Over the years, I’ve used a number of different ways of finishing figures bases, ranging from the very involved and time consuming to the one step and finished variety. Lately, I seem to have converged on two ways, one slightly faster than the other, so time constraints are the major determining factor in choosing which of the two.
For this, I mix up a basing ‘goop’ — for lack of a better word. It consists of about equal amounts of dry plaster (dry, unmixed Polyfilla ), shell sand (normally to put in bird cages — those of you with Norwegian Blue parrots know what I’m talking about), white glue, water and brown paint. This is applied to the base, taking care to avoid the figure’s feet, hooves or other downward pointing appendages, and left to dry. The base is then finished as detailed below.
The disadvantage of this method is that it’s slow (working the plaster around a figure’s feet is slow going) and that the goop, containing plaster, does not keep, but dries out after a day or so. For this reason, I usually wait until I have a whole batch of figures to base.
The other method is just using shell sand. Slightly watered down white glue is painted on the base, which is then dunked in a container of shell sand. When dry, this is painted brown and finished as below.
The advantage of this method is that it’s faster, as you’re painting on the glue, which makes it easier to avoid the figure’s feet. There is one step extra, as the shell sand needs to be painted brown, but that does not take that much time.
The bases are finished by drybrushing with two successively lighter shades of brown, and finally irregular patches of static grass are applied.
Both methods result in bases that look good en masse, and as long as you don’t mix the two methods within the same unit, they can be used in the same army without trouble. And in case you’re wondering, this is what it looks like: