Tutorial: Desert Basing 28mm Pulp Figures

Pulp Basing Tutorial As I’ve purchased a few more rounds of 28mm metal figures for Pulp gaming it’s time I started working on them. Some time ago a reader expressed curiosity about the way I speed paint my Pulp figures for the gaming table, so I plan to put together a couple of tutorials around that.

Of course, before you paint a 28mm figure you’ve got to base it! So I’ll start the ball rolling with this tutorial on basing figures for the Egyptian/North African desert setting we game in.

1. Assemble your materials. I use Selley’s ‘Permafill’ wall repair product for basing my figures. Applying and clean up is easy because it’s water soluble, and it also dries to a very hard surface. I use the Permafill for a basic smooth sand effect, to add a little variety I scatter small rocks across the bases too. Primarily I use a mixture of three different sizes of Woodland Scenic’s Model Railway ballast and fresh kitty litter – that’s the white stone you see. For larger rocks I use pieces of cheap green marble scatter from the local gardening centre.

Pulp Basing Tutorial 2. Prepare your figures. Do the usual clean up on your figures, removing mold lines and flash and then super glue them to your basic bases! For this tutorial I’ll be using three figures from the Anglian Miniatures Moroccans range I purchased recently.

I use Games Workshop round plastic bases because I have so many of them in the bitz box. Unfortunately they have a textured surface which can make it hard to get a decent bond between the figure’s metal foot plate and the plastic base. I usually sand this texture off first by rubbing the bases across a strip of 180 grit sandpaper.

Once the figures are securely glued down I give everything a wash in warm water and dish washing liquid, just to get rid of any commercial mold release residue and/or greasy finger prints. When the figure is dry I attach them to the disposable plastic cap from kiddie drink bottles with a large dollop of Blu Tack as you can see in the photo. I’ve found it’s invaluable to have some way of handling figures during painting that doesn’t involve touching the figure or their base at all.

Pulp Basing Tutorial 3. Apply Permafill. I use a double spooned sculpting tool I picked up from Pityak Studios that has since become invaluable. I keep the sculpting tool fairly wet from a pot of tap water as I apply the permafill around the figure. Keeping the tool wet helps to get the permafill onto the base as it’s moderately tacky, with a texture a bit like gritty toothpaste.

Essentially what you’re trying to do is build up a little rounded mound of material that smoothly travels from the plastic base edge to just cover the 1-2mm thick metal foot plate of your figure. I think the above shot nicely shows this transition.

Don’t be concerned if you can still see the metal plate through the permafill once you’ve applied it, the trick is simply to cover that smooth metal with a bit of texture. Everything is going to be primed prior to painting anyway!

Pulp Basing Tutorial Also don’t concern yourself with trying to make the permafill perfectly smooth, as it’s meant to represent sand that your figure is running, walking through etc. So slap it about a bit to give it some character to dry-brush over, which this second shot hopefully shows.

Having said that the permafill in that second shot does look reasonably smooth because of the water I’ve mixed into it during application. However it will still dry to a nice rough texture while moderately diluted and those smooth curves will end up with textured edges.

Then I clean up any splashes on the base sides by running my finger around the base and move onto the final step.

Pulp Basing Tutorial 4. Pebbles to Boulders. This final step is actually optional. If you simply apply permafill and leave it to dry you’ll have a figure that is essentially based in simple sand which is fine. However that can get a little monotonous over an entire group of figures, so I usually apply some scattered rocks onto the base while the permafill is still wet. Varying the size and amount of material applied as desired!

The above three figures show the possibilities. The street hawker on the right has simply been based on permafill. The central zombie has had a light scattering of very fine Woodland Scenics ballast applied, while the adventurer on the left is standing in fairly rocky patch of desert which has a mix of ballast sizes applied to it.

I have a large pet food container containing three different baggies of Woodland Scenics ballast mixed in with kitty litter. I grab a pinch out of the container and scatter it over the wet base as I see fit. The permafill will form a reasonable bond with small pieces of grit, but I generally push larger pieces down lightly with the sculpting tool.

Pulp Basing Tutorial For large boulders I hand place pieces of the green marble I mentioned at the start. These will definitely have to be pushed firmly into the permafill. Once it’s dry it will form an excellent bond with any mildly textured stone. For the light MG team I’ve applied a few larger rocks around them for cover. For the other chap I’ve applied a fair amount of small gravel to his base. It looks a little ugly in the photo, but will prime and dry brush up quite nicely in the finished figure.

Once I’m happy with the figure base I put it aside to dry, typically overnight before priming the whole figure ready for painting. This technique works fine for 15mm scale figures as well, in fact my entire Flames of War NZ 2EF Rifle Company is based this way.

Hopefully this short tutorial will be useful to some visitors, comments and questions are welcomed below.

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