Archive for the ‘Miniatures’ Category

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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

Click for a larger version

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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From the painting desk #64 – An eclectic mix

May 11, 2019

I’ve been on a bit of a painting kick lately, so I’ve got a grand total of five new minis to show you! Funnily enough they’re from five different companies too, which goes to show that I don’t mind mixing ranges and manufacturers in my project. It’s been good having some painting mojo back – painting has felt really fun and I’m pleased with the results I’m getting. As for the minis, here we go!

Black Cat Bases African lady

Click for a larger version

First up is an African lady by CP Models that I picked up in a Bad Squiddo sale. I kept the palette super simple and tried a tone I hadn’t really used before in the pale green. I think it turned out really nice and I’ll be sure to use that tone later on as well. A neat, simple model, she’ll work well as a generic civilian in the West Indies.

Black Cat Bases pirate queen

Click for a larger version

Next up is a pirate queen from Black Cat Bases. Nice and characterful, she was a joy to paint. To go for much bolder colours, I drew inspiration from one of my favourite pro wrestlers, the pirate princess Kairi Sane, and went with an almost white overcoat with blue cuffs, and a blue tricorne with gold trim and a white feather. While I tried to keep it from going too over the top, I think the end result is a suitably ostentatious pirate lady.

Freebooter's Fate Tiradora

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The next mini I completed is a recent Salute purchase, a Freebooter’s Fate mini by the name of Tiradora (which is just Spanish for “female shooter”, so not really a name at all). This was the first Freebooter’s Fate mini I’ve painted, and I’m quite impressed! Crisp detail and nice smooth surfaces made this a joy to paint. While the catalogue mini was painted white, to me the mini looked obviously African, so I went with a dark brown skintone. Another mini I’m happy with!

Citadel townsfolk brawler

Click for a larger version

Sometimes you end up painting old stuff, and that makes me feel warm inside. This model is an old Citadel one from the 1987 Travelling Players set. When this model was released, I was five years old and Emmi wasn’t even born yet. There’s something really cool about that. I’ve actually had this mini for a while, as he used to be a part of my WHFB Empire army. One day I just figured that he might fit in well with my pirates, so I stripped him of his old paintjob and did a quick repaint. As his facial features sort of suggested it and I had been painting brown-skinned minis, I figured I’d paint him with darker skin too, and I think it looks good! You may notice that his basing with the flowers suggests that he isn’t a part of the pirates or the maroons faction, but rather a member of my townsfolk. I’m thinking that he maybe works on the docks (and now I’ve got Bon Jovi stuck in my head, it’s tough) or is the bouncer for the local tavern.

Black Scorpion pirate

Click for a larger version

My last entry in this post is a mini I’ve wanted to paint a long time. As I’ve been thinking about the various characters that inhabit Tyburn Island, one that has been firmly lodged in my head is a hired sword nicknamed “The Razor of Nassau”. Don’t ask me where it came from, but it’s this guy. I love this mini, he just oozes menace and has that gunslinger vibe about him. To go with this, I painted him in full but worn black, with a red sash for some visual contrast.

I’m happy with this lot for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s nice to get stuff painted as it’s been quite a thin year so far. Secondly, this batch turned out quite diverse – a couple of females and not everyone’s white. It’s not a huge thing, but it’s fun on both a visual level and out of principle too. I’ve got more stuff lined up too, so..yeah, cool!

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From the painting desk #63 – It’s…pirates!

March 30, 2019

Finally more painted pirates! These have been on the bench for a while, and they’re pretty much the first miniatures I’ve painted all year. While I’ve done some terrain building and painting, minis have fallen by the wayside a bit. This should be rectified shortly, as I’ve promised to paint up some stuff for Salute, and that’s exactly a week away.

Foundry maroon with Black Scorpion pirate

Click for a larger version

Another maroon from Foundry, I love these guys and I’ve painted a couple before. Simple, elegant sculpt, simple, not so elegant paintjob. It does the trick though! I asked Emmi to pick the colours, which was surprisingly fun. I notice myself going back to tried and true combinations of colours, which can mean things getting a bit samey – I can’t remember how many times I’ve used the combination of Vallejo Khaki and Vallejo Cayman Green. What can I say, they’re lovely, muted tones with awesome coverage.

The second one is a pirate from Black Scorpion, with a massive axe and some equally massive mutton chops. He’s somewhat reminiscent of Mr. Gibbs from the Pirates of the Caribbean films, and I’m sure I’ve seen him used as a proxy somewhere. Funnily enough considering the previous paragraph, his vest is Vallejo Cayman Green and his trousers are Vallejo Khaki, what do you know!

I’m super stoked about going to Salute! It’s become a yearly tradition by now, and very much a social event and a great chance to meet all the lovely folks I’ve befriended over the years in this hobby. This year I’m looking forward to bumping into Alex of Leadballoony fame as well as spending time with the nice people from the Random Platypus forum. After Salute we’re heading up north for a hundred miles of hiking along the Pennine Way, which I’m possibly even more stoked about. This will likely mean that the blog will be dormant for a couple of weeks, although considering my rapid-fire posting, you won’t be able to tell any difference.

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Terrain upgrade

February 27, 2019

Like many other hobbyists (I assume), I have terrain pieces amassed through the years. After showing some old green hills in my previous post, I figured there might still be some use left in them. While I claimed they were from the 1990s, thinking back I’m fairly sure they’re mid-2000s as I remember us making them in my current apartment, so 10+ years old at least.

Click for a larger version

Now, when these were built, we prized durability a lot. The hills were carved from blue foam and then covered with a pva/sand mix. A phrase from an old White Dwarf sums it up: “In the morning you’ll need dynamite to shift it.” Of course the sand we used was a very cheap one, so it’s coarse as anything (and I’ve still got about 5-6 kg of it down in the basement). This in turn led to the hills (and the gaming boards built in the same manner) being terribly miniature-unfriendly. Basically, if you knocked a metal mini over, it was almost certain to chip. Good times!

Click for a larger version

I was already contemplating throwing the hills away, but as they already existed, I started thinking that they could be revived and actually put back to use. Out came the craft store acrylics, the static grass and the tufts, as well as some coffee stirrers, tea leaves and some sunken resin barrels and what do you know, they actually turned out pretty nice! The static grass helps with the aforementioned chipping issue too.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

They can be used either as table edge pieces or put together to make a larger island. Painting them as islands obviously limits them to more nautical games, but I’m fairly certain I’ll have some of those with my lovely new ocean mat.

Click for a larger version

Here’s what they look like with scenery items and miniatures placed on the pieces.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

I think it looks mighty nice! Finally, a before and after shot:

Click for a larger version

Sorry for the slightly overexposed quality of the photos, the pieces are so large that I had to rely on daylight rather than my usual lighting – and to be honest, I couldn’t be bothered to tweak camera settings.

 

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Custom mat from Deep-Cut Studio – a review

February 16, 2019

It just so happened, that I wanted a gaming mat for sea battles – possibly unsurprising considering my pirate infatuation. Turns out such a mat isn’t all that easy to find! You’d assume it to be a common gaming mat staple: a lovely, greenish-turquoise Caribbean seascape is pretty iconic and it’s not like pirate gaming isn’t popular. However, this assumption would be wrong. While there are seascapes available, many of them are very much a dark blue. This is nice in itself and probably fits most naval games wonderfully, but it’s not ideal for evoking a sunny Caribbean/West Indies feel. Furthermore, I wanted the mat to be mousepad material as it’s easy to store, lays flat and has a nice feel to it.

After doing plenty of googling and window shopping, I ended up looking at Deep-Cut Studios’ custom mat printing service, Print-O-Mat. I was overjoyed, now all I needed was a suitable image, and surely one would be easily available. How wrong I was. As is apparent in hindsight, you need a very big image for a quality print, and I was going for a 3x3ft map – roughly 90x90cm to fit my small table. While there are beautiful stock photos of Caribbean waters, you need a very high resolution for a high quality mat. After spending hours searching through various photo archives both free and commercial, I settled on something especially designed for the purpose: a printable battle mat image from Tiny Worlds. A bargain at $4.50, it suited my needs wonderfully. While it was also very blue, purchasing it as a file meant that I could simply use Photoshop to tweak it to my needs. I edited the colour balance to make the mat more green to evoke the correct genre feel.

Original on the left, colour-tweaked on the right

Pleased with the result, I headed to Deep-Cut Studios’ site and used their simple interface for creating the mat. The final price for a 90x90cm mat was around 40€ with a flat postage rate of 15€. Deep-Cut is situated in Lithuania, so no customs charges for a Euro customer. I was quite happy with the price altogether! The mat was very speedily delivered in a work week, and boy, was I impressed with the end result.

As you can hopefully see in the photos, the mat is crisp and vibrant. While colours are a tad darker than the original image, it’s still a faithful rendition and looks pretty much just like I imagined, and it should be noted that the lighting conditions and camera settings distort the colour in the photos! I threw down some super old hills that were originally made for WHFB way back in the 90s (I think) as well as some of my badlands/scifi cork outcrops that make for surprisingly nice rocky shoals. I love how it looks.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Overall verdict: I’m super happy with my custom mat. Great quality and quick delivery at a very reasonable price point. While a part of the credit obviously goes to Tiny Worlds for the original image, I’m really, really happy with Deep-Cut’s service and will likely use them again.

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