Friday, May 11, 2012

All Your Bases: Ballast Textures

A while back, I touched on the topic of different ways of basing our miniatures, both in technique and difficulty. After having been asked how I made the bases for my Grey Knights this past Adepticon, I decided it was high time to start detailing those techniques in a new series called "All Your Bases".

To kick off the series, we're going to take a look at the most basic of the materials we base with, ballast, and how simple it can be to go above and beyond the norm.


This article started off with a nugget of wisdom from a professional in the industry, as well as an all-around good guy, Jeff Wilhelm of Dragon Forge Designs. I thought I was doing well in mixing two different sizes of ballast, but Jeff suggested I use at least three, if not five.

Above you see the results of Jeff's advice to me. I'm now mixing three different sizes of model train ballast, course, medium and fine, along with craft sand. I specifically bought each in a different color both to be able to show them easier here, as well as be able to quickly ascertain my mix, and tweak from there. Once mixed, the variety of textures gives a much more realistic effect of ground texture than my original mix of two did. Check out the results below on the base of one of my Inquisitorial Stormtroopers, standing in a field of the texture.

To go even one step further, I purchased an empty container at the same time as I purchased the ballast themselves. Mixing up a back was as easy as pouring in an amount of each, and giving it a thorough shake. Obviously you could do this in any container you wish, I just purchased this one to illustrate my point.

Basing basics at its finest, yet even this simple attention to detail can make the basics look amazing. Stay tuned, as the more I develop this series of articles, I'll be actually demonstrating how to put these techniques to work in video tutorials of base construction.

- Tim



  1. Simple, but mixing the different grades of ballast is a really useful tip. I tried it yesterday and it worked very well indeed. thanks Tim!

    1. Yeah, I figured, start out with the basic and move from there :) Really glad to hear this worked out well for you though, too!!

  2. Nice article Tim, something I may look into once i finish my guard and head on towards my next army.

    As you know my guard have some pretty cool basing only done with one type, but how i do it is expensive (oh god the amount of super glue i go through to get it right...) but it -looks- just like mud I think... and heck my basing is how you and I first became buddies at Adepticon.

    All of the guys were shocked that a guy who could model like you was asking some nub like me about how I did my stuff.

    I am always fascinated by your work man, and I am doubly excited about the joint project you are working on with DFG... it will be AMAZING!

    1. lol, I remember :) I liked the way your bases came out, and I'm not one to ask how to do something I've not seen before!

      Like I told you then, a Death Korps army always impresses me with the figures alone, but you told a sweet story of a battle torn force, in the thick of it. And your bases were a big part of that! :)

      Dude, I can't wait for that project to get kickin once 6th comes out!

  3. Hi Tim! Really useful advice!
    Can we see some painted minis with this ballast mix? The imperial shown above, for example. Thanks!