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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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High Elf Sea Lord

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This post has been updated with new pictures 24/05/17 after I made alterations to the base.

At long last I have completed the base for my high elf sea lord! I’m very pleased to have this project finished.

This miniature dates from the dark age of GW communication 😉 but I’m reliably informed that the sculpt is by Martin Footit. Admittedly I am biased but this is a great mini. Just the right amount of details while leaving some opportunities for free hand. I imagine that he is shouting because he has just spotted some dark elf raiders off the coast of Ulthuan.

I went with non metallic metal on this mini, mostly because I thought it would be more fun than true metallic on the helmet and the trident blade. I kept the colour scheme quite simple with only minor alterations to the ‘Eavy Metal version. I’ve painted some texture on the inside of his cape and picked out some individual hair strands and threads on the end of his sash.

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I usually favour quite a minimalist base but I really wanted to have this guy overlooking the sea, so I had a go at modelling it. Overall I think I did ok, but I’m sure it’s not the finest example of this kind of scene.

I sculpted the waves with green stuff and then applied layers of water effect after painting it (Vallejo still water). After many experiments I found that a very small amount of white paint added to Vallejo transparent water gel made a fairly convincing foam, so I carefully applied that mix on the wave crest and around the rocks. The seagull is actually included on the skycutter sprue, which is a really nice touch so I had to use that too! Unfortunately it has made the piece horrendously fragile…

I’m still looking forward to seeing what GW do with the high elves in Age of Sigmar. Elves of all flavours have been conspicuously absent so far (apart from a couple of shady characters in the silver tower), but the game is nearly two years old now. Surely it can’t be too much longer?! C’mon guys, don’t make me sculpt my own again!

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More work in progress

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I’ve finished painting the sea lord now and I’m very pleased with how this has turned out. I’ve spent a lot of time on this over the last month but it has been worthwhile. It’s a lovely miniature with lots of great little details. I wish I knew who sculpted it, so if you know then please tell me!

The outside of the cape is still a little glossy and I’m unsure about committing myself to using a spray can on it (testors dullcote) since the thought of something going wrong with so many hours invested in the mini is very scary. I’ve applied a couple of coats of lahmian medium and that has definitely helped, so I think I’ll probably just leave it as is.

I’ve spent quite some time putting extra little touches into the model that are hard to see from the pictures: wood grain on the inside of the shield, very fine hair strands, a texture on the inside of the cape, and some more texture on the ends of his sash. You can maybe make out some of these on the picture below:

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I’m now into the phase of experimenting with various water effects for the base, so he won’t be completely finished for a while yet. I’ve therefore started my next painting project, and it’s back to 40k! Very early days for this Blood Angels librarian at the moment. I’m painting the head before I complete the assembly:

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True metallic on this piece. But I’ll be doing my trademark shiny armour as well… 😉

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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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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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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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Dragon Maiden

dragon_maiden1dragon_maiden2dragon_maiden3dragon_maiden4dragon_maiden5dragon_maiden6After proving beyond doubt my total mastery of sculpting 15 mm miniatures ;), I decided it was time to have a go at a slightly larger scale. So here you have my first attempt at sculpting a 30 mm miniature.

Concept-wise there’s nothing particularly original here. Games Workshop have been starving me of High Elves recently (at the moment it’s starting to look doubtful they’ll ever return, but I live in hope) so I decided to make my own. As I usually do when I sculpt something, I spent a while with a pencil and paper sketching various designs for armour and so on. I rejected a few designs that I thought looked cool on the grounds that they probably wouldn’t print very well or look good when painted.

I was conscious that I needed to get better at anatomy. At 15 mm you can get away with a certain amount of fudging, especially with the distorted proportions I’ve been favouring. As the miniature gets bigger it becomes more difficult to hide this ineptitude, so I spent some time on google and bought a book (Anatomy for 3D Artists) to try and improve my knowledge. There is still a long way for me to go in this area though.

I wanted the scale to be similar to the Warhammer range. Happily I have hordes of these miniatures lying around, so some time with a ruler enabled me to get a rough idea of the proportions to use. The pose was deliberately kept very simple as I was already stretching myself with this project and I didn’t want to make it any more difficult than it needed to be.

blenderI roughed out the proportions in blender and spent a fair bit of time viewing the model from every angle until I was happy that the anatomy wasn’t too awful. I then went back and refined each element, and made decisions about how the hair and the cloak would flow. Hair is an interesting element – you can either sculpt individual strands, accepting that due to the limitations of the printer they will be thicker than you’d like, or you can just sculpt the general form of the hair and let the painter deal with it. Because of my experience painting this kind of featureless hair in various plastic kits I decided to go this way. But perversely I’ve gone the other way with my 15 mm miniatures and I’m quite happy with that too!

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As usual, the miniature was printed at Shapeways. In this case I was able to evaluate the new high definition black acrylate material vs frosted extreme detail. My impressions are overall favourable, but I’ll probably write more about that in a future post.

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There are one or two things I’d do differently next time. Because this was my first miniature in this scale I wasn’t totally sure how much I needed to exaggerate the details to get a good result. I think I did ok overall, but there are a couple of places where I didn’t get it quite right. The biggest disappointment was the eyes, which are too bulbous. For the 15 mm miniatures I’ve found that I need to make the eye protrude quite a lot to get it to print well, but here it’s overdone. I disguised it as well as I could with the paint, but it’s a source of irritation!

I elected to go with non metallic metal when painting as there are some interesting shapes and I wanted to explore the reflections. For the steel parts I used my tried and tested method of highlighting with cyan and shading with red added to the mix.

Overall I am quite pleased with how the miniature has turned out for a first effort at this scale and I’ve learnt a lot that will hopefully lead to better results in the future.

If you want, you can buy your own copy here.

 

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