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Basing for 15mm Stands

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Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP writes:

I am "hiding" the bases myself, too, but use a depression in the base for that.

If you ever get hands on a 3d-printer for bases… I wrote myself a small program to get the files for rectangle bases.

Revision Log
6 July 2015page first published

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian writes:

There are many ways to base figures, and I tend to wander from technique to technique over the years. Here's how I've been basing 15mm figures lately...

These figures happen to be Armies of Arcana Amazons (Lone Gunman Games), which have already been painted for me by Fernando Enterprises. If the figures were unpainted, it would be a matter of personal preference whether to base them before or after painting.

These figures will be used with Mighty Armies (the fantasy/ancients ruleset from Rebel Minis). The standard basing for infantry originally was four figures per base; many of the newer armies use three figures per base (including the Amazons). The bases are 25mm by 50mm. Usually I would go with 3mm wooden bases, but lately I've become a fan of the "official" Mighty Armies plastic bases – these are solid, with beveled edges.

I like to "color code" my armies to help newbies keep track of which figures are theirs, and to aid in identification when putting figures away. So in this case, I start by priming the bases with Krylon Indoor/Outdoor White Primer, then spraying them with Krylon Short Cuts Tanzanite.

Painted base with figures

The next step is to figure out how to place the figures on the base. Depending on the type of figures, you may want all your bases to look alike (i.e., regimented troops), or you may want them to vary (i.e., skirmishers, irregulars, etc.). You need to also consider how the figures will fit on the bases – if their arms or weapons extend beyond the base, will other bases be able to "rank up" as needed? I also try to position figures so that they are "looking" ahead ("at the enemy"), and not waving their weapons in each others' faces!

Make sure the bottoms of the bases are flat, then use superglue to attach them to the bases. Keep an eye on the figures for a minute or so, as I find figures sometimes manage to turn or drift before the glue sets.

Figures glued to base

The next step is a matter of personal preference. Personally, I like to add some filler to the bases, so that the figures aren't so obviously standing on little mounds (the "wedding cake" effect). This didn't used to bother me, but now, I prefer to take the extra time to add the filler.

There are lots of options for filler. I've written before about spackle, modeling gel, and modeling paste, spackle again, and two-part epoxy. Others have written about using tile grout and DAS modeling clay.

Well, I'm back to using DAP DryDex Spackling again. It is basically a plaster that goes on pink, and turns white when dry. It cleans up with water, which is useful when you make mistakes... and it means your finished figures will be vulnerable to floods and drink spills. The spackle is also soft when dry. Oh, and the lid is murder on your fingernails.


The job goes best with the right tool. You can use a plastic knife, or an inexpensive plastic sculpting tool from an arts-and-crafts store.

It's pink!

My favorite for 15mm work is a little sculpting tool that I picked up from Renaissance Ink a few years ago (sadly, they are reportedly defunct, but the tool should be available elsewhere):


The tool's curved end is small enough to fit between most figures, or at least able to push the spackle into the gaps. When I can't fit it in, I'll use an X-acto knife to add or smooth spackle into a tight spot.

My technique – such as it is! – is difficult to describe, but basically I load the tool with some spackle, press the blade down between the figure base and the base edge, then spread the spackle forward. After doing the outside of the base, I'll go back and fill in any missing areas between the figures.

Dried spackle

When the spackle dries (and turns white), you can go back and make corrections. The most common error is to get spackle on the figure's boots. You can remove it with a wet Q-tip (the water will dissolve the spackle), though double-check to make sure it doesn't dry white again. Or you can cover it with paint – either the original boot color, or a splash of "mud" color. An X-acto blade can easily shape the dried spackle, if there's an odd lump or not enough slope.

How perfect does the texturing need to be? It depends on whether you plan to just paint it, or to cover it with something else. If you cover with sand, it tends to show every flaw; flock is much more forgiving.

The next stage is to paint the top of the base a color which works with whatever treatment you are going to give the base (if any). In this case, I'll be covering the base with green flock (the "ground-up foam" type of flocking). From experimentation, I've determined that the perfect color (for me) is Americana Mississippi Mud.

Mississippi Mud

Now, if you want to skip a step, you could use the paint as a "glue," so you could paint the base and then immediately dip the base into the flock. That's what I used to do, but the flock tended to come loose over time. So now, I let the paint dry, and then...


Apply glue to the top of the base. My preferred brand is Noch Grass Glue. Start at the back of the base, work your way toward the front, and "refresh" the back with a swipe or two of the brush before dipping the base into your flock container. (You don't want any "dry glue" spots, or you'll have a bare spot on your base.) Make sure the glue spreads all the way to the edges.

My flock container

Then you dip the base into your flock container. I like to use a large container, big enough for even large bases, and with a wide mouth to catch any excess flock as it falls off the base. You can "swish" the base in the container, or put it into the container and press down gently on the flock to help it stick into the glue, then remove the base. Holding it upside-down over your flock container, tap the bottom to remove any loose flock.

Immediately check the base for any mistakes, as it is a lot easier to remove flock now rather than when the glue is dry. Brush your finger along the edges of the base to knock off any flock on the sides. Gently press down on any flock that is poking up, to snare it into the glue. If you accidentally got glue on a figure's pants (or sword, or hair!), brush it off with an old brush.

I let the stand dry overnight, then spray with Dullcote as another way to secure the flock in place.

The final step, for me, is to slap flexsteel to the base bottom, so it will stick to my storage boxes (lined with magnetic sheet). I buy self-adhesive flexsteel from Litko, already cut to size.

Flexsteel on base bottom

Here's one of the finished Amazon bases. Note that I missed some spots on the front edge, so the ground color shows through.

Finished base

So that's one way to base figures for a stand. There are lots of other ways, too – this is just how I do it. And maybe I'll try another way tomorrow!