Friday, November 4, 2011


For this project, I've mounted and decorated bases for Jacob Brown, commander-in-chief at Lundy's Lane, and his two Brigade commanders, Scott and Ripley. To indicate rank, I've varied the size of the bases and the number of figures mounted on them. Brown's larger stand and mounted aide signify his status.

I've used illustration board to mount the figures (I only use this material for relatively small bases; a piece large enough for a building or terrain feature would warp when coated with glue). You can identify illustration board by the green back and smooth white front. It's about an eighth of an inch thick. I glue the figures to the base with Superglue. Make sure you do this in a well-ventilated area, and if you hear sitar music, as a friend of mine is fond of saying, come up for air. In the unlikely event that there is a sitar actually in use nearby, your world is much more exciting than mine.

After the glue has dried, spread white glue anywhere you want earth or stone texture to show through the grass. After spreading the glue, dip the base in rough sand and shake off the excess. Put a few more dabs of glue anywhere you want additional terrain elements, such as larger stones, bits of broken fence, or discarded equipment. I have the luxury of having at my disposal loads of parts I use for sculpting, so I've chosen a musket, a knapsack, and a shako. The next few steps require the glue to be thoroughly dry, so you will need something to pass the time. I suggest popping over to for some shopping.

When you've run out of money, check on the progress of your glue. If it has dried, you are ready to undercoat the base. Most of us in this hobby are familiar with sepia undercoating and subsequent drybrushing. I use that method on most terrain items, but for earth, I like to start a bit lighter, because I find the extremely dark shadows distract me from the figures being displayed. So I start with a raw sienna, or other medium to light warm brown.

I paint the fence sepia; it will end up with a weathered wood effect different from earth. I paint the discarded gear black or sepia. I will not fully detail them, but will leave them as dark and dusty forms lying in the grass; a mere suggestion of equipment that does not demand attention from the viewer.

Notice I'm painting the large stones. "Stones are already stone-colored, so why paint them?" you may be asking. Recollect your preschool coloring lessons; cover the whole page in crayon--no white showing. Did Monet say, "why paint that white flower when the canvas is already white?" No he did not. Truth is, when compared to the painted base, a boulder of a different hue would cry out, "I think I'll glue a rock from the driveway riiiight here!" It will look more like a real rock when painted to match the rest of the terrain, permitting the viewer to stay within the fantasy of the wargame world and not be distracted by thinking, "it was clever to use that rock; I must get me one of those."

After the undercoat has dried, I begin dry-brushing. For the earth, I begin with a buckskin color somewhere between raw sienna and yellow ochre . . .

. . . then do a dusting of tan. The shako is being given two shades of grey, the lighter grey suggesting the white of the plume and cords without literally painting them white. The knapsack is getting a bit of grey, and both the gun and knapsack are being dusted with tan.

To make the rocks really pop out, I lightly dry-brush the edges of them with white.

Now we're ready for turf. I paint white glue on the areas where I want grass. I use a couple of old paintbrushes; one of them is fairly small for getting around the feet and other small spaces. Work quickly; the glue will begin to dry around the edges of the base before you want it to.

Dip the gluey base into a tub of turf. I used to use static grass, the good-old green turf matches game mats and manufactured terrain better, and is a lot cheaper. Tap and blow the excess off (without inhaling the turf; avoid explaining frighteningly green sputum to your doctor).

And here's the finished product!

Ready to fight the Bloody British!

Forrest Harris

1 comment:

  1. Great post, interesting and funny. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up a pack of these figures from Caliver soon.