Sunday, 6 November 2016

Basing Great Northern War Saxons

So I promised a post on how I approach basing.

Now I know most of you are aware that I have a basing department working away in the cellar here, but I did teach her all I know. When I finished this unit of Saxon Cavalry I decided that I couldn't wait for the basing department to come home from University in York and add these to the waiting list so it seemed two birds with one stone was the way forward.

So Beusts Curassier finished, I glue the figures to laser cut MDF bases. for my Great Northern War collection I am using 50mm by 800mm deep for all units. It can be a bit tight on width but gives that densely packed formation look I wanted. The depth allows you to shift position of troops and to some extent makes up for the lack of width. It also means that all the models are inside the base and protected from my fat figures and those of my fellow wargamers.

 I use black grout as the basic media for my basing, Black means if it chips its not as visible, I do find however that a new pot of this can be a bit too sloppy, I like it when it is a bit drier and so gives some grain when it dries, this is important for the finish as you will see.
 I then add fine fish tank gravel. I have lots of this from all the tropical fish I have kept over the years but cat litter (ideally unused!) is a good substitute if you dont happen to have any gravel.
 I scatter it on and press it in slightly with my basing knife. No need for glue it will set in the grout. The best knife I have found for tis was an old penknife blade which snapped off. Its short narrow and pointed so gets into all those awkward places. However as this has been nicked by the basing department and currently resides in York I used a butter knife on this occasion. Shh don't tell the wife!
 Over the radiator it took about 2 hours to dry. At this point I am painting the base coat which is Saddle brown by colour party. Making sure I get in all the nooks and crannies.
 I then add a wet brush skimmed over the top using ECW Buff. I use a flat brush which is pretty bristly and get plenty on. It doesn't want to be too wet, ideally the base coat will still come through quite well.
 I then add a dry brush of light stone, you can use any ivory or plain linen type colour though. For this its a much lighter touch. The brush is lightly dipped in the paint and the paint wiped off. Then just the lightest of brushes over, perhaps slightly heavier on the gravel to bring the rocks out. I find that the three colours adds some depth to the basing.
 We are now ready to add the grass tufts and bushes. I personally like to use lots of different colours and the odd flower bush to add a dash of colour. Others prefer a limited pallet of colours, each to their own. I use lots of different tufts but most are purchased from ebay and are fairly cheap. I find using tweezers or similar to get into awkward places works for me, the basing department has smaller fingers than mine so doesn't need them. The tufts are already self adhesive so no need for any glue.

 And there you have it. The tufts cover a multitude of sins where the wet and dry brush might have been too heavy. Some people prefer a grey brown earth, the process though could be exactly the same with different base coat colours to kick off.
And there you have it, the finished article. I am pretty happy with how these came out and hope this is in some way useful to one or two out there.

The next Saxon foot and my first Russian foot are nearly ready so hopefully have a workbench update with these very soon.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Thanks, I have never trusted the self adhesive on the tufts, so always use PVA to assist - perhaps I should be a little more trusting since yours are standing the test of time.

    1. Thanks Norm. I never used to trust the ones that came in plastic containers either, but never had a problem with any of those bought from Ebay over last couple of years.

  2. I really like Tajima One for tufts etc. great value and good service. Neat little tutorial Roger.

  3. Great tuto and wonderful basing for this fantastic unit!