DBM 15mm Figure Element Basing

Carl Holliday

The DBM 3.0 rule book prescribes certain conventions when basing elements.  This section aims at giving simple, clear advice on the basing of elements, improving the appearance of bases by using flock, paint and ballast.  Only 15mm figures are dealt with, being the most popular in South Africa and generally used for competitions.

The Bases

All figures and models in a DBM army are based on rectangular bases of which one side will always be 40mm.  Depending on the troop type the other sides of the element may have different dimensions, but the sides are always parallel with right angled corners.

15mm deep base

Dimensions: The width is the standard 40mm, while the depth is only 15mm.  

All close foot (ie Blade (except (F)), Pike, Spear and Warband (S) or (O)) are based on very narrow bases.  Such an element will typically contain four figures.

20mm deep base

Dimensions: The width is the standard 40mm, while the depth is 20mm.  

Auxilia, Bowmen and Psiloi are based on large foot bases, as well as Blade (F) and Warband (F).  Such an element may contain only two figures in the case of Psiloi, or three in the case of irregular Auxilia or Bowmen, and any Fast Blade and Warband, with four figures in the event of the Auxilia or Bowmen being regular.  The depth of the base allows for a more random placing of figures where irregular troops are concerned.

30mm deep base

Dimensions: The width is the standard 40mm, while the depth is 30mm.  

All horse or camel mounted troops are based on bases of this size. This includes all Knights, Cavalry and Light Horse. Mounted Foot (such as Medieval Archers) will also have equivalent mounted troops based on elements of this size.  In the case of mounted figures, these elements typically contain three figures, while Knight (X) have four figures and Light Horse have only two figures.  Double based close foot (for instance Warband (S)) will also be based on a base of this size.  Double based foot will have the normal number of figures, placed more randomly.  Horde figures (five to eight per base) should be placed randomly.  Due to the uneven number of figures used for Hordes, it should be easy to distinguish Hordes from double based foot.

40mm deep base

Dimensions: The width is the standard 40mm, and the depth is also 40mm.  

All models (ie Elephants, Chariots and Artillery) and Baggage are based on bases of this size.  Cart mounted Artillery (F) (such as Roman carro ballistae) are based on bases of this size, while wagon mounted artillery is not.  Normally only one model will appear on such a base, plus crew or escort figures.  Artillery (O), such as bolt-shooters may have one or two models to a base. Double based Bowmen (X) with back ranks of Bowmen (O)/(S) are based on bases such as these.

80mm deep base

Dimensions: The width is the standard 40mm, and the depth is 80mm.  

Naval elements, War Wagons and wagon mounted Artillery (O), such as those of the Byzantines, are based on bases of this size.  Cart mounted Artillery (F), such as those of the Romans, are based on smaller bases.

DBM 15mm Element Base Sizes    15mm Element Base Sizes
  • Bases may be made of card, cardboard, wood, plastic or metal. Pre-cut steel bases are currently popular and have certain advantages such as allowing for magnetic adhesion.
  • Bases are always rectangular, with 90 degree angles.
  • Measurements are in milimetres.
  • Bases should in general not be thicker than 2mm.
  • For competition purposes, it is advisable that all figures are based properly.
 (Not actual sizes.)

Basing the Figures

This section assumes that all the necessary bases have been prepared in the right sizes and that the figures have been fully painted.  All that remains is to "base" the figures.  Allow sufficient drying time between glue applications, otherwise the figures, building material or flock may become unstuck.

Bases should at the very least be painted.  To enhance appearance bases may also be built up and flocked.  The steps listed below may be followed in sequence and will give a final element of which the base is built up, painted and flocked.

First glue the figures to the base.  Superglue tends to be extremely brittle and it may also attack plastic bases.  Epoxy sets extremely hard and although epoxy based figures will almost never get unglued there is a very real chance that the figure might break off its supports before it comes off its base.  It is therefore advisable to use ordinary contact adhesive, or wood glue.  A further advantage of wood glue is that the figures will come off their bases easily when placed in very hot water.  Make sure to pre-determine the relative position of each of the figures.  Remember that irregular troops should be randomly spaced.

Use a DIY wood or wall crack filler to build up the bases.  Polycell products are often very handy and mixing Polyfilla with a poster paint will provide a colored paste.  An old hard paint brush or even a match is very useful when spreading this paste on the base.  Generally darker green colors work best.  Desert based armies may look better if their bases are not flocked in green, but rather in yellow or light brown, with sandy scatter material.  The main advantage of using a colored paste is that the base will keep its color even when chipped.  If the base is built up with plain white material, which is then painted, the top painted layer may chip off, leaving unsightly white holes on the base.  Building up the base in this way will improve appearance, but will also make it more difficult to remove the figure from its base.

Finally, again use a contact adhesive or wood glue to affix flock and scatter material.  Use an old brush or match and spread the glue evenly over the base.  Place the element inside a small, low container and sprinkle the flock and scatter material onto it from the top until an even layer has accumulated on the base.  Use the fingers to gently press the thick material down into the glue.  Remove the element and place in another container and leave until the glue has set.  Once the glue has set, turn the element upside down and tap gently to get rid of the unglued excess material.  The excess may be collected for re-use.

The figures are now properly based.  The figures are glued to their bases, and the bases are built up and flocked.  The elements are now ready for a battle!

Created on Augustus 23, 2000 - Pretoria