Sea Bases

Magnet attached to Base

Making the Sea Bases is a fairly straightforward, although slightly messy process. To be totally honest, I stole the method from the GHQ website but adapted what was there for the bases under the vessels. I also used Vallejo or Citadel paints for colouring the bases then varnished with Vallejo or Army Painter varnishes.

The method, starting from scratch. I found some brilliant board in Art Friend, Singapore, that I have not found elsewhere . It is, I am sure, a plastic of some sort but behaves in many respects like a cardboard. If you are reading this Doug, I seem t recall showing you a piece in Canberra one or two lifetimes ago 🙂 

Anyway, the process should work well with MDF or other materials as well although I am not sure I would try with cardboard (does anyone base on cardboard anymore?).

Magnetic strip is added under the base for those times transporting. The Navwar metal ships are probably robust enough to handle some bouncing around during transport but Fujimi plastics, and I guess GHQ Micronauts are a little more fragile with more parts that can break off.

Flex Paste spread across base, ships pressed in

The next step is to spread some of the flex paste across the base. This is kind a hit and miss at the start until you get used to working with it but I reckon a depth of approximately 1mm is good. I then wait a couple of minutes for it to start to dry a little. 

Next step is to lightly tap a finger across the top. This will add the wave shapes to the surface. the surface can be shaped as well to make a more regular wave pattern or wakes for the vessels (remembering the Kelvin angle of 19 degrees from centre line).

The ship can then be pressed into the surface, perhaps even sliding it forward a little to add a little dimension to the wake on the bow.  

If not able to get Woodland Scenics Flex Paste, which is great for this and some other modelling tasks, maybe the same can be achieved with something like Polyfilla, although I have not tried that. This jar of Flex Pastes has lasted me about 5 years so far and has not dried out greatly yet.

Ship on base. The paste is usually enough to hold it in place

Taking a closer look to the image to the right and below and you can see the rippled surface.

At this point, I leave the vessel embedded in the base overnight to let the Flex Paste dry properly and cure. I have not had any warping on the bases of any of the ships I have based this way.

I guess it would be possible to paint after a couple of hours.

I should add as well that when doing this, it is useful to have a damp rag handy to wipe finger on as the Flex Paste will build up there. I have not had any problems either just using a naked finger and/or a coffee stirrer to do these bases. 

A better close up of the surface prior to painting

For painting the bases, firstly I undercoat the base and the ship in water undercoat suits the painting style I am using. For recent vessels this has been grey. I then use four colours in the following order:

  1. Dark blue
  2. Light or fluorescent green
  3. Light blue
  4. White

The process is to first paint the base in dark blue as a foundation coat. Next the green is thinned down, to almost invisible – say 1:5 or 1:6. The base is then washed in the green. When that dries, a dry brush of light blue followed by a light dry brush of white.

Paint the ship, then using white again, run it down the side of the vessel, letting it thin as you drag it down to make the wake on the side of the ship. When dry, the sea can be varnished, other in satin of gloss varnish, depending on what you prefer. The vessel can also be varnished, in matt or satin. Voila, you have a ship that looks like it is at sea.

The final result – in this case, satin varnish on the sea surface

A new material

The label on the plastic sheet
The label on the plastic sheet

I was walking around Art Friend the other week here, looking for some A4(ish) size sheets of 3mm MDF. These would be perfect, I thought, for making terrain squares for the Aeronef project. They didn’t have any.

I did, however, walk past the plasticard ((very expensive and now warping under my Middle Eastern 2mm buildings)) and came to one corner and end of the store. There I found some plastic sheets, about 3mm thick. I thought I’d get one, it was only 90 cents, and try it out.

It cuts with ease using a box/carton cutter and a steel rules. It is slightly less “bendy” than balsa but appears as strong as MDF. Because it is a PVC, there is no grain so slicing in any direction is fine.

So far I have used it for basing under some ships. I am also planning on using it to make some 15mm DBA terrain pieces. I also think that the next batch of 2mm terrain will go onto some 1mm thick sheets of this stuff.

I’ll also post pictures of the terrain when it is done. I’m also sorry that I cannot give more of a name to it than just the label in the photo.

WIP – 15mm American Civil War – Union

DSC01450Most of the 15mm ACW figures are painted and just waiting basing. I had originally started basing on 30mm frontage bases when we decided that we would follow Fire and Fury basing – that is, a 1-inch wide base as the standard. This resulted in my “unbasing” some figures and rebasing on the 1-inch size.

When using a 30mm square base, I was basing 4 infantry figures per base. However, as we are changing to the 1-inch base, I will only be sticking three figures to the infantry bases. This will also give about a 25% increase in the number of bases available.

The photo to the left is a view of the basing material and the first batch of cavalry being based. I got my bases from Litko Game Accessories. LItko offers a plywood base as well as adhesive magnetic tape pre-cut to the base size. Mind you, it does take a while to stick the magnetic material to the bottom of the base, but the fit between the wooden base and the magnetic material is great.

The figures shown above were unbased to start with. I also had some 15mm cavalry already based which I needed to unbase and rebase. The picture below shows the figures based so far.


Magnetic Tape – Making it Straight


Not that type of magnetic tape, the other!

One of the issues I have had in the past with adhesive magnetic tape is that it comes in rolls. The tape is stored for long periods and the closer you get to the end of the roll, the smaller the radius of the roll and therefore the harder it is to straighten the tape out when affixing small lengths of it to a base.

The solution? When I buy that tape now I lay it up on the outside of the refrigerator door at home. Might not look so attractive on the door but a week or so stored this way and the tape remains flat to the end of the roll.

Still, if needed, you can also slides notes and kids drawings under the tape on the door so you don’t lose any of the domestic advantages of the refrigerator door.