Monday, April 16, 2018

Under the circling vultures... [...lie the photos]

...a painter crawls across the blasted heath. Distracted by mice and shiny pieces of debris he inches slowly forward, box of paints tied to one leg and poorly kept brushes clutched in shaky fist. He opens his other hand and finds a smeared lump of metal and plastic.  How long has it been there? Was it the only one? He rolls over and slips the lump into his pocket. He squints in the light and brushes birds away. He does not know how long he has been in the wilderness fending off carrion eaters and being  scoured by the elements. Sighing, he rolls back over onto his stomach and begins his crawl again...

Yes, well, it's been an interesting year. I lost a job, had a pitch into a deep depression, was re-diagnosed, re-medicated, unemployed, denied employment, uninterviewed for 6 months and finally re-employed. All told I really had lost myself.

And that's enough of that.

In all of this I have been painting a little and I had started writing quite a number of blog posts in the year and a half since I last posted and they never seemed to eventuate.

Here are some photos in vague chronological order. 

A Citadel Samurai, sculpted by Aly Morrison. Painted October or November 2016
I painted this guy very quickly. A speed aided by the simplicity of the design with the uprights of the the robe and the scabbard and the vast open expanse of the sleeves. This is the first miniature I attempted black lining on- using a thinned down black paint. In photographing this today, I see areas where it needs to be neatened up on the fingers and on the cleavage. The eyes of this guy also needs a little neatening. Aly Morrison sculpts a very cartoony face which makes for a fairly straightforward set of lines. While the scruffiness of my eye lining looks like fierce eyebrows, it's just poor brushwork.

Skeleton hero (top) and Skeleton with Spear (bottom)

Skeletons made by Citadel in the mid to late 80s. I painted these for Christmas 2016. I need to go back and put another highlight on the bone and make the recesses darker. The colours run together a touch. The hero has a lot of stuff going on: odd helm, cutlass, goat feet, flintlock, and the awesome spaulder on the left shoulder (I thought it was a pauldron, it's not- that's what the other skeleton is wearing on it's shoulders.Thanks Google.)

Heroquest Adventurers painted in March of 2017. The eyes are shocking. I managed to mangle the same eye on both the wizard and the elf! I want to go back and add another highlight to pants and skin.The miniatures are plastic cast from metal dies for a boardgame. They are consequently a little rough where the two dies met.

Warrior Woman from the Last Chancers.

Painted in June or July 2017. Another one where I did something uncoordinated with the eyes. Something to work on. I did black and dark-brown lining on this one and I quite like the effect.

Nurgle Deathguard. Grotesque disciples of Disease.

Deathguard backsides. Just as beautifully ugly.
First painted minis of 2018: March. Deathguard suit my painting technique to a tee: scruffy, dark and muddled :0) Wonderfully, these were the easy-build miniatures and were simple to snap together. I avoided a headache with making these. Like most of the other minis they need one final highlight and one final shading. The tentacles, teeth and bones desperately need this. I based these before painting them and it made a real difference, psychologically, to be able to put the mini down after painting and say "done."


Yesterday I painted this little beauty. 'Rowena' from Reaper Miniature's Chronoscope range. I've had this miniature on my list for so long and it was only on a whim that I pulled her out of the box and painted her in two or three hours. I think that I need to paint either her shoes or her gaiters white to differentiate them a bit. The photo doesn't show it very well, but her bodice/overskirt, hat and bracers are a dark blue grey and her skirt is a slate gray. I need to find a way to brighten the green in the lens of her goggles (on the brim of her hat) and on the mask she carries in her right hand. I love how this turned out.


Other projects begun: basing and undercoating a whole bunch of miniatures across time, space and manufacturer. I've also continued constructing my Skitarii, those implacable cyborg martians. On the edges of my interest are matchbox car scale death racers, anthropomorphic adventurers and those darned space elves that I have started three or four blog posts about.

Til the next post, make sure you drink from the coffee mug and not the water cup.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Taking a page from Kevin Adams...

I split this off from the previous post because, damn it, I'm kinda proud of doing this.

I am a big fan of Kevin Adams, sculptor extraordinaire, who uses left over putty to make little sculpts. And I like that idea, so after playing with putty and filling in bases I used the rest of the putty to make this:

The Demon Frog cares not for your quaint ideas of anatomy.

I used a sculpting tool, a pick and a scalpel to push and prod and smooth as best I could the rolls and balls of putty. I got a really good idea of how easy sculpting is to do and just how hard it is to do well. No more than 10 minutes of work.

It's rough, it's ugly, and I love it. Because it's mine.

Mucking around with green stuff and the graft of construction

My new plan, and it sounds great to my ears,  is to only post when I have done something with miniatures other than buy them.

Three Saturdays ago (the 10th) I finally got up the guts to open the packet of green stuff putty I bought three years before that.

There was an unreasonable amount of anxiety about using it. Totally about making mistakes and wasting what seems like an expensive addition to the kit.

Thankfully, it turned out to be a lot of fun. I'd initially decided to cut the strips apart to prevent further curing. I had no intention of using it, which is obviously the fear and procrastination talking. I ended up with more cut off than I'd expected and decided to play with it all rather than waste it.

Observations and confirmations:
 -It is totally like playing with chewing gum!
-Where the blue and yellow meet in the packet does indeed harden. Exhibit A: all the yellow piecess in the photos are hardened chunks of putty.
-It's hard to mix the two colors thoroughly. That stuff is tough!
- the oil from my forehead and side of my nose does indeed stop green stuff sticking to tools and fingers.
- and speaking of fingers, you can see my prints all over.

I had decided to base all the painted Dragon Bait adventurers on lipped bases and wanted this to be a, if not easy, at least a straight forward way to get the measure of green stuff.


The following day, building on the putty momentum, I tidied and based and constructed a whole bunch of stuff.

Games Workshop's Skitarii. Two years ago I was in the middle of the deepest dislike for what the company was doing (miniatures, rules, practices, prices; you name it, I disliked it) and they produced these miniatures.

"Simon, how would you like radium rifle wielding, steampunk cyborgs from Mars?"
"Would I?!!"

Problem one:
The instruction booklet made Baby Editor cry. I don't want to see spelling mistakes, nor incorrect images in the instructions. This is the publication that will guide me through putting this product together. It shouldn't have obvious mistakes in it. I am tempted to send a marked up copy back to them with suggested corrections. I'd start with "give it to someone to read and follow" and go from there.

Problem Two:
Sod me if these aren't some of the fiddliest things I've ever put together. They're small, they're detailed. There are lots of pieces per miniature with lots of points of contact.  If the fine bits weren't breaking, the bigger bits weren't fitting and the glue was picking and choosing when it would work.

Lesson learned, I hate multi-part kits. The journey is tedious, the destination passable. The irritation is real. And I only have to construct another 50 odd of these beautiful little headaches.

This beastie was attached to the cover of the surprisingly enjoyable White Dwarf relaunch. Overturning my experience with the Skitarii, this was relatively simple to put together. Probably because it is huge, probably because there has been over two years of learning at the studio where it was designed. I was actually finding myself impressed with how all of the pieces overlapped and worked together to hide mould lines.

Rebased Eldar pirates and harlequins. I'm switching them to attractive lipped bases.

"Would you like to see my scale creep?" smirked the gnome.The Slaughter Priest shifted uneasily, thankful that bloodstains hide blushes.
These are both manufactured thirty five years apart by the same company. The gnome (sculpted by Michael Perry) is less than an inch from sole of boot to tip of hat. The Slaughter Priest is nearly 3 inches tall.  

More posts as I do more.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

More Kevin Adams lovelies and some other ones.

Painting has been a-happening.

I sorted through my lead hillock and discovered I have enough eldar to last a lifetime. And Harlequins. And Eldar Dreadnoughts.

First up is, I haven't a clue. Ral Partha, TSR 1995 it says on the base. Some catalogue diving and google searches and I can't find it. I suspect it's from the Planescape range. I get a Mihali, of Tekumel, vibe off the critter. Initially, I thought it was a dragonkin. It was only when I'd got the greens going that I realised it was more canid. What can I say.

As I was layering the cloak, I realised that every bloody miniature I've painted recently has some kind of blue on it. I think I need to do more colours.

Dragon Bait's Gnome Alchemist, from their first campaign. Kevin Adams did a great job on this range. I painted the bulk of this one last year. I think I was waiting to paint her sidekick and didn't take photos then. This line of miniatures has a lot going on detail-wise,  I am very pleased with the smoked glasses and the wick on her bomb. I was far more deliberate with the palette of colours and it works, which is something I don't say very often. The photos don't quite get across the pale, scorched look I was trying to get to her face.

Dragonbait Half-Elf Warrior, Kevin Adams again. The scales are pink, starting with a very dark red and moving through pink to white. In the second Dragon Bait campaign there is an elvish cleric that I want to pair up with this mini.

And here it is! The first mini I have actually started *this* year. Yes. It is indeed a new year miracle. An impeccable Kevin Adams sculpt for Dragonbait; the elven bard. I made a very deliberate choice to move away from the colour blue and got straight into the purple instead. I realise she isn't finished (and actually, neither is the mihali up the page), I've forgotten to do the metal. I really like the skew-eyed John Blanchian look to her face.

John Blanche's frankly amazing interior illustrations for Steve Jackson's Sorcery! gamebooks.

Now for a comparison shot of 35 odd years of scale creep.

The miniature in the middle, Lissandra, is from the dawn of the 80s. The flanking miniatures are from 2014. Striking.


May your craft be sharp and the paints stay fluid.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 sucked and blowed. Some modest 2016 goals.

A little bit of bandwagon jumping, with probability of being sucked under the wheels, it's the 2015 year in review!

I painted a grand total of about 13 miniatures. Some witch elves, some harlequins and eldar, one COlony 87 civilian and a dungeon adventurer.

I purchased more miniatures than I painted  (which is not the hardest thing): the third DragonBait indiegogo campaign, a copy of 3rd edition Talisman with most of the miniatures, some boxes (yikes! Current GW, really!) Skitarri, the Colony 87 kickstarter, plastic skaven and more eldar than I really should have.

I like what I painted and I like painting, but this was the year of the black dog. The black dog is exhausting. I hate the black dog. It gets on the furniture and pisses on all of my good stuff.


2016 goals.

The big one is to paint. Nothing fancy, get the paint on the plastic slash metal.

If I want to have a goal, it's to finish the Dark Elf army. Or paint more than I buy.

I'm ordering Frostgrave (Osprey), which seems to be a spiritual successor to Mordheim. I'm thinking painting bands for this would be a concrete thing too. 

Playing a game of something would be nice.


May your brushes hold their shape, your mold lines be few and your year good.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

State of the dark elf forces.

Christmas at the in-laws and I brought the elves with the intention of magnetising and finishing the bases.

Here's the state of the army. I laid all of the elves I had from my case out on the coffee table. Did I bring the sand to base them? No. How about shields? Where are they? Ah.

Okay. Well, let's glue magnets into the bases.

Two mengil witch elves get 2 little magnets each into the base and... uh... shit... they're not sticking to anything. Well, they would were they flush with the edge of the base.

New problem needs a solution: how to mount the magnets so they contact the surface properly. Putty perhaps.

Will I make my deadline? Perhaps. Let's make it a fuzzier goal. Bases, magnets and/or shields?

Just relooking at the miniatures I painted 2 years ago and they are dark. Not in tone, but certainly in colour. I may go back over them with some highlights.

6 cold ones (including general) and 7 shades.


23 Corsairs and 13 warriors.


13 witch elves, 4 characters


20 warriors and 25 mengil's manflayers.

Monday, December 7, 2015

End year target: dark elves.

While sitting at work I have decided that I want to finish some miniatures as the year finishes. It's my biggest point of laziness: I have painted a bunch of miniatures but I haven't varnished or based them.

It's the dark elves, see. I want to get one of those naff but cool photos of myself taken with my 3rd edition army arrayed before me. To do that requires that I actually have an army I want to be seen with.

You know like this:

I've decided on the base design. I have all the shields. I have the cans.

Now to find the will to deal with these and more: