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"How do you base your ships?" Topic

25 Posts

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3,962 hits since 26 Jul 2007
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Beowulf Supporting Member of TMP Fezian26 Jul 2007 11:53 a.m. PST

I finished painting some 1/2400 GHQ ships recently, and I am in the basing stage. Now, I have never done this before. I would like a base large enough so I can hold the base and not the ship itself, and some space for the name, or at least an identifying number. Are "standard" size bases used? Different sizes for battleships, cruisers, destroyers, etc? How do you base your ships? Do you texture the base, or is paint enough?
Again, thanks for your opinions/ideas.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Jul 2007 12:23 p.m. PST

Here is how I do mine:


vojvoda Inactive Member26 Jul 2007 1:35 p.m. PST

I like Hexagon bases for Ships and am picking up a ton of bases (Hexes and Octagons) at Historicon this weekend.
James Mattes

Schlesien26 Jul 2007 3:54 p.m. PST

I like your system Extra Crispy.

Delta Mouse Inactive Member26 Jul 2007 3:57 p.m. PST

It is a process for me, but looks great in the end.

Step 1, crumple some aluminum foil

Step 2, cut cardboard in the size you need. Balsa wood also works well.

Step 3, glue the foil to the cardboard (or balsa).

Step 4, prime the base.

Step 5, paint base a water blue, then dry-brush a lighter blue.

Optional step 6, dry-brush (very lightly) a white for the wave crests.


David Manley26 Jul 2007 10:26 p.m. PST

I do something very similar to Danger Mouse, except I use greaseproof paper rather than foil.

Ditto Tango 2 1 Inactive Member10 Aug 2007 5:05 p.m. PST

I just saw this one – sorry to reply so late.

I don't base my 1:600 ironclads, but I do my age of sail 1:1200 scale stuff. My friend has a number of pre-WW1 (Russo-Japanese war) vessels we've played with a number of time based the same way. This page describes my basing method:

Jmrino Inactive Member23 Aug 2007 11:09 a.m. PST
Jmrino Inactive Member23 Aug 2007 11:25 a.m. PST

Well, that worked well….

As I was saying, I prefer the thicker .125" plywood bases from Litko because my hands/fingers are on the largish side and they are easier for me to handle. The above are some WIP with acrylic gel medium over a primed/blued base.

Mal Wright Fezian Inactive Member02 Sep 2007 2:05 a.m. PST

Very clear plastic is the best. You can paint on the wake, even put the name on it. But the ship will be surrounded with the same colour water as the tabletop. It makes an amazing difference.


Mal Wright Fezian Inactive Member02 Sep 2007 2:08 a.m. PST

"I like Hexagon bases for Ships and am picking up a ton of bases (Hexes and Octagons) at Historicon this weekend."

Yipes! That has gotta be the worst idea I've ever heard anyone put forward. Yuk! The very idea makes me shudder.

I've never seen a hexagonal section of ocean yet, nor land either.

vojvoda Inactive Member02 Sep 2007 8:04 a.m. PST

Ah but Mal it works well for Ancient galleys and turn ratio's makes my rules system easy to teach to new gamers. I would like to see clear hexes however.

On a more disturbing note: I have made some round bases out of blue board that are about two feet in dia! I will let you guess what those are for!

James Mattes

Wilf1235819 Apr 2009 2:45 a.m. PST

Delta Mouse / Mr. Manley,
My Navwar starter fleet is on order and now I'm thinking about basing.
I'm intrigued by your basing method as an alternative to applying grout/paste & sculpting wakes, waves, etc.
Do you have any photos available (online?) of the finished effect?
Best Regards,

TheDreadnought Inactive Member19 Apr 2009 8:10 a.m. PST

Here's some using Litko bases:


SteelonSand Inactive Member19 Apr 2009 11:36 a.m. PST

In 1/3000th I use commercially available 1.6mm artist's card backed with magnetic tape for storage:


These paint up easily enough, and are good value if doing a large number of ships. See them in action with Navwar pre-dreadnoughts at my blog in the '55 Days at Sea' Boxer Rebellion Naval project:


Cheers, SteelonSand.

Garmankirk Inactive Member16 Nov 2009 10:13 p.m. PST

I havent gamed in nearly 50 yrs so Im curoius about the bases.. Personally I believe they detract from the ship, esp a 1:1200. although a trip thru the mssg boards reveals to me that few folks game in that scale.. But I just am old school I guess and have lots of ships..500 1:1200 and 400 1:2400 moderns..

IM curious as to the functionality of a base…other than ID ing the ship..

I hold the same belief for my 1:285 AFV's which I also wont base..

Is it merely a matter of indiv preference


EJNashIII17 Nov 2009 3:41 p.m. PST

I do 10mm. My bases are functional as at that size I make the bases out of clear plexiglass and have drilled holes in the base for all the ship's stats. Get a hit and mark off the damage with battleship pegs….

Dawkins Inactive Member18 Nov 2009 4:11 p.m. PST

here is mine, 1/6000 all based on 3 x 4 CM bases.

Note that I am aware that the ship is not the Kaiser, just posting it for example. It is for my home brew set of WWI rules.


Heavyd13 Inactive Member24 Jan 2010 10:51 a.m. PST

I did not like to base my ship models but after a box of my 1/600 scale Ironclads miniatures was knocked of a table and only about 75% of them where salvageable I started to base all of my ship models ACW WWI and WWII in metal base,s and I would line the bottom of my storage box's with Magnetic sign material(The kind that is flexible and you make the signs you can put on the side of your vehicles) this holds them pretty secure in the box a fall would still be bad but they will not move around in you vehicle or when you are carrying them into a venue

CeYa Dale

sjpatejak28 Jan 2010 12:26 p.m. PST

Old Dominion Games Works has a series of very nice and inexpensive bases.


HesseCassel Inactive Member03 Apr 2010 1:38 p.m. PST

I dunno, about a buck a base doesn't seem inexpensive. I'm not saying they aren't good or worth it, just that "inexpensive" doesn't seem the right word.

Also, for a buck a base, I'd like to see pictures, first. I like the sound of it, but I'd like the view of it better.

I also like the sound of the 'tin foil' method, and second the request for pics!

Charlie 1204 Apr 2010 9:37 a.m. PST

ODGW's website has pictures of the bases in use. They actually look quite nice. (Not much use for me and my 1/6000, though.)

HesseCassel Inactive Member08 Apr 2010 5:59 p.m. PST

I looked at Old Dominion, but didn't see a gallery.

Anyone made plastic ones themselves? I was thinking about getting a nice matt board from Terrain Mat, very nice oceans, and then using the clear ones and dremelling on a wake.

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP02 Oct 2012 7:07 a.m. PST

I game on a nice piece of slightly shiny blue upholstry fabric that was a left-over piece sold cheap from a upholstry/repair store.

For my 1/2400 ships, I mount them on "tongue depresser" wooden craft sticks that were bought from a "Michael's craft storer". 4.5"long, 5/8" wide , 1/12" (11.4 x 1.5 x 0.2 cm)are used for major ships and 2.5"x 3/8" x 1/12" are used for destroyers and smaller cruisers. These allow you to move the model without handling the ship and also pick up those tiny DE's. You need some thickness to the stand to pick up the base, but with too much thickness the stand becomes very visible.

I mix latex paint to match the groundcloth from a distance, and paint one side and the edges of the wood craft sticks with the blue paint.

On the unpainted back of the stick, I write the ship name in big letters (with nationality identified as HMS or MM or IJN…) and the class/type in small print in a corner.

I white-glue the ship with the bow at one extreme end of the stick. Next I take a fine brush and white paint and paint the bow wave, disturbed water down the hull and the tail of the wake. Dry brush and use a "Q-tip" to feather out the white water. You might include the wake details on the 1/12" edge fo the hobby stick.

I take a fine-tipped fibre-point blue ink pen and write the ship's name at the other end of the top side of the stick using small print. (You can see this close-up for sorting ships into storage boxes). All writing is done so that, with the bow pointing to the left, you can read the top label and flip the piece over around the long axis and then read the bottom label.

I agree with some posters above about not putting white labels with a lot of game information on the ship stand. I play on a 5-6' wide table and couldn't read that information anyway. This method affords more of a diorama apprearance.

warren bruhn Inactive Member19 Oct 2012 6:40 p.m. PST

I use 1/8 inch thick basswood for my 1:2400 WW1 collection. Started doing that because another guy in my miniatures group was basing his that way. We use about 1/2 inch of base forward, aft, and abeam the actual model, because the rules we were using made that a possible collision zone.

My friend's bases are pretty simply painted, with a single color blue and a bit of white prop wash and bow wave. Mine are more elaborate, with a bit of texture sometimes from Ailene's tacky glue (a thick white pva), and three or four colors. I think that I'm probably spending too much time painting them, but some players have liked the look.

I'll probably start using laser precut plywood bases in that thickness from Litko, just because cutting and sanding the basswood has been such a chore. I can never get them perfect anyway.

If I had it to do over again, I'd seriously consider the clear bases from Old Dominion Gameworks. But because I'm trying to collect and base and paint almost every ship that was close to modern in 1914 to 1916 for Britain, Germany, Russia, Italy, and Austria-Hungary, the expense of using those clear ODG bases would have really added up.

If I was using exclusively Panzerschiffe, I might have considered not baseing the models at all. There's no thin barrels to worry about with Panzerschiffe, and they are great for gaming. But I started with a box of C-in-C, and didn't want players mashing the thin gun barrels. That's the reason for the 1/8 inch thick bases.

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