1- The first thing I did was to locate the resin scenic element (which comes with the miniature) onto the display plinth. I used Apoxie Sculpt A&B putty for this and just added it quite roughly in the shape I wanted. I built up the shape I wanted with little pieces, not bothering to smooth them in at all at this stage.
2-4 - When the overall shape was roughly how I wanted, I added a small piece of real wood for a broken tree stump. It's actually a little piece of driftwood. I added some more putty round the base of that and then started to shape and texture the whole base. I sculpted a sharper cut-away under the resin piece, so it looked like it was on top of a low bank. Once the overall shape was what I was looking for, I added some texture to the surface. The broken ground texture was achieved by dragging a sharp edge across the surface - the Apoxie sculpt works well for this as it crumbles when wet. More elastic putties like greenstuff don't act like that. I put the sprite in position at this stage, just to make sure there was space for her. I didn't work too hard at hiding the join between the resin parts and the putty - there are plenty more elements going over the top that would hide the joins later.
5 - The next stage was to protect the display plinth while I was painting the base. Once you have acrylic paint on something it's very hard to get off without leaving a mark, so I always mask round the things I am going to paint. I use Humbrol Maskol for this, but any other masking fluid would do just as well. It's applied with an old brush as it's very hard to get off the bristles.
6 - Once the masking fluid is dry (it usually goes clear), I tape over the rest of the base with masking tape. Tamiya masking tape is great for this as it comes off without leaving a mark, it also comes in lots of different widths.
7 - Once the tape was on I undercoated the whole base with in grey and started painting. The ground was given a coat of Scorched Brown - I wanted to give quite a natural look to the base, so I chose a light warm grey for the wood. If you look at the bark of trees (especially gnarled oaks), it's usually far more of a grey colour, rather than brown.
8 - Once the base coats were dry I washed over everything with the same colour - a mix of cool dark brown and matte medium. This was thinned down quite a lot and applied liberally.
That's it for this part - the next article will look at the rest of the painting and detailing on the base.