Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Secret Santa Mini Exchange

Back in about 2004 when I was living in Japan, a friend of mine invited me to participate in a Christmas mini exchange. There were a bunch of bases nearby with a surprising number of fellow gamers, so the idea was that we would exchange addresses with someone on an online forum, & we would exchange painted minis with some of the other soldiers, sailors (and some civilians) around the Pacific. I ended up exchanging a Thousand Sons rubric marine for a Dark Elf shade painted by a guy in Australia. 

Fast forward to 2013. I decided to bring that little tradition to my hometown in Oregon. I proposed the idea to our local gaming group, & some jumped at it. We had about a half-dozen participants, and we made sure that each of the miniatures that were exchanged were ones that could be used in the recipient's army. I ended up painting Ulrick the Slayer for a friend of mine who played Space Wolves, and I received a Raven Guard assault sergeant from another friend.

This year a buddy suggested we do it again, and we had a lot more participants. I ended up with a friend that I'd already painted a mini for in the past. You may remember the Mega Nob from this year's Mini Madness. This time I decided to paint up a Killer Kan for him. 

I managed to snag a Kan from Yorrick and started right away. Yorrick had already started painting it, but I didn't have time to strip it, so I used the Krylon Zenith painting technique that I used on my Khador warjacks a while back. 

It worked pretty well, and I was rather pleased with the results. I know I have a rather "clean" painting style, so it was nice to practice Orks again. I think I've gotten better over the years,and I've been able to use more weathering and shading techniques that give a dirtier, oily look. Here's the result.

Sunday the various painters met at a local pizza place to exchange minis. Some folks weren't able to make it due to the holiday weekend, but the bulk of us were able to get there. 

After a little pizza we exchanged our miniatures. We'd pass each one around the table after it was opened so we could get a good look at the gift. There were a number of impressive paint jobs. Yorrick your received a Red Corsair miniature from a Betrayal at Cath mini, there were a few Daemon minis, a Dark Eldar, a few Orks, & a host of Inquisition minis (all painted by Yorrick). I made out like a bandit, since I received a Exalted Flamer of Tzeentch on Flaming chariot, plus it came with the extra Herald, both magnetized so they could be switched easily. This are the minis that were opened at the exchange.

If you've got a good group of gamers I'd recommend you do an exchange of your own. I imagine we'll do this again next year too.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Anger Management

This won't be one of my typical posts, since it isn't about painting, 40k, or gaming related, but it is fairly nerdy. Homemade Halloween outfits.

Ever since the twins were born I've been coming up with DIY costumes. The first year we made them Mandrake Roots from Harry Potter (we made like Terra cotta pots from felt, it was cute), last year we made them House Elves.

This year we broke away from Harry Potter & opted to embrace Pixar by doing the whole family as emotions from "Inside Out." (Fingers crossed, next year will be Star Wars)

My wife will be Sadness, my daughter is Disgust, my son is Fear, & I'm taking on Anger. I've always wanted to take a crack at a really creative costume, so this one seemed right up my alley.
Wardrobe-wise it's simple: white short-sleeved shirt, red tie, tweed pants. The rest of the look is kinda tricky though.

I've seen a few other Anger costumes but most revolved around red face-paint & a crown of flames. Good in spirit, but aesthetically lacking, in my opinion.

I wanted it to look true-ish to the design, which meant a boxy, neckless, red noggin. I'm already a thick guy, so it shouldn't be too tough to pull off. Here was my concept design:

Everything in black is a single piece: head, collar, & tie. One head that'd fit on my shoulders. Originally there was supposed to be a fan in the top of the head that'd blow the flames like streamers, but it wasn't really feasible in the end.

To start, I needed a base for the head. I measured out how much room I'd need to comfortably fit my oversized gourd inside. Turns out I'd need a medium-sized box or trash can to accommodate my needs (10" wide, 14" long, & at least 14" deep). I wanted it to be kinda rounded, so I went looking for a trash can.

This led to a short montage of me measuring trash cans in a number of Home Goods stores and sheepishly looking up & down the aisles for witnesses before upending the cans over my head to see how well they'd fit. I bet the video surveillance guys were having a few chuckles.

I found one that fit the bill at Wal Mart. From there, I took it home trimmed away about 10" of the can, contouring it so it'd fit on my shoulders & chest. I used a pair of sturdy tin snips to cut the plastic. I tried to keep the trimmed section in a single piece, since I'd new it later. Then I drew out the basic layout of the face on the can, first in pencil, then Sharpie. 

I took some paper & traced the shapes of the eyes, eyebrow ridge and teeth (adding about 3-4" to the teeth since I'd have to glue them in place later). I used Elmer's glue stick to paste the paper shapes onto the trash can portion that I'd removed earlier. The trick at that stage is to figure out what you want the front to be, then glue the  paper to the backside, that way you aren't marring the pretty exterior.

I used my tin snips to cut out the general shapes of the eyes & teeth. I took the cut outs to my family's shop & made use of a bench grinder to refine them down to the marks of the paper stencil. I used about a 7/8" drill bit to make a circular cutout for the eyes. I probably wouldn't have been able to make such a precise cut without one.

I went back to the house & used an exacti knife to put the final touches on the eyea & teeth cutouts. I took a heavy duty box cutter & trimmed away  the entire mouth and eyeholes from the head. I didn't have to be too precise with the eyes, since the cutout eyes would  be glued on top of them.

I decided to end tere for the day, so I blue tacked the cutouts in place to see how well they'd work.
The red irises are cut from a sheet of red foam

Starting the next day, I set the cutouts aside & started to work with the red felt. I wasn't sure how to apply it at first, sonce I've had mixed results with fabric glue, but after a bit if research I decided to use a Hot Glue Gun & treat it like wrapping a gift. I drew two lines down the back, one centered, & another an inch off center. I glued  one edge in place off center, then wrapped the felt around (pulling it snugly) so the next edge would fall on the center line & overlap the first. Te trick with a hot glue gun is to apply the fabric as you glue. If you wait more than a few seconds your glue with set & you have to scrape it away.

I then took scissors & cut away excess felt from the too, bottom, mouth & eyes, leaving about 1" of trim that i wrapped to the interior & glued in place.

For the eyebrow ridge I cut the form into a section of thick fabric backing & wrapped felt around it as well. Fortunately you can still barely see the sharpie outlines of the eyes & ridge through the felt, so it wasn't too hard to place. Here it is with the eyes & ridge blue tacked in place.

The next step was to create a collar. I cut two pieces of the fabric backing into a collar shape, hot glued white linen cloth around it, & glued the top edge of the collar onto the head. That way, even though it rests on my chest it still looks like a regular shirt. I have a tie that's close enough to the real Anger tie, so I simply loosen it enough so it hangs in place at the base of te head.

For finishing touches, I glued everything in place, & glued a lightweight black nylon cloth around the inside of the mouth. It's light enough that I can kinda see out of it, but dark enough so you can't see inside the head itself.

The whole project took about $35 and 7 hours of solid design & work to complete. Here's the finished product:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Leaked Images: New Tau vs Raven Guard

This morning brought news of a particularly exciting supplement for me. Tau vs Raven Guard: My original army against one that I've been building for some time now. It looks like a Stormclaw style "Space Marines vs" box. If it is, I'm almost certainly going to get it. Looking at the minis, there's a bit of redundancy in the things I already own (like the pathfinders & stealth team), but I still need the Piranha, & all the Space Marine side.

The new Tau include a great looking new Ethereal. It looks like an updated version of Aun Shi. I like it.

The Breachers are also neat looking. Sure It's basically just a new helmet & weapons, but I still like the angular design

There appears to be a new fortification called the Tidewall Rampart. Maybe a heavy duty Aegis?

The Raven Guard side has only one new model, a captain with a grav pistol. Not super Raven Guardy, but not a bad design. I haven't been buying minis for a while, but I'll 

I'm currently in high school classrooms & at college, working on my Masters in Teaching so life's been a bit hectic, which is why I've been away from the blog for a while, but I'm updating where I can. I have a few things that I'm working on slowly, & I'll post those when I get the chance.

Take care all.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Meet the PC: Broecksiog, Gnomish Druid

One of my favorite parts about tabletop roleplaying is finding, modeling, and painting the perfect miniatures for our party PCs. I've been doing this for years now, and thought I'd share some of these characters with you.

Our final hero from the King for a Day is Broecksiog (pronounced Brock-Shogue), our Gnome druid. In this setting gnomes are more like forces of nature who take physical form. So one day a a gnome might pop out of a grove of trees, mountainside, or waterfall and feel like learning what it's like to be a squishy humanoid for a while. Broc popped out of nature with a green bread & a pair of stag horns. He joined our party, mostly because he wanted to see what kings were like, and decided to go along for the adventure

The mini comes from the Stonehaven Miniatures' gnome range. I even got the mini for free. I contacted Stonehaven about a miscast I received from the Elven Adventurers kickstarter, and asked if I could purchase the gnome and consolidate shipping. They said they'd simply send me both for free. Great customer service. Unfortunately Broecksiog wields a staff rather than a halberd, so I trimmed & reshaped the blade a bit.

Here are a few shots from before I clipped off the glaive portion.

Keeping with the seasonal theme, and the fact he had a green beard, I wanted our druid to wear natural Spring colors. I wasn't sure what color to make the surcoat, but I wanted something light, so I eventually landed on light blue. Lavender might've been a better choice, but oh well. I'm fairly satisfied.

With that, I've completed the whole party. Here's our motley band of misfits:
This is one of the first times I actually completed an entire group of PCs before the end of the campaign (the other that I can remember was a D&D Castlevania game a few years back). As a whole group I think they stand together fairly well, while being individually pleasing minis. I'd say that Bran, the cleric stands out as being the most different compared to the other minis, just because he's taller, & doesn't share many colors with the rest of the party.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Star Wars Imperial Assault: Fenn Signis & Jyn Odan

Over the Summer I ended up taking a few community college classes to brush up on some of the subjects I might be teaching this school year. During a few lectures I'd open a firefox window on my laptop & skim over gaming rumors, GW minis, painting blogs & whatnot. It was a bit of a distraction, but it kept my mind from wandering too far.

During one break a guy approached me, said he noticed I was looking at miniatures, and asked if I knew anything about painting, and if so, if I ever did commissions.

Why yes, yes I do.

Apparently he really enjoys Imperial Assault, & wanted a few of his figures painted up nicely. A week later he handed them off to me along with his phone number and a request that I try to paint them close to their character portraits. Unfortunately I promptly lost the number after one of my kids "helped" clean out my laptop case. Regardless, I did my best on the minis he entrusted me to paint:

The original character portraits:

The minis are kinda soft, like most PVC, but still sturdy enough to hold up to some handling. I boiled & reshaped the weapons & Jyn's posture a bit, but other than that they were fairly stable. They're far better minis than the Fantasy Flight Adventurers I painted last year (David & Maki). Both are fairly well detailed, and although Jyn's face suffers a bit from the flatness you can see with PVC sometimes it wasn't the worst I'd dealt with. 

Painting-wise I stayed fairly close, Painting Fenn's visor was an entertaining challenge that required a good bit of blending. I think I fudged the color of Jyn's coat a bit. The portrait shows a darker orange than I painted. Maybe I'll add a wash of Fuegan Orange to tone it down. We'll see if he likes it.


(Good news, while tidying my kids' room tonight I found his number, so I can actually give them back.)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Meet the PC: Nightbreeze, Elven ranger

One of my favorite parts about tabletop roleplaying is finding, modeling, and painting the perfect miniatures for our party PCs. I've been doing this for years now, and thought I'd share some of these characters with you.

I think this makes my fourth or fifth elven ranger character (1, 2, 3, 4th hasn't been photographed yet)

Again from "King for a Day," Nightbreeze is our deadly, stealthy, two-weapon-wielding, ranger. In the campaign world there are a handful of godlike dragons that rule over the mortal, fey, and shadow realms with an iron claw, and Nightbreeze left her home to find out how to kill the dragon that rules over her elven nation. She first went to the dying king (since he once led a party to slay one of the dragons) but became wrapped up in the party's quest to find his successor.

I thought the best mini to represent her was Reaper's Deladrin.  I knew I'd need a weapon swap, so I chose to use the Bones version. I needed two identical elven-looking blades on the cheap, so I found some loose Lord of the Rings minis at my FLGS and stole their swords. I paid a bit more than I wanted, but it works well.

I wanted to strike a balance between summery and stealthy, so I went for citrussy olive green armor, a dark blue undersuit, and deep green cloak. I had been planning on painting to scarf a light grey, but Yorrik reminded me that we'd just come across a yellow magic scarf that was perfect for a two-weapon fighter like Nightbreeze.

More later,


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Meet the PC: Myev, Kobold Warlock

One of my favorite parts about tabletop roleplaying is finding, modeling, and painting the perfect miniatures for our party PCs. I've been doing this for years now, and thought I'd share some of these characters with you.

Myev is one of the weirder members of our King for a Day band. She (or He maybe? You can never tell with reptiles) is an emissary from a nation of swamp kobolds attempting to open up trade deals with a neighboring kingdom. Unfortunately, the king was on his deathbed & his successor is missing, so She/He joined the hunt for him, & continues to try to negotiate along the way. At one point she tried to offer military support, cuz who doesn't want an army of kobolds? Myev follows a Cthulu-like entity, although we haven't really gotten into that facet of the character.

There weren't a lot of options for Kobold magic users, so I decided to go the easy route & use the Kobold Sorcerer. Yorrik had it already, so all the better. Yes it has sunglasses, a fact I didn't realize until I started painting. It's like a little lizard Morpheus.

 I wasn't sure about how to paint this mini. I'd blocked out seasonal-themed colors for the other PCs, but Myev here was the fifth character. I knew the player wanted Myev to have grey-green skin, so I started there. I then added some maroon to complement, & decided to make everything else dark & swampy. It makes the green pop fairly well, so I think it plays nicely.


Friday, September 4, 2015

Meet the PC: Tarn Hillhaven, Human Bard

One of my favorite parts about tabletop roleplaying is finding, modeling, and painting the perfect miniatures for our party PCs. I've been doing this for years now, and thought I'd share some of these characters with you.

Continuing the minis from Yorrik's "King for a Day" campaign, today's PC is Tarn Hillhaven, a Skald attempting to find his missing lord. It just so happens the old king was on his death bed & declared the missing noble his successor, so now the PCs are trying to find him before the whole kingdom erupts into civil war (it might have already, but we're in the mountains at the moment). He's more of a long-range character, shooting his bow, casting spells, & buffing the team from a distance.

When I was deciding on color schemes I'd originally wanted to do a seasonal theme, where the cleric, Bran represented Winter, our druid in Spring colors, the ranger in Summer, and Tarn here in Autumn colors (I'd forgotten we had a fifth PC, a warlock). I figure bards should be more vibrant, so I liked orange & a reddish purple for him.

This is actually the first mini I've painted up from my Bones II kickstarter. It's the Pathfinder Eando Kline mini. I mentioned in my last Meet the PC how hard it was to find a good human minis wielding a bow, so I decided to look for something I could do a weapon-swap with. Fortunately Eando here has two empty hands.

One of the good things about Bones minis is that they're really easy to carve, so it was really easy to cut a gap in the back of his hand, fit the whole bow into the gap then refill the back of the hand with greenstuff.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Meet the PC: Vincent, Half-elf Ranger

One of my favorite parts about tabletop roleplaying is finding, modeling, and painting the perfect miniatures for our party PCs. I've been doing this for years now, and thought I'd share some of these characters with you.

A while back I took part in a 13th Age game led by Yorrik. It was my chance to finally play a Dwarf Rogue, and my buddy Anthony’s first time joining my gaming group. He gravitates towards wizards, but decided to branch out for this campaign, & opted for a Ranger. Specifically he chose a half-elven military scout. 

In 13th Age, each character has a “one special thing” built in as part of the character, a defining characteristic, or interesting story element. Vincent’s “one thing” was that he was cursed to tell the truth whenever he’s asked a question. It made negotiating kinda difficult.

The mini is the Ivy Crown Archer from Reaper’s Crusader line. I actually bought this mini during my trip to Reaper HQ two years ago. It is remarkably difficult to find a bow-wielding human that doesn’t look like he’s been living in the woods for a decade, mountain man style. This guy, while not perfect, fit the bill for a military bowman.

To make him accurate, I modeled a some pointy corners to his ears to make him a half-elf, and replaced his sword with an axe. overall a simple conversion. I chose to give him an earthy red uniform matched with brown & bronze to give him a more utilitarian look. He's supposed to have a wolfhound companion, but in the last encounter the big boss monster swallowed it whole. If we ever play again, and if he gets a new animal companion, I'll paint him something new.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Meet the PC: Bran, Human Cleric

One of my favorite parts about tabletop roleplaying is finding, modeling, and painting the perfect miniatures for our party PCs. I've been doing this for years now, and thought I'd share some of these characters with you.

Between wife, kids, work and school I really haven't played nearly as many roleplaying games as I'd like in the last few years. Playing fewer games mean fewer character, & fewer PC's to paint. It's been a while since I've shown off a PC though, so here's my latest.

Earlier this year Yorrik wanted to DM a 5th edition D&D campaign he'd come up with called "King for a Day" that takes place on an island roughly based on post-Roman empire Ireland. The island is dominated by humans, but still had a number of fae/elves/dwarves to go around. Our band of adventurers/misfits/heroes were sent by a dying king to rally an army to prevent a civil war, then things went askew. It happens.

Since this was my first time playing 5E, & probably one of the last chances I'd have to play for a while, I wanted to go for a class I rarely play, & I quickly narrowed it down to Cleric. I've always wanted to use this mini, so I let it dictate a good bit of my character.

Bran here is a cleric of the Raven Queen, using the Death domain from the DMG). In the setting Gods are a bit more active in humanity & actually give insight to their clerics (called godwalkers). Bran tends to travel & deliver messages from his queen, which isn't always well received (probably why he has the big sword). The domain is an odd setup, so he's lightly armored, but has access to heavier weapons. In fights I put him at mid-range, able to cast spells, but run into melee when he needs to. The mini is Reaper's Reeve the Pious.  

While I like the mini, it's way overpriced for a simple design. I managed to purchase it when they released the high-lead P-65 line, so the cost was a bit more reasonable. The hooded face was a bit tricky. A lot of the paintjobs I saw emphasize his square jaw, but I tried to soften it a bit. I wanted to play up the winter/death domain a bit so I chose a colder palette, blues & greys. I think it reads pretty well, & gives a good impression of what the character is all about: a holy man who'll cut you down if he needs to.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Days 30 & 31: Necron Lord & Autarch

Here are the last two minis I intended to complete in July.

The first is a limited edition Necron Lord that was only available by buying the original large army box from Games Workshop. I've had it for years, and I know it originally belonged to my old Navy roommate, but I don't really know how it ended up in my bits box. We often bought minis off one another, or swapped minis, or painted for one another, so I don't know if my current ownership of this guy is an accident, or he result of a trade.

Oh well. as long as I have him, he might as well be painted.
I painted him in the same scheme as the Pariah above, which is my take on the Nekthyst Dynasty. I was a lot less generous with the gold this time around. I wanted to the shroud to look like a faded old garment that it was buried with, but it looks a bit more like an old rag to me.

 Finally, a Saim-Hann Autarch. I've had this mini since the 2006 codex came out, but I never had a plan for him. A while back another Navy friend & I decided to do a mini exchange. I was originally going to paint up a Phoenix Lord for him, but it turned out he already had one. I knew he played Saim-Hann, and they're a fast army, so I slapped Swooping Hawks wings on this guy & got to painting. 

It's overall a nice figure, but there are a few spots I'm not thrilled about. You can't tell from the photo, but there are a few lumpy white area of the helmet. I had to replace my white paint as I was completing this guy & the new one wasn't really smooth. It's not too bad though, and still a good way to finish the project.

So there it is, the end of my Month-o-Minis challenge. I didn't quite finish in time this year, but there's always next year. I hope you enjoyed the result.