Tuesday, December 30, 2014

End of the Year Push

As we bring 2014 to a close, I thought I'd post a day-by-day log of what I can manage to paint in the last 72 hours of the year. This post comes at the end of day 1, and includes my meager progress for the day. My goal for tomorrow will be to do a little better, and, hopefully, a little better the day after that. Rather than set the goal and then succeed or fail on my own, I am using this post to create a public record.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dropzone Commander First Pass

Brian, from Magnetized to Lead, has lately been pushing Dropzone Commander, by Hawk Wargames. Being local, and having enjoyed a demo game at GenCon '14, I decided to pick up a few models and see what it was like.

My first experiment is with a Shaltari Jaguar Warstrider. For 10mm scale, it's quite a beast. Fully assembled, it stands almost 2.5" tall, giving most 6mm scale Battlemechs a run for their money.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Fey Project 5: Colors Revisited

In this installment, I will talk about color choices of for the Fey project, continuing the discussion I began in part 4. I will lay out how I built a color scheme abstractly in my head, executed it, and then cleaned up the mess.

First, a reminder of where we left off:

The big question looming over me at this stage was: How do I fill in those yawning white voids mady up by her tunic and her wings?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Fey Project 4: Color Choices

Hey! A new naming scheme: Now you can tell which WIP this post belongs to, and see my unhelpful tag line all at once!

Some may recall the Reaper Warlord Fairy miniature that I had decided to turn into a display piece this past Fall. When last we left the Fey project, all the way back in October, I had been playing around with eye painting techniques, leaving things here:

Surprisingly, this project has not been lying completely idle for two months. While progress has been slow, I have been chipping away at it, adding details and color. I am very much hoping to finish her by the end of the year.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Robotech RPG Tactics Model Review

Not long ago, I posted about the contents of the new Robotech RPG Tactics box. In this entry, I will take a detailed look at the models that come with the game. I will preface this review with the comment that I grew up on giant robots, including Robotech, so you may take as a given that I love the overall aesthetic.

 Pictured above is what I have assembled while writing this review. Not shown are the three other UEDF destroids that came in my shipment (Tomahawk, Defender and Phalanx) and the basic-model Regult pod that you see blowing up in every Macross battle scene ever.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Clearing Out the Backlog

In the past few weeks, I have been devoting some time to clearing out some of my backlog of gaming miniatures, rather than making progress on show pieces or long-running projects. Part of that has been playing with my new Robotech miniatures (review coming next week), but by far the largest share has been devoted to painting up my Directorate fleet for Firestorm Armada.

I still have a dozen or more ships to go before the fleet is really ready to hit the table, but I am quite pleased to have made progress. It has been a long time since I tried to paint a whole army, in the classical war gaming sense. I honestly wasn't sure if I still could.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Robotech Unboxing

Apparently, Fall is the season for Kickstarter fulfillment. Less than 2 weeks after receiving my Arena Rex package, my "Wave 1" box arrived from Palladium Books and Ninja Division, including most of the critical models for the all-new Robotech RPG Tactics.

I'll say this: It's a big box, and it's full of plastic toys to play with. In this entry, I'll take a look at the contents of the shiny new box, before moving on to a more complete miniatures review.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Arena Rex

I just received a package from Red Republic Games. Inside were a handful of figures from their freshly launched skirmish game, Arena Rex. I haven't painted anything yet, but I am impressed with the resin castings they shipped to me.

Each model is rendered in a low-density, light-weight resin. I was a bit surprised by how light everything felt, but it captures detail beautifully, and it seems to hold up to the process of normal figure preparation perfectly well.

I took the time to look over what they sent and assemble the one figure you see above. I wasn't in love with all of their concept art, but I did like a lot of it, and, in spite of some unexpectedly long delays in the sculpting process, the resulting sculpts are quite impressive.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Firestorm Armada Directorate Redux

I just thought I'd post a short update on what's going on on my work bench. I haven't abandoned the fey project featured in the last few posts, but progress has been slow. I'm going to try to get a little more done before I post another update.

In the mean time, some of you may recall my post about color experimentation on Directorate warships from Firestorm Armada.

I was reasonably happy with the results, but it never translated exactly how I wanted it to onto bigger and more complicated ships. Among other things, I thought a little more color can help out. Pure black is not very visually exciting.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fey Project 3: Gaze into my eyes

The sheer number of awful eye cliches and puns available to title this post boggles the mind. Would "An eye for an eye" have been better? What about "The eyes have it?" I'll spare you the other options. Chances are that at least a couple have already popped into your head whether you like it or not.

This installment is about one of the most daunting parts of any miniature: the eyes. Since my woodland fey project is all about playing with advanced techniques and pushing myself, I decided it would be a good time to tackle some of the more complete eye painting methods out there.

Eye of the tiger, baby.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fey Project 2: Overkill Basing

As a part of the "Woodland Fey" display piece, I've been working on, I built my very first scenic base with Sculpey. While I am very happy with the tree stump and associated textures (at least for a first crack at the problem), the rest of the base was still pretty bare.

In past cases, I might have covered it with some basing grit before painting it, and then stock on some assorted clump foliage or flock to add color and interest. I have had good results with that kind of technique in the past. For thei project, on the other hand, I wanted to keep pushing for some more interesting basing materials.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Woodland Creatures - Fey Project, Part 1

My latest project is the result of a very special request. I am working on a display piece, based on one of Reaper Miniatures' Warlord figures. The request was to paint up a fairy, or similar creature of the wilds, and this figure fits the bill. As an added bonus, I am experimenting with large-scale display base construction, using Super Sculpey polymer clay. This installment will focus mostly on that. Future entries will cover paint and other basing work.

Super Sculpey is a a bakeable clay. The polymer remains pliable and sculptable for months, or even years, left on its own. To harden it, you need to make it in a 140°C (275°F) oven for 15-20 minutes. That alone makes it way different from the two-part epoxy putties that I am used to, and that is not the only difference...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Advanced Construction

Over the summer, I received the first of several miniatures from the Ironwind Metals LAM project that ran on Kickstarter. (LAM being the accepted Battletech abbreviation for "Land-Air Mech" - the transformable mecha of that particular universe.) I am not ready to post the paint-up for this project just yet, but the build itself was quite an undertaking, so I thought I'd post it now.

This particular model is for the Mk.1 Stinger LAM. I chose to get the hybrid mode version, half way between mecha and fighter jet modes. As you can see, the mini comes in quite a few parts. Note that the hex base was not included with the model.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Elemental Forces III

In the past week, I finally completed my Bones Earth Elemental project. The way was not without obstacles, but I am pretty happy with the results, and I would dearly love to get this beastie onto the table in an RPG scenario of some kind.

I set up the design and color scheme in my previous posts. To finish the project, I focused on details. Along the way, I also continued to shade and highlight the model with increasingly pale and yellowish colors to build on the sandstone theme.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dindrenzi 2.0

When Spartan Games released the latest version of their starship combat game, Firestorm Armada, they embarked on a new round of revisions to the game's miniature line. To Spartan's great credit, all past sculpts are still fully legal for use in the game. Most of the new designs share the same game statistics as their predecessors, although the exceptions to this rule are noteworthy.

In this installment, I will be taking a brief look at the revised Dindrenzi models from the Battle for Valhalla scenario box. Included in this review will be the new Praetorian battleship, which is not a simple revision of the older ships, but is a new class, with its own stat line.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Elemental Forces II

This is an update to the Bones Earth Elemental project I began some weeks ago. Times have been busy, but I have been able to finish assembly and construction, and make a lot of progress with painting the rocky beast.

I decided to keep the "head" that came with the original Bones model, but I cut away 2/3 of the neck connecting it to the torso. Instead, my elemental's head is attached directly to the main body. The result left a bit of a gap behind the head, where the neck should have been blended into the body. I filled that with green stuff, and added some basing grit to add texture to the finished product. I do not have a completely unpainted picture, but the primed shot above should provide some idea of the process.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Metallic Paint Revisited

Some time ago, I wrote an article about my work with metallic paints, and how I went about shading them. Now that I am safely back from ReaperCon 2014, I thought an update might be in order.

Among the terrific classes I got to take at ReaperCon was a session on the use of metallic paints by Clever Crow Miniatures. While I am no place close to mastering the technique, I thought I'd share my thoughts on how I am trying to incorporate them into my own style. (For a complete rundown of this technique, please ask Clever Crow himself - he's full of helpful advice.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

All's Well That Ends Well

Last fall, I started in on another Battletech paint project, based on the Capellan Hussars "Red Lancers" regiment, as a means of getting my shiny new TDR-1C miniature painted up. I started it in parallel with the Reaper Bones dragon project I was working on at the same time in the hope of moving back and forth between the two, making progress on both. For better or worse, things did not precisely work out that way.

I finished Deathsleet in time to enter him in an end-of-year contest, and I'm pretty happy with how he came out, hundreds of individual scales and all.

But, sadly, the Thunderbolt stopped at a slightly less complete stage.

This month I took it upon myself to get this project rolling again to see if I could get it off my shelf of shame, and, perhaps, take it along with me as a contest entry this Spring.

Monday, March 31, 2014


As reported previously, I have been working on a number of things for Firestorm Armada. My latest science project has been to try to create mine tokens for use during games. The old version of Firestorm came with some cardboard counters for mines, but they were pretty unexciting on the table, and the game now uses a larger, hexagonal, form factor for the same purpose.

In this case, I decided to try to cast brand new custom tokens in resin, and make enough for my own use in the game. So far, I have not been fully successful, but I have played around enough to share my experiences as a first time resin-caster.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Elemental Forces

Another WIP, another large Bones model. This time, I am working on Reaper's large earth elemental, also from their Bones Kickstarter. In this case, I have been making extensive modifications to the miniature as I progress.
Photo Copyright Reaper Miniatures, Inc. www.reapermini.com
The original model stands on two stubby, little legs, and is pretty humanoid in shape. I like the over-all concept of the miniature, but I really dislike that kind of massively top-heavy humanoid look. If a model is going to have legs, they should look like they might work. (Although, the market very clearly shows that not everybody shares my opinion.) My idea was to replace the legs with a different foundation. My elemental will be rising up from the ground, like a tidal wave of earth and stone. With any luck, the end look will be a good one.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ettin Project Completed

I finished up my Ettin project just ahead of my busy travel week for work and for TotalCon 2014, where I was able to deliver him to his proper owner. I am pleased to report that "M" seemed quite happy with his new toy.

I wound up applying a brown glaze to the Ettin's base, followed by a gloss sealer coat to polish up the stone, and make it fit better with the wood floor.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Firestorm Armada Revisited

One of the very first things I posted here was my Dindrenzi Battleship WIP for Firestorm Armada. I was pretty happy with the result, and Spartan's later releases took away the laborious assembly issues, but I still had a problem: That paint scheme was designed with a great deal of hand highlighting and paneling, and it was simply too much work for a table-top fleet scheme.

This month, I set out to come up with a revised scheme that would provide a similar look, but also come together much faster, allowing me to bring a mighty armada to the table in (relatively) short order.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Ettin Project: Round 3

I did some painting during the past week, and then drove on over to Groton, CT for a semi-local paint day. It was a nice to be able to sit down with a group of like-minded hobbyists, and I actually made a lot of progress on this project. I am now hopefull that I can finish him up and bring him along to TotalCon to show off in a couple of weeks. I may even be able to turn him over to his rightful owner during the con.

During the week, I experimented with possible base textures. I wanted the plinth under the Ettin to look like some form of stone slab, as one might use in a large taxidermy display.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wing It

Sometimes I paint with a planned formula, or a packaged set of matched paints. Other times, I just start mixing and blending until something good happens (or I give up and strip the paint off to start over.)

For the Ettin, I know I wanted a grey-brown base for the skin tone, but I didn't want things to look fully undead-grey, like they did with my Red Box Keeper mini, from last year. What you see above mixes some bronzed skin tones and browns into the highlights, but is, overwhelmingly, grey.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Pro Bono work

I never take paid painting commissions. I have limited free time, and even more limited painting time. I would never feel right taking somebody's money with the knowledge that their mini would get back to them "eventually". I would also have to charge a ridiculous fee, based on how I value my time. In short, nobody sane would give me the job, even if I were to accept it.

Having said that, I have painted models for free as favors or gifts. This year a friend of mine, and his son, asked me to undertake a project. Let's call them L and M, respectively. L bought a brand new Ettin miniature for M for Christmas, and they both asked me to paint the thing up as a trophy for one of M's Pathfinder characters. How could I refuse?

My raw material for the project is a Reaper Bones Ettin miniature. I asked M how he wanted the thing based, and he said it should be on a pedestal, as if on display. I started out by standing the unmodified mini on top of two bases, stacked up as base and platform. The fit wasn't perfect, but it was close, and could be made to work. It also saved me the trouble of tracking down, or fabricating, a suitable replacement.