The Ultimate Guide for scenic bases part I.

Today we introduce the latest member of our team, Hawkeye!

Featured shot – Finnish Pak40 AT guns. (C) Hawkeye

As a lesser-known wargaming celebrity once said –  “Faces, bases and the rest…” What catches our eye in wargaming models are first the colour contrasts, then the basing and finally familiar features.
This article series will focus on the second word “bases”. Some people think you have to have “insane skills and knowledge” to make good looking scenic bases for 15mm models. To be honest, you just need inspiration and, for the first base some guidance. The objective of these articles is to spread, some of the know-how and inspire players and modellers to “go for it” and push their hobby limits and, hopefully, get more amazing looking armies on the tables.

Finnish 105 point force. 
(C) Hawkeye

Basing, in Flames of War is a major part of a good looking army. It doesn’t matter how many great looking tanks, planes, guns or infantry models you’ve painted if the bases don’t catch the eye. Bases are the first feature of a Flames of War army or unit, that are caught by our eyes – if the bases catch our eye, we most likely go and take a closer look at the individual models.

“How do I start?” – Deciding the theme

Many of us build Flames of War armies around a theme, and so do I. Each force is most likely set in some theatre of operations (from now on TO) and a season – usually summer or winter. “What do you mean with a TO?!” – The terrain in Northern Europe is vastly different to the deserts in North Africa, mountainous valleys Italy or the idyllic islands in the Pacific. In this first example, I will show you and guide you how to do bases for Northern Europe, the Karelian Isthmus during summer to be precise.

 – Start by looking at pictures from the force your depicting and the environment the force operated in.
The theme is set.

Finnish Pak 40, in Tali-Ihantala 1944. Source: SA-Kuva

“What am I basing?” – Artillery, mortars, machinegun positions or infantry?

Depending on the unit you’re about to base, the immediate surroundings will vary. Artillery positions are almost always somewhat prepared positions, while an infantry platoon might be running through any patch of land or a city block. Let’s say I’m basing a Finnish artillery piece during the Soviet summer offensive of 1944.

– Now look at pictures with the weapons system you’re basing… I’m sure you’ll find something you like – you might even be able to somewhat recreate an actual picture with the miniatures you’re working on (how cool is that?!?).
You should by now have a rough idea of what the base should look like. 

– Try to look at how many soldiers man the weapon and if there are any details like ammo crates, shells, empty cartridges, fortifications, platforms, etc.
Now you have a bunch of details to work with and replicate.

Finnish 76 K 02 artillery position. Source: Battlefront miniatures

“How do I do the actual base?” – The how and what.

Now, choose your materials. Here you can use almost anything you have at hand – I used wooden skewer sticks, rods and strips of plasticard, insulation foam and acrylic ground texture paste.

Bases sketched using a regular permanent marker.
(C) Hawkeye

1. Start by sketching out your idea on the base. This is not mandatory but it helps me to figure out what I can actually fit on the base and where I’m going to place everything.

Gun platform and terrain features added. 
(C) Hawkeye

2. Build up terrain features using insulation foam. Here I noticed the trenchworks needed some supports to stay up and to be honest, the guns would be slightly dug-in so why not… Don’t worry about the details yet. The foam is here just to give us some volume and support the details staying in place the way we want.

Trenches built… 
(C) Hawkeye

3. My reference picture for the Finnish “76 K 02” cannon had a rough platform, made out of planks to prevent the wheels from sinking in the ground and some wooden trenchworks to protect the position from indirect fire. So I took out some random strips of wood I had around and cut them into plank looking pieces. For the trench trunks, I used skewer sticks and cut them into the length I wanted.

Support beams added…
(C) Hawkeye

4. I noticed the big trench trunks were supported by thinner tree trunks so I decided to a few rods of plasticard I had laying around. 

Ready for priming.
(C) Hawkeye

5. Finally I added the acrylic ground paste around to form the ground texture of the base. Note that I also covered the blue foam with the paste.
If you don’t want to use an acrylic paste for this you can also use sand mixed with PVA glue.

Tip: Use a spatula to place a larger amount of the paste on the base itself and use an old paintbrush to get the paste into all the nooks and crannies.

The base is now built and ready for painting. Note that I did not add the gun crew to the bases. To speed up painting you can put the crews on but I’d advise you to add the crews later – when they’re all painted up.

In the next part of the article, I’ll go into how I paint and weather the artillery base for the chosen theme…

“This was too long…” – The TLDR and a quick summary.

The miniature hobby might not be the best choice for a person who needs everything now, fast, and ready. But to give you a quick “too long didn’t read” summary I’ve compiled the phases of the first article below:
1. Sketch out the base you want to create, on the base itself
2. Build the terrain features you want
3. Build the trench and the gun platform
4. Add any smaller details of the trench
5. Create the ground texture

This first article of the series discussed the reason why bases matter, how you come up with a theme for your bases, what the base could look like and how to build a good looking artillery base. This way is just one of the thousands and thousands of ways to do bases. It is definitely not the fastest way, nor is it “the best” way but it is one way of creating bases that look really good on the table (If I may say so about my own work).

Make sure to follow the Breakthrough Assault page for further articles in the series. I’m planning to write basing guides for all seasons and different environments. Thank You for reading and I hope you got some inspiration from this.

– Hawkeye.

6 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide for scenic bases part I.

  1. I wondered where this article had disappeared too! Amazing bases and fantastic advice, can’t wait to improve my rather basic bases to something more inspiring, many thanks for the article and looking forward to future basing ideas!

    1. Thank you! Yeah there was some ehm… “technical issues” at first. Thanks again for the feedback 🙂

  2. What a great way to start your blog-career here! I totally agree with your idea of people quickly thinking that it’s too difficult, but with guides like this, we once again learn that you just have to start. And with a guide like this, that just got a little bit easier.

    I remember trying to model panzerfaust trap teams (when they were still a thing in FoW version 3) but having no clue on how/ what/ where. I found a short tutorial on the Battlefront website that showed how easy it was, and ‘ tho my end result wasn’t the same as I wanted it to be, it did bring me a lot of experience I now use to my advantage.

    Thanks again!

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