Making Scenic bases

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Thread: Making Scenic bases

  1. #1
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    Making Scenic bases

    Just a few tips for building Scenic bases to Photograph or display your figures on : the materials are those you can get easily in the UK , but I'm sure similar or Identical stuff is available pretty well everywhere :~

    I've been building little landscapes in various scales for many years now , and it's got much easier recently because of the general availability of really good scenic materials from Model shops , and also the appearance of DIY megastores almost everywhere means that it's easy to get the materials for baseboards at knockdown prices .
    By way of an example , a while back I made this little piece of Spain/Portugal for putting my Napoleonic chaps on when taking snaps :



    I Started with a piece of MDF ( = Medium density fibreboard ) offcut I had lying around , which had come from the pile of such scraps you find in any DIY store near the big saw bench where they cut the stuff to size for customers . 10mm thick , and this bit is 12" x 15" . You can sometimes get the smaller bits for nothing .
    The " Ground " and bank is made from insulation foam : this come in various thicknesses , and has silver paper on both sides : strip this off , and you will find you can cut the stuff in any plane with a breadknife or a padsaw : BEFORE YOU START , realise that you are going to make a Hell of a Mess , so take the whole job somewhere it doesn't matter , like the shed , and get the Vacuum cleaner out ready .

    Carve the foam roughly with a padsaw , breadknife , and for the fine stuff , a little rasp :



    The use the PVA glue to stick it down to your baseboard : I spread the glue with a suitable old brush , but you can use your fingers if you like that sort of thing ; here's the assembled scene drying out :




    After carving the foam to a shape you are happy with , and letting it all dry ( overnight is best ) you can mix up the surface mixture , which I call Goop : on the left you can see the filler ( I buy the cheapest ) . Find a suitable disposable mixing vessel : take-away trays are good .

    The Goop mix : Water , filler , colouring matter and perhaps texture : this is all up to your own creativity . If Temperate rather than Arid , I add Burnt Umber poster colour Powder to the mix : Yellow Ochre is also useful for more Arid soils . You can throw in sand , real earth from the garden , and frankly anything that's suitable .
    Whatever you choose , mix into a stiffish paste , and paint it on the foam :



    Before it dries , you have a couple of hours in which to dress the surface : in this case I'm using a bag of Limestone chips from the Garden Centre to build a tumbledown wall at the back , simply by pressing them into the foam and letting the Goop glue them in place .

    It's worth scattering the basics of the vegetation on at this stage : these are all scenic dressing powders and foams from the Model Railway section of the local model shop . There are various brands , and what you but depends on the effect you are trying to make : I find that " Woodland Scenics " are the best , but there are several others .
    They cost money , and you might find a better way of doing it cheaper : BE CREATIVE !

    Ths Scatter can be done by hand , into the wet Goop :



    This dressing is a kind of fine powdered foam called " turf " : this will mostly stay put once the Goop has dried , but the excess that doesn't stick can be saved : I work with the base in a large shallow tray , and periodically shake the excess into it for re-use

    And than it's a matter of adding more vegetation to taste , in this case various foams and " Foliage " which is foam in a kind of fibrous mesh , which can be teased out to look like fine leafy plants . If the Goop has already dried out , just glue in place with little blobs of PVA .

    The Insulation foam can be used in many ways : here's a Bamboo Grove , where the fake plants are simply rammed into the base ( this is one great advantage of having the foam under the surface ). The soil surface is as described above , but the leaf litter was just that : dead leaves from the garden , minced up small and dropped into the wet filler :



    Here's two lumps of desert ( WIP ) where the foam has been covered in a Goop of filler , sand and talc : not finished yet , but you can see the effect :



    And here's another trick : long grass , made from Funfur , stretched over a foam base , glued down with PVA , and painted :



    GO AWAY BENDY !

    And three smaller bases , with various scenic dressings :



    Left : Heki grass mat , from the model shop ;
    Centre : Goop , fine leaf scatter , and tufts of grass mat ;
    Right : Funfur long grass .

    Finally , for a temporary pic , you can use real plants : this is Box cuttings , from a neighbours Garden , added to the first base shown to give the impression of the Laurel plants on Busaco ridge : the cuttings are just rammed into the base , and the underlying foam holds them in place :



    Exactly the same techniques apply when making a smaller base for a single figure : you can use foam covered in Goop , or just filler over MDF , then dress the surface appropriately to your subject :

    Here's Erich amongst the rocks of Cassino ( limestone bits in filler ) ;

    Norman in Libya ( budgie grit and sand in filler ) ;

    And Frankie in the snow of Belgium ( plain talc and filler ) :






    The Possibilities are Endless .


    ************************************************** ***********

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  3. #2
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    great tutorial, Tony. THis should really come in handy for future projects.

    CC

  4. #3
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    Thanks much Tony.......
    "Other people's illusion of safety does not supersede my human rights." -Gabe Suarez

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  6. #4
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    Awesome tutorial and I'm sure we'll see some great bases as people try out these techniques.
    Mik

  7. #5
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    Wow, Mr Barton thanks so much!! This is some great help! THanks again!
    Second place is first loser!

  8. #6
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    Cool tips! I have one question, where can I get goop? What is it's real name exactly? Many thanks.

  9. #7
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    "Goop " is just my name for the mixture of filler , pigment and water used to make the surface : use any domestic filler you can get ; pigments can be powder or paint ; and you can add sand or anything else you want : for short ,the end result is " Goop "

  10. #8
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    Dear son, I'm amazed. Once again...
    Credidi me pulcrum felem vidisse...

  11. #9
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    Thumbs up nice tip!

    I have a few of those revolving stands that came with the old Hasbro Apes figures (and the Universal Monsters as well). I was thinking of adding texture to them for added realism.
    nice tutorial you gave there.

    One Shot out!

  12. #10
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    Thanks much my friend Tony.......!!!!

  13. #11
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    great tutorial, Tony.thanks for sharing the information..................Hammer

  14. #12
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    WoW! Just saw this tutorial Its going to help so much!! Thanks.

    Where did you get the fake bamboo?
    All your base, are belong to us !

  15. #13
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    Excellent tutorial--thanks!

    What a great and wonderful tutorial!

    I haven't begun making any outdoors-type bases (I've been feeling rather intimidated by them actually) but the way you've described and shown how to do it makes it seem like a very do-able project! I think I am, going to have to take a trip to the local B&Q soon to get stuff to start

    Thank you! (and I hope I'll share my results in the not too far future)

  16. #14
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    Dear Wun Lung : the bamboo was just lucky ; they were selling fake plastic and paper bamboo in the local hardware shop . I bought it all ! If you keep a look out you can find almost anything .
    The trick with all these bases is to plan ahead : have a clear idea or sketch before you start ; gather your materials carefully ; and find a big space where it doesn't matter if you make a mess : you can work on the washable kitchen tops if domestic arrangements allow. Gather mixing trays , some big cheap artist bristle brushes , filler , colouring matter earth , sand. , grit , scenic plants . Then save time and cleaning by making several at once .

  17. #15
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    That bamboo was a great find! I would've probably bought it all too! Looks great. Nice use of materials in your work.

    Thanks for the list and such.
    All your base, are belong to us !

  18. #16
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    Re: Making Scenic bases

    Thats a great learning tool for a newbie like myself. Do you do any airbrushing on your sets. I just ordered the airbrush and I wasnt sure if that would make it to "Cheesey."

    Cool.

  19. #17
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    Re: Making Scenic bases

    I don't have an airbrush : just one of those things I never learned to use. We can't all do everything !
    It would be a useful tool, but it's not essential.
    As you say , watch out for Cheesy effects : the real world is not a very airbrushed kind of place, save in special circumstances where there are even gradations of one colour against another.

  20. #18
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    Re: Making Scenic bases

    Tony, I know you've don a variety of fantastic tutorials elsewhere. Any possibility of getting more posted here, please?

  21. #19
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    Re: Making Scenic bases

    nice work.. i like the scenics grass effect..

  22. #20
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    Re: Making Scenic bases

    Nice work. Great advice and I am eager to try this method.

  23. #21
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    Re: Making Scenic bases

    Thank you for sharing these tips they look excellent, I will be trying them soon as pos.

    Thanks

    Jason

  24. #22
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    Re: Making Scenic bases

    excelent thread, thankx for the tips

  25. #23
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    Re: Making Scenic bases

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Barton View Post
    Dear Wun Lung : the bamboo was just lucky ; they were selling fake plastic and paper bamboo in the local hardware shop . I bought it all ! If you keep a look out you can find almost anything .
    The trick with all these bases is to plan ahead : have a clear idea or sketch before you start ; gather your materials carefully ; and find a big space where it doesn't matter if you make a mess : you can work on the washable kitchen tops if domestic arrangements allow. Gather mixing trays , some big cheap artist bristle brushes , filler , colouring matter earth , sand. , grit , scenic plants . Then save time and cleaning by making several at once .
    Phantastik work/contribution as always...

    Important work keeps scuttling my plans for diorama building...
    But it can't stop me from buying/collecting items for the dios of the future.
    (I have been in collecting mode for going on two years now without a start tho...lol).

    I agree that you you have to grab something when the opportunity arises.
    Months ago a scored garden sandstone irregular rocks that people left on the nature strip for the dump. I could barely lift a couple of them into the van (after asking the people who were throwing them out).

    When I trim trees, I keep the more artistic looking branches suitable for 1/6 scale trees...and I am always on the look-out for vegetation that would be suitable for a 1/6 scale dio when I go bush walking or go to Flower Power.

    For quit a while I have been thinking about germinating grass seeds, etc with the intention of spraying them with vanish, etc to keep the shape after it dries for painting.

    The use of Bonsai plants probably isn't going to happen since they need too much TLC, but it might be an option. Maybe I could rent them and hand them back.

    Preparation is half the fun, imo...

    >>>

  26. #24
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    Re: Making Scenic bases

    Fantastic tutorial, you build stunning figures and bases. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Stu

  27. #25
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    Re: Making Scenic bases

    Quote Originally Posted by Sgt_Steiner View Post
    Phantastik work/contribution as always...

    Important work keeps scuttling my plans for diorama building...
    But it can't stop me from buying/collecting items for the dios of the future.
    (I have been in collecting mode for going on two years now without a start tho...lol).

    I agree that you you have to grab something when the opportunity arises.
    Months ago a scored garden sandstone irregular rocks that people left on the nature strip for the dump. I could barely lift a couple of them into the van (after asking the people who were throwing them out).

    When I trim trees, I keep the more artistic looking branches suitable for 1/6 scale trees...and I am always on the look-out for vegetation that would be suitable for a 1/6 scale dio when I go bush walking or go to Flower Power.

    For quit a while I have been thinking about germinating grass seeds, etc with the intention of spraying them with vanish, etc to keep the shape after it dries for painting.

    The use of Bonsai plants probably isn't going to happen since they need too much TLC, but it might be an option. Maybe I could rent them and hand them back.

    Preparation is half the fun, imo...

    >>>
    Don't laugh but you can even use household brushes and brooms that have suitable bristles to make clumped foilage and grass hedges.
    You just turn the head upside down and set it into the base when you start.

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