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Looking ahead

May 26, 2017

Billy Bones by NC Wyeth

Last night I got to thinking about the future of my pirate project, and figured I’d share some of my plans with you. That way I’ll have them down in writing, too. Having the book project on the go really helps – miniatures inspire me two make up fiction and characters, and vice versa. This stuff might and probably will change as new ideas come up, as these things tend to do. In no particular order:

Port George and New Port George

Instead of having a nice side of town and a shady side of town, they will be two different towns in the fiction. After the original Port George was struck by a heavy epidemic of yellow fever, the better-off residents fled to somewhat higher, drier ground and re-founded Port George, leaving the old town to those too poor or ill to build new houses. In time, pirates and other types settled in and made the old town their own. While the towns are near each other, the residents of New Port George rarely have reason to visit the old town, unless there’s more or less shady business to be done. Even then, they’ll bring protection.

Modelling-wise, I’ll keep on as before. New Port George will have larger, plastered brick houses and a small fort, whereas the old town will have more wooden plank houses, as well as more dirt and decay in general. This way I don’t have to worry about fitting two different styles together.

Maroons

Another faction on the island is a group of maroons – escaped slaves – who have taken up residence in the old, ruined Spanish mission. They mostly keep to themselves, although they do some trading with the pirates. With the new industry plans for the island (see below), the maroons are more than a little riled up, and are bound to cause all sorts of trouble. For miniatures I’ll be using the Foundry minis I bought at Salute a month ago:

© Wargames Foundry

They’re sweet minis, and will find double use as pirates too. My voodoo queen will likely be tied in with them too.

The Spanish mission

Spanish Caribbean buildings with their red pantile rooves are a staple of pirate visuals. I wanted to include them, but also wanted a British town. The solution? Put in an old, deserted 17th century mission town. Not only is this historically plausible, it also gives me the chance to build some Spanish style houses and model an overgrown, somewhat ruined town now inhabited by the maroons mentioned above.

Horrible capitalists

These will be some if not the main antagonists in the setting. They’re wealthy traders who are looking to set up sugar plantations on the island, with all the horrible things they bring along. While I want to address the concept of slavery in the project, I don’t want to dwell on it too explicitly. However, having the drive for building plantations – or maybe the plantations being built – creates suitable tension in my opinion. The traders are trying to pressure the governor, the pirates are disrupting slave trade, the maroons are attacking traders and under construction plantations…there’s plenty here! I have some great minis from Blue Moon that I also bought at Salute, they look haughty and rich and should be a great fit for the job. I might need some henchmen for them as well.

While I don’t want the book to be overtly political, in reality a lot of the pirate issue was about class and race, trade and capital, and I want the book and the project to reflect that – not only for ideological reasons, but historical accuracy as well. It also allows me to posit pirates as the protagonists, which is something I want to do. And of course rich slave traders make for wonderful antagonists.

So, that’s what’s in store. Over two years with this project, and more and more hyped – wonderful!

Pirate illustration: Billy Bones by NC Wyeth, public domain

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From the painting desk #51 – Night watchman

May 19, 2017

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

Click for a larger version

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

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

This was this year’s eighth painted miniature.

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From the painting desk #50 – The Doctor

May 12, 2017

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Click for a larger version

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

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

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

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

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From the painting desk #49 – The Gentle Giant

May 8, 2017

When I was little, I was super into pro wrestling. Plenty of superstars stuck in my mind, and quite literally one of the biggest was the late, great André the Giant. While he was a pro wrestling superstar, many also know him from his role as Fezzik in the film Princess Bride. When I saw that Antediluvian Miniatures was releasing a pack of pirates with some very familiar character, I didn’t hesitate to pick them up. It’s great to be able to sort of pay tribute to a childhood hero.

Click for a larger version

It’s a lovely, lovely sculpt and a great likeness. In keeping with the subject matter, he stands head and shoulders over regular 28mm minis. I kept the palette very simple and muted to suggest an unassuming personality, and I think the end result is pretty fitting. The base colour for the pants is Reaper Miniatures’ Master Series HD Rusty Red, and the reason I’m mentioning it is because it’s an awesome paint. Plenty of pigment, great coverage and it’s a lovely shade of…well, rusty red.

In my Port George narrative, Big André is the town’s heavy lifter and odd job man, breaking up fights as a tavern bouncer, hauling crates aboard ships and carrying logwood. While both the various pirate captains and the Port George well-to-do have tried to recruit him as a bodyguard, Big André prefers a modest life of peaceful propriety.

We’re settling in Dublin, and I’ve finally set up the limited painting gear I brought along. Note the street-credible water pot I made from a food tin!

Click for a larger version

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Salute 2017 part 2

April 28, 2017

Time for part two of my Salute report. This is mainly a photo dump of some of the things on display that I liked. Short descriptions when I can remember (or knew) what was going on. You can click on photos for larger versions, they all open in a new tab.

A dog looks on as the Russian revolution happens

Massive Star Wars battle going on

Some wild west action

Fantasy fun for everyone

A massive dungeon setup

Desert warfare

Lovely Frostgrave (I assume) diorama

A wonderful winter fantasy setup

Plenty of ruined walls to hide behind

More winter fantasy

Zombies break down a fence in a Walking Dead game

French and Indian wars

More French and Indian

They DO move in herds! A great Jurassic Park game

Hail to the king, baby!

Loving attention to detail

Welcome! To…

Papers, please! Slug Industries’ game in the vein of Escape from Colditz

Nazis roam the streets

The lovely cobblestone streets are currently on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/718310363/streetscape-28mm-cobblestone-road-sections

More of Papers, please

Storming the beaches of what I assume is Normandy

Love the explosion effects!

Giant steampunk robots in what I think was a demonstration of Wolsung

Massive 18th century battle setup

The gentry, happy behind their walls

The Random Platypus/Hasslefree collaboration table

Mawes incoming

A security meeting

Things getting tense

The coolness radiates off him in waves

Lovely detailing in the corridors

Ready to receive

A beastie comes charging in

You’re going to need bigger guns

Troopers protecting despot Drumpf

The second Random Platypus/Hasslefree game, a fantasy one

A miniature’s eye view

Dwarves and orcs clash

A look inside the dwarven hold

A wonderful upcoming giant from Heresy Miniatures

That is a big giant

Lovely minimalist setup, never caught a game on it sadly

Definitely not minimalist, lovely though!

Epic fantasy

Semi-fictional late-17th century clash between the Swedish and the Dutch

The table won multiple awards and for good reason

Disembarkation in progress

Villagers milling about

A fortress was involved a well

Advancing across the fields

“Oh deer.”

Row, boys, row!

The ship bombards the fort

…and the fort shoots back

A demo setup for Drowned Earth, currently on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1559814207/the-drowned-earth-miniatures-game

As you can see, there was plenty on offer – this was just a small sample of all the wonderful games and table setups on offer. If you haven’t visited Salute yet, I definitely suggest you do if at all possible!

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Salute 2017 part 1

April 26, 2017

It’s that time of the year again! Salute 2017 is now behind me, and I’m sitting at an AirBnb in Dublin – the city I’ll be spending the next three months in. As I noticed I haven’t posted in a long while (and the blog is at its slowest in terms of views since January 2010), I figured it’s about time for a post-Salute post. This post will focus on what I bought, I’ll make another one with photos from the show itself. If you can’t wait for the show photos, I suggest you hop on over to this blog for example.

Salute was fun as usual! I spent time with old friends and made new ones. I was especially hanging around the Random Platypus games, which were great fun. If you’re not on the forum yet, you should be.

My Salute haul was quite reasonable, for a given value of reasonable.

Random Platypus dice

Cute Random Platypus dice that I bought to support the forum and because they’re cute random platypus dice.

Plastic Banner Saga miniatures

Plastic miniatures from the Banner Saga boardgame that I was kindly given by Ian of Fenris Games, who I talked into Banner Saga. They’re surprisingly nice miniatures, and should be a nice change from my usual 18th century fare, speaking of which…

© Blue Moon Manufacturing

© Blue Moon Manufacturing

The Duelists and the Duelists booster pack from Blue Moon Manufacturing. I’ve been eyeing these for ages so I grabbed them when I had the chance. Lovely assortment of 18th century civilians here, and really characterful sculpts.

© Wargames Foundry

Balthazar’s Marauders by Foundry was a purchase inspired by three things: my reading up on slavery, visiting the brilliant London, Sugar & Slavery exhibition at the London Docklands museum and my long-standing need to add maroons to my pirate project. Differing from the picture, the pack actually had eight individual miniatures instead of six. They are lovely, lovely sculpts and will give me a great chance to work on different skin tones.

© Wargames Foundry

Three miniatures from this Gun crew by Foundry, that were given to me in the Random Platypus pre-Salute meet-up, as well as a bag of cannon!

© Hasslefree Miniatures

This Random Platypus from Hasslefree Miniatures, that I received as a gift. He’s brilliant, isn’t he?

Sailor and two native miniatures

Three unknown miniatures given to me by Phil of Slug Industries. They’ll find service in my pirate project obviously. Does anyone know where they’re from?

© David Wood

A full Political Parody Party from Dave of Dear Tony Blair. Love these foul little creatures!

North Star pirates

I had lost hope in finding these North Star pirates, but was given them as a gift by Andy from Ainsty Castings. I was super, super happy to have my hands on these.

I got the latest two Hounds of the Dagsterville from Jon who was working the Ainsty stand. They’ll be running around the streets of Port George soonish.

28mm bunny miniatures

And last but not least, these adorable Bunnies from Bad Squiddo Games. I bought them as a gift, purely on their cuteness factor.

Looking back at that list, I was given a lot of miniatures. Either everyone sees me as being really poor, or I’ve made a lot of wonderful friends in this hobby. I’d like to think the latter is the case.

 

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Visualising

April 4, 2017

The pirate book thing is slowly but happily becoming reality. Now, one of the most important things in this project for me is the opportunity to turn imaginary characters and places into something a little more concrete. Sure, vague concepts of characters exist, as do miniatures representing said characters. However, there is something very special in not only writing up a character, but having that piece of fiction turned into a picture.

With this introduction, I present to you the two character portraits I’ve commissioned so far. First up is the pirate queen Maricruz Aguilera de Cartagena described in my previous post:

The second one is another familiar character to regular readers. He is none other than captain Jonathan Pemberton-Smythe of His Royal Majesty’s army:

Both are the work of the incredibly talented Gabriella “Sayara-S” Bujdosó. She will (for obvious reasons, just see the pictures above) be doing the rest of the character illustrations as well. You can see more of her work on her DeviantArt page, as well as in the Song of Shadows and Dust game. I’m really happy to have her on board this little project!

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