Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Transparent Ship Basing

Hey folks,

as the naval arms race is heating up and more ships are leaving dock, I will have to prepare some Bases for them. I´m using Hallmark/Figureheadd 1/6000 ships that come with their own metal base, but I´ve been tinkering with another solution. What I´ve seen in most battlereports that feature naval gaming and painted bases is that somehow they never blend well with the background sea - either they are too dark or too light, and even if you somehow manage to blend the ship bases into your gaming table/mat, everything is moot as soon as you take your ships to another table with different background.

That´s why I´ve been looking for solutions to have the ships independant of the background waters, chamäleon style. One could just leave the ship unbased entirely, but that makes it difficult to tell which model is which ship exactly and probably confuses things for larger battles. The alternative is transparent basing:

Two test versions of transparent bases - one with waves and foam of the ship plowing through the water (Invincible)  and one completely blank (Göben).  I´ve taken several shots to demonstrate the effect under different lighting and camera angle.

You can see that the base is still visibly, but barely so - the upside is that names can be easily applied to the base, so ships can be dinstinguished even with several models of the same class in a row.

Right now, artistically, I prefer the Invincible-Option with waves of silicone and painted white foam, however, the silicone still reflects light very much and makes the base stand out a little more. I´m wondering if this effect can be reduces by applying a matte varnish? I´ve none at hand right now, but I´ll have to get some sooner or later, as the ships definitely need some varnish to survive with their painting intact.

Option 3 is to take the blank base (Göben-style) and paint stylised foam on it without applying waves of silicone for the 3d-effect. I might do another test-base with this solution...


  1. Interesting investigation - I'm liking the untextured clear bases. Even having the name 'floating' next to the ship does not seem to detract from the see-through effect. I hear you about painted bases - it's what I use but then my sea mat is just a blue tablecloth at present - nothing special http://senlachill.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/ulsan-again.html. For my RJW fleets I've tried printed 'texture' on card - looks OK. My WWI fleets are painted using textured styrene sheet. Loving your blog - makes me want to dust off the fleets and fire a salvo or two!

  2. Have you thought of using decal paper you can run through your printer as a way of applying the names? The hand painted names (though impressive!) are a bit shaky IMO and detract from the very nicely done models.

    1. Hm, interesting suggestions. However, I have absolutely no experience with decal papers and I doubt that my printer is able to print white letters, which is the best contrast to any blue/grey/seagreen background that the ships will encounter. Furthermore, these are test-pieces and not 100% optimized. I´m very confident the final versions will look less shaky,

      I´m still not finally decided on the question of clear vs. waves, guess I´ll have to finish the wavy version with some varnish and look how glossy they still are.

    2. Another lower-tech option is to use clear address labels and then just print them with a word processing program.

    3. Yeah, that´s a workable solution. I don´t know if they´re able to print white labels though.
      For now, I´ll try to improve my handwriting ;)

  3. Looks good, though I agree with Col. Mendoza. Those handpainted names look somehow distracting. For my ships (though the names aren't on the top of the base but beneath it) I used windows font "Old engish text", which works well on font size 9 down to 6 or so. Put it into an excel-chart or Windows word chart, then print it and cut it out. works well and looks good!

    Nevertheless as German High Seas Fleet player I will follow the happenings down in the Mediterranean ;-D Good work! Keep it up.