How I Make Bases
by Ian Cousens
First published in the December 2009 AMMS Brisbane newsletter
I read your email and thought of something that might be of use for the news letter. It is on how I make my diorama
bases so that the surface has a varying type of texture.
I select a small sheet of MDF of the size to suit.I use 12mm MDF cut to size at my local Bunnings,usually about
300mm by 200mm,so the finished base fits in my display cabinet.
- Sand all edges ,then with a stanley knife I scribe shallow cuts across the base sheet.This I do at various angles
to each other so the filler (Selleys Spakfilla Rapid) will now bond to the MDF better.
- With a plastic spatula spread the filler over the MDF in varying depths. I do this from 2mm to 8mm deep. Do not
worry too much about the depth,the idea is to have a surface with a slight variation from dead flat.
- Now comes the messy part. Sit the MDF on a old towel. Now using a spray bottle filled with water with the nozzle
set on the finest spray possible I spray water over the filler covered base so it has a very thin complete layer of
- Using an old rag rolled in a ball, then dab the surface very gently to take off the sharp ridges. It should have
a mottled texture when done, usually one round of dabbing is enough.
- Now using various types of sand, etc you give the filler more finer detail. Firstly spray more water on top,then
sprinkle on the finest sand first,to get a even coating.I put this first coat on thickly so it soaks into the wet
filler. Carefully side ways shake the excess sand off.
- With larger sized granules,sprinkle these in areas of your liking. If I am doing a road I sprinkle these in a
straight line to form the edge of the road, with slightly smaller granules in between the two road edges to form a
rough track. Sprinkle varying sizes of sand, etc to your liking.
- Spray on more water to let the sand soak into the filler, put on more sand as you like (I normally put the
finest sand over the top again,but only very thinly) to finish of the base.
- If required let the filler go off for a couple of hours, then you can put wheel ruts or tank tracks in by gently
pressing in tank tracks(wet tracks and wheels first). Wheel ruts can be done by gently rolling an appropiate scale
wheel in the filler. If you do not like any bits gently mould the filler to shape. Push in any vehicles to get a
seated in look.
- Once happy with the surface mist on more water and apply a final dusting of the finest sand. Let dry for a
couple of days.
Once dry clean up the sides of the MDF with sanding and shake off any loose sand. Then paint your colour on.
The different sand granules can be found at the Train section in a hobby store or your local building site.
The idea with this process is to get the granules to have a seated in appearance rather than sitting on top.