How to: Ice bases

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I’ve been asked several times now and as promised in response I put together a step-by-step guide on how I did the ice themed bases for my Sigmar’s Fallen army.

Before I begin though, I knew what I wanted to do for this and I took most of the ideas from a post I found about a year ago. I cannot for the life of me find it again. It was to do with making bases for a Warmachine force I think. I got the product names and basic steps from there and customized it to fit what I wanted.

If anyone reading this thinks they actually know the article I’m talking about then please let me know and I will update this to give appropriate credit where credit is due.

 

Part 1 – Ice shards

The first thing to do is make some ‘ice shards’ to fill the base. To do this I used a product called Distress Crackle Paint Clear Rock Candy.

IceBase01

 

I created two different thicknesses, one about 3-4mm thick and another about 2mm thick. Simply pour it into a flat container of some kind and wait a day or so. The thicker one took about 3 days to form shards properly.

IceBase02

 

Once this is dry you will wind up with something like this.

IceBase03

 

The shards may appear to have a yellow tint to them when they first come out but as soon as you put them near any other colour they hold that colour, so it’s not really a problem.

Meanwhile…

 

Part 2 – Base modification

To create a sense of ‘depth’ inside the base itself, you need to modify the stock standard GW bases so that they’re essentially inverted. This is a bit of a fiddly process and I’m glad I did it, but if you wanted to I suspect you could simply use an unmodified base and just assemble the base on top of the normal flat surface.

Each base needs to have the majority of the flat top removed so there there is about a 1.5mm ‘rim’ around the base. I used a spade bit to do it as I found that a 25mm bit is perfect for 32mm bases and a 19mm bit is perfect for 25mm bases.

IceBase04

 

For the oval bases it was all done with a Dremel.

Once I had a whole lot of black plastic rings I glued them to a sheet of plastic card, 1.5mm thick. Once dry, cut around the bases and Dremel/file/sand the edges smooth. I ended up using some 1200 grit sand paper to smooth out the edges as I found that if I didn’t the join between the base itself and the plastic sheet was really noticeable.

IceBase05

 

Repeat many, MANY times. This is a slow process, I won’t lie. It’s a fairly mindless task though, I managed to smash out about 30 of the 32mm bases in a night with a couple of movies on.

IceBase06

 

This is the end result. Most of the bases for my 2000pt army are here except for some 25mm ones which I am waiting on some more to arrive.

 

Step 3: Painting

Now it’s time to break out the paints. It’s the only time you will for this other than edging the bases later.

First I undercoated the bases black and then using an airbrush (for speed more than anything else) I sprayed the inside with Temple Guard Blue and some small patches of Sybarite Green.

IceBase07

 

It’s important to remember here that the ice shards are going to pick up whatever colour you spray in this step. If you want a darker result that I got, then use a darker blue. They will appear darker than the colour you use at this stage though as when you add the snow later you’re cutting down the amount of light that can get in and therefore it all gets darker.

After this is dry, I used a vary watered down white paint (about 2:1 water to paint) and painted very thin straight lines across the bottom of each base.

IceBase08

 

Next I used an Iridecent Medium, again very watered down (about 3:1 water to medium) and washed the inside of each base so that it had a light ‘sparkle’ to it. It’s quite hard to see in photos but it’s definitely noticeable in the end result.

 

Step 4: Assembly

Now it’s time to bring it all together.

Before I actually glued anything together I did a dry run so I know what pieces would initially go in each base. The aim at this point was to fill the majority of the hollowed out section only, but not go too far over the edge of the base. This is what the 3-4mm pieces are for.

IceBase09

 

Once I was happy with what was going into each base I glued them in. To ‘glue’ the pieces together I didn’t actually use glue at all. I used a two-part resin product called EnviroTex Lite which you can find on eBay and probably several other supplies as well.

I filled each hollowed out base about half way up with resin using a syringe and then placed all the pieces into the base.

Update 1 May 2018: In more recent versions of this that I’ve been working on I’ve been adding some drops of Drakenhof Nightshade to the resin for this step. It results in a darker look to the ‘water’ between the shards of ice. Produces a better result I think.

You get about 30 minutes working time with the resin before it gets too hard to use, so only mix what you can in that time. To give an idea of how much I’m going through, I did 30 of the 32mm bases with about 15ml of each part, so the 1 litre kit I bought it easily going to do this whole project.

I couldn’t really get a photo of this step. At this stage it’s really just a big glossy thing that doesn’t photograph well. Short story, you should have a base with a relatively level top. The shards will be mostly visible but it will all have started to blend together a bit.

Next I pick out a selection of the thinner shards to layer over the top. Again I did a dry run and then ‘glued’ them in place with a small drop of the resin.

IceBase11

 

There may be some gaps between the bottom of the shards and the top of the base but as long as everything is stuck on at this point that doesn’t matter. You can see the shards overlap the edge of the base as well.

Once this is all dry, I went back to the crackle paint I used in step one and loaded up a syringe with a blunt needle on it. I then basically ‘injected’ the crackle paint around the shards on top and built up the edges a bit.

IceBase10

 

The syringe will be ruined by this, but they’re quite cheap so I just throw them out when I’m done.

Once it’s dry, you should have something like this.

IceBase12

 

You can see the larger shards surrounded by the crackly paint. Again it’s hard to photograph at this point. I probably needed to use something other than my phone and a desk lamp, but hopefully you get the idea.

The bases are now ready to have models mounted on them.

 

Step 5: Adding models

Each model is pinned to it’s base. You can easily drill through the ‘ice’ but it may crumble if you’re too close to the edge. This doesn’t really matter though. Ice breaks, right? Just be careful if you’re planning on have a shard in a particular spot and then try to drill into it.

IceBase13

 

The shards are not even or flat, so inevitably there will be visible pins like the one I’ve circled above.

Not a problem though, Valhallan Blizzard to the rescue! With a little bit of strategic positioning you can cover up any small imperfections easily enough. This is the same move after the snow went on. I also overlapped the snow on the base rim a little bit so blend it all together a bit more.

IceBase14

 

Finally paint the base rims as normal. I debated using a colour other than black for this but in the end I think it turned out best with a black rim anyway.

IceBase15

 

As you can see, this is a lengthy process. There’s a lot of drying time in here. The crackle paint takes days to dry when you’re making the shards, and the resin takes about 4 hours to set. It’s not a fast process, but I think the end result is really cool. I’m very happy with it.

 

Other things I considered

I did toy with the idea of adding things into the ice, like Skulls or discarded weapons. In the end I decided not to bother on the infantry for the army. The characters will be another story though!

As usual, thanks for reading, and if you have any questions or want any clarification then please ask either on here or on Twitter.

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