Day 21 – Ice Bases Tutorial

Since it’s getting cold outside we thought we’d share with you an amazing tutorial on how to create ice bases that Adam used when creating his Tau Drone army.
Credit to “MonkeySloth” for the original tutorial.

Step One: Preparing your base

We first need to take our base and clip out the inner ring. I find it easiest to use a pair of hobby clippers to remove 90% of the plastic and then slowly remove the rest with a hobby knife. When using the knife have some surface that you can cut down into, like what’s in my reference picture, for safety reasons. This isn’t some obligatory warning, since that base is thin, wobbly and round the knife will more then likely slip as your cutting–it’s better to ruin a piece of cardboard then a finger.

 

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Once I’m done I like to take a small file and smooth out the edges since the knife can leave things jagged. Finally you’ll need to glue the base to a thin sheet of plastic. I’m using platicard in this example but you could easily use some plastic from a blister. You want to make sure that the seal is good–I use more super-glue then needed–but if you’re worried about this you can always place some green stuff inside the base to make sure the seal is good.

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Adam: This stage can be quite troublesome so I recommend buying hollow bases online if you want to make multiple bases, they are easy to get a hold of in all manner of sizes and types that make it easy to get started.

 

Step Two: Placing the Figure and Painting

Once the super-glue is dry you’ll need to decide how you want to compose your unlucky frozen body. In my example I’m using some parts from a Manic Games Zombie sprue as it has the hand position and facial expression I want–Which is someone who managed to use their last ounce of strength to break through but then finally subcombed to the cold.

The first thing you’ll need to do is check the head level, we don’t want any part of the head to be above the ice so we’ll have to cut off part of the head so that 1) our head lays parallel with the top of the base and 2) it’s below the rim of the base so we know it will be under the ice. This is easily done with some clippers and a file. Once you have the head placed in your base you can decide where to place the arm, just make sure to keep it within a realistic distance from the head.

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Now we can start to paint the body parts. You’ll want to make sure the colors you choose contrast well with the color you’ve selected as your base color (see part one). In this example I’ve chosen P3 Frostbite as my base color so I’m going to paint the body parts with GW Ice Blue and then shade it with Reaper Dusky Skin Shadow and line it with a dark liner. It’s important to take the shading to an exaggerated level so you can see details below the ice as any highlights you add will be washed out by the drybrushing at the end (see part one). After shading you’ll want to take your liner, probably a dark grey or black, and define parts of your face and hands. Here I made sure the eyes, mouth and some of the skin were overly defined with a liner so they’d stand out more.

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Finally you’ll want to paint the plastic that your base and body parts are glued too.

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Step 3: Water Effect

Once your paint is dry from step 2 you can start to poor in your water effect. The reason why we’re doing this is the crackle paint gets very brittle the thicker it gets and poring enough paint in the base to completely cover our head probably won’t turn out well (I haven’t tried it but if you’ve tried making the ice chunks from part one you’ll see why I never have) so instead of placing a dangerously thick level of crackle paint into this base we’re going to use water effect, which dries clear, to create a new “base” for use to apply the crackle paint too. It doesn’t matter what type you use, if you’re not familiar with water effect just do a search on the forums there are several topic on it, but I’m using some Woodland Scenes Water Effect that came in a diorama kit that I got at Hobby Lobby on the cheap.

If you’ve never used water effect it’s not that complicated, the big thing to remember is to just lay it down in small amounts and build up to the level you want–this will minimize the amount of bubbles you get, if any, and it’s always easier to add more water effect at a later time then to remove extra. You’ll also want to wait until each layer completely dries until you place on the next. In this example I laid down two layers and waited about a day in between.

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Layer one down

One thing you can do while your layers are drying is apply some icicles to the hand sticking out. Poor a little bit of water effect into a container you don’t care about and wait for it to start drying–I can’t really give you a time estimate but you’ll want the epoxy to be more of a gel then a liquid. My water effect can has a supply of this gel on the top of the lid from just basic exposer to air so if you’re using a pre-mixed water effect like I am this could save you the effort.

 

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This is what you want it to look like

 

With our gel like water effect we’ll add icicles to the fingers of our unfortunate Popsicle (make sure that the water effect in the base isn’t runny first or you’ll have a mess). Take some on a toothpick, or other like disposable device, and gently rub it over each finger in the direction you want the icicle to go. This can take several passes and you may, depending on how long you want to make them, wait for the first pass to dry so you can add more layers.

 

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Layer two and icicles

 

Step 4: Adding the Crackle Paint

Once your water effect is completely dry, you don’t want it shifting or shrinking after you’ve done this step, it’s safe to apply the crackle paint. But before you do decide if you want to add any ice chunks, rocks or anything you want to be at “ground level”. Then use the included brush to drip some paint down onto your base and use a old brush that you don’t care about to move it to where you want it to go.

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As I explained in part one it’s better to apply less then you think you need and add more then to try and remove this stuff. Once you’ve got the paint where you want it you’ll just need to wait a few hours for the crackle paint to dry.

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Step 5: Staining

After the crackle paint is dry we’ll need to stain the newly formed ice. I do this because the P3 paint I used as the base color is rather week contrast wise with the white so a nice turquoise stain will make things pop more. But you could skip this step if you used a darker base paint or don’t want a tint to your ice.

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Plus I want it to look like this

For this we’re going to use P3 Turquoise Ink at about a ratio of 1:15 with water and slowly stain the ice to give it a nice bluish tint.

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Next we’ll use the same Ink watered down about 1:5 and use this thicker mix to make the cracks pop even more. You can also use this to shade around the ice chucks that we added in the previous step to make this look more interesting.

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Step 6: Drybrushing

Wait for the ink to dry and drybrush some white onto the base. You’ll want to be careful around the head so you don’t completely cover it.

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Enjoy your finished work
Adam: I’m not sure how you can go about attaching the model, I included flight stands with all my Ice Bases gluing them in at the bottom before adding the water effects. Still the effect is amazing.