Monday, May 27, 2013

Balin Fundinul Uzbad Khazad-Dûmu

Although work and life are keeping me busy in general, I have still been able to put in a few hours here and there at the hobby desk to work on several projects.  Even though I mentioned in the last two posts that I have lost a bit of steam with Thorin and Company, I continue to chip away at the dwarves little by little while working on other miniatures.  The latest of Thorin's companions to be completed is Balin, son of Fundin.

While Balin is not the best sculpt in the Escape from Goblin Town set, he is by no means the worst (that distinction still belongs to the hideous Fili sculpt).  The facial features of the mini are very well done and for the most part captures the look of the movie.  The garb is another high point of the sculpt.  Even thought the mini is plastic, GW managed to create a sense of multiple layers of fabric, which in turn gives a sense of richness of dress. 

The low points for me are the stance and the hands.  Something about Balin's pose just doesn't do it for me.  It almost seems unnatural the way he is holding his weapon as if ready to strike, yet appears to be in a relaxed mode.  I can't put a finger on it exactly what dampens my enthusiasm for the mini... unless perhaps the stance is lacking in kinetic energy.  I can however point out what bothers me about the hands.  They look huge compared to the rest of the mini.  I'm sure the disproportionate size has something to do with the limitation of plastic minis in general, so I'm not knocking the sculpt just on those grounds.  But it does bother me nonetheless.

Just like with Dori, I had a difficult time painting the many different shades of red in Balin's garb.  Looking at the movie stills, it's readily apparent that Balin is richly dressed with several layers of clothing.  Unfortunately, each layer seems to be only a slightly different shade of red, or the same shade but made of a different material.  Either way, the multiple layers of clothing on the screen is easy to discern.  Balin's garb presents as overall red but we all see the different layers with little effort.  On the miniature however, the eye would have trouble differentiating the subtle changes of shade. To account for this, I chose to change the colors around a bit and add in some freehand work to create distinct edges between the different garments.  While I'm not completely happy with the result, I can live with it for tabletop gaming.

I'm also not very pleased with the freehand on the collar and sleeve hems.  I use the term "freehand" very loosely by the way, since I have never been very good at it.  My attempt was to paint a vague dwarven geometric pattern in the form of reversed triangles.  In most cases the outcome was more like blobs of black paint instead of dwarvish design.  Not only did the pattern not come out as planned, I'm also disappointed in the starkness/contrast.  I should have used a burnt brown or similar color so that the overall effect would have been more subdued.  Instead, my dwarvish blobs scream "look at me!" More than likely, once I finally get all the dwarves completed, I will return to this miniature and repaint the collar and sleeves.

Anyhow, at least the miniature is now complete.  Soon he will join his companions on the table and win great renown.   In time, with many battles behind him, he will become Balin, son of Fundin, Lord of Moria:  Balin Fundinul Uzbad Khazad-Dûmu


  1. Don't worry too much about the collar and sleeves, in the picture they are not overly stark. I agree with you about freehanding. I just don't have the talent that the best painters have. You might try a very fine tip drafting/artist pen. I find I get better control. Not as broad selection of colors and the ink takes longer to dry properly than paint.
    I like the sculpt, but it seems like Balin should be holding a staff or similar item. His garb isn't very warrior to me. Nice work on the face and head again.

    1. When you use a pen, how long do you wait for the ink to dry? I tried a pen a few years ago and even though I waited several days, once I applied a sealer the ink still ran. I basically ruined the mini and had to start all over.

    2. Usually only a day or two. This was in a relatively arid environment however. When I was young I was a navy brat so I lived by the ocean in several places but wasn't a painter way back then.