Series: New Orc City, Part 2

This is the second post in the New Orc City series.

In the last post, I discussed the theme, approach, and composition of the initial New Orc City force (1995 points) for Kings of War. In this post, I'll discuss the process for making bases.

As a reminder...

The bases are a key part of the overall theme and they will be textured to look like stone pavers and will include plenty of scattered miniatures of dead and dying human defenders, barrels, bags, boxes, bins, and the general disarray of city streets filled with rampaging hordes of orcs!

Finished bases
Detail of finished bases to whet the appetite!

Creating the Stone Paving #

The biggest challenge for these bases was deciding how to do the stone paving.

My first inclination was to use a roller from Green Stuff World. But with shipping costs higher than the item I was going to purchase, I ruled that option out pretty fast.

Another option I considered was cutting individual stone pavers out of foam and gluing them down. This sort of approach can produce nice results, but the amount of work was a real concern.

Eventually, I stumbled onto this video by The Terrain Tutor where he goes into a clever approach of using an old paintbrush with its bristles removed to engrave stone shapes into foam. So, this is what I chose to do and I sacrified an old paintbrush:

Brush stamp

Materials #

The material I chose to engrave into was thin sheets of EVA foam. In my experiments, this was the best choice. The impressions didn't always stay as deep/uniform as I'd like, but the thinness of the foam was the selling point.

The bases are MDF bases from Ironheart Artisans.

The magnets are MAGCRAFT rare earth magnets.

Process #

Here's the process I followed with pictures! The base featured here is a Heavy Infantry Horde, which is 250mm by 100mm (which is about 10" by 4" here in the USA).

Step 1: Sealing and Drilling #

First up, I sealed the MDF bases using thinned wood glue. Once they were fairly saturated and semi-dry, I set them between sheets of freezer paper and left them under a stack of books to keep them from warping. This means the drying time is extended overnight and some of the freezer paper sticks to them, but it's worth it to not have warped bases.

Once the sealed MDF bases were dry, 1/4" holes were drilled in the MDF bases for the rare earth magnets.

Drilled sheet of MDF

This was the first time I've magnetized bases. The number of magnets I used was based on very loose experimentation. I think they'll be good enough for transporting miniatures in a car attached to some Magna Rack Sliders, but it would probably not be wise to turn them upside down.

Step 2: Attaching Foam #

The EVA foam sheets were cut into rough rectangles and glued to the top of the MDF bases using wood glue. Again, these were stuck beneath heavy books and other objects, again with freezer paper to protect the books.

Foam attached to MDF bases

Step 3: Trimming Foam #

Next the EVA foam sheets were trimmed using some clippers because there was wood glue leaking out some of the edges. The result isn't quite as clean as one might hope, but I took care of that later.

Foam trimmed

Step 4: Adding Magnets #

The magnets I used were thinner than the MDF, so they fit snugly in their holes without sticking out below the flat bottom edge of the bases. I secured them using some all purpose cement.

Magnets attached to MDF bases

Step 5: Cleaning Edges #

Given the slightly uneven trimming from Step 3 as well as the texture difference between the edge of the foam and the laser cut edge of the MDF, I elected to apply a layer of spackle (filler for those in the UK) to the base edges.

Once dry, the edges were sanded more or less smooth.

Spackled and sanded edges

Step 6: Stone Paver Engraving #

None of the previous steps took all that long, though most had a period of waiting afterward. The engraving of the individual stone shapes is a different story. It took a long time.

I can't say precisely how long I spent doing these, but it's probably several hours spread over multiple sessions.

Engraved stone pavers

Step 7: Adding Scenic Bits #

Going back to the theme, I needed a scattering of human casualties as well as assorted objects that might be found in the streets. The bases depict a moment during the course of a chaotic battle that's not going well for the human settlement that's being eliminated to make room for New Orc City!

From an aesthetic perspective, the scattered bits serve to break up the uniform surface of the stone.

From Gripping Beast, I ordered 3 sets each of Dark Age Casualties and Tribute/Trade Goods. Also, on this base in particular, I included a few bits from Mantic Games' TerrainCrate line.

Scenic bits

Step 8: Finishing Touches and Priming #

One final change I made before priming was to cut out some of the paver stones either individually or in small groups. These potholes were each filled with a bit of play sand as if they had been there for a while and filled with dirt or broken bits of stone pavers. This offered another opportunity to break up the uniformity of the surface.

Once satisfied, the bases were primed grey. This is my favorite color for priming because it works reasonably well for both light and dark colored paint.

Primed bases

Step 9: Painting #

Finally, the bases were painted. In general, all colors I use are from Vallejo with the exception of washes, for which I tend to use Games Workshop "shades".

First, for the stones, I gave everything several layers of dry brushing with varying heaviness. This was followed by painting the potholes. The whole thing was given one or two heavy brown washes (Agrax Earthshade) over the highlights, which helps tone them down, unify them, and look grimy.

The miniatures were painted with a variety of colors and also uniformly washed with Agrax Earthshade. Washing them all with one color meant they fit with the grimy look of the stone. The difference here is that highlights were added after the wash making the miniatures stand out just a bit more than the stone.

Next, blood was added using Vallejo Black Red thinned with Gloss Medium and water to help it flow into the crevices between stones or into potholes. It came out really well, I think!

I'm usually reticent to add blood effects. It usually looks gaudy and cartoony; big globs of bright sticky blood on weapons. It distracts from the overall look of a miniature in a way that I find unappealing. But sometimes it's appropriate if it's done in a more subtle way.

Finally, in some of the deeper potholes, I added a bit of plain Gloss Medium. This is a reasonably good way to add quick water effects. It doesn't fill a space the way epoxy or similar products would, but for small shallow areas it's perfectly suitable. Other uses can be for glossy creature eyes or mouths. It can add that subtle sheen that makes a surface look wet.

Finished bases

Next Time #

Getting these bases in shape was really a rewarding process and I'm really happy with the result. It took quite a long time, but my hobby time has been dramatically reduced this year between family, work, pandemic, and a new puppy.

I have all of the single miniatures assembled and primed as well as the PVC/restic trolls (worst. material. ever!). I still have 68 hard plastic orcs to assemble, but that's probably not worthy of a blog post!

Next time, I'll start painting the actual miniatures!