I made all my usual mistakes when I was building the base for Mole. The first thing I tried out involved ruined walls. However, after several days of playing around with different compositions, I realised that this was simply the wrong thing for me to be doing with Mole. For my taste, Mole looks much better on a simpler base with no backdrop.
With that decision made I set about constructing the base onto a plinth. I’d decided on a brick paved ground surface with layers of earth beneath. I would also incorporate a pit of some sort to tie in with the idea of Mole’s role as an excavator.
The ground was built up with and carved away from cork. The brick paving was made with a set of tiny plaster bricks purchased from the Wamp Store. I decided to lay the bricks in a herring-bone pattern for visual interest. The bricks were set onto a layer of PVA wood glue and nudged into position with a sculpting tool. When the glue had set I brushed a little dried garden soil into the gaps between bricks. This was then carefully painted with dilute PVA which soaked into the soil and held it all together. It was a bit of a fiddly process but worth the effort, I think.
The surface texture of the earth was achieved by painting the cork with dilute PVA and sprinkling it with more dried garden soil. The addition of a few old watch parts (also purchased from the Wamp Store) added some steampunk detail.
My first version of this base had the earth breaking free from the edges of the cube in a muffin top effect. I really didn’t like it! It still felt too big and clumsy for Mole so I took a risk and cut it free from the cube. I then carved and filed the sides down flat. I’m much happier with this more austere composition. A test fitting of Mole confirmed my feelings. To give height to the composition, I added a lamp post to the base.
Painting the base was fairly straightforward. I used the same palette of colours that I’d worked with on Mole to tie the Mini and base together. I paid special attention to the colour of the earth. A solid brown mud colour would not have looked very realistic or interesting. I graduated the earth from a drier gritty looking grey at the top down through dusty browns to a darker earth colour at the bottom. I also made use of the matt/gloss properties of my paints to reinforce the feeling that the earth was dry at the top and damp deeper down.