All about that base, 'bout that base

My very first Mantic purchase was an Abyssal Dwarf army (as was my second - because once I started reading the pre 1st edition rules I realized I didn't have enough in the one box).  I started a Mantic blog to talk about it and post pictures (that blog is now just links to this one - go figure).  One question I got quite a lot was how I did the volcanic bases for my figures.  I thought I'd right up an article, so took pictures of every step.  Two years later (actually getting close to three from the first half) I figure I need to write up SOMETHING.  If you want to see pictures of the entire army - they are here.
Finished single black soul on magnetic magma base.
Yes, I do hear Dr. Evil's voice when I do work on these bases.

No, Mr. Powers, I expect them to die.  Even after they pay me the money... I'm still gonna melt every city on the planet with liquid hot magma.

So first thing is the base.  You can actually use any base, even multi-basing with this.  In fact I find it works even better with multi-basing.  When I first did my units, all the sides fit to look like one big base - and then once the figures were removed from their movement tray, I have not been able to get them back in the same order since :-).

Anyway, All my bases (even when multi-basing) are magnetic.  This model used one from Gale Force 9, however I no longer use them and MUCH prefer the bases from Shogun Miniatures - they are cheaper, cleaner, require no preparation and half the thickness (plus they are easily available in any size you want - they will make custom base sizes for you)

I use 1/4" thick cork.  I get a pack of three tiles from Wal-Mart and they will last for years.  I tear them into rough shapes, and use super glue to affix them to the base.  I try to make sure there is room for the figures feet as well :-).

Next I spread some thinned out PVA glue (i.e. Elmer's or similar white glue) on the top of the cork, and then dip it in sand.  This gives it a nice rough texture to the volcanic rock.

So here is an Abyssal Dwarf blacksoul with a 2 handed weapon.  Blacksouls models are basically just dwarfs with either metal heads or metal helmet toppers (like this one).

Next, I cut off the circular base from the figure.  I've heard some people use a jewelers saw - I use clippers (because I don't care about the base as it is getting thrown away anyway).  I clip around each boot, leaving two tabs on the bottom of the boots, which are then easy to clip off without damaging the boots at all.

One thing that is required when removing the build in base is to pin the model to the new base.  The bottoms of the boots just don't have enough surface area - and can just get glued to the sand and then easily pop off.  Pinning the feet to the base give a bit more to hold on to, and glues the model not just to the top of the sand, but to the cork and plastic base beneath as well.

I used to use brass rod (Gale Force 9 used make a nice pinning set with a pin vice, bits and rod that matched them.  Privateer Press makes one as well (link) - this is the type of pin vice that I have (with a nice attachment to fit your hand that is free to spin)), however I ran out and was not able to find any locally - but at the local story (The Hobby Shop) they had cheap bunches of steel rod that I found instead, and anymore I won't go back to brass for most of my pinning.  Steel is stronger, but it does take stronger clippers to cut (I have a nice pair of needle nose lineman's pliers I use).  DO NOT use the clipper you use for your plastic sprues - at best it will dull it, at worse it can break or actually indent it because plastic clippers are not made for steel.

One advantage of steel pins is you can use them to mark where you need to drill, especially in things like cork.  So I place the figure, then drill for the pins down into the plastic base.  Then super glue the figure with the pins to the base.

Next up, priming.  I use a flat black primer (I like Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch Ultra Cover for this). Some people prefer to put any sand on the base just before they paint it.  I always do it first, as the spray primer will lock the sand in place.  If I don't, then I keep getting sand coming off the figure until I do get it painted.  (For my Beech Boyz I have half the models based on sand (i.e. on the beach).  Four years later, I still find sand on the table after playing games with them.

I paint the figure before the base, because I know I will always end up slopping some paint onto the base.  So after painting the mini, I use flat black to cover any spots on the base.  Then I do a heavy drybrush of 72.050 Cold Grey.  All the paints I used for this are from the Vallejo Game Color line - they are my preferred brand of paint.

Then I do a second drybrush of 72.049 Stonewall Grey

And a final drybrush of a 50-50 mix of Stonewall Grey and 72.001 Dead White.

This is the ash that the model is standing on.  For the magma below, I first use 72.009 Hot Orange

I then use 72.008 Orange Fire in the center, leaving a bit of the Hot Orange exposed on the edges

The same thing is done then with 72.006 Sun Yellow, leaving both the oranges exposed.

In order to add a little depth to the base, I also do a light drybrush of the Sun Yellow on the edges of the ash that are next to the magma - thus giving them a slight glow.

A tiny bit of 72.001 Dead White in the middle of the yellow finishes the magma.

I've gone through various ways of edging my bases, but lately I much prefer simple black edges on everything to 'frame' the model.  This is the last and final step.

And the finished mini - from the back.

So this is how I've made all my volcanic bases.  My son keeps saying he things I should put a gloss coat over the magma because he doesn't like it - and I might someday.  Also if you have larger bits of magma, you might consider some type of bubbles in it (I remember seeing this in a tutorial on painting Magmatrax, a Golden Daemon winning model.   I don't plan on every trying to achieve what he did, but then I also am NEVER going to spend 400+ hours for a single model)

Because it is all fun and games...