Texturing terrain bases

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Core terrain skills

Adding texture to a miniatures base is pretty simple – coat the base with PVA, dip it in some sand, done. This is fine for such a small surface area, but the larger the surface you want to texture, the more bland this becomes. This is especially a problem with terrain where you can often get flat surfaces that are completely devoid of any interesting texture and may as well be sandpaper. Sometimes static grass or flock can help break the base up a bit, but ultimately you want to create a varied texture to keep the surface interesting.

To this you want a variety of textures to apply. Here are some of the ones that I use:

Of these, you want four key textures; fine sand, coarse sand/grit, rocks and a mixed sand (which contains a variety of fine, coarse and rocks). Conveniently they are all available from Minibits.

The bark chips are available from pet stores in the reptile section and the cork boulders are from a railway hobby store.

Here’s an example where I’ve used multiple textures:

The blue rocks are styrofoam, but in between you can see that I’ve used a mixture of cork boulders and mixed sand. This creates a great variety of texture that keeps the piece interesting.

To apply your textures, first put down blobs of wood glue or unthinned PVA to where you want rocks. Concentrate on where rocks would naturally form – amongst boulder patches, around and at the bottom of cliff faces etc. Push rocks into the glue so that they’re held in place by it.


Next, sprinkle sand over this area so that it covers all of the in between gaps. Here I’ve put the (test) piece on a piece of paper so that I can catch the excess.

Next apply a layer of thinned PVA to the entire base. I use about a 2:1 ratio of PVA to water and store a load of it ready mixed in an airtight tub.

Finally sprinkle on various grades of sand – using some fine, some mixed, some coarse to create areas of differing texture. Here I applied some fine texture first, followed by my mixed texture.

After this you can funnel all of the collected sand into your mixed pot. Once your PVA has fully dried, apply a second coat of thinned PVA over the top to seal it all in. 

And that’s texturing a base. Use a variety of grits, apply large rocky grit first with wood glue or unthinned PVA, apply a mixture of finer grits with thinned PVA and then seal it all with a second coat of thinned PVA. Done.

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