Friday, March 28, 2014

Nontraditional Goblin Skin Part 2: Old School Edition

Goblins have been on my mind lately.  I know that's an odd thing to say but it is true.  I have been contemplating goblin weapons, goblin society, goblin raiding tactics, even goblin intelligence (or lack thereof).  But mostly I've been thinking about goblin skin.  Several months ago I began a project experimenting with goblin skin color.  I wanted to try different skin tones beyond the usual green-skinned little monsters that seem to be the norm these days.  While I have nothing against 'greenskins' and actually like them for certain aspects of gaming, I wanted to wander off the beaten path for a bit.

My first foray delved into the world of J.R.R. Tolkien.  I wanted a dusky look that fit more closely with the professor's description of goblins in Middle-earth.  For this attempt however, my inspiration came not from Tolkien but from the excitement surrounding the 40th anniversary of Dungeons and Dragons.  I wanted a color scheme that would harken back to the early 80s when I first started playing.  This is what I came up with...

For the miniature I chose a model from Hasslefree Miniatures.  This little grinning goblin is called Dima (HFO007) and can be found in Hasslefree's Orcs and Goblins line.  I liked the semi-old school style of the sculpt and thought he would be perfect for my old school color scheme.

I have a sizable collection of goblins from Otherworld Miniatures that would have served even better for the old school theme I was attempting.  I wanted to save them though until I found the right goblin skin color so that the entire tribe will look somewhat homogeneous.  So for now I will stick with Hasslefree's goblins for experimenting.

Now that I had my miniature I needed to decide on the paints I would use.  To aid in the decision I pulled out my trusty copy of the original Monster Manual and flipped to the well-worn page describing goblins (hmm... I guess I fought many of them back in the day).  On page 47 I found what I thought I remembered.  There, goblin skin is described as ranging from "yellow through dull orange to brick red."  Though the description would change in later editions (sounds like a subject for another blogger post), this was the goblin I had such fond memories of from those long ago days.

Shortly after reading the description in the Monster Manual I remembered a color photo depicting goblins with a similar color scheme.  I wasn't sure where I saw it so I rummaged through my collection for hours.  I finally found what I was looking for.  There, on the cover of module N2 The Forest Oracle, were three goblins with a pretty close resemblance to what I envisioned in my mind.  I then had both inspiration and an idea of the color scheme I wanted to use.  It was time to paint.

For painting the skin I chose a medium brown for a base coat.  I can't remember the Reaper color (maybe Intense Brown??) but it is the equivalent of GW's Bestial Brown.  From there, I started layering in various shades of lighter browns mixed with tints of red, orange, and yellow.  I made particularly heavy use of Saffron Sunset (09247) and Orange Brown (09201), both from Reaper.  Highlighting was accomplished with Saffron Sunset mixed with various shades of yellow.

The rest of the miniature, including the garb, armor, and weapons was painted in rather drab colors to contrast with the skin tone.  Greens and dark browns dominate the color scheme to help highlight the orange and yellow of the skin.  The armor and weapons were heavily washed to knock down the shiny new look that so often breaks the character of this type of monster.  After all, they should look like desperate scavengers and raiders and not like a knight in shinning armor.  With that being said, now that I look at the photos on blogger, I need to go back and wash the helmet a few more times.  It does look awfully shinny.

I am fairly happy with the outcome of this goblin and I think I'm close to finding the skin tone I want to use in the future.  I think I will paint one more goblin and intensify the oranges a bit to see what happens.  Afterwards a final decision will be made and the resulting color scheme applied to my waiting Otherworld Miniatures goblin tribe.

Anyone else use this style on their goblins?  Any comments, hints, and/or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Beginnings: DSM Dragon Diorama WIP

It has been said that from humble beginnings come great things.  Well, I'm unsure about the 'great' part but I certainly have started off my next project in a humble manner.  After sitting in an unprimed state for months, I have finally put a layer of paint on the base of my Dark Sword Miniatures dragon diorama Kickstarter that I backed last year.  The excitement of DSM's current Kickstarter project bubbled over and vanquished the painting lethargy I've been suffering through for the last few weeks.

For this project, I decided to start with the base this time instead of the miniature, as I normally do.  Two reasons drove me to this decision.  First, in this case the base is very much part of the miniature instead of just an afterthought.  I will not say that it is the focal point (the dragon obviously serves in that role quite admirably) but for the diorama to come to life and provide the proper backstory to honor Larry Elmore's iconic painting, the base needs to be nearly as impressive as the dragon itself.  To say that I will need to spend quite a bit of time on the base to make it so would be a huge understatement.  The second reason deals with logistics.  The dragon is huge! I do not have the proper equipment available to mount it for painting.  By completing the base first, I can use it to securely hold the dragon during the construction and painting process.  I will just need to be extra careful not to damage or ruin the already painted base while working.

My plan of attack is simple.  I've already cleaned, primed, and thrown down the initial base colors to give me a good starting point.  The dirt/grassy area around the stone was given several coats of a mid-range brown for a base.  I will darken some areas and lighten others to give an overall impression of scattered dirt and rocks.  Much of this area will be eventually flocked with grass and shrubbery so I'm not overly concerned with this particular portion of the model.  The stone however will play a much more important role.  I have an initial coat of Reaper Shadowed Stone (9085) covering the rocky areas.  After a few light washes to bring back some of the detail, I will slowly bring up the mid-tones and highlights with successive layers of Stone Grey (9086) and Weathered Stone (9087).  Then comes the hard part: the treasure.

The coins will take me some time but I'm looking forward to the challenge.  I will not say that I will paint each and every one by hand but I do plan on avoiding drybrushing as much as possible to really concentrate on the detail.  I plan on most of the coins being gold in color for two reasons.  In literature and popular media, dragon hoards always seem to be comprised of gold coins.  It's an iconic image that I do not plan on tinkering with.  Second, even if silver were the preferred color of a dragon's treasure, I would still choose gold.  The gold coins will contrast much better with the grey stone than silver.  I do plan on mixing the treasure up a bit though.  I'll add silver and copper here and there in small patches to break up the golden monotony. 

As a basecoat for the gold coins I chose a deep red - Bloodstain Red (9133) to be exact.  I can't remember where I learned the technique, but basing gold, copper, and brass metallic colors with a deep red will produce much more vivid and rich hues than when applied over black or white.  I use this technique every time and have been quite pleased with the results.  Try it and see if you notice a difference.

So that's it for now.  I have thousands of coins to paint.  I will post another update once I get a little further along.

One last thing though:  today is the last day of the Dark Sword Miniatures G.R.R.M. Masterworks line Kickstarter.  Lots of backer rewards have been unlocked over the course of the drive and the total number of included miniatures is now up to 24.  That's more than double the initial offering.  Plus lots of great add-on deals are also available.  Go have a look at the funding page here before it ends tonight at 11pm (EDT).

Thanks for reading!