Basing

How to Create a Tatooine Desert Base

Let's take it back to the beginning...to Twin Suns, sand speeders, and the craggy desert that is Tatooine.

One of the absolute, unquestioned, most iconic visuals in the entire Star Wars franchise for me is the very first time we saw the Tatooine twin suns in A New Hope. It’s hard for me to explain the magic I feel looking at it now, decades after I saw Star Wars for the first time. Despite my love for other, cooler planets in the galaxy, the Lars Homestead and Mos Eisley have a very, very special place in my heart.

And I’m sure I’m not alone.

So of course it makes total sense that a beginner Legion player, looking to create a scenic base for their entire army, would go to Tatooine for inspiration. It’s iconic in a way that few other locales can match, and makes for an instantly recognizable theme on the board.

Fortunately, creating a suitable Tatooine feel for your minis is one of the least time- and resource-intensive bases out there. And so in this article, I’ll show you exactly how to do it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A larger unused/weather paint brush0dd6e7da6846971078c42cfefa9965a7.jpg
  • A medium-sized brush for drybrushing
  • Citadel’s Agrellan Earth Texture
  • Citadel’s Agrellan Badlands Texture (optional)
  • A few different colors of paint:
    • Brown
    • Beige/Bone
    • White
    • Dark Grey (optional)
    • Orange (optional)

1. Prime and Prepare

It’s worth noting right here that you can create this base after you’ve already glued your miniatures down, but it will be much, much easier if you temporarily affix them to something else while you paint them. You’ll have a smoother go at it that way.

Prime the bases a color of your choosing. Honestly, it won’t matter much.

Once the primer has dried, paint the tops of your bases with a nice, deep brown/chocolate tone like I’ve shown below. This will help give depth to the cracks in the Agrellan Earth.

img_4573

2. Apply the Agrellan Texture

The real miracle of these bases is in the chemical engineering of Citadel’s Agrellan Earth and Badlands textures. Earth is basically an advanced crackle paint and comes out as a thick cream, while Badlands is basically an earthy texture that comes out as a bumpy paste and will also crack a bit as it dries.

For posterity’s sake, I’m going to be demonstrating three different applications of these two products so that you can get a sense of how they work before you try them yourself.

The textures operate with one basic principle: the thicker you apply them, the bigger the cracks will be. Through my own trials I came to like a medium-thickness application for this particular look. Too many thick cracks makes it look like a salt flat, not Tatooine. Use that bigger, older brush to apply the textures.

img_4574

Here are my applications, from Left to Right:

  1. A light application of Agrellan Earth, putting down just enough to cover the dark brown color of the base
  2. heavy application of Agrellan Earth, really glopping it on there and evening it out
  3. mixed application of half Agrellan Earth (medium amount, left) and half Agrelland Badlands (light amount, right) – you can see the color differentiation between the two

The drying time could be anywhere between two hours (for the light application) and five hours (for the heavy application), but you’ll want to make sure you wait until it’s totally dried before you move on to drybrushing.

Once it’s ready, it’ll look like this:

img_4575

You can see the difference in application and texture pretty clearly. Ultimately, the decision is yours as to which style you prefer. My personal favorite is the far right, the mixed application, but you should always feel free to be creative and go with your gut!

3. Drybrush

Now that the texture is dry, we’ve got to color it like Tatooine. To do that, we need to lighten it up. If we were to paint it the normal way, though, we would risk filling in the cracks and losing that chocolate cover that adds an illusion of greater depth. So, instead, we’re going to drybrush all of our paints on.

Here’s a great drybrushing tutorial if you’ve never done it before!

I began by doing a fairly heavy drybrush of a 2:1 mix of beige and orange. It’ll probably look not quite right, but this is very easily fixable. This first application is just to get our base color away from that earthy brown and closer to Tatooine’s true dusty color.

Then, I did some mix of the following three stages on my bases:

  • Medium-strength drybrush with beige
  • Light drybrush with bone
  • Extremely light drybrush with white
  • Touch-up areas of interest with beige or bone

And all of this gives us three distinct final products, all based on the amount and type of texture we used in the beginning. A quick paint job around the edge, and we get some beautiful bases:

img_4580

When it was all said and done, my personal favorite remained the one on the far right, although I think the one on the far left was actually much improved by the highlights from the paint job. Any time you can do multiple textures in a single base, you’re going to have a much more impressive effect.

You could, of course, add some dry-looking shrubs to this if you so choose. It’ll fit in just fine with the desert scrub theme.

Now, just glue your minis to their bases and voila! An unmistakably Tatooinian base, ready for the board.


By way of a brief post-script, I’d like to take one last look at that middle base, the one with the extremely heavy cracking. It’s not Tatooine, I think, but it does look pretty rad.

So – in a week or two I’ll be posting a tutorial for how to use that thick technique with Agrellan Earth to make some incredibly convincing bases: fire and ice. Until then!

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