This is all your going to need: Craft Sand from your local craft store (AC Moore, Micheals, Hobby Lobby, they all carry the stuff, and it's about two bucks), DecoArt Americana Alizarin Crimson (DA179), Plaid FolkArt Artist's Pigment #914 Light Red Oxide, and DecoArt Americana Burnt Orange (DA018). If you don't have access to these brands, try to aim for an Alizarin Crimson, a darker Cadmium Red, and a slightly brown-toned orange or warm terracotta. You will also need your preferred glue. I like thin superglue for bases because I'm impatient and want to work on them NOW. If you want to use PVA that's fine too, just expect more drying time. (Also, you don't *have* to get the black craft sand... but it saves you a priming step. Also, it makes a perfect asphalt in a one-step base.)
Prep your bases by covering the slots. Paper and superglue does the trick for me, but everyone has their own technique for this. Matchsticks, putty, self hardening clay, trimmed sprue. Whatever floats your boat, because it won't matter as nobody will see it.
Depress the base into your craft sand, and once completely submerged press the sand down into the top of the base.
Dig your base out, and it should look like this. If you have gaps, just apply more glue and repeat until you're happy with the surface coverage.
If you want to add additional texture (such as rises and valleys) on your base, continue applying glue to build up areas, repeating the steps above until you like how it looks.
Apply the Alizarin Crimson heavily, making sure to get into all the recesses of the surface. This is your base coat, and at this stage too much paint is better than not enough. The texture of the craft sand is pretty coarse, so you really can't overdo it.
Once dry, overbrush with the Light Red Oxide. As you can see, you want some texture showing through.
Clean up around the lip of the base with your Black (or rim color) of choice. That's really all it takes. Professional looking bases on the cheap, that are quick and easy to do once you know a few simple tricks and have the right color theory.
If you want more work on your bases, glue down rocks (slate or cork) or base objects like this barbed wire. You're then going to paint them exactly the same. You can do a contrast color for your rocks if you want- greys would work really well- or just keep on trucking with your red tones. As I'm not trying to draw a lot of attention to the bases on these, I kept the rocks to the red tones. Your mileage may vary. For added contrast scrub brush and scraggly grass fits the theme nicely. I'd recommend staying to yellower grass and tundra colors. Too much green will give the base an odd tone, and the yellow not only stays in the warm tones, but looks malnourished like you expect desert grass to look (even if it doesn't.)
There you have it. Martian bases cheap, fast, and good, proving you can actually have all three! Hope this helps. Any other requests for anything you see on the Blog, always feel free to leave it in the comments below.
See you on the other side of the table,
The Second Class Elitist.