I want to share with you a handy tool for making textured bases I picked up recently. The product is Happy Seppuku base texture stamps. These stamps are rubber molds that you can press modeling putty into to imprint the texture, and yes the name is fun to say. Check out their website http://www.happyseppuku.com or the pictures below to get a better understanding of what I am talking about.
The stamps are about 3 inches by 5 inches and 3/8 of an inch thick. They are made out of pink silicon rubber and are thick enough to be pretty durable. Happy Seppuku makes several different textures including wood, deck plating, sand, and brick. I picked up a couple different textures to try out.
Lets see how they work. The stamps are packaged with a brief instruction sheet that reads as follows.
"1. Mix up your favorite 2 part modeling epoxy.
2. Smooth modeling epoxy over the base. The smoother the epoxy the cleaner the imprint.
3. Press the base with putty firmly into the stamp block.
4. Use a hobby knife to trim excess off of unwanted areas.
5. Let epoxy set and you are ready to put your miniature on the finished base."
It really is as simple as those instructions imply, but let me go into detail about how I made some bases.
You don't need many supplies. All you need is some blank bases, the stamp, your favorite two part epoxy putty (I use green stuff), and some water for working with the green stuff. A hobby knife or small hobby files can also be useful in creating a crisp finish but are not always necessary.
Start by mixing up some green stuff and smoothing it across your bases with your fingers. Make sure to keep your fingers wet to keep the green stuff from sticking to you. You don't need to be perfect but you want the putty to cover all of the base in a relatively even thickness. Imperfections can actually be good because they yield a more natural result in the end. A good way to remove finger prints from the putty after working with it is to wet your thumb and gently rub it over the top of the green stuff. The hardest part is now done.
Next all you do is press the base squarely and firmly into the mold. It is important to press the base straight down so you don't distort the texture you are imprinting. However, if you do mess up you can easily fix it by wetting your thumb and smoothing out the putty again. You can even get different variations on the bases by pressing them into different parts of the mold to imprint various parts of the pattern.
If any putty squished off of the base you can clean up the edges with a hobby knife. Just carefully cut away any excess green stuff. If you don't have much to cut off or you want to get a really crisp edge you can wait until the putty dries and then file the edges down until they are even. Here you can see I did two patterns. The one on the left is from the stamp Wood Plank 1, and the one on the right is from their Brick Sampler stamp.
That is it. After the putty cures you will have a base ready to mount a figure on. Below are a few more bases I did with a quick coat of paint on them to show the texture better.
The big questions of course are how useful are these stamps and are they worth the investment? I think they are great. The stamps work really well and you can have a base done in just a couple minutes. That being said you could get similar results by sculpting each base by hand. It would just take much longer. This is really a time saving tool. I especially like the more intricate designs. Check out the 60mm base I showed you up top with the Fishscale Weave brick. This is a pattern I would never attempt by hand simply because it would be too much work, but with the stamp it takes no time at all. You can even add other elements to make something truly original. I can also see these stamps having applications on terrain features, and since they are 5 inches long you can cover a decent sized area in one press.
Each stamp costs $15 ($20 for the brick sampler that has 4 textures on it). That is not a huge cost if you only need one, but if you order several it can get pricey. However, these will last you forever. If you want to easily do a whole army on detailed bases this is a great buy, and would be much cheaper than buying resin bases for each model. Plus it is kind of fun to make your own. If you only need to make one base it might not be worth the investment. I have always found basing to be very important to the overall presentation of a model and this is a quick, easy, and fun way to get great results.
There are a couple other companies experimenting with similar texture stamping for various purposes. If you are interested check out Micro Art Studios' fur texture stamps www.microartstudio.com and Masquerade Miniatures' TubeTool www.masq-mini.com. In the future I will share with you more interesting tools and hobby products I use. If there is a cool product you use be sure to leave a comment about it.
(Ed: as always and just making sure you all know, we don't get sponsored by anyone and pay for the all the products ourselves)