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Lord Celestant on Dracoth

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I’ve had the Vandus Hammerhand sprue from the Age of Sigmar starter box lying around for a long time now and I finally decided that his time had come. Unfortunately because this was an ebay purchase I didn’t have any assembly instructions and there are one or two places where construction is a little tricky. I got there in the end though!

My approach was to fully assemble the dracoth before painting, and then add the stormcast rider piece by piece, making sure that any inaccessible parts were painted first. The base is built out of modelling board (ureol).

It took me quite a long time to decide on the colour scheme. I love the ‘Eavy Metal version but I didn’t just want to copy that. In the end I went with something similar to the Celestial Vindicators but swapped red for magenta. Rather than going with pure non metallic metal I’ve elected for a combined nmm and metallic approach in the same way as my terminator librarian from last year. This approach never looks quite as impressive as full nmm in photos but I am a big fan of the effect when you see the miniature in person.

The main colours used on the armour are stegadon scale green, VMC turquoise and VMC blue green, while the cloak uses screamer pink and VMC magenta. I used the citadel metallics (if you’re curious about the exact recipe then I documented it in my previous stormcast painting guide).

When painting the dracoth I found that simply shading the stegadon scale green basecoat with black was making it look very lifeless so I have included khorne red in the shadows, which has definitely helped. I’ve also glazed a little of the screamer pink/magenta around the regions where the dark scales meet the paler areas.

Due to the size of the miniature it took an exceedingly long time to paint as I didn’t want to compromise on quality in any way. Painting large pieces like this is not really my forte (I had previously abandoned my attempt at a varanguard), so it was satisfying to see the project through to completion. There are a lot of subtle texturing effects that only become apparent when you can look at the miniature very closely.

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I had intended to enter this piece at the AoS open day but the horrendous weather in the UK put paid to that. I daresay he may get an outing in May at the classic golden demon instead!

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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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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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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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Work in progress: High Elf Sea Lord

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It has been a little while since I posted anything, so having a few spare minutes I thought I’d snap my current work in progress for the blog.

A fair amount still to do here. None of the NMM is finished yet for example, although some parts are further along than others. I’ve only just attached the trident arm, so that’s not had as much work as the rest of the mini.

I think this miniature will benefit from being photographed against a slightly darker background when it’s done – these pictures are definitely not the best!

Sadly parts of the mini seem to have picked up quite a glossy sheen so I’ll need to do something about that at some point. I do have a can of testor’s lying around somewhere but I’ve never used it before so I suspect there will be a heart in mouth moment coming up! I’ll be ‘test’ing it on something I haven’t put quite so many hours into first though. 😉

I’ve also recently acquired some water effects so I’ll be having a play with that on the base.

Let’s see if I actually manage to finish this one without something going wrong! My success rate has been poor of late…

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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.

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High elf ship

This blog may well take on something of a nautical air in 2017. Last year I shared some renders of various vessels that I’d been playing around with in Blender. These were all 1:600 scale since I felt that was a good size to let me get enough details in. After a few Shapeways experiments I decided that this was a little too large – when I wanted to make some big ships they were going to start getting seriously expensive!

I’ve therefore re-worked a few of my designs into 1:900 scale to see whether I can retain a reasonable amount of detail in this more cost effective size. This was slightly more work than just shrinking the original designs since I had to respect design rules such as minimum wall thickness, but fortunately it wasn’t too much effort to work with my saved Blender files.

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It also occurred to me that I could also try printing some sea bases in the low cost ‘strong white flexible’ material that Shapeways offer. This material has a rough finish that is unsuitable for high quality miniatures, but I thought it could work nicely for drybrushing a base.

This is the smallest of the Elven vessels that I have planned, mounting a single bolt thrower in the bows and a magical obelisk at the stern. The miniature is about an inch long, so it’s fairly dimunitive! I elected to print the ship as a single piece, but if I want to go down the casting route in future it would need to be in two pieces (hull and sail).

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I’m really happy with the way the details printed in the high def acrylate material (I’ve learnt that this is actually an Envisiontec machine, though apparently not their highest quality). And I’m pleased to report that the sea base experiment was very successful. So there will be more to come!

At the moment I’m not too sure what I’ll do with these ships – I’m enjoying the happy memories of Man O’ War that working on them is bringing back. I know Ganesha has a set of naval rules (Galleys & Galleons) with a fantasy supplement (Fayre Winds & Foul Tides) that it might be worth me getting hold of, as I really like their approach to rules writing.

 

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Scale and Perfectionism

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I haven’t posted for a few weeks simply because I haven’t made as much progress with current projects as I’d hoped. The Varanguard has reached a fully assembled state… and stalled. Partly this is because I fell into my old trap and didn’t plan as thoroughly as I should have done. Consequently I’m underwhelmed with the effect of the lighting coming from the lava (in my head it just looked so much cooler!) and one or two other things. But I’ve realised that really the problem is more to do with scale.

The Varanguard is big. It’s difficult to get a true sense of it from pictures but I placed it next to a pre Age of Sigmar cavalry model (a High Elf Dragon Prince) and the difference is startling. The overall surface area that needs painting is vast in comparison, and of course this means that it takes far longer to complete the project. For this miniature there are also a great deal of details which add to the time needed.

There was a time in the not so distant past when I would have been prepared to plough 100 hours into a single model, but these days I find my willingness to commit to projects of this nature greatly reduced. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I’m no longer chasing competition glory but just painting for the fun of it. Beyond a certain point I tend to get bored with a miniature and want to move on to the next thing. With the motivation of competition I was able to push through this and on to completion but if I’m painting for fun and it’s starting to become not fun then what is the point?

One possible solution to this conundrum would be to back off on the quality a bit to reduce the painting time. But I know that when I do this I’m inevitably unsatisfied with what I’ve produced. So this is a non-starter (although the Varanguard will probably end up getting this treatment just so I can get it off my desk). The only other possibility I can see is to work at a smaller scale so that I can indulge my perfectionism while keeping the total project time down to a manageable level.

I had a lot fun last year painting my own 15 mm sculpts, and this is something I’d like to do more of in the future. On those minis I could really go to town, painting everything in non metallic metal and even getting in some bits of freehand while still keeping the total time per mini to 10-20 hours. However, I have to concede that such diminutive miniatures just don’t have the impact of larger figures. I’d also like to be able to paint something without having to sculpt it and get it printed first!

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been painting up a Tauriel from the Hobbit line, and I’ve come to the conclusion that this sits right in my sweet spot for scale. It’s a lovely sculpt, and the face in particular is better than I had thought from the box art (although I still need to tidy it up a little). The project is nearing completion and I’m not sick of looking at it yet despite pushing myself to the limit of my ability.

So I think that’s the answer for me – in the future I’ll be focussing again on single miniatures on foot when it comes to painting. It’s just a bit of a shame that there are so few LotR/Hobbit characters available in plastic because I really don’t like dealing with all the imperfections that come with resin and metal! I think I’ll be ok going up in scale to the smaller Warhammer miniatures, but I need to test that. This will open up a much larger range of possibilities but I worry a little about the trend towards huge character models that GW has been exhibiting recently. Don’t get me wrong: they’re fantastic miniatures, absolutely brilliant sculpts. They just don’t fit into my hobby at the moment.

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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!