A painting guide for this miniature is available here.
I was really pleased to see Forgeworld bringing out the Nazgul miniatures after what seemed like endless dwarf, orc and lake town nonsense from the terrible Hobbit movies! I think that technically the Nazgul are from the Hobbit too but they’re also in the Lord of the Rings so that’s good enough for me!
It was a challenge to try and think of something interesting to do with this miniature since it’s very much just steel with a black cloak! I’ve added some subtle texture to the cloak and tried to make the non metallic metal a little interesting by highlighting it with cold green and including some reflections from a far off fire, which could be the fires of mount doom or just a camp fire made by some foolish hobbits! In reality the highlights are a bit greener than they appear in these pictures, but I really struggled to get an accurate colour balance on this miniature for some reason.
I was surprised to find that the Nazgul have been sculpted by hand, as I thought pretty much everything had been switched over to digital by now. I think CAD would have been a better choice with so much armour on the miniature – some of the surfaces were not as smooth or as precise as I would have liked and did have to spend some time with sandpaper and putty just correcting various areas. I’m pleased to say that the casting was pretty good though! The Nazgul are also larger than I expected – this guy towers over the other Lord of the Rings miniatures that I’ve got lying around. I’m not sure if this was intentional or just a bit of scale creep.
I’ll enter this into golden demon in a couple of weeks but without any great hope of winning anything, as I don’t think it’s the best choice of miniature for a competition piece. Still, after taking gold in this category in 2016 and 2017 I don’t think I can complain too much!
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.
I’m very fond of GW’s Lord of the Rings range. The films made a big impression on me and the sculpts (I think they’re mostly the work of the Perry twins) really capture the mood and the aesthetic. Result: a very inspired and motivated painter!
I’m much less keen on the Hobbit however. I read the book as a kid and didn’t particularly like it, and predictably the films weren’t a patch on the LotR trilogy. So I was less enthusiastic about the minis to begin with (even though there are still some lovely sculpts), and it wasn’t helped by them coinciding with the finecast era! Fortunately there are a few plastics available, so when I was looking for something to paint up as a result of a late decision to go to Warhammer Fest I decided to give Legolas a go.
I’ll hold my hands up here and say that I was so keen to get painting that I didn’t really think much about colours. I had a vague idea that I wanted his robe to be dark red and fancied doing the armour in gold, but beyond that nothing was planned. This is a bad habit of mine that I’m trying to correct with future projects.
When painting LotR/Hobbit minis for competition the challenge is to do something to make yours stand out. Compared to the Warhammer ranges the minis are very small and have a lovely simplicity about them. I’ve had good results in the past with subtle little freehands and texturing and I decided to employ both here. (In case you’re wondering, the freehand on this piece are the little patterns I painted on the daggers – I told you they were subtle.)
I spent some time with a couple of reference pictures of Orlando Bloom trying to place the highlights and shades to capture the likeness. I don’t think I was wholly successful in this – but the face really is tiny so I was probably being a bit ambitious.
I went for NMM on this piece as I find metallics don’t have much impact when the details are so small.
One of the things I like about this scale is that the minis are small enough that I can indulge the inner perfectionist and make every blend as smooth as possible without it resulting in hundreds of hours of work. I think Legolas ended up being as close to flawless as anything I’ve achieved so far, and I was very pleased to take gold at Golden Demon.