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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

Click for a larger version

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.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

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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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

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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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