There are few things as sad as a wonderfully painted miniature on a plain, undecorated base....especially when a basic texture effect is so easily achieved cheaply and quickly. This is Basing 101: using sand as dirt texture for your wargaming mini. Now for veterans this is a 'no brainer'...a tried and tested method for quickly getting your mini finished and table-ready. So my audience for this post are mainly those new to the hobby(although hopefully there will be a trick or two of some use to veterans as well).
Here is my sad little Kossite Woodsman who is embarrassed by his plain base. Now Kossites, according to Warmachine rules, can deploy onto the table later in the game using their "Ambush" tactic. This guy, however, might resist ever coming on to the table for the shame of his undecorated base!...
(click on any images for larger pictures if needed)
Scenic" sand like you'll find at Michael's...its a processed, fine grit sand that won't look natural when you paint it..don't use it.
As far as adhesive you can go two routes; you can use watered down white glue or a craft sealer such as Mod Podge. I like Mod Podge because it essentially is watered-down glue right out of the container...no need for an extra step! Use and old paint brush(not one for miniature details)...you can clean it up with water afterwards(white glue and Mod Podge are both water-based)...but why use a nice brush if you don't have to?
Step 1: Applying Adhesive-Avoiding the miniature itself, apply the Mod Podge(or glue) around the base of the miniature. Also try to avoid getting the adhesive on the outside lip of the base. If there is a little "dip"(recess) where the slotted bottom of the figure is embedded, be sure to fill it in with your adhesive.
|At the tip of the red arrow you can see the excess||sand that I will wipe off.|
Step 5: First Highlight- Time for some drybrushing fun. Take your middle hue(mine is P3 Beast Hide) and grab a nice drybrush. Put some paint on the tip of your brush and wipe off most of it on a paper towel until just a little pigment is remaining. Drybrush the base of your figure in a sideways motion make the sand grain details start to "pop". I don't worry if I hit the feet/boots of the figure a little as this gives them a traveled, dusty look...but you can avoid this if you so choose.
|Ignore the paint pot color, its just being used as a temporary base.|
And that's about it! Now a couple of things to keep in mind...
1. The dirt texture looks nice enough, and is table ready, but you can always add details like static grass, grass tufts, leaf scatter, moss(see this tutorial) or snow(which is what this Kossite will be getting!).
2. In the tutorial I painted just one mini...if its a unit you would do one step at a time for all your minis(as a batch).
3. By changing the hues you can use the same texture for a differently themed base. Want your sand to represent a desert base?...use Beast Hide(Dark Tan) as your base and then highlight with Menoth White Base(light tan/beige) and then Menoth White Highlight(ivory) successively.
If you would prefer a video walkthrough of this simple method, I have uploaded one to my Youtube Channel. You can watch the embedded videos below(or double click on them for full screen, HD versions):