Sunday, March 5, 2023

Modeling Tutorial: Stone Bases

This week, I jump back into Cursed City with a basing tutorial: 

I've had a lot of positive reactions to the stone basing I used on my Cursed City objectives, so I decided to put together a tutorial showing how to make them. 


You'll need some styrene plastic sheets of varying thickness, some ballast or sand, super glue, as well as a hobby knife and clippers.


Sheet styrene comes in a variety of thicknesses. I use a very thin sheet for the bottom layer, and thicker sheets to make the stones on top. The thin layer is .38mm and the thicker ones are about 1mm or 1.5mm. If you have any leftover scraps from previous projects, this is the perfect use for them!


Start by tracing a 25mm base on the thin card. This will give you an idea of how big the "foorprint" needs to be, but you will not precicely be following the circle. 


On the thicker card, score and snap off some strips from the end. You don't need a straight edge to make the cuts, since the stones will have irregular edges. The strips should be around 1/4-inch wide, but that width can vary between them to create different size stones. Indeed, if you're making a larger base you'll want to increase the size to 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch for some of the stones. 


Before breaking the strips into smaller, individual stones, distress the long edges and ends with your hobby knife to create a rough, chipped texture.


Then, you can either make some cuts at various intervals and snap off the individual stones, or simply cut the strip with clippers. (Clippers usually crimp the edge on one side of the cut, so I prefer to use a knife, but since the edge will be getting distressed again, it's probably not that much of an issue because you can fix the crimped edge.)


Distress the edges as before, but use your knife to cut into the corner and pick off the top layer so it resembles the flaked edges of shale. You don't need to do this on each individual stone, but a few here and there will enhance the appearance of the stones, and that extra bit of detail will be picked up when drybrushing the bases.


Once all the stones are finished, it's time to attach them. Put some super glue on the thin card, and begin placing the stones. Use the tip of your knife to pick them up and arrange them in an irregular pattern.


By leaving a small gap between the stones, you can sprinkle some fine sand or ballast in the recesses.


Do this gradually as you fill in the footprint with paving stones.


The goal is not to create a perfect circle, but rather to make an irregular "patch" of paving stones that's approximately the same size as the objective's base. 


Let the glue dry completely, and then cut away the excess thin styrene.


Use your knife to carefully slice the styrene flush with the stones, and then scrape the edge to smooth the two layers of styrene together and create a seamless join between the two.


And that's it! You can use the same technique to add paving stones to the top of a model's base. Just overlap the stones over the edge...


And then clip them flush to the edge of the base.


Use a sanding stick to sand the stones flush with the angled edge of the base. (I'm using a 320 grit and then a 400 grit to "polish" it.)


If you have a thin gap between the stones and the base, apply a small bit of super glue and then go over it with the sanding stick. The dust from sanding will mix with the glue and fill in the gap. (Be warned: this will gum up your sanding stick a little and reduce its use-life, but they're pretty cheap and you can even make your own by super gluing sandpaper to a wide popsicle stick.)


To attach the models, carefully clip off their base tabs, clean up their feet, and glue them to the base. 


To further enhance the bases and fill in some of the empty area, you can cut some "coins" from a piece of 1.6mm styrene rod.


Put some super glue on a scrap of card. Attach the coins by picking them up with the tip of your knife, dipping them in the glue, and sticking them on the base.


Here are my newly-based Diregoyles, ready for painting. I love this basing style for objectives and scenery pieces. It really helps with the "living diorama" aesthetic and enhences the immersion of the game. 


'Til next time!


  1. Very handy and straightforward. I may need to try this one day.

    1. Thanks! Go for it! "Natural" basing look so much better than putting the objective on a round model base.

  2. Great result!

    Why are you using super glue to attach the plasticard layers instead of plastic glue? Is it just because you had it to hand, or does it help in some way? (besides being faster)

    1. Thanks! I use super glue for pretty much everything because it works on all materials (plastics, wood, metal, resin, sand/ ballast, etc.) and excess can usually be wiped away without really marring the surface, whereas plastic cement is melting the plastic, and if if bleeds out of the gluing area, it will create a gummy smear on the surface and melt any surface detail it gets on.

      In this particular instance, if it was plastic cement, it wouldn't secure the ballast in the gaps between the plastic stones.

  3. Great work. The objectives really blend into the setting this way. Can I ask how you'll be painting the coins? Will they be bits of stone?

    1. Thanks! The coins will be painted gold (like regular coins). The Diregoyle is biting a coin, so I cut these to match the size, and I'll paint them the same way.

    2. Ah, I see. They'll look awesome painted up!


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