Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dark Sword Miniatures Kickstarter - A Big Dang Dragon

OK.  I will not bore you with yet another tale of why I like Dark Sword Miniatures so much.  But I do want to let readers know of an awesome Kickstarter opportunity DSM is offering.  Dark Sword is in the process of raising funds (in fact, they have already more than tripled their goal as of this writing) for a truly epic project. The link is below but before you go, just look at the size of this thing!

The dragon is absolutely gigantic. According to DSM, he stands over twelve inches tall (including the base). He will be cast in resin to keep down the weight while his two adversaries will be in pewter. The price is steep but considering the diorama will probably retail for over $300 once it is released, the opt in price is not so bad after all. And who knows what kind of stretch goal goodies we are likely to see to sweeten the deal along the way. My hobby budget just took a big hit tonight but this baby will be worth it.

I mentioned in my last post about having artwork from my glory days of D&D walk out of a painting and into miniature form. That statement could not be more true in this case.  My memories from the 80's will be flowing when I finally get to paint this beast come this September.

Here is the link to the DSM Kickstarter page.

And if you're new to the excellent products produced by Dark Sword Miniatures, take a look here.

And below is the artwork from Mr. Larry Elmore that inspired the miniatures. It's titled "Teamwork".
You can visit his site here.

Thanks for reading...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Waiting for Shadamehr

I've been threatening to take a break from my Thorin & Company project for some time now. The monotony of painting dwarves over and over was beginning to drain the joy of painting from me.  I guess I really do have miniature A.D.D. and need variety to keep me entertained. Well I've finally put the little squats aside for a short while to tackle a few other projects. First up was completing a great sculpt from Dark Sword Miniatures - Waiting for Shadamehr.

I'm a huge fan of DSM. At last count I have over sixty of their miniatures. All are great sculpts, but the thing that keeps me coming back is the fact that a large portion of their line are adaptations of paintings from many of my favorite fantasy artists. I grew up playing D&D in the 80's and the images that graced the rulebooks, modules, and magazines of the era from artists such as Larry Elmore, Keith Parkinson, Clyde Caldwell, and Jeff Easley really define the fantasy genre for me. I still reminisce about endless hours of making characters and rolling dice when I see those images and recall the fond memories of those days long past.  To be able to actually paint miniatures that seem to have walked from those very pages of my past is a pure joy.

This particular miniature is taken from a Larry Elmore painting titled "Waiting for Shadamehr" (the image can be found at the bottom of this post). In it, a scantily clad female ranger/warrior kneels at the edge of a forest with her gnomish companion, while lands that beckon the adventurous fall away in a valley to the right. I never knew the title of the painting back then but I think it is perfectly named. In my mind, they were indeed waiting for someone, though whether that someone was friend of foe, I knew not. That, I think, was part of the allure of the painting. One could stare at the image for hours and conjure up a thousand different stories that could define Mr. Elmore's effort.

Sculptor Dennis Mize did a wonderful job capturing the essence of the painting and transferring it to the miniature. The similarities are striking, which is what drew me to the mini in the first place. Most every detail is present and well-executed. In my opinion, only her facial countenance differs. In the painting, she has such a stern expression while the miniature version seems to flash a sly smirk. It's not an unpleasant change by any means (perfect for a mini used for roleplaying) but it is a change nonetheless. Unfortunately her gnomish companion does not seem to be available. Too bad, as the addition of the gnome would make for a great diorama.

I thought of painting the miniature to match the colors of the painting itself. After starting, however, I realized that I had been using quite a bit of blues lately. I wanted to switch up the routine a bit to help shake off the Thorin & Company funk so I changed up the main colors to mainly green and red. Those colors always look good together but one has to be careful or else the final outcome starts looking like a Christmas decoration. By keeping my reds muted and the green bright, hopefully I dodged that fashion faux pas. I rarely paint large flat sections of my miniatures red because I have a hard time creating proper highlighting and shading in those circumstances. I couldn't resist this time, though. To camouflage my lack of skill with shading red, I drew up a nice pattern for the shield's heraldry then tried my luck with a bit of freehand. Not my best effort but certainly not my worst.

Just like many of the DSM models, Waiting for Shadamehr is shipped in multiple pieces (two in this case). Due to the high quality of their products, I rarely encounter problems with assembly. However, the sword arm on this model did not want to play nicely. A large gap was present after assembly and no amount of filing and repositioning would correct the issue. Finally I gave up and used liquid green stuff to fill the gap and sculpt in some of the missing detail. By looking closely at the photo below, you can see my poor attempt at sculpting just below and to the side of the bracer.

For the most part, I'm pleased with the outcome. Even had the miniature not turned out as she did, I still would not complain, though. Just to be painting something different than those blasted dwarves was pleasure enough. I think I'll polish off a few more projects before returning to the dwarves. By then I'll hopefully have renewed vigor to tackle the remaining companions of Thorin Oakenshield.

By the way, I'm really not sure who Shadamehr is. Any Larry Elmore fans out there know?

Thanks for reading...

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Stereoscopic Photography for Miniatures? Who Knew?

Messing about online the other night I discovered a neat little miniatures blog called the Wily Brush. Reading through the site I came across this particular post about stereoscopic photography for miniatures.  What a great idea!

While those of us of a certain age most likely played with a View-Master back in the day and are thus vaguely familiar with stereo photography, I never would have thought of using the technique to photograph miniatures.  I'm not sure how common the practice is or how useful it would be for showcasing painted miniatures, but it's worth a look... even if for nothing more than entertainment.  After following the link, stay around and explore the website for a bit.  The guy swings a mean brush!

Word of warning though.  Getting the images to "combine" and produce a 3D image was rather difficult.  I don't know if it was just me or if others have had issues.  The author gives a trick at the bottom of the page on how to get your eyes to work (reposted below) but I still had trouble.  What finally worked for me was following his instructions until just before the end.  Instead of trying to cross your eyes, try simply unfocusing them as if you were staring off into space.  Worked for me.  You mileage may vary though.

One tip if you’re having trouble seeing the 3d image. Close your right eye and cover the left image with your left hand (so you can only see the right image with your left eye). Then close your left eye and cover the right image with your right hand (so you only see the left image with your right eye). This will remove the ‘duplicate’ images, leaving the stereo image when you crosseye it. Hope that tip helps, even if you see the stereo image without it, it makes it look nicer.