Saturday 29 December 2012

Making Sea Bases

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.

Above, two bases completed this far...  As you can see, the acylic gel has dried gloss and clear...   Next bit...  highlighting.

A quick dry-brush with white... voila! Very quick sea bases.


  1. You can use various molds and such like to add a wave pattern to the gel. Another idea which I picked up from cyberspace but have not yet tried is crumpled alfoil - scrunch it up, flatten it out a bit, spray some silicon mold release then impress the foil on the gel - you should get a random wavy pattern that looks like a gentle swelling sea. This gel can be used with cardboard. I use 2mm board. The gel does warp the cardboard as it dries but seems to "relax" in the final drying stage so you end up with a flat base again. Like this.

  2. Hi Tony, thanks for that, I remember seeing that technique discussed somewhere, but your pics look great, (and the ships aren't half bad either). I might well give it a go. My only issue is that I have now used abut three different basing techniques on my 1/1200 Napoleonic ships, and that is going to annoy me.

  3. I need to remember this when I do ships again.