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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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Elf warband: Heroes

The rest of the Elf warband! As usual these mighty heroes are available on Shapeways. There is still free shipping on any order containing the original 4 heroes or the skeletons until the 20th.

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To add some variety to the warband, this set contains a heavily armoured Elf Lord, a Blademaster and my first cavalry – a hero riding a white lion.

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One of the reasons I started working in 15 mm scale was because it would allow me to make some slightly larger miniatures without the 3d printing costs becoming too ridiculous. Sadly it’s still more expensive than I’d like, but it would have been unthinkable for me to have made this lion rider at 32 mm!

Sculpting the lion was quite a challenge and I went through a couple of iterations. I know I could still make it better but you have to draw the line somewhere and move on.

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The pose for the Elf Lord was definitely inspired by one of the Stormcast Liberators that I was painting at the time! The challenge here was to make a heavier looking suit of armour that still fit in with the aesthetic of the rest of the warband. I’m quite pleased with how this guy turned out.

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The Blademaster is intended to be very fast and very deadly, but obviously quite vulnerable since he doesn’t put much stock in wearing armour. I made him slightly less muscular than the Warriors of Darkness savages but I think I maybe could have gone a bit further.

That’s the second warband complete now, so I’ll be giving the 15 mm miniatures a rest for a bit. It’s probably time to get back to a slightly larger scale!

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Elf warband: Sorceress and retinue

Shock horror! Gareth has made some elves! Who would have thought it? 😉

More of my increasingly large collection of 15 mm miniatures, this fearsome elven sorceress and her retinue can now be purchased from Shapeways. Until 20th November you can even get free shipping if you buy them with the original four heroes or the skeletons.

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I love the aesthetic of Games Workshop’s High Elves but I didn’t just want to replicate the pointy helmets and scale mail vibe in a different scale, so I’ve come up with a slightly different take. The inspiration is probably still quite obvious though!

This isn’t quite all the elves I’ve sculpted, but some production issues with the more adventurous sculpts mean that this is all I can share for now. I hope to show the rest in a few weeks. Then I’ll finally have two full warbands and the Song of Blades and Heroes adventures can commence!

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It’s challenging to capture the female form with such distorted proportions but I’m fairly pleased with the result here. Part of me wishes I’d had the sorceress floating a bit higher in the air, but concerns about the centre of gravity and the extra cost of using more material made me keep her fairly close to the ground. Not much danger of her falling over when she’s attached to a penny though!

I elected to use liche purple and warlock purple instead of the red spot colour I’ve used on all the other elves to make her seem a bit more otherworldly. A couple of cheeky bits of freehand emphasize her importance. 😉

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Back on familiar ground here with my tried and testing non metallic metal recipes. I’ve elected to go with turquoise (the citadel triad of stegadon scale green, sotek green and temple guard blue) rather than the more traditional blue. And you have to have white cloth somewhere on an elf!

Well, it wouldn’t be a 15 mm post without a gratuitous money shot so I suppose I’d better close with this:

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Step by step: Warriors of Darkness Savage

Firstly, some good news – my heroes and skeletons have been included in the Shapeways gift guide, so any order including them qualifies for free shipping in the US and EU using the code SHIP4FREE until November 20th!

And now to business:

I actually remembered to take some photos while I was painting my Warriors of Darkness, so I thought I’d post a step by step guide. I’m using one of the savages here since it contains areas of both flesh and armour.

I’ll just explain briefly what I did in each step rather than going into detailed discussion, but the approach is very similar to my recent Dark Sword painting tutorial. I’ve tried to keep the lighting level consistent but because I painted the miniatures over a few days there is a little variation, so apologies for that. My paints are a mixture of different vintages – sadly some of them are no longer available but it should be possible to find equivalents with a little googling!

I find it great fun painting these 15 mm miniatures. The smaller size means I can turn them out in just a few hours each without compromising on quality. I exaggerated all the details during sculpting, so they’re actually less fiddly than a lot of 28 mm minis I’ve come across.

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I started by removing the remaining supports and gently sanding away any print artifacts with 800 grit sandpaper. The miniature was washed in warm soapy water and glued to a penny with a mixture of sand and small pieces of slate applied over a thin layer of milliput.

(There’s another post here where I discuss the initial preparation of these miniatures in a little more detail.)

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I painted the base using gorthor brown and cloudy grey with washes of agrax earthshade and nuln oil. I then drybrushed with graveyard earth, karak stone and longbeard grey.

The flesh was basecoated with 2:1 fair highlight and rakarth flesh. I didn’t use any primer – the plastic takes the paint well.

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I shaded the flesh with a 1:1:1 mix of rakarth flesh, cloudy grey and rhinox hide with a little reikland fleshshade added. A deeper shade of 1:1:1 cloudy grey, rhinox hide and black was then applied to the deepest recesses.

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The shading was neatened up a bit where necessary with a re-application of the base coat. I then added a layer of 1:1 creamy ivory and white.

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The armour was base coated with khorne red.

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A highlight of 1:1 squig orange and white was applied to the armour.

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The armour was shaded with a khorne red and black mix, then pure black in the deepest recesses.

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A second highlight of white with a little of the previous highlight mix added.

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The armour was then glazed with evil sunz scarlet and khorne red.

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The axe handle was painted with khemri brown, shaded with a mix of desert yellow and black and highlighted with yellowed bone.

The edge of the shield was painted with abaddon black and highlighted with cloudy grey. The axe was base coated with cloudy grey.

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The axe was highlighted with a 1:1 mix of rainy grey and white, with a touch of temple guard blue added.

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The axe was shaded with a mix of cloudy grey and black, with a little mephiston red added. Pure black was used in for the deepest shadows.

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The axe was highlighted again with white and a little of the previous highlight mix added.

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The highlight paints were used to create scoring on the axe blade (using a gentle touch and a brush with a very good point). Small pure white highlight spots were added and the ground reflections were glazed with rainy grey with a small amount of dark flesh added.

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A second highlight of 1:1 rainy grey and white was applied to the shield edge and a black glaze was used to neaten it up. The boots and the loin cloth were painted the same way.

The fur was painted with rhinox hide, then highlighted over a progressively smaller area with bestial brown, vomit brown and yellowed bone.

The leather straps were painted with rhinox hide, highlighted with 1:1 ratskin flesh and tanned skin and shaded with black.

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The brass was base coated with 1:1 dark flesh and vermin brown, highlighted with 1:1 orange brown and creamy ivory, then with more creamy ivory. Shades were rhinox hide and black. The base coat was used for glazing.

The horns were painted with creamy ivory then balor brown, rhinox hide and black working towards the ends so each colour covered a smaller area than the last.

The armour was finished with small white highlights and some extra chips painted onto the helmet.

The eyes were painted and the lower lip glazed with a little khorne red added to the flesh tone highlight.

Finally the edge of the penny was painted black and a tuft from MiniNatur added. Done!

Small Ox Miniatures: what’s in the box?

Ok, you’ve ordered your exquisitely crafted Small Ox Miniatures from Shapeways, what happens next?

Shapeways will print your order and ship it out to you via UPS. Recently I’ve been getting miniatures in my hand less than a week after placing the order, but it is possible that you’ll have to wait a little longer if there is a lot of demand on the printers.

Inside your (overly large) cardboard box you’ll find plenty of padding, and packages like this:

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The amount of packaging would have you believe we’re dealing with extremely fragile pieces here, but actually the miniatures are made of a reasonably flexible plastic and are quite robust.

Inside the bubble wrap your miniatures will look something like this:

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The price of the miniatures is determined by amount of material they use, but there is also a fixed charge per part. By connecting the miniatures together in this way, the ‘per part’ cost is only incurred once which makes them as inexpensive as possible.*

You can see that due to the thinness of the connecting plastic it has warped a bit, illustrating the flexibility. Doesn’t matter anyway – we don’t want that bit!

Here are super close ups of one of the miniatures (this is 15 mm scale, so  very small):

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You can see that the material is pretty smooth right out of the packet. The front side of the miniatures is smoother and less glossy than the back because of the way the miniatures are oriented during printing.

Shapeways add some supports as part of the printing process. The little nubs you can see mostly on the back and underside of the miniatures are the remnants of these.

To get your miniatures ready for painting, simply cut the connecting plastic with clippers. A sharp scalpel will make short work of the remnants of the supports.

You can paint the miniature as it is, although I would recommend giving it a gentle scrub in warm soapy water before doing so, just in case there is anything on the surface that is going to prevent the paint from sticking.

Because I’m a tad obsessive I like to remove the relatively light print lines with sandpaper. I’ve found that 400 or 800 grit is good for this, but do be gentle with it! And of course be careful not to accidently remove any details.

After sanding I glue the miniature to a penny with superglue, and we’re ready to get painting!

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The black plastic looks a bit scuffed up after sanding. Don’t worry, this will paint up really nicely!

 

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Like this!

 

 

* On the subject of price, for customers outside the US Shapeways recalculate the price on a monthly basis to reflect the prevailing exchange rate with the dollar. The plunge in the pound over the last few months has been bad news for those of us in the UK!

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Warriors of Darkness

darkwarriors800The first of two small warbands that I’ve created for use in skirmish games like Song of Blades and Heroes, here we have the ultimate bad guys – the warriors of darkness!

As with all my 15 mm miniatures, I’ve made these available for anyone that would like to get hold of them via Shapeways.

A bit of a mixed bag here. The two heavily armoured warriors were sculpted over a year ago with the rest of the warband being more recent. I think it probably shows a bit in the poses!

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I’m really pleased with how the leader of the force, known only as the Relentless, has turned out. I had to go through quite a few iterations before all the details printed nicely but it was worth it in the end. It was great fun painting the demonic shoulder pad and the chipped shiny red armour. The largest chips are sculpted, but I added a few smaller ones with the brush.

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I shared this guy previously, so you can see more of him here. Every good fantasy warband needs a magic user!

dark_elite1dark_elite2The heavily armoured elite. You don’t want to mess with these guys! Again, you can see how well the black high def acrylate captures very fine details – the chainmail loincloths are incredibly tiny.

dark_savage1dark_savage2The lowly savages can’t afford as much armour as their brethren but they make up for it with muscle.

relentless_coinrelentless_stormcastJust a couple of shots to try and give a better idea of the scale of these guys. I’m conscious that they may look a little rough blown up to five times actual size, but they look great in the hand (honest 😉 ). I don’t fancy that stormcast’s chances!

I took some work in progress photos while I was painting one of the savages, so I intend to write a future post documenting that process (I have to finish up the dark sword tutorial first). In the meantime, here are some of the main colours used:

Red armour

Basecoat: khorne red (GW)

Highlight: squig orange (GW):white 1:1, then add more white

Shade: Add black to khorne red

Glaze: Evil sunz scarlet (GW) and khorne red

NMM bronze

Basecoat: dark flesh (GW):vermin brown (GW) 1:1

Highlight: orange brown (VMC):creamy ivory (reaper) 1:1, then add more creamy ivory

Shade: rhinox hide (GW), black

Savage flesh

Basecoat: fair highlight (reaper):rakarth flesh (GW) 2:1

Shade: rakarth:cloudy grey (reaper):rhinox hide (GW) 1:1:1 with a bit of reikland fleshshade (GW) added to the mix

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Highlight: creamy ivory (reaper):white 1:1

 

I’ll leave you with a teaser for the next warband – elves!

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Savage beasts

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A few more of my own sculpts fresh off the painting table. These were actually sculpted about a year ago but I only just got round to doing something with them.

Quite a range of sizes with this trio as the goblin is only 11 mm to the eyes, whereas the minotaur is a far more imposing 21 mm and is therefore mounted on a 2 pence piece, as befits his status. 😉

One of the many reasons I like this scale is that it gives me the opportunity to create some relatively large beasties without the costs becoming too ridiculous. I definitely intend on doing some more in this vein in the future.

I’m currently sculpting a small elf warband for use in skirmish games like Songs of Blades and Heroes but I think I’m likely to do something similar for the greenskins in the not too distant future, so the orc and goblin are useful concepts for that.

I’m making these available in frosted detail on Shapeways. Recently there have been hints on the forum that the high definition acrylate material will be rolled out for general use fairly soon, which would be really good news.

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Main colours used

Green skin

Base: warpstone glow (GW)

Highlight: scorpion green (GW) with a touch of creamy ivory (reaper), add more creamy ivory

Shade: caliban green (GW), black

Yellow armour

Base: khemri brown (GW), then golden yellow (GW)

Shade: dark flesh (GW)

Highlight: creamy ivory (reaper) with a touch of flash gitz yellow (GW)

Glaze with flash gitz

Minotaur skin

Basecoat: tallarn flesh (GW) and calthan brown (GW) 1:1

Shade: rhinox hide (GW) and black 1:1

Highlight: tallarn flesh, then add in yellowed bone (reaper). Final highlight yellowed bone and white 1:1

Glaze wazdakka red (GW) and liche purple (GW) into recesses

Minotaur armour

Basecoat: black

Highlight: khorne red (GW) and white 2:1, white with a touch of squig orange (GW)

Glaze with khorne red, evil sunz scarlet (GW) and squig orange

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15 mm miniatures available to buy

smalloxminiaturesA few people have asked me about buying the 15 mm miniatures I’ve been showing off recently, so I’ve opened a shop where you can purchase my designs from Shapeways.

Unfortunately it’s not possible for me to offer the miniatures for sale in the black high definition acrylate material, which is a shame as it’s better quality and would be a little cheaper. Currently Shapeways are offering this as a maker only material, but if this changes then I will open up this option.

Of the two materials available, I would recommend ‘frosted extreme detail’ over ‘frosted ultra detail’. My own experiments have shown that there is a noticeable difference in how well details are rendered.

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Tiny heroes

heroesfrontheroessideheroes_rearI’ve been playing with digital sculpting on and off for a little over a year now, using blender for the actual sculpting and getting 3d prints from Shapeways. I intend to write more about what I’ve learnt in future posts, but for now I’d like to show off some of my first attempts at 15 mm fantasy sculpting.

After a few initial experiments I chose 15 mm as my preferred scale for a few reasons:

  1. I like painting very small miniatures, mostly because it’s quicker and I’m impatient.
  2. It’s about the smallest scale that is compatible with the resolution of Shapeways’ current printers – any smaller and the stepping artefacts start to obscure the details.
  3. Small miniatures are less expensive to print (but still not cheap)!

The miniatures are deliberately very ‘heroic’ in their proportions. In reality an average person’s head should be around 1/8 of their height. It seems that Games Workshop like to use about 1/6 for their Warhammer ranges. At this scale I’ve gone even further and the heads are about 1/3 of the miniature’s height. To my eye this gives the miniatures more impact and it makes them more enjoyable to paint.

I will happily admit that the concepts for these minis are not particularly original – sadly I’ve never had a particularly active imagination. Here you have a dwarf warrior, an elven mage, a demon hunter and a paladin: fairly well trodden fantasy tropes.

When I sculpted these miniatures I was entertaining vague thoughts of getting them cast along with some villains, so I designed them in such a way that I think they could be moulded as single pieces. I’ve since abandoned this idea though, largely because I found it was limiting my ability to sculpt what I wanted to. So my more recent stuff is definitely not going to be suitable for production but is a bit more dynamic. Hopefully I’ll be able to show some of that soon!