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Painting Bases
for Aircraft and Vehicle Models

by Brett Green


Part One


Just Plane Stuff Bases are available online from Squadron.com




A scenic base can enhance a model aircraft or vehicle. It has the potential to add context to the model by displaying the subject in its historical environment.

The photograph below shows my Hasegawa 1/32 scale Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 displayed on a resin base representing a typical Luftwaffe hardstand.



Modellers may choose to build their own bases from wood and landscaping materials. However, a good range of pre-fabricated bases are also available for different eras, countries and theatres of operation. These bases are available in injection styrene, vacuum formed plastic, resin or plaster.

An authentic paint job is essential for these pre-fabricated bases.



Painting Bases - Step by Step


I have have tried a number of different methods for painting bases. The "best" method is very much a matter of personal taste.

When painting a pre-fabricated base in resin, styrene or plaster, I generally follow a five-step process. In the following example I am painting the Just Plane Stuff 1/32 scale resin Luftwaffe Hardstand base:


Step 1: Base Colours

In this example, my first step was to spray the resin in two base colours. I wanted to depict the groundwork as dry and parched; with the planks a washed-out and weathered grey. An aerosol spray was used to apply a primer coat of grey. This was roughly masked by holding the side of a cardboard sheet against the edge of the hardstand itself, then the groundwork was sprayed tan.




Step 2: Oil Wash

Oil paints were then assembled for the next phase. I like to blend a mixture of oil paints for weathering groundwork, and I use a disposable greaseproof paper palette for this task A small smudge of Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna and Gold Ochre are squeezed onto the palette and mixed according to taste.



A dark brown mixture of the thinned oil paint was slopped onto the groundwork, and a paler mix was brushed onto the hardstand planks. This was blended in with a further wash of almost pure thinners.



The wash was then spread evenly across the base. For me, the hardest part of this job is to walk away and leave the wet oil wash alone!

After the wash was on the base overnight, I wiped the excess off the planks; first with a soft cloth, then by spreading the remaining thinned oil paint with my fingertip.

As an alternative, acrylic paints can be used as a wash. However, the drying time of acrylic paint is much faster than oils, so the spreading must be done within minutes of applying the wash to the base.


Step 3: Sealing and Detailing

Now it was time to seal the finish. I applied heat from a hair dryer (my last remaining use for this household device), then sprayed on a coat of Aeromaster Flat.

When the flat finish was dry, I applied spots of thinned Black oil paint, spattered from the brush onto the groundwork to represent oil stains. I also smeared some black acrylic paint selectively over the hardstand to depict hard use and fading of the timber. Further weathering was added by running a coarse sanding stick over the top of the planks, revealing the light tan resin beneath. This seemed to be a good representation of fresh timber under splinters and damage.




Step 4: Painting the Frame

The next task was to spray the "timber" frame. I decided to paint this border gloss black as a contrast to the dry, earthy tones of the base.


Step 5: Additional Landscaping

Finally, I applied pressure-sensitive spray adhesive (available in an aerosol can at any craft shop) to patches of the groundwork and the planks. To avoid getting glue on the glossy frame, I used a piece of cardboard with irregular shaped holes to mask the application of the aerosol adhesive With the masks still in place, I sprinkled a generous quantity of static railway grass on top of the adhesive patches. The mask was then lifted and I briskly blew across the grass to remove the excess.

I added leaf-litter to another section of groundwork and to the corner of the hardstand. The common kitchen herb, Basil, was used to represent the leaf litter. This costs about 1/10th of the price of a Hudson and Allen landscaping product, is quite convincing and smells good! Once again, I used the aerosol adhesive to secure the leaf litter.






There are many ways to paint a scenic display base. This five-step method is just one of the possibilities.

As with so many aspects of our hobby, the best approach is to practise a few new ideas and adapt them to your personal preferences.



Text and Images Copyright 2002 by Brett Green
Page Created 03 June, 2002
Last updated 03 June, 2002

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