Saturday, July 11, 2015

Painting the Witch-king of Angmar from Middle Earth Quest

Between other painting projects, I have been slowly painting the miniatures from Middle Earth Quest. I was going to link to the Fantasy Flight Games page for it, but in writing this post, it seems the game's page has disappeared. I guess that means you shouldn't get your hopes up for a reprint.

Rather than write long posts about painting a whole game, this is a shorter post about just one figure from the set: The Witch-King of Angmar. I tried a lot of different things with this figure, and so I am sharing some of what I learned here.

After reading this article on ice bases and remembering that Angmar is a frozen land, I decided to try an ice base for the Witch-king. I picked up some Rock Candy Crackle Paint, but I also had some Kroma Crackle after having watched Teri Litorco's video about crackle bases. I decided to try an experiment to see how the two behaved. I found a plastic tray from a Bones miniature and a small round container, and I put some of each crackle medium into both to let them dry. These were pretty thick applications.

Above you see the Rock Candy Crackle Paint. It looks like broken glass when dried, so much so that I found myself treating like broken glass. I popped these shards out and put them into a baggie to use later as glass or ice effects. It took about two days to dry.

The Kroma Crackle took an order of magnitude longer to dry. How long did it take to dry? Well, I played the entirety of Dragon Age: Inquisition while it dried. This dried solid white and is almost velvety. Some spots look like their still not quite cured. 

I moved forward with using the Rock Candy on the Witch-king.

My first attempt was to put a cloudy blue-grey underneath a layer of crackle paint, but that did not at all give the effect that I wanted. However, I did have some fun wet blending the colors on the base, which you see above. I have done hardly any wet blending, so a big flat circular base was a good opportunity to practice. After this didn't work, I decided to follow an approach more like I linked earlier: an aqua base with crackle paint on top, to be followed by aqua wash and white drybrushing.

I glued down a few of the ice blocks from my earlier experiments and laid down a generous layer of crackle paint.

Above you can see how it looked after drying. The cracks were much finer than I had wanted, but I decided to move forward anyway. I am sure that part of my problem is that I'm working around a pre-existing figure. This makes me think that in my next set, I may cut the figures off of the bases to see if this gives me a bit more freedom in creative basing.

Notice that it looks like the crackle paint is "crawling" up the side of the figure here—an artifact of trying to work around him. I chipped some of the most egregious parts away, which left a bit of a gap between the mini and the ice effect. This turned out OK, since it gives a bit of contrast, though I would approach it differently if I could do it all again.

Here he is after drybrushing the base.

Painting the figure itself was pretty straightforward. As a black rider, he is naturally dressed all in black. In the boardgame artwork, however, he has a slight blue-green hue:

I applied this tint to layers of grey to get a nice cold grey on the miniature.

As part of my research into the lore around this character, I was reminded of the fact that he has a flaming sword. This seemed like a great opportunity to play with a fire-and-ice theme. I went back to this article from Wargaming Tradecraft on fire effects using gels and picked up some Golden Heavy Gloss Gel from Art Mart

First, I re-primed the sword white and painted it white and bright yellow. I sculpted the flame effect in two layers, painting the inner one in bright yellows and oranges, and then the outer one in a broader range of colors, going to a medium orange in the recesses. The Hot Lead tutorial was a helpful reminder in what colors to use and how to apply them. I found the gel medium to be easy to work with, applying it and teasing up the flames with a simple sculpting tool.

Re-primed and re-painted

First layer wet

First layer dry

First layer painted

Second layer wet

Second layer dry

Second layer painted
The final step was to apply some object-source lighting to make it look like the flaming sword is glowing. This was applied primarily on the underside of the right arm and the right back of the cloak. It does not show up so well in the photographs. OSL is still something that I struggle with, because I don't want to overdo it.

This was a fun figure to paint. It was good to try some new techniques on a good quality, inspirational miniature, even though his accompanying board game does not get much table time.