Monday 23 September 2013

Another childhood dream achieved

I absolutely loved these pencil sharpeners when I was a kid at school. I would happily sharpen perfectly good pencils right down to useless nubbins, just because sharpening was so golly-gosh-darned satisfying.

Now I own one of my very own, after all these years. It's mine! MINE! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!! THEY MOCKED ME, THE FOOLS, BUT NOW I'LL SHOW THEM! I'LL SHOW THEM ALL!

It cost about thirty-five bucks (plus postage) from

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Hey! Where's my missing numbers?

While re-inking it for enhanced readability, I just discovered that a Gamescience d10 I thought was a d10 is not actually a d10 at all, but a d5. It's a 10-sided die all right, but marked 1-5/1-5.

That could kind of explain why my percentile rolls are so shitty. Then again, it might just be because I can't roll dice for toffee except when I'm the GM, in which case I'll get nothing but the best scores, constantly.

This is one of the dice I ordered from, and I wasn't that impressed with their service even before I knew they'd sent me a d5 instead of the d10 I asked for.

Monday 16 September 2013

Kea-griffon - progress of a sort

Progress has been rather slow owing to real-life intruding its unwelcome self into my business.

I've got as far as airbrushing the scarlet under-wing flashes and the blue-green wing-tips. I got the proportions a bit out of whack because I was working from memory, but I'm not too displeased with the effect.

Friday 13 September 2013

WiP -- Kea-Griffon

I really have got to clean up my workbench
I'm reduced to working in about half a square foot
right on the edge.
In amongst the clutter in the photo above, you may be able to just make out my next Bones painting project — it's a griffon. At the moment it's still disassembled; I'm painting the wings and body separately to ease handling, then I'll glue it all together and touch up the joins.

Your traditional griffon is supposed to have the head and forequarters of an eagle, and the hindquarters of a lion.

I'm intending to keep the lion bit, but I'm painting the forequarters in the style of one of our New Zealand birds, the kea, which has spectacular green and red plumage. The kea is actually a mountain parrot, not a raptor, but I don't really care about that because they look so cool. They're also frighteningly intelligent and mischievous, and one of their favourite fun-time activities is to strip all the rubber seals from tourists' cars, breal off their aerials and let down their tyres. Imagine that personality in something the size of a winged lion? Cooooool!

Anyway, here are some pictures of keas.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Behold! A trademark-innocuous Tentacled Eye Monster!

And so the painting of the Bones mountain proceeds, with a creature that beholds, while simultaneously maintaining its product-identity-sensitive status by pretending to be called something else entirely.

Getting a paintbrush inside that mouth was a giant pain in the bum; I'd have much preferred it if the miniature had come disassembled, allowing me to paint its innards and then glue it together myself.

It now has a significant dental tartar problem, among its other personal defects.

I glued it to a 30mm steel washer and expanded the base modelling with Green Stuff.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Bonesium Smirnoff (and "magic wash" recipe)

Well, he's done I guess. The miniature that will now and for all time be Smirnoff the Huge and Stupid Fighter to me. Pity I didn't have it when I was actually playing him, but them's the breaks I suppose.

I made an error using a Vallejo wash over the armour instead of the superior Citadel washes, or one of my own concoctions*. The Vallejo washes are rather gloopy; I'm not that impressed with them really.

The figure is glued to a steel washer, which is why the base is extra-thick.


For those who are interested, the "magic wash" recipe I use is as follows:

  • 1 part Klear acrylic floor polish (Future in the USA)
  • 1 part Armorall blue windscreen washer detergent. This acts to break the surface tension so the wash will flow into any creases or scratches.
  • 1 part water — distilled water is probably best, but Christchurch tap water is pure enough to use straight.
  • Just enough Tamiya X-21 matting agent to take the shine off — quantity is by trial and error. Add it in small doses until you get a finish that is acceptable to you.
  • Add ink of an appropriate colour, again in small doses until you get the strength of colour required. My most-used general-purpose colour is 50/50 sepia and black.

As I understand it, Klear (Future) may not be being produced any more. You can probably use a clear acrylic medium in its place, but I haven't tried it myself yet. The great thing about Klear is that it's very low viscosity, and self-levelling — that will probably not be the case with acrylic medium.

If you want more of a glaze than a wash, reduce the proportions of Armorall and water. In fact, you can pretty much do away with them completely.

Step Two... Works In Progress

OK, the painting continues. I've chosen the beholder Eye Beast, and this extremely muscular axe-dude to be going on with.

The beholder eye beast, because let's face it, who doesn't love beholders eye beasts? This is a two-piece miniature which, unfortunately, come pre-assembled. Unfortunately, because getting a paintbrush into that mouth, large though it may be, is going to be a huge pain in the arse.
I've airbrush primed it with Vallejo polyurethane black, then a downward-dusting with white, to accentuate the texture and create shadows, allowing me to start painting with quite thin, translucent paint.

The extremely muscular axe-dude, because he's a dead ringer for Smirnoff, the very first of my AD&D characters to survive for longer than one session. He even has Smirnoff's huge axe and very tiny head.
This one I've brush-primed, using a free sample of Reaper's own MSP line of paints, which goes on (un-thinned) very well. The only complaint I have with it is that the dropper-bottle doesn't easily dispense more than one or two drops at a time, which is fine for most circumstances, but a nuisance when you want to get a lot of paint out at one go.

The only other beholder I've painted thus far:
A very old Citadel figure (early-mid 1980s)

Monday 9 September 2013

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

I've begun painting the vast mass of Reaper Bones plastic miniatures I got via their Kickstarter. I've started with these two pieces of dungeon dressing: a sarcophagus (empty, alas) and its lid, and an eeeeevil altar. At least, I assume it's eeeeevil owing to the skulls on the four corners.... then again, it may just be an eeeeeemo goth altar.

It's not a very spectacular start, but to be frank I'm a little intimidated by the sheer quantity of figures they've sent me. I haven't actually counted them, but I'm pretty sure there's more than two hundred there. That's a lot of painting.

Reaper claim that Bonesium (the plastic they make the Bones figures from) doesn't need priming before painting, but that's not really 100% true. Washes, inks, and any acrylics that are a bit thin will tend to web on the straight plastic surface; they need a layer of paint beneath them to give them a bit of a tooth to hold on to. Vallejo's acrylic polyurethane primer does a pretty good job through the airbrush, but it's too thin to brush on successfully in a single coat.

No doubt I'll have my process figured out by the time I get to the end of the pile.

Monday 2 September 2013

Reaper, at long, long last

A heapin' pile o' plastic, all for me
At long, long last my Reaper Kickstarter pack has finally arrived, only about a year late (though to be fair, it's only about six months past the last revised final shipping date). This picture really doesn't indicate the scale of the un-bagging task that lies ahead of me. There are a lot of these little suckers.

I ordered the gigantic Cthulhu figure (that's in the box at centre-back), not because I ever expect to use it in a game (except to end a campaign with a Cthulhu-falls-everyone-dies event), but because it's cool, in a groteque sort of way.

Hydra. Troublesome.
Our dread lord Cthulhu. About 180mm to the top of his head.

Everything de-bagged, sorting beginning.

Left to right: a griffon, a hydra, and a beholder.