Category Archives: Miniature Monday

It Figures: A New Hope

Because in the end you need to show, not tell.

I told you I would, and I did. Father’s Day weekend 2016 I marched into the local craft and game-stores, bought the gear, and laid out a space in my basement to start painting figurines again. I’m honestly quite scared.

WHO:

Not who you might think. My three unpainted immortal-sized figurines are glued and ready as I showed you last time. If I am successful they will be works of art. But come now. Gotta’ take a test run.

Best practice- newspaper upside-down, or else you'll start reading...
Best practice- newspaper upside-down, or else you’ll start reading…

So I riffed my old stock, threw out 95% of the paint, all the glue, and got to the level of the old, unfinished figs. There were MANY more than I remembered: dozens of them. And most not very impressive, a few cool enough but not representative of anything I’ve seen in the Lands. I narrowed it down to a handful both relevant and curious. Then I biased back toward what was of immediate interest and not too tough to start out on. The winners:

NewGear-3New

The Bell-Ringer

Bell-Ringer2This was a can’t-lose no-brainer choice. This unearthly image from a shared nightmare horrified and nearly killed the entire band of adventurers in The Plane of Dreams. That’s a really fun tale, by the way, kind of a hit-parade of heroes from tales set in an earlier period (including Judgement’s Tale and Three Minutes to Midnight). But the cool-factor for the Bell-Ringer goes up since he’s a) larger than life-sized (easier to paint) and b) a kind of horror stereotype with little skin and big “handles” for painting (wide swatches of the same color, not as much detail). I believe I can be very successful with him.

VuthienneVuthienne1

The proud, near-manic Primara of Oncario is an important figure in The Eye of Kog and I do need to address the gender-balance whenever I can, especially when it’s an authority figure. She will definitely be more trouble to paint, lots of small detail, and I might wait until last with her. She’s seen here bearing the traditional office-staff of the Primara, not the Scepter of Law she used to grow her city’s power, and thus destroy it. I really must explore Vuthienne’s characters to reflect her better, and painting could help (two weeks to go until the book is done and her big scene is coming up).

Final Judgement

Final Judgement1I could hardly believe this figure when I took it out. I forgot I had it! The father of Solemn Judgement, equivalent to Sir Not Appearing in this Novel from Judgement’s Tale, is nevertheless an important image and influence on his son through the tale of his subsequent life. Talk about a Father’s Day surprise! That’s the same hat, cape and boots which Solemn took to go adventuring, and of course Final bears both a sword and gun he never allowed his son to hold (but the latter of which Judgement finds in the Lands anyway, and takes with him).

These three will be my warm-up attempts before I attempt Percis, Astor and Stathos.

WHERE:

DaysofK_rpgFor my supplies I took a run into the local game-store Days of Knights, which if you haven’t seen it is well worth a trip. Lots of places have “this store”, and around here it’s The Days of Knights: call me an apple-polisher but I think the displays just get better and better around there. I bought about a dozen bottles of paint to start my new excursion into the world of fine detail and eye strain. The folks there are terrific, there’s a game club in the back, events every week, and more. Maybe I just started up painting so I’d have an excuse to go back here more often.

HOW:

I can already tell, I’m going to make big-time use of my magnifying lens. I used its light and even its magnifying power to hone in on some of the faces and detail work I wanted to

Part-way along, lots of "oops" lines
Part-way along, lots of “oops” lines

show you with these three figs. As valuable as it’s been, though, you have to be careful– the lens annihilates your depth perception, and if the lens isn’t flat over the top of the figure, I actually started to get vertigo! I used water-bottle tops to mix in new shades (wrote the formula on my newspaper in case I had to try again) and attacked the Bell-Ringer in classic “getting dressed” formula (meaning, the inmost layers first, moving to things further out on his body). I couldn’t stop thinking about Geri, the old man who fixes Woody, his arm shaking like a leaf until he starts working. Pretty much the same here! But with the fine points on my brush and the help of the lens, I was able to minimize the going-over strokes. ToyStory2_GeriMixed colors for almost all his accoutrements, the only solid shade I used was the bronze of his outer armor. I wanted him looking unhealthy and yet threatening, nightmarish I guess the best term. In the story he doesn’t carry a scythe, but a hammer which he uses to bash the bell and drive the sleeper to terror. The dream gets worse and worse the more he appears.; but the Bell-Ringer dream was rare and not shared until Nightmare came along…

I mixed black and other dark colors into my lighter wood and green shades, then decided to use grey or black washes on most of the figure to take off some of the edge of reality.

I will likely come back to touch him up in some places you can see here, but this is the essential effect I was reaching for. Let it dry, spray with matte finish, detach from the paper and the Bell-Ringer will be the first new addition to my figurine collection in longer than I care to think about. Maybe I’ll settle him on the shelf close to the Tributarians who I’m sure recall him fondly.

You rang? No, I did!
You rang? No, I did!

 

 

 

Next up will be Final Judgement and Vuthienne. One more shout-out to The Days of Knights for being my favorite kind of local store!

DaysofK_collectibles
Shelf-envy

 

 

It Figures: the Future

Because in the end you have to show, not tell.

You don’t have to take my written word for it about the Lands of Hope. I have photos. And this time, I’ve decided to take you through the process in a world where heroes are built from scratch to suit the tales they came from.

I've had these three for over a year. Finally decided, I will paint them.
I’ve had these three for over a year. Finally decided, I will paint them.

Yes, for the first time in over twenty years I’ve decided to take up the brush again and begin adding to the massive store of visual evidence I have for the Lands’ existence.

WHO:

Are they kidding? Look at the rope! Much like Astor himself, too cool for words.
Are they kidding? Look at the rope! Much like Astor himself, too cool for words.

First and foremost, it’s the fine folks at DGS Games who I happened to see when one of their Kickstarter campaigns featured a hero of the Lands of Hope I never thought I’d see in person. Honestly, he’s perfect: Percis the Giantsbane, a hero of the middle years in the Lands who figures in the story line of Judgement’s Tale as well as in the Book of Tales collection. You had to support them at a certain level which resulted in three figs being sent, and I noted there was a very decent Pikeman as well as a Stealthic-type among the most original looking figurines I’d ever seen.

Best of all, these guys are larger-than-life! That is, they’re 32 mm scale, rather than the usual 25 mm; which means Percis is perfectly-sized as a Minion (his status in the present day of the Lands, something like a saint or angel in Alleged Real World Terms). I couldn’t believe my luck, and my rapidly-failing eyesight was grateful as well.

WHY:

Unpainted figs are already my favorite color! Percis, doing his imitation of The Scarecrow
Unpainted figs are already my favorite color! Percis, doing his imitation of The Scarecrow

It’s time, that’s why. Thirty years I didn’t write about the Lands because my head was screwed up about the job of a Chronicler, but I faithfully painted what I saw for two of those three decades. Some of my earliest figs predate my discovery of the Lands, to tell the truth. I enjoyed the painting nearly as much as sharing the tales themselves. And when you see such fine work coming to light, it’s impossible to stay out of that collective sense of patience and achievement. I’m no therapist (I’m on the demand side there), but I’m sure there’s a deep connection between the detail I can bring to my chronicles and the hours I spent trying to paint (and repaint) the buckles, eyes, shades, wine-stains and heraldry of these characters. Most of the time I was painting, there were guests around who took a figure here and there, and almost universally did better than me. I won’t tell you which ones, because jealousy. But I got steadily better and despite the eyes I think I can continue to improve now.

First attempt = epic fail. More patience, less glue.
First attempt = epic fail. More patience, less glue.

The joy of having Sir Percis, Stathos or Astor to show will be well worth the time. And even the money… have to draw up a list:

  • Paints- mine are completely dried out, bricks of useless gorgeous color now. New colors will run about $10/3 good-sized bottles, and one brand comes with dropper-tops so I can precisely mix (and repeat) color shades. Very cool. I figure around $40-60 to get a good pallette
  • Brushes- checking mine, you need extremely small ones to do this kind of work (and I’m clumsy so even smaller is better). I have a few that will probably hold up to get started, but another two or three in my size won’t break the bank. A set of 8 at the craft store has five I’ll never use, but for the whole bunch it’s less than $10
  • A magnifier on a stand. I have to admit it, there is no way on God’s earth I can see what I’m doing with just the glasses (either set). I take them off to work already. Another $15
  • That’s a serious sub-total, but maybe if I’m a good boy my family will gift me for Father’s Day, and by the end of the summer I can show you Percis

HOW:

Never saw a pole-hammer so perfect for this hero. Percis' is even a touch longer, he wields it one-handed.
Never saw a pole-hammer so perfect for this hero. Percis’ is even a touch longer, he wields it one-handed.

Since my last column, my old Nokia Lumia phone completely died and my company replaced it with the iPhone 5. OK, wow- and this is not even the best tech they have? I’m nowhere near what the editor on the phone can do, so I’ll have to learn as I go. But it can get pretty darn close without any special lens, and I am using more light now so that helps. Here are shots of the opening stages, de-flagging and gluing the figs.

If you think about it, most figurines are cast inside a standard cylinder-sized space. What’s exciting about these figurines, aside from their size and detail, is how they all “break the plane” with things that are clearly outside that cylinder. Gluing is a weak point for me- Crazy Glue or other 10 second varieties are too

I got your broken plane, RIGHT HERE.
I got your broken plane, RIGHT HERE.

dangerous, so I have to use the old-fashioned model cement kinds and just. hold. on. for. ever. Deep breaths and try to lose track of time: my glasses are off so I can’t even read or watch TV! Ah the travails. But soon I’ll get paint on these beauties and it will all start to be worth it.

Be sure to check in later as the Minions and Heroes of Hope come to life!