Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Doppleganger & Flesh Golem

Two new classic D&D monsters were added to my monster stable tonight, a Doppleganger, and a Flesh Golem.

I wanted to do a Doppleganger obviously in its "unchanged" form, and there are a lot of takes on this, but I wanted mine to look pretty alien.  So I made his arms longer than they should be and gave him sort of hook-like hands.
Very basic paint job, not fun to paint at all.  I couldn't decide between really wrinkly skin, or totally flat, plastic-like skin.  Given the scale and my painting style, I opted for the flat looking skin.  Either one I think you could see being how this creature's skin would be, with the wrinkled skin indicating that "anything is possible" in terms of the shape it takes, or the flat skin indicating more that the creature is naturally a "blank slate" and anything is possible in terms of the shape it takes.  I'll likely never use this monster in a game, I just wanted to have it in my collection.  I went with dark blue skin instead of gray just because I have so many gray monsters already, I wanted something different.

And now, the Flesh Golem ...
Construction wise, he's just one of my few remaining elongated medium sized eggs (same as I used for the Bugbears), axle cap head, split eggs upper arms, and split spool lower arms (actually the manacles that were used to restrain him until he broke free!), with tile spacers cut in fist shapes and glued on as his hands.  He was an absolute delight to paint.  I used my normal medium and light flesh tones, but added in some gray to make him look more "dead."  The scars were easy, just a redish brown line with a light tan color for the stitches.  I really like the way he turned out.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Spanish Troops in Bicorne

If you have read through my blog then you know that one thing I have tried to make in the past, and found to be a pain, was making bicornes.

My last attempt was with the French Napoleonic Officer on Foot and I ended up making it out of balsa wood and Modeling Magic. It was a process that worked fine for a single figure, but not for mass production. As I want to make figures for the Spanish Army of 1808, I need a simpler way to make bicornes. Grinding down blocks of balsa wood won't cut it.

Making a Simple Bicorne

As with most things I did originally in wood ended up not being scalable, I turned to craft foam sheets to see what I could do. I started by cutting and trimming a piece of foam and fitting it to a figure. Once I got the right size and shape, I used it to create a template out of plastic card.

Once you have a template made, it is much easier to make consistent pieces. Trace around the template onto the foam sheet.

Cut out the shapes. One is the front of the bicorne and one is the back.

Cut them out of the foam sheet using scissors. Now tack to the halves together using a dab of hot glue.

Tack only one of the two halves to the head of the pawn applying hot glue to the center of the bicorne half. Do not tack both as it will be very hard to center the hat onto the head if you do so.

Once you have the half centered in place, apply a little hot glue to the open end and glue the two halves together, making sure you keep the hat centered on the head.

If you got it right you should see a very simple, but functional bicorne. The hat will still pop off of the head though as it is only lightly tacked down. As you look under the hat you can see the gaps on the left and the right of the head (or the front and back, depending upon whether the figure is wearing the bicorne side-to-side or front-to-back).

To keep the hat fixed to the head we need to fill those gaps with hot glue. Fill one side and let it cool before filling the other. You do not want the tacked ends come apart.

Now the bicorne sits nicely on the head.

Making a Simple Plume

There are craft scissors that you can buy at the craft stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael's that cut irregular shapes. I have used them on my troglodyte project as for the manes and tails for horses. Now we will use it for a plume. Cut three triangles using the scissors, two smaller than the third.

Now simply hot glue the smaller pieces to the larger piece, one on each side.

Now simply insert the bottom of the plume between the folds of the bicorne and glue it in.

Simple Feet

In the beginning I used the ends of popsicle sticks for feet, but cutting and sanding took more time than it was worth. I switched to gluing wooden hearts to the bottom, which really looked nice. However, there was still the need to sand off the "point". On the positive side, the thickness of the heart looked right for a pair of shoes.

I found some foam hearts, with adhesive backing, at the craft store. I decided to give them a try as they are a lot cheaper and a lot easier to use.

The result is that they look right, from the top, but are a lot thinner than the wood. Maybe some hot glue on the top to give the shoe some body, like I did with the original feet I made. Much easier to mount and trim though.

Making Simple Heavy Lace

The last item I will show is heavy lace, tape or braid for the bicorne. Normally I paint such details on by hand as I get fixated on correcting my work when I paint outside the lines. So I try not to create any artificial lines.

That said, sometimes the braid on a figure is so heavy that it needs some dimensionality to it. A good example would be the gold braid on the edge of a General's bicorne. To make this simply use your bicorne template and cut out a half on thinner foam sheet. (There are generally three thicknesses, with the middle thickness being what I use to make the bicorne itself.)

Carefully cut the edge out of the half and glue it to the bicorne. You can use hot glue to tack the ends down and then white (PVA) glue to glue the entire piece down. Glue one of these to each of the bicorne halves and you have some impressive heavy braid!


Napoleon's bicorne had the front more prominent, almost starting to become a tricorne.

For this you will have to put a small square of foam on each end, rather than gluing the two halves together. To make the prominent front, pinch the front half to form the shape and put some hot glue on the back side, letting it cool before moving on.

Some bicornes have a higher back than front.

This can be achieved by making two templates – one for the front half and one for the back – or simply carefully cutting down the height of the front half using the common template.

Really exaggerated bicornes, where the sides dip down, would probably be better served by making a template of the appropriate shape. But it is possible to pull down the sides when filling the bottom gap with hot glue and waiting for it to harden. The stretch of the foam should have no problem dealing with distortion and once the glue hardens it will not lose that shape.

Finally, we have the Prussian 1806 bicorne, which was one of the original figures I was looking at making (rather than the 1808 Spanish).

This is very similar to Napoleon's bicorne, above, except you can insert small spherical beads at the left and right ends to represent the pom-poms, and to hold the two halves together.

Well, I hope you have found this instructive. From this I will be able to build Spanish line infantry, line cavalry, dragoons, and artillery. Expect to see those sometime in the future as I find a new opponent for my French to fight using Tin Soldiers in Action. (For more information on the Tin Soldiers in Action rules see my review and battle report. Part One Part Two Postscript

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Air Elemental & Drow

Had a bit of insomnia last night, so I did some late-night painting and got the Air Elemental and six Drow warriors finished.

Here is the Air Elemental.

Pretty happy with him.  His body is a pear glued upside down (smaller side down towards the base) to give him the "volume" look to his body that a small twister/tornado should have I think.  His arms and "neck" are split eggs, and his shoulder mini tornadoes are axle caps, as is his head.  Because he is supposed to be a swirling air mass, I wanted lots of round shapes in this construction, but I wanted him to have a recognizable, but noticeably incomplete, humanoid appearance.  Sort of like a non-material plane being "playing" at being a material plane creature and just not quite getting it right.

In terms of painting, I actually did him first with much lighter colors, but it just lacked depth.  I wanted the feeling of a really "dark" and dangerous "inner" part to him, just like a real tornado.  So I went really stark with the colors, a very dark blue base color, a light blue swirl on top of that, and a white swirl on top of that.  All in all, I'm pretty happy with the result.

And now, the Drow ...
Before I start, these guys turned out WAY better than I thought they would.  All I could think of when I was doing them was, "ho-hum, another elf figure ... ugh, how boring."  Well, I was way wrong.

As you can see I made three with short sword and buckler, and three with hand crossbow and buckler.  I'm really happy with the build and the paint job both.  The build was nothing new except I used slightly larger tile spacers for their arms so that I could have more of a "billowing" shirt sleeve look, and also it let me trim them so that the arm and the hand are all one piece, always a good thing for durability purposes.  The hand crossbow I made with only one mistake, so that's pretty good.  I had made bows before, but not crossbows.  Turned out to be very easy to cute one tile spacer to the shape of the crossbow, and glue it on top of the tilespacer arm/hand holding it.  All the details were just done with the paint job.

Speaking of the paint job, the dark gray skin tone with the eyes really gives the "evil" appearance I had hoped for.  Like I said, I was dreading doing these guys, and when it was all said and done, they are some of my favorite humanoid figures I've done to day.  The only thing you can't really see in these pictures very well is that for the hair, I first painted on a light gray color for the hair, and then went over it with white, leaving some of the light gray uncovered on the end of the hair shape to give it some depth. 

Painting a Flesh Golem right now, but I have to do some reading for the D&D game I'm running tonight, so I'm not sure if I will get him done until later this week.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Iron Golem & Hallway

Hello Everyone,

Since the game I ran at the Barrage game convention in September I've been needing to do some markers for hallways that are not closed off by a door.  So when the heroes in the game cause a room to be placed on the board (or hallway for that matter) you also place any closed doors in the room, as well as any open hallways so that the players are aware of the non-hidden exits before entering the room/hallway.  I have plenty of doorways.  I had no open hallway markers.  One of my oldest gaming buddies was playing in the game at Barrage and he said, "why don't you just make markers like you have now for the doors, but instead of painting a door on the wooden shape, paint it black to represent an open hallway?"  Brilliant!  And that's what I did.
I messed up a little during construction.  I decided I would glue the side cube walls onto the "door" shape by laying them face down on parchment paper.  Before I would just sort of manage it on the wooden workspace table I had, but I had some stick and it ended up ruining them, so I thought I would try parchment paper.  Good news is that they didn't stick at all.  Bad news is that the glue got smeared onto the parchment paper as it dried and settled (which is why there are those "wavy" textured lines on the side).  But that's fine, these are on the board for only long enough for the heroes to enter the room.  Once they enter the room, the hallway or room that this opening goes to is placed on the board at that point so this marker is removed.  Other than the rippled lines on there, I actually like the way it looks.

I wanted to do some of the tougher classic D&D monsters, so I thought I would work on some golems and elementals.  I've got several on my painting table right now, but here is the Iron Golem I made.
There is this old Ral Partha (I believe) Fighter miniature that I've always been partial to because he is holding his sword up over his head vertically like this, but his arms are in an impossible position to produce this sword position.  I wanted to mimic that with this figure, and I think I pretty much accomplished it.

The construction is essentially the same as for the various heavily armored fighter and knight figures I've done in the past.  The only difference is the head, which I just used an axle cap for.  I cut three pieces of tile spacer down (thinned down the ends of the spacer essentially) to make helmet decorations (those are the half-circle things glued to the top of his helmet) just to give him some visual interest.  I also wanted my Iron Golem to be a bit rusty, so I painted some rust patterns on him.  His eyes and mouth are dots of florescent green paint.  It took two coats (the red and the orange are bright, the green and the yellow are very thin).  This is the same type of paint I use for the "glass" parts of the Space Marine figures I do.  I wanted it to look hollow inside his helmet/head with the arcane energy glowing inside giving him "life."  The florescent paint tends to be shiny on the figure, and it produces this diffused look just from its natural drying process, where the center is more intense in hue and the color sort of diffuses out from the center.  It actually looks much better in person than in these pictures.

You know me, I can't resist an "eye-candy" shot with some adventurers coming upon a new tunnel marker with an Iron Golem guardian attacking them as they try to enter the passage.
Soon, hopefully, I'll post some pics of an Air Elemental, a Flesh Golem, and some Drow I'm working on.  Stay tuned!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Painted Monsters

Hi Everyone,

I finally got around to painting the Mind Flayer and the Otyugh figures I made a while back.  I've been working on a "metal" project lately, but needed a break so I went back to my wooden guys to finish them up. 

First the Mind Flayer.
All fear the Mind Flayer!  I'm pretty happy with him, especially the head/face which I was most worried about.  It looks a little "small" on the naked wooden figure, but it isn't once you get the eyes painted on it.  Here are a couple more shots:
Nothing earth shattering in the painting really.  For the most part it's stuff I've done before except for the eyes.  I wanted to make sure and make them look not at all human.

And now ... the Otyugh!!!

Honestly, I couldn't be happier with it!  As you can see, I did end up gluing on some sharp toothpick ends to give him some spikes.  I'm pleased with the construction and the finished paint job as well.  Doesn't always happen with a first-time construction piece with me.  I did a base for him as well but glued him on at the end, after I painted everything.  Here are some more shots:
Just two colors, a medium brown base coat (two coats for good coverage) and then a mustard yellow color on top for the body coloring.  I tried to keep it simple.  It would have been really easy to get too detailed and complicated for the tentacle pattern.  I wanted to both keep it simple, and paint on a pattern that was consistent with the pieces I used in construction.  The teeth were first given a light gray undercoat and then the teeth were painted on top, leaving some gray showing as usual.  And now, for the view of the Otyugh that an adventurer would see, right before the end ...

Hope you enjoyed these two classic D&D monsters.  I might work on some Drow next.  But for the rest of this week, I need to get some metal monsters done for my D&D game I'm running on Sunday night.  Starting a new campaign, I want to get off on the right foot!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Austrian Artillery 1866 (12mm)

This will probably be my last article on making minimal soldiers using beads, given that the construction is dead simple and the interest lower than on making the full-sized figures. I will continue making them and may, on occasion, show the painted versions. But unless I come up with something unique (like an elephant), this article will probably be the end of that series.

So to finish it all off, I wanted to go over how I built my Austrian artillery and limber for the Austro-Prussian War 1866 (or the Seven Weeks' War). First, let's start with the artillery piece.

The picture above shows the main components: A) a mini-dowel or section of round toothpick for the axle; B) two short sections of matchstick for the base of the barrel; C) a section of matchstick slightly rounded to serve as the gun barrel; and D) two circle beads that look 'good enough' for wheels.

I start by attaching the axle to the wheels using hot glue.

The hardest part will be getting the wheels aligned.

Next, attach a section of matchstick to the axle to serve as the base of the gun platform.

Now attach the second section of matchstick to the axle 90ยบ away from the first attachment point. If you looked at the platform from the side, it would form an 'L'.

Now we are going to use the pointed end of a flat toothpick for the trails.

Cut them to the right length.

  Now attach them to the axle with hot glue.

Now we need to work on the limber. First we start with two cube beads and a piece of mini-dowel.

Hot glue them together along with two more 'wheel' beads.

I have shown how to make horses previously. Make two of those and glue a mini-dowel to act as the pole for the limber. Face the horses away from the gun. When the gun is forward, the artillery is deployed; when the horses are, it is limbered.

You will need a little mini-dowel at the front for the cross-piece too.

I was using Prussian artillerists in the two pictures above, not Austrians. But I noticed that the two artillerists are a little too close together. I do want to keep things cramped to minimize painting details, but that is too cramped. I am going to have to drill some holes farther apart.

The Austrian artillerists are dead simple. They are a 1/4" flat head plug turned upside-down glued on top of a 6mm spherical bead. That is it.

The white stuff that you see above the face is a product called Writer by Americana and it is "dimensional" acrylic paint. I accidentally picked this up (the accident being that I knocked over the bottle in Hobby Lobby and shattered the plastic lid, so I felt compelled to buy it) and decided to try it.

One of my hesitations about using beads and such for more modern subjects is that so little of the headgear is a simple shape. Take the basic shako or kepi, for example. They are both basically cylindrical, but they have a peak on the front (and sometimes the back) which is, I think, distinctive. Previously I have been either ignoring it or using hot glue, as I did with the spikes on the Prussian pickelhaubes. Because Writer has a very fine nozzle and a very thick consistency, you can squeeze out small embellishments using this paint. For the peaks on 12mm shakos, it is actually perfect. I can see doing this for cockades, plates and other small, but distinctive shape. Here is what it looks like after it was dried and painted.

The figure on the right shows the profile view well and the peak is more visible. If this took anything more than a minute to do, I would not do it. As it is, it takes less time that it does for me to make the hot glue spikes for the Prussians.

Here is the finished artillery piece. I am still pondering whether to paint the gun barrel bronze or keep it black (I have seen images both ways). The spoked wheels are simply painting 'conversions'; there are no modeled spokes. Same thing with the harnesses on the horses, except for the collars; that is hot glue used to hold the head to the body. I decided to paint it like a draft horse's collar.

The rammer is a simple mini-dowel using Writer to create the sponge on the end, painted an appropriately dirty color, of course.

All in all, this was a fun little piece to create.

Next Up!

I went and visited friends last weekend and they reintroduced me to DBA (version 3, this time). It game me the occasion to bring out my wooden 28mm DBA Armenian army and show them off.

The Armenians want a foe to fight!
But as my friends have 15mm armies, I could not use these little guys. I have decided that I need to rectify that! I started an Early Imperial Roman army, but did not get very far. There is a lot of infantry and their build was pretty tedious and complex. But they look cool!

Early Imperial Romans have too much equipment!
So I started looking through the army lists, looking for another possible solution. Something simpler, but something I know I would want to play and play against.


I am going to try and build upon my bead experience, but still have a nicer army at the same (25mm) scale as my Armenians.

For the Huns that fought the Armenians, I have two choices: II/80b Sabir Hunnic Army 515–558 AD or II/80d Other Hunnic Armies 374–558 AD. The first is too specialized and for too short a period, so I decided to go with the latter. Taking all of the options into account, this army would require:
  • 1 General Cavalry unit
  • 1 General Light Horse unit
  • 11 Light Horse (archer) units
That is a lot of horse archers! Still, they are relatively easy to make and they are only two riders and two horses per base. (The Armenian army has four bases of them.)

If I decided to add the Sabir, I would need to add the following:
  • 1 General on foot as a Warband unit
  • 5 Hunnic Warband units
  • 5 Hunnic Bow units
As the Sabir as described as "exceedingly ferocious and rapacious". Hmmm. Might make for some interesting figures and a camp.

I am definitely going to use the same style of horse that I used for my Armenian horse archers, but I am considering using a different construction style for the riders. Partially, this is because I don't want them to look the same save for coloring. I believe the pointed, fur-trimmed hat will call for something different. I will start with a few experiments.

But, that is what is coming up next from me. Matt is on a 'wood hiatus' working on a project with metal figures (๐Ÿ˜  I know, right?) so unless he gets bitten by a bug, it may be a while before we see any of his interesting creations. Hopefully he will figure out how to work wood into the terrain he is building for his project and we can see some of that.



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