Archive for the ‘Miniatures’ Category

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Table thoughts

August 4, 2017

Some time (quite accurately a year) back, I had problems with my gaming boards. I eventually got around those, but I’m now faced with another. While I quite like the look of my current two boards, they’re causing me all sorts of problems. They’re difficult to store, for one, plus there’s a nasty gap between them. They’re the wrong shape, and making some more would only increase the storage problems. Soooo, I’ve decided to get rid of them, and start over. Yeah.

Now, I made it sound a tad more dramatic than it actually is. I have a renovation of my gaming room coming later this year, and as part of that, I sort of want to get rid of the “all corners filled with junk” chic that’s fairly prevalent at the moment. As such, I’m looking to build a more permanent gaming table that can be neatly stored when not in use.

Crafting a gaming table isn’t an easy task at this point in my hobby career. For one, it needs to be really nice. No more random junk strewn over the dinner table. Second, it needs to be gentle on miniatures. I used to have these big Warhammer boards, coated with a mixture of PVA and fairly coarse sand. Yes, it could withstand a hammer (I assume), but it also chipped every single miniature that was knocked over, or placed lying down and accidentally touched. Third, as mentioned above, it needs to be able to be stored fairly easily.

I was thinking that neoprene/mousepad mats might be the solution. Having seen a few very nice ones, I figured I’d just buy one of those and be done with it. Gentle on minis, easily stored, looks nice. The only problems are lack of a suitable print and flatness. There just isn’t a Caribbean beach gaming mat. The few beaches there are, are more Normandy, so they’re too dark. Flatness is also something of a problem, as I definitely want to create at least a small level difference so I can have a beach with some piers on it.

I’m currently experimenting with different materials for covering a gaming table. These are a bit out of the box, as I’m trying a yoga mat and a camping pad. Both have a good balance of softness and firmness, and can hopefully be textured decently with sandpaper. It remains to be seen how well they take glue, paint and static grass. If they do, that’s my gentle-for-minis problem solved. Plus they’re dirt cheap when compared with some craft materials. I’ll let you know how the tests turn out! If you’ve tried this, do tell.

What I’m looking to build eventually, is a loose MDF sheet that I can place on a separate simple table stand. To solve the storage issue, I intend to drill in some discreet holes so I can hang it on the wall. As a terrain board isn’t the nicest decorative element, I’m thinking of attaching a nice print or some lovely printed fabric on the backside of the board. This means that when it’s on the wall, it’s a nice, large piece of interior decor, and can swiftly be taken down for some gaming. It won’t take up floor space either, and should actually look pretty nice. At the risk of tooting my own horn, I’m quite proud of this idea. Even my fiancée was sold on it, which is no mean feat when it comes to interior design…

One of the nicer things about being an adult is that you can actually make something like this. I wouldn’t have dreamed of anything of this sort when starting out as a teenager. Oh, glorious(ly approaching) middle age!

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From the painting desk #55 – Big guns

July 21, 2017

A special double feature this time, somewhat shoehorned into matching a theme! So, big guns it is! Sadly, there’s no sexual innuendo here, nor is it an AC/DC reference. Instead there are just two big guns and a rambling intro.

Click for a larger version

First up is a cabin boy from North Star. That’s not even a very big gun, except in relation to his tiny frame. This was a quick mini to paint and fairly fun to boot – although poses with anything lifted in front of the face are usually a bit irritating. The model also had a really unfortunate mould line running through his hair, and I couldn’t get it out entirely as I didn’t want to destroy the hair texture.

I figured that the cabin boy would be a little runt with little respect shown to him. That meant no fancy clothes, although he appears to have been given a mighty fine pistol – or maybe it’s just something for him to play around with, with no powder or shot? Or maybe, just maybe there’s action going on and all hands on board are needed.

Small minis are quite fan to paint, on account of being, well, small. Very little surface to paint, and with no fiddly details, excessive pouches or suchlike, this was a delightfully easy paint. I’m quite happy with him.

Click for a larger version

The second one is a highwayman by Outpost. I loved, loved, loved painting this one and I like to think it shows. You know how sometimes everything just seems to click, the mini is a joy to paint and you pretty much get everything right on the first go? It happened with this one, and I think it resulted in one of the nicest pieces I’ve painted this year.

I kept the palette simple, with the red scarf and exposed skin acting as focal points in an otherwise muted mini. He wields a blunderbuss – an early form of shotgun that for some reason I can’t articulate is one of my all-time favourite weapons – so definitely fits the big guns theme. The sculpt is nice and clean and lends itself well to painting. If you’re into the genre, I definitely suggest picking up some minis from Outpost.

While originally a highwayman, I intend to use the character as a lackey of the merchant shown in the previous post. Just like with the governor’s henchman, the distinct look of long coat, raised collar and tricorne hat gives out a nice, faceless menacing feel perfect for hired thugs.

They bring this year’s painting count up to 14.

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From the painting desk #54 – Foul capitalist

July 12, 2017

I recently finished another civilian to inhabit Port George, a wealthy man from Blue Moon Manufacturing. He’ll likely be one of the main antagonists, a rich trader with ambitions for extending the sugar industry to Tyburn island. He’s another characterful sculpt, something I appreciate in Blue Moon’s output. His haughty, grumpy look fits the character concept well.

Click for a larger version

I went for rich, clean colours to make him pop. As the red coat is reminiscent of the colour scheme of my soldiers, I threw in some additional colour to distinguish him from those.

While painting him, I had a very distinct mental image of the kind of person he is. A main inspiration is the character of Cary Warleggan from the highly recommended Poldark tv show. He’s a cruel, greedy banker and utterly despicable.

The picture says it all, really

My time here in Dublin is drawing to an end in a few weeks, and that’s crazy! Seems like we got here just a few weeks ago…

Oh yeah, the merchant is painted miniature #12 this year.

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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.

Yeah.

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.

 

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Outpost highwaymen size comparison

June 14, 2017

Last week the postman brought me some lovely new minis by Outpost Wargame Services. They’re part of their highwaymen range, which also includes victims as well as characters from the City of Vice TV show. As the range features plenty of suitable minis for my pirate project, I’ve been eyeing them for a year or two now. One thing that has kept me from taking the plunge is the lack of comparison pictures available. While there are some here and there on various blogs, I wasn’t able to find a proper size comparison. This post will obviously remedy that and hopefully help out other people who might be wondering about the size.

Now, this isn’t a comprehensive thing by any means, as I’m just using the miniatures that I happen to have at hand here in Dublin. It does cover a fair few of the most typical pirate ranges though. Also of note is that there is no lovely, handy measuring tool here, nor have I standardized the minis in any way – they are just plonked down on 25mm slottabases with their integral bases intact. The exception to this is the Black Scorpion pirate who doesn’t have an integral base.

Click for a larger version

As you can see, the best matches are Blue Moon and North Star, as Outpost minis are on the chunkier, more cartoony side. This means that Galloping Major and Redoubt 18th century stuff should fit nicely. You can see my previous size comparison with those two manufacturers in this post. Like usual, I will happily use them all together as I’m not picky about 100% size or style matching.

Short and sweet this time, I hope this is of use! I might offer this to OWS just to save others some trouble.

 

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From the painting desk #51 – Night watchman

May 19, 2017

Another painted mini, I’m on a roll! This time it’s another civilian, a night watchman from Blue Moon that I bought at Salute. I absolutely love the sculpt, as it has bags of character and great facial features. Additionally the model was one of those that pretty much paints itself and I feel like a produced a nice paintjob with very little work.

Click for a larger version

The model just really sparked my imagination. With his fairly dim lantern and suspicious expression, he’s the guy just about to be taken out after hearing a suspicious sound. In my head I’ve dubbed him Jenkins, for some reason. He’ll be a useful type to have around, whether it’s looking for smugglers, hunting vampires or expecting a pirate raid.

Continuing my efforts to improve my painting, I again paid special attention to the blending, and I think this is some of my smoothest work yet. After much deliberation I even painted some light OSL (object source lighting) effects on the cuff and sleeve of the lantern-carrying arm. Even those turned out nice. So, fun happy times all around!

This was this year’s eighth painted miniature.

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From the painting desk #50 – The Doctor

May 12, 2017

My 50th “From the painting desk” entry is another pirate – so no huge departure from what I’ve been doing for the past years. I was thinking of doing something special for the 50th post in the series (namely, featuring a dragon I painted recently), but life intervened so here we are!

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Click for a larger version

It’s a privateer from Black Scorpion. There’s really not much difference between a privateer and a pirate (and many swung between the two), so he’s a lovely fit. I love the model’s posing and general look, as he gives off a great stone-cold killer vibe. I’m planning to branch out into highwaymen at some point, and he’ll fit right in.

Again, I kept the palette toned down and gave the base the “pirate tufts” instead of the flowery ones used on civilians and soldiers. I’m not sure if it shows, but I used the model to practice blending. While I’m happy enough with my level of painting skill, I’ve not noticed much progress in the past years. With this in mind, I’ve begun to consciously learn new stuff – starting from something as elementary as blending. I’m quite happy with the result, and it feels nice to level up my painting a little. Work on this will continue!

My pirates will be taking on Paul’s samurai soon, so I’m currently painting up more pirates with muskets to teach him a lesson. As for the pirate’s name, he has spectacles. It’s obvious he’s a doctor, rather than a dubious marksman.

I think this is miniature #7 of the year, counting the dragon. I’m quite happy with my output here in Dublin so far, so this might actually be a fairly productive painting year!

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