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2019 recap

January 2, 2020

2019

Another year gone, what happened in 2019 hobby-wise?

Amazingly 2019 was the first ever year that I kept track of my miniature purchases and the like. Here’s the tally (“miniatures” refers to scenery pieces as well):

Miniatures bought: 62

Miniatures printed: 42

Miniatures sold or given away: 112

Miniatures painted: 57

Larger terrain pieces finished: 4

All in all I’m quite happy with the year. I finished the year with 8 miniatures fewer than I started the year with despite accumulating plenty of new ones. What this means in practice is that I got rid of old stuff that I was never going to paint – mostly WHFB miniatures from 10-15+ years back – and replaced them with miniatures and scenery pieces that are much more likely to be painted.

I painted a grand total of 57 miniatures and scenery pieces. I could have done more, but to be honest this is one of my most productive years in a while. As before, I’m a fairly meticulous painter although I’m slowly learning to be a bit more relaxed, spending less time on areas that won’t be very visible on the miniature. Did you know that when I started out as a teen, I would paint the soles of minis’ feet – despite them getting glued to the base? So..yeah. The end of the year was more than a bit stressful, with loads of work and my father passing away after a long illness, so I’m happy that I still managed to find time for painting. To be honest, painting more and spending less time on Twitter probably would have helped with the stress.

I also experimented with some new painting techniques. Nothing drastic, I just wanted to push my painting a little. While I’m happy with my painting, I feel like I’ve been somewhat stuck for the past few years. I’m currently learning to work with thinner paints and washes a bit more than previously. Who knows, maybe I’ll even try a white or grey undercoat one of these days. It’s only been 15 years since the last time!

On the project front, it’s amazingly enough still pirates. Seriously, this has been pretty much my only project since 2015, and I’m still enthusiastic about it. I do paint the occasional RPG miniature, and we did paint some Battletech pieces which I should show in a future post! Still, it’s mostly pirates and other 17th/18th century types.

The biggest change in my hobby in 2019 was the introduction of 3d printing. I had always looked down on it a bit: layer lines from FDM machines were ugly, resin printers too expensive. Basically, I had locked my opinions in around 2015. However, when I started looking into it, I realized that times had indeed changed, progress had been made (quelle surprise!) and people were producing some wonderful pieces on their printers. My enthusiasm sparked, I bought an Anycubic Photon which turned out to be a great idea. Before I knew it, I was down the 3d printing rabbit hole. It wasn’t too long before I found myself wanting something a bit bigger for printing terrain, but surely an FDM printer would be too…yeah I bought one. As of December 23 2019, I’m a proud owner of a Lotmaxx SC-10 printer as well. It’s been running pretty much non-stop since then, and I’ll show some of the results in a later post.

The 3d printing stuff has brought a feeling of novelty to the hobby that I realized I’ve been missing a bit. There’s something in the tinkering and tweaking that makes me happy, as well as the possibilities afforded by new technology. All of a sudden all sorts of weird and wonderful things are within my reach – I can print my own ships, buildings and sea monsters, how cool is that?

Last but not least, I got to combine work and play in a fun way. As you might know, I’m a games researcher at Tampere University, and we had the wonderful idea of doing some research on miniaturing. More on that later as well – I’m actually about to become a published research on the miniaturing pastime. How cool is that!

For the past x years this blog has been going on fairly sporadically. I post far less than I used to, and sometimes there are long (, long, long) gaps between posts. I’m hoping to remedy this a bit this year! The blog isn’t going anywhere and I’m still quite motivated about it and a huge thank you for that is in order to the regular group of readers and commenters – you know who you are!

2020I’m not usually one for new year’s resolutions, but on the hobby front a few are in order. So, in 2020 I want to:

  • Blog at least once per week two weeks
  • Paint at least 100 miniatures and scenery pieces
  • Get rid of at least 50 miniatures I don’t have a use for
  • Complete at least one major model or terrain piece
  • Learn at least one new painting technique
  • Give something back to the miniaturing community
  • Get at least a few games in
  • Learn to master my printers

These should take my hobby in the direction I want it to go: more activity, interaction with the community and honing my own skills.

Here’s to another year of hobby goodness, stay tuned and my sincere thanks for stopping by!

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Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas! You can click on the card to view a larger version.

 

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From the painting desk #68 – Another motley crew

December 23, 2019

Fighting the urge to present them as mötley crëw, here’s another batch of pirates – they never end, do they? This time it’s a mix of custom printed Heroforge pieces and miniatures I bought as physical objects. It’s funny how that has become a meaningful separation with the printer!

Click for a larger version

First up are the brothers Mulligan. They are Heroforge creations, as you can probably see. The thing I love about Heroforge (and I might have to make a separate post on this) is that you can create your own pieces and tell your own stories. In this case, we have the good brothers. While I’ve never given them first names, I imagine them as this Irish duo, a classic combination where one is a huge, burly brawler and the other a fast-talking gunslinger. To tie them together visually I painted both with pale skin and red hair, and I think it works pretty well.

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Next we have the big swords. The woman on the left is another Heroforge piece, while the man is from Black Scorpion. While placing them side by side like this reveals the softer details of Heroforge pieces – especially compared to super crisp resin – I’m happy with both. Another thing in Heroforge’s favour is the control it gives you in customizing your minis. In this case I wanted a bit more diversity, so I wanted to create a female pirate who wasn’t whipcord-thin and abnormally busty. Instead I made a pirate that to my eye looks strong, with the heavy blade adding to the effect. I also gave her black African features.

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The final pair of this post are a pirate lord from Reaper miniatures (sculpted by Bob Ridolfi) and a drunk pirate (sculpted by Evgenii Tkachenko) I found for free on Thingiverse. The pirate lord is especially lovely, a really characterful piece with his expensive clothing and flowing locks! I gave him a blue and yellow colour scheme, which made me instantly think of Sweden. Who knows, maybe he is a Swedish pirate lord. Painting Reaper miniatures always reminds me that I should paint more Reaper miniatures. The drunk pirate, despite the sculpt’s simplicity, manages to have character as well. There’s something about the pose that I really like, he looks very much like a henchman.

I’m usually not a huge fan of how my minis look in these portrait-style pictures, so I figured I might start setting them up in some more scenic shots in addition to the close-ups. So here you go, here’s the pirate lord addressing his motley crew. I think they look like a wonderfully interesting group. To me, this is what I want to achieve: tiny little narratives with colourful characters. I don’t really game with my minis, so these little stories are what makes stuff interesting for me.

Click for a larger version

As I’m writing this, my new printer – this time an FDM one for printing larger pieces – is on its way. Man oh man, this hobby never ceases to surprise me.

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Halloween 2019

November 23, 2019

Nowadays, I put on a Halloween game every year, and 2019 was no exception (you can check out previous games by clicking on the Halloween tag). There’s obviously always some sort of horror theme, and this year I went loosely with sharks. The concept of the game was simple: a pirate ship had been wrecked and it was up to the survivors, floating on debris, to race to the shore. Unfortunately for them there were plenty of sharks about. Oh and the Kraken.

The game itself was surprisingly good, if I may say so! The mechanics functioned really well, it was a close game in the finish, and everyone seemed to have a good time. There was even talk of maybe developing it further and turning it into an actual game. Who knows – I’ve long wanted to publish a game. Pirates were knocked off their rafts and eaten by sharks and the Kraken took the ship’s boy. As usual, shown below is a collection of photos taken by the players, I hope the feel of the game comes across!

And of course it wouldn’t be Halloween without themed foods, so…

Halloween is really fun evening for us every night. This year it however came at a cost: painting all those sharks means that I’ve been going “Baby shark do-doo-do-doddo-do” a lot. Oh well. Do-doo-do-doddo-do.

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From the painting desk #67 – A piratical assortment

October 12, 2019

While I’ve been printing a lot more than painting recently, I’ve still managed to complete some pieces! I’m definitely seeing a risk here, though – printing is fun in itself, but it’s also adding stuff to the painting pile something fierce.

I recently read a book on Barbary pirates. Or rather, make that two books (both are very interesting, and well worth your time by the way). While I’ve thus far been mostly interested in pirates of the Caribbean variety, I must say that a little foray into the Mediterranean and North Africa does tempt me a bit! Luckily I had a couple of Barbary style pirates from Foundry kicking about, so these went on the table.

Foundry 28mm barbary pirates

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These two miniatures offered me the chance to use quite a colourful palette, so I threw in some turquoise and rich purple. I wanted these two to stand out a bit from my other pirates, many of which I’ve painted in more muted tones. For the skin tones I went for a bit darker look than usual. As with most of the Foundry pirates, these were fun and easy to paint and turned out pretty nice!

The next three pieces are printed ones from the Depths of Savage Atoll Kickstarter that I’ve mentioned quite a few times by now. They were very much test prints, so they have some minor issues such as some lines on the pirate’s blade and some soft detail on the parrot, but I didn’t want to throw them away. Waste not, want not and all that.

Depths of Savage Atoll miniatures

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From left to right (if it wasn’t obvious) there’s a parrot, a hulking pirate and a strongbox. Parrots are obviously iconic in a pirate setting, and I decided to paint this one as something instantly recognizable, a scarlet macaw. It was a great chance to break out some really bright and lovely colours, and I’m really happy with the end result.

The big pirate didn’t really impress me initially, but once I started painting the mini I quickly warmed up to it. In my project to overcome my freehand painting aversion, I put some tattoos on him to add some interest to those large skin areas. I could’ve gone for more intricate designs, but I’m quite happy with how these simple pieces look. I wanted them to look faded and a bit rough, which also makes them more forgiving.

The third piece is a strongbox. At least that’s what I painted it as, all steel and brass. It wouldn’t be difficult to paint it as an actual octopus on a wooden crate, but I wanted a kind of Pirates of Caribbean mystery chest vibe – a piece you could build a scenario around.

I’m looking to get some more painting done this weekend, stay tuned for when I post about them…in December, knowing myself.

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Photonstering

September 15, 2019

Apparently I am now what is called a Photonster, as I’m completely hooked on the Anycubic Photon I mentioned in my previous post. I’m really not exaggerating when I say the printer has been running almost day and night after I got it, and I’m in love with the results. There’s been a bit of trial and error, but so far only a couple of prints have failed and even those were due to user malfunction and could actually be salvaged.

Obviously my main interest has been in 28mm miniature stuff (although I’ve also printed a pair of earrings for Emmi), and the printer is wonderful for that. I’m still playing with the settings a bit, but it appears that it’s fairly easy to get a lovely result with minimal if any print lines showing. The detail level is more than adequate, easily ahead of Reaper Bones minis for example. It’s not on par with resin or the best metal casts, but it’s not far behind either.

I was initially worried about everything being very messy and time consuming, but those fears proved to be unfounded. The plant-based resin I’m using is very low odour, and now that I have my cleanup routine for the prints in place, even that bit is easy. After printing the prints are dunked into isopropyl alcohol and scrubbed lightly with a toothbrush to remove excess resin, then rinsed with water and detergent and then cured with UV light (in my case by putting them out in the sun, I’m still waiting for my UV lamp to arrive). It’s a bit of work, but no more than say, removing paint from old minis.

What have I been printing? Sharks! Pirates! Battlemechs! Monkeys! Parrots! A dead whale (yes)! I definitely see a very, very real chance of going overboard here. Luckily enough I’m at a good place in my hobby right now, more in the “time to get rid of stuff I don’t need” zone than the “I don’t know what I’ll use these for but I’ll get them anyway because” one. Shown below are a couple of the pieces I’ve done – a shark and some fins that I already painted up, the aforementioned whale carcass, another shark model from PrintYourMonsters and a pirate from Depths of Savage Atoll. I undercoated the pirate to bring out the detail.

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The whale carcass with a Black Scorpion pirate for size

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With the whale I botched the print a bit – another user malfunction – so had to fix a gap between its head and its body. Nothing new to anyone used to bigger models, though! As you can see from the pictures, the whale is massive. After hollowing the model instead of printing it solid, it cost me something in the range of 5€ in resin, which isn’t an awful lot. The pirate shown also shows how the printer really makes it viable to print 28mm minis, I have metal stuff that has less defined detail.

So, if it’s not clear by now, I love this machine and I can’t recall the last time I was so excited about a hobby thing. While this may of course be a passing thing, I’m sure going to ride this wave while it lasts!

 

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The fine print

August 24, 2019

 

Picture of Anycubic PhotonSo, in a moment of wild enthusiasm I went and ordered an Anycubic Photon! I’ve been looking to get into 3D printing for quite a while now, but it has always seemed like too much of a hassle: hours and hours of tinkering for results that have never quite matched my standards. Make no mistake, I’ve seen some wonderful results from 3D printing, but a lot of the stuff displayed online has a lot of striation, and for 28mm minis in particular that won’t do.

Now, the Anycubic Photon is a DLP resin printer, which means that rather than extruding plastic filament, it builds up a model by curing thin layers of resin with UV light. If you want a more thorough explanation, you could do far worse than spending 9 minutes on the following video:

The quality of a resin printer is quite enough for 28mm work, so it’ll be possible to print my own minis and other detailed pieces. The price of resin printers has come down a lot, and the Photon set me back about 300 EUR including a litre of resin. 

Now, after looking at a ton of discussions, joining various online groups and going through video tutorials, resin printing isn’t always easy work: there are resin fumes, the hardware and software can be finicky, prints will fail and so on. However, I’m super excited about this thing! There’s something awesome about the idea of not only being able to print a huge variety of stuff other people have designed, but also to maybe one day designing my own pieces – provided I’m willing to take the time and tackle the learning curve. 

I already have a ton of miniatures and scatter terrain, so what do I need a 3D printer for? To be honest, I don’t need it for anything, any more than I need any of the miniatures stuff in my cupboards and on my desks. It’s something that’s somewhat hard to rationalize, as these things often are. Maybe it’s the above mentioned potential for limitless creations, or the joy of tinkering? Those definitely play a part. The possibility of using something like Hero Forge for creating custom miniature designs is another thing. Then there’s also the option of creating things that are not miniatures-related. For something to print, I got in on the Depths of Savage Atoll Kickstarter, which features a ton of suitable stuff for my piratical needs.

Whether this will be a fun expansion of my hobby horizons or a failed experiment (looking at you, Mr. Soon To Be Sold Airbrush) remains to be seen. The printer will arrive in the next week or two, and I’ll be sure to let you know all about it!

Picture from the Anycubic Photon website.

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