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Taking Land

July 6, 2017

I think it is fair to say that most hobbyists are not overly enthused with undercoating, basing, and similar preparatory work. Don’t get me wrong, these things are absolutely necessary for any well painted model, but it is usually more tedious than other aspects of the hobby. As someone who already has issues with the “fun” part of the hobby, basing and undercoating are hellish endurance tests that more often than not prevent me from doing anything with the models at all. However, I aim to overcome this crippling prep-phobia, and I’ll start with Hrodolf’s Incorrigibles

Basing models can be an elaborate and involved process. I’ve seen bases that are far more impressive than the model standing on them, especially those exhibiting the fanciful terrain available in sci-fi and fantasy settings. Historical models have great basing options too, but have that whole “reality” thing to get past. This is actually a good thing for me, because it lets me wrap up my discomfort in the fabric of a narrative. Now I can look up soil and terrain from the sorts of battlefields the historical inspirations of wee plastic men might have fought.

We know from historical records that Vikings were the prodigious explorers. This opened a wide variety of terrain options for me to use. I many of these from the loamy soil of East Anglian fens or rocky sands of Northumbrian beaches to the sunbaked shores of the Mediterranean. I also could have used the grassy meadows of Francia, the leaves and undergrowth from great Germanic forests, or even the volcanic soil of Iceland. In the end, I settled for the rich, muddy banks of the Dnieper and Volga rivers. Vikings raided and traded up these wide rivers all the way to the Black Sea spreading their culture as they went.


My main basing sand is a mix of roughly two parts fine basing sand with one part coarser grains. I also added in a few choice pebbles from a bag of aquarium gravel to add some smooth river stones to the base. After the glue dried, I messily painted the whole base a dark brown to represent the silt rich soil on the banks for the river. At this stage, it looks like my Vikings are marching to war on a field of freshly baked triple fudge brownies; insert mandatory “victory will be sweet” pun here. Now on to undercoating.

Most painters I’ve interacted with tend to undercoat their models with white or black spray. A rare few go for a different shade, but generally only when they have a color that can double as a base coat. Since my Vikings are almost universally dirty men in dirty clothes fighting dirty, I decided to go for brown. The drab earth tones of the Dark Ages will lend themselves well to a brown base, as will the reds and yellows I want to use as signature colors.

I also decided to use the same color to drybrush the soil, adding depth to the base. I will also be adding some reeds and static grass as well, but only after the models have been completely painted. Now to finish painting Hrodolf and develop his backstory and character in a vignette…

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