Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dwarves by Reaper Miniature

A Drove of Dwarves
 (OKay, so maybe eleven dwarves does not a drove make)

Recently we received a small order of dwarves, from a new customer, manufactured by Reaper.  As you well know, I love working with Reaper figures; they are detailed but not excessive.  These dwarves are a perfect example of how so much character can be built in a miniature without the need for over-the-top baubles and bits.
The following is not so much a tutorial on how I painted each figure, but why I made the choices I did.

Overall I realize that I could have gone the route of the dingy dwarf; dirty, dark, disheveled....but I'd rather reflect the Gimlis and Bruenors of the dwarf world, those that drink and fight and fight and drink, yet still remain classy <<chuckle>>.

Dwarven Brewmeister set (2+1), Nord Kegbreaker
The Dwaren Brewmeister set was cute.  The keg was already going to be a big block of brown on the figure so I wanted to balance it out with other pops of color.  Because the keg is riding on back of the one dwarf I opted to make him a bit brighter with the blue over-coat and blonde hair.  His cap, looking more like a knit than a leather or fur, is striped to add that bit of whimsy.  Serving himself a drink, the dwarf with the copper mug changes things up from the standard silver tankard.  He wears a grayed purple and green, more subdued than the keg-carrier but still enough to counter the weight of the brown keg.  In terracotta and grayed green the stand-alone-figure maintains color without being too bold.

Nord Kegbreaker also gave me a chuckle.  I didn't want him to look 'evil' with his skull adornments so I chose a bright sky blue robe with white fur trim to balance out a darker, duskier cloak.  I typically go by the rule that the longer the beard the older the dwarf so Nord must be older, therefore he gets a darker, gray beard.

I think that people make the wrong choices in how they paint because they aren't considering the balance of the figure.  Take that stand-alone with the tankard, leave his outfit the same color and imagine him with a brown beard - WRONG - that brown beard blends in too much with the hat, face, gloves, tunic - now it just looks like a brown blob.  Give him the blonde beard, just one little difference, and it separates his upper half from his lower - it makes you look at his face and the glisten of his tankard.  If you study art and painting, they teach you the same concept about paintings; that's what makes some of the greats The Greats!


Below, Brag Ironballs is wearing primarily chainmail - gray (or gold if you so choose).  That leaves him as a sink of gray/silver so I wanted something to balance that out, brighten it up - I chose ochre.  Another reason I chose the ochre was because I was going to give him a dark beard and hair and didn't want it to blend in.
Quimby Copperthumb needed a red beard to go with his surname.  As for his clothes I used an olive green to compliment his beard and the gray cloak is meant to neutralize.  I didn't want to go with a brownish cloak because he already has that sack over his shoulder which I wanted brown like a burlap or canvas. 
Brag Ironballs, Quimby Copperthumb, Gord Ironhead, Brock Battlebow
In the turquoise is Gord Ironhead, cloak flailing behind him.  I said I wanted to brighten things up but also keep them natural, the turquoise on Gord is bright enough so his padded vest is a neutral beige.  His cloak is burnt orange with a brown fur trim; like red, orange goes well with turquoise.  Originally the cloak was more orange and a little too bright, I washed it in chestnut in order to tune it down.
Last in the grouping is Brock Battlebow.  I'm not sure what to say about him.  Nothing really inspired me about this figure.  Nothing really leaped out and screamed "paint me this color" like a lot of figures do.  I think I went with the bright green shirt because very little of it was exposed which makes the usage of it tolerable.  All his brown leathers help to tone it down, plus I like the way green balances with red and I typically make the fletching of arrows red.  That also goes for his gem-ed belt buckle, I love red gems and the fire that they produce, so green is a good option.


There was great debate in this household about Spike the Warmaster; Bob felt that all his spikes should be metal, I thought that they should be horn/claw.  If you look closely there is actually a compromise; I painted some of them horn and some metal additions.  His armor is actually a greenish-gold color which I felt made it seem like it came from some great, horny beast to which Spike would have added more metal spikes.  What little is exposed of his tunic is bright blue, adding just enough color.

Next we have Odum Rumblebeard, the wizard.  The only thing that took thought on this figure was his potion belts; I couldn't identify anything.  Turns out there are numerous potions, some pouches, an hourglass, etc.  His robe appeared to have scales on the back and the sides looked like lizard flesh so I went with a baby, red dragon hide.  I thought that the rams head staff was very cool so I gilded its eyes and the runic symbol.  My favorite part, of course, is the scroll; I love doing little tiny detail work on scrolls and books.  This one has a glowing dwarven rune that actually fades into the back of the paper.  No, the scroll doesn't actually say anything, I mean, it is just scribble - but let me tell you - I have gotten pretty good at scribble that looks like writing. :-)

Spike the Warmaster, Odum Rumblebeard Dwarf Wizard, King Norin Silverbeard
Lastly, King Norin Silverbeard.  As his surname states, that beard must be silvery and so it is.  I think his armor is a no-brainer, he needs to be clad in kingly gold with lots of gems.  End of story.

Yes, I do usually allow the names to inspire me.  Why not?  Take advantage of something that is already available to you, the people at Reaper put those names on the package - do something with them.  This is how I make D&D characters too; I go to The Toy Soldier Gallery hobby shop in Ligonier, pick out a Reaper mini, come home and paint it and then roll the dice.  I try not to over think things, if I can help it, if I can help myself.

With Love, 
Notice the scroll.  Obviously it doesn't say anything, but I feel like it helps when I say words in my head as I'm writing - I think it influences my strokes.  Plus, I write upside down.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Russian Hordes! WWII Soviet Flames of War Infantry

So just how many 15mm Battlefront figures are in a 17.5 pound box? The answer is approximately 2200. This is the first batch of figures for that customer's order. There are about 500 figures in this first batch.

The figures are still on the painting sticks as the customer will do his own basing. This makes the figures appear a bit darker in the photos.

The block of approximately 500 Soviet infantry

Close up of some of the command figures

More command figures

Kind of a funny story about this order: I took this on vacation with us while we were in Florida visiting Allison's family. It was a two week trip so there was plenty of down time while people were at work so that gave us plenty of time to work on it. I was in a hurry packing it up to take with us and in my rush I didn't throw all of my references and colors in I would need. As a result, I painted the gas mask pouches on the left hip of the figures wrong. Well, not wrong as there was quite a bit of variety in the color of the WWII Soviet equipment but it wasn't the color I prefer for that piece of equipment; the color I usually see it shown as. So I decided to repaint all 500 gas mask pouches. Five hours later, I was more satisfied with how they looked bu tit was a time and money costly adjustment!

The customer may not end up needing all 2200 figures for his army so that is one reason we will be doing the order in batches. It also helps my sanity so I don't have to paint all that khaki in one go!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Blood Bowl Figures

Recently, Bob and I were commissioned to paint six sets of Blood Bowl, also known as Elf Ball, figures.  So far, I've painted the two Dwarf teams; the Lizardmen, Siringit, Deadling, and Sarcos teams are still sitting the bench.  The male Dwarf team is from Games Workshop while the Shield Maiden team is from Warlord Games.  The other four unpainted, benched teams aforementioned are from Impact Miniatures, except for the Lizardmen which are also GW.

A lot can be done with the Blood Bowl/Elf Ball teams and I was a little torn when beginning the painting process.  So I allowed myself to be inspired by what I am surrounded with and other non-sport entities.  I'll confess, I'm not a sports person.  I am a dedicated dork and bibliophile whose exercise primarily consists of LARPing and gardening.  Bob is no better, by the way.  This is to say that Bob and I don't follow teams and are not particularly extrinsically competitive; although we cheer when our local teams win.  Therefore, it is terribly amusing that I (of all people) should be concerned about the uniforms and which real football teams our clients root for. 

When I asked Bob what teams he thought K and S (our clients) cheered for he shot me the strangest look, one that read, "Woman, what were you drinking?"  I told him I was bothered and needed to know.  He told me that he would take the teams away from me and that I could paint 15mm Germans.  So, under the threat of having the teams taken away and the painting of WWII Germans, I made my own choices.  This may seem rather harsh but I'm terribly obsessive compulsive and will dwell on the painting of a figure for hours - even days.  As you may realize, being obsessive compulsive isn't a good or effective business practice.  :-)

Steel Curtain Goes Mithril

Bob and I are from Western Pennsylvania, so who could not be inspired by The Steelers?  Plus, the play-on-words with Steel and Mithril was just too hard to pass up.    All of my friends and family are Steelers fans and during football season it's all you see on the news.  I felt that the Dwarf Blood Bowl team was made for The Steelers' colors of black and gold.  This is what I mean by being inspired by what surrounds me.

Yes, the Blood Bowl team came with numerical and runic decals but when I went to apply them they really wouldn't stick no matter what technique I used.  When in doubt, hand paint.  I don't have a lot of trouble detailing small things like numbers, letters or designs, so painting these wasn't that troublesome or time consuming.  Unless I've had a cup of coffee, then we've got some trouble.  Caffeine + Allison = :-(

If you look closely, you can pick out that there are actually three figures painted as Steelers team-members: Troy Polamalu 43, Brett Keisel 99 and Ben Roethlisberger 7.  I suppose I could have painted more to resemble team-members but honestly off the top of my head I don't know any other football players' names.  I would have included Ward, but with his recent departure from The Steelers I felt it was a little touchy.  See, I told you I gave this too much thought.

Butt Kickin' Babes

This team of Shield Maidens, on the other hand, are more outside inspiration rather than any real sports team.  I have this recent fascination with hot pink; let's not ponder why.  Contemplating my recent purchases of hot pink nail polish (of which my toes are currently painted) and hot pink, plaid pajama bottoms (that I am currently wearing at 11:30 AM) I hit on the fact that I wanted these saucy Shield Maidens to be plated in pimp-slappin' hot pink and purple.

You might be wondering why they all have blonde hair (or that three have red hair) and that none of them are brunettes.  Well, that's because I was going with a Valkyrie-esque type of team.  Although I am rarely politically correct I wasn't really trying to suggest that blondes have more fun or that ... oh who am I kidding, I enjoy stereotypes...using them to my advantage and using them to go against.

Had I painted the uniforms red and black, the hair of the figures would have been brunettes and reds (more auburn).  I would have wanted them to have a darker image, more dangerous and threatening.  Dark purple and black would also work for a team like that.

The only way I would have painted these particular hot pink figures with dark hair is if I wanted to go with a punk/goth look. I then would have added colored streaks to the hair and instead of red hair as the alternative I would have done white hair. Additionally I would have given them tattoos and body paint and/or heavy makeup.  Oh the choices!

As always, these two teams were an adventure.  With the myriad of choices in realistic team colors and even the idea that they could be totally made up, the task of painting can often be daunting.  When given too many choices, go with your gut feeling and be inspired by the teams around you or even by what you're wearing (although I doubt many men are wearing hot pink - I know I can't get Bob in a pink shirt).  I've mentioned before in other blog posts about giving your figures life and personality.  Look at it this way, be theatrical, be comical, make your figures into caricatures...otherwise you may end up making them boring.

With Love,