Monday, 8 December 2014

Simple Bases For Napoleonic Ships

In my previous post I mentioned that I'd been rebasing my Napoleonic ships whilst on holiday. In fact I'd done a few before I went away, but they were test runs to make sure the process worked before I committed to spending a week cut off from most of my stuff.

Anyway, here's what the new bases look like. If you look at past posts you'll see that the ships are just based on blue mounting board. They now have something that looks like water and waves on it.

And here's how I did it.

Here's an old base. The grey blobs are the bits of Blu Tak which have been holding a ship in place for nigh on 30 years. Really. The pieces of paper are cut to be just bigger than a base. One piece of paper per base. The bases themselves are mounting board. Not the really thick stuff though. Although I know it makes things easier to handle this (mostly American) concept of mounting things on half-inch thick plinths isn't for me.

I then screwed up each piece of paper very tightly. If I was feeling keen I unfolded them and screwed them up again.

The pieces of paper unfolded.

I then used PVA to glue the paper to the base. Because it's a bit bigger than the base I had to scrunch it up a little, using the creases the screwing up had provided.

Each base was painted in blue. I used cheap artist's acrylic paint. It doesn't need anything more sophisticated.

Once the paint was dry I gave each base a wash with dark green paint.

And here's how they look when the wash has dried.

Finally I dry-brushed each base in white. You can really go to town on this bit. I picked out the crests of big waves in a heavier brushing

Finally I glued a ship down on each base. This did involve squashing some of the crests, and on later bases I glued the centre of each piece of paper more smoothly, reserving the waves for the edges.

(Sorry about the distracting newspaper background)

I actualy painted these two luggers whilst on holiday, and based them as well.

In fact there's a final stage I didn't take a picture of. Once the ship was glued down I used some more white dry-brushing to paint a bow-wake, a wake and to cover the point where the ship meets the base. Just detailing really.

The process is fairly quick and simple. I managed to do the bases for about 40 ships over the week, and have another 40-50 to go.

Top Tip: When going on holiday with a project involving PVA glue, remember to pack enough PVA glue to see you past the first day. If you haven't done this, make sure you're staying near a town that has a craft shop. A sewing shop, specifically. Thank you Sew and Tell in Berry.


  1. Really clever idea and well executed.

  2. Replies
    1. Next time you're at Mum and Dad's, have a look at the HMS Warrior model I did for them. Same technique :)

    2. Blimey. You did that a few years ago. What took so long? Apart from moving to another country that is.

  3. Good looking bases. I agree with you about plinth bases - might aid handling but not a good look.

    However for my bases I went with clear plastic (from recycled CD cases) and then with PVA glue on top and bottom (putting it on the bottom stops the base slipping around the table - of course you have to let it dry first). My reasoning was that with the clear bases, I wouldn't ever clash with what ever surface I was playing on. But I only had to do five bases. The thought of having to cut up CD cases for ten times that amount... It all takes time I guess.

    Question: what do you do for templates and measuring sticks?

    1. I measure with a tape-measure, or a plastic ruler if I'm slumming it. FLOB has three of templates (firing arc, turning arc and wind-gauge) which I photocopied, cut out and mounted on thin card.

    2. I have adopted the transparent base approach with my WW1 aircraft, but I bought pre-cut ones from Litko.

  4. Brilliant! I never would have thought of that. Thanks for the idea and the tutorial.

  5. Creative, clever and very imporesive...nice job!

  6. Nice work! I use the waxy wrapping paper you get with flowers, but it seems like thicker paper works too. Well done!

  7. Thanks Alan. I'll stick with my Langton bases for Naps, but will need to use your technique for my much larger 1/1500 WW1 battle cruisers, so this is timely advice!


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