Armed with my research from This Article, I went about my basing project.
First off, I start by making sure my miniatures are mounted on the base, and then I apply a coat of PVA glue to it. (I use Mod Podge gloss for this part.) I then dip the base in model railroading ballast, such as what is pictured here:
After the base material is on, I follow that up with another coat of the mod-podge gloss. I find the gloss adheres slightly better than the matte, so I use that first. Really, I should have done a second coat of ballast and glue, but for the expediency of this tutorial I decided to double-up on foliage later.
Then, I go ahead and paint my miniatures. Many people choose to paint them BEFORE mounting them to the base, but I like to have playable teams first, artistic pieces second. Your mileage may vary though, so do that in whatever order pleases you.
Once this has been done, I start with a reddish-brown color. Most any kind of paint will do, as long as it is able to be thinned down with water. I make sure to get a good thick coat over the base:
Once that has dried, I go on to the drybrushing. Starting with the Apple Barrel color Desert Tan (though other desert colors like Khaki could be used, but I find Apple Barrel's colors easy on my wallet), I dip a old crummy brush in the paint. I then find a piece of paper or cardboard, then rub my brush on it to remove excess paint, like so:
To get the drybrush effect, I use a horizontal motion to drag the bristles across only the raised edges of the base, like so:
When you are finished, the base should look like this:
The next step is to apply a dark "wash" to the base. Either black or brown washes are suitable, but I use a home-made brew of acrylic paints and water for terrain pieces. To make a home-made brew, you need to experiment. It is something like 1 part paint (I usually use brown and black combined) to 3 or 4 parts water, but I have not narrowed it down to an exact science. When finished, the base should look like this:
This part takes a while to dry. I usually finish this part on the unit I am working on, and either call it a night or come back in an hour or two. Of course, heat and relative humidity will have an effect on drying times (I imagine someone living in Arizona might not require as much drying time).
When you decide to come back, make a mixture of your tan color and pure white. Mix roughly 50-50 of the two. Use the resulting mix to drybrush on a new layer onto the base, and that is it for painting! You should have something like this:
While browsing my local art supplier (Michael's, for USA residents), I stumbled across a wonderful package product:
For 12 USD I got a kit that has a little bit of several different kinds of turf, good for creating many types of foliage and ground cover. After looking at my research materials, I decided that Sicilian grasslands would be lighter in color than European fronts. So, I mixed up a portion of the Yellow Flowers turf and the Green Fine turf into the provided shaker. I didn't measure out ratios exactly, but it was roughly 1 part yellow to 3 parts green. This yielded a turf solution that was yellowish-green in color.
Using Mod-Podge Matte, I then brushed on a random pattern onto the base of the model (I got ahead of myself on the model used in the above tutorial, so I had to take a picture of a model I hadn't done yet). Make sure to get the hard edges of the miniatures' bases still visible above the ballast.
Place the miniature in a plastic tub to catch the excess. Using the shaker, evenly coat the entire base.
Shake the base clean. Shake from side to side inside the tub first, then hold the base between your thumb and middle finger. Using your index finger, tap the back. Or use both hands, if you want to be lazy...
Now you have a finished base... or do you?
For extra credit, attach some foliage clumps. Using the scenic project glue bottle, squeeze out some small dabs of glue onto the base, then firmly press the provided foliage clumps into the glue. To go even farther, brush on some glue onto the foliage clump and sprinkle on some green and yellow fine turf:
Ta-da! You now have Sicilian themed bases. They also work for any sparsely-grassed areas. Extra tip: adding large rocks helps to break up the bases as well. Try to use slate, or other rocks of similar shape, as it looks similar to limestone when painted.
When in Sicily...
Thanks for reading!