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  • Easy Desert Bases

    Hello,This article will walk you through creating an arid or dried earth style base.  The techniques described here should be easy enough that you can quickly apply them to other styles of basing and really let your imagination run wild.  The biggest advantage to this style of basing is it's quick... so, lets get started:
    Materials: Super Glue, Squadron Green Putty (see below), Rounded Base, an old piece of plasticard, sculpting tool, and a rough small rock.  NOTE: Not pictured here is a piece of scratch paper, a reference photo taken from the Internet, and an old beat-up toothbrush you will never ever put in your mouth again.  If you are new to the hobby, some of these items can easily be replaced with more common items you already have.  For example, the plasticard can easily be replaced by a blister-pack shell from a miniature and the sculpting tool could be replaced with a toothpick or old butter knife you will never ever use on food again. Steps 1-3:Step 1: Simply cult a small strip of scratch paper slightly larger than the slot in your rounded base and glue it down with super glue.  Allow plenty of time for the super glue to dry.  This step will prevent the putty from flowing into the slot and causing sag in you base... seriously, it just makes life easier later on.Step 2: Place a small glob of Green Putty into the well of your base.  Remember, this well is really shallow.  You don't need a lot of putty to fill it in.  The blob in the picture is almost twice as much as I needed. (oops!)Step 3:  Use the old piece of plasticard to scrape the putty level with the rim of the base.  Work in a circular motion by slightly turning the base as you smooth the putty with the plasticard.  Use the rim of the base to keep the putty level and smooth.  Once the well of the rounded bases is filled, immediately clean up the black plastic rim of the base in any areas overlapped with putty.  You will find that this brand of putty dries quickly, so it's best to tidy up right away.  The sculpting tool will easily remove the messy bits.  Let the base sit and set-up for about 30 seconds... hey, I told you this putty dries quick.Steps 4 and 5:Step 4:  The putty should still be pretty soft at this point but have a 'skin' formed over the top.  Take the rough small rock and begin to texture the putty.  Be sure to simply press into the putty and not drag or scrape it.Step 5:  Check your work.  You want to be sure to get a fairly heavy amount of texture going on the base.  If you find that the rock has picked up some of the putty a little water and a paper towel will clean the rock off and allow you to get right back to texturing.  This part of the process is pretty subjective.  However, Image 5 above gives a pretty clear indicator of an appropriate amount of texture for this arid earth application.  For something like cobblestone you might want less.Step 6:Step 6:  Have your photo reference handy and begin by dragging and pressing the pattern into your base.  By dragging the tool you will create the 'peeled away' effect common to this type of ground.  If you notice the putty clinging to the sculpting tool too much simply wipe it off and continue on.  For this arid earth patter I recommend making larger shapes than you might initially have thought necessary.  It's easier to cut smaller cracks into larger shapes if need be.  Notice the consistency and general shape of the design in the reference photo.  Most of the shapes are roughly 5 sided and not all of the cracks are complete.  Additionally, the plates created by the cracks are of a reasonably uniform size.Steps 7 and 8:  (almost done!)Step 7:  Once you've finished cutting cracks into your work check it out and see if your happy with the results.  I usually find the initial arid earth pattern to be too rough and jagged at this point.  If this is the case on your base too, simply take the old toothbrush (the one you're never ever going to put in your mouth again) and lightly brush across the top of the base.  This helps add a little more fine texture to the base and knocks down some of the higher points.  The more you brush, the smoother things will get.Step 8:  Check your results one final time and see if your happy with your 10 minutes of work.  Seriously, this whole process should take you 10 minutes or less.  At this point if you are happy with the results simply allow the putty to fully dry (about 20 more minutes) then primer and paint as usual.  I recommend washes of color for painting these bases since there are a lot of nooks and crannies to get into.  Here's the results I've come up with:A Note About Squadron Green Putty:If you aren't familiar with this product, here's a brief review.  Most RC and Model hobby stores carry it here in the US.  First off, a word of caution. Please read the manufacturers directions and follow them.  This stuff can be pretty caustic.  A friend of mine filled in the turret of one of his model tanks with it.  The putty melted the tank.  'Nuff said.Squadron Green putty is somewhere between preschool paste and classic Green-stuff.  It dries much more quickly than green stuff, has a rougher texture, and doesn't hold detail well.  Normally, all of these fine qualities would make it destined for the round file.  However, for basing and filling gaps it works better than any other product I've tried.  The rough texture is great for basing, since very few types of ground are truly smooth.  Because it's runny, it flows into gaps easily and makes filling small grooves a piece of cake.  Squadron Green Putty is sandable once fully dried.  Furthermore, it sands to a much smoother texture than you might expect.  Finally, because this stuff dries quickly, it cuts down on the amount of time you have to wait  to get back to work on your newest favorite model.  For me, the quick drying time alone is valuable enough to make Green Putty a regular part of my hobby kit.OK gang, I hope this tutorial has helped.  This is my first attempt at writing one, so any feedback you can give would be great.  Enjoy and happy modeling!Pez5767
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