h1

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

h1

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!

h1

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2020

Wishing you all peaceful and relaxing holidays!

h1

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.

h1

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!

h1

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.

h1

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!

h1

Hunting pirates #3 – Goldilocks and the two sisters

August 16, 2020

This project keeps chugging forward, with not one, or even two, but three new finished pieces! With four models completed and eight more left, that means the project is already 1/3 finished, and I fully intend to close it out. I started painting these three while visiting my late dad’s birthplace, a 19th century farmhouse in North Karelia. Pretty fancy surroundings for a bit of painting!

Click for a larger version

On the left and right are the sisters. I was originally going to paint them with a stark black and white contrast, intending the lapels of the jackets to be black. It didn’t look nice enough, however, so on Emmi’s advice (which I happily misinterpreted) I went with a golden yellow instead, and was positively surprised by the end result. The vests, trousers, and boots were intentionally painted in my usual muted colours to further highlight the jackets. I used the same colours on both to tie them together. All in all, I think it resulted in a nice matched pair, much like I intended. The sisters Winter are ready to kick all kinds of 18th century pirate stern.

Click for a larger version

The model in the middle, that I pretty much ended up painting during the course of one evening, I dubbed Goldilocks on account of his lush blonde mane and matching moustache – somewhat reminiscent of Lord Flashheart. His role is that of the veteran of the group, and nothing says that better than brown. So, a lot of brown was applied to him in various shades. I did go with cream lapels, cuffs and pockets for a bit of a pop, and I like the combination. Painting the model was pretty smooth sailing, apart from him being one of these cases where I thought I’d cleaned him up before priming. There’s nothing quite like taking a file and some sandpaper to painted sections of the mini…

All three minis are from Black Scorpion, one of my favourite manufacturers of pirate minis. The sisters are resin, while Goldilocks is from the time that Black Scorpion still sold their minis in metal.

h1

Hunting pirates #2 – Captain Beckett

July 28, 2020

The summer holidays have brought a bit of a lull to the blog, but I’ve been painting plenty. I’m especially happy to be showing off the first finished mini of my pirate hunters sub-project. As mentioned in the intro post, the model is “Joe Beckett” from the 1775 Join or Die kickstarter, printed on my Photon. In my project I’ve cast him in the role of a sort of a mad dog: excessively violent, threatening, a little unnerving to his superiors. Possibly a bodyguard, definitely the “let’s cut that pirate until he tells us what we want to hear” guy. While he’s sporting a kind of a British army look, his double knives with brass knuckles and the scar running alongside his head lend him an extra air of menace.

Click for a larger version

I really liked painting this model, and I’d like to think it shows. Detail was nice and crisp, I love the character design and I’m very happy with the colour scheme. I wanted the model to look extra nice, so I spent more time than usual on blending and the like. The basing I chose is halfway between my pirates (grassy tufts) and civilians and other non-pirate types (flower tufts), representing how these renegade-ish pirate hunters are somewhere in between. As per the original model, he’s being called Captain Beckett for now. Army captain, obviously.

It’s nice to have this project rolling, and I’m prioritizing it for now, with the next two miniatures already about 85% completed. Better strike while the iron’s hot and so on!

h1

Work and play

June 28, 2020

As I’ve previously mentioned on the blog, I work as a researcher (or rather, a postdoctoral researcher to use the correct term). While most of my work focuses on digital gaming, it’s nice to have some side projects, as with miniatures! And speaking of miniatures, I’ve done some research on them with two brilliant colleagues, and our paper has just been published in Simulation & Gaming.

Definitely what my work looks like

Miniaturing has been researched surprisingly little compared to role-playing games, let alone digital gaming. If there’s anything years of hobbying has taught me, there’s a lot of interesting stuff (scientific formulation, that) going on. As the name suggests, our paper, More Than Wargaming: Exploring the Miniaturing Pastime, is a look at the various dimensions of this pastime.

You can access the paper through the link in the name, and it’s fully Open Access – meaning that it isn’t behind a paywall as is commonly the case with research articles. Should you be in the mood for an academic exploration of what we do, dive right in! It would be very interesting to hear your thoughts on the paper: do you feel that it captures the phenomenon? It should be a light enough read. If you don’t want to spend your time reading it, here are the conclusions we arrived at:

The data presented in this paper illustrates how miniaturing is a multifaceted activity with a dual core. Gaming with miniatures and crafting new ready figurines, scenery, and dioramas are central to miniaturing, but collecting, storytelling, socializing as well as displaying and appreciating are also important parts of the pastime. The pastime can be situated and framed in numerous fashions: for example as gaming, as playing, as toying, and as crafting. None of these framings apply to all of our respondents, but all of them are relevant to some subsection. Some of them are actively contested, such as viewing miniaturing as playing with toys, but even the contested approaches seem like fertile angles of approach in future research.

Now, to a miniatures enthusiast this obviously isn’t big news – although there might be some new and interesting perspectives in there. This is, however, to our knowledge the first academic paper to really tackle what this great pastime of ours “is all about”, so it builds a foundation for more research in the future. For example, we have a paper on so-called “piles of shame” in the works…

Although combining hobbies and work can sometimes be detrimental to the hobby side, I’m definitely enjoying this foray. Hopefully it also opens up the subject to other academics as well, and provides fellow hobbyists with an interesting look into game and play research.

%d bloggers like this: