As I have mentioned previously, I may or may not be currently working on a pre-release undead construct at the moment.
I’ve said it many times, but since not everyone on the Interwebs has had the pleasure of enduring one of my rants on the subject, I’ll say it again: Thoughtful basing really frames the miniature, and contributes at least as much to the overall impression of the model as your actual painting skill does. Painting a Khemri army presents a very interesting challenge, how the hell do you make sand look interesting and thoughtful?
Hopefully this quick tutorial will help.
Here you can see a couple of test bases that I made, using this lovely crackle paste product available at art stores. I bought Golden brand Crackle Paste, which came in an 8oz tub for like $12 or something like that. Basically it has the consistency of drywall plaster, and has the special property of cracking up like crazy as it dries.
Very cool for a sun-baked mud effect, but you really have to be careful with it, as you can see from the above image. Not all of them turned out looking great, but I have the hang of it now.
The top row are the not-so-interesting ones. On the top left, I mixed a decent amount of PVA (white) glue into the Crackle Paste to help it stick to the base better. As you can see, it didn’t crack at all. The top middle image had a little bit less PVA glue mixed in, and as a result there is a tiny microscopic crack in the center of the base that you can see if you have a microscope. The top right image is just 100% Coarse Pumice Gel, which is a product that Teri had recommended for instant basing. It takes a while to dry, but it’s a one-step process that looks good, allows you to build up interesting texture, and doesn’t require any sealing after. Just spread this gel over the base, and wait until it’s dry. No other glue or anything necessary.
The two bases on the bottom row are the interesting looking ones. The larger 25mm base on the left was me simply applying a liberal schmear (this is a technical term, not just a reference to the O.C.) of Crackle Paste onto an empty, un-prepared base. It looked amazing after it dried overnight, but several of the larger pieces were flaking off, so I had to glue some chunks back on individually and glue-seal the rest for protection. The base on the right had a thinner layer and Pumice Gel added for variety. This was a very nice mixture, and didn’t suffer from any of the side effects listed above.
For the undead construct that I may or may not be working on, I applied several of the lessons learned above and discovered some new problems as well. I first gave a dusting of black primer to the base, so the Crackle Paste would have something to stick to. I also scratched some lines into the plastic, for added grip. As you can see, I was rewarded for my ingenuity with mixed results. The cracked mud effect showed up, and the chunks didn’t fall off, but the overall effect was very subtle and took some extra painting attention to bring it out.
For the actual painting, I used the following methods:
Dry mud: Basecoat with multiple thin layers of P3 Hammerfall Khaki. Thin layers needed to avoid losing the fine detail of the texture. Once dry, I carefully traced over the cracks with a mix of watered-down Devlan Mud and a tiny bit of Leviathan Purple. Once this was all dry, I applied another very thin wash of Mud and Leviathan Purple to the entire dry mud area. Finally, this was drybrushed with P3 Jack Bone.
Sand/Pumice: Basecoat with multiple thin layers of Khemri Brown. Thin layers this time to get into all the little gaps. Drybrushed with P3 Jack Bone and finally with a dusting of P3 Menoth White Hilight. After all was said and done, I gave this a super thinned down Mud and Leviathan Purple glaze, just to tie it in with the rest of the base.
As I simply cannot contain my enthusiasm for the new Tomb Kings army, I will definitely be painting a lot more models in the coming weeks and months. I can’t wait to try this basing technique out again, and I have 100% confidence that I will get the technique perfected in short order. I think the winning combination is to apply a healthy layer of Crackle Paste, approximately 1mm thick, on to a base that was primed prior to texturing. This gives a little extra grip so the stuff won’t fall off, but not so much grip that the material is unable to contract as it dries, which is the process that creates the texture in the first place. A few patches of Pumice Gel sand will be applied the next day to add variety.