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Make The Dead Glorious Again (1)

Sleater-Kinney  ‘Start Together’

I’m a bit wary about introducing political themes into miniature-painting – partly because politics can prove deeply divisive; but also due to the question of taste.

However, I usually paint models in order to escape from the more unpleasant aspects of life – and these are in no short supply at present; but some things which are happening maybe shouldn’t be overlooked.

There have been proper artists who’ve used miniatures to explore serious themes – such as Jake and Dinos Chapman‘s various depictions of hell; Banksy’s Dismaland model of a crowded refugee boat; or street artists, creating comparatively light-hearted social commentaries.

This isn’t quite what I have in mind. I don’t really want to use Warhammer models allegorically; just to allude at a broader issue, in order to enhance a diorama. I figure that as long as the theme remains understated, then it shouldn’t be a problem. Plus, rather than model a duel where violence is the central subject, I thought I would make a representation of courage, instead.

So, one model is an undead horseman, with a distinctive head of unnatural hair; aiming to make the land of the dead glorious once more:

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The other is going to be an Arabian woman:

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Araby remains under-represented among Warhammer projects – but I prefer the ambiguous artwork depictions Games Workshop produced, to the Dogs of War/Warmaster models; which tended to be a bit Disney-esque. I don’t want the finished model to resemble the more obnoxious, long-standing stereotypes surrounding Arabs and Muslims; but equally, not to be overly romantic, either. While the motifs of femininity and Islamic culture have obvious points of resonance at present, this is still meant to be a Warhammer project.

The Golden Magus in Dreadfleet is a good example to draw upon here – as he was both on the side of the Grand Alliance; but also a character with mysterious intentions. Less esoteric, perhaps, are Kay Nielsen’s illustrations of 1001 Arabian Nights; which were fantastical and ornate:

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I haven’t quite figured-out a base for this duel yet. A desert wasteland-theme seems the most fitting; but we will see.

Night Goblin Shaman (4) – Finished

Smashing Pumpkins ‘Jellybelly’

 

Painted in warmer colours than Night Goblins tend to be; and with non-metallic metals:

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I haven’t mastered non-metallics yet; but it’s something I intend to focus on this year. In the past, when I’ve not been happy with the finished effect, I tended to re-paint them with regular metals. But although they’re not rendered flawlessly here, I think it’s better to live with the imperfections – and to keep working at improving the technique.

 

Worth a look

Genestealer warband (Leskouzes)

Tutorial on painting non-metallic swords (thefantasyhammer)

Tutorial on painting freehand designs (figurementors)

Crazy Ivan (forgemechanicus)

Kharn work in progress photos (flameon)

 

Night Goblin Shaman (3) – work in progress

PJ Harvey ‘Cat on the wall’

Just a work in progress, post. I’ve finished the base, barring the possible need to tweak it once the goblin is finished:

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The spiders were painted using the same basic colours as the Necromunda plague zombies from last year. I may adjust the largest green orbs slightly, as they’re not quite looking right; but we’ll see.

 

 

Night Goblin shaman (2) – painting magic effects

Dead Can Dance ‘American Dreaming’

It took a while to devise a colour-scheme for the base that I was happy with. I had thought about making the object source lighting effect the main feature; but this would have dominated the whole scene – as you can see from the preparatory experiment:

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It would have meant having to paint the goblin shaman in exactly the same colour, probably in its entirety; which wasn’t really what I had in mind. So, I decided to keep the light effect a bit more subtle.

The base was painted as fairly standard mossy grey stone:

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These were the colours used to paint the glow effect:

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Object source lighting is, to all intents and purposes, extreme highlighting; designed to create an optical illusion. There are numerous methods for achieving this effect – in this case, simply blending up from dark to light; then smoothing the effect out through a glaze.

Basecoat – olive green:

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Layer – olive green + snot green:

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Layer – snot green:

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At this point, I applied a thin wash of olive green over the snot green areas, to give them a bit of definition.

Layer – snot green + scorpion green:

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Layer – scorpion green:

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For the final highlight, mix scorpion green + yriel yellow + white; dot this on the tips of each ball:

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Finally, apply several thin glazes of thraka green:

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Glazing will darken the overall effect slightly – if you want to make the finished effect brighter, you can reapply the final green highlight; but I wanted the green areas on the base to be slightly darker than the OSL effect I’m going to paint on the goblin, so that the goblin stands out from the base.

The colours haven’t come out so well, unfortunately, as my camera isn’t great at photographing anything dark – but on a more positive note, I decided that I will add a pair of spiders to the base: they have the right combination of creepiness and coolness.

Night Goblin Shaman (1) – making a magic base

My Vitriol ‘Safety Zones & Crumple Zones’ 

I want to make this a kind of flip-side to the mountaineer piece – which was intended to have a cold atmosphere, with muted colours. I like the magic bases that MassiveVoodoo and Sproket’sSmallWorld (amongst others) have created in the past – so thought I would try something similar.

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Materials used

Cork:

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I made flagstones by using a modelling knife to cut up a small sheet of super-sculpey. If you haven’t used this before, it’s a type of clay which needs to be baked; rather than air-dried. These were made a long time ago, so were already to hand; but you could use Milliput, or any similar material – including plasticard – instead:

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To make the magic effects – I kind of experimented a bit here, using a broken plastic flying stand, heated over a tealight candle and stretched out, to make some larger stalagmites (best to ensure health and safety with this stage, as melting plastic has some obvious risks):

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Then cut into shape:

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These can be very brittle, however; and it’s difficult to trim them into small pieces without breaking them. So, to make smaller stalagmites, I used the same method as for making icicles.

Attach small shards of transparent plastic to a spare piece of sprue, using water effect:

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Coat with several layers of water effect:

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Once dry, cut from the sprue:

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I also used various balls of different sizes – ones made from greenstuff, the others were microbeads:

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Wood-putty, PVA glue, water effect:

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Wood-putty isn’t strictly necessary, as you can used textured paint instead – or even PVA and sand to texture the rocks; I just like buggering about, really.

I made a mock-up of the base, but it didn’t really look right – even for a miniature, the goblin is a small model, and was easily overshadowed by the base:

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So it was adjusted slightly – I used a coping saw to remove the corners, and created a sort of dais for the goblin:

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Coat the cork with wood-putty, using an old paintbrush:

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Begin to attach the flag-stones, and the stalagmites – use PVA glue for the flagstones. You can use PVA to attach beads/balls, as well; but I find water effect is easier. If you use the white kind, it’s easy to see where you’ve placed it, and you will know when it has dried.

It’s best to glue the stalagmites into place first, then assemble the flagstones around them, rather than vice versa; because that way you can raise the tips of the stones, to make them look like they’ve been pushed up by the stalagmites. It doesn’t matter too much, though:

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This stage finished:

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Now the tricky part.

I drilled small holes into the greenstuff balls, as they are a bit heavier than microbeads – they were then slotted onto the tips of the stalagmites. The microbeads were simply attached by dotting water effect on the tip of each stalagmite, and then placing the beads on top:

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To be honest, this stage is very fiddly – there’s probably a much easier way of attaching the beads than using a pair of tweezers to put them in place, one at a time; but that was what I did here, at least:

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You can see how the different types of ball create different effects:

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Ready to paint:

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Well, just about. I haven’t quite figured out a colour scheme yet. I might also add some spiders to this – but we’ll have to see.

Mountaineer – finished + some other stuff.

The Sundays ‘Goodbye’ 

 

I’ve finished one of the small projects I began during the Christmas holiday – the colours haven’t come out quite right in the photos, perhaps due to the white snow:

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The method for painting the free-hand design on the banner was pretty much the same step-by-step process as outlined in a previous post.

How to make cobwebs

You need varnish (either matt or satin will do), some cotton from a Q-Tip, and a pair of tweezers:

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I didn’t want to paint a free-hand design on the back of the banner, as it would have looked very crowded; so attached some plague boils, and rather than make slime-strands, opted to add cobwebs instead.

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First, take some thin strands of the cotton, and use a paint brush and a small amount of water to brush them into place:

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While the water is still wet, dab the cotton with varnish in order to make it adhere:

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It’s best to let one set of strands dry before adding another, as it’s easy to knock them out of place – and this can be a quite painstaking procedure, as it is:

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If you want the threads to glisten, paint them with satin varnish. I didn’t want that effect here, so simply left them matt.

I’m going to paint a night-goblin shaman next, as another small project, before moving onto something more complex:

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While the Mountaineer was intended to have a very minimal, drab colour-palette, I want to make this one an exercise in vivid colour.

Mountaineer – Work In Progress (3)

Slack ‘Bates Stamp’

Just a brief work in progress update really, as I haven’t had too much free time during the past week; plus the methods used to paint this were pretty much the same ones used on the plague zombies of last year:

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Just the back banner to finish – though I may paint a symbol on the shoulder pad, if needs balancing out.

As the first post of 2017, it seems remiss not to review the past year. Outside of painting, 2016 was a difficult and occasionally unpleasant year, on a personal level; and a frequently disturbing one around the world in general. Working on miniatures provided a welcome escape at times.

I’m slightly surprised at how few projects I finished, though – as I don’t recall a day when I wasn’t painting or modelling. Only the three, in order:

Dwarf Dragon Slayer 

Space Hulk Diorama

Necromunda Diorama 

My personal highlight of the year was hitting on the idea of using Chinese calligraphy in painting; as it opens up some interesting future possibilities.

I think my resolutions for the upcoming year are one, to speed up my completion rate a bit. Two, to become more active in the general painting community – I decided last year to change the format of this blog, and move away from it being a fairly solitary photo-journal, to being more interactive via tutorials. I would like to develop that aspect, somehow. Third, it really is overdue that I mastered non-metallic metals – it’s been an enduring point of frustration for me as a technique; and it’s important to step out of your personal comfort zone from time to time, even if you end up returning to it.

Other than that, we’ll have to see what happens.