Archive for the ‘Miniatures’ Category

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From the painting desk #48 – The Unkillable Frenchman

January 30, 2017

Another miniature finished, this time a pirate from Hasslefree. I’ve been putting off painting him for a while, and the reason is the Hasslefree curse: I love HF minis, but because of the high quality of the sculpts they always feel intimidating, and I find myself thinking I can’t give the mini enough attention. In the end I’ll paint them, enjoy it and love the end result. It has happened before (notice how I’m talking about the same thing on that post, and that was in 2012) and this time was no exception.

The miniature being very characterful, I once again found myself concocting a background story, as I tend to do while painting. So was born Jean Blanc – the Unkillable Frenchman. Pirates like Blackbeard would often count on their fearsome reputation to do their work for them as, after all, it was always better if you could take a ship without firing a shot. I applied this theme to the portly French pirate as well. He was wearing a padded coat and heavy armour, so I assumed these had obviously saved his life more than once, contributing to the legend of the Frenchman impervious to pistol balls and blades. I painted his hair grey to suggest he has been surviving on the seven seas for some time. This nicely tied in with his name, which in turn was a nod towards the original inspiration for the sculpt.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

“The Devil takes care of his own!” say the British merchants.

“Non. C’est simplement une abondance d’armures” thinks captain Blanc according to Traducteur nommé Google.

The captain was great fun to paint. A well-sculpted miniature will do that! No guesswork on facial features, no lacking definition or the usual annoying little problems often found on minis. It’s much easier to paint a nice miniature to a good standard. There were some quality issues uncharacteristic of Hasslefree, namely some pitting of the metal on the sword and the back of his coat, but nothing serious.

I went for a combination of bright and subdued tones, and picked a darker skintone than normal. After complaining in my previous post about laying paint on too thick, I paid extra attention to thinner layers and utilized my wet palette to what I think is good effect. For once, I’m really, really happy with a finished mini! I even painted some freehand wood grain on his peg leg, and I all but hate painting freehand.

As the lightbox tends to have really harsh lighting (note to self: might need a thicker filter), here’s a more natural, warmer shot of Blanc as part of the Queen’s crew. As you can see, he’s a big, bulky guy:

Pirate crew

Click for a larger version

That’s miniature #4 of 2017 finished. I’m going on a six week trip to Malaysia and Indonesia starting next Sunday, so that will sadly put an end to my painting for a month and a half. Still, I can think of far, far worse distractions, and obviously I’ll be taking a bunch of pirate books along for some holiday reading.

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From the painting desk #47 – Governor’s retinue

January 23, 2017

Port George finally has a crown-appointed governor and I have my first painted minis of 2017! I finished painting a trio of miniatures I started in late 2016, representing the governor, his son and their manservant. All three are from different manufacturers, with the governor being a Front Rank gentleman, his son a Galloping Major sailor character and the manservant a Black Cat Bases bounty hunter.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Governor Weatherby is a classic, stylish gentleman. I’ve yet to decide whether he’s a governor of the pirate hanging type or the pirate embracing type. The mini was good fun to paint. I went for a bright blue for the jacket, but otherwise kept the palette fairly muted. I wanted the governor to look well-off but not ostentatious, leaving the latter for his son. Being a Front Rank miniature, he is fairly small, but I think that actually works quite well here, as it does make him look a little older. That’s also why I decided to make his hair grey.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

I wanted the governor’s son to be something of a foppish dandy, so I gave him a purple jacket combined with a yellow waistcoat. The emerald green bows on his plait and hat add even more touches of colour, and obviously all of his button are bright brass. I botched painting his left eye, and decided to make it into an expression. I think the end result makes him quite characterful, as he is glancing sideways somewhat nervously and reaching for his sword. The expression, the large hands and smallis head make him look young and awkward, which is exactly what I wanted. Well, initially I didn’t know that it was exactly what I wanted, but I love the end result.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Stylistically the manservant, Mitchell, is an entirely different case from his employers. “Manservant” is obviously just a polite expression for “bodyguard and muscle”, and the mini’s huge size (typical of Black Cat Bases sculpts) works in this regard. I’ve always loved the look of a greatcoat with the collar up, so this was a real treat. I wanted Mitchell to look properly badass, so I kept the colours dark with the exception of the boots and the pistols. For some extra diversity and to spark the imagination regarding his background, I gave him dark skin. I’m really happy with the greatcoat and the miniature in general, I think he looks hard as nails.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

I had a lot of fun painting these three, as they’re all very different both in style and colour scheme. While the governor and his son are really bright and colourful, their servant is dark and menacing. As it is, I think these three minis manage to create a nice little narrative. It’s stuff like this that really keeps up my enthusiasm and motivation for a project! These three have been waiting for me to finish them for a while, so finally getting them done is extra rewarding to boot.

I’ve been thinking that I need to improve my painting. While I’m fairly happy with my basic level, I tend to get lazy with thinning paint, layering and blending. I think there’s plenty of space for improvement there. Of course taking massive closeup photos of minis doesn’t help either! Feedback on this front much appreciated.

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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

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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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Halloween in the Caribbean

November 3, 2016

Halloween came and went, and it brought a nice chance for some horror-themed gaming. I obviously wanted to do something a bit more pirate-y this year, so the theme was obvious.

Putting together a game to play with my friends, I went with my go-to ruleset, Flashing Steel by Ganesha Games. I tweaked and simplified it at places for ease of gaming, and then wrapped it in a nice little cocoon of story. The story was a suitable genre piece, with the dread undead pirate captain Armitage Shanks (last seen bothering the Orient) coming to claim charming young Rosalie Underwood for his bride for all eternity at the strike of midnight. To make things easier for him, Shanks decided to bring along an army of the dead as well as two horrible, imaginatively named lackeys, Ghost and Crab man. Luckily a group of heroes was there to thwart Shanks’ evil scheme! The protagonists consisted of dashing captain Pemberton Smythe and his two redcoats, pirate queen Valeriana de Torres with her voodoo priestess Madame Labadie and first mate Benson, Rosalie Underwood’s father with his priestly friend Father Wexcombe and trusted servant Belinda, and Daring Dragoon, the people’s swashbuckling hero.

What followed was an epic battle, with poor Rosalie’s fate hanging in the balance almost up to the last dice rolls of the game. What did we get to see? Our heroes cut down waves upon waves of zombies. Father Wexcombe banishing the ghost with holy water, only to get shot down by Shanks just moments later and brought back as a zombie. The terrifying Crab man crushing poor Daring Dragoon after the hero’s valiant charge. The pirate queen and His Majesty’s captain fighting side by side to buy more time before falling to the claws of Crab man and Shanks’ blade. The voodoo priestess dueling magically with Shanks, pulling the enchanted Rosalie this way and that…and finally, first mate Benson putting a pistol bullet in Shanks’ skull just as the witching hour passed and the forces of darkness withdrew.

It was a blast! We laughed a lot, we rolled a lot of dice, imitated death groans and roars of frustration (thanks Joonas!) and pushed little toy soldiers across the board, all the while overdosing on sugar. What more could you want from a Halloween game?

Shown below are photos of various quality from the game, taken by the various participants on their phones. You can click on any of them for a larger view.

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The defenders

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Preparing for the forces of evil

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One of the character sheets I put together

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First mate Benson pretty much spent the game standing in this spot killing zombies

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The Daring Dragoon’s fateful battle

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The Halloween theme extended to the snacks as well

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Another shot of our heroes, with the Daring Dragoon showing off

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SHAME

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Father Wexcombe’s heroic moment

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A closer look at pirate queen de Torres

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Belinda comforts the rescued Rosalie

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Our heroes hold off the zombie horde

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An aerial view of the starting positions

Shanks and his minions go forth

Captain Smythe half-hidden by a fountain

Captain Smythe half-hidden by some stocks

The battle is won!

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Belinda and Rosalie again – a subtext of romance was suggested

A blogger with that good old Innsmouth elegance

A blogger with that good old Innsmouth elegance

I think ending this post after that photo is appropriate.

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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.

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