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Painting Philosophy: Anatomy of Basing

Painting Philosophy: Anatomy of Basing


Welcome to the fourth installment into the ‘Painting Philosophy’ series, where “I let you in on ‘how’ and especially ‘why’ I do some things in a certain way. In my opinion a proper approach to painting is crucial to maintain healthy and rewarding experience. Final result depends on it in the same way as on techniques, know-how and tools used. Nowadays internet is full of painting tutorials yet it takes some inner understanding of our own capabilities to find what suits us best and fully benefit from all acquired knowledge. That being said – In this series I will reveal what works best for me as a painter. I hope you will find some wisdom in it…”


Today I would like to talk less about painting and more about basing and composition, cause it does not matter how great your paint job is – if you based a miniature poorly it will look off, so there’s that. By ‘basing and composition’ I understand the way a miniature is set up on a base. It’s not enough that a miniature is just mounted on top of a base. In the end base is a display for our miniature and together they create a composition, that should be both stable on the gaming board and tell a little story about the miniature itself…

What is this about?

Basically, every humanoid miniature has a center of gravity. In most cases it is located slightly below the chest and over the pelvis of a miniature. If a miniature is armed with giant gun or standing with hands spread, the center of gravity might shift a little to encompass additional weight. In these cases both gun (big, heavy part) and main body of the miniature are treated as a single ‘body’ and the center of gravity is shifted away from natural position and towards additional part/parts evenly.

How I do it?

The key is to base a miniature so that it’s center of gravity is alligned with the center of the base. It does not have to be exact, but let’s just say the closer the better. In case of more complex miniatures it is possible that aligning shifted center of gravity with center of the base will move main body of the miniature to one side of the base (for example to the back of the base). This is ok for as long as the miniature stays within the invisible lines of the base’s edge and seem to still occupy the top of the base evenly.

Why do this?

To put it simply – because it looks better and adds feeling of ‘physics’ to the composition. As mentioned before a base and miniature are a single composition. This means that the way you mount a miniature on the base will translate into a short story about what is actually going on. Imagine a base to be a visualisation of physics of your miniature. For example:

‘Bakunin Taskmaster charging, using his right pauldron like a battering ram to slam through enemies…’ You can see this guy is heavy and moving forward. This is achieved by shifting center of gravity to the back of miniature, towards extended armed hand and aligning it with center of the base. This guy is moving forward and you can actually see his immediate destination on the base he’s moving over.

Now imagine how stupid it would look like if Bakunin Taskmaster was mounted with his feet at the center of the base instead. You don’t actually have to imagine, cause I will show you. Now this giant of steel, polimer and fiber muscles looks like he lost his footing and is jumping off a cliff as a result. Entire right hand and part of the pauldron is off the base and seem to drag the rest of the miniature along.


Here’s a set of examples I dug in the web and how I see them performed.


You have now finished the fourth Painting Philosophy article. This series is all about sharing forbidden knowledge so if it drove you insane, just stay calm and paint some. You get back to normal once it settles up in your mind. As usual – ‘Please take note that what works for me, might not necessarily work for you – still there are many ways to accomplish certain things – mine is just one of them’. If you find this article helpful – be sure to leave me some feedback. Have a nice hobbying 😉

“Many fall in the face of chaos. But not this one, not today.”


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