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From the painting desk #66 – Gun battery

August 4, 2019

A little over a year back I got in on the Slug Industries Spanish fort Kickstarter and I’m happy to report that I’ve finally finished one of the pieces from it – a separate gun battery. I think the gun battery is a very iconic part of Caribbean pirate imagery, guarding those ports and looking menacing.

The paint job was a mixture of stippling, washing and drybrushing, and I probably should have kept notes as the fort itself will inevitably look different. I wanted a fairly light look, leaning more to brown and yellow than dark grey, and I’m quite happy with it.

You obviously can’t have a gun battery without guns, so I painted three cannon from Thomarillion to go with it. These were a right bastard to paint, mainly because I didn’t spray prime them, leading to those super annoying tiny tiny spots of bright unpainted metal hiding in nooks and crannies that you only spot when you think the mini is finished. As they are quite ornate pieces, I decided to paint them as bronze cannon and I think the effect is nice, I’m really happy with the tone!

Having started painting cannon, I came across a piece that I built during the very early days of my pirate project, four years back. As some faithful readers might remember, this is of course the Cagafuego which finally got painted. A massive, old WHFB Empire cannon on a scratch-built naval carriage, the Cagafuego makes for a nice centrepiece to the gun battery when heavier firepower (or plain old intimidation) is needed.

I was in a bit of a rush and photography is a little off as a result. I set up both a vanilla version with the regular cannon and a pirate-crewed Cagafuego version for some atmospheric shots.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Finishing this piece was a nice thing in many ways: there’s always a sense of accomplishment when you get a big item out of your painting queue, it was surprisingly quickly done (I spent one evening on it), it looks pretty Azazely awesome on the table and if I ever want to run a game, it’s a very playable piece for a scenario. Job well done, me!

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From the painting desk #65 – The Kraken Arms

July 22, 2019

Every pirate town needs a tavern, obviously. While I originally bought a Warbases modular building for this very purpose, it was when I came across a Citadel Lake-town house from the dreadful Hobbit films that I knew I’d found my tavern.

It’s a lovely piece of plastic kit that can be assembled in a couple of different configurations. I put it together to minimize the fantasy/medieval/Tudor aspects to keep it in line with the rest of my pirate buildings. In addition to the building itself, there are four pieces of jetty, a larger jetty platform for the building to sit on and an outhouse. There’s also a small rowboat that I haven’t painted yet.

My paintjob for both the jetty pieces and the building followed my usual formula, with a heavy reliance on washes and drybrushing. I went with a muted blue for the tavern itself with green for the door and window frames and some yellow curtains to add a splash of colour. I made the outhouse a very worn green. As you might notice, I couldn’t be bothered to shoot the tavern from every angle, but rather just rotated the building to show its different sides. Click on any photo for a larger view.

A shot of the full kit, showing the modularity

The kit is full of nice detail like this

An aerial view of the tavern

Wouldn’t swim nearby

Brighten up your tavern with some fresh mustard yellow curtains!

There was one part of the painting process that I had been dreading for a while: freehanding the tavern sign. While I’m happy with my painting skills when it comes to miniatures, I consider myself to be somewhat rubbish when it comes to freehanding anything more complicated than very simple glyphs or the like. Still, I wanted a tavern sign matching the tavern’s name – dubbed The Kraken Arms by this point – so it was time to grit my teeth and freehand an octopus. Quite surprisingly, it turned out pretty nice! In fact, nice enough for me to duplicate it on the other side of the sign as well. The sides are not identical, but very much passable. Did you know, by the way, that octopi do not in fact have tentacles, but arms? See, punny and scientifically correct.

Behold the mighty Kraken with its fairly cute little button eyes

Obviously you can’t have a tavern without people to run it. I had plenty of  potential customers in the form of grog-thirsty pirates, but an innkeeper was needed. I had luckily picked up a suitable mini (along with his wife) from Black Cat Bases some time back, so it was time to get them painted. I had a suitable Front Rank miniature lined up as well, so I decided to finish him too. I also asked Emmi to pick a mini for me to paint and she happened to pick out one from Black Tree Design’s Pirates of Treasure Island line that was very well suited to the surroundings so I’ll show him in this post while I’m at it.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

This lot was really fun to paint! I’m a big fan of Black Cat Bases’ large, cartoonish style as well as Front Rank’s clean and simple elegance. The Black Tree Design pirate – the first from their Kickstarter that I’ve painted – took paint very nicely too. I love models like this with a limited number of elements, common in historical miniatures I think. A lot of fantasy stuff tends to be drowned in hundreds of buckles, straps, pouches, bags, daggers, more buckles and the like, and they get pushed back in the painting queue. Considering my backlog and slow painting speed, that is a long, long queue.

The innkeeper, wife and old pirate are obvious, but what do you think about the tubby man with the pewter tankard? Wealthy patron or greedy landlord?

I had a good time painting this lot, so I’m happy to enter them into Azazel’s Jewel of July community challenge! I need to do this kind of thematic thing more often, I think.

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Love and unicorns!

June 9, 2019

It’s not often that I manage to get my darling Emmi to paint miniatures, and it’s a crying shame because she’s really, really talented. However, it appears that when presented with the right miniature to paint, not too much coaxing is needed. Enter the unicorn!

Painted Reaper Bones unicorn

Click for a larger version

A Reaper Bones model, Silverhorn the unicorn (that rhymes) is nice and dynamic. Now, I hate, or at least dislike, painting horses. Too much flat surface and the blending is always rubbish and and and. Emmi, however, just went to town on this and before I had had time to manspl carefully inform her of the intricacies of miniature painting, she’d gone straight to wet blending (which I’ve never done), so yeah. It’s rare that I manage to get such smooth blends on my models, but of course this is her third model already.

The model actually sat almost finished for a year or so, and she finally got around to finishing the base with some Mininatur white blossoms. I think it looks awesome.

Anyway, she said she’s happy to paint more minis as long as I tell everyone how great she is, and I’m happy to oblige. She is.

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Bottled up

May 30, 2019

For a growing time I’ve been frustrated with Citadel’s paints – or paint pots, to be exact. While the paints are in general very nice, year after year Games Workshop seems to go for worse and worse lid designs. The result? Paints that I’ve used only a couple of times have dried into a sludge because the pot failed to close properly due to paint getting between the lid and the pot and drying there. After whining and moaning I decided to do something about it, went on eBay and got a bunch of cheap dropper bottles. I then simply followed this tutorial:

A couple of episodes of iZOMBIE and some elbow grease later, I have this:

Citadel paint in dropper bottles

Click for a larger version

As you can see, I didn’t have to work with all that many paints. There are a few reasons for this, the first one being that because of rubbish lid design, I have refrained from buying the newer Citadel pots. Also, because of said rubbish lid design, some of the ones I have bought have already gone in the trash. I also decided to keep Citadel’s washes (which are runny enough not to dry in the lid) in their original pots as I find them easier to use that way.

Suitably for this post you can see a bunch of older paint pots in the background, with a far, far superior lid design. I mean, I’ve literally had some of these pots since I started with miniatures back in 1996 or so, and they’re still usable. Now back in the day we…

How the new bottles hold up in regular use remains to be seen, but I’m very hopeful!

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From the painting desk #64 – An eclectic mix

May 11, 2019

I’ve been on a bit of a painting kick lately, so I’ve got a grand total of five new minis to show you! Funnily enough they’re from five different companies too, which goes to show that I don’t mind mixing ranges and manufacturers in my project. It’s been good having some painting mojo back – painting has felt really fun and I’m pleased with the results I’m getting. As for the minis, here we go!

Black Cat Bases African lady

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First up is an African lady by CP Models that I picked up in a Bad Squiddo sale. I kept the palette super simple and tried a tone I hadn’t really used before in the pale green. I think it turned out really nice and I’ll be sure to use that tone later on as well. A neat, simple model, she’ll work well as a generic civilian in the West Indies.

Black Cat Bases pirate queen

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Next up is a pirate queen from Black Cat Bases. Nice and characterful, she was a joy to paint. To go for much bolder colours, I drew inspiration from one of my favourite pro wrestlers, the pirate princess Kairi Sane, and went with an almost white overcoat with blue cuffs, and a blue tricorne with gold trim and a white feather. While I tried to keep it from going too over the top, I think the end result is a suitably ostentatious pirate lady.

Freebooter's Fate Tiradora

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The next mini I completed is a recent Salute purchase, a Freebooter’s Fate mini by the name of Tiradora (which is just Spanish for “female shooter”, so not really a name at all). This was the first Freebooter’s Fate mini I’ve painted, and I’m quite impressed! Crisp detail and nice smooth surfaces made this a joy to paint. While the catalogue mini was painted white, to me the mini looked obviously African, so I went with a dark brown skintone. Another mini I’m happy with!

Citadel townsfolk brawler

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Sometimes you end up painting old stuff, and that makes me feel warm inside. This model is an old Citadel one from the 1987 Travelling Players set. When this model was released, I was five years old and Emmi wasn’t even born yet. There’s something really cool about that. I’ve actually had this mini for a while, as he used to be a part of my WHFB Empire army. One day I just figured that he might fit in well with my pirates, so I stripped him of his old paintjob and did a quick repaint. As his facial features sort of suggested it and I had been painting brown-skinned minis, I figured I’d paint him with darker skin too, and I think it looks good! You may notice that his basing with the flowers suggests that he isn’t a part of the pirates or the maroons faction, but rather a member of my townsfolk. I’m thinking that he maybe works on the docks (and now I’ve got Bon Jovi stuck in my head, it’s tough) or is the bouncer for the local tavern.

Black Scorpion pirate

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My last entry in this post is a mini I’ve wanted to paint a long time. As I’ve been thinking about the various characters that inhabit Tyburn Island, one that has been firmly lodged in my head is a hired sword nicknamed “The Razor of Nassau”. Don’t ask me where it came from, but it’s this guy. I love this mini, he just oozes menace and has that gunslinger vibe about him. To go with this, I painted him in full but worn black, with a red sash for some visual contrast.

I’m happy with this lot for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s nice to get stuff painted as it’s been quite a thin year so far. Secondly, this batch turned out quite diverse – a couple of females and not everyone’s white. It’s not a huge thing, but it’s fun on both a visual level and out of principle too. I’ve got more stuff lined up too, so..yeah, cool!

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The great UK tour recap

May 4, 2019

This was actually written a couple of weeks ago already, but I decided to leave it mostly in its original state as a fun memory.

What a few weeks it’s been! I’m currently writing this post on a train from Carlisle to London, where we’ll spend a day and a half before heading home. The last two weeks have included not only Salute, but also some amazing views – pretty much all of Lord of the Rings was present – and wonderful people as we’ve hiked some 175 km (roughly 109 miles) through Yorkshire, Durham and Cumberland along the glorious Pennine Way. As it is, this post will mostly just be one big photo dump of Salute photos with some holiday stuff thrown in.

Salute was super fun as usual! I mostly spent the day with folks from Random Platypus and Frothers, enjoying the participation games put on by people from these lovely communities. There was urban warfare in the form of Carnage City Chronicles and Wild in the Streets, anthropomorphic animal hijinks in Burrows and Badgers, Doom-like deathmatch on a wonderful scifi corridor board as well as Project Fear, a tongue-in-cheek post-Brexitpocalyptic game of activists trying to reach the last ferry from Dover. This last one also holds special meaning for me as I painted two minis for it! Look for the pink shirted shotgun guy and the guy in blue. For more information on the Random Platypus games, do check out the blog posts here and here. Oh, and I’m also pretty stoked that one of my painted minis was actually a display model on a trade stand – look for Carla, the knife-wielding lady shown in the Wild in the Streets cabinet.

I was somewhat moderate in my shopping, although I did pick up all the new pirates that Black Scorpion just released as well as their Salute special edition mini. As I figured I’d done most of my shopping, I came upon a retailer who was clearing their stock of Freebooter’s Fate minis at a very low price. I’ve always been interested in FF minis, but the price point has just been way too high for me even though the miniatures are lovely. At a clearance price of just £5 per blister, I just couldn’t pass up on them this time! Apparently I was so excited about this that I completely managed to miss Alex of Leadballoony, after a good long while of planning. There’s always next year, luckily.

Well, enough with the talk, it’s photo time! You can click on any photo for a larger version, which should open in a new tab.

A pair of honeymooners – make of that what you will!

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From the painting desk #63 – It’s…pirates!

March 30, 2019

Finally more painted pirates! These have been on the bench for a while, and they’re pretty much the first miniatures I’ve painted all year. While I’ve done some terrain building and painting, minis have fallen by the wayside a bit. This should be rectified shortly, as I’ve promised to paint up some stuff for Salute, and that’s exactly a week away.

Foundry maroon with Black Scorpion pirate

Click for a larger version

Another maroon from Foundry, I love these guys and I’ve painted a couple before. Simple, elegant sculpt, simple, not so elegant paintjob. It does the trick though! I asked Emmi to pick the colours, which was surprisingly fun. I notice myself going back to tried and true combinations of colours, which can mean things getting a bit samey – I can’t remember how many times I’ve used the combination of Vallejo Khaki and Vallejo Cayman Green. What can I say, they’re lovely, muted tones with awesome coverage.

The second one is a pirate from Black Scorpion, with a massive axe and some equally massive mutton chops. He’s somewhat reminiscent of Mr. Gibbs from the Pirates of the Caribbean films, and I’m sure I’ve seen him used as a proxy somewhere. Funnily enough considering the previous paragraph, his vest is Vallejo Cayman Green and his trousers are Vallejo Khaki, what do you know!

I’m super stoked about going to Salute! It’s become a yearly tradition by now, and very much a social event and a great chance to meet all the lovely folks I’ve befriended over the years in this hobby. This year I’m looking forward to bumping into Alex of Leadballoony fame as well as spending time with the nice people from the Random Platypus forum. After Salute we’re heading up north for a hundred miles of hiking along the Pennine Way, which I’m possibly even more stoked about. This will likely mean that the blog will be dormant for a couple of weeks, although considering my rapid-fire posting, you won’t be able to tell any difference.

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