Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Another Unit of Fyrd

It's been a while since I posted, but I have been busy doing some projects, I just need to take some pictures.  Here is the newest unit of Fyrd I did, no different than the first unit.  Here they are by themselves.


And here they are side by side with the other unit.  Once again, these figures look the most impressive when in massed numbers I think.

For wargaming units, the next on my painting table is to finish the unit of Norman cavalry.  I did the test base a while ago, I just need to finish up three other bases and then present them as a whole unit.  That might not be for a little while, though.  I've been working on some figures for Thom over at Throwigames to use in his B/X game at North Texas RPG Con coming up early next month.  I've almost got all the monsters done (next post, probably this weekend).  Then I need to get 12 player character figures finished.  I've got six of them built, they just need paint, then I need to do six more.  It's going to be tight, I might not finish them, but honestly I have enough player character figures already done that I could make do with what I had.  I just wanted to do some special for this game given his needs.  So the monsters should be posted pretty soon, within a few days I would guess.  I've only got one more of them to paint.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Black Pudding

I played in a convention game this past fall and the DM used a pre-painted D&D/Pathfinder miniature that I had never seen before but absolutely loved.  It was a miniature for a black pudding, which although the name is silly sounding, it is an absolutely terrifying monster.  I immediately fell in love with the miniature and went out and purchased one just to have one.  Here it is.


Very cool, right?  Then I decided to see if I could do a crafted version.  I knew that I couldn't do straight hot glue.  It is too hot and even when you apply it on top of cooled hot glue, it melts the cooled glue and you have great difficulty getting "height" to the figure (which is important in this case) unless you end up using a lot of hot glue, which I didn't want to do.  Not only that, I think if I was able to do it with just hot glue, it would end up being way too big of a figure for what I was looking for.

I decided to try to create a skeleton frame for the general shape of the black pudding with paper.  I cut several pieces to shapes that I wanted and then glued them (with PVA glue) to a wooden precut round thin wood piece as a base.  After it dried, I shaped the paper even more to make the pod like arm structures and such and to create as much movement in the miniature as I could.  Finally, I covered it all with hot glue hoping that the paper would provide enough of a foundation to support the glue so that I wouldn't have to use too much glue, and that the pods and such would still be thin enough.  It worked!  Here is the painted craft version (black base coat, soft black [dark umber brown] dry brush highlights.


Turned out pretty good I think, I'm happy with it.  Here they are side by side.



Saturday, April 14, 2018

Civilians I

Got several of the civilians I planned to do finished yesterday, so I wanted to post about them.  I ended up not doing the bartender yet (I can't decide on his pose), but I did get two guards done (one of them sleeping!), a guard captain, a torch bearer for a party of adventurers, and a serving wench.  Here they are all lined up in a row.


Here are the guards. The one without the shield has his eyes closed, he's the sleeping one.  The one in the chainmail and the metal helm is obviously the captain with his baton ready to club someone for misbehavior (or perhaps club the sleeping guard!).  Nothing new construction wise with them, or painting for that matter.  I kept their armor very simple and plain looking leather jerkin.  I'm starting to really like the striped pants of the Middle Ages for these figures for some reason as you can see.


You can really see the simplicity of the paint jobs on these guys.  Can't have the city guard showing up the adventurers now can I?


Next up are the torch bearer and the serving wench.  Nothing new on the torchbearer except for the torch.  Instead of DM Scotty's Q-tip torch construction, I actually used a toothpick cut down to size and then just used hot glue to make the "flame" part.  No smoke with this construction but I don't really miss it to be honest.  The serving wench is holding two pints ("They come in pints!?") of ale ... okay, these are more like gallons but you know what I mean ... that are made from tubular shaped wooden beads.  I glued a split down and trimmed down tile spacer end to the top of each to make the "foam" of the ale.  Other than that she's a pretty standard construction.


And from the rear.


Pretty happy with these figures, especially the serving wench.  Might be nice to do a tavern full of NPCs ... when I actually get some free time.





Friday, April 6, 2018

Human & Elvish Adventurers

I'm pretty excited, I might get to have my figures used in a game at the North Texas Role-playing Games CON in June.  It's primarily an OSR convention and I think the figures will fit in nicely.  Thom, over at Throwigames, has voiced an interest in using my little fellows for one of his convention games.  So I've been hard at work making more adventurers.


I had a distinct lack of elves, so I decided to do another female elf adventurer, and I have no male elven adventures so I did the first.  In B/X D&D, the game he is running, "elf" is a class and they are all essentially Fighter/Magic-users, so they wear armor.  While I was doing them I decided to do another male human Fighter (can't have too many of them), another female Thief (I wanted to try a different leather armor look), and a "traditional" (read "stereotypical") human Magic-user.  For all of the female figures, I was also testing out a different way to do helmeted female heads.  Here are all the figures in a row.


From left to right, male elf, female elf, human magic-user, human fighter, female human thief.  Here they are from the rear.
I added a pack to the human fighter's back, and the magic-user has a spell book on his hip.  Both are made from tile spacers.


Close up of the elves.
Nothing really new construction wise on the male elf.  The female elf, however, has a new head.  It's a small bead split in half for the face (flat side on the top) and the helmet is a large bead split in half (flat side obviously facing down).  I thought this would a) look great, but also b) give me some room to do some really fun hair.  I was right!  I like creating movement in my figures using the hair and both this one and the female human thief have great hair.


Speaking of the humans ... close up time.
I never get tired of making the human male fighters.  I just love that construction.  I wanted him to be a bit more menacing so I painted a skull on his shield and on the front of his helmet.  The magic user is the first "oldster" I've done with the balding pate and the long flowing beard.  I  like the way he turned out too.  The next one I do I'm going to have holding a scroll I think.  The female human thief on the far right has the same head and helmet and hair construction as the female elf.  I wanted to give her some more "primitive" looking leather armor and I'm happy with the paint job result for that.  I also like her pose ... sort of holding her hand out cautiously signaling for those behind her to stop because she has detected some sort of danger ahead.


My next batch are some civilians.  I'm doing a bartender and serving girl, a torch bearer, and three city guards who can also stand in for any generic jail guards or whatever, even in a dungeon environment.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Norman Cavalry Test Base

Finished painting the Norman Cavalry test base I put together about a couple of weeks ago.  I was worried if three on a base would be too many, and also I was worried that I wouldn't be able to paint them because they were too close together.  Both concerns ended up being "challenges" but not anything that would change my mind in basing them this way.  That said, with the four base unit, the two in the front are going to be three figures, but the two in the back are only going to be two figures.  My main concern is that the bases are not deep enough to allow two bases with three figures each being able to line up back to front without the horses hitting each other before the bases are flush.  Not only does that not look that great (too close together front to back) but I also want the bases to be flush if I can.  I ran into this problem with my old cavalry figures like the Macedonians and Romans as well but because the unit was several individual figures on a tray I could space them out so that they didn't bump or look funny.  With these, because the number of figures on the base is less important to me or the rules I will likely use with these figures, it is fine if the two rear bases have fewer horses.  Probably more accurate in how the unit would look en mass while moving about the battlefield anyway.  Anyway, here they are.

The Normans themselves are the same heads as the infantry figures construction wise.  The bodies, however, are 1/2" x 1/2" spools (slightly shorter than the more common 1/2" x 5/8" ones you will find in a craft store, I had to order these from my online craft parts supplier).  You need this shorter spool so that the figure does't sit too high in the saddle.  Same arms, same spears, same shields, same paper chainmail skirt as the infantry.  You can't see it in this figure but I did do the legs differently than I normally do.  They use stirrups so I wanted the leg to be straight and extended (rather than bent and clinging to the side of the horse like the Macedonians or Persians or Romans would have ridden during that earlier time).  So I used a tile spacer for the leg (straight with the curved end glued up under the chainmail skirt so that I could pivot the leg to a desired angle easily) and on the flat end I glued a little "foot" also made out of tile spacer.  You can see this better in some of the other pictures.  Also, painting wise, I realized that although I like the larger, extended helmet look I have on the infantry figures personally better, historically that is not what they would have looked like most likely.  The helmet would have been more of a cap and the metal around the backs of their necks and around their face would have been chainmail, so I painted these that way.  I like the other look better from an artistic point of view (this is a LOT of chainmail to be looking at) but historically, this way of doing it is more correct so I am going to stick with this from now on, at least for the Normans.  For their allies, I will probably use the older way of doing the helmets just so we will be able to tell the allies apart from the Normans on the table top.
From the rear.  I paint the tail on the horses but the manes are what I've always used, this extra fluffy pipe cleaner I get at Michaels.
I debated on whether to have the shields at the ready, or slung on their backs.  I think for the rear ranked bases I might actually have one of the figures with the shield on his back.
You can see the rider's leg better in this image to see what I'm talking about with the tile spacer and foot.  In terms of the horses I altered my construction slightly.  I've always been a little disappointed that my horses, unlike Dale's for example, do not have visible "necks."  So for these, I used an axle cap to create the feeling of a neck on the horse.  It works better with these figures too than my old ones because the Normans due to their construction are taller anyway, so without a neck the horses' heads would be too low.  And also even though the horses have necks now and are taller, the Norman riders are still tall enough to be looking over the horse's head, which is obviously important.  I used the same small (the smallest I can find actually) split eggs for the head, and both sets of legs (front and back).  I used a different body for the horse than I usually use as well.  I used to use a 1/2" x 5/8" spool, but I found this "Barrel Bead" that is 5'8" wide 3/8" hole that is also about 5/8" in length.  Not only does it create a smoother and better (IMO) body profile for the horse, it is a bit "beefier" than the spool which again goes better with these Norman figures because they tend to be a bit bigger than my previous attempts at figures like the Macedonians and Persians.

Finally, here is the base in the same picture with an infantry base so that you get a sense for the scale with the infantry figures.
I think they look pretty good together and I'm happy with how they turned out and that even though it was a little more challenging to paint them than the infantry all on the base when I do it, they were still "doable" and I will continue to construct and glue everything first (except the shields) and then paint them (gluing the shields and the manes on as the last step in the process).

Monday, March 12, 2018

Halfling

This figure is supposed to be a male Halfling, since I already did a female Halfling before, but at the scale of these figures, the gender of the figure could be anything you want.  I decided to put a mask on him to make him look a little different than the other figures I've done.  I might do a rogue at some point with a mask as well.  Anyway, here he is.

Same construction as the female halfling.  Oblong bead body, small bead head, tile spacer arms and feet (the feet tile spacer is cut in half so that it is thinner which obviously takes some height off the figure which is desirable in this case.  Paper hair, paper skirt for the armor, the mask is just painted on, and the two daggers/short swords are tile spacers.

Here he is being brave leading a party of humans for size comparison.


Thoughts for the Day

I've been thinking recently about this whole process of making miniatures from wood craft bits like I do, or developing them from a pawn or clothespin base form like Dale, Ken, and Stephen do, or the clay sculpture figures that Vicente does.  I have also started to think more and more about the general "crafting movement" in rpgs, in particular work on terrain by people like DM Scotty and DMG (check out their youtube videos if you haven't, they are both awesome).  I know we do it primarily out of a gaming need/desire.  But it has to be more than that. 

We are fortunate enough to live in a time when there are pretty much professionally sculpted miniatures and terrain pieces for anything you would want, and if you happen to hit on something that you can't find, I highly recommend doing a Kick Starter search before concluding that "that miniature doesn't exist," because much of the time you'll find a KS for it ... it may never get finished, but at least there is a mention of a KS for it.  So it isn't like the 1980's when we might be making miniatures because the ones we need to not exist.  We can get professionally made miniatures and terrain of whatever we want, all we need to do is paint them.  So why do we do the stuff that is covered on this blog?

I then got really reflective and thought back to the art appreciation courses I took when I was a wee lad in college and it sort of hit me.  And I came to this conclusion.  I think that one of the main reasons those of us who do this whole miniature construction and painting thing is out of individual artistic expression.  These pieces are art to us, not just purely functioning objects to use in a game.  Sure, that's part of it, but the amount of blood, sweat and tears that we put into these little fellows far exceeds any benefit provided by creating a functional gaming piece.  And again, all those gaming pieces already exist, sculpted by professionals.  All we have to do is paint them.  And yet, we continue to do this "art."

So the next obvious question is "okay, but what kind of art?"

I'm starting to think that one could classify what we are doing as "folk art."  Here is dictionary.com's definition of "folk art":

"Artistic works, as paintings, sculpture, basketry, and utensils, produced typically in cultural isolation by untrained often anonymous artists or by artisans of varying degrees of skill and marked by such attributes as highly decorative design, bright bold colors, flattened perspective, strong forms in simple arrangements, and immediacy of meaning."

Wow, that definition seems to hit on a bunch of things that appear to be true for the artistic process covered on this blog.

1.  Produced typically in cultural isolation:  Seems certainly to be true.

2.  By untrained often anonymous artists or by artisans of varying degrees of skill:  Check.

3.  Marked by such simple attributes as highly decorative design, bright colors, flattened perspective, strong forms in simple arrangements, and immediacy of meaning:  CHECK!!!

It seems to me that one could consider these little wooden warriors that we are making to be a type of folk art.  

Others agree?  Disagree?  Could care less, I just want to see more little wooden guys? 

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