How-To: Broken Concrete Bases


Widowmaker Kapitan

I mentioned in my last Progress Report that I was going to go over my process for base making at a later time, so here it is.  I managed to take pictures of every step, which I’ll weave into a tale of creation.  There are lots of ways to do this, but this is a relatively simple process with a nice outcome.


Alchemy Lab

Materials – While my setup above looks messy, you’ll just need the following:

  • Roll of cork (I use 3/32″, but you can use thicker or thinner depending on your desired effect)
  • Scissors
  • Super glue
  • Sculpting tools or a dull knife
  • (Optional) Brass pinning rods

Prepare the thing

Step 1: Cut out a bit of cork around the size of the base.  In this case I’m using a 30mm Privateer Press round base.


Cut the thing

Step 2: Cut the cork into the size you want for the base.  In this instance I wanted the bit of cork to fit flush into the inside of the circle base, so I used a circle template to draw a 15/16″ circle on the cork and then cut on the lines.  If you don’t have something to use as a template, you can trace the base bottom onto the cork and then cut inside the lines.  The edges don’t have to be perfect for reasons I’ll soon explain.


Glue the thing

Step 3: Glue the cut cork into the base.  I use straight super glue, as it does a good job of adhering the surfaces as long as you use plenty.  If the cork you’re using is from a roll then your circle will probably have some natural curve that will keep it from just sitting evenly; I pressed down on it firmly with one of those rectangular Pink Pearl erasers for a few seconds to give the glue time to set.  You can use your fingers, but because the cork is so porous a bit of super glue will probably be squeezed to the surface and get on your fingers.  Super glue on skin is a horror we have all experienced, so it is best to avoid when possible.


Mess up the thing

Step 4: Using some sculpting tools (or a dull knife), tear at the edges of the cork.  The cork is composed of compressed scraps of cork wood, so you’re going to want to try to tear off complete bits.  The goal is to give the edges a very torn, broken look that will resemble fractured and eroded concrete.


Put the things in the thing

Step 5(Optional): If you want to give the effect of rusty rebar jutting from the concrete slabs you can use a careful application of brass rods.  The first part of this step is to add elevation.  Here you can see that I’ve added a second level to my base for these rods to have somewhere to go.  For this, just shove the brass pinning rod into the base a little bit, then snip off the end.  After it’s snipped, apply glue to the point that the rod meets the cork and wiggle it a bit to get the glue in there.  You can pre-measure and pre-drill and all of that, but I want to make a lot of these and as a result want to just get this done as quickly as possible.  As you can see above on the right-hand bar, you can bend the end with pliers for a bit more dynamic look.


Things ready for paint

This isn’t really a step, just a reflection on what’s happened thus far.  I’ve created four bases for my Widowmakers, using a slight variation for each.  Two of them have the rebar, one is just a large flat plain, and the bottom left one has stray broken bits of cork glued on as extra.  Now comes painting time.


Prime the things

Step 6: Prime the bases in black.  Lay down the primer really heavy.  It’s really hard to get primer deep into the little gaps between the compressed cork, so you really need to lay down some heavy sprays and then inspect them closely.  It’s easy to miss some little underside or random gap during priming.  Cork HATES paint that doesn’t have the adhesive that primer includes, so it’s going to be troublesome later to try to fill in those little gaps.  That bright brown shows through many colors as well, so you’ll want to get it covered up as well as possible.  Give them a few hours to dry before moving onto the next step.


Drybrush the things

Step 7: Apply drybrush coats of grey paint in a few steps.  For any not familiar, drybrushing is where you dip the tip of a thick brush in paint, then wipe it furiously on a paper towel to get almost all of the paint off the brush.  Then, you brush in quick strokes across the surface so the remaining paint just sticks to the upper edges.  Start with a very dark grey.  You don’t have to get as much paint off the brush for this one, as the only thing this tone shouldn’t cover are the darkest gaps.  Then go for a mid-tone grey, being a bit lighter on the brushing.  For the final, brightest grey, just try to hit the edges.  All that little cork material really pops out with these drybrush coats.  You can even mix a light grey with some white for the very edges to make them stand out even more.



Put metal paint on the things

Step 8: Paint the pieces of “rebar” with some silver paint.  I used a true metallic paint with a darker tone.  It’s not going to show up much after you do the next step, so it doesn’t have to look perfect.  Just get good coverage on all of the exposed metal.


Rust the thing

Step 9: Water down a reddish brown and apply it in several coats to the metal.  In this case I’m using Formula P3 Bloodstone, as it is a very nice rust color when thinned.  As you layer on the paint it’ll look like more and more heavy rust.  If you want the rebar to look completely corroded through, you can start with a mid-range brown instead of painting the metallic and then highlight with the rusty color.  As you can see here, I’ve also dribbled some of the paint onto the concrete to give the effect of rust that’s been washed away from rainfall.  Rust doesn’t have to come from directly-exposed metal.  Because rebar is used as the framework for concrete, any time the concrete cracks and moisture can get in you’ll get rust trails.  Use this as much(or little) as you like.


Put things in the feets

Step 10: Prep the mini for the base with some pinning rods extending from the feet.  Despite what it looks like here, don’t do this pinning on a fully-painted mini.  I had to do it for mine because I’m an idiot and had already glued them to a base before changing my mind and deciding to use hand-made bases.  BAD IDEA.  In general, I pin long rods extending from the bottom of the feet before I paint my miniatures.  I stick the foot-rods into a full-sized cork to hold onto while I paint.  I also have some little plastic containers with rubber lids that I can stick the foot-pins into for painting.  Prep-work is for another tutorial!



Reflect on the thing

Glue down the feet and boom, done!  Some final notes:

  • You’ll need to paint the lip of the plastic base to cover up the drybrushing mark.  I always paint the back arc of my Warmachine models a different color, in this case red.  I use straight black for the front.
  • Usually after gluing down the model some of the super glue will get pressed out from beneath the feet.  When it dries, it will be very shiny and stand out.  For this, I use a single layer of some Citadel washes: Devlan Mud(now Agrax Earthshade) onto the boots and Badab Black(now Nuln Oil) onto the concrete.  Be very sparing with this application, as you only want to cover the shiny bits and don’t want it to affect the rest of the paint job.  After it dries it will give a nice matte finish that will erase all the shininess.  In the picture of the female Widowmaker above there is no shininess at the feet, but there was a big puddle on the right-side boot before my wash.

I hope this is useful for anyone looking to make some decent, easy-to-build concrete bases.  You could also use browns instead of grays for broken stone, though my Warmachine models are more likely to fight in urban environments so they’re all on concrete.

Until next time, bye-bye.

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