Simple Model Base Construction

By Mike Phillips

I got this idea at model contest I attended. I wanted to make a base for my models, but didn't want to spend a lot of money on it. I saw a kit on a simple black metal picture frame, with the glass sprayed flat black and thought, "there's an idea!" But I wanted something that looks a little more like the tarmac, but didn't take away too much from the model. This is just a way to get a basic model base that looks like concrete without spending a lot of time and money on it. I made one of these at 9pm one night for a show I left for at 8 the next morning and it was dry and ready to use.

The model base is pretty simple. I found a picture frame in the bargain section for about 3 dollars, and then bought a can of "Fleckstone" paint for about 3 more. This is the paint that looks like stone when it's dry. It's a pretty big can and will last a while. I usually look for frames that are either square or pyramid shaped when laid down flat. Ones that are deep don't seem to look as good. The only other basic item needed is a can of light gray paint.

Take the glass out of the frame. Spray the glass any color you want. Gray or black would be best. This will give the Fleckstone something to adhere to. Then when it is dry, spray a coat of the Fleckstone paint. SHAKE THE CAN WELL! This stuff comes out really thick. It's got a kind of grit in it that looks like stone and comes in several colors. I bought the one closest to gray that they had, but any color will do because you are going to paint over it anyway. You don't have to put a thick coat on, the base coat will fill in any areas you miss.

After the Fleckstone is dry, take some rough grit sandpaper and rub it on the piece of glass. Sand it down as much as you want. I usually try to get a uniform surface with some texture still on the glass. It's really a matter of personal preference.

Here's where you can get creative! Although I usually just give it a coat of grey over the Fleckstone, and call it done, lots of things can be done at this point. Lines showing the different slabs of the tarmac can be added. I did this one time, using the back side of an Exacto knife, and it made just enough of a line to do the job.

Airbrushing could be used to make the slabs different shades, or bits of static grass or whatever could be put at places along the edge to give it some definition. A dry brushing of black would give a look of worn rubber or dirt. You can then either put the glass back in the frame, or glue it to the top of the frame if there is enough support.

As I said, this isn't anything fancy. It's just a way to have a nice looking base with very little expense. Department stores usually sell nice picture frames for just a couple of bucks, and this is the only continuing expense you'd really have. The Fleckstone will last a while, and gray paint is the only other item you really need. One of the nice things about this technique, is the large amount of picture frame sizes and shapes.

I hope you find this technique useful!

© Mike Phillips 2003

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This article was published on Sunday, November 01 2015; Last modified on Wednesday, November 11 2015