Sunday, January 25, 2015

Reaper Bones: Barnabus Frost, Pirate Captain

I return to the ranks of the Monday Miniatures participants this week with 77132 Barnabus Frost, Pirate Captain from the Pirates set.

This is another solid Bones figure that needed minimal clean up.  Some of the details didn't transition too well from the metal version, like the coat buttons and the flintlock pistol, but other details like the belt buckles and keys turned out quite nicely.  I particularly like this figure, as the character has a sense of presence and an air of authority.

The colors used are VGC Imperial Blue and Khaki (coat), Scrofulous Brown (undercoat), Scarlett Red (sash, pants), Earth (base), and Plague Brown (hair).  I also used Reaper MSP Oiled Leather (boots, belts) and Rosy Skin (skin), and Brown Liner for some layer differentiation.  A couple of VGC grays were used for the sword, and VGC Glorious Gold was used for the metal details (buttons, keys, pocket watch, etc.).  For washes/glazes, I used TAP Soft, Strong, Dark, and Blue Tone Inks.

Conclusion:  I think the figure turned out nicely, and does justice to the sculpt.  In retrospect, I probably should have gone with a gray stone base, as the brown Earth color is rather close to the Oiled Leather used for the boots.  I also think his hair could stand to be lightened a bit more, to pull it away from the orange color used for the waistcoat.

All in all, I'm glad to have finally gotten into the Pirates set!  Next week's figure will be 77061 Kord the Destroyer.

- M:M

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Reaper Bones: Familiars II

This week I finished up a pack of figures that have been hanging around my desk for several months:  77196 Familiars II.

Here's an angled shot to show some different details:

I went through Reaper's online store to find the actual names of the individual familiars, based upon the existing metal releases.  Left to right, they are Little Death, Dark Fairy, Fire Elemental, Winged Serpent, Doll with Knife, and Stumpy.  I had actually finished the Fire Elemental and Stumpy quite a while ago, but for whatever reason the others never got addressed until now.  Since the figures required different approaches, I'll outline them separately.

Little Death:  True to his name, I wanted a "grim reaper"-ish feel for the figure, and decided to stick with black, gray, and bone colors.  I couldn't quite make out what was supposed to be in his sack, but I painted the the items on his back as scrolls (it seemed fitting that a familiar might carry those for his master).  I am extremely pleased with how the non-metallic metal (NMM) effect on his polearm came out; it is easily the best results I've produced to date!  On the other hand, the stitches on the hood came out poorly (they were very hard to make out when painting), and the grays on his robe are hard to see.

Dark Fairy:  I had originally thought this figure was missing from my shipment, but I later found out it had gone into hiding during my mass-boiling of the Bones I figures (I got knocked under the microwave).  So, this figure has a special place in my collection as the one that almost wasn't.  I liked the concept of a "dark fairy", though the washes muddled the colors and gave the wings a much more subdued appearance than what I was aiming for.

Fire Elemental:  This was a fairly straightforward figure, and I focused on keeping the yellows in the crevices of the figure.  Since it is so small, I wanted the figure to have a more orange/red appearance, as though it was not as hot as a full-sized fire elemental.

Winged Serpent:  I decided to go with a rainbow effect on this sort-of coatl.  I thought about painting the wings with a rainbow pattern and making the body metallic, but decided to switch is around to take advantage of the larger surface area on the body.  This was also a straightforward scheme, though it did give me the opportunity to work on color transitions (which I think turned out fairly nice).  I like how the figure turned out, and the silver eyes really make it pop.

Doll with Knife:  Perhaps the creepiest of the familiars in this pack, I wanted a sort of "Raggedy Ann" look for it.  This figure had some odd angles to work around (such as the hem of the dress where the leg is raised), which is much more challenging than normal due to the small scale of the figure.  The NMM on the knife turned out nicely, as well (it's not as good as Little Death's polearm, but I think there's also slightly less detail on the knife).  I really like the color I achieved for the doll's body, though the button eye could use more work to make it more of a focal point.

Stumpy:  I chose a more reddish-brown, and the end result reminds me of the color palette for the island of Zek in Everquest II.  It kind of gives a sickly or warped appearance to the treeman, so I probably wouldn't want to use this familiar for a good-aligned druid or ranger without a repaint.

Overall I'm pleased with how these figures turned out, and I'm glad to finally get them done.  They're definitely an interesting assortment of atypical familiars, and I'd recommend them if you like variety.  You can pick up this entire set of familiars in Bones for the price of one of them in metal, which just shows how awesomely affordable Bones miniatures are!

- M:M

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Salvage Crew Saga: SC32 Razor

Continuing with the Salvage Crew Saga is SC32, male fighter with dual pistols and sword.

This figure's random color results were orange (2), yellow (3), and blue (5).

SC32 - Codename: Razor

A bodyguard and part-time prizefighter from the Bizanti system, Razor gained a reputation for being able to take hits as well as he dished them out.  Subject specializes in close-quarters combat, often wielding machine pistols and bladed weapons.  Razor has a sizable ego regarding his physique, which can result in him being goaded into risky actions in order to show off his skills.

My figure arrived with a damage sword blade which broke off during cleaning, so I wound up having to pin and glue it back in place.  This was surprisingly difficult, as the blade was in an odd position beneath the figure and was hard to reach.  Other than that, the figure was solid with no miscasts.

Given that the figure is only half-clothed, I wasn't sure I would be able to incorporate all three colors.  I decided to make the pants the cooler blue color, and use the warmer orange and yellow to draw attention to the boots and armor.  I used VGC Imperial Blue, Parasite Brown, and Plague Brown for the core colors.  I'm particularly surprised at how "orange" the Parasite Brown turned out in the final model.

The skin was painted with a mix of VGC Dark Fleshtone and MSP Tanned Skin, and the weapons were painted with a mix of VGC Coal Black, Cold Grey, and Stonewall Grey.  The figure was washed with TAP Inks:  Soft Tone (boots and armor), Strong Tone (skin), Dark Tone (weapons), and Blue Tone (pants).

Conclusion:  I really like how this figure turned out.  The colors are a bit bizarre, but I think they work for this figure and seem fairly well balanced.  The damaged sword isn't noticeable in-person unless you're looking for it, and will hopefully stand up to moderate handling.  As with the other Salvage Crew figures, I plan to re-base these in the future, so I'm not putting any effort into the bases right now.

Next up in the Salvage Crew Saga will be SC33, dominatrix with belt-fed gun.  This one should have an interesting backstory....

- M:M

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Reaper Bones: Cthulhu

Welcome to 2015!  With the imminent arrival of the core game of Cthulhu Wars, I thought it fitting to ring in the new year with the completion of one of the largest of the Bones I figures:  77194 Cthulhu.

Note that this figure was way too big for my normal photo setup, so the picture quality suffers a little.  Also, this post is going to be somewhat picture-heavy, as I had to take photos from multiple angles.  On with the show!

The miniature is very large (such that I'm not sure the term "miniature" is appropriate), and is an excellent example of how the Bones line is able to produce figures that would be cost-prohibitive in metal or resin.  The box lists the dimensions as 9 inches long and 9 inches tall, which would be an absolute brick of a metal miniature!

Cleanup was very reasonable, and the details came out very cleanly on this figure.  One of the challenges with this figure is the size, which carries into all later steps:  cleaning mold lines, painting, finishing, and even photographing.  The majority of the figure is very solid, with the exception of the tentacles on the head (which are very pliable).  I did not have any problems with component fit, though the base seems to be a little warped and stands up a bit in the back.

Inspired by Richard Luong's art for Cthulhu Wars (and Cthulhu in particular), I decided to use VGC Turquoise and VGC Scurvy Green for the majority of the figure.  To help give some variation, I went with VGC Royal Purple for the tentacles, and later added that to the wings.  Since there really aren't a lot of features on the bulk of the figure, I didn't want it to become overwhelmingly green.

The body was given washes of TAP Blue Tone Ink to help darken the skin, then highlighted with layers of a VGC Jade Green/Scurvy Green mix.  The blue keratinous areas on the hands and legs were also given a wash of Blue Tone Ink, then highlighted with a Turquoise/Scurvy Green mix.  The spines were painted VGC Dark Green, with a wash of TAP Green Tone Ink and highlight of Dark Green/Scurvy Green.  The tips of the tentacles were transitioned to VGC Warlord Purple and given a TAP Red Tone Ink Wash, while the bases of the tentacles and the wings were given washes of TAP Purple Tone Ink.

I knew I wanted to create a "glow" effect for the eyes (similar to the reference artwork), which I did using VGC Escorpena Green and VGC Foul Green.  The eye itself is Escorpena Green, with a mix for the "glow" which helps tone it down and keep it in the same range of "green" as the rest of the figure.

The base is simply VGC Earth with MSP Brown Wash, and the monolith is a mix of VGC Coal Black/Wolf Grey with a wash of TAP Green Tone Ink to help give it a slightly alien appearance.  The entire figure was coated with a spray gloss coat to give it a wet, slimy look.

Conclusion:  This was a very large project, and by far the largest figure I have ever painted.  Prior to this, I think the largest item I had painted with the Empire Steam Tank for Warhammer Fantasy years ago.  Cthulhu turned out better than I thought he might when I first started!  Large figures like this can be extremely intimidating (even for an experienced painter) just on the sheer size.  I think it's important to just think of it one step at a time, or even one portion at a time (though if you take that approach, you'll need to make sure the figure as a whole looks unified and doesn't develop an unintentional "patchwork" appearance).

I really like how the colors look on the figure, and I think the washes and mixes used for layering highlights really helped tie the colors together.  I could have done more layering for highlights, but I didn't want the colors to get too bright and shift the overall figure from a deeper hue.  The main thing I need to work on for large figures like this is ensuring that I'm putting on consistent coats.  There were a few times where I didn't do that (the paint was thinned a little too much), and it made it much harder to get consistent results on subsequent layers.  While that's important on any figure, I think it's much more apparent on larger figures due to the increased surface area you're working with.  Finally, I think the gloss coat worked really well and helps sell an aquatic look.  Spray coats are kind of a gamble on finished figures, as you never quite know how they might change the paint job.  Thankfully, this one worked out well and will (hopefully!) help protect the figure for years to come!

In closing, I'd like to wish you well as we head into the new year!  A lot of Kickstarters are poised to deliver this year, from Cthulhu Wars to Reaper Bones II to Wrath of Kings.  I'm really enjoying the hobby again, and look forward to completing more figures in my collection in the next 12 months!

- M:M