Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Men of Bronze

You get a lot of miniatures in the Victrix box sets. Enough to justify trying some experiments without feeling you’re wasting your hard-earned geld. I have plans to buy one of the 1:16 Hoplites made by MiniArt to use as Talos, but I have never painted such a large model so I decided to give Talos a few bronze minions and practice painting weathered bronze.

The following walkthrough is based on a tutorial I read online. I’d link to it but unfortunately I’ve lost the bookmark. Sorry ’bout dat. You’ll have to make do with what I can remember.

To start, I painted the miniatures with Vallejo Model Colour Bronze:


At this point they look like cheap and nasty toys. They start improving after a wash of Inscribe Turquoise though:


The next step is to drybrush the miniatures with a mid to light ‘leather brown’ kind of colour. If you overdo it, you can very lightly drybrush a bit of the bronze over the top to restore some of the highlights.


That leaves you with these:


I was very tempted to stop here but this was an experiment so I wanted to take the weathering to the extreme on at least a couple of the miniatures. I added streaks of verdigris and drybrushed lighter layers of turquoise onto some of the miniatures. The shields in the picture below are one step behind the figures:


After weathering the shields I realised that I’d gone a wee bit over the top with the verdigris…


Fortunately, the over-weathered miniatures were easy to fix with a wash of dark brown to dull the turquoise. I prefer to use thin layers of colour these days, but the resulting rough texture from all the drybrushing seems to works quite well in this case.

Here are the finished miniatures:


Thursday, 15 August 2019

Greek skirmishers

The Greek Myth project continues with a few skirmishers. First: slingers from Redoubt Enterprises that I bought from the 2017 Derby World Wargames show. It doesn’t get any more old school than this for me – I think these miniatures had already been around for a while even when I first saw them at Triples twenty-five years ago! They’re not in the same league as Redoubt’s Renaissance range, which holds up well even today, but I have a nostalgic affection for them nevertheless.


What I didn’t realise when I started this project was that although films like Clash of the Titans popularised the Classical era of Greece, the myths themselves were set in Greece’s Bronze Age. If General Francisco Deano, graduate in philosophy from Scumbag University, had pointed this out when I first started instead of when I was two years into it, then I probably would have gone with the Redoubt Trojan Wars range, just to be ‘historically accurate’.

Next: a set of nicely-proportioned plastic archers from Victrix. No banana hands here. I have another ten of these archers on the go, plus a set of slingers, so I swapped some of the heads around between these sets and a Victrix Hoplite set, to add some variety.


I thought these miniatures would all be easy to paint but I was wrong! The usual ink wash/dry brush combination wasn’t turning out very well so I found myself using multiple layers of thinned paint for the first time. They aren’t professional paint jobs but I learned a lot and they’re better than the stuff I was doing a year ago.







Spartan skeletons

After a long break – long enough to forget the time I ruined a load of miniatures with an over-zealous undercoat spray can – my ‘Greek myth’ project is on the go again. General Francisco Deano, The Humble Shogun Kamikaze and I paid our first visit to Triples this year and, among other goodies, I got a set of Spartan skellingtons from Bears Head Miniatures. Here they are with the base colours blocked in:


Nice as they were, I replaced the metal shields with Victrix plastic shields to match the last batch of skeletons I painted. Here they are again, with some washes and minimal highlighting:


They worked well last time so I used shield decals from Battle Flag again, scratching parts of them away to show the shield underneath. At this point I thought I'd try using a set of Revell weathering powders on the shields. They looked good until I varnished them – the powdered reacted badly with the Humbrol matt spray, fogging the shields! Fortunately, I discovered that brushing the shields with a layer of gloss varnish removed just enough of the fog to avoid me having to pull off the shields and start again. In the picture below, the left and right miniatures have the fogged shields but the centre miniature has been restored:


I added some verdigris on the bronze, and called it day. Here come the money shots:





Although a fraction taller, the Bears Head miniatures mix well with the considerably older Citadel plastic miniatures:

For my benefit, when it is time to paint more of ’em, these are the colours I used:

Vallejo Model Colour Ivory
Vallejo Model Colour Bronze
Vallejo Model Colour Oily Steel
Vallejo Model Colour Leather Brown (also thinned for the washes on the shield)
Vallejo Model Colour Olive Drab (for outlining the joints of the hand and feet)
Vallejo Model Colour Tan Earth
DecoArt Ocean Green
Inscribe Turquoise
Cloaks base colour: Vallejo Model Colour Flat Red
Cloak shade: A mix of Vallejo Flat Red and Daley-Rowney FW Red Earth acrylic ink


Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Night Horrors, part one

More rummaging through the loft last year turned up some of Citadel’s classic ‘Night Horrors’ miniatures. Teenage me was never able to paint them like I saw them in my head. So, after chucking them in the Dettol bath, I decided to have another go.

First up, the Bedsheet Ghost. I only recently discovered this miniature’s proper name. I’ve always called it ’Boo’ because that’s what it says on the slotta tab thingo. This is the fourth paint job this miniature has had! It looks like you can get away with an ink wash and some drybrushing but in the end I was only happy with it after a lot of layering. I’m usually not fussed about specular highlighting and shadows but in this case it was the solution to getting it to look how teenage me imagined it. The base is from Renedra – I cut a slot in it to accommodate the miniature’s tab.


Weirdly, I prefer the back of this miniature to the front:


Next, one of Citadel’s many Medusa miniatures. I painted this one in 2018 for my Greek Myth project. A year later I was horrified to discover all the inks had faded despite this miniature being stored in a dark place. I’ve been using Windsor & Newton inks for twenty-five years and, while I was aware they were not light-fast, I’ve never seen this happen before.


I’ve re-equipped myself with a mixed bag of Windsor & Newton calligraphy inks (they’re light-fast), and acrylic inks from Daler-Rowney and Games Workshop. It was interesting re-visiting a miniature so soon. I’m still not an expert painter but there has been a visible improvement in my painting in just a year. Here’s the new version:


And here’s the booty shot:


Next on the list of things to paint is the Spectral Claw:


The lead is nice and soft so I bent the fingers to give the hand a sense of movement. The underside of this miniature is more interesting than the front. It’s a shame that it won't be visible when I’ve finished it.


Here’s where I’m up to. Maybe I’ll try Citadel’s new contrast paints on the bone…



Sunday, 25 November 2018

Battletech!

I've been tinkering with miniatures and wotnot through 2018 but I haven’t had time to blog about it, so here is the first of a few updates. 

The Joy of Six is now a regular fixture in our calendar. This time around, I happened upon copies of Battletech and Citytech on the second-hand stalls. I always liked the idea of Battletech but information about it was hard to come by in the UK during the eighties. On top of that I was unimpressed by the miniatures or the hex map playing area, so I ended up going down the Games Workshop route instead. I suspected the rules would be terribly clunky by 2018 standards but, after some coaxing from El Deano, I bought them anyway. 


Battletech has a reputation for being complicated but, at first glance, the core rules don't look that bad. A squillion supplements were released for it back in the day so I suppose the game probably drowned under ‘too much special sauce’. I decided to give it a whirl so I’m looking into ways of speeding up the flow of the game with some modern tech, using laminated profile sheets and dry-wipe markers and replacing the ridiculous number of tables with a card-drawing system.

The first thing I decided on was no hex grids. My miscellaneous mechs are on 40mm round bases because that’s how I like ’em, and I put a hexagon on top of each base so I didn’t have to reinvent the rules for movement and fire arcs. For my first attempt, I used a pencil and compass:


I wasn’t accurate enough though so I gave up and did it the unsophisicated way. I drew a hexagon in some drawing software, printed it, cut it to size and used it to trace the outline onto some plasticard.


Here are the results:



The second thing I decided on was a modular ‘ruined city’ board, thinking that some kind of flattened urban landscape like Stalingrad would be quick to build and fairly practical for moving miniatures around on. I first sealed the MDF with the assistance of one of the rat bastards:



Then I chopped it up into 15cm squares:


I searched online for 6mm buildings but I wasn’t very happy with the options available. I found a lot of them to be either too old or ‘sci fi’. I bought a set of 3D printed buildings from eBay to get myself started:


As you can see above, they are nicely done but they have too many gothic windows and are just too ‘40k’ for me. On top of that, I couldn’t seem to arrange the buildings on the tiles in a way that seemed to work.


Fed up with the project, I shelved it over summer. My interest was revived in October when I saw all the lovely buildings on the Iliada Game Studio Facebook page. After a couple of weeks dithering over what to buy, I was lucky enough to snag a big box of ‘slight seconds’. I have no idea why Ali considered them to be seconds but I’m not complaining!



They have exactly the postmodern, Brutalist look that I had in my mind’s eye. My only niggle is that the left and right tabs don’t alternate so you can’t put pieces together to make longer structures without cutting them off and reducing the strength of the construction.


Still, it’s a minor issue and overall I’m really happy with them. I haven’t even bothered to paint them, except for covering up the scorch marks on the edges of each section. Because they are card stock, it was easy to experiment with making ruins and new building shapes:


The next problem was the terrain tiles. I solved this by upping the size from 15cm to 20cm. I wasn’t happy with my cutting so, this time, I bought pre-cut, 12mm thick, 20cm MDF squares from eBay:


The larger size gives me more room to create more realistic street layouts. The buildings below are laid out as Khrushchev blocks:


I have a lot of small offcuts of mounting board so I am using them to make pavements:



I bought nine tiles, giving me a 60 x 60cm game board (that’s two feet square to those of you still living in 1964). So far, I have five tiles ready to paint and four more in progress. Perhaps rather optimistically, I’m hoping to have them ready by Christmas…

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Hoplites

Before it went on hiatus, my ‘Greek myth’ project continued with a set of Victrix Hoplites. These are very nice multi-part figures. The poses are limited but the upside to this is that the individual miniatures work well as a unit. They come with cast-on bases but I put mine on larger round bases from Renedra:


Here are the first two batches, based with Das putty covered in sand. There are also Games Workshop minotaur and medusa figures, and a giant scorpion from Ral Partha (I think), which have all been sat in the loft for twenty-odd years. More about those in future posts!

* EDIT: the scorpion was made by Grenadier, not Ral Partha! *


And here they are, undercoated and ready to paint. My tip of the day is…


…don’t use grey spray primer. It was all I had at the time but it made life unnecessarily difficult. The primer kept showing through the base colours so I had to paint most of the miniatures twice to make the colours solid. It was especially tedious with white, which got three coats in places.


I was on the verge of abandoning the project altogether at this point:


Fortunately, adding some details and a few washes of paint improved them:


After a bit of research into what Hoplite shields were made of, I painted the reverse of the shields separately then glued them to the miniatures. I then painted the shield fronts white, ready to accept the decals. The decals are from Battle Flag’s ancients range and fit the shields perfectly. One great advantage of the shield designs is that the eye goes straight to them, diverting attention away from a so-so paint job.

Here are the finished miniatures:




For some reason the chap in the middle reminds me of Matthew Kelly during his stint on ‘Game for a Laugh’…

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Satyrs

My ‘Greek Myth’ project is on hiatus after an accident with an over-zealous tin of spray primer from Wilko, but I’ll post the pictures I took up to that point. Who knows, perhaps it will inspire me to continue eventually.

Foundry make some very nice satyrs that I think are true to the depictions on Greek pottery, but I discovered some of Citadel’s beastmen types on eBay (my knowledge of Games Workshop’s range gets hazy after 1990) and I was won over by their ‘Ray Harryhausen’ looks. Here they are, fresh off the courier’s van:


Unlike most of the stuff I get eBay, they were nicely painted already and it was a shame to butcher them. But the process of ‘de-Games-Workshopping’ had to be done.

First of all, I rebased them on to 25mm round bases. They don't look as cramped, and I want to use the miniatures for skirmishing rather than forming them into blocks. The shields had to go too.




I had an extra standard bearer from a different eBay purchase. I cut away the standard, drilled holes in the hands with a hand drill and inserted a spear from Gripping Beast’s nice range of acessories.


There was also some kind of club handing from the belt which looked far too primitive to me, so I cut it away and added some fur detail to the newly-exposed metal with a scribing tool.





BIGGEST BATTLE STANDARD EVA!!!


And I just wanted to see it this was possible…




I have no real use for the other standard bearer either but I’ve kept it intact for now. Here are the miniatures – undercoated with PlastiKote spray primer because I’m never using Wilko primer ever again!


I ended up with twenty-four miniatures so I split them into units of six and got to work on the first batch:




I filed down and rounded the stumps for the GW plastic shields to accommodate Gripping Beast’s 10mm Smooth Bucklers. I painted the reverse of the shields with Inscribe Raw Umber before glueing them to the miniatures. I wouldn’t have been able to get at them after glueing.


This shot is just to show the curvature of the shields:


I left the front of the shields white. The washes on the shields below were just an experiment that I painted over.


The shield designs are from Battle Flag’s lovely range of waterslide transfers. They were kind enough to produce a slightly smaller version of their Greek designs to fit the 10mm bucklers. They took account of the curvature of the shield and, with the aid of decal softener, the transfers fitted perfectly! I was very pleased with them, and they’re just what the miniatures needed to move them from fantasy to myth.


A bit more detail on the bases:


Then outside to varnish them:


I added a few Silflor grass tufts and some Woodland Scenics ballast. Here is the final group of satyrs, ready for the table:


You can skip this bit! For my benefit, when I paint the next batch in a thousand years’ time, these are the colours I used…

Base: Humbrol Dark Earth,

Skin: DecoArt Medium Flesh with Americana Flesh Tone highlights, or Americana Flesh Tone with Inscribe Porcelain flesh highlights.

Fur: Inscribe Burnt Sienna with FolkArt Buckskin Brown highlights

Horns: mostly Docrafts Antique Gold with Vallejo Ivory highlights, or a wash of FolkArt Berry Wine with a transition from Anitas Country Blue to Inscribe Raw Umber over the top. Note that as horn ages it gets darker as it grows away from the head.

Tongues: Inscribe English Rose

Spear tips are Vallejo Oily Steel. Shafts are DecoArt Tan

Cord around the spear head and the waists of the satyrs: Docrafts Antique Gold

Loincloths: various greens and turquoise colours. I’ll probably paint the next batch in different colours for unit identification without having to resort to banners and flags.

Severed heads: Americana Flesh Tone with a wash of one of the darker greens I used for the loincloths, then a few highlights with thinned Vallejo Ivory

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