Sunday, December 29, 2013

Update Madness

I managed to prime the minis yesterday (Yay Me!).

Bilbo and Gollum (on 1/2" bases)

The Average Wight (war) Band


The wights got stuck onto 1" squares for uniformity, but I think the basing will need to be prettied up a little. 

Treebeard (on his included 2" metal square) got spray-primed with a green undercoat. I was going to use black, because I wanted to make sure the leafy recesses were –ahaha– shaded. But I was out of black, so I used the green instead. Why not?

Next up: 


Yes, the pool is done. Granted, I still need to do something about the Doors of Durin, etc. But check it out (I put the bead there as a "Transfix/Entangle" marker):

Bad day for Gandalf!

The water is coated with gloss Modge Podge for sheen. I tried to make the color sort of murky. I also painted the tentacle bases with the same shades. The process was basically the same as the river pieces.

Another finished (but not varnished piece is Balin's Tomb from the GW set. 

Also, I did a color test for the Minas Tirith soldiers. It's a very quick & dirty job, but I basically went with the movie look of black and silver.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Racing the sun

Tomorrow (Saturday) is supposed to be sunny and in the mid 50s. Tonight, Gollum and the Reaper minis I'd ordered get filed and assembled for priming! If there's time, I may prime Bilbo too.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Winter Woes

It was sunny and 73ºF here on Saturday. NOT typical December weather! My Reaper order was estimated to arrive Saturday, so I was stoked to get the figures prepped and primed while Mother Nature was cooperating. Sadly, the holiday shipping madness delayed the box and I didn't get it in time. (Insert sad trombone Wa-WAAA) Now it's raining and cold and the stuff will probably arrive today. Such is the life of a mini painter in winter on the East Coast of the US.

In different news, I have yet to receive the reference photos for the Catthulhu minis, so that's on hold (at least the kitties are paint-ready). In the meantime, getting ready for X-mas has eaten up a fair bit of weekend/evening time (NTM wasting time on Minecraft :-p ). I'm thinking the next thing for Moria is to finish the water terrain.

I've started the GW piece for Balin's sarcophagus too, so that's almost done. You can see the piece in the foreground here. I'll post a pic of my finished version once it's done.

Teaser: Smaug is coming down the pipeline, too! I've had this fig for a while, but I haven't really put paint to brush yet. I really want to make him nice. This is the biggest dragon mini I own. Check out this old bare metal pic I took for scale (the Reaper elf is on a 1" Hirst block base):

It's now assembled and I spray primed him "Dragon Red" with Army Painter primer, so I guess that counts as started. I also have a wooden display base I want to use for him on the shelf that he can come loose from to put on the table (probably on a CD base for SBH rules' purposes).

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cold be Heart and Hand and Bone

Well not exactly.

As a Christmas present to myself, I used the money I made on the initial Catthulhu paint jobs to order a few more Middle Earth type figs from Reaper.

First off, I got three Barrow Wights: the Barrow Warden Lord, and the Barrow Warden 2 pack. The books don't actually specify how many wights there are in the mounds, but three seemed a nice number. I know I could have used the nazgul, but what the heck! You can never have too many undead for Christmas!

Don't be hasty! I also ordered Mossbeard for Ent-y goodness!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Dream of a Thousand Cats

24 actually, and it's really sort of a nightmare, but still!

I agreed to help on on the Call of Catthulhu Kickstarter by painting the custom cat minis that were one of the rewards. The deal is the pledger gets to send a pic of their own cat in to be turned into a painted mini. Now that the KS has finished and funded, there are a total of 24 cats ordered, now I get to paint 'em up.

The cat minis are from Reaper and glued to some 3/4" GW bases I had in a bag. I spent most of yesterday AM filing and basing them, then applying primer. Now I just need to get the source files for the paint jobs.

While they are supposed to be painted like the individual cats, the fact is these tiny thing (≈1/2" long) are only going to hold so much detail. The delivery date on this is March 2014, so I have a bit of time. However, I suspect that this will dominate my painting time for the next few weeks.

Here a couple samples I did a few weeks ago:

As you can see, there's not a lot of room for detail (at least not with my level of skill). Also, I doubt I'll be able to do customized all the bases like the"carpeting" under the Russian Blue. The "broccoli" base of the mini is not great on top of the flat base, but the legs are too tiny to pin or trust to glue, so I'll just work with what I've got.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What IS that??

A pretzel gone horribly wrong?

No, it the water outside the doors of Durin. You know, the water part of "The Watcher in the Water"?

Remember when I started making the lake/pond for the terrain? Well, this is (finally) the next step. The border was covered in a mix of sand, PVA glue, and water and left to dry. I purposefully wanted it a bit sloppy to give it a natural look. The brown rectangle outside the edge is just a scrap of cardboard I laid down to catch the drips. The few edges and corners of foamcore peeking out will be further obscured by flocking and paint. The center of the MDF board will get a water effect similar to my modular river pieces. Though the pond will be more a murky greenish shade. Once the water and the border are painted, I'll add a few bits of scrub brush on the edges and some grass flocking. The piece should be usable as water terrain for any scene, but should serve admirably for the tentacle fight at Moria's entrance.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Preciousss

So I was thinking about all this Lord of the Rings stuff and I realized that as long as I was including non-Moria figures like the Nazgul, then I should probably have a mini for a character that was actually at Moria in the books and movies. Namely, Smeagol aka Gollum.

Since I didn't really feel like spending $20-30+ for the GW ones, I picked up an unpainted Mithril Miniatures figure set from Noble Knight Games on eBay. It's 32mm scale, includes Bilbo and Gollum, and was about $10 (with S&H).

I don't know that I'd use Bilbo in a skirmish, but it's sort of cool to have a mini for him too.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Do not Disturb the Water.

I had mentioned before about my concerns about the Watcher in the Water, and spent the last couple weeks trying to find a non-scratchbuilt solution. Oddly, tentacle minis aren't as plentiful as you'd think. Oh, there are things like "Chaos Bits" to add to the figure, but just monster tentacles are somewhat limited.

After getting sniped on an eBay auction for the old GW watcher bits, I finally found something worth giving a try at Auggie's Games. They arrived yesterday and –I have to say– I am pleased. Check these bad boys out!

Look out, Strider!

All six plus S&H was about $25. They are pre-painted, but look pretty darned good, IMO. I think I may try to make the bases more "watery" (and I may add a color coded dot to each base to keep the pseudopods straight during combat) but otherwise they are exactly what I was after. 

...Now I just need to finish the pool and the doors

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Nine have left Minas Morgul!

Or at least the painting table. 

I finally finished the last of these Reaper wraiths that I bought to use as my Nazgul. As mentioned previously, the Witch King is Murkillor. The wraiths came in 4-packs from the Dark Heaven line.

These are very simple paint jobs (the flame on WK's sword is the fussiest part of all of them). Just black primer and some grey highlights. The armor and weapons are 50-50 black & gunmetal. A bit of stone basing and voila! These once great kings of men are ready to do Sauron's will!

Not exactly from Moria, but good for spooky undeads and for general LOTR goodness.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pics as Promised

Skull Pass Baddies

LOTR/Moria figs

The "Nazgul" is a Reaper wraith that I bought two 4-packs of years ago, along with Murkillor as the Witch King. The idea was to acquire the Nine cheaper than the GW sets. I only have a couple left to do. 

GW Dark Elves

Furlough figure painting

For those few of you reading this blog who were not aware, I am a federal employee and have been furloughed these last two weeks (yay. :-/ ). On the up side, I have had time for painting. I'll try to get some pics up later, but I am heading out of town tomorrow for a few days (trip was planned and paid for weeks before the shutdown), so if I don't manage it today, it may be this weekend.

On the Moria front, I finished the cave troll from the "Mines of Moria" box set. I also painted a few figs from the WFB "Skull Pass" set: a night goblin, a spider rider, and a troll. I even finished three Dark Elf crossbowmen!

I have also actually been working on a commission from my brother. His new RPG "Call of Catthulhu" has been getting some nice reviews and he wanted some kitty minis to go with his demos, etc. I have one more to do, then I'll be finished with his order. I can't post pics of them yet until he gives the say-so. For the record, though, these minis are TINY! They are Reaper figs, I believe from their familiars packs. Thank goodness they don't need complex paint jobs. Although I have tried to do different breeds. So far there is a "Tuxedo" (black & white), a Siamese, a Russian Blue, a Calico, and a pure white shorthair. The last one will be an orange tabby. I've also tried to have fun with some of the bases (GW 1/2" squares).

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Shadow & Flame (finally!)

Well, I have declared the balrog table-ready! He's been spray varnished and photographed, so now he's ready to drag some wizards off some bridges.

I beefed up the base with some green stuff for stability and added  a few Hirst bricks and gravel for rubble. The broken axe was part of the sculpt, but the cracked shield and the skull (in back) were added.

Going for the whole "fire on the inside" look.

Distance shot.

Not 100% happy with the molten sword, but it gives you the idea. The "stripes" on the wings are more molten-y goodness.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Prime Time

Not much painting lately, but I'm going to painting club tomorrow. After which I hope to have the balrog table-ready. For now, it's 82º, low humidity,  and just a bit of a breeze. So what do you do with a day like that when you have some leftover Army Painter blue primer (and plenty of white), along with kids who are scared of zombies?

You turn two of these* (free from a head-injury awareness fair):

Into this:

I stuffed the vents with newspaper before spraying and covered them each with a layer of gloss spray varnish afterwards. I wish my youngest had chosen the Dragon Red over Skull White, but whaddya gonna do? Kids!

*Not the exact same model helmet, but the paint job was identical (I forgot to take "before" pics).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Odds & Ends & progress pics

This little fella is a squire from Reaper's Crusaders (Warlord Line):

 Here are a few Skull Pass figs I cleaned up and primed, just to have for fun-time painting.
(Night Goblin, Troll, and Spider-Rider)

And here's the balrog so far. I need to do some gray highlights on the black, touch up the face (glowing eyes, etc.) and a few details on the base. Then I think I'll have to move on.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I had to go back over a bunch of the balrog's black areas. I noticed that the grey from the base had spattered a bit. Hopefully I'll be able to sit down and finish him off over the next few days.

I also prepped a couple GW minis from the "Skull Pass" WFB set, just because they looked like they'd be fun to paint.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Progress Behind the Scenes

I haven't worked on the Moria stuff in the last few days, but I have been painting a bit. I also finally got around to fixing my painting table. The surface is a metal tabletop that hangs on a free standing frame with shelves (IKEA, I think). I'd had to move it about a year ago. When I reassembled it, I hung the table two notches too high (about 36" off floor). It made for uncomfortable painting, but I didn't realize my mistake until much later and I'd put everything back. As a result, I was painting less. On Father's Day, I spent some of my "Me" time fixing it, and now it's back at proper desk height.

I also painted a few older figs to practice some layering techniques I'd been studying from's videos (I recently signed up for their Vault membership). I will post some pics soonish. I also worked a little on the GW Dark Elves.

Lastly, I made a purchase last night. I picked up a Paintier 80 carousel from my FLGS. It should make seeing and finding my paint colors a bit simpler than the box cases I've been using.

Monday, June 10, 2013


I primed and painted the test tentacle. Take a look.

1" grid on the Chessex mat for scale.

I think the color scheme is okay. The base is frankly a mess. It's mostly some watered-down blue paint and the ink washes just pooling there. The surface is lumpy from greenstuff too.

The whole this is too top heavy (falls over easily). But, I think the method will produce some decent Watcher in the Water tentacles in the end. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Looking Ahead

 'What are you going to do then?' asked Pippin, undaunted by the wizard's bristling brows. 
'Knock on the doors with your head, Peregrin Took,' said Gandalf. 'But if that does not shatter them, and I am allowed a little peace from foolish questions, I will seek for the opening words.'


I've got several things to work on for the Moria project already, but something that's been on my mind lately are the doors. While I don't know that opening them should be too large a factor in the skirmish's tactics, I do want something cool for the doors themselves. Also, I may need to work in the holly trees.

Currently, the water is a terrain piece WIP. I'd like it to be fairly modular so it can be used in other games/scenarios; middle sized murky pools are always a good addition to a fight! So perhaps the entrance itself will be its own, more distinctive piece of scenery. I am imagining a stone cliff with a narrow path at its base, the trees, and the doors between them. The door should open and close too. Checking the FOTR text, I see that it describes them opening as: 

"Slowly it divided in the middle and swung outwards inch by inch, until both doors lay back agains the wall."

The arch is said to have been "As high as Gandalf could reach," So about eight feet then, I guess. 

I will have to think about the best way to make that. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

76 minutes

Some progress on the balrog at painting club Sunday (though I need to re-glue and pin his sword hand). Today I painted an old Reaper vampire for fun. It took from 2:21 pm to 3:37 pm, bare metal to drying. Which is not too shabby I thought, especially just for tabletop.

2:21 pm - Ready to prime

2:23 pm - Spray primer applied and drying

 3:37 pm - Ink Wash applied and drying.

I put a couple coats of spray varnish on about 4:15 (one gloss, one matte), so now it's table-ready.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

paint, but no progress

I painted a little on Memorial Day, but I got wrapped up in trying some speed-painting techniques on an orc berserker from Reaper instead of the Moria project. Gaming is tonight, so not likely to do anything then. However, our painting club is this weekend, so I hope to make some more progress on the balrog if nothing else. If I am really clever, I'll make the other tentacles between now and then so I can work on those too.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sucker Punch

I worked on the Watcher tentacles last night. I used a tip from Sytgianheart and added suckers using little press blobs of greenstuff. I super-glued them to the dried tentacle and pressed in the center with the wooden end of a detail paintbrush. Overall, I am pleased with the results. This arm may have to be just a prototype, though. I think I can do better with the sizing and spacing of the suction cups. You can see the effect is cool, though.

I also worked on the cracked lava skin of the balrog. Both shoulders are blacked in now. I added a yellow ink wash to tone down the white parts that showed through, but I think it may be too much yellow. A little more white left showing would have been better, IMO.

This weekend I may try working on the pool some more. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Watery Works (many pics)

I was going to work on the balrog last night, but that didn't quite work out. I did manage to do some work on the Watcher in the Water portion of the set.

Back when I had made the modular river for Song of Blades and Heroes skirmishes, I had cut a bunch of other pieces of MDF in various shapes. The plan was to use them for things like swampy ground and ponds. The largest of them was for a small lake.

I pulled that out and decided it was big enough for the pool in front of the entrance to Moria. First I placed the board on a piece of foam core.

(The grid in background are 1" squares from a Chessex mat)

Next I traced it. Since the foam core was black I used a white correction fluid pen.

Once the trace was dry, I cut it out with an Xacto knife.
I traced an internal line about 1" from the edge of the foam core and cut that out.

The resulting ring will be the "shore" of the lake. I glued it down and put a couple heavy books on it to hold it flat while it dried.

The next phase will be to shape and bevel the edges a little, as well as fill them with some spackling or pumice to make them seem more natural. When that's done, I'll paint it. 

While that was drying, I took a first stab at a greenstuff Watcher tentacle. It's about 3 1/2" long, rolled around some copper wire. I made the sucker marks with the end of a detail brush handle and the point of a toothpick. It's pretty basic, but I think I'm on the right track. I may have to paint it up before I can decide.