-2005, 15:11
Next, I added the wall section and glued it down. This is a large feature and the foliage needs to grow up around it. With yellow wood glue start adding your grass. In this case it is a Spanish moss that you find in the dried flower section of the Michaels or Hobby Lobby store. The green moss on the wall is the dried crushed tea leaves that you can find at the hobby shop. The taller grass that is sprouting up is dried grass from the Hobby Lobby.

06-09-2005, 15:11
Lastly I added some dried flowers from Hobby Lobby. This gives a little visual interest, and in 1/6th scale flowers/weeds are visible. Use your imagination or look at pictures of the part of the world you are replicating.

All that’s left is to glue it to the wood base and add your subject.

06-09-2005, 15:13
Here’s our finished vignette. With the figures and accessories glued on. Good Luck. If you need more info PM or E-mail me and I'll see if I can help.


09-18-2005, 00:14
This is a tutorial I waited for a long time! Thank you so much! As for the final result, this is one of the best I've ever seen! You are a treu artist! Thanks for sharing.

My compliments!


Solid Snake
09-18-2005, 02:26
Very nices! I'll have to try this sometime!

Just Clay
09-24-2005, 17:24
Sweet mother of grogg! Those are fantastic! You're one talented guy.