Rebasing models with new materials

applying static grass

Basing models is one of those things most of us do at the end after we've done everything else. It's almost like we have to so the model looks finished. I had this case the other day with the Eldar Dire Avenger I posted. I painted him up, he looked fine and then I went to add some finishing touches to his base and I pretty much ruined the model right there.

Great model, not so great job with the basing

As soon as it happened, I went online, bought myself some nice basing materials (static grasses and such) and decided never again shall it happen to me.

Now I'm a big fan of using materials you can find around where you live for basing like sand and bark and such. More than that, I like resin bases. They allow you to get an incredible amount of detail on a base and a good number of themes (like alien stuff) that you'd have trouble recreating on your own. Besides resin bases are cheap and everyone and their brother can make them these days.

Using resin bases and some providers
Prepping your resin bases for paint

That being said, I enjoy adding a bit of static grass here and there (did you know there is a trick to getting it to stand up) or the occasional skull to my bases even if they come with tons of detail on them already. As soon as my stuff arrived, I stripped the old flock material off of two bases I'd done in the past few months and redid them with the new stuff I bought.

What did I buy to add to my collection of basing materials?
Since I've already got a variety of sands, the odd bit of sprue and an assortment of bark and mulch, I went out and bought myself a few types of grasses and such. The stuff you can't get around the yard as it were. I ended up going to Secret Weapon minis to buy their Grasses kit. I didn't want any more kinds of stone or gravel and what I was really looking for was some turf type materials that I could use and not just "grass."

I also ended up getting a few types of leaves which I have always wanted to add to my bases. I'll be honest, I don't know what it is about leaves, but I think they just look so cool on bases. Now these little guys here are a March 1st release from SWM, but in the course of emailing misterjustin and talking back and forth about what I was trying to do with my basing, he let me get some of these a bit early.

I'm sure there are a couple of places you could go for this kind of thing; it comes down to what materials you are looking for. Shop around until you find what fits your basing theme or gives you the most options for the money you want to spend. When it comes to static grass and such, I'm not a big person to worry about price. Here's why... no matter what you buy, it will be almost impossible to go through it in your lifetime. Unless you are basing a few million models, you'll never use the amount retailers give you.

I used to worry that I would go through my original tub of static grass (that was given to me half full) and after 5 years of fairly regular use, it's still half full. Buy what you want and it will last you. There's no sense in buying something close and then spending forever wishing you'd spent the extra dollar or two to get the stuff you really wanted.

So let's look at some models already
The first one is the Eldar Dire Avenger. Like I said, I painted him up and added some light tan static grass since that was all I had last week.

The base is great with the subtle tones and drybrushing to bring out the texture and then there are those couple puffs of monotone yellow grass. Ugh.

And here's the base now. A huge improvement I believe. Don't get me wrong, it took a little more work than just throwing some white (PVA) glue on there and hitting it with a pinch of static grass, but the final effect is night and day different.

I've added some smaller turf type material and a more muted color of grass. The combination of the two materials is what really matters. It gives it a much more natural and organic feel than the single type of static grass I had before.

Let's look at another model. This one is my Black Dragon Space Marine I did a few weeks ago as well. In this case, I had no leaves to add to the base so I tried to make my own from some thin cardstock. Not the best looking leaves by any stretch of the imagination.

And after cutting away the old cardstock leaves, I added some new ones in two different colors. I kept the original static grass on there, but added a few more leaves overall.

Again, a huge difference in the final result. The use of "real" leaves or scale products that accurately represent the material gives the model a whole different feel.

So what's the point of investing in your basing?
Basing is one of those things I love to do. I'm just learning to separate my base from my model, work in them individually and then bring them together in the end as one piece. That way I can give the most attention to my base without the model in the way.

Will one type of static grass work for the majority of hobbyists out there? Sure. For most of us, it's all we'll ever need really. But if you enjoy basing your models and you want to get the most from it (in terms of contributing to the overall look) then you really should think about expanding your basing materials. Once you expand your materials, you can start combining different things like grass, turf, various sands, etc. to get a much more natural look.

Basing materials are like anything else in this hobby... they're expensive. It's the only area I don't mind paying the extra amount as I'm pretty confident I'll never go through it all in my lifetime. Since one tub is going to last me a very long time and combining a few different materials really helps the overall look of my models, I'm sold.

There are harder ways to improve the look of your model. Basing is one of those things that with just a bit if work, you get a huge return in your investment. I'm planning on picking up some GW Burnt Grass (the dark brown stuff) to use and mix in with my other stuff too when I swing by my FLGS this week.

Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
How basing details can really finish a model
Basing your models using free stuff from around your house
How I improved my basing the first time around

Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!


  1. Wow, those leaves look fantastic. Here I was just going to use dried pepper to try to represent fallen leaves, but just knowing these are available has changed my mind.

  2. Krisken: The leaves are my favorite too. I keep trying to come up with basing ideas so I can use them.

  3. Love those leaves as well, it makes the model stand out. Basing I have found is just like painting, it takes practice and a good eye to see what you can do, and you are right, items from around the area really do help. Nature makes things look MUCH more realistic. Thanks for the article!

  4. I've also been really looking forward to those leaves, they just add some much more character to a base.

  5. I love love love leaf litter.

    One thing that I do after I glue the litter down... If I know that the figure will be gamed with, I put a "Glaze" of Vallejo matte medium over the leaf to help it stay in place a little firmer. Helps cut down on them falling off during game play.

    Also, if you have old leaf littler that has started to loose it's color, just give the lef a wash of thinned ogryn flesh after it's glued. The dried leaf will suck it up and it'll punch the color.

  6. Fayte: Well said.

    LuckyNo.5: Thanks for the tip!

  7. I'm not finding the leaf litter on the Secret Weapon site. Any idea if they still stock it?

  8. Awesome. I love from the warp. Goes good with my morning coffee.

  9. March 1st you say?
    I'll be picking up one of each!
    The leaves look fantastic.

  10. I've never been a fan of leaves on the base but this really looks good =)

    we use sand for aquarium or sand for bird cages and it look great and it´s cheap!

  11. I actually like your home mead leaves better, I think that it's the bright red Autumn colors really help to make an overall very dark model and base pop.

  12. JacinB: They go up March 1st... you'll have to hold on until then.

    relic painting: Glad you like the site, thanks for stopping by!

    Kevin: Yep, March 1st, I got lucky and happen to be talking to him about this whole thing for the past week and it came up in our discussions.

    Manufacturum: Those absolutely work, A variety of sizes of material make for a much more interesting base in the end.

    Mike L: The red was a nice touch. I think I may be able to get something similar if I use GW washes over the leaves to alter their color slightly. That's another post though.

  13. I'm glad these worked out for you, Ron - and, yes, the products will go on general release 1-March.

    I hope to have a demo video finished prior to that as well.

  14. Brilliant tutorial Ron - this type of thing is exactly what I need for my bases. I try to keep them all similar in an attempt to match them to my home terrain, as well as being able to combine forces and maintain a cohesive look (for Apocalypse etc.), but I've been looking to add something new to them. I read this article half-asleep last night, but headed straight to eBay. I now have a pack of leaves on their way to me :) thanks!

  15. misterjustin: I like the leaves the most. The turf is nice because it's so different in texture from static grass, but the leaves are just cool looking.

    Chris: Thanks, I don't know if it's more tutorial than it's just a show and tell of the difference with various basing materials. Either way, I'm glad it helped!

  16. I love using leaves on my Eldar bases. I bought from Skullcrafts though. Their Autumn basing kit. They work a treat on the bases I use for Eldar.

  17. I have to second Mike L, your home made red leaves look awesome! The other leaves look nice too, but those autumn colors go really well with the paint scheme on the model and definitely takes it up a notch!

  18. BigGrim: I think you've hit on the bigger idea here and that is taking your bases and adding that extra touch to them with some additional basing materials to really bring them to life. The brand is not as important as long as you find something that works for you and the look you want.

    joe metcalf: I think I like the red aspect of the previous leaves and not much else about them. I think the red (and other colors like orange and yellow) can be brought into these leaves with some selecetive wash application.

  19. Fantastic pics and wonderful advice. I've experimented with pre-fab resin bases and have never been disappointed with the results. I'd love to expand my basing repertoire and you've given excellent resources to do just that. :) Thanks so much!

  20. R. C. Fountain: Thanks! Most resin bases are great on their own, this kind of thing just helps push them over the top.

  21. I've seen people use seed pods from birch trees for leaves (the pods break apart into little, three pointed flakes). This looks really good, but it'd be easier to buy one of those bags from SWM. Plus you don't have plunder your neighbors' birch trees if your yard doesn't have one (don't tell them it was me!)

  22. Alex: Very true... and that's exactly what I did. I don't have any Birch trees in my yard (and neither do my neighbors) so it's one of those things I bought to expand my basing material collection.

  23. This article and the comments really fit what I've been going through with my models recently.

    I wrote a rambling article about it back at my blog:

    A base can really influence how a model is perceived. I find myself revisiting old bases to add little details like this at the moment.

    Ron, I hope you don't mind, but I went ahead and linked to this article. I think it is a good example.

  24. Ijanus Enitorus: I saw your Tau models before and I thought the grass tufts were a nice addition. Thanks for the link as well!


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