Tuesday, October 09, 2012

A Flu-Contaminated Update and a Cranky Cave Troll

The flu has gotten the best of me for the last two weeks so my hobby time has been pretty much zero.  Gaming and miniatures have been very low on the priority list, being replaced instead by rest and sleep.  But the end is in sight and the meds have started to kick in.  There is definitely light at the end of this particular tunnel.

While being confined to the bed and couch I've stumbled upon all sorts of little gaming/hobby treasures online.  Some items might be useful down the road and I hope to show them here over the next few weeks.  Other finds were purely for entertainment purposes and have very little gaming value.  Nevertheless, whether one is sick or not, laughing is just down right fun so enjoy!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

James St. Johnson from Reaper

Whether you are a fan of Reaper Miniatures or not, one fact that cannot be denied is that they have a very large selection of miniatures.  Looking for an elven cleric?  Check.  A pirate monkey?  Check.  How about a bugbear star trooper?  OK...maybe not.  But you get the point.  No matter what is on the painting agenda, chances are Reaper has a mini that will match.

Such was the case with James St. Johnson (02663) below.  I was looking for a knightly looking fella but without all the heavy armor that tends to define that type of mini.  I also wanted an older knight to play the part of a grizzled war veteran.  That wasn't so easy to find.  Due to popular media, most sculpts illustrate that particular genera as a fair-haired young buck with flowing locks, gleaming armor, and the exuberance of youth.  But that's not what I sought.  I wanted a guy who has proven his worth in many campaigns, that has had his fair share of both victories and defeats, and who has learned life's lessons the hard way.

After browsing through the online catalog, I came across this wonderful sculpt from Sandra Garrity.  He was almost exactly what I had envisioned.  I say almost only because I would have preferred that his surcoat and flag be devoid of any device or sigil but hey, I can deal with that.  But he did have the look I wanted....a knightly commander that simply oozes confidence and demands respect.  And I loved his lack of hair.  The balding aspect certainly contributed to the demeanor I was looking for.

Once I found the mini, painting would be easy.  I already knew what kind of character he was to portray so the colors suggested themselves from that vision.  I chose red for the surcoat because I wanted a good strong color to dominate the mini and suggest a bit of aggression.  The leather parts where painted in dark browns to contrast with the centerpoint of the miniature while the armor was painted in dull silvers and bronze.  I wanted to avoid anything too shiny since that would suggest newer armor.  Remember, this isn't the first rodeo for this guy.  I had to use several different washes in multiple layers to get the muted metallics I wanted but the outcome was acceptable.

A reader recently emailed me about trouble with painting reds...especially over a black undercoat.  Instead of a separate email, I'll reply here since it relates to this miniature and illustrates the method I most often use.  When I paint with reds, I generally use Reaper paints....not because they are the best (maybe they are, maybe they are not) but because it's what has worked for me.  I also have an extensive collection of GW and Vallejo paints but I get the best results for some reason with the Reaper reds.  Anyhow, I always start out with a good reddish brown (almost burgandy but with no hint of a purple hue) for the initial coat.  For me this gives a better layer for the shadows than black.  I use Bloodstain Red (09133) for this coat but I can think of several ways to attain this color without purchasing this particular bottle (maybe Scorched Brown with Red Gore?).  My next coat is Carnage Red (09135).  This covers the vast majority of the subject with only the very deepest folds left showing the initial color.  From there it's a matter of highlighting up in thin layers using the following paints in order:  Blood Red (09003), Fire Red (09004) and Phoenix Red (09005). Each color is applied as a thin layer by itself then mixed in a 1:1 ration with the next in progression to obtain a smooth gradient.  This particular mini was meant to be more drab and battle worn in appearance so the Phoenix Red was the last highlight.  Generally I do one more step and mix a bit of yellow with the Phoenix Red to obtain a color for extreme highlighting.  I'm certainly no professional but this method produces acceptable results for me so feel free to give it a try.  Your mileage may vary however.....

Well, back to the miniature itself.  I was mostly happy with the outcome.  He'll look quite smashing on the game table.  Now that he is completed I wish I would have changed one thing though.  As I mentioned above, I would have liked to find a similar mini without the sigils on the surcoat and flag.  What I should have done before priming and starting the mini was file them off.  That way I could have placed my own sigils from my campaign instead of inconveniently ignoring the ones present.  Live and learn....