Tyranid Test Bases

Here are the two test bases I did up relatively quickly. The first is Liquitex Resin Sand mixed with an equal amount of craft paint. I then dry brushed it up through different shade of a brownish-grey, and added a bit of GW static grass:

The second is just craft sand painted in the same colors, again with static grass (but under different light):
For fairness' sake, here they are side by side under the same light:

I like them both, in their own ways.

The resin sand version comes out lighter due to having less small texture. It also provides a more three-dimensional look, depending on how much of the material you use, and how you pile it up. Little clumps of resin sand in one area make those little peaks and valleys you can see in the pictures. The valleys are where I intend to put static grass and small plants. It seems to be a pretty durable finish as well. I believe I can glue small plants right to the painted base in those low areas and make them look convincing.
However, the resin sand method is imprecise. I had no idea what the base texture would look like when I applied it. The binder in the material evaporates and shrinks as it dries overnight. I'm not sure how this would translate to a 40mm or 60mm base. I can try it out on a 40mm spare, but I don't have any 60mm junk bases to play with.
I'm also not sure how I could sink rocks and other items on these bases. The resin sand medium is sloppy and goopy. If I placed a cork rock in the middle, would I be able to make it look convincing?

The craft sand version is darker because I essentially soak the sand in the darkest color, and then dry brush those tiny grains up to light grey. However, plenty of the dark color still shows through. I can dry brush more of the lighter colors to reduce or eliminate that, but I've found that it tends to look smeared and shitty when you do so.
There is much more control with the craft sand, as I'm painting on white glue, and then covering it with the sand before painting. I can glue rocks and other items right to the base before glue and sand and it looks nice enough. I'm positive that I cannot glue small plants to the sand. I'd have to attach them to the base before applying glue and sand, which would require precision to avoid sanding the leaves of the plants. No one likes sandy leaves. The alternative is drilling holes in the base after sanding, poking the plants through to the underside, and then gluing them in place.

Affixing the models to either base is about the same. Add a small piece of plasticard to the base where the feet go, apply basing, then scrape away the paint and sand from the piece of card. Glue as needed.

What do you folks think? Resin sand or craft sand?
Does the grey color stand out enough from my green/brown Tyranid scheme, or should I consider another color set?
Obviously, these are quick mockups that I threw together. A finished base will have static grass and various scattered small plants to break up the grey. I'm not 100% sure how I'm going to make the plants, but my first though is to grab some cheap silk plants from the craft store, and then cut my leaves and stems from those, using the appropriate scale. Then I'd bind it all together with floral wire (I already have a reel of it from past projects) and glue to the base using that coiled wire. I think I could also break out the airbrush to quickly spray the leading edges of the leaves another color like a light green, teal, or crimson.

In slightly related news, there was a list of interesting rumors online regarding a new hive fleet "Karkinos." That's my fleet name, dammit! The rumors talked about how Karkinos focused on poison and gas. However, the rumor set was debunked this AM as fake, but it did get me thinking.
What if I wanted my entire Hive Fleet to be poisonous? Every Nid kit is packed full of toxin sac bits, and you can buy them by the hundreds from bit sellers for a song. Adding a toxin sac to every melee claw/talon/blade arm would be some work, but it would also give me a chance to break up the monotony of green with more little purple sections as I would paint the sac-looking pieces of those bitz to match the ribbed flesh I already use.
On the table, I'd simply require every model to pay for toxin sac biomorphs, even if it makes little game sense. Toxin on a Carnifex with crushing claws? Go for it!

Speaking of painting, I have gotten all of the base blue colors down on my fourth Sternguard model. I just need to line highlight his armor and I'll be ready to move forward to the details. I'll try to get a WIP shot up early next week. The new book is out tomorrow morning as well. Huzzah!



  1. I like the first one better, but think you should try some 'dead' grass or even the tufts. Have you placed a finished model on them to see which looks better that way?

    1. The only "finished" Nid I have is the Tyrant, and he's a tad large for a 25mm base ;).

      The static grass I applied was just a quick-and-dirty example to get the color on there. I wasn't sure if the green was too green though. By "dead" do you mean straw-colored or a darker brown? GW makes a Scorched Grass mix that is a combination of dark brown and green that sort of looks nice:

      The GW tuft kits are actually pretty reasonably priced for what you get (200 individual tufts). Might have to check them out. Army Painter makes some nice ones as well, though the pictures on their web site are terrible.

  2. I was thinking the darker brown-black stuff. Kind of like the Wasteland Tuft here: http://usshop.thearmypainter.com/products.php?ProductGroupId=3

    1. Yeah, I saw that in their listing, but the example image is pointless. Some Googling shows some better examples.

      I wonder if the shop has any of those in stock. I know they have some of the Army Painter basing kits, just can't remember which ones.

  3. First base for sure. For plants, check this out: http://www.terrainmonster.com/terrain-building/scratch-building/carving-sprue-plants

    I made a swamp board at my house years ago and I did this for it and they came out great. It's super simple once you get the hang of it and no doubt you have tons of sprue laying about.

    1. I'll have to give it a try. Not a huge fan of the overly curly examples the article shows, but maybe some playing around with the technique will yield something I can use.

  4. Okay I am going to put on my asshat here only because the Tyrant looks so good. I don't see how you could be satisfied with either base you have there after going to the trouble to paint the tyrant with as much patience as you did. Those bases are going to stand out like a sore thumb and seriously detract from all your work.

    How much dry brushing did you do on the Tyrant? I'm going to just venture a guess very little to none. Don't go that way on the base it just ARRRRRGGGGGG. Don't do it.

    I frankly think You, Steve, and Tony have a better grasp of the fundamentals of painting than I do, so I don't want this to come off as me coming down from high on the mountain top.

    Treat your base the same way you treat your model. Work from your light colors to your dark colors and use washes. If you want a grey or dark base like you have start that sucker off white/ light grey and wash it with blues, blacks, greens, and purples, reds don't hurt either. In all sorts of crazy orders, make it messy, nature is messy, as the color builds up in the recesses the highlights will take care of themselves. Also if you are using sand you have to mix in different grains/sizes to help break up the monotony of the base, unless you are going for a parade ground. One other thing working vertical on a base can really give it some pizazz, grass tufts, rocks built into the base whatever, any change in level creates more interest for the eye.

    Also I highly recommend using pigments on bases, you can add water to paint them on, but they cover very well and give some more texture to the bases.

    I highly recommend the army painter tufts if the shop doesn't get them thewarstore usually has them in stock and is faster then the armypainter website.

    Anyway rant off. You have a beautiful model there just be sure to give the base the same amount of love or you will have short changed yourself on all the hard work you have already done.

    1. No worries, man. Constructive criticism is always welcome. I took it with a little salt, as these were quickly bashed out test pieces that will end up in the garbage eventually, and not under a model.

      The use of washes is an interesting idea, though one I really don't know how to pull off. I follow James Wappel's blog a lot, and he uses them to great effect, but all his bases seem to be flat pieces. I'm not sure how to go about pulling that off on a loamy, plant-ridden base.

      Your overall point is very valid, though. A dry brushed base just isn't going to cut it under a model like this. I think I need to go back to a dark brown dirt color instead of grey. Not as tannish as the carapace colors, but darker like mahogany. That will make the base neutral enough to make the model pop, and also provide contrast to the greens I'll be using for plants and flowers.

      I'm not a huge fan of "3D" bases with tall structures and craziness on them. I'm not into creating a diorama on a base for gaming models. I'll do some rocks and tall plants, but no columns, light posts, and other tall objects.

    2. What about adding a dead marine. You have so many bits and people love seeing them on large base models

    3. I have this weird hangup about dead models on bases. I like bases to reflect the permanency of the surroundings in which the model is found. Rocks, plants, etc are all part of the "landscape." Hell, even discarded wargear and moldering bones can define a landscape.
      A freshly-slaughtered Marine is not part of the landscape. It just sticks out and defines the non-dead model nearby, not the larger battlefield. It seems a little incongruous to have a dead Space Marine sitting in front of a Tyranid model, when I'm playing against Necrons. If you took a picture of the tabletop as a snapshot of the battle, you'd have to ask "Hey, where'd that Marine come from?"

      However, I have used Marine parts in the past on bases. Broken bitz from salvage work, castoffs, etc. When I reclaimed a bunch of Ravenwing bikers and repainted them as Ultramarines, I saved all the Ravenwing icons that I removed, and used them as parts of bases. But, I made sure to weather and break the pieces to the point that you might never notice them. They've simply been on that planet for so long that they've become part of the landscape, not the current battle.

      So, yes, I can add a dead Marine to the base. But if I do so, it'll be a skeletal, rusted-out hull of a Marine covered in lichen, vines, grass and earth. I can actually picture it now...