Basing using Mikey Mud – AKA DIY Basetex

Having put a similar article on the Baccus forum some while ago I thought it time to update it, do a few more photos, and post it here. Often at the SMS clinics I only really get chance to talk to people about basing techniques in 6mm given the problems of drying times. The two main methods I tend to discuss is the floodwashing technique (AKA the Baccus basing system) and the Mikey Mud technique.

So what is Mikey Mud I hear you cry. Well over the years I have tried many basing techniques. Firstly was the old PVA and drop on some sand, but I found this ‘flat’ and  kept coming off by the grain or even sometimes in chunks. This led on to mixing the sand with PVA which added more texture but still shed all over the place ( I think the PVA I was using and the plastic bases had some part to play in this). Then came the 15 min epoxy which was very solid but also very messy and very expensive! I had a trial out on basetex but found is consistency to be inadequate. Things came to a bit of a head a few years back when I was confronted with the rebasing of some 7-800 28mm Wars of the Roses figures. I needed something that was going to be relatively cheap, easy to use, workable, acted as a filler to cover integral metal bases, and ideally acted as a base colour to paint from.

My thoughts were that something along the lines of basetex was the right direction to go in. I concluded that I needed a particular base (sand), PVA, and a pigment (paint). Happy to do a bit of ‘structural’ gardening I often had some builders shard sand knocking around (bought by the tonne it’s as cheap as chips). The next step is really important unless you want to grow a variety of fungi and moulds in your Mud pot. This is cook the sand – this burns off the carbon matter in the sand. I tend to do mine in an old roasting dish and cook in the oven at 200 C for an hour or so, two or three lots has provided me enough sand for over 5 years now.

Next is to get the grade you are after. With the 28mm models I initially was using this on I thought to use raw would provide some more stoney bits I can use to give greater depth to the texture. I quickly learnt that it was better to have removed these as they proved more trouble than they were worth as it was so much easier applying and working with a ‘smoother’ mix of mud. This is where personal preference comes in as to what ‘grade’ you want to go for. I use an old children’s fishing/butterfly net or a fish tank net. I feel this gives enough texture to the mix whilst being very workable. Keep the larger stones and grit that are sieved out as they come in handy later to add clumps of rocks to the bases.

The ‘Ingredients’

Baseing - Mikey Mud ingredients

..and as I embark on expanding my Epic 40K forces and get stuck into some 15mm Sci-fi I find the need for a black mud so here is a fresh pot.

Basing - Mxing the ingredients 1

Basing - Mixing the ingredients 2

This made too thin a mix so ~ 30% of it went into another pot and more sand was added. Essentially use the water and sand to create the texture you are after.

Mikey Mud in Action

So here we have a step-by-step guide to using Mikey Mud on some freshly painted Rapier Persian light cavalry. Please note I would normally be holding the mounting pot but only having two hands meant I have placed it down to take the photos.

The finished models on their painting strip.

Persian light cavalry to be based

Figures stuck down to the base (basing is for Impetus 60mm x 40mm).

Basing - figures attached to base

The Mikey mud is first of all spooned on to the base using a modelling tool, focus on getting the right amount on the base as opposed to getting it the right place.

Basing - Applying Mikey Mud

Basing - Rough Mikey Mud applied

Next up take a largish brush and using liberal amounts of water you can mould the Mud across the base and into the recesses. This also brings up a bit more texture on the surface.

Basing - Sculpting and texturing Mikey Mud

To further add some texture I drop on some grit and stones which are gently tempered down into the mix.

Basing - Adding stoney crops

Basing - temping down stoney rocks

Painting the base

First up is overbrushing the whole base with Valejo 127 Ochre Brown. Firstly this is done around each model with a smaller brush before using a larger brush to cover the larger areas.

Basing - Painting - Initial overbrush - detail

Basing - Painting - Initial overbrush - large

Next up is a patchy drybrush of Valejo 123 Dark Sand, using two coats on the stony areas.

Basing - Painting - Highlight drybrush

Finally an edging in dark brown and the addition of MiniNature Moss pads late fall (747-24 S)

Basing - Painitng - Adding tufts

… and the completed base, which will be available for viewing on the Rapier stand at Triples (onwards) along with other Persians I have painted.

Basing - The finished article

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28mm Prussian Musketeer Battlion – Mystery project 1

So what the heck am I doing painting a unit of 28mm Prussians. Well its a many fold decision. I have never painted a Napoleonic unit in this scale so first up I wanted to bridge this gap and have experienced first hand what the difference painting in 28mm compared to 6mm holds. I have painted a few units along the way in both 15mm and 10mm and found they are significantly more time intensive than in 6mm. As the first 15-20 years of my hobbying life has mainly been spent doing 25/28/32mm I was interested to see how the recent years of 6mm painting would rub off on full unit in a larger scale again. Unlike the WoR units where at most I have been painting a maximum  of 13 figures with quite a varied pallet of colours, painting Napoleonics is about uniformity (and a lot of what you can get away with in 6mm will be more obvious if missed in 28mm).

The other main drive for this is Ian is involved in the playtesting of the upcoming Napoleonic supplements to black powder. As such he is keen to collect his own force together rather than rely on borrowed brigades. He is mainly a 15mm and below painter and avid gamer His foray into painting 28mm units is proving a slow and arduous cookie (and he is no slouch when it comes to getting units painted and on the table). His choice of the Prussians was based in part on what he thought would be easier to paint quickly.

Plans to surprise him with a painted unit for Christmas went by-the-by as life, teething, appraisal all played their part. The box of Perry’s I had bought and had hidden from casual view were forgotten and I got him something else for Christmas. It was shortly after as I cleared the Christmas debris from my room did I discover the Prussian box set I had put aside (Doh!). So here is my running commentary of getting a Prussian battalion ready for the field of battle – over a 6 week period.

So first up was to make some round about enquiries from Ian as to how he is setting his Battalions up, trying not to arouse his suspicion. So 6 bases, 40mm x 40mm,  4 figures per base, command team integral to one of the bases, and an additional two Jager skirmishers. So 26 figures per unit – should be a challenge in advance of doing some 35 figure late medieval pike blocks hopefully later in the year. I actually did 4 Jager models so I had a couple I could trial along the way if needed.

Not bad pointers on painting on the Perry’s box but also found the Osprey books, and Europa Militaria Special No.9 useful for clarifying some of the individual pieces of equipment. Also found the following site interesting.

http://www.napolun.com/mirror/napoleonistyka.atspace.com/

ASSEMBLY AND PREPARATION

This was the first hurdle – I tend to clean up with a scalpel. With plastics this needs to be a sharp blade – I found the plastic on these quite firm and tended to need a blade change after every three models (used blades go to one side as there is still plenty of life in them when it comes to cleaning up white metal models). With an average of 15 min to prep each model (I am quite exacting) this already took me to 7 hours effort. A further couple of hours was spent filling in the gap where the greatcoat is glued over the left shoulder. This was before I had even lifted a paintbrush. Overall quite pleased with the standard of model, a little worried about the apparent fragility of the bayonets.

Now considering I could prep a whole unit of 6mm up in about 15min and paint them in about 90 min I could have had 5 complete painted 6mm units in the time it took to get these ready to paint! Not yet perturbed we pushed on to painting them.

PAINTING ‘GUIDE’

So with the grey trousers and grey coats slung across their shoulder an undercoat of grey would ‘paint’ these for me. The good old Halfords grey primer (although going to try the AP one when I run out of my Halfords stocks). This I followed by a black wash – perhaps a little odd at this stage but provides shading and as with figures in other scales makes it a little clearer what detail there is to paint. I intend to wash again later with some GW Agrax Earthshade so need to bear this in mind when choosing shades as I go along. So first shots are of the models primed and washed.

28mm Prussian Unit undercoated

28mm Prussian - initial wash

I use a wash on the first stage as it helps define the figure more and provides a first layer of shade, and it does not take a steady hand to do.

Next up I painted the coats – Val 051 Prussian Blue for the line infantry and try out the GW Castellan Green base paint on the Jagers. Must say I remain a little sceptical of the new GW paints as they flow poorly are less workable than the Valejo, if you thin or add flow aid they quickly lose their coverage.

28mm Prussian - Coats and started on black

Still looking very blank I followed this up with painting the hats and boot in black. Tried the GW Abbadon Black base paint which abandoned after 2 boots due to poor coverage. I then tried the AP black and again found it needed a second coat to get complete coverage. So back to the Valejo and voila one coat coverage! I know that other bits of equipment were likely to be in black but just wanted to get a start on these and a feel for contrast on the figure.

28mm Prussian - Blacked

Next up I went for the flesh for which I used Val 018 Flat Flesh. This was applied using a cross between layering and overbrushing. There is a point of contention between myself and Ian as to what is the most suitable flesh tone I have on occasion used Val 021 Medium Fleshtone, whereas Ian’s preference is for the valejo ‘match’ for the old GW Tallarn Flesh in Val 132 Brown Sand. As I intend to wash the figures again later the light flesh tone should become more subdued whilst also still contrasting. I was surprised to see the unit starting to come alive following adding this colour.

28mm Prussian - Blacked and flesh

Hair and backpacks were painted in Val 140 Flat Brown, I may dry brush over some sandy colours to add variety to the hair. The Gun stocks were then painted in Val 146 Hull Red, followed by the barrel and bayonet in Val 179 Gunmetal Grey.

28mm Prussian - Metalwork

I then returned to the black painting the sword handle, scabbard, and cartridge box. The sword handle, scabbard tip and cartridge box badge will be bronzed/brassed which works well from a black ‘undercoat’. The attached Jagers straps and belts were also painted in black. Almost three weeks in I had a case of the ‘will I ever get these finished’ so focused on the Jagers to at least feel there was some productivity along the way.

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This helped set out some of the finishing colours to the remaining 24 line infantry. Although quite pleased with the effect I felt the trousers were now a little dark following the GW Argrax Earthshade wash so highlighted them up a little with V157 Dark Grey Blue.

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This largely set up the remaining palet of colours with chin straps and stocks in V169 black, Gun strap and great-coat centre wrap in V135 Beige Brown, drum sides V121 Yellow Ochre, drum top V123 Dark Sand, and Turnbacks V029 Red. Pumping Ian for information about the formation he is aiming to collect it became evident that there was only one line regiment and he wanted to paint that up himself for consistency. Letting a little secrecy out, I raised the possibility of perhaps doing a unit for him…. and was directed towards a unit of landwehr where differences in painting style would not be an issue and may even re-enforce the uniform variation of these levy units. So with the prospect of now keeping these and doing a unit of Landwehr, I opted that these will form one of the Line units to the 10th regiment and hence collars and cuffs were done in V 011 Lemon Yellow, which did require 2 thin coats.

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The final and most humongous task was the white strapping and slung bags which I did in V001 White.

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The final steps of painting were an all over Argrax Eatthshade wash, followed by highlighting the trousers with V157 Dark Grey Blue (with inevitable tidying up work with V169 Black on the boots. Finally the eyes (I could not resist). A couple of coats of AP antishine varnish and the painting is finished.

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After a short break whilst getting things ready for the painting demo at Hammerhead I got around to mounting on steel bases, adding the ‘Mikey mud’, and getting these painted up. I have left the flocking for now as I still have a bit of experimentation to do with a couple of techniques to add more height and variation to the base…. more on that at a later date. For now they are ready to take to the battlefield alongside Ian’s slowly gathering forces.

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Final Thoughts

Well I am pleased about the end result but struggling with the effort it took to get there. I reckon a conservative estimate at around 45-50 hours all told to get this one unit finished. In 6mm I could have painted 12-16 units of 48 models and have the core of an army done. One of the sticking points I found was the lack of productivity. In 6mm I would have comfortably seen a unit of 48 models finished every 1-2 evenings. Seeing units roll of the painting board helps keep momentum going and can allow for you to intersperse painting something different along the way (a change is as good as a break).

Its been a couple of weeks since I finished painting these so am getting to the stage of being in a mental space to tackle the unit of Landwehr. Perhaps just a few Epic units or other 6mm units to ease the soul, and perhaps now I have some fresh pro-create I hope I can have a sculpting spree…… and then there is the painting clinic at WMMS show to start thinking about.