Monday, April 30, 2012

The Ladies of Port Largo - Part 3

Perhaps this entry should have been titled Lady of Port Largo since I only have one miniature ready for the blog at this point.  But to keep the titles of the ongoing series symetrical, I guess I'll leave it in the plural form.  Anyhow..... although this miniature is destined to serve as a character in my Legends of the High Seas campaign, just like the barkeep a few weeks ago, she is well suited for use in a number of settings from fantasy to medieval and even into the closing stages of the last century.  I have no doubt that I'll get quite a bit of use from her.

The miniature is from Fenryll and is part of their Villagers line.  She comes in a blister containing three minis, all of which are well-sculpted and suitable for gaming.  She scales well with Reaper miniatures but not so well with Black Scorpion, which comprises a large part of my pirate collection.  That's OK though.  She is to be used mainly as a background piece and not so much as a character, unlike some of the previous Ladies of Port Largo entries

Although I did just say that the model is nicely sculpted, there is a problem with the eyes.  It may be difficult to tell from the photo, but the recesses are definitely offset.  I tried to cover the flaw with paint but the raised areas only showed the flaws in a unflattering light more readily.  I suppose I could have taken a very very very small file and and removed the sockets but I lack both the skill and the patience, so she will remain as is.   Still, she is a wonderful miniature and I'm quite happy with her.  Now I need to go and create a proper background for her so that she can join the campaign.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Completed Rangers

Before the incredibly busy two month period known as Spring Break hit, I was able to complete a batch of ranger-type miniatures.  I never got around to posting them however, and since the blog has been a bit slow lately due to long days offshore, now seems the appropriate time to do so.  

As a quick introduction, I've always been a ranger kinda guy.  The outdoors, trekking through the wilderness, and that whole self-reliance thing has always appealed to me.  So perhaps it was natural that when I started reading fantasy and playing fantasy roleplaying games, rangers, trackers, and archers gained most of my attention.  The same can be said for my painting.  Though I try to vary my subjects, I always seem to come back to the rangers.  So it was that just after the first of the year, I grabbed a batch of ranger fellows that had been waiting for paint and launched on a ranger painting spree that includes the miniatures below, along with Jon Snow and Mason Thornwarden that have been previously posted.

First up is the Young Dual Wield Hedge Knight from Dark Sword Miniatures (DSM5026).  The mini is from the GRRM Masterworks line.  Most of the models in the range represent a specific character in the books such as Jon Snow, Stannis Baratheon, and Tyrion Lannister.  Hedge Knights however, are more of a class of warrior than specific people.  In Martin's world, Hedge Knights are knights without land or liege and to real knights and the nobility of the land, seem to be only a step or two above common sellswords.  That's OK though.  I purchased the miniature more for the sculpt than it's place in Westeros or the fact that it is part of the line I've been collecting.  Plus, with the bow slung on his back and the lack of armor, he looks more like a ranger than a knight anyhow....thus his inclusion in this post.

This next miniature is also from Dark Sword Miniatures -- Male Ranger (DSM7403).  Of all the ranger-types I've seen lately, this is one of the most unique.  Sculptor Jeff Grace has created a figure that simply exudes character and motion.  He looks as if he is about to bound off of the stone and over a crevasse or gully.  In my mind however, I envisioned him ascending a steep rise, slowing only for a moment to drink from his wineskin while continuing his pursuit of some enemy or quarry.  Whatever the story, this miniature certainly showcases the advancement of the hobby from the days of very static poses to the exciting and fluid designs of today.

The blister comes with two options for the left hand.  The first is a longsword held downward.  Although I knew before I even purchased the miniature that I wanted to use the wineskin, I don't think I would have been happy with the sword position had the other option not been available.  Looking at some of the photos with the sword in hand, something struck me as unnatural.  If the ranger were running or climbing with a blade unsheathed, I don't think the angle would be quite right.  I guess it could be argued that he was using the tip of the blade for purchase or balance while climbing, but what true warrior would risk damaging his weapon in such a way?  Maybe it's me, but I definitely would have had to do some conversion work to make things right.  Option two, as mentioned above, is the wineskin.  While not exactly heroic in nature, the wineskin makes this ranger unique to any other ranger in my collection (of which I have quite a few) and certainly wins out over the odd looking sword arrangement.

I wish I could have done a bit more with the base to create or more rugged and rough scene.  My basing tends to be rather simplistic though...not so much because I don't have the material (I do) or the skill (I think I do) but because I lack the patience.  After I spend what seems like forever painting, the last thing I want to do is spend more time working on a scenic base.  Maybe one day I'll change my mind, but for now, the easy way out will work for me.

Halbarad from Games Workshop has been sitting on my shelf for years waiting for attention.  What kept me from moving him into the queue, I really don't know.  I've always liked the sculpt and I consider it one of the better minis from the entire LotR range, but he somehow eluded my attention.  No longer though.  He is finally complete and he will not be sitting on the shelf staring at me with that pleading unprimed face.  Now that he is finished though, I have opened yet another can of worms.  To add to my VERY long project list, I now have another project tentatively titled:  The Grey Company.  Damn!

One of my favorite chapters in all of The Lord of the Rings occurs in RotK and is entitled "The Passing of the Grey Company".  In it Tolkien describes the rangers that arrive with Halbarad to aid Aragorn in his coming struggles.  "A little apart the Rangers sat, silent, in an ordered company, armed with spear and bow and sword.  They were clad in cloaks of dark grey, and their  hoods were cast now over helm and head."  As I mentioned in the intro, I have always loved rangers and perhaps this is the passage that started it all, now that I think about it.  While the beginning of my fascination with rangers may or may not be tied in with that passage, what is for certain is that I wanted to paint Halbard in a similar fashion that Tolkien described.  As usual, he does not paint a full picture (pardon the pun) of non major characters and leaves much to the imagination.  Beyond the grey cloak, he does not say much of their garb but I based some of the missing information on his several accounts of Aragorn's clothing.  I actually wanted to use darker colors to more closely coincide with Strider but so much of what I have been painting lately is dark and drab, so I opted for a lighter pallet.  Despite my use of brighter colors, I still felt I needed to heavily wash the metal to make it quite dark so as to match more of Tolkien's description: "There was no gleam of stone or gold, nor any fair thing in all their gear and harness..."

Finally we have this ranger from Reaper.  He is titled Faramere of Vestonia (02086).  I can't even begin to fathom how long I have had this miniature but it has to be at least ten years ago since I purchased him.  In fact, he may have been one of the first miniatures I bought when I started painting again after my long hiatus.  No matter how long I've had him though, he is finally finished as well.

I have to admit, other than the cloak which I'm quite happy with, Faramere is not my best effort.  The cast quality was not very crisp on the front of the miniature and that may have reduced my enthusiasm for painting him somewhat.  After all, who wants to put tons of time into a mini when no matter what you do, the flaws will still be visible?  I can't blame it all on the cast though.  I think I just ran into a wall on my ranger painting fling.  That impasse was similar to writers block.  I think I just wanted to finish up and move on to something else for a while. 

So why did I add him to the blog and even bother posting him you may be asking?  Beats me.  He's actually not all that terrible though.  With better highlights on the bracers and a better color selection on his pants, maybe he wouldn't look so bland.  Perhaps I'll do a little repaint once my ranger fever comes back and do a post on the refinished mini titled something like "How to Add Life to a Bland Miniature".  Ha!

That leads me to a good question.  Do any of you ever hit the wall on a miniature and just slap some paint on it to finish?