Yetischool's adventures in modeling, painting and playing a variety of Tabletop and Skirmish games.
Still Board: Basing Puppet Wars Part 2
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been experimenting with my Puppet War bases to finalize the technique I’m going to be using from here on out. The resulting look above is exactly what I wanted to achieve with their bases; a dramatic ‘game-piece’ look and a good looking finish that matches both the style in which I’m painting the puppets and the board on which they will play. So I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned with this basing technique.
The process has remained unchanged from my last post. My attention, instead, has been focused on trying to come up with the right combination of inks, washes, paints and varnishes to make the bases look just right. With the first batch done, I am increasingly excited to see all the puppets painted and on the table.
Staining the Bases
Rather than actually painting the wood bases, I wanted to let the grain of the Balsa wood do all the hard work for me, which meant sticking to a scheme of staining the wood either with inks or washes. Right off the bat there are a couple things I noticed with this technique that are worth pointing out.
Washes have to be applied liberally, at least to the balsa wood as it is very porous and will soak up a great deal of the stain you lay down. When it comes to inks, I’ve steered largely away from them, as they almost darken the wood too extremely.
Not unlike staining wood furniture, you have to apply the wash evenly or you will see streaking in your wood. This may not be a big deal for Puppet Wars, as I’m going for a musty feel of an old shack. For other bases, like Collette and her showgirls, for example, I’d want to pay closer attention to an even coat for a nicer looking floor.
Like all painting, adding a varnish is a crucial step. While I am guilty of not applying varnish to many models, I’ve found that for these bases, it is absolutely necessary to get the look I’m after.
Enough of that though. Here are the results:
The first set of bases was finished simply with a Sepia Wash. I used 2 coats on these bases, but you can use more or less for richer or lighter tones on the wood.
Next up I decided to try a darker tone, mixing Sepia Wash with a very thinned down Scorched Earth. As I said before, it is important to thin the paint almost to a wash as anything thicker will cover the natural grain in the wood. This made for a very rich dark wood tone. I don’t think I’ll use this on too many puppets, but it is a good color for brighter puppets or certain color schemes.
On this base, I went with a much warmer light wash which I achieved by mixing Sepia Wash with Yellow Ink. Again, this is a good way to add some variety to the bases and matches the color scheme of the models and board very well.
The last combination I tried was a mix of Sepia Wash with a touch of Red Wash. Again, this helped add some variety to what will eventually become a large number of Puppet bases.
Varnishing the Bases
I keep saying this, but the more I work with this basing technique, the more important varnishing in the right way at the right time has become. In general, I recommend hand painting a gloss varnish to the bases as soon as possible. The nature of the reaction between the balsa wood and the wash as it dries leaves a dull and muddled look. Even after all the work earlier to carve these bases, if the wash dries all the way, we are left with a bland base that shows little detail.
Even applying varnish after the base has dried will lose a great deal of detail. Below is a picture of one of my test bases. The bottom has been varnished high gloss after drying while the top has been varnished with a paint-on matte varnish after drying.
By contrast, my completed bases were varnished immediately after they were stained. I let them sit just long enough that the stain doesn’t transfer to my fingers with a light touch. I used two heavy coats of painted high gloss varnish and this has seemed, at least over the last few weeks, to lock the color and detail in place.
So there they are. All that is left now is to build about 60 more bases and get those puppets done.
Back in August, I showed off some of the rock outcroppings I
had created for Malifaux terrain. As I mentioned then, those outcroppings were
a proof-of-concept for some techniques and color schemes I wanted to carry over
into larger terrain projects. After a couple months, the first set of that
terrain in complete. The last time I made any terrain like this was almost 15
years ago and, back then, there were a lot of concessions made in the name of
finishing quickly and cheaply. While those pieces are still in use back in my
home town, this new version has surpassed them in almost every way. That was,
in truth, the goal of the project. I wanted to revisit a terrain piece I had
already done, but do it without any of the concessions, sparing no expense and
making it as good as it could be.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working on additional
pieces to add to this forest. As I go along, I will be adding some articles to
this blog that look at the techniques I used to make these pieces and…
Most games have rules of one kind or another to cover hazardous terrain, that type of terrain that impedes movement and/or causes damage. For me, this has typically been the more difficult to create, as there are only so many options out there. Pools of Lava or some other caustic substance, holes or crevices, or barbed wire fences and sharp rocks. I’ve never really like examples I’ve seen of any of these, so up until now I’ve steered away from hazardous terrain on my boards.
For the Confluence project, however, I had a chance to try something new. Cactus patches. I’ve seen these done before many ways, but I wanted to apply the same mentality to creating hazardous terrain to the way I created the rest of my terrain. For my hazardous terrain, I chose Pegasus Hobbies Cactus models. These come in 2 different sets and if you pick them both up, you will have enough for all of the patches I’ve created as well as a large surplus for other terrain pieces or bases or what have you.
One of the things that has always captured my interest in Malifaux is the way you can tell a very interesting and in depth story using only a handful of models, some tokens and enough terrain to fill a 3'x3' board. The variety of the setting, of the models and, in turn, the accessories accompanying those models is almost limitless. As someone who plays predominantly Ressurectionists, this meant corpse counters.
I've always been excited at the idea of making some very gruesome and violent corpse markers, and as I have been playing a lot more often I decided the time has come to make them happen. When I originally set out to make corpse markers, I started by making my own out of spare zombie bits. These didn't amount to much more than a bit glued onto a base and I wasn't very excited. That's when I decided to go with Secret Weapons Miniatures and their corpse field bases.
First is a picture of the bases as they come. They are very stylized and to me, they seem …