Category Archives: Painting

Posts, articles and links mostly concerning the painting of miniatures. Lead Painters League posts, links to resources and inspiration elsewhere, and such.

17th Century Artillery Finally Finished

This pair of guns were ordered from The Assault Group as part of the insanely slow to arrive order of June-September 2017. I finished the artillery crew at least a year ago and the guns have sat on one corner of my painting bench the whole time, cleaned up and dry-fit together but otherwise untouched.

The guns are nicely sculpted and cleanly cast, needing minimal cleanup. I spray primed and did most of the painting before assembling either gun, and on the basis of no research whatsoever decided to do the big culverin with a dark red frame and the smaller lighter falconette in green. Each gun has the body and tail as a single piece cast, the two wheels, and the barrel, and the wheels fit on much better than I’m used to with white metal parts, hardly any nudging of the axle pieces around to get everything square and solid.

17th C guns
Both Assault Group guns, some of the crew, the accessories still being painted in the foreground, and a Warlord Games mounted officer just because. Click for larger.

Nothing fancy about the painting, just a couple shades of Reaper paints, various washes (mostly GW), and a bit of edge highlighting that totally doesn’t show in either of these photos. Ah well.

The eventual plan (once they reopen…) is to get a pair of custom artillery bases lasercut in 2mm MDF by the excellent folks at Warbases that will have round holes for six crew figures to slot into and a flat area for whichever gun is in use, so that the crew aren’t weirdly raised over their gun because they’re based and it isn’t.

Slightly higher angle view of the guns. Click for larger.

I’m still not sure I’ll ever order anything from The Assault Group in the future, but if I do I’ll do it expecting a four to six month wait for my stuff, and rather like these guns, I’ll make sure it’s for figures or bits that I don’t need in any particular hurry or have an actual timetable built around! Given that I have no plans to do large scale 28mm battles in the English Civil War, 30 Years War, or any 17th C-theme gunpowder fantasy equivalent, a mixed pair of guns should be all I’ll need for now!

Loot From Bad Squiddo

Ordered a few things from the excellent and varied ranges of Bad Squiddo Games back in March; things took longer to get from the UK to here than I’m used to, almost like some major world event is disrupting trans-Atlantic flights or something. However, everything was dispatched from the UK in good time and I am certainly not going to blame Anne of Bad Squiddo or the various postal services involved for a lack of air mail capacity…

I got a fairly mixed bag of stuff. A few ladies that will probably show up mostly as players or civilians in my English Civil War/Weird ECW games, a fine herd of pigs and some farm scenery, a bunch of cats, and some small scenery to add detail here and there, including a whole lot of mushrooms and toadstools for suitably creepy weird fantasy/horror forest bits.

Bad Squiddo haul
Most of the Bad Squiddo haul all laid out. Clockwise from lower left: mushrooms/toadstools, candles, several female characters, cats, fish seller w/ cats, skoggskattar, and finally in front centre a batch of food. Click for larger.
Skoggskattar
Skoggskattar – giant Scandinavian cats. Compare to the 28mm Warlord guy jogging past them on the right right there. Click for larger.

Everything is really cleanly cast and beautifully sculpted. The scenics are mostly by the very talented Ristul and in an interesting slightly flexible grey resin; the white metal sculpts are by a variety of sculptors and all really well done.

Not pictured above is the pigs, my favourite single part of this purchase. I indulged in the Pigtopia bundle deal which got me ten pigs and six bits of pigsty/farm scenery. I’ve already painted the pigs up, basing them in small groups on 40mm bases.

pigs!
Bad Squiddo pigs! Ten pigs, six pieces of pig-related scenery. Click for larger.

I painted the pigs up to vaguely resemble one of the oldest heritage breeds of pig in the UK, a black-and-white breed that I now can’t find or remember the name of. Anyway, they painted up nicely and I look forward to watching them chase players around the table or be part of someone’s provisions on the hoof in a scenario.

painted pigs
Pigs all painted up, all on 40mm bases. Just a bit of greenery to add and they’re all done. Click for larger.

That’ll do, pig, that’ll do.

Dogs & Cats Living Together

(Or, The Workbench This Week, 12 April 2020, also known as the 43rd of Marprilay, Blursday the Somethingth of Pandemic)

Strange times, faithful readers. Strange and stressful, and one of my stress responses is to flit from project to project, starting things and then flitting off before they get very far.

This long Easter weekend, though, I’ve been nudging myself to actually move a few things noticeably closer to actual completion. The first small sign of this is the three critters below, two cats (from Eureka, I think) and a Reaper War Dog finally moved along to the flocking-and-base-detailing stages.

28mm dog and two cats
Two housecats and a war dog. Click for larger.

The cats have been on the edges of my painting table for almost exactly five years now, as my email archives tell me I made the Eureka USA order for them (and other stuff) back in March 2015. There’s another two of them somewhere in the “nominally in progress” mountain somewhere, but this white cat and the orange tabby will have to do for now.

No idea how they’ll be used in games yet… maybe I’ll come up with a Pulp Alley games that involves chasing cats around a quaint English village looking for a clue one of them has attached to their collar. No gunfire, you’ll scare the cats into hiding!

the workbench this week, April 2020
The rest of the workbench. L to R: ECW cav, Renedra building, Frostgrave and ECW plastics, the critters, werewolves, and such! Click for larger.

So what else is on the rest of the workbench, hopefully lurching closer to completion? A whole mix of stuff (surprise…)! I’m quite please with the progress I’ve made on the nice little Renedra Wattle & Daub Outbuilding, some long-neglected ECW cuirassier are seeing basing progress, I’ve been building some Frostgrave wizards and soliders as mentioned in my last post, and the whole mess of werewolves (over on the far right of the photo above) are meandering onward.

Stay home, stay safe, attempt to stay sane, and I hope you and yours are well.

Tell the Bartender Your Troubles

Way back in December 2018 on Twitter, Bears Head Miniatures showed off pictures of their new Beholder-alike floating eye beastie, Narthoks the Excellent. I made an offhand comment of, “With that expression, somehow I see him as the wholly unexpected barkeep behind a very strange bar somewhere, towel draped over one tentacle, goblets and beer mugs in the other tentacles…”

A few weeks later, Bears Head posted this:

…and naturally I had to join their Kickstarter, even though I had no particular use then or now for a Beholder, in bartender guise or otherwise! (is a bartending Beholder actually a Beerholder? A Barholder?)

My understanding is that the bartender version was a Kickstarter-exclusive, but the regular and sci-fi versions of Narthoks are available over on the Bears Head website, along with all sorts of other interesting figures!

So what did I get for my offhand comment? Narthoks is a big chap, roughly 2 and a half inches across at the tentacles and about 2 inches tall from bottom of tentacles to top of head/topmost eyeball. Taller than that once he’s on his flying base, of course. He’s got a towel and glass in his frontmost tentacles, a cocktail shaker in his right-hand tentacles, and a bottle and glass in the left. All the bar-ware is scaled to Narthoks, which means the glasses and shaker are the size of barrels from a human viewpoint!

barholder, bare resin
Bare resin Narthoks straight out of the box from Bear’s Head back in May 2019. Click for larger.

The figure is resin and nicely cast, with only a bit of cleanup along seams and some casting flash. He’s in two parts, tentacles and base/neck (?) and then head, and while the seam between them has more gaps than I’d normally like to see, the textured nature of his skin makes disguising this seam easy once you break out the greenstuff.

Anyway, after Narthoks the Barholder showed up in May 2019 he sat in his box until just a few weeks ago (end of January 2020), when I felt the need to radically change up my painting after painting a couple of dozen lovely but fussy and tiny 1:1200 WW2 naval boats!

For painting, I was inspired by Dana Howl’s awesome video on using glaze medium, which I’ve linked to at least once already on this blog, and by the splendid and underused (by me, at least, in usual day-to-day painting) Royal Purples triad from Reaper’s paint line.

barholder, wet paint
Blending basecoat in progress. Almost all the paint you can see here is still wet, as the glaze medium slows drying time. Makes for fun and dynamic painting on a big figure like this! Click for larger.

Narthoks’ underside is various shades of bright blue, his topside is mostly Imperial Purple, shaded down with Nightshade Purple and highlighted with Amethyst Purple. The eyeballs were painted Pure White then glazed with a variety of yellows, reds, and oranges.

barholder basecoated
Basecoating done, eyeballs and other detail parts included. Click for larger.

Final highlights on Narthoks’ body were a mix of Amethyst Purple, Pure White, and glaze medium, 1:1:1; this is most visible on the eyelids and on the bits just above the “horns” along each side of the body. The eyeballs have all had a coat of gloss medium, although as I haven’t given the whole miniature the usual coat or three of protective matte varnish, this gloss will have to be redone in due course. Ah well.

narthoks finished, front
Narthoks all finished except for basing. Go on, tell the bartender your troubles! Click for larger.
narthoks finished, left side
Left side of Narthoks. I really like how the shading of the horns and above them has come out. Click for larger.
narthoks finished, right side
Narthoks’ right side. The eyeballs have turned out nicely too. Click for larger.

Narthoks comes with a standard clear plastic flying base; I ran a length of paper clip wire up into him for a painting handle and to help pin the two halves of his body together. I’ll trim that short and slot it into the post of the flying base, but I might replace the clear plastic base with something more bar-like, either flagstones or a wood floor. I’m actually tempted to get a small display dome for Narthoks and put him on one corner of my home bar cabinet as a mascot of sorts, as I currently have absolutely no actual gaming-related use for this awesome figure!

Tiny Ships Painted!

I finally have painted ships (well, boats, mostly) to go with the coastal terrain I’ve been showing off!

All my 1:1200 naval stuff so far is from Last Square, the Figurehead range. Last Square are very easy to deal with and shipping from the States up to Canada was quick, although their website is one of the most glacially slow I’ve seen in recent years!

The figures are incredibly detailed for such tiny models. I’m not kidding when I say I own 28mm figures with less detail on them than these little boats!

For painting I hot-glued everything to 6″ craft sticks/tongue depressors, which worked well. I plan to use clear plastic bases (which aren’t here yet, the Litko order of custom bases is enroute) so couldn’t base the boats before painting. I did the Royal Navy & merchant ships first, and cramped myself too much – about four ships per craft stick is a good spacing, closer and your ships get in the way of the brush.

For Royal Navy colour schemes/camoflauge patterns I picked up an ePub copy of Mal Wright’s British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WW II – Vol I from Pen & Sword, and can highly recommend that book if you need inspiration for your RN coastal warfare boats. We tend to think of warships as grey (well, I do, anyway) but the WW2 RN used a lot of white and blue disruption or dazzle pattern schemes on their vessels, some of them complicated enough to be challenging to reproduce in 1:1200 scale!

royal navy 1
Foreground, four anti-submarine or minesweeping trawlers, then a small coastal tanker, and two flavours of Fairmile D MTB/MGB in the background. Click for larger.
royal navy 2
RN armed trawlers and Fairmile D (“Dog”) boats. Click for larger.
royal navy 3
Tiny Vosper MTBs on the left, the tanker, and Fairmile D MTB/MGBs on the right. Click for larger.

I’ve got sixteen Royal Navy vessels right now, ranging from tiny 70′ Vosper Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs) to armed trawlers to both Torpedo and Gun (MTB/MGB) versions of the famous Fairmile D (“Dog boat”) vessels.

For the German Kreigsmarine there doesn’t seem to be a handy single-volume book of paint schemes like there is for the Brits, but after some questions on the Naval Gaming FB group and some Google Image rummaging I decided on a simple off-white for the famous Schnellboote and a grey-and-dark-grey disruption pattern on the more utilitarian Raumsboote.

kreigsmarine 1
Schnellboote (S-boats) in the foreground, Raumsboote (R-boats) in the background. Click for larger.
kreigsmarine 2
R-boats on the left, S-boats on the right. Click for larger.

With dozen Kreigsmarine, sixteen Royal Navy, and a pair of small coastal merchant ships I’m set for a good variety of scenarios already. More S-boats, more merchants, and some of the missing classes of Royal Navy Coastal Command vessels, especially the very common Fairmile B, will come in the future, but this is a good mix for a mid- to late-war setup, from 1942 or so to the end of the war in Europe.

Our first game should be this Sunday, using Narrow Seas by David Manley. Need to print off ships sheets and a few other things before then!

Links of Interest, 27 January 2020

First links of interest of the new year – and the new decade, come to that!

Dana Howl has a fairly new YouTube channel that I discovered via Twitter. She’s a great antidote to the shouty beardy death metal school of YT videos, being soft spoken and very, very dry humoured. Her favourite video of mine so far is her introduction to using glazing & glaze medium on miniatures, which is a new technique to me. I’ve picked up a small bottle of glaze medium from my local art supply store and while I’ve not used it much yet, it’s another very useful tool in anyone’s painting toolbox. I think it’ll be especially useful on large monsters. I’ve got a huge Reaper Bones dragon that I got in one of their Bones Kickstarters that I should start painting one of these years…

Another recent (to me) find of small scale scenery is over at League of Augsburg, where Jim is building whole chunks of coastal England to sail 1:2400 scale Anglo-Dutch War ships upon. He’s actually using the same Brigade Models small scale buildings I am, and they work just fine in a scale half the size of the one I’m using them in.

I’m currently attempting to paint impossibly tiny 1:1200 coastal warfare boats without going mad or blind, and Mal Wright’s excellent little handbook on Royal Navy WW2 paint jobs British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WW II – Vol I has been incredibly useful. It’s available in ePub (the linked version) and traditional dead-tree from Pen & Sword in the UK; I went for the ePub because I didn’t feel like coughing up for S&H for one book, but I might actual also buy the “real” book at some point. Mr. Wright is apparently currently working on a similar volume for the Americans and Japanese in the WW2 Pacific theatre, which is awesome, and has apparently also done some work toward a German Kreigsmarine counterpart to his Royal Naval series.

More soon, including photos of those impossibly tiny coastal warfare boats!

Extremely Bad Dogs, Almost Finished

Most of the painting is finished on the various Reaper dogs last seen a few weeks ago, and they’ve painted up so nicely I’m going to show them off before they’re entirely finished, which I do not usually do.

three demon dogs
Centre is Reaper’s Moorhound; flanking him are Reaper Hellhounds. Click for larger.

The Moorhound got a black basecoat; the other four got a dark brown basecoat. No particular reason, honestly. Most of the texture was brought out by simple drybrushing in a variety of off-white shades, then some highlights all the way up to pure white, and some selective shading with washes. I pushed the contrast more than I usually do and I think it works really well for these otherwordly demon-dogs.

different demon dogs
Back view of the Moorhound, flanked by two Reaper Goblin Wolves. Click for larger.

The bases all five dogs are on are 40mm rounds built up from sheet styrene and putty; I’ll get flock and tufts on them in the next couple of days. Then I need to figure out stats for these in Pulp Alley 2nd Edition and unleash them upon our tables!

demon dog vs priest
A Warlord 28mm priest faces down a Reaper Moor Hound. Click for larger.

Colourful Cavalry, Part Two

Horses in colours other than brown!

Armour in colours other than silver!

Dogs and cats living together! Chaos and disorder!

Well, something like that. Horses and armour, at least.

I realized that all twelve horses for my regular ECW cavalry are all brown. Every last one of them. There’s a bunch of variation in tone, mane colour, stuff like that, but they’re all bay, which is horse-speak for brown. Well, some of them might be chestnut, which is horse-speak for “lighter reddish brown”, more or less. For the six horses I needed for the current batch of cuirassier I decided to mix it up a lot. There’s a white horse, two different shades of grey, two different bay, and one black horse.

All six cuirassier horse. Hair, mane, and tail all done. Hooves, tack, and some details still to do. Click for larger.

Unfortunately I totally forgot to write down any of the paint mixes or layers I used for this batch of painting, so I’ll have to re-invent the wheel, or at least the horse paint, next time I do horses!

For the armour, I put pins up into the backsides of all six cuirassier, making them extra-long to make painting easier. Then I used a scrap CD, two lengths of scrap wood, and my hot glue gun to create a very useful little painting stand, seen in the photo below.

All six riders got all their armour basecoated bright silver (Reaper’s True Silver), then various inks and washes were layered over to try for a treated-metal appearance as discussed in my last post on coloured armour.

GW’s washes don’t work as a base layer for this, I discovered right away. They’re not designed to stay on flat surfaces particularly well, although they shade crevices and lower areas of a surface very nicely. I used India ink for the three blacked armour sets, Reaper’s Red Ink for the russeted armour, and FW Artist’s Acrylic Inks for most of the rest of the colour.

The three blacked armour riders were basically done after one coat of thinned India ink, and then I went back in with metallic paint to do some of the edges and highlights, especially on the rider in the foreground of the photo with the hammer and plume.

Armoured riders. Front right blacked with silver edging, rightmost russet, two background guys both blacked, blued armour on the far left, then the second russet armour guy foreground centre. Click for larger.

The two russetted armour guys and the one blued rider (far left) got at least a couple of more layers, including either very, very thin India ink or GW’s Nuln Oil to darken the bright initial ink coat. The blue guy especially looked incredibly bright and weird after his first coat of just blue ink – my girlfriend saw him and said, “Seventeenth Century Power Ranger!” and damned if she wasn’t right…

I’ve also discovered that these guys are nearly impossible to get a decent photo of in their current setup, the above blown out and fairly crap photo is less crap than all the rest. I’ll try for better pictures once the riders and horses are all attached to each other. Still to do is boots, saddles, faces, and weapons.

I’m really pleased with how these guys are turning out so far, and I think they’ll look great on the tabletop once they’re all finished. Ink over silver is definitely a win for doing coloured armour!

Colourful Cavalry: Armour as well as horses!

I’ve posted links to horse painting articles and tutorials before, including the exhaustive “horse of a different colour” series over at Trouble at t’Mill. Mike even gives you some rough math on what colours any given troop/regiment/herd/group of horses should be: “One tip – if you’re batch painting, the maths works out roughly that you should pick out your hero horses that are going to be fancy colours, then split about a quarter of the rest off and earmark them for chestnuts, split a quarter of the leftovers from those off and earmark them as blacks, and paint the rest (which should be a bit over half) bay. The further back in history you go, the fewer chestnuts you’ll probably have.”

But what about the riders? Unarmoured or mostly unarmoured riders provide obvious opportunity for colour, depending on the army or era you’re modelling, but if it’s knights or early 17th Century cuirassier in full plate it’s all going to be silver/grey metal armour, right?

Armour can, in fact, be lots of colours than just “shiny metal”. It probably should be, in fact. Blacking, russeting, or even painting seems to have been fairly common. Keeping armour “white” (shiny) was a lot of work on an ongoing basis so a lot of munition-grade ordinary armour was finished in some way.

A lot of the armour in museums that’s shiny these days probably shouldn’t be. As the Wallace Collection says on their website about one partial suit of 17th C armour, “Like the others of its group, this one originally had a ‘black-from-the-hammer’ finish, but was polished bright comparatively recently, almost certainly in the 19th century.” Another thing we can blame the Victorian era for!

Russeting, blacking, and other forms of surface finish are done with various oils, acids, and other chemicals along with heat to seal the surface of the metal and protect it from rust and other corrosion. An interesting and informative thread over on My Armory (an arms/armour collector and creator forum) talks about various historic and modern treatments and the various shades that can be achieved. One essay on russeting I found uses modern Clorox bleach and baby oil!

There’s a great essay on the Met about decoration and surface treatment of armour. From that essay:

Heating metal produces a coloration of the surface, which changes from yellow to purple to deep blue as the heat increases. When taken out of the fire at a particular temperature, the metal retains this color. Considerable skill is required to achieve a consistent and even heat-patination of large areas (e.g., a breastplate) or groups of objects (e.g., a complete armor, 32.130.6
). The favored color for armor, edged weapons, and firearm barrels was a deep blue, in a process is referred to as “bluing.” A range of colors could also be produced chemically, using a variety of different recipes, such as a rich brown color that was popular on firearm barrels in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. Besides being attractive, patination and painting also inhibit rust on metal surfaces.

This gorget is contemporary with the English Civil War (c. 1640) and is blued with gilt edging. Image off the Wallace Collection website. Click image to see the listing there.

The entire Wallace Collection website is well worth looking through, by the way. It includes a huge collection of arms and armour through the ages, and a really well organized Advanced Search function to make things (slightly!) easier to find.

Also from the Wallace Collection is a “black and white” set of cavalry armour, almost certainly from an officer, with distinctive polished/silver bands around the edges of otherwise blackened armour. The Wallace writeup say, “Most military armours worn by lower-ranking troopers or infantrymen were left ‘black from the hammer’, that is, the metal was worked only up to the point when the armour would function as required. The surface finish was left black and hammer-marked. Bodies of cavalry wearing such armour were therefore often described as ‘Schwarze Reiter’- black riders. The armours of officers commanding groups of men armed in this way often had the bands and borders of their armour polished bright, producing the distinctive visual effect characteristic of ‘black and white’ armours.

For a straight-up painted helmet, this one is 15th C, much earlier than the period I’m currently concerned with, but had red and white (now discoloured almost to yellow) paint that is still colourful and must have been spectacular when it was new. I don’t think, from what I’ve seen, that full on painted armour was still current by the mid-17th C, but blacked, blued, russeted, and even gilded surface treatments were certainly in regular use.

When it comes to miniature painting and armour, I’m thinking that the best way to represent coloured armour would be a metallic base coat and then inks or washes over that. I’m going to do some experimenting on the six cuirassier current on my painting bench and will report back!

Incidentally, if someone managed to save a copy of the Games Workshop article from back in 2011 I once linked to here I’d love to have it. I recall it opened with joking about how the author just painted all horses brown until his daughter told him his horses were boring, or similar!

Finished English Civil War Figures

Not the greatest photographs going, but so far the only ones I’ve gotten of all of my recently completed 28mm ECW figures all together!

Every figure finished recently! See text for details, and click for larger.

Starting top left, the dark yellow coats belong to six firelock musketeers (in Pikeman’s Lament terms, either a Forlorn Hope or Commanded Shot). Clockwise we have two troops of regular horse, six per troop. One unit is brand-new and the other had most of it’s painting done years ago but have been touched up and re-based just recently. Somewhere in amongst the other horsemen is the mounted commander as well, finally finished and based.

The bottom centre infantry unit is a dozen muskets in green, then a dozen pike in green, and finally a dozen muskets in blue. There’s a couple of extra officer/sergeant figures in there as well.

The only unit not on the tray in the photo above is the twelve pike in blue I finished back in July 2017.

All these figures are from Warlord Games.

The new horse, with blue and white horse blankets, as well as some of the older horse with blue and yellow on the horses. Click for larger.

Finally, for fun and extra colour, I’ve been painting up the farm animals I got from Warbases early in 2017.

Geese and sheep, all from Warbases. See text for details, click for larger.

The geese are on a 40mm round styrene base, while the two sets of sheep are on roughly rectangular bases about 1″x2″. They’ll mostly be just scenery, or objectives in games that need loot tokens, but I’m also planning on using the flock of geese as a hazard in games of Pulp Alley, because big geese can be scary psycho critters!

Still in progress on the farm animal side are five or six ducks to go in and around the ponds I made in 2017, two big cart horses, and a couple of goats. I’ll probably get a few more animals on my next Warbases order, they’re fun to paint and provide great extra detail and colour on the tabletop.

On the ECW figure side of things the first six cuirassier heavy horse are in progress, and I’ll be doing up at least one more unit of firelock muskets. There’s also six officer/sergeant/character figures in progress – more on them in another post!