Some time ago, I decided I needed an easier method for sea bases than I have used up till now. It is mind-numbingly tedious adding layer after layer of varnish.
For this example I have some 1/300 Sui Junks I am painting up as part of my DBMM army. These are sold in Australia by Eureka Miniatures, and are part of the Grumpy Range, (Hi Vic!) You can find them here.
They come in a very simple kit and build up into a very nice little model. They thoughtfully include a separately cast cannon and gunner, which can be added for later periods. These were of course omitted from my build.
Firstly they are based on DBMM sized naval bases (for 15mm figures this is 80mm x 40mm). Mine are supplied with magnetised bases by Olympian Games, and are a laminate + magnet sandwich. Importantly - they don't warp. I haven't tried this stuff on cardboard as I am not sure how much they would warp it.
With the junks assembled (slightly tricky having to glue the sail on separately as the contact points are quite small) first they are glued down using cheap PVA glue, creating almost a puddle for the ship to sit in. Then undercoated using a cheap black spray primer.
The first stage was a rough mix of Payne's Grey plus French blue artists acrylic, not mixed too well, as when it is applied you get a good dark sea colour with occasional light streaks of the French Blue. Then the secret weapon!
With an old brush (although it does seem to clean off very well) - apply a thick coat of Artists 3D Gloss super heavy gel. The one I use is from Reeves, and available from any decent artist's store. (I got mine at Eckersleys). Paddle it about with the brush to create ridges and peaks. If you want extreme seas, put it on really thick, and then give it 30 minutes os so and go back with the brush and tease it into more extreme peaks.
It is worth experimenting with how you apply the gel, and it is pretty forgiving.
Don't panic about all the white at this stage... that's before it dries clear.