I got a few test bases built and painted, and I'm pretty happy with the results.They are supposed to look like bombed/shelled/otherwise kaput roadway or concrete slab, so have a mixture of flat surface and surrounding rubble. I think they are on par with a lot of the resin bases you see for sale, but for a fraction of the price. Plus, the hassle of working with resin means these are actually easier to do!
To make them you will need:
- PVA glue
- hobby knife
- a pen
- a pulling device such as tweezers or needle-nose pliers.
- coarse sand
- cork sheeting
- an old paintbrush
You can get cork in sheet form from craft stores in various sizes. I get the kind you would use to make your own coasters-- they are a couple of bucks for several 4"x4" sheets. Tear off a chunk big enough to cover most of a base. There is no reason to be careful because you want it to be imperfect and not cover the entire thing. Glue your chunk onto the base. Let it dry.
Optionally use a pen to draw cracks on the cork. Your cork chunk glued and cracks drawn on should look something like the blurry photo. Now use your hobby knife to carefully cut a V-shaped trench along your guideline.
Use your tweezers or pliers to pull off random small nuggets from the edge of the cork. This should remove the excess hanging over the edge of the base. Pulling off more nuggets around where the cracks end will help make it look more realistic. When you are done you should be left with what you see in the photo: a base without much overhanging the edge and a nice pile of cork bits. If you want to get really fancy you can save the bits to use as added rubble on larger bases later on.
Use coarse sand, NOT play sand or railroad ballast-- these are too uniform and don't look real. Coarse sand is used for mixing concrete and is around $3 for a 40lb bag at hardware stores. It has all kinds of small pebbles and looks much better when used for terrain or bases. Use your brush to apply a heavy layer of glue around the sides of the cork, on the top of the base itself, and dip it in the sand. Then apply a thinner layer of glue over the cork, and gently sprinkle a small bit of sand over it. Moderation is the key here-- you want it to look like pavement with gravel bits on it, not like a solid mass of gravel.
Sit back and relax, because at this point you are done! To paint them I primered black, then painted them completely with Charadon Granite. I then used a heavy drybrush of Astronomicon Grey followed by a light drybrush of Fortress Grey to pick out the edges of the pavement.
As you can see with just a little time and effort you can have nice looking bases for a very low cost. Other details that would be simple to add include shell casings made from plastic tubing, skulls, helmets, painted street lines, rebar, puddles-- the list is really endless but can add a lot of variety and visual interest to your armies.