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X marks the spot

January 6, 2017

The first thing of 2017 painted! I bought this Giant Doom Track Marker from Fenris Games, as to me it definitely fits a trope prevalent in pop culture pirate map imagery – the skull shaped rock (see this or this). Most likely known as Dead man’s rock, Skull rock, Cursed rock or something equally imaginative, this is one of the usual checkpoints when looking for hidden treasure, and as such it fit the project perfectly.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

The paintjob was super simple, and the plentiful texture made this an easy piece. I gave it a black basecoat followed by a highlight layer of grey (I used an airbrush for this, as this is pretty much the level of complexity I can manage at the moment), then followed with progressively lighter drybrush layers and a black wash to dull it down a little. The rock features small, literally beady eyeballs in its sockets. I painted these black, put in a dot of white and gave them a gloss varnish. Onyx stones or the soul of a dead pirate? Who knows.

All in all this probably took less than thirty minutes from start to finish, so it was very rewarding and a nice and easy start to the painting year. In games it will function as a lovely little piece of thematic scatter terrain, like this:

"This is where the magick points?" "Yes ma'am." "Dig, ye scallywags, dig!"

“This is where the magick points?”
“Yes ma’am.”
“Dig, ye scallywags, dig!”

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Looking back on 2016

December 31, 2016

By now we’ve all heard several variations of “2016 was the worst year ever” comments. Enough of those! We all know the horrible stuff that has been going on for the past year, but this isn’t a blog about all that. Instead, a quick recap of the year’s hobby-related things and a cautious look forward!

Miniature output this year has been decent-ish. I think my total comes to around 30+ minis, but it could have been much higher. At this rate I’ll have all of my unpainted lead and plastic nicely painted around age 70 or 80 – assuming I don’t buy anything new. Apparently my painting output in 2015 was 33 miniatures, so this seems to be a fairly standard rate. I’ve also cleared out a fair bit of old lead that I know I won’t get around to painting. If someone else can get fun out of them, they shouldn’t sit in a cupboard tucked away in a box for years and years.

Reaching goals definitely happened. In my “Looking back on 2015” post I was planning on the following for 2016:

  • Painting up pirates, 18th century civilians, navy types and colonial soldiers (✓)
  • Building a second terrain board as well as a few different extra pieces (✓)
  • Modifying and painting a bunch of houses (✓)
  • Basing and touching up loads of palm trees (✓)
  • Building and painting plenty of scatter terrain (✓)
  • Most likely sneaking a few RPG miniatures in as well (✓)
  • Salute 2016 as well as visiting plenty of awesome sights and people in the UK and Ireland (✓)

Seriously, I managed all of that! In a hobby that for me is characterized by unfinished and discarded projects, periodical slumps and time and motivation constraints, I’m super happy to have reached my hobby goals for once. Salute was great, and meeting Paul of sho3box fame was definitely one of the high points of the hobby year.

The UK and Ireland trip was excellent in general, and I got to spend time with some wonderful people who I’ve met through this hobby. I spent an evening in the pub with Annie from Bad Squiddo and Dameon from Hasslefree, had a browse through boxes of Roy Duffy’s brilliantly painted miniatures and got to visit Pete “the Mouldmaker” Brown’s workshop and see miniatures cast. Good stuff!

Project-wise my pirate thing is still going strong. This is an actual surprise. I started the project in May 2015, and to my surprise it still hasn’t died. I’ve built terrain, I’ve gamed, I’ve read a ton of literature on the subject…what is this madness? Not that I’m complaining. The project has also seen me drift somewhat towards historical gaming. It’s a scary thought, so I’m painting the occasional undead pirate, ghost and crab man to keep me on the right track. The pirate ship that you may recall is still not finished, and it definitely should be. That brings me to…

Hobby plans for 2017

  • Finish the pirate ship. Started in 2015, if it’s still unfinished by the end of 2017, it’s going in the project graveyard, and that would be a crying shame.
  • Paint a dragon. More on this later.
  • Keep up steady work on the pirate project. There’s still plenty to do and I’m enthusiastic, so this shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Play games. Much as I love the modelling part of the hobby, I’ve found that the occasional game keeps me motivated.
  • Increase miniatures output. Nothing drastic, but maybe I’ll aim for 40.
  • Update the blog somewhat steadily, as always.

Next year might present some challenges to hobby activities due to (generally positive) real life things taking up time and concentration, but I’m definitely hopeful!

As I’ve mentioned before, my warmest thanks to all of you readers, both regulars and occasional visitors. Your feedback and engagement does wonders for my blogging motivation, and I’m happy to see people enjoy what I’m creating.

Have a great 2017, everyone!

Fireworks photo by VasenkaPhotography, used under CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

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Prime real estate

December 30, 2016

I’ve finally finished the first of my new buildings, a townhouse from TTCombat. It’s part of my nicer part of Port George and will help set the tone for the rest. I’m thinking of doing the buildings in colourful pastel tones as it’s both historically fairly accurate and just looks nice. I have added a fair bit of grime though, to suggest an environment where the humid climate takes its toll on buildings.

28mm town house front

Click for a larger version

28mm town house rear view

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28mm town house side view

Click for a larger version

The painting process was very straightforward, and I used cheap craft store acrylics. I stippled the paint on fairly thickly with a sponge, which gave the walls some extra texture. After that it was just drybrushing. I gave the roof tiling by using the now familiar roof tiling strips by Warbases. They are a lovely, lovely product, and I really like the result produced.

28mm town house first floor

Click for a larger version

28mm town house second floor

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As the building features a fully playable interior, I gave it some attention as well. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I should do with the floors, and eventually settled on printing out some suitable textures on thick paper and gluing them in place. While I could have been more careful with the sizing (there are some small gaps), I’m really pleased with the end result and it save me a lot of time and money compared to building the floors myself from coffee stirrers or textured plastic. The inside walls I simply left the same shade of blue as the outside ones. There wasn’t really a need to work a lot on the interior, as I assume it won’t be used that frequently. Some furniture came with the house set, so that will probably get thrown in there at some point.

"Do you like it, darling?" "Oh Francis I love it!"

“Do you like it, darling Emily?”
“Oh Francis it is most agreeable! I much prefer it to Dorset.”

Overall I was positively surprised by the finished building. Painting helps distract the eye and hide the jigsaw effect often prominent in laser-cut mdf buildings and the additional texture helps make the walls pop. The door is still massive, but it’s a very minor gripe. Looking forward to painting more of these! Next question on my mind: what kind of terrain board should I build for these?

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Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2016

christmas2016

 

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From the painting desk #46 – Heroquest goblin

December 18, 2016

My latest painted miniature is a humble Heroquest goblin. He was painted as part of the Heroquest Hero Quest project, and you can read a more detailed write-up here. More photos there, too! At this rate, I’ll make twenty painted minis by the end of the year…maybe.

Heroquest goblin with axe

Click for a larger version

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The nicer part of town

November 26, 2016

Work on the pirate-y town of Port George continues! You’re likely aware that I have a fair few run-down buildings for my town already, so it’s time for something different. My grand vision is to have two distinctly different sides to Port George. One is the grimy, pirate side that I’ve been building so far, with mainly wooden buildings, plenty of sand and all in all a hive of scum and villainy. The second is a “proper” side – a fairly prosperous British colonial town, with brick buildings, less sand and marginally less villainy, or at least of a different kind.

The idea is that both of these halves should work as standalone towns as well as combining into a larger whole – maybe separated by a river or something similar. With limited time for building terrain, the more uses I can find for things, the better.

Finding suitable buildings was surprisingly challenging, everything looking either too modern, too old or just stylistically off. As with all the historical accuracy in the project, I wanted to strike a balance between accuracy and pleasing aesthetics, with the latter taking precedence if the first wasn’t jarringly off. Again, “what would this look like in a pirate movie?” was a key question.

Eventually I settled on the following:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Sarissa Precision Chateau. I’ve been eyeing this piece for ages. It’s super impressive, with lovely detailing. A bit too lovely, as I managed to snap some fiddly bits while putting it together. Nothing catastrophic, luckily! This will serve as the mansion of Port George’s governor and will be the centrepiece of the fancier part of town. I’ve added Warbases roof tiling to the roof, obviously not shown in the catalogue image. The levels are separate, so the inside is playable too.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

TTCombat Venetian house. A nice, simple and suitably generic piece. I bought a pitched roof to go along with it. Both roof styles are removable, so if I want to use the building with a roof terrace, that’s possible as well. The line of Venetian buildings – intended for the game Carnivale, I assume – is really nice, and provides me with excellent choices for expanding the town.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

TTCombat Old Town townhouses. Some more TTCombat pieces, these are intended for Malifaux. Both are large, impressive pieces. The TTCombat stuff is much chunkier than the Sarissa building, meaning it’s both clunkier and sturdier – you win some, you lose some. All the TTCombat buildings have separate floors and the interiors can be used for gaming. There are even stairs connecting the two floors in the townhouses, as well as some super chunky furniture. My only gripe with the TTCombat stuff is the massive size of the doors. Even on a very large 28/32mm miniature the doorknobs are around shoulder height. It’s a minor thing and could be easily fixed, but I don’t think I’ll bother. Warbases roofing tiles will be added to the townhouses to unify them with the rest of the buildings.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Warbases modular #5. The Warbases modular buildings are super simple (and super cheap). I’m thinking of modding this with a portico and some nicer windows and doors. I think it has a tavern look to it, so it could function as a sort of go-between uniting the two halves of the town.

My attitudes towards laser-cut mdf buildings have changed in the past year or two. I used to think very little of them, but after climbing on board the mdf train, I’m definitely seeing the appeal. There’s a huge variety, ample chance for customising and the prices are very decent. Putting them together can be quite satisfying, too!

So, what do you think? Does this look suitably colonial? What do you think of mdf? Does it show that I’ve been alone, writing my dissertation at our summer place in the archipelago, and am starting to crave human interaction?

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From the painting desk #45 – Special characters

November 10, 2016

This post showcases two of my lately painted miniatures that you may have already glimpsed in the Halloween game report.

Up first is a voodoo queen from Black Cat Bases. Like most Black Cat Bases minis, the model is fairly tall and hefty. I definitely prefer this cartoony style to more realistic proportions, and love this sculpt despite its weird right hand. I’m normally not a huge fan of minis with super cleavage, but in this case it didn’t bother me – a certain amout of sexuality is a key part of the whole Hollywood voodoo queen character. In our Halloween game she was dubbed Madam Labadie, so the name sort of stuck.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

I painted the character with a very dark skin tone and made her dress yellow for some contrast. I went all out on the feathers on her staff, figuring she had plenty of colourful parrots at her disposal. The painting on the little cat is loosely based on my girlfriend’s cat, shown with yours truly in this super happy picture. This was a really fun piece to paint altogether, and I finished it fairly quickly – although the Halloween game as a deadline helped! I based the voodoo queen in the same style as my pirates, so no flowers on her base.

The second miniature is an officer type from Galloping Major, who I dubbed captain Pemberton Smythe. Another lovely miniature to paint, the officer is a clean, chunky sculpt. As my project is decidedly Hollywood over historical, I went with the same strategy as with my redcoats, drawing inspiration from historical imagery to make something that fits my idea of a British officer. I think the end result turned out quite effective.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

I only noticed while photographing that the models might both be in need of an extra blast of matt varnish. They’re not as shiny in hand as they appear in the photos, luckily!

If I’m not completely wrong, these two bring my number of miniatures painted this year up to twelve, and there are some more that I haven’t shown yet! Comments welcome as usual.

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