Lava Effect Bases Tutorial

lava effect bases tutorial“Today we are bringing you another great tutorial written by Mark Hawkins. This guide will teach you how to paint amazing looking lava effects on your wargaming miniatures bases in clear, simple steps. This technique is perfect for painting lava, but will also work just as well for other liquid effects. We think the end product looks amazing, why not give it a go and let us know how you get on in the comments below.” – Graven Games

This is a fun little technique for making a really liquid looking filler for craters and recesses on bases. While I have opted for a lava effect with this base, the method can easily be used to great effect for swamps, muddy water and a whole load of other effects.

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Paints and Mediums:
Let’s take a look at what I’m using for this example.
Vallejo Black Surface Primer.
Vallejo Game Colour Heavy Charcoal.
Vallejo Game Colour Cold Grey.
Vallejo Game Colour Heavy Goldbrown.
Vallejo Game Colour Hot Orange.
Vallejo Game Colour Orange Fire.
Vallejo Game Colour Gold Yellow.
And most importantly – Vallejo Still Water.

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Stage 1: For this example I have made a simple wall of rocks a little way in from the outside edge of the base using cork pieces and PVA glue. This was filled around the outside with basing sand and PVA glue and set aside to dry. It’s important to make sure you have a solid wall with no holes and gaps and that the wall is at least a couple of mm high all round.

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Stage 2: When the PVA is completely hardened and you are sure that there are no holes or gaps, it’s time to get a good coat of primer on the base. I masked off the clear stem of the base and applied Vallejo Black Surface Primer using and airbrush. This will give you a nice surface to work with and also help to seal the cork and sand used for the wall.

Before embarking on the fun part of this process, the rocks where dry-brushed with Heavy Charcoal and then Cold grey. The clear stem is masked again at this point and the base is given a coat of Vallejo Matt Varnish.

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Stage 3: A basecoat of Heavy Goldbrown is brushed into the bottom of the central area. This is purely to create a base colour under the lava-effect so does not need to be super-smooth. Allow this to dry thoroughly.

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Stage 4: Slowly add Vallejo Still Water to the central area. Add a little at a time and gently guide the liquid to the edge using a brush. Be careful not to add too much or allow the liquid to slop over the edge of the wall. If this happens, a combination of gravity, flow and capillary action will result in a puddle in your work space and a very messy base.

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Stage 5: Vallejo Still Water has a good long curing time and that is what we are relying on for this technique. While the Still Water is runny, drop a couple of blobs of Hot Orange onto the surface of the Still Water straight from the bottle. You will notice that the colour immediately starts to spread out. Help it along with a brush. Again, be careful not to allow the liquid to breach the wall.

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Stage 6: Add a blob or two of Orange Fire straight from the bottle. But this time, just allow it to spread by itself and tease the colour into swirls with the tip of a brush. Repeat this process with Gold Yellow. Leave the liquid to settle and start to cure for 30-45 and then come back to check on your handy-work. You can continue to tease the colours into swirls as the liquid cures. Allowing for some quite dramatic effects. When you are happy with the look of the liquid, leave it to cure overnight. Remember that the paint and the liquid will still continue to move and spread to a degree until it is fully cured so may look a little different the next day.

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Stage 7: The next day. The liquid will be cured and you will notice that there are some slightly matt areas where the paints has broken the surface of the Still Water. This is easily fixed by adding a thin layer of Still Water of the top. If you are in a hurry, you can substitute this for a coat of Vallejo Gloss Varnish but the Still Water will give an overall better look.

Leave the base aside to cure. And you’re done.

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author avatar mark Hawkins

Mark Hawkins is a UK based hobbyist and miniature painter. Old as the hills and just as craggy. He started painting models at a very early age and painted his first Citadel Miniature in 1982, An Orc Villager. His working life stretches from a stint at the GW studio, working as a graphic designer for several video games companies and finally settling down to family life and miniature painting in a small village on the Isle of Wight.

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