Shockingly, it has been well over four years since I painted a Lord of the Rings miniature, and rather longer than that since I painted one where I was even moderately satisfied with the end result. In the arrogance of my younger years I actually gave away or sold almost all of my LotR pieces – at the time it seemed like no big deal as I was sure I would simply be able to paint something equally as good any time I wished. Unfortunately I’ve gradually realised over the last year or so that my ability to focus close to my face is on the wane, and that maybe my confidence was misplaced! I therefore decided to try and paint a new LotR miniature as close as I could to my old competition standard before my aged eyes deteriorate any further.

Fortunately GW has been releasing some very nice plastic LotR miniatures over recent years, although if I were being critical I would say that I miss the occasional character that isn’t armed and standing in a warlike pose. It seems that since the Perry twins left the company, the beautiful simplicity of miniatures such as Celeborn and Galadriel has been lost. I suppose the focus is very much on the tabletop game and there is no interest in making display pieces for collectors.

In any case, I was looking forward to painting Elrond, as it’s a great little miniature that offers a nice mix of materials and an un-helmeted head. Unfortunately he does have something of a closed pose, which meant that painting in sub assemblies was very much the order of the day. Before painting I gouged out some plastic to create a hole in the top of the scabbard – the limitations of injection molding meant that this was flat across the top, but I knew that simply painting this area black wouldn’t give a very convincing result, as you always get some light reflecting from the surface. My main complaint about the sculpting of the miniature is that I found the hair somewhat chaotic at the back – I would have preferred it to flow as more of a body to allow for better highlighting. The odd strand out of place is fine, but here I found it a little overdone.

I decided to deviate from the box art colour scheme based on the films, and flipped the areas of blue and green, while also going for a colder green and more of a turquoise than a pure blue. My reasoning was that these colours would balance nicely against the warm gold armour and the face, but I tested the scheme digitally before committing paint to miniature. I painted the areas of cloth with the finest stippling I could manage and introduced a little freehand design on the cape, mostly because I always used to try and get some freehand on my LotR competition pieces.

I found the armour quite challenging, partly because I’m somewhat out of practice painting non metallic metal, and partly because it’s always tricky to get a convincing result when there is sculpted detail running over the surface, such as on the vambraces. A little touch I’m quite pleased with, but that doesn’t show up very well on the photos, is that there are some green reflections painted onto the armour and chainmail where it is close to the cape. Overall I don’t think it’s the best armour I’ve ever painted, but it’s not too bad.

With LotR miniatures I always like to try and paint the face to look like the actor, but it’s generally beyond me to achieve this as the faces are only a few mm in height and in any case, I think the limitations of the injection molding mean that the underlying sculpt can’t be as true to the reality as one would wish.

For the base I simply mounted the finished miniature directly onto a plinth from Taro Modelmaker, which I built up with some Vallejo ground effects, sand, and various tufts. The ruined archway I designed and printed myself.

Throughout the process of painting I used magnification (apart from base coating – sadly this is just reality for me these days). Most of the time I find I can get by just wearing some 3.0x magnification reading glasses, but for the really fine work I can see more clearly through an Optivisor. Wearing this does give me something of the air of the 40-Year-Old-Virgin, much to my wife’s amusement, but needs must. Unfortunately I don’t have my previous LotR competition pieces to check against, but I think I have been able to get something like the same level of finish that I used to, which was the main object of the exercise. It’s comforting to know that I can still do it!