Wednesday, 23 January 2013

With the torrential blizzards sweeping the nation, what else is there to do but stay inside...and make snow bases! I've troubled myself for years trying to come up with the perfect snow recipe, never quite achieving my desired effect. I'd gather examples from other painters, pictures and I even put my courage to the test and made a snow man. I came to the realisation that snow is just hard, fluffy water that melts as soon as it hits the ground (quite possibly the dumbest statement I have made as an adult). Snow has different textures, layers and opacity and I wished to capture some of this mutability of form with my own bases. 

The following article is a basic 'how to' of how I create my snow bases,  giving recipes for fresh, melting and light snow. 

What you will need

Bicarbonate of Soda
PVA Glue
An old paintbrush to stir and apply. 

  1. Prepare the miniatures base as normal (sand, paint, flock, static grass etc).
  2. Whether you want melted, melting or light snow fall, you will need to mix all three of the ingredients above together in a suitable container.
  3. The ratio of bicarbonate of soda, glue and water effect will determine the final outcome of the snow. For thick downfall of snow add more soda, for a melted look have more water effect and glue in the mixture. Here are my preferred recipies for snow:

Fresh Snow: Water Effect, Bicarbonate of Soda, PVA Glue: 20:70:10
Metlting Snow: Water Effect, Bicarbonate of Soda, PVA Glue: 40:55:5
Melted Snow: Water Effect, Bicarbonate of Soda, PVA Glue: 55:40:5

Once your preferred ratio has been mixed apply sparingly to the base of the miniature in places where you think snow would naturally fall. You could also dab some snow flecks onto the feet or cloaks of your miniature to add a sense of realism to the piece. 

Now apply a liberal sprinkling of bicarbonate of soda to the entirety of the base. This will dissolve into your mix and dust the base with an ad hock fall that is far more natural than can be achieved with an applicator alone. Leave for 24 hours. 

Once 24 Hours has passed, blow and tap the base of excess soda and voila! Snow bases. You can add layers of bicarbonate of soda to this where you believe snow should fall and seal with varnish. 

If you want a slightly more controlled method of applying snow to your base mix the initial solution like you would for fresh snow. Allow to dry overnight in your container. Then cut up the hardened snow with a pair of clippers or a knife and glue onto the base with PVA

Example of controlled snow technique:

I hope this helps and that you're all staying warm and having fun! 




  1. nice little tut mate, I have all those ingredients, and have considered basing some snow stuff for a while using this technique, also like the tutorials for ice and snow on the gw website too. i have heard bicarb can yellow after some time , have you noticed this ? , also used woodland scenics now effects , but wasn't too happy with that , turned out like slush

  2. I hadn't heard that soda turns yellow over time (sometimes it yellows if you are using cork for your base, or something else taints it).

    Another poster on Dakka Dakka suggested aluminum oxide, which sounds very interesting.

    Another alternative to soda would be woodland scenics snow. Comes in a huge tub and is fairly inexpensive considering how many miniatures you can base with it.

    I think your quantities may have been a little off if it turned to slush. Try adding a little more scenics snow / soda. I'd also recommend mixing the soda and scenics snow together - see how it works out.

    Alternatively you could always use hairsrapy to seal the snow. Sprinkle soda / scenics snow on your base until your happy with the effect then hairspray it, finally varnish.

    Hope this helps.