Friday, September 24, 2010

Magnetic Scenic Display Base

While finishing my Cleric model for my monthly D&D game, I decided I'd like to have a scenic display base for him.  I had one that I started on from a basing class I took at GenCon with Aaron Lovejoy, but I wasn't thrilled with it:

I decided I would try to salvage it.  (This won't exactly be a tutorial, since I don't have pics from the initial phases of making the base, but there should be some stuff here that you can apply to other projects).  The basic construction of the base started with a wooden block.  Aaron cut some wooden thread spools in half, and we superglued those to the blocks.  We then covered the whole deal in Milliput sculpting putty, to create the effect of a stone pedestal.  Unfortunately the edge of my pedestal was pretty uneven and the "bricks" I carved around the edge of the pedestal were not at all symmetrical.  To remedy this, I started by covering up the whole top with Green Stuff:

Then I took some sandpaper and gave it a rough sanding:

Next I took a spare base, and used my rotary tool to grind out the edges of the slot on the underside:

...then I superglued a washer to the underside of the base:

Next I took some neodymium magnets and arranged them evenly around the washer:

I took a technical marker and "drew" all over the surface of the magnets, just to get them covered in ink.  Then I lined up the base over the pedestal and pressed it down, leaving marks where the magnets will go:

...then I used my pin vise to drill out the holes.  I had to use my hobby knife to enlarge the holes a bit, since my drill bit wasn't quite big enough:

I put a drop of superglue into each hole, and slid the magnets into the holes using the blade of my hobby knife:

I took a scrap of my thinnest plasticard, and traced around the top of the pedestal, and cut it out:

I glued it to the top of the pedestal (using a generous amount of gap-filling superglue), then went to work on it with my files to blend the edge:

(The magnets are strong enough that they will still hold through the plasticard - it won't be super strong, but enough to keep the model from falling off if it's bumped).  Next I decided to start work on the figure base itself - I started by covering the top of the base in Green Stuff, and using my hobby knife I carved a rough cobblestone pattern in it:

Next I put the base on top of the pedestal, and rolled out a thin "rope" of Green Stuff to fill the gap around the edge:

I smoothed the Green Stuff into the gaps with my sculpting tool and evened out the edge of the pedestal, working the excess downward, since I already had a hard edge along the bottom that I could use as a guide to trim the excess.  When it looked good, I removed the base and cut off the excess Green Stuff:

After everything had dried thoroughly, I put the base back on the pedestal and sanded them together to get it smooth and make it look as much like one piece as possible:

The whole piece was primed white:

Then I gave it a coat of P3 Bloodstone, and a heavy wash of GW Devlan Mud:

Next I gave it a quick drybrush with a mix of P3 Bloodstone / GW Skull White, painted the wooden block with Vallejo Game Color black, added a few spots of static grass in the cracks, and mounted my model to the base:

 ...and that's pretty much it.  This project would be significantly simpler if it was a model that was going to be for display only - you could mount the model directly to the pedestal, or just use a dowel rod and glue the base directly to the top to make the pedestal shape.


  1. Very nice!
    Thanks for the great pictures on how you placed the magnets. The plasticard helps stop the magnets from pulling free from the greenstuff? That is always a problem that I have when using the magnets like this. Thanks!

  2. DrGabe -

    The magnets are superglued in, so I don't usually have problems with them pulling free - the plasticard helps too, but in this project it was more for cosmetic reasons. Unfortunately it also reduces the strength of the magnets enough that if it was an application where it was holding a vertical piece (magnetizing a weapon arm, for example) it probably wouldn't be real sturdy.