Archive for the ‘Pirates’ Category

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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.

Click for a larger version

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.

Click for a larger version

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.

Click for a larger version

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.

Click for a larger version

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.

Click for a larger version

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.

Click for a larger version

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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Uprising at the plantation

May 24, 2020

You probably know I’m not a very active miniature gamer despite all the time I spend on the hobby. My interest lies more in the crafting side of things, but I do like to get a game in every now and then. A week ago Emmi and I had a somewhat rare “nothing planned” weekend. We were discussing playing a boardgame, and I suggested playing a miniature game instead – and much to my surprise, she agreed, on the condition that I do all the setup work and she can just enjoy the game. Deal, obviously.

I wanted to use my pirate minis, and as we’re both very much into history (and social history especially), we wanted an interesting, historically plausible scenario. What we decided on was a plantation slave uprising. I quickly came up with a basic scenario which we then embellished further, adding special rules and so on. The core idea was that the (former) slaves would win if they either managed to set six plantation buildings on fire, or kill or capture the planter, while the planter’s overseers and hired hands tried to subdue the revolt. The planter had two bodyguards, and as one of them happened to be dark skinned, we decided that there was a possibility of him siding with the rebels – but to retain game balance, he was not allowed to shoot the planter or set the planter’s house on fire, due to some remnants of ingrained loyalty to the planter’s family. There was an endless stream of hired hands as they made their way on the table from nearby plantations, making the scenario a race against the clock for the rebels – while they started with a considerable advantage in numbers, eventually they would be overpowered.

We used my regular go-to rules set, Flashing Steel, as it has a tendency to deliver dramatic, cinematic games. Once again, it didn’t disappoint. To avoid disrupting our marital harmony, we cooperatively played both sides, in effect trying to win with both – although to be fair, we had far more sympathy for the rebels.

The game turned out to be wonderfully dramatic! The rebels managed to set five buildings on fire, but the increasing numbers of the planter’s side were grinding them down. The bodyguard did dramatically shift their allegiance, summarily shooting the other bodyguard in the back and killing them. The leader of the rebels was killed by a point blank pistol shot, while one of the female rebels went on a killing spree with her two-handed blade, cutting down three guards one after another. In the end, with the rebellion almost crushed, a lone rebel managed to sneak into the planter’s garden, and gunned down the planter with his musket. The deed done, the remaining few rebels escaped into the night, bloodied but victorious and led by their new leader, the former planter’s bodyguard. To be continued, maybe!

The game was a great opportunity to lay out my new gaming mat from Deep-Cut Studio, a double-sided mat with dark grass on one side and a cobblestone pattern on the other. It was also nice to dig out some of my houses and scatter terrain. Even my own printed pieces made an appearance! For once we remembered to take a bunch of photos, some of which are shown below. Hopefully they convey something of the fun we had. To further boost the atmosphere, we had a nice soundscape from myNoise in the background – I use it for most of my gaming as well as writing – with tropical birds and insects chirping, and tribal drums pounding. I highly recommend stuff like this to boost your gaming experience!

And last but definitely not least, I’m so happy that we got to play a game together. I know that the attitudes of significant others towards our hobby can vary a lot, from enthusiastic co-hobbying through polite interest and recognition to downright dismissive – I’ve personally experienced all of these throughout the years! I’m so lucky to have a wife who is not only willing to spend a long evening playing with toy soldiers, but also to learn the rules and suggest new ones, and participate in scenario design. She was even willing to play another game in the future, reportedly because it was fun, not just to indulge me. I have emphatically decided to believe her.

Now for the photos! You can click any photo for a larger view.

The slave leader Boukman leads his rebels

Rebels pour out into the night

An unarmed rebel takes down one of the guards with his fists

The planter’s bodyguard looks on, moments before getting shot in the back

Another view of the planter and his bodyguards

A rebel makes her way to the stables

In what became known as “Murder Alley”, a guard guns down a rebel – before himself getting shot in the back

Despite a fierce fight, Boukman is killed by one of the guards, another victim of Murder Alley

Two against one, the guards never had a chance

A lone rebel lines up his sights to take out the planter

More and more guards pour in, but too late

With the plantation’s trade goods burning in the background, the fierce rebel takes down another guard

A distressed guard can do nothing – the planter’s dead and the plantation is on fire

Grandma Piku blesses the dice with her jelly beans

 

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From the painting desk #72 – A little bit of everything

April 16, 2020

While I had originally planned to make posts of these minis piecemeal, I figured that it would simply lead to most of them never getting displayed. As a result, this post features a pretty mixed selection of miniatures, but I’m sure that just makes it more entertaining!

Click for a larger version

Up first is a pair of pirates, consisting of a barber surgeon from Black Cat Bases and Esmerelda, a pirate lady from Black Scorpion. While stylistically very different, both were enjoyable to paint and make for nice additions to my pirate crews. I’m especially happy with the surgeon, who I think looks a bit like an annoyed Billy Connolly. As with some other Black Scorpion female minis, I painted the legs to suggest very tight pants instead of the cool pirate lady wearing a loincloth and boots. For some reason I never have to do this with male miniatures, who knew!

Click for a larger version

Onto the monkeys! A fair few miniature manufacturers make monkey miniatures as part of their pirate lines, and I’m happy to collect them. The monkey wearing a bicorne is another Black Scorpion sculpt that I picked up at Salute last year. The monkey sitting on a barrel is another 3d print from Depths of Savage Atoll. As one of my early test prints, the quality isn’t perfect and I already considered throwing the mini way. I didn’t have the heart to do it though, and after a bit of paint I think it turned out fine. Both of these were simple sculpts and easy to paint, and I’m really pleased with the end results. As for how I’ll use them, no idea whatsoever.

Click for a larger version

Rounding out this post are two very characterful pirates. The first one is a custom Hero Forge piece I printed, who I’m calling Smith of Bristol. Now, to anyone not familiar with the Dubliners song of the same name, it tells the story of a daring pirate who goes around a-plunderin’ and a-robbin’, before finally being killed by a Spanish bullet. The twist of the song follows this, with the lines “he was only ninety-seven/but his soul had gone to heaven”, which I’ve always found hilarious. So, long story short, here’s a sprightly old pirate! If you want to listen to the song, I’ve embedded it below.

The second miniature is another one with some story behind him. He’s Tijl Uilenspiegel, an exclusive miniature from the Crisis wargaming show in Antwerp. Originally Tijl, known in English as Till Owlglass, is a 16th (or possibly 15th or even earlier) century trickster figure. As Wikipedia informs us:

Many of Till’s pranks are scatological in nature, and involve tricking people into touching, smelling, or even eating Till’s excrement. Scatological stories abound, beginning with Till’s early childhood (in which he rides behind his father and exposes his rear-end to the townspeople) and persisting until his death bed (where he tricks a priest into soiling his hands with feces).

An excellent character, in other words! While I don’t think my pirate version of him is quite this feces-focused, the sculpt is great. Paul Hicks has sculpted a wonderful expression on the mini, and I tried to reflect this when painting the eyes. I think he does look a bit…trickstery.

While all of these would technically qualify for Ann’s “Paint the crap you already own!” challenge, Tijl Uilenspiegel is the one mini I had in mind when I decided to participate in the challenge. He’s a sad case of “Oooh I really want that, what a cool mini, better let him sit in a box for a year or two” so I’m happy that he’s finished!

With all this painted stuff, I’m at 12/100 for my painting goal of 100 pieces this year. With a third of the year gone – not great, not terrible. Still, with a bunch of easy to paint terrain pieces and the like in the near future, I’m still optimistic!

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From the painting desk #71 – A whale of a time

April 8, 2020

Ok, this is in fact more a case of a whale out of time. I finally finished painting up a wonderfully disgusting whale carcass from the Depths of Savage Atoll Kickstarter. Regular readers might remember that I showed this three-part print back in September. It sat for a long time undercoated on my desk, and as often happens in these cases, once I actually got to painting it, it was a decently quick affair. I tried to play it a bit loose and not get too fiddly – basically just washes, drybrushes and some very rough layering. The carcass looks horrible, but in a good way, I think.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

It’s really relaxing to paint large, chunky pieces like this from time to time, it’s so different from the more intricate work required by 28mm or smaller minis. What’s more, painting something that’s supposed to look tatty, dirty and rotten, makes it even easier. It’s a rotting whale carcass, how neat does it need to be?

This will sit on a beach somewhere on Tyburn island, lending the place a quaint, nautical atmosphere. An old whale beached and eaten by scavengers, or a mighty ocean predator crushed by the Kraken? You never know…

I’ve been slowly building up (if not painting) a whole bunch of stuff to wash up on a shore – shipwrecks, half buried and broken barrels, driftwood, that sort of thing. I hope to make a kind of a ship graveyard at some point. This poor whale will fit right in.

In other news, there are no other news. Nothing is happening, I’m spending a lot of time working from home and quite enjoying it to be honest. Wrestlemania 36 was fun, the second season of Kingdom was really fun, season three of Castlevania was fun, the fifth season of Outlander is fun and a rewatch of Godzilla: King of Monsters reminded me that it was still fun, too. Life is not bad, all things considered. Hope you are keeping safe!

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From the painting desk #70 – Fountain

March 28, 2020

A quick piece I finished during an evening of lazy painting. This is a wonderful fountain from the Wightwood Abbey set (available as a freebie on Thingiverse) by Infinite Dimensions Games that I printed on my Lotmaxx SC-10. A simply paintjob of a grey primer followed by a liberal application of washes (Agrax Earthshade, Seraphim Sepia, Athonian Camoshade for the inside walls) and then drybrushed layers of sandy colours up to off-white, then some more mucking about with washes. In pieces like this it’s not usually a very systematic process for me, which I think helps me keep it looking more natural.

Photo of painted miniature fountain

Click for a larger version

I wanted the water look brackish and not too fresh, so went with a VGC Cayman green base and slopped on some lighter tones with plenty of Lahmian medium to help with blending. Once happy with it, I added three thick layers of gloss varnish. It’s not a super fancy water effect, but I like how it turned out!

The fountain was printed at a time when I was still experimenting with FDM printing (to be honest, I still am). While the layer lines aren’t nearly as pronounced as in the windmill I showed earlier, they’re still more visible than in my latest prints. However, I think the piece is perfectly adequate for gaming – especially considering it was free! As you can see from the Black Scorpion mini beside it, it’s a sizable piece.

In other news, I’m looking at getting some gaming mats just for setting up my minis and townscapes. If there’s something good to be said about this whole pandemic thing, it’s that more time at home means more energy for projects and more space for the imagination.

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From the painting desk #69 – A Scot and a Spaniard

March 1, 2020

Two more painted miniatures join the populace of Tyburn Island, both on the more lawful side of things. First up is a Scottish sailor from Galloping Major. As part of my new year’s plans to push myself a bit more in terms of painting technique, I decided to try my hand at painting tartan. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a strong dislike to freehand painting, which I’m consciously trying to get over. Tartan seemed like a good thing to try.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Some tutorials, some painting, some repainting, some trial and some error later I was surprised to have something I’m quite proud of! It looks like a tartan pattern to me and that’s what I was going for, so I’ll put this in the success column. Overall this was another fun mini to paint. Galloping Major miniatures are clean and pretty bulky, which makes them very painter friendly. I have a full set of 18th century sailors and I’m looking forward to painting up some more of them.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

The second model I painted was a printed one from a file by 3DBreed Miniatures. A freebie from their 1775 Join or Die Kickstarter (which I backed), it’s a rendition of Bernardo de Gálvez, a Spanish military leader from the latter half of the 18th century. The print came out wonderfully on my Photon, and I’m happy with the paintjob as well. I went with quite bright and clean colours – he’ll be a wonderful officer, gentleman or a rich merchant captain. I have a bunch of lovely STL files from the Kickstarter, and I’m looking forward to printing more of them!

As usual, I feel like I’m struggling terribly with my photography. Not sure if I’m lighting up my minis too harshly, showing them in too large close-ups or what, but in the photos they look like they’ve been painted with fingerpaints. Le sigh.

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Fembruary 2020: Emilia

February 22, 2020

Alex over on Leadballoony is currently running the Fembruary challenge. This excellent initiative is running for the third year in a row now, with Alex describing it as follows:

the deal is ‘Paint at least one Female miniature’ – it’s that simple! I’m not bothered what genre, game, manufacturer, painting style or material you go with. It can be a squad, a single mini, a diorama, or whatever takes your fancy… I’m just looking for awesome portrayals of the feminine in miniature form, as part of an ongoing conversation about how women are presented within our hobby.

I’m definitely up for that! As my Fembruary effort I decided to paint the governor’s daughter from Black Scorpion. I’ve had the mini sitting half-finished for years now, so I figured that I’d remedy this too. Two birds, one stone, etc.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

As you’ve no doubt noticed from the post title, the young lady is named Emilia. While you might assume that this is a reference to my amazing wife, I actually painted the miniature to depict the character Emilia Rothschild (as played by Angela Dotchin) from the excellent, dumb, feel-good show Jack of All Trades.

The main characters of Jack of All Trades: Jack (Bruce Campbell) and Emilia (Angela Dotchin)

Here’s Emilia posing with The Daring Dragoon, Jack’s alter ego. I don’t think I’ve shown him before, although he has featured in a Halloween battle report some years back!

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This brings my painting tally for the year up to 2. Only 98 more things to paint to reach my goal! Then again, I’m super happy to have managed to participate in Fembruary – thanks Alex!

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Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas! You can click on the card to view a larger version.

 

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From the painting desk #68 – Another motley crew

December 23, 2019

Fighting the urge to present them as mötley crëw, here’s another batch of pirates – they never end, do they? This time it’s a mix of custom printed Heroforge pieces and miniatures I bought as physical objects. It’s funny how that has become a meaningful separation with the printer!

Click for a larger version

First up are the brothers Mulligan. They are Heroforge creations, as you can probably see. The thing I love about Heroforge (and I might have to make a separate post on this) is that you can create your own pieces and tell your own stories. In this case, we have the good brothers. While I’ve never given them first names, I imagine them as this Irish duo, a classic combination where one is a huge, burly brawler and the other a fast-talking gunslinger. To tie them together visually I painted both with pale skin and red hair, and I think it works pretty well.

Click for a larger version

Next we have the big swords. The woman on the left is another Heroforge piece, while the man is from Black Scorpion. While placing them side by side like this reveals the softer details of Heroforge pieces – especially compared to super crisp resin – I’m happy with both. Another thing in Heroforge’s favour is the control it gives you in customizing your minis. In this case I wanted a bit more diversity, so I wanted to create a female pirate who wasn’t whipcord-thin and abnormally busty. Instead I made a pirate that to my eye looks strong, with the heavy blade adding to the effect. I also gave her black African features.

Click for a larger version

The final pair of this post are a pirate lord from Reaper miniatures (sculpted by Bob Ridolfi) and a drunk pirate (sculpted by Evgenii Tkachenko) I found for free on Thingiverse. The pirate lord is especially lovely, a really characterful piece with his expensive clothing and flowing locks! I gave him a blue and yellow colour scheme, which made me instantly think of Sweden. Who knows, maybe he is a Swedish pirate lord. Painting Reaper miniatures always reminds me that I should paint more Reaper miniatures. The drunk pirate, despite the sculpt’s simplicity, manages to have character as well. There’s something about the pose that I really like, he looks very much like a henchman.

I’m usually not a huge fan of how my minis look in these portrait-style pictures, so I figured I might start setting them up in some more scenic shots in addition to the close-ups. So here you go, here’s the pirate lord addressing his motley crew. I think they look like a wonderfully interesting group. To me, this is what I want to achieve: tiny little narratives with colourful characters. I don’t really game with my minis, so these little stories are what makes stuff interesting for me.

Click for a larger version

As I’m writing this, my new printer – this time an FDM one for printing larger pieces – is on its way. Man oh man, this hobby never ceases to surprise me.

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