How to Base Paper Miniatures

I’ve been meaning to do a post on how to base paper miniatures, which includes some of the various types of paper miniature basing you can do. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of basing so there is no right or wrong way to base. Most of the various base idea’s below come from the cardboard warrior forums, so feel free to head over and browse through the gallery to see what others have done. Depending on the type of basing you decide on you’ll need to grab some of Onemonks standard bases or I’ve made up a plain base template as a layered PDF (30mb) which includes Onemonks basic textures. Additionally I’ve  included the raw shape png’s at the end of this post so you can overlay them on any texture you like from anyone, sorry no cut files yet.

First you’ll need to choose a base shape. This initially would seem easy to do and if you only game using one set of rules just use whatever they recommend. If however you jump around between rulesets/RPG’s/Wargamming it gets slightly more difficult to pick a shape. If your using one of the removable base types below you can just make different base sets for each rule sets you use although if you have 2-3 armies making all those bases can get tiring. For myself after much deliberation I settled on Octagons, there are several reasons why I choose Octagons:

  1. Most RPG’s don’t care what base’s you use but by some sort of weird default convention most stuff to be used for RPG’s ends up on round bases. Round bases do have their advantages in that you don’t snag base corners on things and they aren’t as easily damaged. Octagons provide a similar level of protection not quiet as good as a circle but very close.
  2. Most War games (fantasy) like you to rank your troops up into units and use movement trays, normally specifying a square base so troops and units fit tightly into a movement tray. Octagon bases can also be ranked up quiet effectively in movement trays.
  3. Some war gaming rules have the concept of facing and it can be quiet important which way your unit is facing. The facing rules can be based on a Hexagon or Octagon. By using the trusty Octagon you can cover facing very easily and disregard two sides if you need to very easily.
  4. There easy to cut out compared to circles 🙂 .

In the end pick the shape that works for you, for me that’s Octagons but if you want heart shaped bases go for your life :). With some of the below base types if you use black foam core you can save yourself a significant amount edging.

My Current Bases

I’ll cover my current basing method first. I use a modification of the slotted Foam board base (see below) and something Afet posted about here. I bought a sheet of 2/3mm Depron, Depron is used in RC plane construction and is pretty much available everywhere (okay I know the US/UK and AUS can get hold of it very easily).

I find these bases are slightly thinner than a 5mm foam core base below and don’t look quiet so odd on the table next to regularly based metal mini’s but provide plenty of stability for the paper mini’s. The mini’s don’t slip out easily during game play and I can remove the mini’s to store them flat at the end of a game so they take up less space. It also gives the illusion of flat basing which I prefer with my miniatures. There are a couple of draw backs: It takes slightly longer to make each base than the stock foam block method. I have to shorten the black base tabs a little bit on each miniature which again uses up time. Eventually the bases take on a permanent bend and wont grip the miniature as well (this takes a lot of use). Below I’ve documented the process for making these bases:

First up Print and Cutout a base of the required size.

Glue the above base to a piece of 2/3mm Depron/Foamboard

Cut around the hexagon and cut the base in half (or just off center if your going to rank troops) and colour all white edges to black using a thick black marker

Stick the two halves back down onto some thin magnetic sheet ( I use the cheap fridge magnet stuff on ebay), Insert a single piece of card between the two halves as you stick them down to make a slight gap.

Trim the magnet to size and the base is ready to use.

When I make bases for larger paper miniatures I do tend to mount them on thicker bases as they look less out of scale.

Flat Slide Bases (Reivaj bases)

Full credit goes to Reivaj for coming up with this basing method. I’m torn at the moment between using my basing method above or slowly moving my miniatures across to this basing method.

This basing method  provides you with a removable bases, the bases are not to thick so your mini’s don’t have a mounted to a plinth look, they are only slightly more difficult to make than my modified foam block bases above and the miniatures once mounted are near impossible to pull out of the base. They do however have a couple of draw backs: When you make your paper miniatures you have to be careful not to glue the black base tabs together so you can bend them outwards later on, sliding the miniatures into the bases can be a little fiddly and if your not careful you can damage the the base (bend it to much) or the miniature (burr over the tabs).

First up print and cut out a standard One Monk base of the required size.

Trim off the square end tabs as they are not required.

Flip over the base and glue some strips/pieces of cardboard inside the base (black spacers in the below image, I’ve been using doubled up 190GSM card to create the spacers), trim to size and edge.

Fold over and glue the top to the bottom

When Gluing your miniatures up make sure you Don’t glue the black tabs as you need to bend those out left and right.

(You can strength the black tabs with a little sticky tape)

Base all finished. When sliding miniatures in and out bend the base upwards slightly.

As an addition I’ve been  sticking  a thin piece of magnetic sheet to the bottom of these bases to add a little extra weight/strength.


Slotted Foam Block Bases

I’m not sure who came up with this basing method but I’ve seen several users on the cardboard warrior forums using this technique . The advantage of these bases is that they are very quick and easy to make. However they are not without their drawbacks. I have had some problems pushing miniatures into the base slots and removing them which can damage the miniatures base tab, if you use standard 5mm foam core for the bases they are also very chunky. I tend to only use these bases in a pinch eg I’ve run out and need to mount some more mini’s for a game I’ll quickly cut some squares  from black foam board and wont worry about adding a ground texture.

First up Print and Cutout a base of the required size. I tend to find with these bases I need one size bigger than I would normally use for the miniature.

Glue the above base to a piece of foam board

Trim the foam board back to the base shape and cut a groove. I use a small steel ruler to help work the groove slightly bigger.

The base is all finished and ready for use

Onemonk Standard Bases

These are the standard Onemonk bases you can download. There are over 50 pre-made bases and textures available in multiple manufacturers textures. These are easy and fairly quick to make. I have found overtime with use that the tab on the base that holds the miniatures slowly loses it’s grippyness, this tends to occur more quickly than with the other base types. You can fix this issue by simply using a short bobby pin or if you prefer permanently gluing your miniature into the base. This of course then removes some of the advantages of paper miniatures as you will no longer be able to store them flat. I’ve included how I assemble them below as it’s slightly different to the PDF guide located here.

First up print and cut out a standard One Monk base of the required size and score along the indicated score lines.

Flip the base over and using a black  marker blacken the end tabs and a strip down the middle of the base

Simply glue the top to the bottom and edge with a black marker

The base is now ready to use

Permanent Flat Bases

With all the options above I no longer use flat basing as a basing method. Although it looks good it removes one of the key benefits of paper miniatures for me and that’s the ability to store a lot of miniatures in a small space. Saying that it is impossible to remove a miniature from a base short of ripping it off so during gaming they are very durable.

First up Print and Cutout a base of the required size.

Glue the base to your preferred basing material and edge. I’ve used magnetic sheet, Matt board and plain cardboard in the past.

Simply cut the black tab off your miniature and glue it to the base using PVA or super glue

Going All Out

There are some really nice based paper skeleton miniatures across on the cardboard warrior forums, although not removable from the bases they look out standing. Using the above bases as a start there is no reason you can’t use more traditional basing materials to really make your miniatures and bases pop. Although fairly labour intensive to make for a whole army, for special miniatures like Hero’s or PC’s these bases really help to make special characters stand out on the table top. Below is one example I’ve assembled but you could use any of the hundreds of regular basing tutorials on the web to create unique looking bases (here, here, here and here).

Fancy Reivaj style base (sorry about the dark base in the photo)

Here’s a picture of the five different base types side by side at the end of the day they will all look good on the table so pick the base that works best for yourself 🙂

Have fun gaming

Plain Base Shapes Layered PDF (30mb recommend right click save as)

Save the below and load in GIMP/Photoshop, they should be 2550×3300 pixels @ 300 pixels an inch

Circle Square Octagon Hexagon
15mm 15mm 15mm 15mm
20mm 20mm 20mm 20mm
25mm 25mm 25mm 25mm
30mm 30mm 30mm 30mm
40mm 40mm 40mm 40mm
50mm 50mm 50mm 50mm
Pill Rectangle Oct-Rectangle
15x30mm 15x30mm 15x30mm
20x40mm 20x40mm 20x40mm
25x50mm 25x50mm 25x50mm
25x75mm 25x75mm

6 Responses to “How to Base Paper Miniatures”


  1. 1 Sanity Studios (@sanitystudios) October 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    That is a great resource! Very well written and the pictures are very nice (as always)!

  2. 3 Cowboyleland November 7, 2011 at 1:44 am

    I actually do the Reivaj bases by folding the square tabs of the one-monk base underneath and omitting the extra “shims.” Also if you want to convert figs to the Reivaj base you can cut from the bottom of the tab toward the middle of each foot. You can fold the middle of the tab forward and the ends of the tab back and they will slip into the base and stand up fine.


  1. 1 BoardGame – Dungeon! « Sirrob01 Trackback on November 21, 2012 at 11:05 am
  2. 2 How to Base Paper Miniatures – Part 2 | Sirrob01 Trackback on November 22, 2013 at 8:43 am

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