Painting Lava Bases

Lava Bases are a great way to make your Warhammer models stand out.  They are fast and easy to make and paint.

Lava bases are a great way to make contrasting bases for your armies.  They can make otherwise drab models stand out and are perfect to complement a quick paint job.

Making the Bases

Unlike a lot of other thematic bases, like city fight ones, lava bases are quite easy to build.  This makes them a cost effective alternative to resin or 3d printed bases.

You need to mimic three elements:

  • Rocks
  • Bubbles
  • Lava


This is where your models are standing, so quite important.   You can use cork, broken linoleum, or actual slate to make them.  Alternatively, you can sculpt some using fimo or miliput.  We are using cork in this tutorial.

Whatever you use, make sure your rocks account for a model standing on them when it comes to size and position.


Bubbles are an interesting and cinematic part of lava bases.  It breaks the otherwise flat surface of the lava.

I use small scrapbooking beads for this, because making little half spheres is otherwise a nightmare.


With white glue or wood glue, you can mimic the slightly uneven flow of lava on your base.  This will also help the other elements look sinked in the base rather than just sitting on top.

You can also use hot glue if you build heights and you want to make dripping lava.

Painting Lava Bases

To paint your bases with this tutorial you will need an airbrush.

The bases are started over black primer, with the rock getting another coat of black paint.  This ensures that all the nooks and crannies are black, because they will stay mostly like this.

Next drybrush the rock with dark grey followed by light grey.  In this tutorial, we used Mechanicus Standard Grey and Celestra Grey, but you can use greys that have more green, brown, or blue in them to match with your model.

Next, using and airbrush we build up the lava color using Evil Suns Scralet.

In the video we use Mephiston Red, and you can too, it just adds an extra step. With Mephiston Red, you’ll need to use an orange before painting the yellow.

Evil Suns Scarlet allows you to skip the orange and go straight with yellow after.

The overspray from the airbrush here will only build up some light OSL on the side of the rocks.  Try to limit this to the sides and not the top of the rocks for a better look.

We use Flash Gitz Yellow and slowly blend it in, leaving the red showing the closer it is to the rocks, and none showing around the bubbles.  This is how we create the heat look.

An optional step after Flash Gitz Yellow is to add a lot of white to it and spray the top of the bubbles to really make them pop.

If you went a little overboard with the red overspray, now is a good moment to drybrush some of your light grey back on top of the rocks.

The last and perhaps most important step is to repaint the edge of the base in black.  This really showcases the base and locks in the glowing look.

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