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