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I’m a modeller, you know what I mean

May 12, 2020

…when I do my little turn on the catwalk!

With that earworm out of the way, man, time flies by in this weird age. I was sure it was maybe two weeks since my last post, and it turns out it was nearly a month ago! Back on the hobby horse (tee-hee) I say.

Anyway, my involvement with 3d printing stuff goes ever deeper. First I bought a printer, then another. Now I’ve started creating my own models, and I’m super enthusiastic about it!

If you’re a super long time follower of the blog (basically, “if you’re Cheetor“), you’ll know that 15 years back I dabbled in sculpting and even had some minis cast and produced. However, I didn’t really have the patience to get good at it, so it just sort of fell away. Skip forward 15 years, and I’ve found the joy of sculpting again, although this time in a whole new medium.

In the past few weeks I have been learning Zbrush with the kind aid of a friend of mine, the amazingly talented Mati Zander (check out his Shapeways shop for some awesome sculpts). Zbrush is a super powerful professional tool, but let’s just say that the UI isn’t the most intuitive… I’m so happy that I’ve had someone to help me. Anyway, I’ve obviously started simple, creating pieces mainly for my own use in the pirate project. Barrels, crates, that sort of thing. It’s been bumpy at times, but the experience of learning a completely new skill is exhilarating. There’s also something profoundly magical about being able to create something out of nothing and eventually have it in your hand as a physical object! It’s things like this that remind me that we’re very much living in what used to be squarely in the realm of science fiction.

Below are some of the pieces I’ve made:

Click for a larger version

This barrel was my second finished piece. One of the first things I’ve learned is that detail for printing needs to be exaggerated or it will be lost in the printing process. Something that looks wonderful on your screen may turn out soft and featureless once printed. Speaking of which…

Click for a larger version

This bag/canvas basket was my first creation. It looks super nifty on-screen, but most of that lovely surface texture or those stitches don’t really print all that well. It does look decent printed, but it was a good learning experience.

A third piece is another barrel, this one filled with lemons – to ward off scurvy, obviously. I made both the barrel and the lemons. If you pay attention, you can see that this is actually the same barrel as the first one, just with added studs and lemons, and stretched to a new, taller shape.

Click for a larger version

I’ve also painted a couple of the pieces! Shown below are two barrels, printed on the FDM printer. The beauty of pieces like this is obviously that they can be resized to create variation. I’m beyond happy to say that to my eye they look very professional – I wouldn’t mind buying these somewhere. In fact, and not to gloat too much, they’re much nicer than some pieces I’ve actually paid for. They also afford the all-important easy wins, a painted piece is a painted piece.

Click for a larger version

Here are some pieces painted on the resin printer. It allows for much higher quality, and is very useful for the lemons for example. They’ve been glued to a thin sheet of plastic to make a group, and I’ve adjusted the colours to bring out some of the detail.

Click for a larger version

Should you want to print your own, you can download the two barrels from Thingiverse. If you do, then please post some photos once you eventually make and paint them, I’d be thrilled!

As a final note, any ideas on what I should try sculpting? I’m happy to get ideas and suggestions, as it’s all practice at this point.

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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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It rhymes with Ovid

March 15, 2020

So by now you’re very much familiar (hopefully not too intimately) with COVID-19 and the whole coronavirus thing. This is obviously a serious situation, and a very trying time for people who are themselves part of a risk group or have loved ones at risk. For me as a healthy young(ish) person it’s more a case of staying at home to avoid passing the infection around. I’m currently waiting for the surely forthcoming news of Salute 2020 being cancelled, and I assume that our long-awaited holiday trip to London is off the cards too, what with travel bans and all. Things at work have been disappointing too, with several major seminars and conferences cancelled after a lot of work put into them. Of course these are minor issues compared to being afraid for your life, but it doesn’t really help.

Despite all the risk, there are some things that are making things more palatable: both of us working from home currently means a lot more family time, and cancelled kung fu, yoga and dance classes mean plenty more free evenings. We don’t have kids, so family time is very relaxing. The cats are happy that we’re home all the time, too.

On the hobby front more free time obviously means more time for everything fun-without-leaving-the-house. Personally, I’m looking forward to doing a lot more painting than usual, tackling my Steam backlog of unplayed digital games (I started with Yes, Your Grace yesterday, highly recommended!) and shortening my reading queue too. Might as well make the most of this sudden influx of time! I have a few recently finished Black Scorpion miniatures that I’ll post about soon.

Despite the global hardships, I can’t shake a feeling of a kind of fascination with the situation. Yes, it is a catastrophe in many ways, and I definitely don’t want to make light of it. But as I wrote in literally the first post of this blog, back in 2009:

I’ve always been fascinated (in a very sanerational and normal sense) by catastrophes, what-if fantasies, tales of desperate struggle and the end of the world. The sinking of Titanic, alternative history, Helm’s deep, Alamo, Chernobyl,  The Book of Revelation, global epidemics, thermonuclear war…you name it. The zombie genre combines all of this. Simple as that.

Obviously and luckily this isn’t the apocalypse and make no mistake – I hope we clear this thing as quickly as possible with as little tragedy as possible. There’s still something oddly unreal about this situation and watching it develop. It’s not fun, it’s not cool, but it’s interesting.

I don’t usually discuss topical, non-hobby events on the blog, and don’t really intend to. However, during the past years a wonderful micro community has sprung up around miniature blogging, and I’m frankly quite interested in how you lot are doing in your corner of the world. Stay safe, and keep painting and posting hobby stuff, we all need the entertainment!

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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!

Click for a larger version

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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A windmill

February 1, 2020

As the very, very imaginative post title suggests, this post is about a windmill. Said windmill is one of the early prints on my Lotmaxx SC-10, and is a free model from Thingiverse. As basically a test print using pretty poor quality filament, it has quite harsh layer lines and I couldn’t really be bothered to clean it up. I was already thinking of simply giving it away (as I’ve done with some other test prints), but figured I’d paint it up for fun. While it wasn’t all that fun – the windmill blades especially were a pain – I have to say I’m quite pleased with the end result, especially when viewed from a tabletop distance. The natural stone look turned out pretty nice! I threw in a couple of minis to act as a size reference. I think the Fezzik/André the Giant mini makes for a great miller, or at least a mill worker. The windmill blades actually spin, that obviously warrants a mention.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Luckily my newer prints are much smoother. The striated look on the close-up photo is exactly what I want to avoid, but then again: waste not, want not.

In non-miniature news (and pretty much explaining my lack of blog posts, I had my disputation last Saturday. Everything went well and I had a great time, so once the university paperwork is done, I get my PhD in education. My dissertation (in Finnish) deals with young people’s digital gaming – should you be interested, you can check out the summary here. And because it’s nice to occasionally share something outside the realm of minis, here I am posing, white tie and all, with one of my big brothers, my mother, and Emmi.

The happy family!

Back to the miniatures: with the windmill finished, I am now at 2/100 in my goal to finish 100 miniatures/scenery pieces during 2020. Might need to pick up the pace a bit.

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2019 recap

January 2, 2020

2019

Another year gone, what happened in 2019 hobby-wise?

Amazingly 2019 was the first ever year that I kept track of my miniature purchases and the like. Here’s the tally (“miniatures” refers to scenery pieces as well):

Miniatures bought: 62

Miniatures printed: 42

Miniatures sold or given away: 112

Miniatures painted: 57

Larger terrain pieces finished: 4

All in all I’m quite happy with the year. I finished the year with 8 miniatures fewer than I started the year with despite accumulating plenty of new ones. What this means in practice is that I got rid of old stuff that I was never going to paint – mostly WHFB miniatures from 10-15+ years back – and replaced them with miniatures and scenery pieces that are much more likely to be painted.

I painted a grand total of 57 miniatures and scenery pieces. I could have done more, but to be honest this is one of my most productive years in a while. As before, I’m a fairly meticulous painter although I’m slowly learning to be a bit more relaxed, spending less time on areas that won’t be very visible on the miniature. Did you know that when I started out as a teen, I would paint the soles of minis’ feet – despite them getting glued to the base? So..yeah. The end of the year was more than a bit stressful, with loads of work and my father passing away after a long illness, so I’m happy that I still managed to find time for painting. To be honest, painting more and spending less time on Twitter probably would have helped with the stress.

I also experimented with some new painting techniques. Nothing drastic, I just wanted to push my painting a little. While I’m happy with my painting, I feel like I’ve been somewhat stuck for the past few years. I’m currently learning to work with thinner paints and washes a bit more than previously. Who knows, maybe I’ll even try a white or grey undercoat one of these days. It’s only been 15 years since the last time!

On the project front, it’s amazingly enough still pirates. Seriously, this has been pretty much my only project since 2015, and I’m still enthusiastic about it. I do paint the occasional RPG miniature, and we did paint some Battletech pieces which I should show in a future post! Still, it’s mostly pirates and other 17th/18th century types.

The biggest change in my hobby in 2019 was the introduction of 3d printing. I had always looked down on it a bit: layer lines from FDM machines were ugly, resin printers too expensive. Basically, I had locked my opinions in around 2015. However, when I started looking into it, I realized that times had indeed changed, progress had been made (quelle surprise!) and people were producing some wonderful pieces on their printers. My enthusiasm sparked, I bought an Anycubic Photon which turned out to be a great idea. Before I knew it, I was down the 3d printing rabbit hole. It wasn’t too long before I found myself wanting something a bit bigger for printing terrain, but surely an FDM printer would be too…yeah I bought one. As of December 23 2019, I’m a proud owner of a Lotmaxx SC-10 printer as well. It’s been running pretty much non-stop since then, and I’ll show some of the results in a later post.

The 3d printing stuff has brought a feeling of novelty to the hobby that I realized I’ve been missing a bit. There’s something in the tinkering and tweaking that makes me happy, as well as the possibilities afforded by new technology. All of a sudden all sorts of weird and wonderful things are within my reach – I can print my own ships, buildings and sea monsters, how cool is that?

Last but not least, I got to combine work and play in a fun way. As you might know, I’m a games researcher at Tampere University, and we had the wonderful idea of doing some research on miniaturing. More on that later as well – I’m actually about to become a published research on the miniaturing pastime. How cool is that!

For the past x years this blog has been going on fairly sporadically. I post far less than I used to, and sometimes there are long (, long, long) gaps between posts. I’m hoping to remedy this a bit this year! The blog isn’t going anywhere and I’m still quite motivated about it and a huge thank you for that is in order to the regular group of readers and commenters – you know who you are!

2020I’m not usually one for new year’s resolutions, but on the hobby front a few are in order. So, in 2020 I want to:

  • Blog at least once per week two weeks
  • Paint at least 100 miniatures and scenery pieces
  • Get rid of at least 50 miniatures I don’t have a use for
  • Complete at least one major model or terrain piece
  • Learn at least one new painting technique
  • Give something back to the miniaturing community
  • Get at least a few games in
  • Learn to master my printers

These should take my hobby in the direction I want it to go: more activity, interaction with the community and honing my own skills.

Here’s to another year of hobby goodness, stay tuned and my sincere thanks for stopping by!

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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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