Saturday, May 6, 2017

It Begins Again ...

After more or less finishing the Balin's Tomb project (the game is scheduled for June 25th, I will post pictures and a battle report here afterwards), I'm back to doing some classic D&D figures.

One of the things I have noticed in doing these wooden miniatures now for several years is that you end up improving them, and I don't just mean the paint jobs.  You end up doing more with the construction as well, and the improvements tend to "out date" your old figures.  Another way to think of that is that the newer way of doing the figures makes the old way obsolete.

This is a challenge on many levels, but the biggest one is not wanting to redo figures because you will be happier with your new way of doing them compared to the old way.  But of course, that is going to happen.  Also, it can be tough using the new and the old figures together in a game because of the stark contrast between the figures.  A good example of this is looking at the posts where I show the LotR figures I did 2 years ago compared to the ones I just did.  They would just look funny together on a game table, sort of like putting an old Grenadier or Heritage fantasy miniature that you painted when you were 12 on the gaming table with a brand new Reaper fantasy miniature that you painted at 50.  You can certainly do it, and there is nothing "wrong" with doing that, but it does look a little odd.

Same thing happens with these wooden guys, so I decided that I would continue my efforts refocusing on classic D&D monsters, and some new player character figures.  The good news is that some of the monsters are not really affected by this.  The Otyugh is a good example, he will stand the test of time most likely.  But the player character figures in particular will not.

I've already posted the test figure for this, but I did 5 more orcs with my new construction process to give me an even half dozen new style orcs.
The milk bottle construction does limit the poses somewhat with the feet always having to be positioned this way, but that is less of a limiting factor than the way I'm dong the heads (split larger bead with tile spacer ears).  Even with those limitations, I really like the construction on these guys.  The heads are rounder than when I use the axle cap (which tends to be flatter) and the half-holes created by splitting the bead create in some cases small holes to insert the ears into for even more strength when gluing.  The ears themselves really give these figures (and the goblins too) an "orcish" feel to me, making them look noticeably different than a human or elf figure.  I even changed the paint scheme a bit on the faces to make them look more consistent and to create some facial creases around the mouth, and I painted a suggestion of a nose as well.  The "skirts" are just paper like I've been doing, and I continue to be amazed at how much "movement" the paper puts into the figure's appearance.  So construction is just a milk bottle body, tile spacer feet, split bead head, tile spacer ears, split spool shoulders, tile spacer arms and weapons and shoulder armor, and small wooden thin precut wooden circles for shields and bases.  I will eventually do 6 more to give me an even dozen, probably with more varied melee weapons.

I've been trying to embrace doing more figures with cloaks so that I can get better at doing them.  So, for my new PC figure I decided to do an old school thief.
His construction is nothing new per se.  Milk bottle body, tile spacer feet, tile spacer arms and weapons, small bead for a head.  The leather armor is just a paper "skirt" that I put on where the milk bottle starts to taper, just like I did with the Aragorn, Boromir, and Legolas figures from the Balin's Tomb project.  The tricky part of this figure without question was the cloak, especially the hood piece. 

For the cloak, the first thing I did was glue the large part covering his back onto the figure.  This was not difficult, just cut it to fit, got a shape I liked, it was fine.  In the future I may try to actually do more folds in it, rather than painting the folds on.
The hood is what took me about a week to figure out how to do.  I was trying to do it in one piece, but I couldn't get the "darts" (for those of you who do not sew, these are the angle cuts in fabric that allow you to create things like pleats in pants) to work right with the paper.  And it was just too hard to control as one large piece.  I must have cut 20 different versions but because the single piece was so hard to control, I could never pull the trigger to start gluing it on the figure.  I just didn't have the confidence that I could control the relatively large "hood" piece of paper through all the steps necessary to glue it to get it to look right.

What I did instead was create three strips that I used to make the hood.  These strips run from the figure's left side to right side (not front side to back side) and this allowed me to easily create the folds around the face (as one piece), then a middle piece, and finally the back piece ending in a point down his back.  The paper still has to be folded to conform to the hood shape, but since the pieces themselves are much thinner/smaller, this was easier to do.  And, because you are gluing paper to paper in most cases, or paper to the flat side/top of a bead (the head), the drying process for the glue was a piece of cake, I never had to go back and reattach any part of it or anything.
Then it was just a matter of painting the cloak's folds.  I did what I normally never do with these figures and used a black base coat for the cloak (I prefer a dark brown, it's much "softer" and doesn't look so harsh) and then painted the dark gray color over the black leaving some showing through to produce the suggestion of folds.
I actually glued the mask piece, which is just another piece of paper, onto the face after I put the hood on.  I thought this might have been a mistake, and it was a little fiddly I admit, but I think it turned out better this way because I new exactly how wide the mask was going to need to be given the opening in the hood.  Had I done the mask first, I obviously would not have known that.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with the figure.  I'm sure I'll get better down the road at the cloaks and make another cloaked thief figure, but for now, this one works just fine.


4 comments:

  1. As always, the miniatures are awesome. The thief looks like Artemis Entreri.

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  2. Thanks, Vicente!

    You are right! I hadn't thought of that, but it does look like him more than a little bit.

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  3. Thanks Dale! I've got some more on the painting table right now, not another one with a "hood" but I'm trying something with hair now. We'll see how it goes.

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