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This tutorial shows you how to create a simple yet effective base for your miniatures to help finish them off ready for the gaming table. Quite often you will see an army that has been based using nothing more than a bit of green modelling flock or, in some instances, just a painted base but it’s so easy to achieve a much better effect if you take a bit of extra time.

Materials

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  1. PVA Glue
  2. Basing Sand

In order to base your miniatures using sand, you will need some sand and some PVA glue and it’s worth discussing at this point that different types of sand and glue are available and will help you provide different effects.

PVA glue is the kind of stuff you probably used at school and there are lots of different brands and at different prices and contrary to popular belief it does make a difference, even with PVA glue. As you can see from the picture, I am using GW branded PVA glue which I will be the first to admit is expensive and I’m not going to justify buying it here. However, before I bought that tube, I was using a tube of PVA glue I picked up from my local supermarket for a fraction of the cost,
about 1/8 of the cost in fact for about 4 time as much glue, and there is a marked difference in performance between the two. With the old glue, even when dry, it was difficult to do anything with it- the sand would flake off and the only way to seal it was to lump tonnes of paint onto it, which didn’t produce the best effect when dry. The new tube, at an increased cost, provides a much better adhesion when dry; it’s still not perfect and will flake if subjected to too much pressure but it does hold together much better allowing it to be painted, which also serves to seal it. I’m not going to advise you on which glue to buy, but I will say that like anything else, it is worth investing a few extra pennies to buy a better quality product.

Where sand is concerned, the effect you are looking to achieve in the end will determine the kind of sand you use. The model I will use for the example will eventually have a desert effect so I am going to use a fairly coarse sand but if you wanted to achieve something like tarmac or a mad-made surface, you might opt to use a much finer grade of sand. Here’s a couple of examples to show you the difference.
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Coarse Sand. The larger stones will create rocky effect.
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Fine Sand. This is actually a model railway product.

Both of these products will be available at gaming and modeling stores, especially those that sell model railways.

Step 1

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Undercoat the base, this helps minimise the amount of pooling that will occur when you apply the glue. In this case, it also helps provide a base colour to help disguise any gaps that may be missed when painting the base.

Step 2

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Coat the base with PVA glue, being careful not to get too much glue on the model itself.

Step 3

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Dip the base in the sand and ensure that all of the base has been covered. Tap any excess sand back into the container. Allow the glue to dry before moving on to the next stage.

Step 4

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When the glue has dried, you will need to make a seal. To do this, put some PVA glue in a bowl and water it down until it is like milk. You can see the consistency in the photograph is like water.

Step 5

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Coat the sand with the seal. You will need to dab this on rather than paint it as at this stage, any brush strokes can disturb the sand and cause it to flake.

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Once the seal is dry, the base should look like this. This base is now ready for painting and the sand should not chip or flake when you do; a good coat of paint will also help to further seal the sand and prevent any flaking, chipping or peeling in future.

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