Baffo’s Sculpting Table 10 – Sewers & Spiders


I’m back from my writing hiatus! Sorry for the wait, but I work as an assistant at the Faculty of architecture and as a private tutor for Math and Descriptive geometry, so I get really busy with work during the university mid-term and final exams periods (which here are Januray-February, all June and September), so I did not have much hobby time in the past 2 months… Anyway, this will be a wyrd article. On one hand it is a continuation of my past articles on urban themed sculpted bases (specifically sewers and factory grounds this time), while on the other hand it is an example of ways to ‘stretch’ your hard earned hobby budget, when dealing with lots of small identical models. Also this is the first article, where I work with Malifaux models.

When I and my friends came back from the IX HET tournament in March (, they got hooked up with Malifaux and started playing that, all the while we each slowly started collecting new WM/H factions. Along the way our little group hit the periodic ‘Burn out’ phase common to small metas and we jumped into the smaller skirmish game, while we wait for Vengeance to come out with new models to reignite our warmachine excitement. Initially I tried resisting the urge to dive into a new game system, but after roughly 3 months I got 6 crew box-sets and some extra minions for 3 different factions (I knew this was going to happen…) and the only reason I haven’t impulsively bought more stuff, is that I am waiting for M2e re-sculpts (in particular Rasputina’s crew and Joss).

People familiar with Malifaux probably know that Malifaux is going into its second edition (M2e) and much like PP’s transition to Mk2, they’re having a 2 waves of open beta test with the community. The first wave just finished and we should be getting the finalized core rules and book 1 crews (think of it like Prime/Primal book warcasters and units) in August, while the second wave of the beta (for all other existing models in their range) will start in September-October. Anyway, from the beta rules everybody got a preview of how their current masters changed and I really like Ramos’ new incarnation, in particular the fact he’s a much better ‘summoning master’ now, since in the right conditions his crew can spawn from scraps 3-6 new models per turn. I got Ramos’ current box-set and will likely buy his newer box as well, to get the plastic re-sculpts, however at the moment I have the bits for 6 Steam arachnids or 2 Arachnid swarms (the models he can summon), but in the few M2e games I played, I often needed more than that (about 10-12 Steam arachnids) so I had to somehow ‘multiply’ my spiders…

My solution was to turn their bases into small urban dioramas, where they are crawling out of wall cracks, sewers, barrels and man holes. This achieves 3 effects:

  1. It makes them more distinguishable (since normally they are all identical small models).
  2. Allows me to hide part of each model in the ‘scenery’ on the base, so that with a little creative green stuffing I can get two spiders with the bits of one.
  3. It is decent article material, since even if you don’t play Malifaux, you can apply these basing ideas to WM/H or more likely IKRPG models.


Sculpting the bases

Lets start with a medium base, so we have more space to flesh out our patterns and define a standard for the rest of our bases.

01 Medium base 01

As you can see in the picture above, I started by making a frame/base of plastic card and cork to apply the putty on. Since the Steam arachnids are fairly small models, I wanted the base to give the swarm more presence, by literally making a mini diorama of a sewer tunnel. Then I filled out the gaps under the ‘walkway’ and patiently sculpted the brick pattern the same way I did for my Urban shifting stones ( on every surface that required it; keep in mind that I always waited for the latest layer of putty to be cured (at least 5-6 hours) before applying fresh putty and sculpting the next area/layer.

01 Medium base 02

Once the wall and platform were finished I added/sculpted the Steam arachnids ‘fused’ with the base (coming out of the crack and submerged), so that I could sculpt the ripples in the water coherently with the model supposedly submerged in it.For the water I just put down a thin layer of green stuff and gently drew in the ripples using a smaller knitting needle (any tool with a small ball point works; if you have nothing else you can use an ink-less ball point pen).

For this I used only one pair of legs from the bits I have; there should be a third spider on the platform (a full one), but I will add that one when I get the M2e Ramos box and use the extra Steam arachnids that will likely come in it (I wanted to make more single arachnids in this run). This is basically the ‘recipe’ for all the following bases, so I’ll try to avoid repeating myself too much; consider these as a mini catalog of basing ideas on sewer/industrial themes…

02 Man hole

Having a paved street base with a manhole/service hole appears pretty often on scenic bases. Depending on the model you are making the base for, you could keep the manhole closed/covered or you could open it up to have something coming out of it (rats, roots, tentacles, zombies, insects or, like in this case, the model itself).

03 Floor crack

Cracked grounds are another common idea for scenic bases. It is particularly thematic for characters that use geomancy/earth magic (Crevasse, Eruption, ecc…) or that can otherwise cause this type of damage to the battlefield (Karchev or a colossal). As you can see it is fairly simple: for a single crack/split just cut 2 oblique slices of cork and glue them to the base, roughen up the inside of the crack and sculpt the floor pattern you want on top (here I used a brick pattern to stay in theme, but you can see another 10 examples of tile floor patterns you could use in my older article:

04 Emerging

Now, if you have a model stepping up or walking leaning forward, you could pose it as stepping out of water on the beach/platform/docks. Like in the previous example you just need a slated slice of cork to sculpt your texture of choice. Like I did in the medium base example, I advice to fix your model on the base, before sculpting the rippled water (and make it like its foot is partly submerged).

05 Wall crack submerged

Here we have a mostly submerged model. This idea works only in game systems that have a defined size/volume for their models instead of using ‘True line of sight’, because if you try this in let say 40k, the opponents will be calling the judges on you as ‘modelling for advantage’, so keep that in mind… Anyway, since we are submerging an already small model I used the wall to build up volume on the base and make it stand out more, to compensate for the half hidden small model.

06 Wall crack

Same idea as before, just this time I kept the model on solid ground, so I needed the crack in the wall to be bigger/higher to accommodate the non-submerged model.

07 Tube

Next step was to make an arachnid coming out of a large tube; this one could work either on solid ground or in water if we made the model submerged like in previous examples.

08 Sewer platform

Slightly raised walkway/platform next to the channel; this could work also for docks or the river-side in an urban theme for any type of model. Since I am making all my arachnids crawling out of assorted holes I sculpted the drain hole with broken bars, so the spider had somewhere to come from.

09 High platform

Another alternative on the previous idea is to make the platform higher and put the opening with broken bars on the side rather than on top. As with the Man hole base you could add any creature you wanted crawling out of the opening while the model stands on top (more on that later…).

10 Half barrel

11 Tipped barrel

12 Submerged barrel

At this point I was thinking about how I planned to paint these models and decided I wanted a few arachnid bases where orange wasn’t the dominant color (but rather dark green for some nice contrast), so to stay in theme with the sewer/industrial feel of the crew overall, I found some old GW plastic barrels of fuel (from some 40k tank kit), chopped them up and melted the edges, to make them look more worn out, and applied ideas from the previous examples to get these 3 ‘barrel themed’ bases.

13 Ramos


Finally, since this little army of mechanical spiders will come into play mainly with Ramos, I had to give him a similarly themed ‘epic’ base (his model is rather short when compared to other newer Wyrd miniatures, so I used his base to make him stand out more as the crew’s master). Also this is an actual example of how this basing theme looks under a humanoid model, rather than minute arachnids…

Anyway, to finish things off, here is a group shot of Ramos and his army of Steam arachnids:

14 Group pic

Hope you’ll find some of these ideas useful for your own basing projects and experiments. As always, feel free to post any questions or suggestions in the comments below.


Author: Baffo

My nickname means 'mustache' in Italian and dates back to my middle school days. As the name suggests, I am a fiercely hairy fellow and depending on the haircut I can be mistaken for Chubaka, Manson or Rasputin:) I am a mix breed of nationalities from Slovenia (not to be confused with Slovakia), a very small European country between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia; our national meta is very small but has some fairly competitive players so we don't get bored. My main skills in tabletop war-gaming are sculpting, scratch-building and converting, so that is what my articles will cover... Anyway, cheers:D

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