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Decorating Figure Bases

You have probably seen figures with grass or small bushes around their feet on their bases. I always thought that would be difficult to do--it's such fine modelling, after all!

I was wrong. It's very easy. It doesn't even require glue (though a little glue can improve the results). And it has the added advantage of hiding that ugly slot in plastic slotted bases.

You will need a bag of diorama "turf." This is ground foam, and is available at many gaming and hobby stores and at any model railroad store. It is available in a variety of grades; with 25-30 mm figures you can use "coarse" or "medium" grade for bushes or "fine" grade for lower grass. It is also available in a wide range of colors, including light, medium, and dark green blends, various tans, and various grays. I prefer the light and medium greens, and often mix fine turf 50:50 with light green "static grass" for 15mm or larger figures. A variety of black, brown, and gray sands may also be used, for a very different effect.

First, if you prefer to paint the entire base (as I do), do so after you have completed the figure and attached it to the base. Let all paint on the figure dry completely before continuing.

Carefully apply a liberal layer of paint to the top of the base (not the sides!). If you painted the entire base, use the same color paint you used for the base. Otherwise, a medium or forest green works well with green "turf", or a brown to tan color with brown "turf". For even better results (i.e., to make the "turf" stick better) use a 2:2:1 mixture of paint, PVA (white) glue, and water. If you use the paint/glue mixture, you should paint the base (with just paint, that is) first, and let it dry, before applying the paint/glue mixture.

Holding the figure upright by the head or upper body, lower the base into your bag of turf until the base is completely covered. Move the figure around and push turf between the base and the figure to make sure it adheres to all the wet paint on the top of the base. Then carefully lift the figure out of the bag of turf, turn it sideways, and tap it to remove loose turf. It's sometimes useful to use the handle of a kitchen match or a small craft stick to lightly press the turf down into the wet paint.

Allow the paint, with the turf attached, to dry completely.

Voila! Now you, too can send figures out to trample the local flora!

A Few Tips

I like keep a one ounce bottle of soapy water (1 drop of liquid dish soap in the bottle), and add a drop of that to a 50:50 dilution of white glue (I use Aleene's Tacky Glue, which is pretty thick.) I dab this over the top of coarse turf, when I use it. The glue hardens to protect the turf, while the small amount of soap reduces surface tension so the glue flows readily into the turf.

For 25mm figures, I sometimes use loose tea instead of chopped-foam turf, to get a churned-earth look. Just tear open a couple of tea bags if you don't have it loose already. Apply as described for turf, above. After it dries, dab some thinned white glue on with a brush, toothpick, or matchstick/small craft stick. Then dip it in the turf or place bits of coarse turf with tweezers.

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