Insider 12-27-2011

At Lock & Load GameFest 2011, part of the seminar I presented was spent showing attendees how to make textures like wood and stone to add more detail to models. One of the most common ways to make models unique is to make a detailed base, so I thought I’d show you how to make some simple decorative bases.

You can use any putty you prefer for the following tutorial, but I chose to use polymer clay since it has an unlimited working time.

In this example, we are going to be making a cobblestone base.

Begin by filling in the slot in the base or the putty can “sag” into it; you want a flat surface to build on.

Fill the base with putty up to the rim and then use a tube or dowel to smooth it flat. Trim off any excess putty that flows over the edge.

For a little more detail, I’m adding a manhole cover using part of the Troll War Wagon’s cannon. You can use any round object, however. Small foreign coins are good since many have interesting and unique designs.

Cut out a hole for the manhole cover. Try to offset it; a centered cover would look too artificial.

Use a sharp sculpting tool to cut a circle around the manhole, then cut lines in the clay to make individual stones. They don’t have to be even since the stones should vary in size.

For the outside stones, lightly cut a series of curved lines roughly parallel to each other. If they are a bit crooked, that’s fine. You want some variation in the stones’ size and the gaps between them.

Now cut the lines to make individual stones. Alter the size so the stones look more natural.

After marking out each stone, go back with a sculpting tool and make them square. You might have to widen the gap between stones. You want the stones to be roughly square.

After squaring off the stones, use a flat sculpting tool to smooth out the tops of each stone. You can also push the putty down to make the surface of the stones uneven.

Now we can rough up the corners. If you leave the corners of each stone as is, they look too neat. Take the tip of your sculpting tool and move the putty to round out a few corners where the stones touch, keeping it as random as possible. Widen gaps between some of the stones as well.

If you want, you can also take some rough rocks or sandpaper and press them into the putty to get a more realistic texture.

Now you have a completed base ready for painting.