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.

88590 Hobgoblin Adept

Finally finished the last of the hobgoblins:

This was fun to paint. The model has a lot of textural detail that made for interesting work. The pose is simple and the only assembly needed is the banner on his back. I went with a reaper bleached linen and buckskin pale (2:1) tint on the undercloak and shadowed by replacing palomino gold for buckskin pale. The result was still too harsh, so I finished with a light gray glaze.

Faction colors are in the waist sash and the banner. I went with purple for the shoulder sash to give more color variation. The chainmail underneath was a pain in the ass to paint. The lettering on the banner is phoenecian (D/H for Drazen’s Horde).

One piece left and I’ve officially painted all of this faction. I’m having a serious problem with my primer, and it’s threatening to hold me up. I’m using Vallejo surface primer (grey) and mixing it with a little black to darken it up. This gives an absolutely ideal painting surface, in my experience. But the grey foams and bubbles really badly. Usually I can catch this when I’m brushing the primer on. But not always. Even this Hobgoblin has a pitted surface in places because of these annoying bubbles:

You can see what I’m talking about on his right bicep and on the rightmost banner. The Hill Giant is even worse:

So I’m going to have to strip him down and reapply the base coat. I know the real solution is to graduate from brush-on primer to airbrushing. I’m not ready for that yet, though.

Keep an eye out for the first Ahmut’s Legion units to appear this week or next. Two halfling sneaks are being prepped and assembled at the moment.

88349 Hobgoblin Fighter

Well, it’s been a while but I finally finished up these guys:

This is a pretty great sculpt. It’s too flat, like a lot of the cheaper Chainmail figures. But the left arm and shield, which are two separate pieces that need pins, help break up the two-dimensionality. The pose is lively otherwise and there’s a good amount of textural variation to work with.

I went with the classic hobgoblin skin coloration, using Reaper Deep Red and Harvest Brown in a 2:1 ratio. Lots of chainmail to work with and some pretty intricate leather straps criss-crossing it. That made for some delicate brushwork.

I finally picked up a sable Windsor & Newton Series 7 for the fine brushwork. Wow is that a fun brush to use. Helped with the detail work quite a bit. I also wet-blended Vallejo silver and gunmetal grey to make the armor pop. I’m pretty happy with how that turned out. The pants were painted in a high contrast variation between Reaper heather blue and brilliant blue. I tied it together with a glaze of Vallejo Game Ink blue. Really happy with how that turned out. The faction color is in the shield detail:

All in all, this was a pretty boring figure to paint. I think the colors and textures give a nice contrast to a lot of the other figures in the Drazen’s Horde faction.

Two more figures are in progress and then the whole faction is finished. Here’s a sneak peek:

88715 War Ape

Finally finished and based the War Ape. This was a quick paint job, but I’ve been busy working on other minis for a game I’m running, so I let this one sit for a while before I based him. Apologies about the quality of the photos. The lack of contrast made it hard for my iPhone to take a decent picture.

The sculpt itself is great. The contrast between the fur and metal is well-defined and easy to describe. The facial expression and lunging pose are just wonderful.

I went with a harvest brown/black mix in a 4:1 ratio for the undercoat, then added a bit more brown for the highlights. Many of the reference photos online go with a blue & red mandrill look for the face. A lot of those are lurid, in my opinion, but the piece really does cry out for color contrast. So I toned it down a bit but used the same color scheme.

Given that there isn’t much space to show the Drazen’s Horde faction color, I opted for copper in the arm pieces. As with the orcs, I gave a light green ink wash to indicate oxidation. I’m still not thrilled with this technique, but I don’t have the energy to figure out how to paint verdigris properly.

The Drazen’s Horde faction is almost finished. Only two hobgoblins and the hill giant left to paint. I should be done by the end of the month, at which point I may switch to Ahmut’s Legion.

I’ve also painted a bunch of rats and a couple of shadow figures for the Sunless Citadel module. I’m particularly happy with how the plague rats turned out.

88830 Dire Boar

As promised, here’s the Dire Boar.

This was a pretty quick paint job, all considered. The lower jaw is a separate piece and is a pain to attach properly. I wound up drilling it in the back and attaching it with a rod that ran back into the boar’s mouth. It still came out a little cock-eyed.

I base coated with Reaper Harvest Brown mixed with black. This came out much darker than I’d have liked. So I did several coats of highlights, trying to bring out the texture of the piece. I’m pretty satisfied with how this turned out.

I struggled a bit getting the tusks and horns right. A pass with a light yellow ink wash left them looking like bananas. In the end, I went with Reaper bleached linen and buckskin pale in a 2:1 ratio and then finished with a sepia wash at the base of each tusk.

The snout and eyes are Reaper rosy skin mixed with blood red, in a 3:1 ratio. After that I washed with red ink and then then filled in the texture details with more blood red paint. To make it seem moist, I went over it with a third layer of gloss lacquer applied by brush following my usual two spray coats.

This came in the mail this week as well and is already getting use:

It’s a beautiful wooden holder made by Stephan Rath and sold in a Kickstarter that I backed last year. They go on sale to the general public next month. You can pick them up here.

Ironically, when I pledged, I wasn’t much of a painter, having only painted up Reaper Mouslings for my kids. Now it’s going to get plenty of use. I just nabbed two lots of Chainmail figures off eBay, leaving me with only 3 more figures to complete my collection. I also just bought a big batch of reaper minis for a D&D 5e game I’m going to run for some friends. So there is a bunch of painting in my immediate future, I think.

88280 Bugbear Trooper

I haven’t had a chance to update the blog lately. Too much stuff going on elsewhere, and I took a little time to paint some non-Chainmail collection stuff.

But I’ve finally finished and based the Bugbear Trooper, and wow is it a beauty.

Gorgeously defined musculature. A really energetic pose. And a sculpt that is clear, abounding in texture variation, and really fun to paint. The contrast between the chain and the fur, in particular, is what makes this figure pop. That and the pose. Wow.

I went with the traditional yellowish-brown for the bugbear’s skin. There are enough green and pink tones in the faction already. I decided to stay canonical here and with the coming Hobgoblins, who will be reddish. Washed the whole thing in Vallejo umber and then put in the highlights. I finished the whole with a glaze of yellow ink, which brought down the highlights and tied the figure together nicely.

The inside of the cloak I treated the way I’ve been treating all tanned hides: pink undercoat followed by a glaze with Vallejo flesh ink. I still like the effect a lot.

While I was painting this figure, I also took time out to paint an Orc Berserker in non-standard colors for a reddit painting exchange. I’ve got like 6 copies of this figure so it was nice to see one go to a good home. I used the Vallejo metallic glaze medium to give his axe a metallic ice effect. I like how it turned out. That was a dry run for some plans I have for the Mordengard communist dwarves. The other figure is Trista the Loremistress, one of the Reaper limited edition 25th Anniversary figures released this year. This was a commission for my daughter, who specified blue dress and a brown bodice.

Just this morning I finished the Dire Boar. Once that is based, I’ll post it too.

88461 Ettin Trooper

I finally finished the Ettin Trooper last week.

My first crack at it was a disaster. Two lessons: despite what you may read elsewhere, Vallejo Glaze Medium is not very good for wet blending. Maybe it works for non-metallic metal effects better than for skin, I don’t know. But on this miniature it simply made everything look gooey and wrong. Lesson two: if you like using washes to add depth and shadows, this will absolutely not work on larger figures with a lot of exposed skin. After a wash of Vallejo sepia, the piece looked awful, mottled and blotchy.

I wound up having to strip the figure down to bare metal and start all over. That said, version 2 looks a lot better.

Difficulties were 100% a product of my lack of skill. The second time, I was more cautious. I painted all the skin first (in case I needed to strip a third time) and diluted with water. There were still some harsh transition lines. I brought these down with two very diluted washes. The first was a soft gray. The second was a diluted Vallejo skin wash/Reaper tanned flesh combo. The latter was perfect for making the whole figure cohere visually.

Problems painting notwithstanding, this is a beautiful figure. The musculature is finely detailed, the pose is dynamic, and the scale is really stunning alongside the other Drazen’s Horde figures. The Ettin is a good head taller than the ogres, giving a nice range to the faction. It’s going to look great on the table. Casting it in six separate pieces also allows the figure to break out from the planar, two-dimensional quality that plagues many of the Chainmail sculpts.

I was going to push on and paint the Hill Giant next, but I think I’ll do the Bugbear instead. I’ve also got a couple of non-Chainmail figures that I may post on the blog.