Thursday, December 27, 2012

Finishing Touches

After a brief interruption from my Battletech Wraith project, it is time to fill in the last few details from my Fantasy sword-mage build.

When we last left the project, I had most of the figure painted, but many of the details, including the metal components, the flame were not done. I also had a lot of highlighting left to do on his gauntlets and boots.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sometimes Close is Good Enough

Well, the Sunday Battletech demo game has come and gone. I managed to get the Wraith fully painted for the event, but I wasn't quite done sealing and basing the figure. Even so, I showed up and played with it, and the game was fun, even if it wound up a bit one-sided after a few lucky hits early on.

I still need to hit the model with an extra layer off Dullcote, and lay down some Woodland Scenics "Realistic Water" along the stream in the middle of the base. Once that's done, I can declare victory and move on to the next thing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Progress Update

I got some work done on my wraith project over the weekend. I managed to base coat all of the colors for the model, based on a canon Battletech paint scheme. I even started to subtly shade some of the white panels.

The shading is based on the same family of blue paints that I've been using for my NMM projects lately. (Reaper Master Series greyish-blues) With any luck, I'll be able to finish up the shading by Saturday afternoon, and, perhaps, get some color onto the base.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Breath of Life

With all of the trials of design and construction behind me, it was time to paint my sword mage. I really enjoy tinkering and customizing models, but a project never really comes fully to life until it gets a coat of paint.

I started off the paint for this project, as with many others, by applying a thin coat of black paint on top of my white primer base. I did not try to get full and thorough coverage everywhere. As you may be able to see in the picture, the white still shows through a little bit, especially in the raised areas of the model.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Has it Been a Year?

Wow. I started this blog one year ago, uncertain that I would keep it up and post anything. I guess it's safe to say that I did not just forget about it and wander off. Keeping a public journal of my work has also motivated me to keep painting and modelling regularly, which has been a big help, so thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

By Special Request

One of our local Catalyst demo agents asked me to provide a miniature for his next scheduled Battletech demo event. I told him that I didn't have one ready, but that I could get one done in time. The deadline for completion is December 16th, so we'll see how I do. I am not the speediest painter out there.

My first move, now completed, was to bite off a needlessly elaborate basing scheme to complicate the project and add work. No miniatures project can be complete without extra work. The picture you see here is as far as I've gotten, as of the time of this writing.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Best Laid Plans

Last time, I talked about the materials I used to base the fantasy character model I've been working on. This post covers the rest of the construction and preparation for the model.

I think I put in much more work than I had to to get his left hand to look the way I wanted it to. I should have kept looking through miniature's lines until I found a better suited source for a wizard's gauntleted hand. Still, I got there eventually.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Cork Board Basing

In my last installment, I described the parts selection, fabrication and early assembly on my brand new sword-mage build. The next step I tackled was basing.

Like a lot of character figures, this one features a built-in "Broccoli" base, stuck to the bottom of the figure. While I understand that this feature is handy for people who like to buy a figure and quickly get it onto the table with out needing a base to hold it up, it makes more creative basing significantly more work.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fits and Starts

I've been remiss in my posting duties this month. I have actually been working on a new fantasy character project; I just haven't been diligent in posting my work. I will try to rectify that over the next few days.

This month, I decided to build myself a fantasy sword-mage character model. I still wanted to do something a bit different, so, I decided to make him a half-orc model, in the style of many modern (and not so modern) fantasy RPGs.

In this post, I will discuss the part selection, and fabrication for this model. I will discuss construction, (re)design and painting in later entries. I went through quite a few trials and false starts along the way.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Things that Stick

I've done a number of assembly and conversion articles, but I haven't commented too much on the stuff that makes such things possible: glue. No miniatures enthusiast gets very far without picking up some handy adhesive that will bond tiny parts together. I thought it might be useful to post a brief survey of my favorite forms of stick-um.

In the course of my work, I have used many such glues, but there are a (relatively) small number that I return to again and again.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ogre Bones WIP (Completed)

I found some time to complete my Ogre bones WIP over the weekend. I had a few issues painting his eyes, as the sculpt has some odd details and hard-to-correct, deep-set sockets, but I am pleased with my results on the whole, and I really enjoyed the group WIP concept.

Now that I have painted two of Reaper's Bones miniatures, I think I am getting a feel for the medium. There is no question that Bones models have softer detail than their metal counterparts, but it is still quite good. I would not have believed it without trying it, but I think Paint actually bonds to the Bones plastic better than it does to metal. I have been handling this Ogre for weeks without any kind of external handle attached to his base, and nothing has rubbed off the surface. I have not had to do any of the last minute touch ups that I usually do with a metal figure.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ogre Bones WIP (Part 4)

After a week of vacation, and most of another week catching up, I have resumed progress on my Ogre Bones project. I had hoped to finish up tonight, but it looks like there will be one more installment before everything is complete.

As you can see, I've made some progress with the metal parts, teeth and cloth wraps around his feet and left hand. I decided to use a bronze metal color for most of the metal parts, and I'm happy with how it looks so far.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ogre Bones WIP (Part 3)

I made some more progress during the week. I really like the group project concept. It's been interesting to see the work of other painters using exactly the same model at the same time. You can see their work so far on the Reaper Boards here.

As you can see, I started in highlighting and painting the leather straps and accessories carried by our nefarious Ogre villain. I decided to leave the straps basically black against his skin, but I am using a basic brown leather / rawhide color for his belt pouch and clothing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ogre Bones WIP (Part 2)

In my last installment, I touched briefly on preparing my Reaper Bones ogre chieftain for paint, and  giving him a base coat of basic black to cover the plastic and start things off.

As you can see, I have finished most of the painting on his skin and eyes. I also gave his base a coating of primer and black paint to match the rest of the miniature. Read on for the detailed version of what I've done so far.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Time to Paint

I have been very busy lately, which has left me little time for painting, but I really wanted to participate in the group WIP on the Reaper forums, run by user "Buglips*the*Goblin". The idea of having a whole series of WIPs of the same miniature intrigues me, and ought to produce some cool results.

The model chosen is 77005, the Bones Ogre Chieftan (also available in pewter).

I got a late start on the project, but I plan to at least try to finish in a semi-timely manner. I will post my progress both here and on the Reaper boards.

Monday, September 17, 2012

More Miniatures

The gaming industry has really jumped into Kickstarter with both feet. Veteran sculptor Patrick Keith has started one for his new line, "Bombshell Miniatures".

I'm a fan of Patrick's past work. Only time will tell if his dedicated line will be a success. You can find out more about his work on the Kickstarter page, or on the Bombshell Miniatures page, or on his personal website.

Also starting up is a pledge drive Tom Mason's Effigy Miniatures. I am less familiar with the specifics of Effigy and of Tom's work, but they are offering some interesting options for more modern or sci-fi subjects.

It seems like there are more popping up every week. They won't all appeal to everybody, but there are so many, any miniatures enthusiast will probably find something great. It's an exciting time for the hobby.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Nova A - All Painted Up And Ready To Go (Part 2)

In my last installment, I went through the steps I used to base coat my converted Battletech Nova miniature. I also showed a little bit of the NMM work I applied to the model. This post will cover the finishing work I put into the project, along with some of the problems I ran into along the way.

With all of the paneling blocked in with green and yellow, and with the metal parts shaded into a more or less final NMM state, I tackled the project of shading all of the armor panels. This is, without a doubt, the longest and most labor intensive stage of most Battletech jobs. If nothing else, Battlemechs tend to be painted in relatively few colors compared to a fantasy character or similar model, leading to a lot time spent shading one panel after another with the same set of colors.

On the positive side, you can pretty much just mix up one set of shade colors and go to town for hours working on one or two models. In this case, I continued with the Reaper Warm Green triad, blending from Pine Green up through Pale Green. The very brightest highlights also include a touch of white to lighten the color even further.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Nova A - All Painted Up and Ready To Go (Part 1)

Back in January I posted a conversion build for a Battletech Nova Omnimech miniature. In fact, it was the first in my ongoing 'Battletech Conversions' series. After the build, I left the project languishing on a shelf for months, waiting for inspiration to strike. When I heard about a new Iron Painter contest on the Battletech discussion forums, I decided to dust off my creation and give it a brand new paint job.

The paint scheme I chose is the canon Jade Falcon "Delta Galaxy" paint scheme from the Battletech Universe. It's a strong scheme based around yellow and green, and I've been meaning to expand my collection of Clan miniatures for some time. Now that I have a prototype, I'm hoping that I can find the time to fill in the rest of a star around this model.

Of course, if you're not a Battletech fan, you can just ignore all that and read on to find part one of my painting odyssey.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bones Follow-Up

I spent a little more time playing with my sample model. After applying a little more paint, I decided to take it seriously and remove the mold lines from the model using my hobby knife.

I am pleased to say that I was able to scrape away the fine mold lines away quite easily using a sharp hobby blade. One hidden bonus of the Bones material is that, even though I had already started painting, I was able to patch up the color on the model immediately after trimming the lines. Thanks to the Bones plastic, I did not have to go through a new priming and prep phase.

All in all, not bad for five minute's work.

Monday, July 30, 2012


Reaper Miniatures is running a Kickstarter campaign to bring a huge batch of new sculpts to their affordable 'Bones' product line. The campaign is already funded, but it is not too late to get in on the action. They have been steadily rolling out stretch goals to bring more and more sculpts into the fold.

I picked up an early Bones release back at Reaper Con, and, in view of the Kickstarter campaign, I though it might be a good time to crack open the blister and take a look at what it's all about.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Learning from the Best

What do you see when you look at this picture?

Clearly, it's a painting, or at least part of one. What does it have to do with miniatures you ask? Read on to find out.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

More Non-Metallic Metals, Plus a Bonus!

During my Fourth of July break I found the time to complete my NMM character experimentation. My photography is not as good as I'd like, but you should be able to get a pretty good notion of what she looks like:

The highlight placement is far from perfect, but I am pretty happy with how things turned out for my first real attempt at painting a model using NMM techniques. It is surprising how fast a few blended blue and white paints can start to look like a metallic object, even with inexpert handling.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fun With No Metals

The past month has been really busy between work and other things. (Fun fact: I just bought my first brand new water heater!) Fortunately, things seem to be settling down, and I have had some time to get modelling. With my AWS-8T project in the can, so to speak, it is time to tackle something new!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Battletech Conversions: AWS-8T

I'm not quite sure why, but I have a distinct fondness for odd-ball Battlemech configurations. My last installment in this series detailed, probably, the single least popular Atlas variant in the game. This one deals with a 'mech no less unusual, although it is probably a bit more useful in game terms.

Shown above is the AWS-8T Awesome. The 8T swaps out the traditional particle cannons of the classic 8Q for a set of missile racks and large lasers. Wacky to be sure, but really not a bad assault 'mech for the Succession Wars era.

Read on to find out how I built it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Reaper Con (Part 2)

My last post covered what goes on at Reaper Con. To wrap up my coverage of the event, I thought I'd post a few more photos from the con, and then finish up with a few, selected miniatures from the painting contest.

As I alluded to in my last post, Reaper provided some cool looking terrain for their gaming events. The "Kraken's Revenge" featured a sunken city, and the new, limited edition, Kraken model they released at the con. The event pitted a whole table full of players against the mighty Kraken using Reaper's Warlord rules. I am proud to say that my group proved victorious when we faced the tentacled horror.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reaper Con! (Part 1)

I got back from Reaper Con 2012 late Sunday night. I think I've just about recovered, and I'm more or less back on my normal schedule. This first post will hopefully provide a taste of what went on at Reaper Con. I'll try to post some more, along with pictures of the game tables and painting contest entries soon.

This was my first trip to Reaper Con, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I've been to gaming conventions of all sizes in the past, but Reaper Con is, not surprisingly, much more heavily oriented towards the craft of miniatures painting and sculpting. Sure there is plenty of gaming, if you want it, but the main event is the massed gathering of a one to two hundred miniatures fans, hobbyists, and professionals.

When you drive up to Reaper's address, it's easy to miss the signs, but a keen eye will get you there. As you turn into the lot you can see that you are in the right place.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


How do you come up with a good paint scheme? Sometimes you can pick a set of colors that work well together in the abstract, and fit them onto a miniature easily. Other times, you can decide to follow a pre-generated paint scheme from a canon game universe, or by borrowing from another painter's work. Once in a while, inspiration strikes and a great concept just pops into your head.

All of those are useful approaches, and I have certainly made use of all of them at one time or another. I have also blocked out some paint patterns on paper using colored pens, pencils, or even crayons. (Yes, I know that there are digital tools for doing this, but I haven't tried them at all.) Ultimately, no matter how many miniatures I paint, sometimes I just have to pull out a brush and try out a paint scheme with a real model and real paint to work out what I want.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Better Painting with Pen and Paper

This article is about a vital tool that can help anybody improve their miniature painting, but that I think gets too little attention in painting tutorials or blogs:
Can you really improve your results using a cheap notebook and a pen or pencil? Read on to find out.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

March Releases - Finale

This is my last entry for Spartan Games' March releases, and it's not even May yet!

This time, I'll be talking about another ship from the Zenian support fleet: The Banshee Dreadnought. As with all of the minor powers releases to date, the "Rense System Navy" has a unique look, lending a lot of variety to the Firestorm Armada lineup. The RSN is a member of the Zenian League, meaning that I can add RSN ships to my Dindrenzi fleet using Sparan's "Alliance" fleet construction rules, but  with the release of this dreadnought and a new frigate model, the RSN has almost enough ships to be played on its own as a faction in its own right!
The Banshee comes in nine parts, plus an unusual four part stand. I was surprised at the part count, given the size of the ship; most of Spartan's latest releases have tended towards relatively few pieces.

Monday, April 23, 2012

March Releases - Round 2

I had some spare time sat down to assemble my Dindrenzi Mk II Battleship. So, as promised, here is a brief overview of this recent release from Spartan Games.

The model comes in five parts, plus a large, square base: The main hull, a boom for the primary armament, two engine plates that fit onto the rear of the ship and a small bridge piece that fits on top of the superstructure.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Workbench Update

So, what have I been doing for two weeks?

Like many hobbyists, I have several projects going on in parallel, stealing my time and attention from each other. I thought now might be a good time to give an update on a few of the projects that have appeared, or been hinted at, on this blog.

I'll start off with what's actually physically occupying my painting area right now:

I have been working on a large unit of Comguards for my Battletech forces for a while now. Generally, I will pick up 3-4 models and paint them up in Comguard 'colors' every so often and add them to the growing pile. Lately, I have been picking up the pace, as I am past the half way mark towards assembling a complete Comguard level III force, and I am eager to see it through.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fun with Metals

I've noticed that my blog has a lot of grey, black and white from all the unpainted metal and plastic. It's high time I post a paint-oriented article to get a little color into the mix!

Metallic colors are tough to do right in miniature scale. This is true of both metallic paints and so-called non-metal metallics (NMM), achieved by shading regular paint colors to achieve a metallic-looking effect through shade and highlight. I have recently been trying to improve my skills with both styles. One such effort was to paint a set of Ironwind Metals Battlemechs using an all metallic paint scheme. In this case, I chose the House Laio's 4th Tau Ceti Rangers.

Monday, March 26, 2012

March Releases

Spartan Games has started to roll out a new wave of models for Firestorm Armada. The first group came out this month, and I've obtained a selection of the latest Zenian League support fleet models to support and expand my Dindrenzi fleet.

I have not had time to look over all of these models in detail just yet, but they all look pretty cool. Spartan continues its string of appealing and varied ship designs. I did break open and assemble one of my new Ba'Kash Sharnak cruisers. The rest of this post contains my thoughts and evaluation on the 'Open' version of the Sharnak. Over the next few weeks, I will try to post some pictures and information about the others, as time permits.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dallas Bound

As of last week, I've made my reservations to attend ReaperCon. I've taken a few painting and modelling classes at Gencon in the past, and they have all been great, including several taught by Reaper artists. Last year, I did some searching around to decide which convention (or conventions) to attend this year, and hit upon Reaper Miniatures very own con, run at their headquarters in Denton, Texas. I immediately wanted to go and try it out as a 'total immersion' experience, rather than sneaking in one or two classes between gaming events at a larger con. Sadly, attending in 2011 was just not practical for me.

This year, armed with both advanced warning, and advanced planning, I am planning to make an appearance at Reaper for the first time. I'm looking forward to it!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Battletech Conversions - Second in a Series

Today, I thought I'd post another Battletech model build. This time, it's based of the newest Atlas sculpt from Iron Wind Metals. This is the first time I've built this particular sculpt, and I have to say that I like it - a lot. It's proportions are not quite as nice as the original '80's sculpt, but is much more substantial, and its many parts make conversions and re-posing much easier to achieve. (I'm leaving out the middle "stretch" Atlas from the '90's. I am not a fan.)

In this case, I decided to build the 'mech as an Atlas AS7-S, which is not one of the best versions of the Atlas in terms of game play, but it is unusual, and it fits nicely with one of the units I am building.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Armor Plating

I paint a lot of mechanized figures. Battlemechs, space craft, tanks, etc. It is common for all of them to be dominated by armor panels with finely engraved panel lines separating each plate, and it is the job of the miniature painter (small scale artiste?) to find a way to make that detail look it's very best.

I've seen a lot of advice and tutorials online about how people go about painting the armor plating details on small military figures, such as Battletech minis and the like. Most of what I see falls into one of two categories:

A. Paint the mini with your base coat and then apply a wash to darken the panel lines.
B. Paint the mini with your base coat and then use a fine brush or micron pen to ink in the panel lines directly.

The people giving this advice usually have dozens, if not hundreds of quality paint jobs to their names, so I know these techniques can produce wonderful results. Even so, I don't use either one, and it leaves me wondering: Am I the only one who uses a reversed technique?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Total Confusion XXVI!

Last weekend was Total Confusion XXVI. For the uninitiated, TotalCon is the biggest gaming convention in the Northeastern US, and, as such, is the biggest one within easy driving distance of my home(*). This is the first year I have attended the con purely as a player and attendee, not as a Game Master, and I made sure to dive in head first to enjoy what was available.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I made some real progress on my Firestorm Armada fleet this week. In addition to adding a few more details to my Battleship, I now have a full squadron of heavy cruisers ready to take to the stars with my Dindrenzi fleet:

Friday, February 10, 2012


I had some extra white paint left in my airbrush after base coating a whole batch of Firestorm Armada flight bases. Rather than throw it all away, I decided to take a crack at "Zenithal Highlighting". I grabbed a black-primed Battletech miniature off the shelf and tossed into my spray booth to give it a shot.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

January Retrospective

I felt like I didn't have much time for miniatures in January, but, looking back, I did manage to get quite a lot done cleaning, assembling, basing and priming most of my Firestorm Armada fleet:

Not as much paint as I might have liked, but I did manage to get a lot of modelling finished, paving the way for more painting in the future.

This month I'm planning to do more work painting and finishing my fleet, and, if all goes to plan, I will also get to play some games at Total Confusion towards the end of the month!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Model Quick Look

I picked up a dreadnought for my Dindrenzi fleet from Spartan Games. If the Battleship I build up in my last WIP was big, this beast is huge. For reference, I photographed it side by side with a second battleship:

I do quite like the model. I've build most of the model, but the final assembly is going to wait until I finish most of the painting. I think it will be hard to impossible to do a good job on the space between the two weapon booms after assembly is complete.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stage Craft

Amidst all my other projects, I've been working on improving my miniatures photography. It is amazing what even a little effort can do to improve the quality of each picture. I've been using a simple, portable photo studio for a while, but most of the pictures seen on this blog have been taken on my miniatures bench for the simple reason that I already flood my work area with light. It helps me to see what I'm doing while I work, but as an added bonus, it provides superior illumination for photography.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Battletech Conversions - first in a series

I've been playing Battletech for many, many years. In recent times, I've been increasingly customizing miniatures with alternate poses, or with conversion parts to represent variant units. This short build  outlines the work I did to both re-pose and re-configure one of the Nova Omnimech models from Ironwind Metals.

I started with a lot of parts, and my first move was to start cutting pieces apart to make more. As you can see in the photo, I had already sliced the right leg into three pieces before I started taking pictures. In this shot, the right ankle has already been glued down onto the matching foot, and the whole assemblage has been attached to an Ironwind hex base.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dindrenzi BB WIP - Finale?

I got a lot more work done on the battleship over the past week, and I think I am ready to call it "done" for now. (I may revisit the details as I paint up more of the fleet, and get a better feel for the over all look.)

Even through I said I didn't want to individually paint each hull panel, I wound up adding a thin highlight stripe to the edges of each of those panels. It's a little hard to see in the picture above, but there are highlights along the edges of the model, and of all the panels. I used a mix of the Scurf Green and Vallejo Model Color Intermediate Green to arrive at a mild highlight color.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Firestorm Armada: A Review

I have (finally) written up my thoughts on Firestorm Armada as a review of the game. This is my first full review, so I am still working out the format - we'll see how it goes!

Firestorm Armada is the second release by Spartan Games. It extends Spartan's excellent line of miniatures and their particular style of naval combat into the realm of Space Opera. The initial release provided four different fleets to choose them, divided into the Alliance of Kurak set against the Zenian League, as they battle for control of Fathom's Reach. Since that time, they have added two more core races and a few smaller support fleets which you can mix into your forces.

Firestorm Armada is aptly named, as the game seems to be geared towards substantial fleets ranging from around 10-20 individual ships, plus assorted light fighter elements, referred to as "Wings". Given the scale of both the games and the models, it is natural to draw comparisons to Games Workshop's Battlefleet Gothic, and, perhaps, to Mongoose Publishing's A Call to Arms, but I would say that the overall feel of FA is quite different from both, and it stands very well on its own.

Read on for the detailed review...