Archive for the ‘Pirates’ Category

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From the painting desk #76 – Brig ahoy!

February 13, 2021

Much as I enjoy a quiet life indoors, I have to say that especially now that spring is slowly creeping in, COVID stuff is getting to me. Usually around this time of the year, I would be making travel plans for London and Salute – much like I did last year (“I’m pretty sure this corona thing will be over by April”, good call, Nostradamus). It’s not a huge thing in the grand scheme of things, I haven’t had loved ones fall ill or anything like that, but I do miss normal life: travel, walking into shops and cafés without wearing a mask and worrying about safe distances, not flinching every time someone coughs nearby, hugging loved ones and so on and so on. I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about. At least it’s bright and sunny here in Finland, and we’ve had a lovely, snowy winter out here!

Anyway, onto nicer things. I’ve finally finished a ship! It’s been a good long while since I bought and printed the brig produced by Printable Scenery, and I finally managed to complete work on it. It was actually progressing at a decent rate, until I hit the dreariest part: putting together the masts and rigging. The ship sat for months and months in a mostly finished state, but I just couldn’t be bothered.

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Mast and rigging work isn’t even all that awful, it’s just something I’ve developed an almost irrational dislike for. It took a few empty weekends to finally get myself around to doing the work, and even then it was bit by bit. As often happens, however, the better it started to look, the more it motivated me to keep going in a cycle of positive feedback! Now that it’s done, I must say I’m really, really happy with how it looks. Much as I would’ve liked to photograph it with some sort of lovely background, I had to settle for a beautiful sheet of blue foam. Emmi has been doing a lot of watercolour painting lately, and has promised to paint me a backdrop, I’m really looking forward to it!

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Now, some people go for really accurate and realistic rigging. I didn’t. The approach I adopted was built on looks (“does it look like a ship’s rigging?”) and functionality (“can I place and move minis easily?”), and the end result reflects both. Minis can be moved, the setup is pretty sturdy, and to my eye it looks like, well, a ship.

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The model is great, I think, but I could have maybe scaled it up a little. It’s that size where it would be pretty accurate with 28mm minis if they did not have bases and if 28mm didn’t mean 32mm. Still, these are the compromises we always make with buildings and terrain too, and there are only so many ships you can store in an apartment. If it doesn’t fit on a shelf, it’s going on the floor, and if it’s on the floor, it’s free game for dust, cats, and the occasional kick, so not really what you want for something you’ve spent hours and hours on.

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With my previously finished Sea Dog by Games of War, I now have a very small pirate fleet! The brig packs plenty of firepower with 8 cannon and 8 swivel guns, while the Sea Dog sports four cannon. They also allow for a bit of ship to ship action. I have plenty more ships to make, including a second Sea Dog, and a xebec and some larger ships from the Pirates vs. Cthulhu kickstarter. Now what did I just say about space…

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From the painting desk #75 – Pirate ladies

January 31, 2021

Another showcase of things I’ve painted fairly recently. I’m building an all-woman pirate crew for our upcoming Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago thing, so here’s a selection! Click on any photo for a larger version.

L to R: Bridge Games, Lovecraft Design x 2

The model on the left is actually a scifi mini from the Cobalt-1 range currently owned by Bridge Miniatures, and I think I got her from Alex over at Leadballoony. I assume she’s some sort of alien: the model did not have heels at all and I sculpted them on with putty. For some reason, her face reminded me of a young Pam Grier, so I decided to paint the model with dark skin. The two other models are printed pieces from Iain Lovecraft’s Pirates vs. Cthulhu kickstarter. I should’ve printed the middle mini a little smaller, but couldn’t be bothered as the size won’t be noticed anyway. On the right we have an excellent miniature rendition of Anne Bonny as she’s depicted in Black Sails.

L to R: Black Scorpion x 2, Reaper

Here, the first two miniatures are from Black Scorpion, and I really like them! They’re very characterful, but in different ways, the first one with a murderous intent and the second being wonderfully flamboyant. Extra bonus points for a body shape sadly very, very, very uncommon in woman miniatures which very much tend to be of the “sixpack and breast implants” variety. It’s one of the nicest pieces I’ve seen in a while! The thid mini is from Reaper Miniatures, and a good example of how fantasy miniature ranges can provide some excellent minis for pirate gaming.

L to R: Dead Earth Games x 2, Vae Victis

The third batch of three consists of two minis from Dead Earth Games’ Pirates of the Dread Sea range, and a very pirate-like vampire hunter from Vae Victis. For the pirate carrying the multi-barreled nock gun I went for some tattoos which I’m fairly happy with! They make her look pretty bad ass. The mini with the hook hand had an Indian look about her, so I used a fairly bright orange for the dress. It made me realise it’s a colour that I almost never use, but I quite liked the end result.

All together now!

There are miniatures here from no fewer than six different manufacturers, and I think the group shot is a nice example of how a uniform painting and basing style can really bring different lines together. At this stage and especially combined with my existing pirate women, I have all the minis I need for my crew. However, I’m quite motivated to paint at least a few more! It’s bringing some much needed variety to my pirates: before these minis the gender balance was something like 38 men to 8 women. It’s not a big thing in the overall scheme of things, but nevertheless makes me happy. It might be worth noting that this crew is distinctly lacking in pirates of the pin-up variety. As some of those can be nice sculpts, there are some cases where I’ve painted bare legs as tight pants, which is a nice enough compromise to me.

Work on the Ghost Archipelago project carries on, comments welcome as always!

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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.

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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.

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Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2020

Wishing you all peaceful and relaxing holidays!

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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

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Zachary Sallow

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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!

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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

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Dire crab

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Hunting pirates #1 – The Cast

June 8, 2020

My pirate project has been running since 2015. Surprisingly, I haven’t tired of it yet, far from it.  However, at times I feel like I want to do something else – yet related to the project. Inspired greatly by IRO and Wudugast, I’ve decided to start a sub-project for my pirates: pirate hunters! A small group of special characters to pit against my pirates.

Now, I’m a huge fan of the Badass Crew trope. Whether it’s The Bloodpack from Blade 2, Dutch’s team from Predator, the Seven Samurai or countless other examples, I love it! In case you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s a case of rather than a leading character and some generic mooks, the group consists of individual personalities. As I’ve already got plenty of pirate characters, I wanted a group of memorable antagonists. I find it much more enjoyable to paint characters with some story to them, or even just a defined concept. While these tiny people will likely have their own crew of unnamed backup, as well as a ship of their own, I wanted to start small to make sure I can complete the project. I believe the final spark of inspiration came from stumbling across John Carpenter’s Vampires on Netflix one night.

So, let me introduce you to these characters! On a spectrum of strictly historical to Hollywood, this part of the project is definitely at the latter end. The pictures are an eclectic mixture of stuff lifted from manufacturers’ sites, screencaps of STL files and some photos. I’m sure you’ll recognize some of the archetypes:

There’s The Leader. He is merciless, aloof and holds a grudge against pirates – his lost arm is likely the cause. The model is Lord Wilmore from the 1775 Join or Die Kickstarter. Whether he’s the person financing everything, or if there’s a shadowy eminence behind him, remains a mystery for now.

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Next, The Second-in-command. I’ve dubbed him The Marquis in my head, and he’s like a cross between Inigo Montoya from Princess Bride and Comte de Rochefort from The Three Musketeers. A brilliant, but cruel swordsman. He might murder his boss one day and take over the operation. The model is a custom Hero Forge piece.

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Then there’s The Sniper. He’s a quiet type, and very good at hitting things from afar. The model is a marksman from Warlord Games’ Pike & Shotte range.

Photo © Warlord Games

The Twins are two British aristocrats, one proficient with a blade and the other with pistols. Obviously they form a deadly duo, perfectly complementing each other’s fighting styles. Much like The Gemini Twins in The Man with the Iron Fists (note: spoilers, if you haven’t seen the film). The miniatures are a privateer and a navy officer from Black Scorpion.

The next one I’ve dubbed The Scholar. Not as physical as some of the other members of the crew, but definitely the brains. He will use his pistols, but that’s not what he’s there for. The mini is another Black Scorpion privateer.

Every crew obviously needs The Veteran. While not as super-elite as some of the others, they’re a tough-as-nails, reliable sort, and have seen more than most. Think Davos Seaworth in Game of Thrones, Sgt. Zim in Starship Troopers, Sgt. Apone in Aliens…and most video game tutorial instructors, you know the type. This is again from Black Scorpion, this time a pirate.

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A somewhat shadier character, The Unhinged in this case is a redcoat wielding a couple of knives with brass knuckles. I see him as someone who will go to any lengths when fighting pirates, as well as him being possibly the leader’s bodyguard and attack dog. Another mini from 1775 Join or Die, this one called Joe Beckett.

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Speaking of attack dogs, I have The Beastmaster. Now, fighting dogs aren’t really all that great if you’re at sea, but I love the model and that’s what counts! It’s a mini from Freebooter’s Fate called Tipo Duros. He has two big mastiffs at his command, and mastiffs are the best so there.

Photo © Freebooter Miniatures

Last, but very literally not least, is The Heavy. It’s Jesse Ventura’s Blaine in Predator, The Mountain in Game of Thrones and countless other examples. The hulking, partizan-wielding Zachary Sallow from 1775 Join or Die fits the bill perfectly.

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There you have it, a group of specialists! I’m happy to add to it in the future, also for some more diversity. To make it both visually and narratively more interesting, I want to bring in some more non-white (as well as non-male) characters, but its something of a challenge to do that without succumbing to some pretty tired stereotypes. You know how it often goes in this genre, there’s that one character whose speciality is “woman”, kind of like in early Dungeons & Dragons Elf and Dwarf were classes, like Wizard or Fighter. The 17th-18th centuries, which I ground my project in, were very much racist and sexist, but there’s really no need to recreate that in miniature, especially as historical accuracy really isn’t at the core of the project.

Comments, suggestions for character types to include etc. welcome as always!

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