Posts Tagged ‘From the painting desk’

h1

From the painting desk #48 – The Unkillable Frenchman

January 30, 2017

Another miniature finished, this time a pirate from Hasslefree. I’ve been putting off painting him for a while, and the reason is the Hasslefree curse: I love HF minis, but because of the high quality of the sculpts they always feel intimidating, and I find myself thinking I can’t give the mini enough attention. In the end I’ll paint them, enjoy it and love the end result. It has happened before (notice how I’m talking about the same thing on that post, and that was in 2012) and this time was no exception.

The miniature being very characterful, I once again found myself concocting a background story, as I tend to do while painting. So was born Jean Blanc – the Unkillable Frenchman. Pirates like Blackbeard would often count on their fearsome reputation to do their work for them as, after all, it was always better if you could take a ship without firing a shot. I applied this theme to the portly French pirate as well. He was wearing a padded coat and heavy armour, so I assumed these had obviously saved his life more than once, contributing to the legend of the Frenchman impervious to pistol balls and blades. I painted his hair grey to suggest he has been surviving on the seven seas for some time. This nicely tied in with his name, which in turn was a nod towards the original inspiration for the sculpt.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

“The Devil takes care of his own!” say the British merchants.

“Non. C’est simplement une abondance d’armures” thinks captain Blanc according to Traducteur nommé Google.

The captain was great fun to paint. A well-sculpted miniature will do that! No guesswork on facial features, no lacking definition or the usual annoying little problems often found on minis. It’s much easier to paint a nice miniature to a good standard. There were some quality issues uncharacteristic of Hasslefree, namely some pitting of the metal on the sword and the back of his coat, but nothing serious.

I went for a combination of bright and subdued tones, and picked a darker skintone than normal. After complaining in my previous post about laying paint on too thick, I paid extra attention to thinner layers and utilized my wet palette to what I think is good effect. For once, I’m really, really happy with a finished mini! I even painted some freehand wood grain on his peg leg, and I all but hate painting freehand.

As the lightbox tends to have really harsh lighting (note to self: might need a thicker filter), here’s a more natural, warmer shot of Blanc as part of the Queen’s crew. As you can see, he’s a big, bulky guy:

Pirate crew

Click for a larger version

That’s miniature #4 of 2017 finished. I’m going on a six week trip to Malaysia and Indonesia starting next Sunday, so that will sadly put an end to my painting for a month and a half. Still, I can think of far, far worse distractions, and obviously I’ll be taking a bunch of pirate books along for some holiday reading.

h1

From the painting desk #47 – Governor’s retinue

January 23, 2017

Port George finally has a crown-appointed governor and I have my first painted minis of 2017! I finished painting a trio of miniatures I started in late 2016, representing the governor, his son and their manservant. All three are from different manufacturers, with the governor being a Front Rank gentleman, his son a Galloping Major sailor character and the manservant a Black Cat Bases bounty hunter.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Governor Weatherby is a classic, stylish gentleman. I’ve yet to decide whether he’s a governor of the pirate hanging type or the pirate embracing type. The mini was good fun to paint. I went for a bright blue for the jacket, but otherwise kept the palette fairly muted. I wanted the governor to look well-off but not ostentatious, leaving the latter for his son. Being a Front Rank miniature, he is fairly small, but I think that actually works quite well here, as it does make him look a little older. That’s also why I decided to make his hair grey.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

I wanted the governor’s son to be something of a foppish dandy, so I gave him a purple jacket combined with a yellow waistcoat. The emerald green bows on his plait and hat add even more touches of colour, and obviously all of his button are bright brass. I botched painting his left eye, and decided to make it into an expression. I think the end result makes him quite characterful, as he is glancing sideways somewhat nervously and reaching for his sword. The expression, the large hands and smallis head make him look young and awkward, which is exactly what I wanted. Well, initially I didn’t know that it was exactly what I wanted, but I love the end result.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Stylistically the manservant, Mitchell, is an entirely different case from his employers. “Manservant” is obviously just a polite expression for “bodyguard and muscle”, and the mini’s huge size (typical of Black Cat Bases sculpts) works in this regard. I’ve always loved the look of a greatcoat with the collar up, so this was a real treat. I wanted Mitchell to look properly badass, so I kept the colours dark with the exception of the boots and the pistols. For some extra diversity and to spark the imagination regarding his background, I gave him dark skin. I’m really happy with the greatcoat and the miniature in general, I think he looks hard as nails.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

I had a lot of fun painting these three, as they’re all very different both in style and colour scheme. While the governor and his son are really bright and colourful, their servant is dark and menacing. As it is, I think these three minis manage to create a nice little narrative. It’s stuff like this that really keeps up my enthusiasm and motivation for a project! These three have been waiting for me to finish them for a while, so finally getting them done is extra rewarding to boot.

I’ve been thinking that I need to improve my painting. While I’m fairly happy with my basic level, I tend to get lazy with thinning paint, layering and blending. I think there’s plenty of space for improvement there. Of course taking massive closeup photos of minis doesn’t help either! Feedback on this front much appreciated.

h1

From the painting desk #45 – Special characters

November 10, 2016

This post showcases two of my lately painted miniatures that you may have already glimpsed in the Halloween game report.

Up first is a voodoo queen from Black Cat Bases. Like most Black Cat Bases minis, the model is fairly tall and hefty. I definitely prefer this cartoony style to more realistic proportions, and love this sculpt despite its weird right hand. I’m normally not a huge fan of minis with super cleavage, but in this case it didn’t bother me – a certain amout of sexuality is a key part of the whole Hollywood voodoo queen character. In our Halloween game she was dubbed Madam Labadie, so the name sort of stuck.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

I painted the character with a very dark skin tone and made her dress yellow for some contrast. I went all out on the feathers on her staff, figuring she had plenty of colourful parrots at her disposal. The painting on the little cat is loosely based on my girlfriend’s cat, shown with yours truly in this super happy picture. This was a really fun piece to paint altogether, and I finished it fairly quickly – although the Halloween game as a deadline helped! I based the voodoo queen in the same style as my pirates, so no flowers on her base.

The second miniature is an officer type from Galloping Major, who I dubbed captain Pemberton Smythe. Another lovely miniature to paint, the officer is a clean, chunky sculpt. As my project is decidedly Hollywood over historical, I went with the same strategy as with my redcoats, drawing inspiration from historical imagery to make something that fits my idea of a British officer. I think the end result turned out quite effective.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

I only noticed while photographing that the models might both be in need of an extra blast of matt varnish. They’re not as shiny in hand as they appear in the photos, luckily!

If I’m not completely wrong, these two bring my number of miniatures painted this year up to twelve, and there are some more that I haven’t shown yet! Comments welcome as usual.

h1

From the painting desk #44 – Horrors of the deep

October 23, 2016

Last year’s Halloween game was a success, so I’m running another one this year. With my interest going the way of pirates in the Caribbean, this year’s event will be themed accordingly. A few newly painted minis have joined my roster for the game:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

This crab man is one of the post-apocalyptic mutants from Ramshackle Games. A somewhat crude but characterful sculpt, his crustacean appearance makes him a perfectly themed old school Hollywood sea monster. The model was fun to paint, the different ridges and textures making him perfect for drybrushing. I drew some inspiration from real life crabs for the pincers, really making them stand out from pale orange/yellow body.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

The second model is a Reaper Bones spirit. As it was a nice, translucent green plastic, I didn’t do a lot of painting on it apart from a very light white drybrush. After some consideration I painted in blue glowing eyes (which don’t look as horrible as in the photo), but left it at that. I mean, if you’ve got a special effect with the material, why paint over it too much? Instead, I devoted some extra attention to the base.

I’ve themed both bases in the “dark, unearthly ocean floor of death” style I used earlier on my undead pirate now permanently named Armitage Shanks. I added an old Warhammer tobstone and some broken planks to the spirit’s base to suggest a shipwrecked sailor.

These were a fun diversion, and will be going on the table in less than a week! Comments welcome as always.

h1

From the painting desk #43 – Gentry

October 6, 2016

I’ve been painting a lot in recent weeks! We’ve managed to set up a semi-regular thing with my friend Joonas and his wife Mia, where they pop in for an evening or two per week to paint, build models, write and whatever we have at hand. This has been a huge production boost – setting aside 5-12 hours more time for painting than usual obviously pays off.

Some of the produce of these painting evenings are the couple shown below. The woman is from Front Rank’s line of 18th century civilians and the man is part of Redoubt’s excellent French and Indian War range.

Click for a larger version

Yellow is a colour I’ve always disliked painting, so I made the conscious choice to try doing it properly for once. The lady’s dress seemed like the perfect chance, so I tried to create something eye-catching and bright. I’m fairly happy with how the dress turned out, although some of the blending could be a lot smoother and the undercoat should be a lot more even. It was an important step in reducing my dislike for yellow, though! I think I’ll paint some more in the future. I also dabbed some rouge on the lady’s cheeks, as that was in fashion back then.

With these, and a few other quick paintjobs that probably won’t find their way to the blog, my year’s painting total is up to a grand total of ten miniatures. I’m aiming for thirty by the end of the year, and it seems realistic at the moment.

I’m really happy that I’ve managed to attract a crowd of regular commenters. Your input makes blogging even more fun and worthwhile, so thanks everyone!

h1

From the painting desk #42 – Redcoats

August 27, 2016

Pirates obviously need opposition, and who better to fight them than good old redcoats. An iconic piece of Hollywood pirate imagery, the British soldier were always going to play a part in my project. I’ve actually amassed a fair few, and finally got some painted.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

The miniatures, that I picked up at Salute, are from Casting Room Miniatures, who are an offshoot of Foundry. The soldiers are part of their wonderful War of the Spanish Succession range. I love them for their character – some of them really don’t enjoy their stint in the Caribbean. I imagine this lot has ended up here after lots were drawn, or maybe they came looking for a nice, sunny holiday. In my mind they draw inspiration from late Terry Pratchett’s city guard, turning a blind eye to the occasional bit of smuggling for personal profit and safety. Obviously a Serious Military Man is coming along to put these miscreants into some sort of shape…

As you can see from the photos, I had to build up the miniatures’ bases quite a bit, as they’re a fair bit smaller than my Galloping Major soldiers. I stuck some plasticard under the minis and covered it in putty, and it turned out quite ok. They’re still less bulky than the Galloping Major ones, but now they’re of a similar height. I wanted to base them similarly to my pirates, but to distinguish them I replaced the tufts I use on my pirates’ bases with flower tufts.

Another thing you probably noticed is that I used one of my buildings as background for the minis, and the pure white background was making everything look a bit too clinically clean. What do you think? I’d love to hear your input on this new, hugely dramatic change.

The minis’ uniforms forced me to spend a bit of time thinking about historical accuracy. It’s not a big issue in this project, as it’s Hollywood pirates after all, but this stuff is often (sort of) interesting. The War of the Spanish Succession was fought from 1701 to 1715, putting it just before the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean (1716-1726). The other redcoats I have are from Galloping Major’s American War of Independence range, and that war was fough 1775–1783, sixty years later. As it is, uniforms had changed by then. Funnily enough, the Pirates of the Caribbean films, that are a big inspiration for the project, are supposedly set around the Golden Age of Piracy, but feature British soldiers with much later uniforms, and so the historically inaccurate uniforms are the ones we associate with the era.

I solved the problem by not caring. I’m sure grognards would gag at this approach, but from where I’m standing, it’s a project with undead pirates, so a bit of historical inaccuracy regarding uniforms isn’t a deal breaker. This is an approach I’ve learned in years enjoying the hobby, and following fellow bloggers has reinforced this way of thinking. It’s painting with broad strokes, having fun and buying miniatures I enjoy painting instead of leaving them on the shelf because of trivial issues.

However, and creating a bit of a conflict, despite this approach I have a tendency to strive for some internal coherence. Even if I’m not too concerned with exact accuracy, there has to be something to tie it all together. In this case I think of two things: one is the idea of the redcoat, and the second is a sort of historical explanation. The idea of the redcoat is simply that in my mind the defining visual characteristics of the 18th century British soldier are the tricorne hat, the red coat and the musket, and everything else is fairly irrelevant detail. The historical explanation is a bit more fudged (obviously, as the game isn’t set in a fixed year), and basically focuses on the idea that troops in the backwaters of the Caribbean will have older gear, whereas fresh troops shipped in from England or the American colonies will have crisp and more modern gear. There you have it, I sort of had to get it off my chest!

These bring my miniatures painted this year to six, literally doubling my output. Oh my. At least I’ve built a lot of terrain!

 

h1

From the painting desk #41 – Caribbean pirate

June 4, 2016

This year’s third (oh dear) miniature is unsurprisingly yet another pirate, this time from Foundry. To add some more diversity to my roster, I decided to paint him with a distinctly non-Caucasian skintone, which I think fits not only the model’s facial features, but my pseudo-historical pirate setting as well. For the jacket I wanted to use a colour I don’t normally break out, namely VGC Electric Blue. I’m not too happy with my shading of the colour, so will need some work with that on future models.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

This pirate brings my crew to a total of nine. While I’ll need a lot more to crew my ship – whenever I finish it – for now they’re a suitable raiding party for skirmish games and such. I’m thinking of making up several groups of pirates lead by different captains, and this miniature completes the pirate queen’s retinue for now at least.

For some reason, this mini looks much worse in photos than at hand, which frustrates me more than a little. Oh well, you’ll just have to take my word for it. Rather than get stuck on a mini I’m not completely happy with, I’ve already moved on to something a little different, albeit for the same project. More on that soon, hopefully!

%d bloggers like this: