Custom Sandstone Miniature Bases
Written by Sarah-Anne
Before the social distancing measures were enacted to slow the spread of COVID-19, I had committed to joining our local Blood Bowl league for their spring season. Though I had a team from a few years ago (converted Sylvaneth to act as Wood Elves), I wanted to try my hand at painting models designed for the actual game. I wasn't sure where to start at first until I saw the latest sculpts of Lizardmen. I LOVE those models. And I loved the lore that came with them: that they were the ones to create the game of Blood Bowl itself, with very heavy inspiration of the Aztecs and their original ball game, Ullamaliztli. I used this as my own inspiration for how I was going to paint them, and by extension, to create their bases.
To start, I searched Google for examples of the type of stone I wanted to reproduce and came accross this image of an ancient city in Mexico:
The stone shown here was the exact colour and texture I was looking for, so I begun to reproduce that effect.
I started with Milliput Superfine White, which is a two-part epoxy that is water-soluble, making it easy to sculpt before it cures to a rock-hard finish, yet still sands easily.
With some water and a toothpick, I went around the edges, making sure they were angled in slightly and sat flush with the rim of the base.
Next, I used my trusted ball of aluminium foil (dipped first in water) and applied a rock-like texture all along the top.
With the same toothpick, I began to carve the spaces between what will become the sandstone blocks, doing my best to keep the shapes random and organic. Once fully cured (I waited about 4 hours), I lightly sanded the top to remove any sharp edges, and along the sides of the base to ensure the sides were smooth from the plastic base to the top of the Milliput.
I used a grey primer as it would be easy to cover and still give a bright look to the finished results. In this photo, it is very easy to see that I glues a small piece of plasticard to the top of most bases (and worked my sculpting around them) so it would be easier to attach the models with just plastic glue once complete. I could have avoided this and simply pinned the model to the base, but as the skink legs in particular were so small, I didn't want to take the risk of breaking them with my hand drill bit.
I used paints from The Army Painter, and choose four that would add a nice variety to the undertones.
Next I decided to give the bases a wash, to add more contrast between the recesses and the tops/edges that would be later drybrushed. I had three colours to choose from, and after a quick test to see which result I liked best, settled on Light Tone for them all.
Now it was time to drybrush. I painted a fine layer of each working through the colours left to right, not having to leave much drying time in between each layer. I probably used more colours than was necessary, as I am not sure you'll be able to discern all the separate colours used at the end. But it did give the light, dry, dusty look I was going for. I used an inexpensive eye shadow brush from a local dollar store as the brush head was much larger and softer than the average brush used for this technique, as I wanted to bring up the layers gradually, and not be able to see any of the individual brush strokes.
While I could have left the bases as-is and would be happy with them, this was a Blood Bowl Pitch, after all! I needed to have the chalk lines applied to really sell the idea this was where games were played. While on grass I would have normally used a white chalk line, I knew white would be lost on such light-coloured stones, and opted instead for red. Again I used a dollar store makeup brush, this time with a slightly smaller brush head.
Using the makeup brush made the drybrushing almost look like it was air-brushed on, and I was really happy with the results. Now all that was left was to paint the rim black, and add some players!