Saturday, February 22, 2014

Resolving a basing dilemma

It's been a pretty busy weekend with non-wargaming activities. Don't you just hate that? So, not much painting getting done, but I have a topic to discuss. 

Many of O8's smaller items, motorcycles, artillery and anti-tank guns, etc, come molded as a small stand of their own. They include crew and other little bits and pieces. Each one is a kind of tiny vignette all their own:
These are US M101 105mm howitzers. Technically, they're WWII US M1 howitzers, but it's the same thing. I've already glued these to a base and primed them. They'll become one section of a West German light artillery battery for Landjut 1981. 

I've already talked about my basing technique in an earlier post, but bear with me while I cover the basics again very briefly. As you can see, the gun, crew, and any other items, in this case, a few shells laid out, are all cast as part of a single base. I'll put texture paste on the base to surround the guns and bring the "ground" level up to that of the base, be it "turf" for Western Europe or sand for North Africa. In this case, Western Europe, I give the whole textured base, models and all, a couple of coats of "mud" paint:
To flock the base, I use a 0 size brush and I paint only the textured areas with Woodland Scenics' Scenic Cement. I then liberally sprinkle on some flock and tap off the excess. Even fine flock is too large to try to flock the actual base of the model itself. It obscures the detail to the point that I can't even tell what the model is. 

So the dilemma. How to get the model's base to blend into the overall base? I tried a number of "grass" colored paints. They all clashed with the color of the flock and frankly looked ridiculous. Then I was looking at Google images of deployed towed artillery batteries and in one photo, I noticed something. The grass in the area immediately around the guns had been worn away by the coming and going of the artillery crew and the ammunition supply vehicles moving back and forth. The area was just bare, hard-packed dirt. 

An epiphany! I figured if it happened around one gun, it no doubt happens more frequently than that, so that's how I deal with it. I leave the "mud" paint showing and appropriately paint just the gun, crew, and other details:
I've also extended this approach to cover anything with it's own base, not just artillery. Hey, it could happen!

For North Africa, this doesn't really work, because those stands don't get flocked. They get a sand and PVA slurry and I have yet to find a "sand" colored paint that matches the real sand I use. So my efforts to solve that particular dilemma continue. 

WARNING: If you have never used 08's models or you use only their armored vehicles and have never used their infantry, do not take the artillery crews in the above photos as being representative of their infantry. For some reason, their artillery crews are little more than vaguely human shaped blobs, while their infantry are quite nice little sculpts. Don't be put off. 

More next time. 


  1. I was a tanker in the army. I think your mud concept is very accurate. Mud was a constant companion to me when we trained in the field.
    Great work.

    1. I was a rear echelon puke, but as I was in field intelligence, a lot of my time was spent with front-line units. I remember the mud not so fondly