I'm not a huge fan of heroic scale miniatures. Maybe it's the GW effect that drives me away or perhaps the cartoon-like image that particular style of mini represents. Whatever the case, the oversized weapons and features of heroic scale figures usually sends me running the other direction. However, Damian Helthorne (03201) from Reaper Miniatures immediately caught my eye when I walked into a "local" (the nearest FLGS is a 48 mile one way trip) hobbyshop, despite featuring most everything I dislike about this type of miniature.
In this wonderful sculpt by Tre Manor, the oversized weapons and features just work for this miniature. I don't know if I had a preconceived notion due to Reaper branding Damian as a bandit, but as soon as I saw him in the blister, I knew I had a roguish, dashing, charasmatic NPC that simply demanded a larger-than-life personae and effects. I knew right away while staring at the bare metal how I wanted him to look as a painted miniature and act as a wargaming hero/leader or RPG NPC. Any other style of mini simply would not do.
The color choices for painting was easy. He is a bandit...outlawed and hunted, so his garb should reflect his time in the forests and hills surrounding his former home. Greens and browns dominated my palatte in the initial phases of painting. However, the Damian Helthorne I envisioned simply would not go quietly into a life of forced banditry. His ego and charisma would not allow it. To illustrate this point I knew I had to go with a big bold color for his cape. Red was my immediate thought. I have no doubt that he would have acquired such an item when robbing one of the very nobles that had a hand in banishing him from his former life. Despite the fact that his new cape doesn't even come close to blending in with his surroundings, he is very fond of it and now considers it a part of the legend that has sprung up around his exploits.
As I mentioned above, I knew right away how I wanted this miniature to look when I was finished painting....right down to the individual details. However, the sigil on his shield is not what I had in mind. What I originially wanted to do was paint a bit of heraldry from one of the noble families in the region and then add a worn faded effect to signify that the shield was stolen and perhaps "altered" a bit. Unfortunately, I was unable to accomplish the desired effect. Instead of a worn look, all I was able to achieve was a sigil that looked new but slightly unpainted. I eventually gave up on the idea and went with Plan B.
Plan B consisted of taking a page from the pirates of the Golden Age. In my ongoing research of piracy in the Caribbean to support my Legends of the High Seas campaign, I've read several great books. The one I just finished, Colin Woodard's The Republic of Pirates, along with David Cordingly's Under the Black Flag, both go to great lengths to emphasize that pirates used a bit of early psychological warfare to frighten their quarry into submission. Afterall, the pirates were after the cargo on board the vessel or sometimes the vessel itself. Why damage the very things they are after? Threat displays such as brandishing weapons or causing a rucous to seem more imtimadating were common. Perhaps the most well known technique though was raising the company's flag...the infamous Jolly Roger, which through it's symbolism, had a definite meaning. When an opposing ship's captain saw the black flag flapping in the wind, he knew he had a decision to make: fight the pirates and possibly risk his life, along with that of his passengers and crew or strike his colors and most likely avoid an unfortunate fate.
I decided on a similar role for Damian's shield. I figured that such a legendary figure would be well-known in the realm for his daring deeds. Just a view of his shield would cause the unlucky victim to strongly reconsider a fight with such a worthy adversary when in all probability, all that was wanted was gold and goods. The eye crying tears of blood into a stolen chalice was appropriate iconography for such a man and I'm mostly happy with the outcome.
So, since I failed in my initial attempt on the shield, I'm definitely open to suggestions on how to achieve such an effect. Comments are more than welcome!