So you want to base your entry for Iron Painter with wood flooring but everywhere is sold out of that cool looking wood plank plasticard and there is no way to get it in time to finish your project? No problem! It’s time to bust out the greenstuff and Vaseline and get yourself some wood… …flooring!
This tutorial is to show you how to make wood plank basing for your miniatures. The specific examples come from my Iron Painter 2015 round 2 entry. The method shown here is how to make and use a press mold. This technique can actually be used to make molds of most any texture. To do this, we will first make the press mold and then use that mold to make our wood plank base.
Here’s what you’ll need for this project:
- Greenstuff–every wargamer’s favorite blue and yellow epoxy sculpting medium!
- Bases –You’ll need at least 2 bases for this project. One is the base you will actually use for your model, the other is to build your mold onto. The surface area of the second should be larger than the area of wood you will have on your final base. You can use any rigid, waterproof surface you want for this, I used a base because I had it handy and it’s of a size that will accommodate any bases used for Malifaux.
- Wood–this can be the inside of a piece of bark or anything with a close grain structure that still has some open depth to it; I used a drum stick because that is what I had convenient. The tight grain structure is important because normal wood looks fake in comparison to miniatures unless you have a very tight grain structure.
- Hobby knife–make sure you have a nice sharp blade in your knife.
- Pointed sculpting tool or Pin–I have a sculpting tool that is basically a long pin with a handle because sometimes you need to stab things you are sculpting and a sculpting tool is easier to handle than just a pin.
- Petroleum Jelly–this is to lube up your wood and tools so that they don’t stick to the greenstuff. Yup, I said lube up your wood and tools, let’s all giggle like 12 year olds for a moment before we get started. Frankly there is no way to explain this without frequently using various combinations of the words lubricate, wood, and/or tools, words that just tend to be funny together because miniature painter I know has the sense of humor of a 12 year old boy somewhere deep down.
If you haven’t done much work with greenstuff previously, I have a couple important facts that greatly improved my greenstuff work when I learned them. Whatever your intended use for your greenstuff is will affect what ratio of blue to yellow you want to use. The blue part of greenstuff is the hardening agent. This means that the more blue you use, the harder the final product is; using more blue also makes the greenstuff harden faster (sometimes a good thing, sometimes a bad thing depending on how much work time you need). Using more blue also makes the greenstuff less malleable when you are sculpting it. A more yellow heavy mix will make it easier to sculpt and give you more work time, but also make it stickier (once again something that can be good or bad depending on what you are doing). Most mixes of greenstuff end up having more yellow than blue in them. I never go beyond a 50/50 mix of blue to yellow otherwise the resulting mixture isn’t malleable enough to work with and becomes unworkable too quickly. I also rarely go beyond a 2 parts of yellow to 1 part of blue because otherwise it just gets too sticky to work with. Use too much yellow you might find yourself with a mix that will never fully cure.
Now that you have those nuggets of greenstuff wisdom, let’s make our bases! Mix some greenstuff with a 50/50 blue to yellow formula. Spread a thick layer of greenstuff across the base you will be using for your mold. Now it’s time to lube up! Spread petroleum jelly on your greenstuff and on your woodgrain source; this will keep the greenstuff from sticking to the wood while still allowing you to get the full grain detail. Press your wood into the greenstuff evenly; in my case I had to roll the drumstick across the base.
This is how your mold looks when you are finished. You need to let this harden for about 24 hours. Once your greenstuff has cured, rinse off the jelly. You are now the proud owner of a woodgrain greenstuff stamp!
To use your new greenstuff stamp spread out a layer of greenstuff onto whatever you want to woodgrain. I did this directly onto the base, but you can also roll out some greenstuff onto a sculpting surface to transfer to a model later. I use a 2 parts yellow to 1 part blue ratio to get a little more work time and so it’s softer to better take the woodgrain pattern from my press mold. This layer should be slightly thicker than you want the final boards to be as it will get squished thinner by the mold; it should also be noted that your greenstuff will squish outward too. Once your greenstuff is on the base, it’s time to lube up again! Coat the greenstuff you just applied to your base and your woodgrain mold with your petroleum jelly. Line up the mold so that the grain is running the direction you want and then press the mold into the greenstuff. I actually did the pressing down on the table, but I am holding it up here to better show you.
Once you have pressed the mold into the greenstuff, gently peel the mold away from the now woodgrain stamped greenstuff. Do this slowly–hopefully you used enough lube to keep the two parts from sticking together, but you form a bit of suction between the two parts and you don’t want to mess up your grain pattern. For larger pieces, you can press the mold in multiple times. If you didn’t get enough woodgrain in a section, you can also press that area again. Trim up the edges with a hobby knife you have dipped into your lube.
Now it’s time to turn the woodgrain patterned greenstuff into separate planks. Following the run of the woodgrain, gently press your well lubed hobby knife into the greenstuff to make boards. Press the blade in, DO NOT TRY TO DRAG YOUR KNIFE THROUGH THE GREENSTUFF! No matter how sharp and well lubed your hobby knife is, dragging the blade through to cut your boards will still have enough friction to distort the grain pattern and make it look weird. Press down the full edge, reposition, press down again. Do this for the length of all of your boards. You may need to re-lube your blade during this process to prevent it from sticking. Then cut across your boards to divide them into smaller planks (it should be noted that the pattern of boards in most wood floors is less regularly spaced than brick floors, so stagger the separating lines a little)–once again you will press down, not drag, but you’ll need to use just the point of the hobby knife; I cut in from one side of the board and then the other.
Once all of your boards are divided, use a pin or pointed sculpting tool (also well lubed!) and poke two tiny nail holes into each board near each end. These nail holes are optional; most modern floors have the nails going into them sideways to hide the nails, but I am doing a more Victorian style base, so I like the look of visible nails. Set your base aside and let it cure. After about 24 hours your greenstuff will be completely cured and you can rinse the residual lube off your base. Make sure you do a good job cleaning off the lube otherwise your primer won’t stick well when you go to paint the base. You now have a wood floor base!
Now that you have a beautifully sculpted wood floor base, it’s time to slap some paint onto it! All of the paints I ended up using on this base are from the current Games Workshop paint range, apart from the primer I used with my airbrush. I started by priming my base white; I prefer to use a white primer because it allows me to pre-shade the base. I then washed the base twice with Agrax Earthshade, allowing it to dry completely between the first and second wash.
I then applied a basecoat of very thinned down Mournfang Brown. As the Mournfang Brown is one of the GW Base paints, it needed to be thinned down a fair amount so that the pre-shading I did wasn’t completely obscured.
I followed this with some light highlights of Skrag Brown. The final step on the boards was to do a light pin-wash of Agrax Earthshade between the boards.
Paint the rim around the base black and you are done! For beveled bases I tend to match the color I paint the rim to the basing, but with round lip bases I like to paint them black because it really makes the model pop with out detracting from the model.
Now, I know that plasticard exists with a wood floor pattern to it and from what I’ve seen it works well. So you might be asking, why did I go with this method over the plasticard? The first reason is that I needed a wood floor base on short notice and didn’t have time to get my hands on any wood floor plasticard. Another reason to use this method is that it allows you to give your boards any dimensions you want; this versitility means you can make planks of any length, width, or thickness you wand and can even make your floor look damaged, warped, or missing boards far more easily than you can with plasticard. You can also use your woodgrain press mold to put a woodgrain texture onto many other objects where plasticard wouldn’t work as easily.
I hope this tutorial helps you and and lets you make some great custom bases!