88347 Half-Orc Fighter

Finally back at the table after a long summer of traveling. I’m going to make a big push now to finish up the Ahmut’s Legion faction. First up is the Half-Orc Fighter, showing the characteristic Chainmail pose of gesturing forcefully to the left.

Despite the generic pose and the lack of facial definition, the figure itself is pretty fun to paint. The texture contrasts between the fur cloak and the armor are nicely done. I went with Reaper khaki shadow for the clothing under the armor. I was aiming for a military look. Shadows were done with Agrax Earthshade, as usual, and the contrasting armor straps are blackened brown. The cloak itself was a chestnut brown layered over with a wash and then a drybrush of palomino gold. The inside was the usual tanned effect: a mix of pink and blood red for a base and a wash of Vallejo skin wash ink. Armor was Vallejo gunmetal with silver highlights and reflective spots.

I do wish these figures had better facial features. Both this and the half-orc assassin are really mushy in the face. For skin, I used a mix of heather blue and dark elf skin, building up to blue in the highlights.

I accidentally purchased a D&D 3.5 Half-Orc Assassin (88266) online thinking it was the Chainmail fig (88940). Alas, they’re not the same. The chainmail fig lacks a lot of the detail and character of the later fig.

So I’m going to paint them together…

88110 Slaughterpit Zombie Gnoll

So here’s the last of the three in my backlog. No more new painting until I’m back at my table at the end of August. This one has so many planes and surfaces that it’s actually very hard to photograph well. Not for the first time do I wish I had a proper camera and light box for these photos. Regardless, this will have to do for now:

I confess I had a lot of anxiety about starting this one. The assembly process was not the worst in the Chainmail line (looking at you, Zombie Troglodytes), but with four separate pieces, one of which is the entire upper end of the figure, it looked intimidating.

I needn’t have worried. I put down a layer of milliput at the join between the head and torso. The result was a little rough, but I decided to make this a seam where the corpse was stitched together. I kind of think the sculptor was inviting this interpretation because the chainmail on the head piece doesn’t really match the torso chainmail. The right hand comes attached to the head, an artifact of the casting process. Most painters leave it as is, which I think looks bad. It was a cinch to clip it off and bend the arm upward into a more natural pose.

The whole figure has a real John Carpenter/body horror feel to it which I love. The extra head emerging from the stomach is a nice touch. To get the feel of raw flesh, I painted the base layer of skin in a Reaper fair skin which I washed with two applications of Reykland Fleshshade. On that I built up to the gnoll’s brown skin with many many diluted glazes of mahogany brown. I tried to keep the glaze out of crevices and off edges–basically the opposite of what you’d do if you were washing to shade. The result is a sort of raw, blistered look that works really well, I think.

Fur patches are Reaper blackened brown, and I used blood red to highlight wounds and suture points. The faces in particular gave a lot of opportunities to play around with tones and overlapping surfaces. That decaying mouth looks amazing.

I’d like to go back and weather the sword with some rust effects, but I didn’t have my pigments with me when I painted this. After I sprayed on a couple of coats of lacquer, I finished the wounds with Nurgle’s Rot. That looks awesome too, I think.

In the end, this is a very nice, creatively sculpted and fun to paint piece. The end of Ahmut’s Legion is in sight!

I also finished up a bunch of other classic D&D minis this past month. A Marid from the old Ral Partha AD&D line:

A troll from the WotC 3.5e minis line (I’d primed this guy a year ago and didn’t know how to do him justice):

…and a few more townsfolk:

88550 Human Shadow Priest

I held off painting this figure for a while, as it’s one of the rarer ones in the Chainmail line. The shield, in particular, is superb and is easily plundered for kit-bashing. I have another one of these figures without a shield that I’ll find something to do with, I’m sure.

The pose is great. Among the best in the game. The figure suffers from none of the flatness that is typical for Chainmail. There is a lot of subtle detail in the face that rewards careful painting.

My shading on the loincloth is not the best here. I could have used another couple of transitional shades. As before, I got the vivid yellow by shading in cream tones and then glazing with a yellow ink.

I wanted a matte black effect on the armor, so I went with a non-metallic paint and did some non-metallic metal effects in the highlighted areas. My first pass was way too detailed and wound up distracting from the whole. I repainted and put in some very abrupt transitions on edges and curves. I’m pretty happy with the result, though, as always, my lines could be cleaner.

The shield is much rougher than I’d like. Yellow is difficult to work with and every black smudge took multiple layers of yellow to clean up, leading to yellow smudges and an endless cycle of mediocrity. This is kind of detail work is definitely where I struggle the most. The emblem on the shield is a Vallejo gunmetal gray. I really like the texture contrast there.

The standouts here are the staff and the base. I went over the jewel with multiple glazes, working up from a marbled light green to successively darker shades of green. I gave the final version and extra coat of glossy lacquer.

For the base, I had a bunch of skulls from a Kickstarter I backed a few months ago. Digging through the box, I came across a skeletal torso and had the great idea of posing the base in the middle of a reanimation. The arms had to be repositioned but the final effect is wonderfully lurid.

88881 Skeletal Equiceph

I’ve got a backlog of figures to post and then I’m on a two month painting hiatus for the summer while I travel. I’ve been pushing to finish up the Ahmut’s Legion faction and I’m almost there, but it’s clear I won’t make it until the fall. I have left the Gallowsgaunt (which would be a quick job), two different half-orc figures (three, actually, more on that later…), and the zombie minotaur, which will be complicated. I’ll probably finish by September or early October now.

First up is the Skeletal Equiceph. I’d done one of these months back and then lost momentum with the other. Frankly, I’m glad I waited. It only took me a couple of days to paint and I think it’s pretty clear that I’m getting better at this.

The figure on the right is the old one. The sculpt itself is great. It’s a sturdy figure that feels great in the hand, almost like a chess piece. There’s only one element to glue: the glaive and hands. I’m not sure what I did wrong the first time; the handle is bent in a weird way. The new one looks better though.

One of the things that makes this so much fun to paint is the overlapping textures and clear demarcations between them. It’s an extremely clean sculpt skillfully rendered. The figure itself is one that I think was invented for the Chainmail game. I haven’t checked old Monster Manuals or Greyhawk sourcebooks, but I think I recall reading that the designers wanted a unique undead type for the game. The result is this: a kind of backward centaur. It’s meant to be an extinct race discovered by the faction and resurrected as an undead army. The newer, plastic figures that were made after Chainmail was cancelled retains the figure, but the sculpt is cartoonish where this version is sharp and clear:

I painted it using Vallejo metallics. I almost never use the Reaper ones now, the difference in quality is so stark. The leather undercoat is Reaper chestnut brown and the fur is stormy gray with a lighter drybrush to bring up the texture.

The bone itself is Reaper dirty bone. The difference between the final versions is a function of me figuring out how to use the citadel technical paints I’ve posted about earlier. On the newer version I was much more liberal and strategic in applying Typhus Corrosion, which is a textured gray paint that gives the exact impression of encrusted dirt. It’s amazing stuff and it works everywhere. I used it on both figs to muck up the blade and armor. On the newer one, I also used it for the bone to add another layer of texture and grit. I was going for a just-dug-from-a-grave look.

The other technical paint, really the reason I bought them in the first place, is Nihilakh Oxide. This is wonderful to work with. I played around with verdigris effects on the armor of the Drazens Orc Gangfighters. There I used a simple green wash and the effect was muted to the point of invisible. I read a few tutorials and thought about using alcohol and raw pigments like I did for the rust on the skeletal orcs a few months ago. But then I found Nihilakh Oxide and I honestly don’t know why anyone would use anything else.

The method is to lay down a layer of Typhus Corrosion in areas you want a buildup of verdigris. Then you go over it with Nihilakh Oxide to tint and add more texture. My first try was too heavy and came out a little cartoonish.

Not bad, but the second try looks amazing, I think. Really realistic:

I may go back and use it on the Orc Gangfighters, though that’s obviously a low priority at the moment.

So there you have it: Skeletal Equicephs. One of the simplest, most elegant, most creative sculpts in the Chainmail line. Next up: the Shadow Priest…

88712 Zombie Troglodyte

It’s been a while. A combination of end-of-the-school-year business and other painting projects conspired to keep me from finishing these guys up.

I’m not a huge fan of the figures. Like the Chainmail skeletal orcs, they have a weird and cumbersome assembly process. Here, there are two short arm pieces that are separate from the stone axe, requiring four separate points to glue. Figuring out how to assemble them took me a while. In fact, once I got the hang of it, I powered through and did all four of these zombies in my collection, rather than having to go back and relearn how to put them together.

The sculpt itself suffers from the usual Chainmail tendency toward two-dimensionality. The effect is even worse here than with the skeletal orcs. There, at least, the core figure had some lateral bulk, and the glued-on elements helped to give the mini some interesting angles. There’s none of that here.

All that said, once I got into painting them, the process was fun. The figure’s dessicated skin and lurid hanging entrails (seriously, so gross), made for some fun painting. I’m still using the Painters Touch spray can primer. I’m treating this as a problem solved and don’t expect I’ll use anything else unless I splurge on an airbrush at some point.

The base color for the skin is Reaper highland moss, with pale lichen as a highlight. The guts and torn skin were a mixture of a pink promo paint I got from Reaper mixed with blood red. I built up from a pinkish color to something more lurid.  The bones are Reaper aged bone, and I used Agrax Earthshade and a blood red wash to give depth to the skin and the underlying flesh, respectively.

The stone axe is Reaper shadowed stone, using weathered stone as a highlight. Figuring out how to do lines on the stone taxed my limited skills.

The fun part of this was finishing the hanging entrails with Citadel’s Nurgle’s Rot, one of the GW technical paints that I’m really enjoying at the moment. It comes out of the pot looking like green snot, and it dries leaving a stringy, gooey texture that is awesome.

Here, by the way, is a piece I finished a few weeks ago using another technical paint: Blood for the Blood God. Getting the spatter right literally left my desk looking like I’d opened a vein.

Next up, I have another Skeletal Equiceph to do. And I’m prepping a piece I’ve been looking forward to painting for a while: the human shadow priest. Seriously, check this guy out:

96290 Hill Giant

I finally got around to finishing up the Hill Giant.  It was this figure, in particular that put me off brush-on primers.  So, I’d prepped him months back and then stripped him while I made some progress on the Ahmut’s Legion figures.  Over the spring break I sat down and finally wrapped him up.  I have mixed feelings about the final product, but in the main, I think he looks great.FullSizeRender 11.jpg

This guy is huge and heavy.  Here’s a picture alongside a normal 28mm figure for reference:
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It comes in seven separate pieces and, I have to say, my pinning and gap-filling job was not the best here.  I did a lot of coverup with my paint job and the overall effect isn’t too bad.  Still, I know it’s there.  The right wrist, in particular, looks pretty bad.

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This was my first experiment using a liner and I like the definition it added to the transitions.  I had to try multiple applications to get it thin enough.  I realized, finally, that the way to do it is to apply the liner first and then go over with the regular paint job to make the lines thin enough not to be obtrusive.


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Skin tone is reaper tanned flesh with an application of Reikland Fleshshade.  I leaned heavily on Agrax Earthshade, especially on the feet to give a dirty appearance.  The model itself had some weird suggestion of whispy facial hair on the chin.  I tried to paint it, did a crap job, and decided instead to give him sideburns.  Despite the overall quality of the sculpt, the shrunken heads on his belt were pretty poorly defined.  So they look less than awesome up close.  But otherwise, I’m really glad to have this finished.

This represents the end of the Drazen’s Horde faction.  I have a few other duplicate pieces I’ll paint at some point, but I have a full run now.  When I get a chance, I’ll pose the whole faction together and make a few photos for the blog.  In the meantime, I need to push to finish up Ahmut’s Legion.

88380a/b Ghoul

I had been a little hesitant to paint up these guys because the reference photos on the Chainmail packaging are just awful.


To my surprise, though, the figures are actually really great.  They are a quick paint job and they’ve got great texture and definition,


The paint job was quick and easy: an initial coat of Reaper vampiric skin and then a Reikland Fleshshade wash, followed by two layers of highlights with vampiric skin and linen white.  I kept a wet look by finishing them with a gloss lacquer.  I realized that you can get a nice effect for undead creatures by painting eyes in a contrasting color (here pale green) and then applying a quick dab of flesh-colored wash to define the eyeball in the socket.


Hair is reaper blackened brown, which is my new go-to for a black shade that doesn’t suck up all available light.


Like most of the Ahmut’s Legion figures, I’m basing these using a brown base, a layer of crackle paint, then another brown wash and a darker wash to bring out the texture.  The bones here are from the recently concluded RBJ Games Kickstarter.  I now have skulls for days, but I’ll probably need to re-up on bones and skeletal fragments soon.  I really like how these bases turned out, though.

I’m halfway through painting up the Skeletal Equicephs.  I should finish the other one this week.

FullSizeRender 4.jpgIn the meantime, though, I’ve finally re-primed the Hill Giant and plan on finally finishing up the Drazen’s Horde run.  Depending on if I can get him right the first time or not, I hope to have that done by mid-week.  We’ll see.

88710 Skeletal War Dog

This was a quick afternoon job. Two different colors of bone, a brown wash, and some metallic details. The sculpt is fine. Glued together there’s a little gap in the right front shoulder, but the primer seems to have filled it in adequately.

Next up are the ghouls. Two are primed and waiting to be basecoated. Two more will get primed tomorrow. I’m also assembling a box of GW Sylvaneth Dryads to be used as twig blights in my Sunless Citadel game. First time I’ve assembled GW plastic figs. I can see the appeal. The sculpts are great and you get a lot of control over the final product. I’ll never take plastic as seriously as I do metal, though.

88358 Skeletal Orc

I’ve been sitting on these guys for a while and I finally dug in and painted them. This is the first batch using a spray primer. I went with Rustoleum Painters Touch. The other one I’d heard recommended–Dupli-Color Sandable Primer–was hard to find. It apparently has a grit mixed in that is intended to fill in gaps, but which can obscure detail in a model. I feel like my first application was too thick; some detail was lost here too. The surface is easy to paint, though, so I’ll be experimenting with how to apply a thinner coat.

The figure itself is maybe the most frustrating one from the Chainmail line that I’ve yet painted. The pose is great and the skull looks amazing. But the torso is only thinly connected to the hips and any lateral pressure makes the whole piece bend precariously. I had to reinforce one with glue before priming. The other absolute pain with this piece is the arm and axe element. It’s too small to pin, has two points of contact on two separate axes, and is positioned perfectly so that if the piece falls or is dropped, the initial point of contact is the axe, which causes the whole part to pop off. If it’s glued securely, then the axe will break at the left hand. I must have glued each of these at least five times before finishing. I had four originally, but one broke on falling and can’t easily be reassembled.

The big experiment here was using raw pigments to create a rust effect on the axe blade, the spear lodged in the orc’s ribcage, and the metal element on the left wrist. I used isopropyl alcohol to prepare the surface, and applied varying mixtures of burnt umber, indian red, and mars orange pigment. The first was almost exclusively red.

The second and third were mixtures of all three, build up from an umber base layer to a dusting of orange on edges.

By the time I got to the third, I’d worked out a method: initial applications of pigment were too heavy and blotchy to seem realistic. So I loosely mixed red and orange pigment into a combination of Vallejo silver and glaze medium. This gives a corroded metal look that could be reapplied at the edges to look like rust flaking off. I haven’t nailed it yet, but even at this stage, the weathering effect is really cool.

Next up are the skeletal war dogs. They’re small and simple. I hope to finish them over the weekend.

88353 Battered Skeletal Troll

A bunch of things have kept me from getting much painting done over the last few months. This one was finished back in January, but I didn’t get around to posting it at the time.

It’s a pretty straightforward piece. Not a lot of color or texture variation. The curved neck was a pain to glue. Too small to pin and very precarious while the glue was curing.

Shading was done with a heavy layer of Agrax Earthshade. It’s hard to see, but there’s a yellow cloth tied on the right arm that gives the Ahmut faction color.

I just finished the skeletal orcs as well. I’ll post them shortly.