Speed Basing Armies: Painting efficient high-quality bases

If you have any questions / comments, please feel free to post on the forum thread for this tutorial.

Hello again all, I've had a few people note the amount of steps I tend to take when painting things in my tutorials, in general each step is fast, or speeds up following ones hugely (pre-shading), I've had a think about it though, and as a result I'm going to be doing a few 'quick and easy' tutorials for achieving the highest possible quality of results in the lowest possible time.

***Warning:me waffling about batch painting, again!*** Skip until you see pictures if you've had enough of that.
When you're going for speed the most efficient way is always some type of batch-production, for your soul's sake I don't recommend doing the army all at once (apart from maybe putting on basing materials), I tend to split mine into similar units etc. Also if you're not spray-priming your models, or if the bases didn't catch much of the primer I cannot put emphasis on how important step 1 is!

Bases where sand has crumbled off look crap. Regardless of the quality of the initial basing. Avoid this at all costs because a) it's annoying to go back and do something you've already done again b) there's a very easy way to ensure it doesn't happen/dramatically reduce the chance of it happening.

I do my models in this order, without fail, unless it's a display piece and I'm painting the base/model separately:
Basing - sand rocks, whatever
Spray sealant on bases
Prime models
Paint models
Paint bases (it's realistic to have dirt colours on your shoes, but not shoe colours on your dirt.

Enough of that, here's how I do my favourite speed bases, for this you will need:

-Grey (mid tone, GW sprue-coloured)
-Drybrush (Make-up brush is best/my preferred tool)
-Tufts of your choice, I chose swamp to contrast with
-Pigment of your choice, I went for burnt sienna to contrast with the green grass, anything warm orangey brown will do.

(Make your bases)

Step 1.) Sealing the sand:
If you want your bases to last hit them with a sealant, purity seal is fine, I'm using TAP's equivalent these days, any spray varnish will do, just make it's non-gloss (paint won't adhere nicely). If you're giving them a fairly heavy coat of another sprayed colour that'll do, but if there's models on them this can obscure detail so it's good practice.

Step 2.) Base-coat (paint or spray or both):
It can be hard to get all angles with sand, overhanging rocks etc, I sprayed these chaos black, but am now going to go over the lot with chaos black + Cold Grey (Vallejo Game Color) and make sure I get all of these missed bits.

Step 3.) 2nd colour:
A couple of light patches of Cold Grey, randomly chosen, also concentrated around the edge of the larger pieces of slate. At this stage, whether brushing or airbrushing don't worry about being neat, ground isn't neat, as long as there's no harsh straight lines of colour it's fine.

Step 4.) Drybrushing:
Using your trusty Make-up Brush, or large drybrush mix Grey+a bit of white, brush off most of the paint fro the bristles and pass your brush gently over the sand, going from one side to the other, this is probably more like 'overbrushing' but meh. I always do the sand first, and then the rocks last once most of the paint has been removed from your brush, the rocks gets properly drybrushed, very little paint on the brush, plenty of time, their contours will do the work for you.

Step 5.) (Optional) 2nd Drybrush:
Very lightly drybrush highlight with your previous mix + skull white, this looks especially effective on the rocks.

Step 6.) Pigments!
I use my pigments wet for this type of thing, mix them with water to a thin paste, and blog them around any details, and in random patches, don't worry if you make any mistakes/catch bits you weren't aiming for, there's no need to be neat, if it's a major mistake on a rock etc lick your thumb and wipe it off, if it's on the sand then you can reverse most of the damage with a watered brush later. Leave this a little while to start drying (I go onto the next bases and do each stage in batches).

Step 7.) 'Smudging' pigments:
Take a pallet or something, scrape up some of your first pigment mix, and add a load of water to it, now use this to 'smudge' the edges of your previous mix outward, feathering the pigment, again don't worry at all about being neat go all over rocks if you like, or concentrate on recesses, if in doubt google some pictures of rocks/go and look in the garden :).

Step 8.) Final smudging
Go in with a brush with just water on it, and 'pull' the pigments outwards again, if your brush gets too pigmenty wash it off in water, this stage isn't essential, it'll just give a more gradual fade.

Pictures is from left to right:
Step 7
Step 6
Step 8 (nearly dried)

Step 9.) TUUUUFTS!

Done! I kept it in single figures of steps as well. A condensed super-fast equivalent of this is to miss out the 2nd colour on top of the base-coat, mix more white in and just do 1 drybrush, and then to use your pigments dry, which is only 4 or 5 steps, however if you're using your pigments dry make sure to seal them afterwards (more matt varnish) or they'll blow away and get everywhere!

As every any thoughts/questions/alternative ways that you do things pop a comment in.

What our customers are saying...

Sign up for our newsletter - for the latest news and promotions
Element Games Team

Eg staff
Store and Gaming Centre


gaming centre
Latest Tweets