Friday, December 20, 2013

Painting Zombie Plague Minis Part 2. Painting Tubby.

Moisturizer... Moisturizer...
I'll be painting these to a good tabletop level. This means that I want high contrast and clear colors that read quickly from a few feet away. These will look great while playing Zombie Plague but won't win any painting contests.

Art by Ryan Howe. Colors by Brian S. Roe
After the Tubby minis are cleaned and primed it's time to get into the actual painting. The first step is what I call damp-brushing to build up a good base of color without covering all of the black undercoat. Damp brushing leaves a good amount of paint in the brush and will cover well without obscuring detail. The first layer I put down will darken slightly. The next layer is the same color as the first damp brush but is closer to actual dry-brushing with less paint in the brush. I then add some white to the base flesh mix for a third highlight. This is properly dry-brushed to really make the details pop. 

The basic zombie flesh blend I used for Tubby is Vallejo Dark Flesh, a little German Camo Orange Ochre, and a bit of Yellow Green. Since she's basically the same color all over I used a 1/2" flat brush to speed up painting.

Once the base colors have dried for a couple of hours I start applying the washes. The first is a slightly diluted mix of Agrax Earthshade and Thraka Green. I used the big brush again and just made sure to cover the entire mini.

Once the first wash dried I added a layer of Reikland Flesh Shade and then let this dry.

Next up are the various wounds that have been caused by Tubby's bathtub marination. I mixed up a pink with Flesh, Blood Red, and White and then went over the mini looking for obvious areas were the skin seems to be torn or damaged. I did a combination of regular painting and light dry-brushing to make the pink blend into the normal flesh. Then I used a mix of Mechrite Red and Blood Red to paint the centers of the wounds. The wounds were then washed with a mix of Red Ink and Agrax Earthshade.

Finishing the rest of the mini is pretty simple from here on out. The hair was painted a dark reddish brown then drybrushed with Khaki. The teeth were picked out with white. Finally a very light drybrush of light greenish flesh was brushed over the entire mini to bring back the detail. 

The bases were painted brown and then drybrushed with Sand. The gut piles were painted pink and then washed with a mix of Agrax Earthshade and Red Ink. I'm sorry that I didn't take any pictures of the base finishing but I got going on these and didn't want to stall out the painting session by setting up the camera.

Tubby was inspired by the Tar Man zombie from Return of the Living Dead so she'd look perfect crawling from a barrel of toxic waste. 

So here's the first finished mini for the Zombie Plague Kickstarter. This was a great mini to start with since John has sculpted such nice detail that basic dry-brushing and washing creates a good overall paint job.

Next up is the unfortunate husband of Tubby, Dirt Nap!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Painting Zombie Plague Minis Part 1. Tubby Preparation and Basing.

Joe Zombie, Dead Sexy, Timmy, Chelsea, Crissy, John, Dirt Nap, Rose Frum,  Tubby.
These are the nine characters that I'll be painting miniatures of.

I've finally been able to send out most of the reward levels from the Zombie Plague Miniatures Kickstarter so now it's time to focus on painting the $100 level rewards. There are ten of these rewards to do with nine figures each. Ninety figures seems like a discouraging number of minis to paint but given proper preparation and planning they will be finished pretty quickly. 

Prepping and painting large numbers of miniatures always feels like a meditation exercise to me. We I am properly focused on the task hours slip by and I seem to finish the various steps effortlessly. This zen-like state is one of the things that I miss about being able to paint everyday and something that I'm keen to re-learn.

First up will be Tubby, the unfortunate housewife who after being bitten by her infected husband, decides a nice relaxing bath is all she needs to feel better. Unfortunately she's been in the tub for several days and isn't feeling so fresh.

Tubby was inspired by the Tarman zombie from Return of The Living Dead.
The Tubby mini will be a pretty easy paintjob and this will help me get my painting chops up before I tackle the other characters.

I first start by cleaning the Mud & Gutz bases that I'll be using for all of these painted minis. The casting has been done in such a way that there are very few moldlines. There is a triangular bit of plastic that needs trimmed off of the bottom of most of the bases. Flush cutters work well on this. A quick trim with a hobby knife and some sanding gets the job done. Next up I wash them with dish-soap to get rid of dust, mold release, etc and then let them dry.

Next I clean up the Tubby minis with a hobby knife and needle file. These have very light mold lines so clean up goes very quickly. I then clip off all of the base tabs so I can pin mount the minis to the bases.

I use three tools to add pins to minis: a needle file to make a clean, flat surface, a needle tool to make a pilot hole, and my trusty pin-vice to drill the hole. With a mini as small as Tubby it can be difficult to drill a deep enough hole because her feet are so small. Make sure you plan your drilling so that you can at least a couple of millimeters into the part.

I use an old Citadel Miniature trick for marking the base where I want to drill matching holes for the miniature to fit into. I dip the ends of the two wires into paint and then mark the base. This gives a much better idea of where to drill than just eyeballing it.

Notice that the wires are much longer than necessary. Once the glue is dry I just clip them flush
with the bottom of the base.

The Mud & Gutz bases are designed so that minis straddle the various gut piles but if you have trouble finding good, flat footing you can trim away the extra detail easily with clippers or a hobby knife. I used super glue to mount the wires in the minis and then onto the bases.

"We need towels!"

Next in Part 2: Priming and Painting!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Umbelliferan Sketch for World Wasters.

Quick sketch of a "carrot-man" from World Wasters. I went with the idea that they are like mandrake root with several limbs coming off of the main carrot-shaped body. And for some reason I think that they should talk like Clint Eastwood. 

"Umbelliferans are an intelligent ambulatory form of plant life
originating on Beta Kara X in the days of the First Orionion Empire.
Because of their uncanny resemblance, including orange coloration, to
terrestrial carrots, they are sometimes referred to as "carrot-men",
but not usually to their faces. Umbelliferans have extraordinary shooting
skills because of their exceptionally good eye sight."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

World Wasters Playtest Edition Re-Issue.

I've been working with my mentor Steve Lortz on republishing his great set of sci-fi skirmish rules called World Wasters. WW is simple and fast, and focuses more on having fun than rules lawyering. Steve also sculpted some great new races for WW including the Bogies, Brain Worms and Back Biters. The miniatures for these will be reissued by Fortress Figures and the rules will be republished and available for download and print on demand.

Here is my redesign of of the cover using the original art by Steve as my guide. I think mine is more subtle.

Originally published in 1993 by Alternate Recreational  Resource Group or ARRG. © 1993 Stephen  L. Lortz.
Colors and graphic design by Brian S. Roe.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Early Realms of Chaos: Zygor Snake-arms and Leaping Slomm Two-Face.

Just a couple of classic Citadel miniatures based on an article in the First Citadel Compendium. This article, called "Mark of Chaos", explained the process for creating chaos-tainted creatures and featured classic John Blanche artwork. These concepts were then sculpted and cast to produce two interesting minis that are full of personality. There was a third miniature from the article, Ngaaranh, a chaos-spawn who was once a harpy but this mini seems to be much harder to find than Zygor and Slomm.

These minis were painted in my classic painting style meaning lots of washes, harsh drybrushing, and of course gloss varnish. If I had two fresh versions of these fellows I'd try something more up to date and smooth but I think this paint job "feels" right. Even with the gloss varnish there are dings and scraped paint caused by too many years of travel.

I'd really like to see Games Workshop go back and revisit concepts like these but as we know they rarely look back this far. So be it, I still think these foul little fellows are beautiful.
Artwork by John Blanche.
Zygor the Night Goblin.
Chaos attributes include, Headless, Tentacles, and Prehensile Tail.
Artwork by John Blanche.
Leaping Slomm Two-Face, Chaos troll.
Chaos attributes: Powerful Legs, Great Fangs, Multiple Heads (one extra), and Bestial Face(s).

Monday, November 11, 2013

Designing A Card Building for Robotech.

While I'm waiting for the Robotech Kickstarter stuff to start coming in I've been thinking about ways to make buildings for the inevitable city fight scenarios. There are several manufacturers that sell resin, laser-cut, or printable card models and some of them are outstanding. But while watching some of the first episodes of Macross/Robotech I decided that I wanted some buildings that look like those in Macross City. There's a sort of bizarre design aesthetic with these buildings that seems to combine sci-fi forward thinking with a basic Japanese neighborhood. 

Gerwalk down!

Sketches like this help to visualize basic shapes and proportions.

I took some screengrabs, did a few sketches and decided to start with this cool hex-topped building. Although I've done a good amount of card modeling I've never really designed my own model. Even with a building this simple there are difficulties that need to be overcome. 

I started by making a quick black and white mock-up in Illustrator and printing it out. This showed several problems and after correcting them I printed another copy, this time with windows and other details. Finally I took this into Photoshop and gave it some color. The windows were handled by Ronda Pattison, one of the perks of having one of the world's most talented comic colorists working at the next desk over.

I'm only taking baby steps with this one but I'd like to keep working on new designs. Please download the attached model, build it, and let me know of any construction problems you run across in the comments. Thanks in advance for your advice. 

Make sure to click this image and save the full resolution version. Print at 100%. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Looking for A Sprue of Plastic Space Dwarves.

I've started working on a project and need a sprue of classic Citadel Space Dwarves for measuring. I'd like the entire sprue if possible but at least one body, one head, and a pair of arms. A las-gun as well if possible.

For trade for a full sprue set of Space Dwarves I can offer a full sprue of first edition Space Hulk minis, a hybrid sprue from Genestealer, and two vintage sprues of original Mark 6 Space Marines.

For a single Space Dwarf I'll trade for any one set of sprues that I have.

Please contact me at if you're interested in trading. Thanks!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dirt Nap and Tubby Castings.

The final two zombies have been cast and will soon be shipped to supporters of the Zombie Plague Miniatures Kickstarter. These are Dirt Nap who was buried in the flower garden by his panicked wife, Tubby. Unfortunately after being bitten by her husband she soaked for far too long in the tub.

Once these have been shipped to supporters they will be made available for general purchase.

Friday, September 13, 2013

THI Utility Industrial Power Frame Painted.

I took a couple of hours today and painted the THI suit from Sedition Wars. Although I still think there has been some overreaction against the material these minis are made from I can honestly say now that I'm not in love with the stuff. After painting there are still a ton of moldlines visible even though I didn't see them before it was primed. This is disappointing since I really like the design of this suit.

I'm still not unhappy with my decision to support the Sedition Wars Kickstarter but I also wish that this material was easier to deal with. C'est la guerre.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sedition Wars Gnosis Battlesuit and THI Utility Power Frame First Impressions.

I got my second, and I believe final, box of minis from the Sedition Wars Kickstarter today and spent a little time tonight putting together two of my favorite miniatures from the set, the THI Utility Power Frame and the Gnosis Battlesuit Kara Black. 

I love armored suits so I was really looking forward to these. And I'm not disappointed by them in the least.

There has been a lot of downright anger towards Cool Mini or Not and Studio McVey about the Sedition Wars Kickstarter that seems to be at boiling point on some of the forums that I frequent. Part of it is unhappiness with the material that these miniatures are cast in and part of it is accusations of miscasting and overall shoddy production.

The material complaint really seems to come from the fact that these miniatures are made from a plastic that doesn't clean up the same way as styrene or more traditional resin. The mold lines need to be cut off using a hobby knife since they don't want to scrape off as easily as they would with styrene. This is not a satisfactory method since it takes far longer than scraping and still leaves a lot of fuzzy plastic around the moldline.

I have found that using a fine bristled brass brush takes away a lot of this frustration and combined with basic scraping with the edge of a hobby knife can really make a nice clean miniature. Vigorous brushing with a brass brush removes any fuzzy bits and smoothes the line even further without destroying any detail on the mini. These miniatures do seem to take a bit more time to clean than other materials but I think that part of that is just getting used to them. I also used a fine sanding stick to further smooth them.

I went through the other miniatures included in this set and didn't find any that I would describe as miscast or incomplete. Yes some of them had a good amount of flash on them but using the method I've described really helps get them ready to paint. And I am really looking forward to painting these.

The miniatures industry is in a massive growth spurt and with all of the Kickstarter campaigns, all of the promises, and all of the disappointments it is easy to forget how amazing this hobby is currently. We are in a golden age.

There is always a place for solid criticism and trying to make things better. But the level of anger that I've seen towards this project seems disproportionate to the actual situation and just gets in the way of enjoying our hobby. And that seems very counterproductive when we're all just trying to have fun.

The Gnosis suit without the Kara Black head.

With a GW Space Marine.

I always see flash that I missed when I take close-up shots. Rats.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fantasy Modeling #6

Sadly I post the final issue of the excellent 1980s hobby magazine Fantasy Modeling. This one is a doozy featuring two articles by my spirit ancestor Andrew P. Yanchus, space ship building on a budget, building a spray booth and other great stuff. Read it slowly, soak it in, for it's the last of the good stuff.

5 Editorial
6 Space Age Modeling on a Budget
12 Beauty in The Beast
18 Star Wars Mini Rigs
22 Computer Gaming Part 2
26 All Weather Spray Booth
28 Converting Non-Flyers
32 The Beast Bust
36 Horses of a Different Color
38 Building The Ark of Space
42 Points to Remember
43 Reader's Photo Page
44 The Competitive Edge
46 Odds and Ends
48 Collectables

Fantasy Modeling #6 -  

And be sure to check out the other five issues:
Fantasy Modeling Issue 1
Fantasy Modeling Issue 2
Fantasy Modeling Issue 3
Fantasy Modeling Issue 4
Fantasy Modeling Issue 5

Quick Imperial City Base.

I've been playing Fantasy Flight's Relic lately and really love the character pawns it uses. So I boiled up some Instant Mold and made a quick casting of the Ultramarine pawn. This was stuck to a base and Celluclay used to fill in around it. Then sand, "rubble rock", and a couple of Imperial Guard bits. Rubble rock is Durham's Rock Hard Water Putty that I put in a coffee grinder and then sieve into various grades. It looks a lot like exploded brick rubble and works well for urban themed bases.