Making a plinth for use with your Backdrops Book: Part Two

If you missed Part One you can catch up with it here.

And you can now download the whole walkthrough as a free PDF here on our webstore.

We’re starting part two with our full dry plinth and the modelling is all done. It’s now finishing time, and we’ll see this unlikely potato transformed into a useful and naturalistic looking plinth! Keep the faith!

Tools for Part Two

For the final steps we’ll need:

  • PVA glue
  • An old brush
  • Some basing supplies like flock and mini rocks.
  • Tufts
  • Paint for final finishing

Step Fourteen

The fun really starts here. It’s really helpful to work on something like a sheet of thick paper or scrap cardboard – we’ll be throwing around wads of tiny particles, and being able to collect any overspill on an underlying sheet of something will be useful. That will let us pour any extra material back into its container and prevent waste.

We need to paint our plinth in PVA glue once again.

For ease of handling we paint half of the plinth at a time. You can opt to cover more or less of your plinth at a time. Painting all of it in glue presents a couple of problems – holding it, and the glue drying faster than you can finish painting the whole thing. Depending on your finish of choice, you may want to paint the glue more thickly or thinly. For example, if you’re just using flock (fake grass) which doesn’t need loads of thick glue, and too much will drown it. If you’re using micro rocks and pebbles, you might want to go a bit thicker to ensure adhesion.

Make sure you get glue right up to the rocks, and wherever you want grass to be.

Step Fifteen

We’re using Krautcover Scenics for covering our plinth. These come premixed in handy tubs, which saves a lot of effort for a relatively low spend. 

You can also make your own mixes of grass flock and mini rocks and leaves, which can be very satisfying and gives you a precise level of control over the colour of your basing material.

Either way we want to get our basing “stuff” ready. In this case we stir the tub because it has settled out over time.

Step Sixteen

We carefully pour on our flock mix onto the glued area adding some by hand, pinch by pinch to make sure all the glue is covered. We want to make sure the flock goes right around all the rocks and into any nooks and crannies.

It’s ok if there’s a lot of overspill because we can scoop it up with the cardboard we’re working on and pour it back into the container.

Step Seventeen (Optional)

We’re trying out some new basing materials, so at this point we grab some different stuff, and apply that in patches. We have a mix of some earth, grit, mini rocks and micro sticks, which will break up the uniformity of the other mix, which we find makes a more realistic finish. Oddly enough, adding this kind of extra detail and variation helps the plinth disappear into your image because it looks more naturalistic. If it’s all monotone green grass it will appear more obviously as “scenery” in your photos. But work with what you’ve got! If you’ve only got one kind of grass flock available, once it’s dry you can stain it with some watered down paint or ink to provide some variety and naturalism.

With this second flavour of flock applied, we’re done flocking. If you’re smart you’ll let everything dry for 30 mins or so. You can also see in this shot how hard it can be on your brush, so don’t use anything precious for this task.

Step Eighteen

Grab your tufts if you gottem! We’re massive fans of tufts in a variety of colours. There’s no need to splurge on these – we’ve built up a collection over years, so that we now have a big selection to choose from. A variety of plant styles will again add naturalism and realism and makes for a better plinth. We choose a small selection of plants and stick to those. Adding too many will make an overly busy feel. Repeating “notes” across the plinth will give a pleasing and harmonious end result.

Step Nineteen

Apply your tufts carefully, thinking about how plants grow in the wild. They tend to appear in clumps, and placing them in close proximity to our larger rocks seems to make sense. What we don’t want is evenly spaced, geometric looking tufts. It can be quite hard work to be disciplined enough to put them in a truly random looking pattern, with clumps of different plants occurring together.

Most tufts have sticky stuff underneath which is strong enough to hold them in place. You might find if the sticky fails that a drop of superglue works well. If we’re using superglue we press them down with the end of a brush handle to avoid gluing everything to our fingers.

And with that we’re almost done. This is where we pause to look at what we’ve made. And it’s looking good. With the amount of work we’ve accomplished on the plinth, those rocks aren’t looking quite as good as they might, so now is the time to finish them off.

Step Twenty

We grab some paint and carefully apply a couple more passes of light dry-brushing on the rocks to pick out the texture and the edges to emphasise their shapes. And that done, the plinth is complete! Looking good!

Our guide to using your Backdrops Book has lots of advice on how best to set up your book, but here’s our freshly made plinth in action.

We’re using a lovely Slinger miniature from Bad Squiddo, sculpted by Alan Marsh and painted by Here Be Goblins. What a lovely job!

Don’t forget as you set up your plinth that you can turn it widthways or lengthways. Using it lengthways can give you a lot more depth in your foreground, and rotating your plinth will vary up how your shots look, and people won’t immediately recognise the same old piece of scenery. Worth doing!