Nuclear waste: the base

It was at the weathering stage I realized my ZIL would just look weird without a proper base. A heavily weathered vehicle like this, kind of needs a scenario which would authenticate all the techniques applied. A simple, wooden base wouldn’t just tell the whole story. I’m not much of a diorama guy – mostly for the lack of time – so I welcomed the opportunity to work on something fresh.

This is the last part of this project, check out the previous parts if you’ve just joined the story:


I cut out the the basic shape of the base from styrofoam (styrodur). Then I covered the sides with pieces of styrene to make them look nice and even.


Next up, I attached some pavement blocks on the top using PVA glue. It is a hexagonal block typical of Russia and post-soviet countries. I decided not to put the blocks on the entire surface as it would just look boring.

The pavement was then primed grey and painted with a semi-opaque layer of white. I cut a hexagonal mask from paper to easily highlight some random blocks. I also base-painted the concrete fence at this point.

Then the whole base was covered with my own ground mixture. It’s basically plaster, PVA glue, microballons and some pigments mixed all together.

All the blocks were also covered to fill the gaps. Then I cleaned the excess with a q-tip dipped in water.

Forming the ground on diorama, ZIL-131 by AVD Models

Now I begin to tint the ground with a mix of oil paints. The border between the earth and the pavement is a good starting point.

Next I added some green colour to make the ground look damp and grimy. The effect looks best when you randomize its intensity. As always when I work with oils, the white spirit is used for diluting and blending.

The real blocks are porous so they catch dirt and grime really easily. Also, note how they differ in colour.

I treated the concrete fence the same way. The concrete itself was painted using the method I presented some time ago. You can check it out here.

To add another interesting details to the base I scratch-built a gate that will be lying on the ground. It was constructed from a thin styrene sheet and some random PE parts.

I messed with the part using various tools to make the gate look old and consumed with rust.

Then the gate was painted with Ammo acrylics and weathered with oil paints.

Back to the base. I attached some grass with PVA glue. Some moss was added as well. I made it from a piece of tinted sponge, just like on the ZIL itself.

I was about to paint the sides of the base. It was then that I realized I could do something more challenging and fun than just spraying them black. The whole scene is basically a portrait of seclusion and slow decay, so why not paint the base in rust colours?

I started with a mix of Ammo Rust Tracks and Chipping.

I covered the surface with a chipping fluid, then I sprayed a semi-opaque, irregular layer of a light brown colour.

Most of the top layer was removed with water and flat brush. This step is meant to create an interesting metal texture, rather than the rust itself.

Then I covered the surface with a dark brown oil mix (light oxide red+raw umber). It was generally a thin filter-like layer but I also built up a more opaque colour here and there.

Another layer of chipping fluid went on top. Then I sprayed some irregular beige spots which were soon after reduced with a brush dipped in water.

Next I painted some medium rust streaks with a mix of cadmium orange and raw umber. It’s a good idea to focus on the beige spots from the previous step.

Finally, I created fresh rust texture with speckling technique. Some of the streaks were also accentuated with a lighter colour.

I didn’t have a 1:72 barbed wire at hand so I decided to use just a thin wire. Awfully casual and unprofessional, I know…

Last but not least, I scratch-built a radiation warning sign from a styrene sheet and a thin piece of wire. The symbol was then hand-painted and to hide my lousy free-hand skills I made sure the sign was covered with a lot of rust… 🙂

Here’s the finished base. All I have to do now is…

…attach the model.

And here’s how we’ve reached the end of this project. I started it as a quick relaxing build but it ended up taking a lot of time and effort. As always… Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun with my first 1:72 project. I was surprised how many techniques from the 1:35 world I could apply on such a tiny model. I’ll come back to the small scale for sure. Take care and see you on the next project!


  • Laurent

    8 February 2020 at 11:23

    Great job and wonderful result, I like a lot the result.
    Your explanations and your How to tutorials are very useful, I am following some of your techniques in my railways modelling.

    I am looking forward to see your next project

  • Stephane

    22 July 2023 at 00:38

    Je vous remercie encore pour toutes vos explications et astuces qui nous permet de progresser grâce à vous, et d’améliorer nos projets.
    Pouvons nous vous posez des questions techniques merci


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