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High Elf Phoenix Mage

I had a fantastic time at Games Workshop but now that I’ve left I still want to carry on sculpting. I work digitally (using blender) and the question is, now that I don’t have a huge team of people working to turn my designs into lovely plastic frames, what is the best way of realising my designs physically?

Before joining GW I mostly relied on Shapeways to print my miniatures. I’m not very keen to go down this route again, mostly because it’s quite expensive but also because I was rarely very satisfied with the quality of the prints I received. So with a range of affordable resin 3d printers now on the market, my thoughts have been turning towards buying my own printer.

In an ideal world the quality of the prints would be good enough for me to paint, but even if they’re not I still feel that being able to see a miniature physically really helps to get the overall composition right. I came to rely on getting quite regular work in progress prints while I was at GW, and I don’t want to lose this facility!

In order to explore my options further I decided to revisit a miniature that I sculpted prior to joining GW. The original phoenix mage was produced in resin by RN Estudio but I thought it would be fun to give it a bit of an overhaul with the benefit of another 18 months experience.

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I still need to split this guy up for printing, since I’m pretty sure I won’t want to be doing it as a single piece. But the sculpt is mostly done so I thought it was worth sharing.

If anyone has any experience with 3d printing or recommendations then it would be great to hear your views!

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High Elf Dragon Maiden (again)

Fans of this blog may remember my first 30 mm sculpt, the Dragon Maiden. I’m pleased to say that RN Estudio are now selling resin copies of this miniature here. (In case anyone is wondering, I’m not making any money from this myself.)

Of course, it was only fitting that I give her a snazzy new paint job to celebrate this development! I’ve gone for non metallic metal again just because it looks better in photographs and I knew a good picture would be needed for the store.

Unfortunately there’s no painting tutorial for this piece but it uses the same recipes as the fantasy football high elf I painted recently, so that guide is highly recommended for anyone wishing to emulate my version!

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Before producing the miniature, Rafael asked me to create an alternative right hand, which I was very happy to do. I also took the opportunity to fix her eyes, which were far too bulbous on the original. Her face is still not the right shape and I have had to disguise this with my paint work. I’ve corrected this deficiency on my more recent sculpts though!

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High Elf Star Player

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My first completed miniature of 2018 is another of my own sculpts. Actually this one was sculpted quite a long time ago (well before Drazhar) and was the first miniature where I discovered how to use rigging in blender.

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The delay in presenting the finished miniature was because my friends at RN Estudio are putting this piece into production (which is very exciting for me!), so you can now buy resin copies from them if you wish.

I’ve gone for non metallic metal again when painting this piece and stuck with the classic high elf colours. My technique is still evolving gradually and I’m fairly satisfied with how it has turned out here.

I’ve made another painting guide where I’ve tried to take on board some of the fantastic feedback I’ve had following the first three. I think this is the most in depth guide to my approach to painting nmm so far and I hope it will be useful to people even if they have no interest in this particular miniature! I’m aware that there is some repetition between the guides and this is something I’m going to have to think about a bit more.

The miniature bundled with the painting guide is here, or you can buy the miniature with no guide here. Or if you just want the painting guide I’ve also put it up on my Etsy store.

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Bunny!

A slightly different type of miniature today as I present my first experiment with full colour 3d printing!

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My wife is a huge fan of a certain well known bunny rabbit so I thought this would be a great opportunity to make her a little gift.

I created a bunny model and coloured it in using blender, then uploaded the file to Shapeways. Definitely a different kind of painting to what I’m used to!

The full colour sandstone material that Shapeways offer is a bit rougher than the material I usually get my miniatures printed in, and there are more limitations over the type of model that can be successfully produced. It’s fascinating technology though, and it’ll be interesting to see how it evolves.

If you want a bunny of your own then you can purchase one from Shapeways here. 🙂

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Vampire Lord and Dragon Maiden in 15 mm

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It has been a while since I completed any 15 mm sculpts so I’ve been really keen to get back to it. I enjoy the sculpting, but the best thing for me is that I can paint each miniature in a relatively short time before the inevitable boredom sets in and other projects start to look more alluring!

I decided to exploit one of the advantages of digital sculpting and modify my existing 30 mm files to make shiny new 15 mm figures. This kind of thing appeals greatly to a lazy git like me!

(It should be noted that the process is a bit more involved than simply hitting scale 0.5 in blender, since this would result in details that would be too small to print successfully and would be out of proportion with the rest of my 15 mm range.)

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The original dragon maiden is here. I’ve made some improvements to the face for this version, and I went with a different colour scheme.

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I also went with a different colour scheme for the Vampire Lord. This guy is pretty big for a 15 mm figure – he’s actually more like 16.5 mm to the eye. I’ve made some changes to the face vs the 30 mm version after I realised that I hadn’t exaggerated some of the features enough.

You can buy these two miniatures as a set on Shapeways. The price (as ever) is higher than I’d like. Unfortunately these two miniatures use more resin than my average 15 mm which makes them more expensive under Shapeways’ pricing formula.

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Drazhar, Master of Blades

Update: I’ve been getting a lot of requests to sell copies of Drazhar via Shapeways. While it’s very flattering, I’m sorry to say that I won’t be doing this. Drazhar is very much Games Workshop’s IP and putting aside the legality of it, I wouldn’t feel comfortable selling my version when a miniature already exists. And no, I won’t be selling my .stl either!

During the process of painting the Archon commission I was perusing my Dark Eldar codex when I came across a great bit of art depicting Drazhar, the mysterious champion of the Incubi.

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Unfortunately the existing miniature for Drazhar is very old (released in 1999 as far as I can tell) and doesn’t quite capture the character, presumably due to the limitations of moulding at the time. I therefore set out to try and make my own version armed only with the reference picture and my very limited sculpting skills!

As usual, I used Blender for the digital sculpting. To help me get somewhere near the pose I learnt how to rig a simple model and then played around with it until it felt about right. I intended to scale Drazhar to be similar in size to the new Eldar Visarch, but in the end I don’t think I made him quite slender enough and I don’t think the proportions are quite right.

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I had to make some changes to get something that would print ok at Shapeways, mostly by reducing the amount of spiky parts and hanging pieces. I also reversed the grip on the swords to something that felt more natural to me.

Happily one of my loyal customers was keen to have a copy of the finished sculpt painted for his collection so we came up with a colour scheme that is fairly close to the original model. I particularly enjoyed painting the helmet – I don’t often get an opportunity to paint white armour so that was a nice challenge. The main colours used were incubi darkness and kabalite green for the armour, liche purple and magenta for the cloth and other details, and moot green for the glowing green details.

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I’m looking forward to painting a professionally sculpted miniature for my next big project!

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Vampire Lord (for real this time)

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My latest sculpting and painting project is this vampire lord. I’m not really sure what motivated me to make a vampire – normally I’m quite happy sticking to elves!

This is actually my second attempt at a vampire: avid readers of this blog may remember that I showed some renders a few months back. I did actually get that guy printed but soon realised that there was just too much wrong with my sculpt to bother painting it. There’s plenty wrong with this version as well, but I’m pleased that it’s at least an improvement over his predecessor!

I’ve sculpted him at a scale which should mean he fits quite well into the Warhammer Age of Sigmar universe. It’s the biggest miniature I’ve made so far, which sadly increases the cost of getting him 3D printed. The miniature in the pictures is mounted on a 32 mm base.

As usual, you can buy a copy from Shapeways should you wish.

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Inspired by the slayer sword winning Nagash diorama I went with non metallic metal and experimented with a different palette to my usual tried and tested steel and gold recipes. I actually regret going down the nmm route now – I got bored painting about half way through and decided to go for a “good enough” paint job rather than a competition standard paint job. I could definitely make this better if I was prepared to put more hours into it, but I have other exciting projects that I want to work on at the moment!

I’m still using blender for all my sculpting. I’d like to get zbrush but after getting a free trial I wasn’t able to justify spending so much for a few neat tricks that I can’t do with blender. I think it’s still the user rather than the software that is the limiting factor at the moment!

I’ll finish this post off with some renders of the sculpt and something new for me: my first ever youtube video!

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Frost Queen

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In the depths of winter, when a chill wind howls and the world has turned to white, any adventurers foolhardy enough to have strayed from the warmth of hearth and home may catch glimpse of the mysterious Frost Queen. Some say that she was once a fair maiden, but following a great tragedy she grew increasingly emotionless and aloof. Ultimately her heart turned to ice and she is now an adversary to be feared: cold, ruthless, and utterly sadistic, her touch is death to those that stray too close.

I’ve designed and painted lots of ships and 15 mm miniatures over the last year and consequently I’ve been neglecting 30 mm a bit. But I’ve been keen to keep progressing in this area too, and I wanted to take some of the lessons I learned making the Dragon Maiden and maybe try to do something a little bit more original.

I can’t actually remember what prompted me to go with this idea –  I probably just thought that a winter themed mini would be fun to do! I did a bit of googling and sketched some concepts and this is what I ended up with. I think I was partly inspired by some of the old Lord of the Rings miniatures and I wanted a simple mini, without any weapons or overtures of war.

As ever, being far too tight to shell out for pro software like Zbrush, I sculpted the Frost Queen in Blender. My main challenges here were to do a better job on the face and get a bit more practice with cloth. I think I did do some things better than the Dragon Maiden, but as soon as I got the print in hand I could see things I wanted to improve! I won’t go on about all the faults here, but suffice it to say that I see many…

I didn’t do anything special when it came to painting. It was a bit of a no brainer to stick to cold colours, and the long flowing robes are obvious candidates for a bit of colour transition. I avoided any temptation for freehand and texturing in order to keep it quick, since I have other projects waiting. I think I turned this around in about 15 hours, which is pretty fast for me! The snow on the base is Valhallan Blizzard from Citadel. First time I’ve tried it but it seems pretty good to me. 🙂

I’ve entered the Frost Queen into Shapeways’ heroes and villains sculpting contest. No idea how I’ll get on with that, but fingers crossed! If you want a Frost Queen of your own then you can buy one here.

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Treacherous Tides

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Ahoy, me hearties! The Kingdoms of Men and High Elf fleets have continued to expand, and I now have 3 classes of vessel designed, printed and painted for each navy. I’ve settled on 1:900 scale for this project, as it’s a good trade-off between getting some great details and keeping the cost down.

I designed the ships in Blender and had them printed at Shapeways in the high definition plastic that continues to impress me. It’s possible to make out the individual bolts on the elven weapons and I’ve even been able to add little wheels on to the gun carriages on the human vessels.

Considering these miniatures are printed on a high end Envisiontec DLP machine, the cost is very reasonable. It’s still more expensive than I’d like though, so I’ve taken steps to minimise this as much as possible: hollowing out the undersides of the hulls, connecting multiple ships together so they get charged as a single part, and substituting the sea bases for a less expensive FDM material.

The ships are now up for sale in my Shapeways shop. There is even a nifty tool that lets you look at the models in 3D. The next step is to add some flyers! I’m thinking a griffon for the humans and a phoenix for the elves.

I’m looking forward to playing some more Galleys and Galleons with these now!

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Kingdoms of Men: Kestrel

“I tell you true: the Kestrel ain’t a flash sort o’ship, oh no. Not many opportunities for your death or glory capt’n to distinguish theirselves when they’s carrying dispatches or on the lookout for smugglers. She’s still got teeth though, mark my words. Aye, you can scoff, but many’s the merchant found hisself striking to a Kestrel that he let get too close.”

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This is the first of my ships for an inevitable human fleet. I was loosely inspired by my old Bretonnian Buccaneers from Man O’ War when designing this, but I’ve elected to go with a small number of cannon rather than a catapult, in addition to various other differences. I suppose I could make a catapult variant without too much difficulty if I decide to go full-on nostalgia mode. 😉

As with the Elf ship I shared a couple of weeks back, this is another sculpt that I’ve rescaled to 1:900. I had to make some sacrifices in terms of detail, but even so the ship still sports a wheel and even tiny gun carriages. Again, it’s a combination of Shapeways materials: a high def black acrylate ship with a white strong flexible base. I’m calling my fledgling range of fantasy vessels “Treacherous Tides” and I’ll put them up for sale on my Shapeways store soon.

In other exciting news I now possess copies of Galleys and Galleons and the fantasy expansion, Fayre Winds and Foul Tides from Ganesha Games. Apparently these rules work well for around 6-7 ships per sides so we’re not talking full fleet actions here, but that’s good since I don’t have many ships (yet 😉 ). Thinking about it, my Man O’ War fleet wasn’t much bigger than this anyway. I’m looking forward to trying these rules out with the Dreadfleet mat and islands I’ve still got lying around.