Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category


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

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Giant crocodile

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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

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Octopus miniature

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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

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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.


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.


From the painting desk #57 – Headless Horseman

November 6, 2017

While my little hollow on the internet has been a bit sleepy, I’ve nonetheless been working on things. We recently had our now-traditional Halloween game, and I finally finished the Headless Horseman miniature that I originally intended for the Halloween game of 2015. Better late than never, I’d say.

Picture of headless horseman miniature

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Picture of headless horseman miniature

Click for a larger version

It isn’t much of a paintjob – I’m not a fan of painting black, and he was black, black, black. Being in a rush didn’t help things either! As usual for my Halloween games, I was painting him on the afternoon of the game day. To make up for the somewhat lacklustre painting, I put a bit of extra effort in the base, which I think improves him overall. I thought about doing some sort of ghostly effect on him, but decided against it in the end. A part of the Sleepy Hollow thing is that there’s always the chance it’s just someone pulling a prank, so I wanted to leave that in there.

The miniature is a decapitated British Legion Trooper from Front Rank’s American War of Independence range, coupled with one of Front Rank’s rearing horses. While I’m not completely happy with him, he does look the part of the Horseman, so I count that as a success.

Here are a few shots of the Horseman in action, the game was good fun! Photos by my friend Mia.

Click for a larger version

Headless horseman miniature

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From the painting desk #56 – Dragon

September 9, 2017

There comes a time, when we heed a certain call

and we finally pick up that dragon that we bought when we were 20 or so.

This awesome dragon has been sitting in my cupboard for years and years and years and years. I originally bought it way back when I was designing my own Reign of Fire inspired skirmish game of dragons vs. humans. As the movie was released in 2002, I assume that’s pretty much when the dragon was bought – meaning it has sat unpainted for 15 years. That’s the time it takes for a newborn baby to grow up and go through the Finnish public education system, or for a 20 year old, fresh out of high school geek living with their parents to become a 35 year old dissertation writing geek. Time flies, doesn’t it?

This was the result of yet another Random Platypus painting challenge, this time titled Old and mouldy. It was intended for people to finish pieces that have been mouldering away, so this was a perfect pick. It is a Reaper Miniatures dragon sculpted by Sandra Garrity, and should you want one, it’s still in production. I loved it back then, I love it now. The pose is dynamic and very dragon-y and makes the creature very imposing.

I don’t paint dragons very often, so I wanted to have fun with this one. I wanted to capture the feel of the old red box Dungeons & Dragons cover art by Larry Elmore, with the red dragon leaning over its piles of gold. I’m sure you’ve seen it.

I had originally based him on a 40mm square base, which was pitifully small. I had also propped him up with a piece of wire. Those had to go, as I wanted a more impressive base. A I was documenting the process for the forum painting challenge, here is a before-and-after photo.

Click for a larger version

The new base was a car mount for a cell phone holder – you can still make out the Nokia text in the centre. I had kept it lying around for ages, as you tend to do with stuff like this, in case it’s ever useful. The original store photos show the dragon leaning back on its tail, which I didn’t like. That’s probably why I propped it up with the wire originally. As I wanted to get rid of the wire, I had to gently bend the dragon forward to bring the balance up a bit. Once I’d done this, I pinned it to the base and secured it with ProCreate putty (not shown in the photo).

Painting the dragon was a fairly straightforward process. I knew that my patience for such a large piece would be limited, so I just washed and drybrushed away for the most part. I did do some layering on the belly, claws and teeth, but this was definitely not very delicate painting. The sculpt however is very forgiving, and I’m very pleased with the look.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Obviously the dragon needed treasure. I built small mounds out of ProCreate to represent piles of treasure, and sculpted in a bit of stonework to depict a dungeon floor. The treasure is painted ballast with some decorative jewel beads and painted over with cheap glitter nail polish – I definitely recommend both if you’re ever making miniature treasure stuff!

Click for a larger version

There you have it! A dragon to look nice in my glass cabinet and hopefully to terrorize adventurers in years to come. It would only be fitting for him to actually make it to a game of Dungeons & Dragons, so dear GM, if you’re reading this…

Things have been quiet on the blog front lately, as I’m doing some home renovation stuff and that’s taking up a big part of my time. I’ve still been plodding away at miniatures stuff, so hopefully I can show some of those soon.


From the painting desk #53 – A cloaker

June 25, 2017

Like most hobbyists (I assume), I tend to buy miniatures that I like. Why bother with rubbish, when I have a backlog of unpainted minis that I’ll never get through? Occasionally I will make an exception, though. This is one of those cases.

What is a “cloaker”? So nice of you to ask, it is a super silly, old Advanced Dungeons & Dragons monster. Its schtick? To disguise itself as a cloak. Quoting from Wikipedia:

The cloaker clings to a wall, hiding among actual cloaks and blankets, resembling a semi-circular cape with a long mace-like tail, and has two claws at the ends of the “cape”. Numerous round black, button-like eye spots help complete the illusion; when the cloaker conceals its tail and claws it is hard to distinguish it from a real cloak.


For the reason I ended up painting a cloaker, we have to backtrack several years. I tended to frequent the Frothers forum, where people would post new miniature releases for often harsh but honest commentary. Up came the Black Tree Design cloaker:

“Wear me, human.”

As you can see, the sculpt is a bit rough, to be extremely kind. From pretty much that day on, “cloaker” became shorthand for a terrible miniature – “That’s dire. A real cloaker.”

Skip forward years and years, and a discussion on the Random Platypus forum – a haunt of many former Frothers – starts. The forum has paint-alongs, where various members paint miniatures that fit a common theme (“Villain” or “Giant”) and share their progress. Thus began the cloaker paint-along.

I’ll be honest with you, the cloaker miniature is terrible. It’s soft, it looks unfinished, it has a weird lumpy base…yet there’s something there. It might be the goofiness of the concept, or the legendary status the miniature has attained, but there is something endearing about it.

The sculpt immediately made me think of this:

With that in mind, I went for a very traditional Dracula cape look, painting the inside a deep red and the rest of the cloak(er) black. As one description of the monster says its claws resemble a clasp made of bone, I painted the claws white. I don’t know if it’s just my imagination or a feature of the sculpt, but I saw a definite widow’s peak and painted that in to further enhance the Dracula look.

Click for a slightly larger version

My paintjob was fairly quick and rough. Yeah, it’s an endearing mini and all, but it was something of a chore to paint, as minis lacking definition can be. Still, I’m pretty happy with the result. With the concept, the big lumpy claws and the buckteeth it was never going to be menacing, so I gave it a goofy, somewhat awkward expression which I think turned out well. The deep red makes the inside look disturbingly fleshy.

So there you have it, a little cloaker of a cloaker and it’s funny and awful and glorious. I kind of love it.

Should you want one of your own, go get it here.



Salute 2017 part 2

April 28, 2017

Time for part two of my Salute report. This is mainly a photo dump of some of the things on display that I liked. Short descriptions when I can remember (or knew) what was going on. You can click on photos for larger versions, they all open in a new tab.

A dog looks on as the Russian revolution happens

Massive Star Wars battle going on

Some wild west action

Fantasy fun for everyone

A massive dungeon setup

Desert warfare

Lovely Frostgrave (I assume) diorama

A wonderful winter fantasy setup

Plenty of ruined walls to hide behind

More winter fantasy

Zombies break down a fence in a Walking Dead game

French and Indian wars

More French and Indian

They DO move in herds! A great Jurassic Park game

Hail to the king, baby!

Loving attention to detail

Welcome! To…

Papers, please! Slug Industries’ game in the vein of Escape from Colditz

Nazis roam the streets

The lovely cobblestone streets are currently on Kickstarter:

More of Papers, please

Storming the beaches of what I assume is Normandy

Love the explosion effects!

Giant steampunk robots in what I think was a demonstration of Wolsung

Massive 18th century battle setup

The gentry, happy behind their walls

The Random Platypus/Hasslefree collaboration table

Mawes incoming

A security meeting

Things getting tense

The coolness radiates off him in waves

Lovely detailing in the corridors

Ready to receive

A beastie comes charging in

You’re going to need bigger guns

Troopers protecting despot Drumpf

The second Random Platypus/Hasslefree game, a fantasy one

A miniature’s eye view

Dwarves and orcs clash

A look inside the dwarven hold

A wonderful upcoming giant from Heresy Miniatures

That is a big giant

Lovely minimalist setup, never caught a game on it sadly

Definitely not minimalist, lovely though!

Epic fantasy

Semi-fictional late-17th century clash between the Swedish and the Dutch

The table won multiple awards and for good reason

Disembarkation in progress

Villagers milling about

A fortress was involved a well

Advancing across the fields

“Oh deer.”

Row, boys, row!

The ship bombards the fort

…and the fort shoots back

A demo setup for Drowned Earth, currently on Kickstarter:

As you can see, there was plenty on offer – this was just a small sample of all the wonderful games and table setups on offer. If you haven’t visited Salute yet, I definitely suggest you do if at all possible!


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!”


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


From the painting desk #44 – Horrors of the deep

October 23, 2016

Last year’s Halloween game was a success, so I’m running another one this year. With my interest going the way of pirates in the Caribbean, this year’s event will be themed accordingly. A few newly painted minis have joined my roster for the game:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

This crab man is one of the post-apocalyptic mutants from Ramshackle Games. A somewhat crude but characterful sculpt, his crustacean appearance makes him a perfectly themed old school Hollywood sea monster. The model was fun to paint, the different ridges and textures making him perfect for drybrushing. I drew some inspiration from real life crabs for the pincers, really making them stand out from pale orange/yellow body.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

The second model is a Reaper Bones spirit. As it was a nice, translucent green plastic, I didn’t do a lot of painting on it apart from a very light white drybrush. After some consideration I painted in blue glowing eyes (which don’t look as horrible as in the photo), but left it at that. I mean, if you’ve got a special effect with the material, why paint over it too much? Instead, I devoted some extra attention to the base.

I’ve themed both bases in the “dark, unearthly ocean floor of death” style I used earlier on my undead pirate now permanently named Armitage Shanks. I added an old Warhammer tobstone and some broken planks to the spirit’s base to suggest a shipwrecked sailor.

These were a fun diversion, and will be going on the table in less than a week! Comments welcome as always.


Super pop culture showdown!

July 27, 2016

You’ve heard of pirates vs. ninjas, haven’t you? It’s one of those pop culture tropes that just sort of sprung up, most likely [citation needed] through the following chain of reasoning:

  1. Everyone loves ninjas.
  2. Everyone loves pirates.
  3. Ninjas are tougher, though.
  4. No, pirates are.
  5. Pirates vs. ninjas it is.

I’ve long known Paul “Cheetor” Shorten – who runs the wonderful sho3box blog – from the miniatures blogosphere, as we started our blogs around the same time and were both initially blogging about zombie miniatures. He’s lately been working on his wonderful pseudohistorical fantasy Japan project (see the tags Shonen Knives and Kurîpu jima), and with me working on my pirates…it figures. When I made the travel plans for our Spring UK trip, we threw in a week in Ireland and set aside time for a blogger meet-up! This gave us not only the chance to spend some quality time with Mr. & Mrs. Cheetor, but also the opportunity to put the question of pirates vs. ninjas to rest through the gentlemanly art of wargaming.

I won’t bother with a long write-up of the game itself. It was a fairly quick one, using the Song of Blades and Heroes mechanics roughly cobbled together from various Ganesha Games titles. The dread undead pirate captain Armitage Shanks brought his dastardly crew to the peaceful town of Kurîpu Jima to steal their obviously cursed treasure.

To be honest, we kept the game short and sweet, spending much more time setting up the table and talking about miniatures, wargaming and everything related long into the night. The result of the game, perhaps luckily, didn’t solve the question of pirates vs. ninjas – Cheetor’s ninjas soundly destroyed my pirates in combat, yet what was left of wily captain Shanks’ crew managed to make off with the treasure.

Without further ado, here’s a bunch of photos! Most are fantastical reconstructions instead of actual in-game pictures. You can click on any photo for a larger version.

All in all, we had a great time! My sincere thanks to Cheetor and Mrs. Cheetor for accommodating us and making all this possible. It was a pleasure playing on such a beautiful table against such a gentlemanly opponent. I was very happy to finally get to meet a fellow blogger who I think of as a friend after years of online-only communication.

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