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Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2020

Wishing you all peaceful and relaxing holidays!

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From the painting desk #74 – Efreet sultan

December 13, 2020

Lately, my blogging has been stalling for a very pedestrian reason: miniatures that I would like to show have not yet had their anti-shine varnish over the gloss, so they can’t be photographed. As I like to use spray varnish for that, it would mean setting up the spray booth, which would mean moving my printers and eugh…you get the point. My amazing solution? Show off minis that I haven’t gloss varnished. Genius!

I recently bought a second resin printer, this one a Phrozen Sonic Mini 4k. To test it out, I printed a variety of stuff, including this awesome free Efreet Sultan from Roman “gloomyKid” Bevza. I took it as Citadel Contrast practice, and the model is maybe 80-90% done with those alone. I’m now getting the hang of them, and they’re excellent – to the point that I may have provided Santa with some suggestions…

Photo of painted miniature genie

Click for a larger version

Much like the Ghost Archipelago critters shown earlier, this was a chance to paint something different. Having mainly done Hollywood-historical pirates for five years (!!!) now, I’ve really enjoyed doing something new, and I think I’ll keep on doing this. Previously, the lack of time has been a major hurdle: why spend very limited painting time on anything but your main project? Now with the whole global pandemic shutting down everything, there’s more leeway and maybe a need for some mental refreshment too.

As for the mini, I was considering a traditional/Disney’s Aladdin blue colour, but then settled on a fiery red look. Doing a bit of light Wikipedia research, I found the following:

In Islamic folklore the afarit became a class of chthonic spirits, inhabiting the layers of the seven earths, generally ruthless and wicked, formed out of smoke and fire. But despite their negative depictions and affiliation to the nether regions, afarit are not fundamentally evil on a moral plane; they might even carry out God’s purpose. Such obligations can nevertheless be ruthless, such as obligation to blood vengeance and avenging murder. An ifrit can further be bound to a sorcerer, if summoned.

I had this in mind, as I tried to make him look menacing yet not completely evil. The black eyes work well for this in my opinion. I attempted to make the coils of smoke look magical and otherwordly rather than normal smoke, which also enabled me to experiment with wet blending. The result? Not great, not terrible – but promising! I tried to get across the idea that the smoke is coalescing into the efreet, hence turning red near the top. It would benefit from a smoother basecoat, as I currently just paint contrasts over a black basecoat roughly drybrushed with white, and the roughness does show through. For the gemstone I did the whole old school Citadel gem thing, which I think I’ve managed to pull off decently for the first time ever.

For the base I went with my light sand look that I use with my pirate stuff, but threw some rocks in there as well. The idea was to suggest an arid environment, yet also have the model compatible with my pirates in terms of basing. I think I could have blended the smoke effect with the rest of the base a bit better, but didn’t want to spend too much time on it to be honest. At some point I want to put together some Barbary pirates, so this piece will provide that setting a bit more fantasy.

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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.

Click for a larger version

 

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.

Click for a larger version

 

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.

Click for a larger version

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.

Click for a larger version

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.

Click for a larger version

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.

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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Work and play

June 28, 2020

As I’ve previously mentioned on the blog, I work as a researcher (or rather, a postdoctoral researcher to use the correct term). While most of my work focuses on digital gaming, it’s nice to have some side projects, as with miniatures! And speaking of miniatures, I’ve done some research on them with two brilliant colleagues, and our paper has just been published in Simulation & Gaming.

Definitely what my work looks like

Miniaturing has been researched surprisingly little compared to role-playing games, let alone digital gaming. If there’s anything years of hobbying has taught me, there’s a lot of interesting stuff (scientific formulation, that) going on. As the name suggests, our paper, More Than Wargaming: Exploring the Miniaturing Pastime, is a look at the various dimensions of this pastime.

You can access the paper through the link in the name, and it’s fully Open Access – meaning that it isn’t behind a paywall as is commonly the case with research articles. Should you be in the mood for an academic exploration of what we do, dive right in! It would be very interesting to hear your thoughts on the paper: do you feel that it captures the phenomenon? It should be a light enough read. If you don’t want to spend your time reading it, here are the conclusions we arrived at:

The data presented in this paper illustrates how miniaturing is a multifaceted activity with a dual core. Gaming with miniatures and crafting new ready figurines, scenery, and dioramas are central to miniaturing, but collecting, storytelling, socializing as well as displaying and appreciating are also important parts of the pastime. The pastime can be situated and framed in numerous fashions: for example as gaming, as playing, as toying, and as crafting. None of these framings apply to all of our respondents, but all of them are relevant to some subsection. Some of them are actively contested, such as viewing miniaturing as playing with toys, but even the contested approaches seem like fertile angles of approach in future research.

Now, to a miniatures enthusiast this obviously isn’t big news – although there might be some new and interesting perspectives in there. This is, however, to our knowledge the first academic paper to really tackle what this great pastime of ours “is all about”, so it builds a foundation for more research in the future. For example, we have a paper on so-called “piles of shame” in the works…

Although combining hobbies and work can sometimes be detrimental to the hobby side, I’m definitely enjoying this foray. Hopefully it also opens up the subject to other academics as well, and provides fellow hobbyists with an interesting look into game and play research.

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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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