Friday, December 10, 2010

Flock, and ways to make it better, part 2

The first post in this series had a serious problem... I forgot example photos. So this post will have example photos and cover some of the shortfalls of single/dual material flocking. The photos from part 1 showed a selection of flocking materials that are typically used in basing miniatures. Each has its good points, but today we talk about the downsides of each example.

First lets talk about 'flocking material', the green powdery type, as well as basic sand.

Here we have an ancient GW Ogre, based with sand and 'flock'.
The above photo shows a truly ancient GW fig, an Empire Ogre, painted roughly 20 years ago. The base is a bit worn, and obviously cracked, but will help to show issues with the use of 'flock' as well as sand.

Firstly we'll notice the odd look of each material. They stand out and looked deliberately set. They have a single color (which can be changed through the use of paint, inks, or different color material). Care was taken to attempt to make this base look less like a flat ground of one type of terrain through use of two materials. Unfortunately we see that they look deliniated and deliberate. The colors having stark borders against each other. The tonal contrast draws more attention to the base than it should have, as it is not the focal point of the miniature. This is a big issue with single type flocking on bases, it can detract from the overall look of the finished miniature.

Use of inks and washes can help alleviate this, but in the end there is only so much you can do to reduce this distraction on a miniature when using single or dual basing materials.

Resin cast base, painted, but still needing some sanding on the edges.
Here we have a resin base. Something I did a couple months ago in a 40mm base, to work with some terminator models. Overall it is a pretty darned good base. But you will note that the 'sand' of the base seems odd. Resin bases (scenics) are very nice, and remove a lot of hassles when dealing with loose flocking materials. They have their place in doing your miniatures. But even the best scenic bases start to look manufactured in large numbers. Painting alleviates some of this, but in the end with limited numbers of looks for the bases, they become repetitious.

Repetition in basing can help tie an army together. But in larger numbers it starts looking drab, and detracts from the overall look of an army. The best scenic resin bases in the world can't stop this from happening by themselves. And when you are fielding 30+ models on 5-6 base looks, it becomes quite obvious, unless you do something to spruce them up. In this case static grasses, snow pastes, and other options help to break up the monotony imposed by limited sculpts.

Sticking with just resin bases is fine, but you have to keep in mind the above issues. Even limited changes in painting palette can help to break up the similarity.

One of my 'Counts As Thunderwolf' models, using my mixed blend of flocking material.
This photo helps show how a mixed blending of flocking materials can break up the monotony. As well as help to make the base look more natural. No one tone or type of material dominates, and the use of static grass helps to break up the base further. The base doesn't draw the eye unnaturally away from the model itself, but does set a feeling of disturbed plains. With the gravel, sand, and flock all working together as a blend that helps gap fill (smaller material filling the gaps from the larger gravel) and covering with little to no show through of the base.

A closer look. Yes it needs a little touch-up, but that is normal when flocking of any type.
Overall, the effect looks nice, with no one tone or material dominating, and nothing looking forces into place. With the smaller materials helping to fill in on the gravel, the gravel no longer looks as if it was tossed down, but more like it has been there for some time. This helps to make the base look more natural, and less deliberately done. Nothing distracts more on a base than having it look like the materials were tossed at the miniatures feet, and not like the miniature came onto the ground naturally.

Comments, suggestions, critiques all welcome!


  1. Solid post. I think the mix works really well. The variety of colours and textures is a bit more believable than the straight green sawdust approach.

    Have you tried painting the mixed flock? I have a pot of mixed sands and gravels which I use as flock, however I seal and paint it rather than leaving it the natural colours. You should give this a go. It gives you more control over the final appearance of the miniature.

  2. I haven't tried painting this mixture of flock, but I have others with mixed results. Sometimes it works great, other times not so great. But I have found that washes work better than straight paint for changing the appearance of flocking materials.