In this post, I want to talk about my thoughts on doing thick, deep jungle forests. This is work I am doing on a daemon army project that I am working on, but works well on any miniatures that need a deep jungle base. Part of the goal was to come up with that kind of deep forest imagery, like what I picture in my head when I think of Fangorn forest from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
A big thing when your building bases like this is to consider how you are going to attach you miniature. I am going to pin my miniatures into the base once it is completed and painted so critical to consider in the design now. With these bases, I am going to be attaching Tzeench horrors so with one attach point, I have a lot of flexibility, but with say an elf that has two feet on the ground, make sure those attach points allow the model to attach to the base without it standing at an unnatural angle. After all, you are doing all of this work on this one model, don’t wreck the work in the final assembly phase.
The large white stones, in my mind are rocks just starting to push to the surface on the one base and on the other have been broken and stacked on each other to give the base some elevation. These were made from an air drying clay that I squished flat to about 1/8th inch thick. I had a textured sponge and pressed that in hard to give the exposed side a little texture. Once dry, I can break it into various chunks. You could do this with putty (green stuff, brown stuff), but I find for the cost that this is a pretty durable and less expensive substitute.
I also scrounged in my back yard for some sticks. On these two bases I am using them for stumps. These are the first two stumps I have done in in hind sight, I made some mistakes. On future ones, once I have these mounted I am going to add some roots to the base of the stump and make it transition into the “earth” of the base a little more smoothly.
Vines/roots are just sculpted from small rolls of green stuff. I put them on before adding sand or other materials. I do that so that they look like they are growing and part of the forest floor.
I also incorporated cork on some of the bases to help break up and make the bases look less flat. Look outside, it’s not flat and elevation helps really deceive the eye. Even if it is more exaggerated in the miniature then scale would allow normally.
When adding items to your bases, perhaps a skull or broken shield, this is the time I like to do this. What it does is help these items look as if they have settled into the ground a little when I do the next step. Don’t over do what your adding to the base and remember to make sure that your model can stand on it.
At this point, I have let the green stuff set up for about an hour. If you have longer, that’s fine, but I find that an hour and my sand won’t stick to it too much. With a forest base, a little sand sticking isn’t horrible, but brush off any larger chunks before they set up. I go ahead and add PVA glue to the exposed plastic (and anywhere else) I feel like should be covered with sand. I use sandbox sand that you can pick up at any DIY store. 50 pound bag is something that will cost you probably as much as a cup at your game store. Go in with a few friends and you will have enough to base your models for years to come. I like sandbox sand in this application because I am leaving so much of the flat of the base exposed. This helps break up the base and make it not look flat, again a key that I look at when working on basing.
Once this is complete, you really need to let the base set up overnight to let the green stuff fully cure before moving on to the next step.
Next, I base coat the model with browns. I am doing this with an air brush, but you could just as easily do this with a primer coat and a couple of rounds of drybrush. The key is to capture the the dark browns of earth. Once I am happy with the layers that I can do with the air brush, and my skills aren’t very good to be honest, I move to brushing on some final coats, picking out rocks and vines and finish the painting.
For all of the brushed on paints, I am doing this in layers, but not the same blending levels and techniques I use on the models. I use almost entirely using Reaper paints these days and am using the following 3 paint layering. The highlight layers I mix with about 50% water or so.
Rocks – 09085 Shadowed Stone, 09086 Stone Gray, and 09087 Weathered Stone
Vines – 09034 Muddy Olive, 09035 Olive Green, and 09036 Pale Olive
Now that they are painted, it’s time to add any bushes or thicker grass. For this, I am primarily using The Army Painter wasteland tufts. I like these because they are darker, and that lends itself to the dark forest that I am imagining my models in. If you were doing a brighter theme, say jungle just choose the appropriate tuft from their product line.
With the tufts in place, I brush on a mix of PVA glue and water, about 40% water to the base where there is still the bare earth still showing that was painted brown. I then have a plastic bag filled with oregano and basil. Previously I added a little brown wash to the oregano and basil and let it dry overnight. This really helps make it look like under foliage. Put the base into the bag and get a good amount of this onto the base. Then I take the base, with it still wet with glue into a bag with green flock. I like a blended flock with a good mix of colors in it for this application, but use what you think looks best. Jungle, a little more green looks great. For this, I think my level of green looks good, but I could see it with just a little bit more brown mixed in.
Now the base is ready for models. I use a pin for every model to make sure it has a solid hold on the base. Nothing worse then pulling your model off the base and the magnetic movement tray you are using is strong enough that your model pops off the base. The pin insures a bit better hold, which is something I really like.
Overall, I am really happy with the finished product. I hope this helps you with your next modeling project. A great base for your miniature can take an average paint job really jump off the table. On top of that, the modeling enhances the model and helps you tell a story with every figure. Each time I build a new army these days, I think about the story. Where is this army from? Where are they fighting? This helps drive the research and decisions that I then make when building the bases. I hope these thoughts help you with your next army project.