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Hey there! Are you itching to take your miniature gaming terrain up a notch? Well, buckle up because we're about to show you how to create a seriously epic desert base. Trust us, this is exactly what you need to bring your gaming world to life.

Now, whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, we've got you covered. We're going to spill the beans on some simple materials and techniques that will have you rocking a textured surface, a crackle effect, and jaw-dropping colors. It's time to unleash your creativity and dive headfirst into this exciting project!

So, picture this: you're sitting at your gaming table, surrounded by a mesmerizing desert landscape. The sand dunes rise and fall, the cracked earth tells stories of ancient civilizations, and the colors transport you to a whole new world. Sounds pretty amazing, right? Well, with our guidance, you'll be able to create that immersive experience for yourself.

But here's the best part: we're going to make it super easy for you. No convoluted instructions or complicated jargon. Just straightforward, step-by-step guidance that anyone can follow. We want you to feel confident and empowered as you embark on this creative journey.

Oh, and don't worry, we're not going to leave you hanging. We'll be here with you every step of the way, cheering you on and answering any questions you may have. This is a safe and inclusive space for all hobbyists, after all.

So, are you ready to transform your gaming terrain into a desert oasis? Great! Let's roll up our sleeves and dive into this project together. It's time to unleash your inner artist and watch your gaming world come to life. Let's get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Elmer's glue and sand mixture with different grits are used to create a realistic texture on the base.
  • Varying the thickness of paint and experimenting with depth can create different crackle patterns and textures.
  • Different sand grits and multiple layers of paint can be used to add depth and dimension to the base.
  • Wet blending techniques can be used to achieve smooth color transitions and enhance the visual appeal of the desert base.

Materials Needed

To create a desert base, you'll need the following materials: Elmer's glue, sand mixture (with different grits), GWS handy dandy tool, GW base paint (Agrarian Earth), and Vallejo black primer.

Elmer's glue is essential for securing the sand mixture to the base. The sand mixture, with its different grits, will give your base a realistic texture. The GWS handy dandy tool is perfect for spreading the glue evenly.

When it comes to painting, GW base paint in Agrarian Earth will provide a solid base color. For the crackle effect, you can control the depth of the crackle by varying the thickness of the paint. As for the application method, you can use either a brush or an airbrush. Remember to let the crackle dry fully before proceeding.

Applying the Glue and Sand

Continuing from the previous subtopic, you'll begin by spreading Elmer's glue around the base. This step is crucial as it will provide a surface for the sand to adhere to. Once the glue is applied, sprinkle the sand mixture onto it, ensuring even coverage. Shake off any excess sand and allow it to dry fully in order to harden.

Now, let's talk about the crackle effect. To achieve this, load Agrarian Earth paint heavily onto the base, controlling the depth of the crackle with the thickness of the paint. Thicker paint will result in larger crackles, while thinner paint will create smaller ones. For variation, vary the depth of the paint. Remember to let it dry overnight for the best results.

Now that you have a solid foundation, let's move on to the next step and explore wet blending techniques.

Using GW Base Paint for Crackle Effect

Now let's talk about how to achieve different crackle effects using GW Base Paint.

One factor to consider is the thickness of the paint – a thicker application will result in larger cracks, while a thinner application will create smaller cracks.

Experimenting with the depth of the paint will also give you variation in the crackle pattern.

Thick Vs Thin Crackle

Start by loading the Agrarian Earth paint heavily onto the base to control the depth of the crackle effect. The thicker the paint, the thicker the crackle effect will be, while thinner paint will result in smaller crackles. By varying the depth of the paint, you can achieve a range of crackle textures, adding visual interest and dimension to your base.

It's important to let the paint dry overnight for the best results. Experiment with different levels of thickness to find the crackle effect that suits your desired aesthetic. With this technique, you can create innovative and unique crackle textures on your desert base.

Depth Variation Techniques

To achieve depth variation in the crackle effect on your desert base, apply GW Base Paint with varying levels of thickness. By controlling the depth of the paint, you can enhance the texture and create a more visually interesting base. Here are some techniques for enhancing depth with paint layers:

  • Creating texture with different sand grits: Use a mixture of sand with varying grit sizes to add texture to your base. This will create a more realistic and dynamic surface.
  • Varying the thickness of the paint: Apply the GW Base Paint in different thicknesses to achieve different levels of crackle. Thicker paint will result in larger crackle patterns, while thinner paint will create smaller crackle patterns.
  • Building up layers: Apply multiple layers of paint, allowing each layer to dry before adding the next. This will add depth and dimension to the crackle effect.
  • Dry brushing: Use a dry brush technique to highlight the raised areas of the crackle effect. This will further enhance the depth and texture of the base.
  • Experimenting with color: Try using different colors of GW Base Paint to create even more depth and variation in the crackle effect. Play around with different combinations to achieve the desired effect.

Drying Time for Crackle?

To achieve the desired crackle effect using GW Base Paint on your desert base, it's important to allow the paint to dry fully overnight. This drying time is crucial as it allows the paint to harden and create the distinctive crackle pattern.

Make sure to apply the GW Base Paint, such as Agrarian Earth, heavily onto the base, controlling the depth of the crackle effect by adjusting the thickness of the paint. Thicker paint will result in larger crackles, while thinner paint will produce smaller crackles.

For troubleshooting crackle effect issues, such as the paint not crackling enough or cracking too much, you can experiment with alternative crackle mediums like crackle mediums from other brands. However, it's still recommended to let the paint dry fully overnight for the best results.

Applying Base Colors

Now that you have successfully created a textured and crackled base using the GW Base Paint, it's time to move on to applying the base colors.

You have two options for application – you can either use a brush or an airbrush, depending on your preference and skill level.

If you choose to use a brush, consider practicing wet blending techniques to achieve a smoother transition between colors.

Brush or Airbrush

You can choose to apply the base colors using either a brush or an airbrush. Each method has its own pros and cons, and it ultimately depends on your personal preference and the desired outcome.

  • Brush: Using a brush allows for more control and precision. It's perfect for small details and intricate areas. However, it may take longer to cover large surfaces and can sometimes result in visible brush strokes.
  • Airbrush: An airbrush provides a smooth and even application of paint, especially for larger areas. It can create seamless transitions between colors and allows for quick coverage. However, it requires more equipment and can be more expensive.

Consider your project requirements and the level of detail you want to achieve before deciding which method to use. Both brush and airbrush have their own unique advantages and can contribute to innovative and creative results.

Wet Blending Techniques?

When applying base colors to your desert base, one effective technique to consider is wet blending. Wet blending is a painting technique that allows you to smoothly transition between colors, creating a seamless and natural look on your base.

One of the advantages of wet blending techniques is that they allow for a greater control over color transitions, resulting in a more realistic and visually appealing finish. To achieve smooth transitions between colors, start by applying the lighter color as a base and then gradually introduce the darker color, blending them together while they're still wet.

Use a soft brush and gentle strokes to merge the colors seamlessly. Remember to work quickly, as the paint needs to be wet for this technique to work effectively. Practice and experimentation will help you master this technique and achieve professional-looking results on your desert base.

Dry Brushing and Final Touches

Begin the process of dry brushing and adding final touches to your desert base by using a compound brush. This technique will bring out the details and textures of the base, giving it a realistic and dynamic look. Here are five steps to help you achieve the perfect finish:

  • First, apply AG Rex Worker Shade to enhance the texture of the base. This will create depth and shadows, adding to the overall realism.
  • Next, dry brush with Andrew Dust to build up color on the raised areas of the base. This will highlight the details and give it a weathered appearance.
  • Use Screaming Skull for a more gentle dry brushing on the protruding bits. This will add a softer touch and further enhance the texture.
  • Leave some Xandrie Dust showing to create natural color variation. This will give the base a more organic and authentic feel.
  • Finally, use Boob Shanty Bone on flatter regions to create contrast. This will make the details pop and add visual interest to the base.


Continuing with the process of dry brushing and adding final touches to your desert base, enhance the texture and bring out the details by applying AG Rex Worker Shade.

This shade won't only deepen the shadows but also add depth and definition to the cracks and crevices in the base. Simply apply the shade liberally over the entire base, making sure to work it into all the nooks and crannies.

Allow it to dry for about 30 minutes, or until it reaches a tacky consistency. This will allow the shade to settle into the recesses and create a realistic, weathered effect.

While waiting for the shade to dry, take the opportunity to practice wet blending techniques. Wet blending involves mixing two or more colors directly on the model, creating smooth transitions and gradients. It requires a bit of practice but can yield stunning results.

Once the shade is dry, you can move on to the next step in your desert base project.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use a Different Type of Glue Instead of Elmer's Glue for Applying the Sand Mixture?

Yes, you can use different types of glue for applying the sand mixture. Experiment with alternative glues to find one that works best for you. Also, try using different colors for the crackle effect to add variety to your project.

How Long Does It Take for the Elmer's Glue and Sand Mixture to Dry Fully?

To speed up drying, use a hairdryer or place the base in a warm, well-ventilated area. For a similar texture, try using fine-grained sawdust or crushed walnut shells mixed with the glue.

Can I Use a Different Color of GW Base Paint Instead of Agrarian Earth for the Crackle Effect?

Yes, you can definitely use a different color of GW base paint for the crackle effect. Experiment with different colors to achieve unique results. Also, consider alternative types of glue for applying the sand mixture for different crackle effect techniques.

What Is the Best Technique for Applying the Base Color to the Nooks and Crannies of the Base?

For applying base color to the nooks and crannies, the best technique is dry brushing. Use a hard bristle brush and gently apply the base color in a back-and-forth motion. Another technique is the sponge technique, which involves dabbing the base color onto the desired areas using a sponge.

Is It Necessary to Use an Airbrush for Applying the Base Colors, or Can I Use a Paintbrush Instead?

Yes, you can use a paintbrush instead of an airbrush for applying the base colors. The benefit of using a paintbrush is that it allows for more control and precision in applying the colors to the nooks and crannies of the base.


In conclusion, creating a realistic desert base for your miniature gaming terrain is a simple and enjoyable process.

By following the step-by-step instructions in this article, you have learned how to apply a glue and sand mixture for a textured surface. This provides a solid foundation for your desert terrain.

You have also learned how to achieve a crackle effect using GW base paint. This adds depth and realism to the surface of your terrain.

Additionally, you have learned how to apply base colors to create the appearance of sand and rock formations. This helps to further enhance the realistic look of your desert base.

Dry brushing techniques have been covered as well. This technique allows you to highlight the raised areas of your terrain and add depth and dimension.

Finally, you have learned how to add final touches to your desert base. This can include adding small details such as rocks, vegetation, or even small figurines to bring your gaming terrain to life.

With these techniques, you can bring your gaming terrain to life and enhance the overall appearance of your miniatures. So get creative and have fun with your desert base creation. Happy gaming!

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