Thursday, December 22, 2016

DungeonQuest - Thargrim the Dark Lord, Warrior of Chaos

Not much to say about Thargrim here. He's one of two among the Heroes for DungeonQuest with green armor. Coincidence? Long lost brothers, one turned to the dark side? The armor is a mix of opaque and metallic paints along with glazes. Gave him a 30mm base so his feet wouldn't stick over the edges. Am using Proxie Models bases for all of these.

Friday, December 9, 2016

DungeonQuest: Rildo the Crafty

Except for El-Adoran in my last post, all of these had "zenithal" priming, aka underpainting, where I primed in either black or dark gray and then primed from above with white. I'm always trying to push one skill or another and with my DungeonQuest figures I was focused on achieving the luminous glow of some figures seen in old White Dwarf mags and a few contemporaries also looking back to the old school. My comfort zone is to work straight dark to light over black and then a bit of glazing. Here the glazing and translucent color is really central. The difference between the figures is marked, these really are brighter and I want to say more "candy-like" when set one next to the other. The white shines through. I'm not expressing a preference one way or another, but plan to continue some figures in this mode and try to bring this style more within my comfort zone.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

DungeonQuest: El-Adoran Sureshot

This is the (blue) plastic figure from the core game. A friend of mine said I wasn't allowed to paint my original copies from the game, and this is the only one I've managed to acquire a spare of. If anyone has any spares of the others they'd be willing to part with let me know, I bet I could find something good to trade.

Monday, December 5, 2016

DungeonQuest: Azoth the Faceless

First post here back from a long hiatus. My picture tools broke late 2014 and I couldn't find new ones, and without them blogging was such a hassle it wasn't worth it. But I have a new mediocre solution and a big backlog of projects to share, so here goes, taking another stab at it. First off, some DungeonQuest! This game is a lot of fun and represents everything that is right in the world. For this guy, Azoth, some other game art shows him with a golden helmet but I opted to take the orange of the main illustration literally, though metallic gold is mixed in to give it just the sheen I was after. More foolhardy dungeon adventurers coming up!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hill Giant #2 (scratch-build)

How do you like my new hill giant?

Scratch-built Hill Giant

Scratch-built Hill Giant

I sculpted him over a Reaper Bones ogre. I got it to test the material and I have to say I was less than impressed. I have a bunch of prepaints I've collected over the years mainly to use for parts, and they tend to be much sturdier and with a material that takes paint a better. From sturdiest to most bendy the progression goes Pathfinder > Heroclix > D&D prepaints > Reaper Bones (though I only have 1 pathfinder figure to go by). You could easily put one finger on the base of this ogre and holding it thusly against a surface you could press his head down to touch it's forehead to the surface using very little pressure.

I also didn't care for the figure very much. The proportions in particular were egregiously wonky. But I noticed it was roughly the same size as the Otherworld hill giant, for whom I had wanted to make a partner in crime, so I wound up doing this to it:

That's concrete patch. If you know me, you know I like concrete patch, so much so I even sculpt with it. I find it pretty handy to quickly bulk out mass areas with. I would be hesitant to use it on figures that would be vulcanized during a molding process but for one-offs, it's great. It sticks like glue to most surfaces and dries rock hard. No kneeding, mixing or baking, and if you have bucket of it for terrain purposes using in minute amounts like this is essentially free.

Hill Giant Scratch Build WIP Hill Giant Scratch Build WIP Hill Giant Scratch Build WIP

I decided against the comb-over in the end. I can't say I really recommend this approach I took. It's a lot of work and had I just gone the extra mile and did the hands and feet, etc, I might have something worth casting. I'm pretty happy with it, though. And I have to say, although Paul Muller's giant is awesome and I have a very long way to go to get to that level, there's one bit, the fur, where I can say I like mine quite a bit better.

I took the idea for the armor plates from the following illustration by Gustaf Tenggren. Making whole sculpts after these giants would be a lot of fun!

I also wasn't entirely satisfied with the paint job on the first giant so I reworked it. Here's the final version of him along with a group shot.

Otherworld Hill Giant

Hill Giants

You'll notice I didn't go all out on the second one with the baked-in-the-sun skin tones. A bit of that is laziness but it's also that the Bones surface just doesn't take paint right. It's just not a good experience painting it, and I had a strong sense it wasn't up to taking glazes, and that it would risk making a mess. It marks them a bit apart from each other, but oh well, overall I'm pretty happy.

There's also no way it's going to bend any more. It's got an inch or so of tire wire going up through either leg. Which I guess would be a potential solution to other Bones figures that may be giving you trouble. Cut them apart and glue back together with tire wire.

By the way, being how I am I've decided that I'm not satisfied with this being my only take on hill giants. For example I have a Dungeon Dwellers one here cleaned up and ready for priming. And a bunch of giants elsewhere.

a quickr pickr post

There are more shots of these on flickr.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Miniatures to prime when the weather turns warm

Miniatures to prime when the weather turns warm

The weather is too cold to prime these days and the minis in need of priming have been piling up. Amongst these are hobgoblin reinforcements, hellhouds, saracens, undead, harpies, giants, adventurers, and various beasts and monsters. Honestly cleaning, fixing and restoring figures is not my favorite part of the hobby. Much of these have been languishing in various "on the workbench" trays. In some cases as I was sorting through them I had the thought, why did I choose to start on this particular miniature out of the thousands unstarted? Most of these I look forward to painting, however, especially the harpies, hobgoblins and that big giant.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dungeon Dwellers Fire Giant

Today I get to show you one of my favorite miniatures from my collection.

Scratch-bult Sword for Dungeon Dwellers Fire Giant
Scratch-bult Sword for Dungeon Dwellers Fire Giant
Scratch-bult Sword for Dungeon Dwellers Fire Giant

Manufacturer: Heritage USA
Line: Dungeon Dwellers
Figure: 1231 Fire Giant
Release date: 1979
Date painted: 2014

The Dungeon Dwellers line has a special place in the history of D&D, and lately I've been adding a few figures here and there to my Dungeon Dwellers collection (which is respectable at this point but far from comprehensive). While we Dungeon Dwellers fans can admit the figures that make up the line tend toward the crude or primitive end of the miniatures spectrum, this figure is an unqualified success and a real gem in the line as far as I'm concerned and rivaled only by the Asmodeus and Orcus figures. Here the art brut sculpting style works to advantage, giving the figure a savage, menacing presence. Like those two the fire giant captures the essence of the creature described in the monster manual as well as the factual details. However, the expression and dynamic pose of the fire giant lend it more power than the other two. The expression on this figure is fantastic. The angry, googly eyes, the gritted teeth, the fiery beard, all of it. Honestly it's one of my all-time favorite D&D figures in my collection and amongst fire giant miniatures I think it perhaps second only to that by Paul Muller for Otherworld (got it and will get to it eventually). It's been a few years now over which I have gotten him out every now and then and looked forward to doing him justice with paint.

I should say somewhere, this being as good a place as any, that this a considerable chunk of lead. Hailing from an era where sculptors would skimp on giants this is fully up to Monster Manual spec in terms of dimensions, and is one of few fire giants from the original years of D&D figures whose sculptor took to heart the part about them being "very broad (about 6' at the shoulders), looking almost like dwarves."

Does anyone know who sculpted it, BTW?

I got it for literally two bucks at a flea market a few years back, though it was missing the sword and the I'd say I invested about what a complete one is worth in energy fabricating a new one from brass sheet and brown/green stuff. Later I saw a complete, pristine-looking one for $22 buy it now on Ebay and had to fight the impulse to pick up a spare. I regret a bit now that I didn't get it but hopefully it found a good home. The sword is carefully based on actual measurements I took from a photograph of a complete figure, though mine turned out a millimeter longer and a bit wider. It's also of uniform width where the original is narrower at the base and it flanges at he point, and the decoration is a bit different.

Scratch-bult Sword for Dungeon Dwellers Fire Giant

If you compare the unpainted above with the painted below you'll also see I added gauntlets between the times the pictures were taken. The figure is so cool I wanted to keep it as original as possible, but on the other hand this guy doesn't look like a fool, and it'd be foolish to be armored up like that and leave your hands exposed right at the level where humans tend to stab and slash. The style of the figure is obviously fairly stylized, abstract, cartoon-like, what have you, and I wanted to find a way to abstract the gauntlet concept, but I just couldn't figure out how to do it and wound up sculpting each overlapping plate distinctly. Something of a chore (for a one-off) as I believe there are six plates per finger plus several more to cover the hand.

There was also what looked like an empty socket in the knife hilt so I dropped in another gem.

In the pics above you can spot how I polished it with a brass brush in the dremel to make the armor smooth. The original surface was a little rough and would have dulled the effect of any metallic paint applied over it.

And here it is painted.

Dungeon Dwellers Fire Giant
Dungeon Dwellers Fire Giant
Dungeon Dwellers Fire Giant (detail)
Dungeon Dwellers Fire Giant
Dungeon Dwellers Fire Giant
Dungeon Dwellers Fire Giant

Obviously, when it comes to painting, the focal point is the face set off by the beard, and these need to be just right. The beard has to be a burst of flame around the ebony face, with smoldering red eyes. After a red basecoat on the beard I undercoated most it with dozens of coats of white to get it has white as humanly possible, then many coats bringing it up to yellow, and then alternating glazes and highlights until it was as bright as I thought I could get it. Same with the eyes.

The face, meanwhile has no highlights at all. It's pure black. Many painters feel they need to highlight black the way they do other colors, and especially on creatures that are to have black flesh, like fire giants and drow, the painted result is usually gray, purple or blue. But that's not how black flesh works. Flesh has small, specular highlights that are only readily apparent under certain conditions. Meanwhile, I'm in control of the actual reflectiveness of the surface of the miniature through the use of varnishes, and I trusted that when I was done the flesh would produce it's own natural highlights.

I couldn't be happier with the results and am glad I fought down the urge to highlight. This was a nice trial run in the lead up to an encounter group of drow, which whose flesh I'll also leave pure black. Generally speaking I think painters should consider how glossy or matt the surface represented on the particular thing being painted and vary their highlighting scheme accordingly. As for the varnishes on this one, after the standard coats of "matte" Rust-oleum Ultra Cover clear (actually satin) and Testors Dullcoat I went back to brush the gems with Testors gloss-coat. I was being conservative and thinned the gloss a little, and the result was a bit more conservative than I was aiming for, even after ~ten coats, but eventually I built up a pretty good lustre. Next time I might try it full strength.

A brief word on the gemstones. They are done in the style Mike McVey popularized in the nineties and which has become the standard, but I try never to lose sight of the fact I'm representing an actual object, and I always use reference. The tendency with gem stones is to push the contrast, so you have black at the top fading through red to white at the bottom. But this gives you an effect that looks like glass, rather than a gem, and honestly if you successfully sell it as glass it looks cheap, rather than like treasure. The ones I did have less contrast and have speckled gold at the bottom of the gem and result is something that glitters and shines but is not transparent. It's not a cut, clear stone like a ruby.

Next up here are three true giant types I've covered so far, frost, fire and hill. I've also done a verbeeg, which is a slightly lesser giant, but I'm aiming first to cover the major types in the Monster Manual before I start including the lesser types in the family photos. BTW I have the Paul Muller Otherworld stone giant about 90% done, which is also one of my favorite D&D figures of all (and hands down the best D&D stone giant full stop). The other two have been shown before, but I reworked the hill giant since I put him up.

Giants Group Shot

As always, the collection can be viewed in its entirety at flickr.