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About me - I'm a Christian (Pentecostal), Married to Wendy, two step children Thomas and Natalie, dog and rose-crested cockateel(Beauty). I've been a miniature hobbyist for over twenty years; I occasionally wargame at my local club or at home with friends. I set up my commission painting service in 2014, so I spend a lot of time painting!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Step by Step Guide - Bases/Flight Stands for Epic

As this is the start of a new year and I have started a new army (Epic Farsight Enclaves), I thought it would be appropriate and fun to document not only its progress but also how it was done. Maybe someone reading this may find it useful.

This post will concentrate on the creation of bases/flight stands for the grav tanks; including making and painting them. Firstly, I'll explain why I'm making my bases this way. The Onslaught Miniatures grav tanks feature a strip of metal along the length of their underside. This acts as a raiser, so that when they are attached directly to a base they appear to be slightly floating above the surface of the ground. I want a little more flexibility with my posing of the mini. The flight stands will enable me to vary the hight and angle from the ground (base). I will use a similar process when basing other floating/flying units such as Battlesuits, Drones and Air Caste units.

Tools required to make the base:

Long nose pliers
Wire cutters
Super glue
Epoxy Putty
Bases - I use coins
Flight stand - I use paper clips (ensure that you have a drill to match)
Not shown above - Basing material (sand, small stones etc.) and paint. I also use an airbrush, but brushes will suffice.

Creating the base:
The first thing that you will need to do is shape the paper clip into a sturdy flight stand. The following pics/descriptions will explain this process.

Firstly the paper clip needs to be straightened out. Do this with the wide/flat edge of the pliers. Squashing the curves out as you move along the length of the clip.
As you can see from this pic, the clip does not have to be perfectly straight. However, the two ends of the clip should remain perfectly straight, as this is how they were initially formed (before bending). These ends will form the 'pole' of the stand.

With the clips I am using, which are about 3cm in length before bending and 10cm straight(after bending). I find that one will make two stands when cut in half, averaging about 1.5cm hight from the base (you can of cause vary this to taste).
The next few steps take you through the process of bending the clip into shape. I have tried several shapes/methods and I find this one to be simple and effective. The flight stand is secured to the base with a figure of eight shape, which offers good all-round stability for the mini it's supporting.

The size of each 'O' of the figure of eight is determined by this first step, as the wire will be formed around one of the jaws of the pliers.
Whilst firmly holding the wire in the pliers with one hand (at the end opposite the straight 'pole') , use the other to fold the wire around one of the jaws, forming a circle (see next pic for results)
Though not a perfect 'O' (you would need circular jawed pliers for that) this is fine for the job-in-hand.
This next step will form the other side of the '8'. Grasp the wire as shown (right up against the other 'O'), making sure that the 'O' is at a right angle to the jaws. This will ensure that when you fold the wire around the jaw, it will meet-up level with the first 'O'. See next pic.
As you can see here, this fold is the same as the last one. When doing this as a production line (for multiple bases) these first few steps can be completed fairly fast (with a little practice). See next pic for results.
So we have the base of the fight stand basically formed. Next step is to straighten out the 'pole' that the mini will rest on.
Grip the wire were the base of the straight 'pole' meets the '8', ensuring that the jaws are positioned horizontal to the 'pole'. This ensures that when you make the final fold (into the vertical position) the 'pole' with stand directly upright from it's base.
As you can see from this angle, the grip can easily be made by lining up the straight edge of the last 'O' with the blade of the pliers. Then simply fold the 'pole' into position. See next pic for results.
At this step I place the the stand on a flat surface. This determines if the base (8) is connecting flat to the surface. Generally I will need to use the wide flat surface of the pliers to help flatten it out a little and ensure the the pole is upright.
Now its time to attach the flight stand to it's base. I simply place the stand on it's base (ensuring that the pole is in the centre) then add super glue around the wire. Leave this until the super glue has hardened.

The next step Is add some epoxy putty. This not only helps to secure the stand to the base, but also gives a smoother area for the basing material and can be used to attach small stones (I use Aquarium stones).

Squash the putty onto the base around the stand, ensuring that all the wire is covered. I find if you dampen your fingers the putty will smooth out easier. At this stage you can also add stones, simply by pushing them into the putty. Leave this to harden, then using a sharp point, scratch some lines across the putty. This will help the basing material glue to it better. I also add a little super glue around the stones (just to make sure they stay on the base).
At this stage I didn't take any pics of the basing material being glued to the base. I simply covered the base in PVA glue, ensuring not to get it on the pole, to far up the rock or around the base edge. Then dipped it in a tray of sand. I use a combination of GW sand mixed with Chinchilla dust (from the local pet store, the same one I get my aquarium stones). Once dry, I add another layer of PVA, this time slightly thinned with water, this ensures I don't loose any.

Time to add some colour:

First stage is the undercoat. I create this with an equal mix of Vallejo Black Surface Primer and airbrush thinner. This is then airbrushed onto the whole base, including the rims.
The sand is then airbrushed with an equal mix of Vallejo Game Color Earth and Airbrush Thinner.
Patches of grass colour are painted on next with a slightly thinned coat of Game Color Cayman Green. The stone is painted with slightly thinned Model Color German Grey
The sand and stone is them washed with un-thinned Citadel Agrax Earthshade, then left to dry. 
The fist highlights are added. I use a damp brush technique, like dry brushing but without removing much paint from the brush. The mud gets a layer of Game Color Khaki. The grass a layer of Game Color Dead Flesh. Notice that I leave a band of the darker grass colour around the outside edge of the grass patch. This helps to shade and define the patch better. You can also do this on the mud, if you have any deep areas or shade under the rock. The rock has a layer of Game Color Cold Grey.
With the mud and grass complete, I like to add one further highlight to the rock, with Game Color Stonewall Grey
To finish up the base I paint the rim and pole with black paint
At this stage I'm ready to attach the mini to the pole with super glue (a hole was made in the underside of the mini with a pin vice before painting). Once secure I airbrush the base and mini with a layer of gloss varnish. Note that the mini (at this stage) will already have been airbrushed with an undercoat and base coat. More of which on my next post.

As always if you would like a closer look at any pictures above, click on them. If you have any comments or would like to ask me questions or provide feedback, please fill in the comments box below (this will be moderated before being published on this blog).

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