Thursday, May 28, 2015

Not a Bulette™, Honest It's Not

Next up on the painting table from Reaper's Kickstarter II is this critter, which they call 77372: Burrowing Horror and I will go out on a limb to call a Bulette.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Badger 105 Patriot - review

I took an opportunity to get myself another airbrush from Chicago Airbrush Supply, an airbrush I've wanted for a while now, the Badger 105 Patriot. It was on special at CAS, and thanks to one of their periodic holiday vouchers I got it even cheaper. So, score! It got here very promptly too — just five days from ordering to appearing on my doorstep here in New Zealand.

The stand doesn't come with the airbrush. That's a soldering-iron stand.
 It's a double-action gravity feed brush with an integral paint cup. It also comes with a plastic push-on cap for the paint cup, for those who are likely to be moving the brush around a lot while they're painting, though that's not likely to be much of an issue for me.

It's roughly equivalent to the Paasche Talon I bought a while ago, but so far I'm finding it superior in almost every way. The machining of the components is excellent, the action of the trigger is smooth and easy, and the open tip makes it easy to get in very close without back-scattering air and paint from the painted surface into the tip cup. The Talon uses a skeleton tip shroud to achieve the same thing, and that does work OK, but I still found myself having to be very careful about the amount of air and paint I put through in close-up work. The cup of the Badger has a lower profile than that of the Paasche, so it interferes less with one's sight-line while working in close — for my purposes, it could be even lower. The weight and balance in the hand is very nice, and the skeleton back-cap gives instant access to the needle for pre-set paint flow adjustments and the like. Plus, for maintenance, you can dismount the needle without having to disassemble the whole brush, which is a bonus.

I've added a converter to this airbrush's valve stem so that I can use it on my Paasche hose.

Speaking of the Badger's open tip, here it is right here. And this is one place where one has to be a bit cautious: the needle stands proud of the tip, and like all airbrush needles it's a delicate thing, easily damaged. You do need to take care not to ram it into your paint surface, or inadvertently drag it across your sleeve or anything. It is often possible to re-straighten a bent needle tip, but it's not all that easy.

When not in use, the tip is protected by a spring-fit metal cap, which you can see in the first photo. It goes on and off very smoothly, and stays on firmly. It's nice.

Badger claim this as a "universal" brush, that will paint a line from pencil-thin to broad, heavy coverage without the need for changing tips and needles. That seems to be true, up to a point. It will certainly paint a nice fine line, but I find the spray pattern to be a bit more granular than that of the 150 or 200 with XF (extra-fine) tips and needles mounted.

Overall, I like this airbrush a lot. It's very flexible, and it's easy to clean and maintain, which I appreciate a lot. I think it'll be my go-to airbrush for just about everything bar ultra-fine or super-broad painting.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hail Hydra!

This is yet another of Reaper's Bones plastic figures, 77191 Hydra by Sandra Garrity. I like Garrity's work, and this is no exception, though I feel that it would be more useful as a gaming miniature if its pose were more compact, more curled around on itself. That would probably require that it be moulded with one or two more pieces, but it's already a multi-piece model so that wouldn't be a big problem — at least, not from the end-user's point of view.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Tin Full Of Tanks

Top left — KV85, Top-middle — ISU-152, top right — T34-76D

Bottom left — SU-85 (or SU-100), bottom right — T34-76A.
I glue little rare-earth magnets to the bottom of all my micro-armour so that I can store and transport them like this, in little shallow tins. This particular tin is one that a set of 10 Caran D'Ache crayons came in, and it's an ideal depth. Old tobacco tins are good too, though they're getting to be a bit expensive.

It's a little crowded at the moment, and I should probably transfer some of these to another one.

Monday, May 18, 2015


I've got a whole bunch of 1:285 scale late-WWII Soviet armour that I got ultra-cheap as a job-lot a while ago, and it all needs painting. It's not actually an army I have all that much interest in fielding, but what the hell. There are a couple of manufacturers present; one is definitely C-in-C, but the other I'm unsure about — possibly Scotia.

I've been flailing about trying to find the ideal paint shade and processes to make my life as easy as possible. Fortunately the Soviets didn't go as much for markings as other combatants, so that at least will help.

These are some of a bunch of early T-34s I bought quite a few years ago when C-in-C were doing a cut-price deal — 10 tanks from each of Russia, Japan, Germany and America. They're painted in a dark Tamiya green of some sort — NATO Green, I think — and dry-brushed with Tamiya Buff. The colour would be roughly equivalent to Vallejo Russian Green I suppose, and it's pretty much the dark colour I used to think all Russian armour was painted. These days I prefer something more in the olive green line.

This (and the SU-85 or -100 below) was painted in a base of Vallejo's Parched Grass surface primer, and washed with Citadel Athonian Camoshade, which is a sort of olive khaki. Dry-brushed with Vallejo Buff. It's not too bad, but it's just a little bit too bright for what I want.

SU-85 (or SU-100)
One good thing about Soviet armour of this era is that the guns are simple tubes, without much in the way of sleeves or muzzle-brakes. That makes them a breeze to replace with stiff steel pins, which are much less susceptible to damage than the cast-on soft white-metal barrels. It's a little bit of a drag drilling and pinning hundreds of models, but doing them just a few at a time as I paint, it doesn't take long at all.

I'm not sure whether these are SU-85s or SU-100s — I'm not au fait enough with Soviet armour to be able to tell the difference at a glance. the SU-100 would have a much longer barrel of course, but otherwise they're near enough in basic shape that I'll happily use the models for either, as I require.

These KV-85s have been painted in Vallejo Russian Uniform and washed with Citadel Agrax Earthshade, dry-brushed with Vallejo Buff. They're a shade or two down from the ISU-152 and SU-85, (though the camera doesn't really show that very well) and I think that this will be my basic colour for all the rest.

I replaced the barrels with lengths of 0.7mm steel wire.

These are the T-34 Model 1942/43 from the Mystery Manufacturer. Having looked at them a bit more closely, I begin to doubt my theory that they came from Scotia — the other models I've had from them have been considerably less detailed, more like stuff from Heroics & Ros (of whom I'm quite fond, incidentally). The standard of detail is almost like some older GHQ stuff, but the quality of casting isn't as good as I've had from them. It remains a mystery.

I've replaced the barrel on the one on the left with a .55mm brass rod. It's slightly over-scale, but it looks right on the table. I'd have preferred to do it with steel, being stiffer, but even brass is a substantial improvement on white metal.


This is Reaper Bones 77256: Brass Bull, from their Bones II Kickstarter. It's not in their store as yet, apparently it's due for release in June.

I wanted a Gorgon, not a Brass Bull, so I painted it in rusty iron colours.

Note, that's a D&D Gorgon, not a mythological Gorgon.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


 Redditor called Sarithus has created a map of Clichéa, “a map based on fantasy tropes that also pokes a little fun at unoriginal map makers.”

Now, although this is intended as a parody of many, many (so many) fantasy worlds, I think it would also be very useful as an introductory campaign world. The tropes are all familiar enough that new players could feel right at home, and that familiarity would allow them to come up with their own character and adventure ideas without first having to figure out what game the GM is playing.

As I've said before, clichés become clichés because they work.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mashaaf - finished at last

I finally finished painting old maggot-breath, Reaper's Bones 77375: Mashaaf. It's a big figure, which made it a bit tricky to handle while painting.

In the first photo, I've included a figure of your friendly neighbourhood psycho-killer and vivisectionist for scale.

Just in case you haven't already seen it, I kept a work-in-progress blog here.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Tabletop Dungeon Mapping Modules

 I've been experimenting with using flat printed images on blocks of MDF for 3d (or 2½d) dungeon mapping pieces. Proper painted 3d resin pieces are very nice, but they also cost an arm and a leg.

These ones are my first "secret door" image, printed on self-adhesive label paper, and stuck to 12mm MDF. I might possibly go to 18mm for added stability, but I'll see how these go in play first.

The black edges are problematic. They'd be better covered with the stone pattern, but the edges of MDF aren't an ideal surface for sticking the label paper to unless it's sealed and sanded pretty smooth, which means more trouble than I really want to go to. Maybe as a partial fix I'll paint the sides of the blocks, where they're more likely to be exposed, in a roughly stone-like colour — it would still be a bit of a dislocation, but they wouldn't stand out quite as much when they're butted up against each other like this.

What I want to end up with is something like the Fat Dragon card dungeon bits, but with more weight and stability.

This is the image I've used for this particular module — I've got a bunch of other doors in the works at the moment, if these turn out OK.

I've saved it at 300dpi, but I don't know if Blogger's image uploader will preserve image resolution information. The physical dimensions of the image are 50 x 50 mm, so if it prints bigger than that, then you'll have to find some way to adjust it (such as embedding it in a word processor document, resized to the right dimensions.... though that sort of kludge makes me sad).


I later realised that I had a roll of 12mm double-sided tape, and since the MDF is fortuitously also 12mm, I could make my own block-pattern edge banding tape with relatively little travail.

Which I have now done.

As I suspected, it is a great improvement.


I tried out a single wrap-around image for a standard dungeon door, but I found that it made the location of the door sides centrally on the block on both sides difficult — impossible, in fact, without getting a lot more pernicketty about my measurements.

So instead I went back to separate individual images for each side, but this time with sufficient overhang to wrap around and cover about 60% of the width of the block. There is therefore a line up the sides where the two images don't tile seamlessly, but it's not at all noticeable unless you look for it, so I call that a win.

Here are JPG files for a couple of styles of door, to go on to 50 x 50 x 12 mm blocks:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sluggy the Slimy Slug-Monster (revisited)

Continuing with colouring in some old line drawings as a substitute for actual creativity, this is one I did a couple of years ago to try out a new brush pen I'd just bought.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Eyes, Mouths and Tentacles, a Winning Combination

I originally drew this in 2009 in a little A7 rice-paper notebook I made.

Now I've Photoshopped it all into glorious technicolour, because why the hell not.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Slicey Leggy Scuttly Buggy Critter

Now here's a little something that I happened upon when I was looking through some old drawings. I must have done this about 1983 or '84 I think, and I'm pretty sure it was heavily inspired by creatures from The Dark Crystal.

I can't think why I didn't finish it off, since it was so close to completion. Maybe I had to go somewhere or do something, and just never got back to it.

I don't know that I'm all that happy with the position of the unfinished claw.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Big Wormy Maggoty Thing

I've made a start on Mashaaf, a gigantic maggot-like abomination that came with the Bones II Kickstarter.

It's a big lump of plastic, roughly 90 x 100 x 150 mm, and quite difficult to handle; I'm not really looking forward to trying to paint it. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to manage something like this in pewter.

It needs quite a bit of filling between the sections, but no more than would normally be expected with a miniature of this size. I haven't (yet) filled around its arm-sockets; that may not be necessary (I hope).

It's supposed to have a sort of panel-mandible on either side of its maw, but I was sent two of the same side and so one of them doesn't fit the moulded socket. I've filled both sockets, and I'll decide later on whether or not I want to try to mount the panels with pins. I may just leave them off entirely.

Also, there are a couple of smaller sockets moulded at the sides of the tentacly mouth section; I have no idea what they're supposed to be for and I certainly didn't get anything in the package that could go there. I've filled those sockets as well.

Next Day...

I decided I would add the mouth side-flaps after all.

I pinned them with dressmakers' pins and superglued them in place, and then reinforced the join with Green Stuff textured to look (hopefully) like wrinkled skin.

Now, on to the painting.

Priming. I use Vallejo polyurethane Surface Primers almost exclusively these days; they're the best and most trouble-free airbrushing primers I've found. And they're tough too; once properly cured, I've never before had issues with paint rubbing off with handling, and that will be important for a miniature this size.

I've done an initial coat in a mid-toned khaki, then a downward "zenith" coat of white to hit only the upper surfaces. I find this brings out the form of the miniature, and helps me to see detail that might be harder to discern with a single, uniform colour.

I'll leave it now to harden for 24 hours before handling the model any more.

Coupla Days Later...

I want the thing to have an unpleasant, pallid, fleshy appearance, so I over-sprayed the primer with Vallejo VMC Basic Skintone.

The rocks embedded in the back of it were washed with a mix of sepia and black inks, diluted with water and Klear.

The mouth, tentacles, and anal sphincter-claws I washed with a mix of artists' watercolours, a sanguine base with som crimson lake and Van Dyke brown, along with some Vallejo dilluant to make it water-resistant when dry.

I used the same wash to start the shading of the flesh of the beast — I don't want to go too dark here, just enough to pick out the form and details.

It's a decent start I think, but there's a lot more work to be done.

A Bit Later On...

I've made a start on the multitude of eyes (at least, I assume they're eyes), using a simple three- or four-colour "jewel" technique, which no doubt everyone has seen a million times elsewhere.

I don't have the steadiness of hand or sharpness of eye any more to do it with much precision, but I think they're looking pretty good as long as you don't look too closely.

I'm starting to think ahead to the feet and slashers — I'm in two minds, whether to keep them pale and go for a bone effect, or to try for a chestnut-brown chitin. I'm leaning towards the chitin, if only because I think the colour and tone would be quite nice; I've done it before on an old model of an Umber Hulk, and I think it turned out quite well.

About ten days later...

I've definitely decided to go with chitin rather than bone for the legs and slasher-arms, and I've started glazing them with various Vallejo inks. Next step will be a bit of highlighting in paint, just to emphasize the contours of the things, and then a couple more glazes to tie the colours all in together.

I've also done some progressive glazing on the mouth-tentacles to darken them towards their ends, with the aim of making them look even more disgusting than they already are.

I had been considering doing the teeth in dark, chitin-like colours too, but I think I'll make them ivory after all, to provide a bit of contrast with the interior of the mouth.

Generally speaking, I'm reasonably pleased with the way things are progressing.

And later...

This is about as far as I want to go with the slasher-arms.

I've pulled out more of the contours with some dry-brushing, and another wash with Vallejo Sepia.

I gave the scuttly legs another wash as well, but I think I might pull the tone back a bit at the shoulders so that there's not such a firm delineation between the soft, maggoty body and the hard, chitinous legs.

There's some quite nice texture in the modelling of the slasher-arms that really wasn't perceptible before all the paint and stuff went on.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


I've finally got around to painting the figure Annette is using for her current character in my D&D5e campaign. She's a two-sword-wielding leather girl, an ex-sergeant in the forces of the Little Sisters of Carnage — hence the red cloak.

Admittedly, at this very instant in the campaign, she, like pretty much everyone else, is pretty much nekkid and have lost nearly all their gear. However, I'm low on character figures that are mostly nekkid and have lost nearly all their gear, so this will continue doing the job until she eventually either gets more clothes and gear, or dies (permanently).

It's another Reaper Bones plastic figure; don't know the product code it's 77035: Deladrin, Female Assassin by Werner Klocke. For some reason my matte varnish refused to go properly matte on this figure, and I'm not really sure why. It was working last time I used it.

Wereshark... there shark

Here's another model from Reaper's Bones II Kickstarter.

I can't tell you what its product code is, because they haven't yet been added to the online store — the sooner that happens, the better, because right now finding any information on the Bones II models is an exercise in tedium, and sometimes futility.

Anyway, it's a wereshark, or possibly some kind of Moreau-esque shark-man.

The mottling of its upper body isn't quite as I would like it, but it will have to do.

As is my habit, I've mounted it on a great big steel washer to give it some heft and make it more stable. Now I shall have to figure out some way of using it in a game.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Demon (collage)

There's a little bit of painting in this image, but for the most part it's digital collage, overlaying elements from various photographic images to end up with this.

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Brought to you via the magic of insomnia.
There's a creature in Alan Garner's book The Weirdstone of Brisengamen called the Mara.

This is inspired by it to a certain extent, though it's not quite how I imagined the creature from the book, which would have been a lot less human-looking.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Swallow-Whole-er (thumbnail)

This thing would be a swallower-whole-er. It has a hugely expansible maw with little grippy fangs all the way back down its throat, to hold on to prey it's in the process of swallowing. Clearly the gullet and abdomen would also have to be able to expand to hold anything, say, human-sized, but I see no problem with that.

It's a creeper, an ambush predator, so probably not much chop in a stand-up fight. It's the sort of thing that would sneak up on stragglers in the dark and gobble them down without, hopefully, alerting anybody too dangerous.

It has a venomous sting on the end of its tail. I guess it would probably use that to silence and immobilize its prey before beginning the swallowing-whole. I imagine swallowing something as large as an adult human would leave it somewhat torpid and sluggish of movement, so it would probably want to drag such prey to a place of safety before eating them.

Friday, March 27, 2015


While sanding mindlessly today (so much sanding), my mind drifted away to thinking about initiative determination.

I was pondering a slight simplification of the process.

Rather than having everyone roll initiative separately, each side just rolls one d20. Everyone still gets to add (or subtract) their own modifiers for DEX, spell-casting and what-not to the base number, so there will still be a certain amount of variance, but there are only two die rolls that I have to keep track of instead of five or more.

So, the process would go:
  1. Declare actions (attack, cast a spell, run away, panic, etc.) 
  2. Somebody rolls initiative for your side for that turn (take it in turns, I guess) 
  3. Add/subtract modifiers to see if you go before or after the Bad Guys 
  4. FIGHT! 
Hopefully this would provide a nice balance between the ultimate simplicity of one roll per side without modifiers, and the complexity of everyone (including the four hundred goblins) rolling individually.

99% of the time, the only important thing to know is whether or not you get to act before or after your opponents; having your comrades actions spread all over the turn order is mostly just pointless and irrelevant.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Known World Expands

I've been working on some more of my campaign world's maps.

Specifically, I've been expanding the north of the main continent out to the north-west and incorporating Færún's Sword Coast (from the D&D Forgotten Realms campaign setting) so that I can make use of Neverwinter and Waterdeep.

I started our 5e campaign with the Starter Set and its Lost Mines of Phandelver module (which, incidentally, we're nowhere near completing), and all the action in that adventure takes place on the Sword Coast. So, it seemed like a good idea to shoehorn it into my own world.

Progress thus far. Clickupon to enlargenate.
The geographical features are more or less all present, but I still have to add all the place names and roads and what-not in the eastern half of this map — the overlapping area with the existing map of the North. Also, I have to come up with names and terrain for the islands out to the west. I haven't really thought much about what they're like.

Adding roads is way easier since Photoshop finally started supporting dashed and dotted strokes on paths — I think they started that at long last in CS6.