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From the painting desk #76 – Brig ahoy!

February 13, 2021

Much as I enjoy a quiet life indoors, I have to say that especially now that spring is slowly creeping in, COVID stuff is getting to me. Usually around this time of the year, I would be making travel plans for London and Salute – much like I did last year (“I’m pretty sure this corona thing will be over by April”, good call, Nostradamus). It’s not a huge thing in the grand scheme of things, I haven’t had loved ones fall ill or anything like that, but I do miss normal life: travel, walking into shops and cafés without wearing a mask and worrying about safe distances, not flinching every time someone coughs nearby, hugging loved ones and so on and so on. I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about. At least it’s bright and sunny here in Finland, and we’ve had a lovely, snowy winter out here!

Anyway, onto nicer things. I’ve finally finished a ship! It’s been a good long while since I bought and printed the brig produced by Printable Scenery, and I finally managed to complete work on it. It was actually progressing at a decent rate, until I hit the dreariest part: putting together the masts and rigging. The ship sat for months and months in a mostly finished state, but I just couldn’t be bothered.

Click for a larger version

Mast and rigging work isn’t even all that awful, it’s just something I’ve developed an almost irrational dislike for. It took a few empty weekends to finally get myself around to doing the work, and even then it was bit by bit. As often happens, however, the better it started to look, the more it motivated me to keep going in a cycle of positive feedback! Now that it’s done, I must say I’m really, really happy with how it looks. Much as I would’ve liked to photograph it with some sort of lovely background, I had to settle for a beautiful sheet of blue foam. Emmi has been doing a lot of watercolour painting lately, and has promised to paint me a backdrop, I’m really looking forward to it!

Click for a larger version

Now, some people go for really accurate and realistic rigging. I didn’t. The approach I adopted was built on looks (“does it look like a ship’s rigging?”) and functionality (“can I place and move minis easily?”), and the end result reflects both. Minis can be moved, the setup is pretty sturdy, and to my eye it looks like, well, a ship.

Click for a larger version

The model is great, I think, but I could have maybe scaled it up a little. It’s that size where it would be pretty accurate with 28mm minis if they did not have bases and if 28mm didn’t mean 32mm. Still, these are the compromises we always make with buildings and terrain too, and there are only so many ships you can store in an apartment. If it doesn’t fit on a shelf, it’s going on the floor, and if it’s on the floor, it’s free game for dust, cats, and the occasional kick, so not really what you want for something you’ve spent hours and hours on.

Click for a larger version

With my previously finished Sea Dog by Games of War, I now have a very small pirate fleet! The brig packs plenty of firepower with 8 cannon and 8 swivel guns, while the Sea Dog sports four cannon. They also allow for a bit of ship to ship action. I have plenty more ships to make, including a second Sea Dog, and a xebec and some larger ships from the Pirates vs. Cthulhu kickstarter. Now what did I just say about space…

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From the painting desk #75 – Pirate ladies

January 31, 2021

Another showcase of things I’ve painted fairly recently. I’m building an all-woman pirate crew for our upcoming Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago thing, so here’s a selection! Click on any photo for a larger version.

L to R: Bridge Games, Lovecraft Design x 2

The model on the left is actually a scifi mini from the Cobalt-1 range currently owned by Bridge Miniatures, and I think I got her from Alex over at Leadballoony. I assume she’s some sort of alien: the model did not have heels at all and I sculpted them on with putty. For some reason, her face reminded me of a young Pam Grier, so I decided to paint the model with dark skin. The two other models are printed pieces from Iain Lovecraft’s Pirates vs. Cthulhu kickstarter. I should’ve printed the middle mini a little smaller, but couldn’t be bothered as the size won’t be noticed anyway. On the right we have an excellent miniature rendition of Anne Bonny as she’s depicted in Black Sails.

L to R: Black Scorpion x 2, Reaper

Here, the first two miniatures are from Black Scorpion, and I really like them! They’re very characterful, but in different ways, the first one with a murderous intent and the second being wonderfully flamboyant. Extra bonus points for a body shape sadly very, very, very uncommon in woman miniatures which very much tend to be of the “sixpack and breast implants” variety. It’s one of the nicest pieces I’ve seen in a while! The thid mini is from Reaper Miniatures, and a good example of how fantasy miniature ranges can provide some excellent minis for pirate gaming.

L to R: Dead Earth Games x 2, Vae Victis

The third batch of three consists of two minis from Dead Earth Games’ Pirates of the Dread Sea range, and a very pirate-like vampire hunter from Vae Victis. For the pirate carrying the multi-barreled nock gun I went for some tattoos which I’m fairly happy with! They make her look pretty bad ass. The mini with the hook hand had an Indian look about her, so I used a fairly bright orange for the dress. It made me realise it’s a colour that I almost never use, but I quite liked the end result.

All together now!

There are miniatures here from no fewer than six different manufacturers, and I think the group shot is a nice example of how a uniform painting and basing style can really bring different lines together. At this stage and especially combined with my existing pirate women, I have all the minis I need for my crew. However, I’m quite motivated to paint at least a few more! It’s bringing some much needed variety to my pirates: before these minis the gender balance was something like 38 men to 8 women. It’s not a big thing in the overall scheme of things, but nevertheless makes me happy. It might be worth noting that this crew is distinctly lacking in pirates of the pin-up variety. As some of those can be nice sculpts, there are some cases where I’ve painted bare legs as tight pants, which is a nice enough compromise to me.

Work on the Ghost Archipelago project carries on, comments welcome as always!

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Ghost Archipelago #3 – Murder parrots

January 23, 2021

I haven’t played any Games Workshop games in a good long while, but many of the miniatures they have been putting out in recent years really appeal to me. When the Corvus Cabal miniatures for Warcry were released, they definitely caught my eye with their cool fantasy post-apocalyptic vibe and bird skull helmets. However, I had zero use for them, so I refrained from adding them to my long, long backlog of unpainted miniatures. Our Ghost Archipelago project thankfully rectified this!

I’m currently painting up the Cabal to use as “Tribals” in the game – a catch-all that includes all sorts of tribal cultures living on the mysterious islands of the archipelago. This not only gives me a nice reason to paint them, but also allows me to construct a tribal faction that isn’t simply a fantasy repaint of an actual current or historical ethnic group such as the Zulu people or one of the many American indigenous peoples.

For these minis, I wanted a bold colour scheme echoing early Mesoamerican cultures, especially the Aztecs, although definitely through a pop culture filter. What this meant was bright colours and metallics. Instead of painting the bird skulls as actual bone, I painted them as golden metal masks, which I think is a nice effect. The Corvus Cabal’s feathered cloaks were painted in all the colours of the rainbow to suggest tropical birds. The words “murder parrot” came up, and this became my design guideline.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Painting was mostly Citadel Contrast paints, and I like how the models turned out. I went for a jungle look with the bases, as I imagine these fine people just erupting out of the jungle like a murderous flock pandemonium (I kid you not) of parrots. Here’s a couple more shots with some scenery for added measure.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

As the crouching mini is apparently a woman, as surprisingly a fair few of the minis in the set are, she is my entry to the Fembruary 2021 painting challenge.

Click for a larger version

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Ghost Archipelago #2 – Medusa and victims

January 10, 2021

Work on Ghost Archipelago stuff has continued throughout the Christmas holidays (lucky as I am, I’m only starting work tomorrow), and the latest pieces I’ve finished are this medusa and her petrified victims. They’re all 3D printed models, with the medusa produced by Rocket Pig Games and the petrified victims a free download from Thingiverse user Curufin. While fantasy fiction has turned her into a type of creature, originally it was Medusa, with a capital M, one of the three Gorgon sisters.

Click for a larger version

As you can see, the petrified victims aren’t the most gorgeous sculpts on the block. Then again, I like the approach of making them actually look like they’ve turned to stone, rather than the common depiction of medusa victims simply becoming 1:1 stone statues. This somehow feels more horrible, especially with the poses. I painted the minis as I usually paint stone, so I went with an eclectic mix of greys, browns, washes and drybrushes until I was more or less satisfied.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

I spent a lot more time on the medusa, as it’s a gorgeous sculpt. I decided to go with a dark skintone, which I think meshes well with the greens and the gold. I wasn’t quite sure about the bow, but in the end decided to go for a horn look which I think is ok. The painting is mostly Contrast paints for the basics, followed by detailing and extra layers using other paints. This has become my current way of painting, and I’m really happy with my current work flow.

I’ll leave you with a scenic shot of some poor hapless pirates trying to charge the medusa. Much like Gloria Gaynor, they’re first afraid, then petrified. Unlike her, they won’t survive, I’m afraid.

Click for a larger version

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2020 recap

December 31, 2020

You probably don’t need me to tell you that this has been a weird, weird year. I could write about all of its miseries, but there have been many upsides to it too! I had my doctoral disputation before the lockdown measures, work has been fun throughout the year, and as we have no kids, even the lockdown measures have mostly meant more time together and extra time for hobbies. Now, obviously there have been downsides, but I think we’ve discussed those enough through the year.

At the end of last year, I laid out a few hobby resolutions for this year – how did these turn out?

Blog at least once per two weeks

Well, no. I did manage 20 posts including this one, which leaves me short by six posts. I’m still fairly happy though! As a researcher, a lot of my time is spent writing, which definitely eats into my writing enthusiasm. Still, having some sort of goal does seem to help, so I’ll strive for that again next year!

Paint at least 100 miniatures and scenery pieces

Almost, but no. At time of writing, I’ve finished 85 pieces. It’s not a hundred, but compared to my 2019 output (57 pieces total, which I already considered a productive year) it’s a major increase, and I’m really happy with that! Different subprojects, mainly my pirate hunters and our Ghost Archipelago thing, have been a key component here. Painting something specific rather than just chipping away at the grey mountain seems to work for me. A slight regret is that due to my slow posting rate, I haven’t shown off literally half of the things I’ve painted.

Get rid of at least 50 miniatures I don’t have a use for

Wow, I’d completely forgotten about this. I got rid of 1 miniature. Now, part of this is due to the pandemic – no conventions meant no meet-ups, which are usually when I give away stuff. I’ll do better with it next year, my storage space is overflowing.

Complete at least one major model or terrain piece

Yes! I finished a beached whale.

Learn at least one new painting technique

Yes! This has been the year of Contrast paints for me. After painting for years over a pure black basecoat, I’ve almost fully switched to black basecoat + lighter drybrush + Citadel Contrasts for basic work on minis. This has boosted my motivation and output enormously, and I feel that it’s also given me a bit of a technical boost too. I’m loving the stuff I’ve painted this year, if I do say so myself.

Give something back to the miniaturing community

This one was a bit more abstract, but I’ll do another yes here. I’ve published actual peer-reviewed research on miniaturing and been quite active online as well. I’ve found that as years go by, this becomes more and more important for me. It not only keeps my own motivation up, but also allows me to try and make a small positive impact in the world. I guess that this year it was especially important.

Get at least a few games in

Well, sort of. I think I played a single game with miniatures. That was with Emmi, so I’m really happy with that! I did have plans for solo gaming, but they remained plans. Oh well, quality over quantity as they say!

Learn to master my printers

Yes! I’ve become decently good at 3d printing. I recently bought my third printer (a Phrozen Sonic Mini 4k), and I’ve been quite active on the printing front community-wise as well. It has been fun, being able to help people with their printing issues and print things for friends.

So, what about 2021? If there’s anything 2020 showed us, it is that you can never know what will happen. Even so, I noticed that some of the hobby resolutions I made were actually pretty fruitful, so I want some for next year as well. As it would be a little bit boring to just repeat all of my previous ones, there are some new ones here as well!

In 2021 I want to…

Finish at least one stalled project, as I have a few that are all but finished. I’m looking at you (and in the mirror), fully painted ship with half-finished rigging.

Paint at least 100 miniatures and other pieces, as I came so close this year, which showed me that it’s genuinely possible!

Paint something I feel is out of my reach, as this is purely a psychological issue. I think that for many of us, there are some models that have been sitting for years, waiting for that moment when we’re “good enough to do it justice”, which obviously leads to years, years, and years of waiting, because our standards rise with our skills, resulting in never feeling “good enough”. Time to break that cycle, I know I’m a decent enough painter after 20+ years of practice!

Blog regularly and participate in our lovely little micro-blogosphere, as this really is one of the key things of the hobby for me. At times I’ve only clicked on the WordPress likes, but I’m resolved to commenting more next year. I also hope to show off more of my painted minis, now I’m finally managing to finish them. If you’re writing a blog that I frequent, just know that what you’re doing is a part of keeping my hobby inspiration up!

Paint something just for the fun of it, as usually my approach to painting is a little utilitarian: I paint something to use in this or that project. In 2021 I’m going to paint some things just because they appeal to me, regardless of whether I can shoehorn them into a project. I did it this year with my efreet, and I was really happy doing it!

Learn some freehand, as even after years and years, I dread it. Emmi has been doing watercolours recently, and she has encouraged me to learn non-miniature painting. I’m hoping to build up my confidence and skill in that department in 2021. Who knows, maybe we’ll see more tattoos, fancy fabric patterns and the like on my minis in the future.

I think that’s more than enough for one year! However, I have picked fun resolutions, which should definitely help with achieving them.

This blog was started in 2009, which feels like a lifetime ago. Whether you’re a new reader or one of the regulars, my sincere thanks for reading, commenting, and liking these posts, as that interaction is a big part of why this blog stays alive(ish) year after year.

With this, I want to wish you all a happy new year!

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Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2020

Wishing you all peaceful and relaxing holidays!

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From the painting desk #74 – Efreet sultan

December 13, 2020

Lately, my blogging has been stalling for a very pedestrian reason: miniatures that I would like to show have not yet had their anti-shine varnish over the gloss, so they can’t be photographed. As I like to use spray varnish for that, it would mean setting up the spray booth, which would mean moving my printers and eugh…you get the point. My amazing solution? Show off minis that I haven’t gloss varnished. Genius!

I recently bought a second resin printer, this one a Phrozen Sonic Mini 4k. To test it out, I printed a variety of stuff, including this awesome free Efreet Sultan from Roman “gloomyKid” Bevza. I took it as Citadel Contrast practice, and the model is maybe 80-90% done with those alone. I’m now getting the hang of them, and they’re excellent – to the point that I may have provided Santa with some suggestions…

Photo of painted miniature genie

Click for a larger version

Much like the Ghost Archipelago critters shown earlier, this was a chance to paint something different. Having mainly done Hollywood-historical pirates for five years (!!!) now, I’ve really enjoyed doing something new, and I think I’ll keep on doing this. Previously, the lack of time has been a major hurdle: why spend very limited painting time on anything but your main project? Now with the whole global pandemic shutting down everything, there’s more leeway and maybe a need for some mental refreshment too.

As for the mini, I was considering a traditional/Disney’s Aladdin blue colour, but then settled on a fiery red look. Doing a bit of light Wikipedia research, I found the following:

In Islamic folklore the afarit became a class of chthonic spirits, inhabiting the layers of the seven earths, generally ruthless and wicked, formed out of smoke and fire. But despite their negative depictions and affiliation to the nether regions, afarit are not fundamentally evil on a moral plane; they might even carry out God’s purpose. Such obligations can nevertheless be ruthless, such as obligation to blood vengeance and avenging murder. An ifrit can further be bound to a sorcerer, if summoned.

I had this in mind, as I tried to make him look menacing yet not completely evil. The black eyes work well for this in my opinion. I attempted to make the coils of smoke look magical and otherwordly rather than normal smoke, which also enabled me to experiment with wet blending. The result? Not great, not terrible – but promising! I tried to get across the idea that the smoke is coalescing into the efreet, hence turning red near the top. It would benefit from a smoother basecoat, as I currently just paint contrasts over a black basecoat roughly drybrushed with white, and the roughness does show through. For the gemstone I did the whole old school Citadel gem thing, which I think I’ve managed to pull off decently for the first time ever.

For the base I went with my light sand look that I use with my pirate stuff, but threw some rocks in there as well. The idea was to suggest an arid environment, yet also have the model compatible with my pirates in terms of basing. I think I could have blended the smoke effect with the rest of the base a bit better, but didn’t want to spend too much time on it to be honest. At some point I want to put together some Barbary pirates, so this piece will provide that setting a bit more fantasy.

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Hunting pirates #4 – Zachary Sallow

October 31, 2020

Despite starting a new project, I haven’t abandoned the previous one. This is the joy of interconnected projects, as you don’t really need to make tough choices on what to work on, with much of the stuff being useful in several projects. So, my pirate hunter mini project takes another step forward in the form of a gentleman of girth, or thicc boi in youthful speak.

The model is Zachary Sallow, from the game of fantastic history 1775 Join or Die by 3D Breed Miniatures. Originally a part of their Kickstarter, he’s now available as an individual model as well. 3D Breed has some great stuff available for printing, so I definitely recommend taking a look at their wares if you have access to a 3d printer. I printed this piece on my Anycubic Photon.

Zachary Sallow

Click for a larger version


Zachary Sallow

Click for a larger version

Sallow is a big brute of a man and the model is dashing forward in a wonderfully dynamic pose. The sculpt is simple and clean, and painting was straightforward. I kept tones pretty muted, with some extra pops from the reds and yellows. As a final touch I added a touch of red to his cheeks. He looks a bit like an insane baby doll, which I don’t mind at all.

My pirate hunters project is now over halfway through, with five more models to go!

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Ghost Archipelago #1 – Wildlife

October 24, 2020

Recently, to perk ourselves up amidst all the pandemic shenanigans, Cheetor of sho3box fame and I decided to start a new shared project: Frostgrave Ghost Archipelago. For those of you not familiar with it, it’s basically fantasy pirates, lost world, dinosaurs and all the tropes you’d expect, with a nice skirmish game at its core.

This new project has been a massive productivity and inspiration boost. In the past two weeks I’ve printed and painted plenty of new stuff: things I’ve been interested in but haven’t had a use for, miniatures that have long been sitting unpainted and so on. As my main pirate project as well as my pirate hunters are Hollywood historical, it has been really fun to fully dive into fantasy pirate territory! There’s obviously plenty of overlap here, and I’m using similar basing for all the projects.

All of these pieces are from the excellent Depths of Savage Atoll Kickstarter. I’ve painted them mostly using Citadel Contrast paints. This is also a new thing for me! I usually paint by layering over a black undercoat, but with these, my approach is to first heavily drybrush white over a black undercoat, and then go to town with Contrasts and washes. A big shoutout goes out to Wudugast and Azazel for their great examples and tips on Contrast paint use. I growing quite fond of the paints!

Dire crab

Click for a larger version

Dire crab

Click for a larger version

First up are a couple of giant crabs. This is actually the huge Dire Crab model, but shrunken down. The tip of the claw still reaches up to the chest of a 28/32mm mini, so they’re not small!

Giant crocodile

Click for a larger version

Giant crocodile

Click for a larger version

I especially enjoyed painting this crocodile, as it was a really simple case of Contrast, washes and drybrushing. I went to town on the base with tufts from various manufacturers, and put in some Stirland mud as well. Once the model is varnished, the mud will get a coat of gloss to make it look wet.

Octopus miniature

Click for a larger version

Octopus miniature

Click for a larger version

For this octopus, I textured the paint with Milliput for an ocean look. I’ve got another one unpainted on the desk, and that one will get a more terrestrial base. They do hunt on land, you know!

Sea troll miniature

Click for a larger version

Sea troll miniature

Click for a larger version

And last, this huge Sea Troll. While I was originally going to go for much more muted tones, Cheetor’s comment about tropical fish struck a chord! In the end this one turned out to be one of the most colourful minis I’ve ever painted – especially since my 90s/early 00s WHFB days. I’m really, really happy with the look, and it was achieved using very simple techniques.

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From the painting desk #73 – Odds and sods

September 19, 2020

 

I’ve been painting a fair bit of smallish stuff in the past months, scatter scenics mostly. Barrels, crates and the like are something that I can paint without devoting too much attention to them, they’re good for getting the “models painted” counter up and allow me to retain some painting mojo even on those days when it’s just not quite there. As my blogging has stalled a bit, I figured it would be fun to show of some of this stuff.

These small pieces have been a great way to test out Citadel Contrast paints too, which I’m liking more and more. With a barrel or crate, who cares if it gets a bit messy – speed is key here.

These trade goods were both designed and printed by yours truly. I’m pretty proud that I can actually create something that in my not so humble opinion looks very professional.

Click for a larger version

 

This is a gibbet (labeled a “hanging cage”) from WizKids, a part of their Deep Cuts range. Although you can’t really see it in the photo, there’s a little guy in there. I originally added a raven sitting on top of the gibbet, but managed to snap its tiny resin legs, so no luck there.

Click for a larger version

 

This rowboat is from the Depths of Savage Atoll Kickstarter, and printed on my FDM machine. It’s simple and easy to use in multiple settings, and the photo angle conveniently hides minor printing issues.

Click for a larger version

I can’t recall where I bought these resin pieces. They’re nice enough designs, but casting quality was awful – I had to spend quite a bit of time greenstuffing things up, and I pretty much painted these to be rid of them.

Click for a larger version

Here are two tree stumps that I got off Thingiverse. In the middle is a giant snake wrapped around another tree stump. The snake is another Depths of Savage Atoll piece, and printed by me in resin.

Click for a larger version

As these sort of photos can get a little boring, and I wanted a bit of photo play, I decided to stage some photos of them “in action”. This also gave me a chance to test my new photo backdrop, that I created from a cheap home decoration sticker – I think it works pretty well!

“Well gentlemen, these will fetch a tidy sum back in England.”

“You ever think about going pirate, George?”
“Nah, just look at this wretch here.”

“They say she can talk to snakes. Then again, they say a lot of things.”

Here’s hoping my next post is a bit sooner than a month from now. It’s been grant application writing season here, so not much time for anything fun. It’s letting up now, though, so time to get those brushes moving!

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