Welcome To My Bases Page.

Please read this fully first, as this is my best way of explaining how I make my figure bases.

Also, it contains some different methods I have used, depending on my figure's pose.

This is my page, on how I make my bases for my 1/6th scale figures. I have been meaning to make this page for ages, but never seemed to get around to it. And after being asked how I make them, I have finally got around to making this. The base I am using for this figure is a 6" round plaque. This is an excellent size of base for a single figure, as it gives me enough room to add the landscape details to the base, without it taking up too much room on my shelf.

In the picture above left, is a basic 6" base, and for comparison I have placed a figure on the plaque in the next picture. This shows how a figure fits onto the base and the space around the feet for the landscape. For my 2 figure base that I want to make with my US paratrooper .30 cal crew, the larger 10" square base will be needed.

Priming the base (See update below)

One of the problems with using wooden bases for 1/6th scale landscapes, is that if they are used without priming it. The base will warp and not lay flat on your shelf. So, to seal the base against water from the Polyfilla mix (Plaster of Paris), I use clear varnish. This is done as shown in the pictures above; firstly with just placing some varnish onto the base, then use a brush to spread it around to cover the base top. The final picture above right shows the base with the varnish drying out. Even though I do not make the landscape right up to the base edge, I still paint the varnish on the edge. This way the water cannot 'creep' under and penetrate the wood. Also, with priming the base in this way, it makes a rough surface for the next step, and it allows the Polyfilla (Plaster of Paris) mix to stick better to the base. Note: I leave this to dry overnight, as depending on the size of the base, you may have to give it 2 coats of the varnish to make sure it is sealed.

This update will help to explain what I mean about not sealing the base properly. Because I thought I had done with my Ardennes diorama and that it would be alright now once it had fully dried, to add more of the PVA and plaster mix onto the base on top of the dried material I had already applied. But was I mistaken...


As I thought that I would just build up the landscape a bit and cover the small cracks that had appeared, but because I had not sealed the base properly and I was adding more plaster and water to it. The result is shown on the right here.


A is where the added groundwork has cracked again because the base has bowed upwards in the middle. And B is showing the slight bow that developed in the wooden base. This has annoyed me immensely, as I thought that I had stopped this from happening because of the amount of neat PVA that I had used to seal the base. But I think what is occurring is that as I am adding more plaster mix to the base, the protective layer of PVA I thought I had, has become liquid again due to the water which makes it useless.


Important Note: I have never come across this happening before with my bases, so I can only think that because of the amount of plaster that I am using to make the shape of the snow landscape. And the base not being sealed properly, this is why I am having this many problems with this diorama. So with all of my bases from now on, I am going to use a non-water based varnish on the base first to seal it. That way I can add more of the plaster mix to the base, without the worry of the base bowing on me.

An extra link that could help to explain the next step.


Setting the figures pose

This an important stage in the making of a diorama base, as you have to make sure you have room for the feet of the figure. I do this by placing the figure onto the bare base, then drawing around the boots.

Fixing the figures to the base - Part One

Pose One Update - Fixing a figure's feet flat on the ground

Another excellent method I have found out about regarding making bases is from this tutorial as made by Tony Barton - Tony Barton Bases. And when I actually met this gentleman, he explained that to fix his figures to his bases he drills a small hole in the heel of the figure and in the base. He then uses some thin metal rod which he places in the hole in the base, and then just slots the heels of the figure onto the end of the rod that protrudes out. Note: If you use a drill bit to make the hole in the base, use the same diameter rod to make a tight fit both in the hole and the heels of the figure.

This method I have found is the best way if you want the figure to stand flat on the ground, as shown in the picture on the right. This was one of the pictures that I took of Tony's amazing figures that I saw at the York show I attended.

Pose Two Update - Fixing a figure's feet into the ground

The altered method I have recently found for making sure that I have a secure model on the base, is by using the plastic stands that are supplied with DML figures for the feet. This makes sure that the figure cannot move and it sets the pose for me. In the picture on the right I have placed two of the stands on the base, the heel supports would line up with the marks that I would have made above. Note: Because of the shape of the round base the stands overlap, so these will have to be cut down so that they both lie flat making sure that they don't protrude too far out into the base edges.

The reason as to why I have changed the method of securing my figures is because over time, I have found the ankles weaken if the pose puts the figure's legs under any strain. And with the screws that I used before in the feet it seems to add to the strain, especially if the figure is wearing a metal helmet or carrying a lot of equipment or a heavy model metal machine gun. Plus the undoing of the screws can be a very awkward job, if you ever have to carry out any repairs to the figure.

Making the landscape

Note: Firstly, place some newspaper under the base, as this saves the surface you are working on from being damaged, and in the later stages of this tutorial, you will be able to reuse some of the landscape materials.


Amended Note: I make this plaster 'mix' up as you normally would if using the powder material for the plaster, but while I making it up I mix in some neat PVA glue in with it as well. As I have found that it bonds the material to the base easier, making it part of the wood and I have found that if the base is primed well enough there is less chance of the base bowing out of shape. The PVA glue can also be added to the ready mixed plaster material as well.

I always make sure that I do not go right up to the edge of the base with it, as I like the look of the irregular shape of the diorama, rather than having a completely round one.


Amended Note: I now make the 'mix' up small patches at first, as I prefer to add too little rather than too much. I then just spread it around on the base to make the basic shape for the landscape. Building it up around the heel supports of the plastic stands, as this way it looks like the figure has sunk into the ground due to it's weight. Plus the Plaster 'mix' helps to fix the plastic stands in place to keep the figure upright.

The weight effect can be seen with the pictures above I obtained from a book I have on 1/35th scale figures, in these you can see that the models are part of the landscape. So building up the plaster mix around the feet helps with the illusion.

Fixing a figure's feet into the ground using both my method and Tony's

This is a combination of my method of sinking the figure into the ground. And Tony's method of using the metal rod in the figure's heel, remembering to make sure that the base is primed well first. Because this method as shown involves working with water and PVA directly onto the wooden base.

In the pictures above I have placed the figure onto the base, as I want to check the position and to get the feet right on the base. In the first picture above I have pressed the foot into the mix, so in the second picture when it is removed it leaves a footprint. To bind all the plaster into the base, I then mixed up some water and PVA glue and painted it over the whole of the plaster. The purpose of this is to remove all the lines and marks from the plaster mix as shown on the right above. Also with the stones that I added to the base, when I am painting on the PVA I can smooth the mix around them to make them look like they are part of the landscape, rather than them just plonked into it.


These pictures show the feet again after I have painted the PVA on, as now I want to emphasise the weight of the figure on the snow I also do this where the knee would be as well. So to do this I again pose the figure and press the feet into the plaster remove it again, then as I am doing in the last picture above, make ridges around where the foot will be. So that the figure is part of the base, which adds to the weight effect. Note: Once you have made the landscape up on the base, everything is dry and you are happy with the pose. The you just drill a small hole into the base to insert the metal rod, and then place the figure's heels onto the protruding end.


To see the effect of this better, you can see how i have made my Snow bases with this method on the following pages.

Ardennes figure and the Guffy figure.

Mixing PVA glue and water for use in sculpting the landscape

The three images above show how I have prepared the glue and water mix, in the left picture below I have a saucer of water and I am adding the PVA glue to it. The second picture shows how the glue dilutes down in the water, and after adding a little bit more the picture below right shows the mix ready to use. (Note: Make sure you use a saucer that the wife will not miss)

Amended Note: Make this mix slightly thicker than shown for sculpting the base, as it helps to bond the plaster 'mix' together, as I find it is easier to mix the water to the PVA glue

Note: Because of the amount of water being used, a good primer on the base is essential to stop any warping of the base.

Sculpting the landscape

Note: Make sure you have a cloth ready to clean your fingers and brushes during these stages.

This is done after the plaster 'mix' has been placed on the base, and to do this I use PVA glue and water mixed together as shown in the pictures above. This has two advantages, as it allows me to sculpt the diorama, plus it stops the plaster from cracking as it dries. As when I made my dioramas years ago, this was one of my main problems as the untreated plaster just fell off the base as I placed my 1/35th scale model figures on it. Note: When this plaster 'mix' finally dries, it is as hard as concrete. So take your time, and plan ahead on what you want to make. Because if you make a mistake through rushing, and it dries out, you will have a heck of a job getting the stuff off the base again.

Also, at this stage if you want tyre tracks, tank tracks or footprints in the groundwork, this is when I do it. For tyres, you just roll it across the groundwork. For tank tracks, if you cannot take the tracks off the vehicle. I would push the track into the groundwork and then take it off, move along and press the track down again where the last mark was made. This way you should have a continuous track mark in the 'mix'.

And as you lift off the track, it will take off some of the 'mix', this can be used to represent the churned up earth where the vehicle passed by.


Note: The next steps are done with the groundwork wet or semi hardening.

Adding grass, stones and details

This stage is where I add the material to make up the diorama itself, such as the grass, stones and bushes. This just a case of placing the stones into the 'mix', making sure that there are no gaps around the base of them. As you want them being part of the ground, not just placed on the landscape. Unless, you are building holes or small caves under them. Depending on the size of the stone, I sculpt the base around the stone, so the groundwork comes up around the rock. Amended Note: Sometimes if I am using large stones, I use neat PVA glue, as this strengthens and binds the base, the stone and the groundwork together. Adding the grass and pebbles onto the base, is done by shaking some of it out of a bag onto the 'mix', then pressing down gently with your finger to help the material to stick (above left). To see how much of the base is covered by the scatter material, I put the base on it's side (middle picture) and I shake it lightly.

The picture above right shows the saved scatter on the paper I used.


To further help the material to stick to the base, I use a thinner watery mix of PVA glue and brush it onto the material. You will find that some of the grass material will come off on the brush, just add a little bit more to replace it.

Note: Don't worry about the material getting darker, this is because of the water in it, it will dry back the original colour.


Any parts of the base that are not covered by the material, can either be covered by using some more of the PVA and then adding some more ground scatter to it. This is shown in the three pictures above, because I have an irregular edge to the groundwork, it can be difficult getting the scatter to stick to it. The pictures above show how I work with the edge of the landscape. Above left shows where I am adding the PVA mix to the edge, above middle shows more of the scatter added to the landscape, above right shows after I have blown lightly onto the edge to remove the loose scatter leaving the edge covered.

In the picture above left, I am using a plastic pen cover to define the edge better, this is done by removing any loose scatter and by pressing inwards against the edge of the plaster 'mix'. In the picture above right, I have added some sand material onto the landscape to break up the colour. When I made the German paratrooper diorama, I wanted a small pool of water around the foot. this was made with neat PVA. dripped into a prepared dip in the groundwork which was then left to dry. Once it has dried it goes clear, showing the colour of the ground work through it.

Fixing the figures to the base - Part Two


Amended Note: With the pictures above I used my old method of using screws to fix the figures to the base, and in the right picture above you can see the gap between the boot and the groundwork. But if you use the method of pressing the boots into the wet groundwork when you make the base, you will lose this because you have added the Weight Effect and the figure becomes part of the base.

Figure and base detailing update

Fixing the figures to the base - Part Three

Amended Note: If you want to add a water effect as described below, make sure that you have sealed the base well first. And I find the plastic stands for the heels are better for this, as I really helps to give the impression that the figure is standing in either the mud or the water.


Now I have decided to add some more details to the landscape, this was to build up the plaster 'mix' around the boots, and add some more different types of scatter to the base and this can be seen with the pictures below. I also added some rushes to the landscape to add an extra effect to it, this was done by getting my pointed tweezers and making a small hole in the wet groundwork. I then added some PVA glue to the hole and placed the rushes into it, once I was happy that they were straight, I added some more scatter and pressed the groundwork around the base of them to hold them in place. I have also a dip around the boot shown below left, and then dripped neat PVA glue into it, as I wanted the figure to look like he is standing in a puddle which he will do once the glue dries clear. Another bonus to doing this effect is that once everything has dried fully, the glue will bond the landscape, base and boot together making the figure more solidly fixed to the base.


I have been told of a product, that is far better to use for making water effects in dioramas. This is called Woodland Scenics water products, and I am hoping to try out the Realistic Water or Water Effects products in the near future. A website I have found for these products is http://www.ecscenics.co.uk/,to see these products go to Water from the left hand side menu.

In these pictures below I have also added some of the plaster 'mix' to the uniform, this is done by just getting a small piece on the edge of my saucer, wetting it and then brushing it onto the uniform. Paying particular attention to add it to the trouser bottoms, knees, lightly to the backside and the bottom of the jacket edges this was then left to dry. Once I was happy with the effect, I then got some brown acrylic paint and repainted the 'mud' patches. Some were painted with a neat paint, whereas other bits were painted with a diluted paint. This then gives the effect of different coloured mud patches on the uniform. This is where you have to experiment with the paint to get the effect you want, and if for example you wanted wet mud, I would carefully paint the patch with clear gloss varnish.


I have also added some of the plaster 'mix' to the boots and again I used the diluted paint to colour the mud patches. These I will be drybrushing with a lighter brown colour on the top of the boot to represent dried mud. And the lower patches and boot edges will be painted with clear gloss varnish to make those look like wet mud. Along with the dried PVA 'puddle' to make the water that the figure is standing is look wet.

Note: It may take more than 2 or 3 coats of the varnish to get the shine you want, because as I found with my Falklands radio figure, the shine dulls off over time and may need re-coating again.

Figure and base detailing update

Fixing the figures to the base - Part Four

These pictures show the final finished figure and base, the pictures above show the PVA glue after it had dried and I gave it two coats of acrylic gloss varnish. Remembering to paint the lower parts of the boot with the varnish, to make it look like it is wet. I also added some of the varnish to the sole of the other boot, to sort of balance it up.

Other figure's and bases I have made

These are pictures of how I have made my other figure's bases. the first two below show how I have used the plaster 'mix' around the boots, to make it look like the model is standing in mud.  I also added some gloss varnish to the base to look like water and wet mud. I also added some of the wet plaster 'mix' to the boots and trouser bottoms. This was painted with the brown colour to look like mud. And again the trousers were drybrushed with a lighter colour to simulate dried mud. The mud around the boots was then painted with the gloss varnish. But, I did find that after a few days the gloss seemed to disappear, so I had to repaint it again. In all I think that I had to give that area maybe 5 coats of varnish to keep the gloss.


The other pictures show how I have got the boots to appear like they have 'sunk' into the groundwork. The method for this is, while the mix for the ground is still tacky. I then placed the figure onto the base, and pressed down on each boot. This will leave an imprint in the ground, and it also causes the groundwork to squish out of the sides of the boot. And as a bonus, I found that it will leave some of the groundwork on the sides of the boots. I took the figure off the base, and cleaned up the underneath of the boots, but I left the mix on the sides to dry. As I wanted to use this to represent mud on the boots once it is painted the same colour as the ground mud. Then once I have fixed the figure to the base with the screws, it looks like the figure is in the groundwork because of it's weight rather than perched on top of it.


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