Monday, December 19, 2016

Erol Otus Tribute, a New Monster, and a Treasure Pile, oh my!!!

Got sick over the weekend so I was holed up in my house all the time and even though I didn't feel well (and still don't!) I got some work done on my wooden guys just to distract me from my horrible head and chest cold.

First up, a treasure pile!  I can take no credit for this construction idea, I stole it from DMG from his YouTube channel.  I did make a couple of minor modifications, however, but regardless, here it is:
How could any adventurer resist!?  The chest is identical to the way I've been making and painting them for a while now, just a small 1/2" cube with a split 1/2" spool glued on top.  Then I paint it to look like a chest.  The base is a bit larger thin round wooden shape than I use for the individual human-sized figures, maybe it's 1.25" radius?  Something like that.  Anyway, the silver and gold pieces are just from a bead package.  They make great treasure looking pieces though.  The coins are large gold sparkle.  DMG uses the smaller dust-sized gold for his piles, and that looks good too, but I wanted something that looked a little more like an actual "coin" and these larger glitter really fit the bill perfectly.  I glued the chest down first, and then put hot glue in a rough "pile" shape on the rest of the base piece, making it a bit higher towards the middle of the base.  I then painted the whole thing black (except for the chest of course).  Then I glued down the beads, and after that glue dried I covered the entire uncovered part of the hot glue area with white glue and sprinkled the glitter on it.  After that dried, I put a watered-down coat of white glue on top of the glitter to hopefully hold it in place a little better when I'm actually using it during play.   I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

I've been wanting to do a Basilisk for some time now.  I finally got the construction the way I wanted it and decided to paint him a little bit of a different color than the standard greenish or yellowish lizard skin color.
He's a split egg head with an axle cap and flat head plug for a long neck, a larger split egg for the body, an combination of flat plugs and a small round headed plug for his tail.  The spikes are all cut tile spacers and glued onto his back.  The feet are my traditional three-toed rounded foot look.  The hardest thing, and the thing that took me the longest time to figure out, was how to do his legs.  I was at first just going to paint them on, but I didn't think it would look as good especially because it would lack the 3D quality that I wanted in the figure, so I kept trying to figure out how to do the legs.  After all, this lizard creature has 6 legs and an observer should be drawn to this fact, so painting them on there was not going to do that strongly enough, I thought.  For each leg, I settled on the large tile spacer ends with the flat side cut at a 45 degree angle to give him an "ankle" look.  Glued those onto the body and then just painted him a pretty simple "reptile" looking pattern.  I wanted the eyes to be strange looking, so I used a blue-green glitter paint.  I'm pretty happy with him, especially with how the "crouching legs" turned out.

As I've said a couple of times on this blog I believe, my favorite old-school D&D artist is Erol Otus.  His stuff I find very compelling primarily because his art does not stick with the traditional appearance of the various classes (like a fighter's armor may be very strange looking), and also his art has a very surreal look to it, which I think is perfect for a fantasy adventure game.  Anyway, I've been meaning to do some figures for PCs as near as I could match in his style.  I can't do all the details he puts into his work, for obvious reasons, and I am no where near the artist he is, but my goal was to create a fighter, cleric, and wizard that would at least give the Erol Otus feel to someone looking at them, using his paintings to inspire me.  Here is how they turned out:
And here they are in action inside the Tomb of Horrors!
And here is Otus's work that I used as my primary inspiration:
The fighter and the wizard figures in particular you can see in this image, both on the left side.

For the most part, all three figures are the same upside milk bottle construction that I often use for my human figures (these three are all humans although the wizard could be an elf I think as well ... a tall one).  However, the fighter and the wizard each have a new piece to them that I've not shown on this blog before.

First the wizard.  His head is a oval bead.  I filed one end down at a slight 45 degree angle so that when I glued it to the flat surface of the bottom of the milk bottle it would tilt backward; hence his head position.  Also I filled in the open hole at the top of the bead with a hot glue gun and as is often the case with these wooden fellows, I was trying to make a "peak" with the hot glue but created two peaks.  It looked to me like he was wearing some sort of open hat and his hair was sticking out the top in two tufts!  It was one of those ignorant, happy mistakes!  The fighter's helmet is a metal piece that I can't remember the name of, but they use them in leather working when they put studs in leather.  The unaltered piece looks like the metal cone you see here, but it has to sharp prongs that point downwards that obviously are used to pierce the leather and then are bent backwards to hold the metal cone into place.  I snipped those off and glued it on top of the smaller end of a flat head plug.  Makes a very nice helmet I think!  Also on the fighter and the wizard I painted mouths, which I do not normally do, but after not doing that with the cleric (even though I think he looks very cool presenting his holy symbol with his eyes narrowed and focused!), the mouths are an important part of Otus's work and I needed to include them in the figures.  One of the things I really like about the wizard in particular is that the figure could be used for a male or a female character.  I really hate having to make different figures for the different sexes.

Thanks again, Mr. Otus, your work enthralled me as a boy, and I am still inspired and affected by it as an older man.  I salute you!


  1. I am really liking these milk bottle figures. Hobby Lobby does not seem to have ones of the appropriate size. What size are you using?

    I immediately spotted the oval bead as I have been using them too (upcoming blog post). I can see using that for Eldars!

    You might like the Erol Otus shrine (if you don't already know about it). Lots of good artwork there.

    Reposted on Facebook. DM Scotty says "love these!" as always.

  2. Thanks again for reposting to DM Scotty's Facebook page.

    Yes, I am aware of the Erol Otus shrine, visited there often. 😃

    The milk bottles are from Lara's Crafts. I can't seem to find anyone who sells them anymore though. But if you do a search on Lara's crafts milk bottle I believe you can get an image of the package. They are I believe about 7/8" tall. I bought some when I was going to do some War of 1812 guys, but I never got figures constructed that I liked for that oroject. The first pack of them I ever bought was at a Michael's store probably three years ago. I did a mail order for them from Create For Less, but on their website they say they are no longer available. Really is a pain when they discontinue stuff. I have a stand by wooden craft supplier online who I love, but they quit having the split spools so I had to find another supplier for those. I cannot find another supplier for these milk bottles though. What they would be great for in my opinion historical wise would be Medievals. At least in terms of the infantry.

  3. Wait! I think I found a place!

    1. Wow! Thanks. The two places I use have 2" or larger, so a source for 7/8" is great. (These guys also don't carry split spools, so I never use those in my builds. Have to find something for that.)

  4. And maybe another.

    1. Oooh! These guys have great stuff for your monsters. Search on "split"! They have Split Bees, Split Acorns, and Split Ladybugs.




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