For my Sisters of battle army (Sister Mary Katherine's School for wayward girls), I knew I had to make Sanctuary 101 desert bases. This also meant I had to come up with a way to do this easy and consistent over the whole army. So as promised, here is how I made mine.
Materials you will need:
very fine sand
dry scrub grass clumps
some broken pieces of slate
paint in the colour you want your sand
paint for the rim of the base
Krazy glue(referred to as CA glue from now on)
Making sand texture paint
Take an empty jar and and half fill it with the finest sand you can find. For the sand I used rock polishing sand (this is available from most DIY stores). Next mix the colour for the sand I liked a mixture of Vallejo air Sand with a tiny amount of GW snakebite leather. Make sure your paint is very thin or you will end up with too thick a paint mix. Mix your paint and sand together, and keep adding paint till you have a thick yogurt consistency. What you are looking for is thick enough to stay where put but soft enough not to clump up. You can also add a small amount of flat coat to flatten out the final paints look. make sure you tape the jar closed when you are done because this stuff like to dry out in most jars.
Glue any rocks or structures you want to the base now. I was looking for a way to hide the fact that GW dropped the ball on the Sisters of battle Seraphim so I used tall rocks they could "stand" on. If you dont have any pieces that have the right angle, you can sand down the GW slate with a coarse grit sand paper. once you have a piece you are happy with glue it with CA and let dry.
Next I painted the rock in a light brown/tan. This is because if you look at most photos of desert rocks they are well bleached in the sun(or match the sand due to the sand being eroded rocks). For the rock I used British tank crew uniform from Vallejo. Then heavily dry brush the rock with Vallejo Air sand to match the colour of the sand texture I made.
Add to the base, your first coat of the sand texture. You can use lots at this stage make mounds or waves it's really up to personal preference. Allow to dry. Now add a second application of the texture, pushing it up onto the rocks or item so it looks like it has been drifting up the sides. things in sand almost always look like they are sinking in real sand.
Using CA glue add a tuft of desert grass. You dont need to do this on every base. I think it looks better on every third one or so. I tend to place the grasses up against the base of the rocks, because this is how scrub tends to grow in the real world. Allow ample time to dry and then get your face close to the figure and make pew pew noises, till someone walks in on you or the phone rings.
Well I hope you found this article useful. As per usual any questions or comments are welcome.
Have fun and see you soon in the 4x8 arena