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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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Blood Angels Space Marine

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Every good performance deserves an encore, right? I was really pleased to be asked to paint this commission in the same style as my Blood Angels diorama (right down to the base).

There were plenty of opportunities for freehand with the parts that were chosen. I took inspiration for the loin cloth from the art on the cover of an old blood angels codex. It’s difficult to make out on the pictures but there is texturing on both this and the banner. The design on the right shoulder pad was adapted from space hulk.

I filled the indented crosses on the knees since neither I or the client were particularly keen on them, and it provided the opportunity to get a squad marking on the left knee.

Full non metallic metal was requested for this one, and I’m quite pleased with the result I achieved on the gold trim. I also experimented with a slightly different approach on the power sword, but the position of the power node thing is further down the blade than I’d like, which I found a little restrictive in terms of the effects I could employ.

My next painting project will be another commission – a dark elder archon this time. In the background I’m continuing to work on my sculpting too, focussing on 30 mm scale miniatures at the moment.

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Arwen

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I painted Arwen over the course of a week as a fairly last minute third entry for Golden Demon 2017. I couldn’t go without trying to defend my LotR/Hobbit title from last year!

I had wanted to paint Thranduil, King of Mirkwood but sadly received a poor copy (curse you, finecast!) so had to pull Arwen (in metal) off the subs bench.

Not much to say about this one really. I do enjoy the simplicity of the Lord of the Rings miniatures and they always present a challenge due to their diminutive stature.

I’m quite happy with the freehands that I pulled off in a very small space. I’ve added a bit of texturing to the purple robe and the ochre streamer things. I wanted to try and capture the lustrous quality that Arwen has in the movies, so I elected to go with a very pale base coat for the face (almost white) and then added shading and colour gradually. I’m reasonably happy with the end result but it’s not an approach I’d normally use!

Arwen comes in a dual pack, so I will have to paint the mounted version at some point!

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Preparations for Golden Demon 2017

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Up until a couple of weeks ago I wasn’t sure if I’d attend Warhammer Fest. Although I always enjoy chatting to my fellow painters and the studio guys that I know, I find I no longer have the hunger that I used to for winning painting awards. After factoring in the cost of attending, I was leaning towards not going.

It has now transpired that I have another good reason for going (which I won’t go into here), so last week I bought my ticket. And of course if I am going then I may as well enter golden demon! Happily I still had my recent Blood Angels librarian and High Elf sea lord sitting around, so I already had one more entry than I managed to take last year (when I was only able to get Legolas painted in time).

Since these pieces now needed to be competition standard, I spent some more time working on the base for the sea lord. Online reaction to this piece has generally been very good, but I got some great feedback from a handful of my facebook friends regarding the poor standard of modelling on the rocks.

I will freely admit that I’ve never particularly enjoyed basing. I really appreciate the amazing work that so many people in the community put out in this area, but I’ve never felt that this is where my talents lie. I love super clean, precise painting and this doesn’t really sit well with the approaches needed to create believable looking scenes. But I wanted to make the piece as good as it could be, so I took the feedback on board and had a go at improving the cliff face with the aid of some milliput and reference pictures on google. I’m sure it’s still not great, but I hope it’s better than it was.

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Sea Lord before modifications

 

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And after!

 

I was happy with the librarian as is, so my thoughts turned to whether or not I could get a third entry done in time. It seemed only right that I should attempt to defend my title as Lord of the Rings/Hobbit champion from last year, so I needed to get my hands on a simple miniature that I could paint fairly quickly. After perusing the GW website for a while I settled on Thranduil, King of Mirkwood.

Now at this point, particularly observant readers may be thinking that the purple robed lady in the first picture is a funny looking Thranduil. And yes, I have to report that unfortunately my plan to paint this lovely looking miniature was undone by the abomination that is finecast. It has been a good long while since I bought any resin from GW and having heard reports that it has improved recently I foolishly thought I’d give it another go. Sadly I received the all too familiar mix of bubbles, warped parts and chunks of resin obscuring details.

Happily I had hedged against this possibility and also ordered Arwen in good old solid dependable metal, so she will be my final entry. More pictures of Arwen coming soon!

So there we have it – three entries ready for golden demon next Sunday. I honestly have no idea how I’ll get on in the competition. The standard seems to be driven ever higher each year and I’ve already seen pictures of jaw dropping work from the likes of David Soper and Michal Pisarski that make me think I’m in for a serious schooling! But regardless, I’m sure I’ll have a great time meeting up with everyone. Looking forward to it!

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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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Geigor Fell-Hand

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This was a fun little project that I painted as a gift for a friend.

Sculpted by Darren Latham for the Burning of Prospero box, Geigor Fell-Hand is my first ever Space Wolf (only taken me 24 years to get round to it!). Loads of cool details on this: wolf pelts, armour trim, plenty of weapons, gems… I particularly enjoyed painting the face for some reason – I don’t recall ever painting a mini with sculpted eyebrows before, but it was great!

I aimed for a fairly ‘Eavy Metal style with true metallics and lots of edge highlighting. I believe that technically heresy era Space Wolves are supposed to have a neutral grey armour but I wanted to paint it closer to the 40k scheme, so I ended up with a kind of halfway house with a bluish grey. I took inspiration from an old ‘Eavy Metal masterclass by Neil Green and went with red hair and yellow trim rather than the blond and red from the box art.

I added some damage to armour in the places where it was most likely to occur: more on the front than the back and plenty around the lightning claw and the bottom of the boots. Not many opportunities for freehand on this mini, but I was at least able to paint his name onto the claw!

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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!