|Obligatory box cover image|
|Human cultists: Never enough skulls|
I also had trouble picking colors for the shield, since I didn't want to overdo it on the red and black motif. I picked the green and bronze by playing with a color wheel, and I don't really care for it, but neither did I feel like going back and repainting it. After these and the cultists, I took another short break before painting anybody else. Fortunately, it all gets better from here.
|Rage Drake. He's mad because of the size of the dentist's tool.|
Take a close look at the rage drake's base, and you'll see one of my first creative basing experiments. Watching Teri Litorco's video about pumice gels inspired me to pick some up and try them. The rage drake's base has a thin layer of fine pumice gel that was worked up with a craft stick.
|Now he's mad because he cannot play in the mud.|
|Now he's mad because red is still hard to highlight.|
|Orc Basher standing nowhere in particular|
|Orc Basher standing in the grass|
Static grass was a good investment. I used a standard technique for applying it, first dabbing some thinned PVA glue onto the base, then pushing a ridiculous amount of static grass into it. After waiting a few moments, I tapped off the excess, blew from the sides, and sure enough—up it stands, like magic. My only regret here was that I followed another tutorial (which I cannot find now) that suggested spraying matte varnish from a spritz bottle onto the grass in order to varnish post-flocking. I probably put on too much, and it pooled around the base, so some of the Bashers' bases look funny if you get too close. Solution: don't get too close to an Orc Basher. I didn't have to worry about further experimenting with that technique anyway, since the varnish clogged by dollar store spritz bottle, and nothing of value was lost.
Around this time, I watched The Painting Clinic video series on highlighting, in which he goes over the basics with some historical militia. During the series, he casually mentions that the miniatures will all be wearing different colors because they are a militia, not army regulars. When he said this, and I looked over at my Bashers, I realized they were identical for no particular reason. I had painted all three at the same time, which let me reuse colors, and so reuse I did. On the archers, however, I had only done the skin to match the Bashers, the rest being unpainted. This inspired me to give the archers each their own colors.
|Orc Archers, proudly displaying their unique tunics|
|The orcs agreed to pose for one action shot.|
|Orc Shaman, almost complete|
|Orc Shaman, almost complete|
I had decided before starting the figure that this would be an opportunity to try object-source lighting (OSL) on his holy symbol. Finishing the rest of the model, and being rather happy with, I had the same hesitation as with the static grass, but perhaps stronger. I had spent hours on this one miniature: did I really want to risk ruining it in trying to make it look like the symbol was glowing? This model contains no non-mixed colors, so there was almost no chance of re-creating any of the colors if I wanted to paint over them. I reminded myself that one of the whole points of the endeavor was to learn something new, and that nobody would really see the result anyway (I mean, nobody except you, dear reader). All right, let's do yellow.
|Orc Shaman, finished|
|Orc Shaman, finished|
|Cave Bears from the Tea & Spice Forest|
There were actually a few more steps to the bases here. First, I laid down some coarse pumice gel and painted it dark brown, and then I stuck the leaves onto the bases using thinned PVA glue. The leaves were not laying flat: they looked like... well, they looked like someone had haphazardly dumped some leaves and sticks onto the base, which is exactly what happened. I covered these piles in matte varnish—the same I was using to experiment with the Orc Bashers' bases—but the result was that the leaves looked very wet. They soaked up the varnish and became limp, then stuck in place. I put on a second, thin layer of leaves, and this gave a nice effect, looking like newly-fallen leaves on top of older, darker, wetter ones.
A quick note on the coarse pumice gel: I used it on a few models of this set, and it is very easy to tint with inks and slap onto the base. However, it's too regular for most of my uses. On later pieces, such as the dragon, I went back to a mix of different sizes of grit, laying them on with thinned PVA glue, and painting them to look like dirt and stones.
|Snakes looking for a snack|
|Grells are interesting.|
Anyway, given three grells, and my still having some difficulty deciding how I liked priming things, I figured I would try comparing my Liquitex white gesso to my Vallejo white surface primer. Both were causing me a bit of frustration: the gesso had noticeable particulate, and the primer (brushed on) wasn't opaque after two coats on colored plastic and tended to form rings. From the picture above, you can see I was diligent in making sure I used multiple coats to get a good, solid white on which to paint.
It was fascinating—and frustrating—to try to paint these three at once. Whereas the brush would glide over Vallejo-primer grells, pulling it over the Liquitex-gesso grell was like pulling a comb through hair. Even when I couldn't see the particulate, I could feel it dragging on the brush. After basecoating, I started using washes for highlights, and here is where the difference became stark: the washes sank into the crevices of the primer grells as expected, whereas with the gesso grell, it just sat where I put it, essentially "shading" the whole darned model. There was not an elegant recovery here except to say, "Some grells are this color, and some grells are that color." I mean, they're grell—who really cares anyway?
|Grell in a play dough and varnish swamp, not yet dry|
|Tea Grell (gesso)|
|Gibbering Mouthers. Seriously.|
Not sure they would have been high on my list, but they were fun to paint. These were done with a basecoat, a wash for shadows, and many layers of highlights. Lovely and nightmarish. While the popular culture version of "high medieval fantasy" tends to emphasize the Tolkienesque, it's interesting to notice and remember how much impact H. P. Lovecraft had (and clearly still has) on D&D.
This is another paint job that features red, although leaning toward purple. I was still trying to figure out how to highlight such colors, and with this one, it worked well to go toward fleshy pink. I think it worked well here, given the purple tone, in a way that it would look too pink on, say, a red cloak or the Legion Devils.
|Kobolds. Actually iconic.|
To finish up the base, I mixed up some black and sepia ink into fine pumice gel and worked that around the leaf pile and the otyugh's legs. Actually working up the creature's toes and legs makes it look like it's "in" the muck, in a way that wasn't working with the rage drake. Looking carefully, you may also see Milliput bones that I sculpted and stuck into the muck, under the creature's back leg.
The otyugh was the last of the monsters aside from the dragon, and so I moved on to the heroes, starting with the half-orc rogue.
|A thin layer of milliput|
|Carving into the milliput with hobby knife and dentist tool|
|Painting the base to look like stone|
In the game, each hero has his own ability cards, and these cards have corresponding colors. The rogue's is black, and I think I was able to capture the dark theme of a rogue in the paint job.
|Dwarf warrior WIP, starting with the flesh and armor|
|Dwarf warrior WIP, with a red cape|
|Dwarf warrior, front|
|Dwarf warrior, back|
"Don't paint eyebrows" is one of the cardinal rules of miniature painting that I have read in multiple places. However, she was looking kind of strange without them, given how dark her hair and armor are. I glazed in eyebrows, and I think it gives the face a lot more warmth and realism.
|Dwarf warrior and mysterious metallic likeness of a bald man|
|Elf paladin, front|
|Elf paladin, back|
I made a blue flower out of a pin and static grass, with the intent of adding it to this figure to continue my creative basing theme. However, as I held it next to this base, I just couldn't make it fit: the flower was very static, whereas the figure is very dynamic. I decided to leave well enough alone and call her finished.
|Human cleric WIP, showing the original base color of the cloak and a lighter skin tone|
|Human cleric, front|
|Human cleric, side|
|Human cleric, back|
Before starting the human cleric, I got my tube of Kroma Crackle, and I decided to try putting the cleric in a cracked wasteland. It took about a week to dry, but after drybrushing, it gave me pretty much exactly what I wanted. The armor was pretty straightforward, though a bit tricky to highlight with all the various plates and curves. Also, his face was horribly miscast, and so he has that big scar down his cheeks—and that's after filing it down substantially. To get a yellow cloak from a black basecoat took about a billion layers, but this also gave me very tight control over the shadows and highlights. It's easy to say now that it was worth it, because I like how it looks, and I am not currently holding my brush and staring at yet another pool of thinned yellow paint. His card color is a tawny yellow, and I think I've captured that idea in the color scheme.
Also, is it just me, or is this guy really awkward-looking? He is leading with his right foot, but is also swinging backward with his right arm. This is counter to how I would swing such a weapon: shouldn't you step into the swing, not against it? I guess that's why he's a cleric and not a fighter.
His base was done with a thin layer of fine pumice gel, as with the rage drake, but this time I tried to make it look more swampy. I picked up GF9 swamp grass while traveling and used it here.
That about wraps up this edition of my painting update, representing about half a year's hobbying around. I'm not sure if this epic-post format is any better or worse than breaking them up. It's fun to go back through my notes and photographs and think about how I got to where I am. After about a year since my return to the hobby, I am feeling more confident in my abilities. There were a few other things I painted in the middle of this set, which I may write about as part of another post. I have a few options of what to paint next, and there are also a few games I've been eyeballing for Christmas. Don't worry, you'll be able to read all about that... maybe six months or so after it happens.
Thanks for reading, and as always, please feel free to leave comments.