Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Painted: Grenadier Djinni

Here's one I painted quickly the end of last year, another oldie-but-goldie from the "Solid Gold" line.

Manufacturer: Grenadier
Line: AD&D "Solid Gold" line
Set: 5004 Tomb Of Spells
Figure: Djinn
Base markings: none
Release date: 1980
Sculptor: Andrew Chernak
Date painted: 2013

Prep and painting

The first thing I noticed about this figure is of all the integral-base figures I've got this was the very first that absolutely positively could not stand on it's own. Two, even if it could be made to precariously stand on it's own it would be leaning severely to one side. So when I glued it to the base I shimmed one side with bits of plasticard and then filled in the gaps with concrete patch.

That done, while I understood there was a lot of smoke from the lamp curling around, for some reason I thought some of the littler bits of smoke around the base were supposed to be stones, and I continued the stone motif with Das airbake clay all over the base. It was more work than I like to spend on a base but I think it looks pretty good, a bit of variety from the normal bases I do while keeping some continuity with the colors. I've done a few Grenadier dragons this way which I have yet to paint. This one also has concrete patch "grout" which I shaded with a wash.

As usual I made a reference folder of Djinni, but I had already made up my mind ahead of time on a pure ultramarine blueof a Djinni in an illustration by Kay Nielsen from one of my favorite books of all, The Unknown Paintings of Kay Nielsen, which collects previously unpublished Arabian Nights pictures.

Most blue miniature paints, and I have quite a few, are nothing like ultramarine. Most are quite warm. I have a Vallejo Model Color ultramarine, but honestly, when held side by side with a tube of standard variety acrylic paint the Vallejo is fairly dull, and not as deep or as dark as I would like. For that reason I did an all-over basecoat of the Vallejo color, but then did a number of washes made with the tube acrylic. Also, as I think I've mentioned before, a strong focus of mine these days is achieving deep, rich tones through the use of glazes. To this end Winsor and Newton inks have been helpful, with the caveats that the bottles are pretty but don't work very well, and the lack of dropper means it's very easy to accidentally contaminate the ink, and also you can't seem to buy them separately, which means, of course, unless you use every ink in the set at the very same rate you are screwed when one of them becomes empty. Really Winsor & Newton, huge fail that last one. Huge. As in I'm obviously not going to buy a $25 set for one or two inks, and obviously that means I'm going to your competitor at that point. That's obvious to you, right?

Anyway, rant aside, the reason I went with W&N in the first place is that in addition to being transparent and otherwise glaze-worthy, having a nice lacquering effect as a bonus, the real glory of these is for many (all?) colors there is at least both a warm and cool version. To whit, glazing your ultramarine djinni with a warm blue, however rich and dark it might be, will completely spoil things. So in summary the Vallejo + tube paint + W&N ink combo was a real win for a very tricky color I was insisting on getting just right.

The smoke has some Privateer Press pale bluish-whites and the Vallejo Ultramarine mixed in. I am also really pleased with the brass effect, which is a base of Cryx Gold (dark yellow-gold metallic) with quite a few layers of P3 Brass Balls. I am counting on the smoothness and luster of the paint itself to create the spot highlight on the bulb of the lamp, rather than forced highlights (going up to silver or what have you), though there may be a few touches of sliver on the edges.

One other note on the subject of specular highlights, it's not easy highlighting a broad, bald head like this figure has. I like the result, but it took a lot of careful layers to get it to gradually build up the layers just right. Had the same issue with a Gold Line magic-user I might not have gotten around to sharing yet.

Parting comments

An OCD note about Djinn: from the text of the 1e AD&D Monster Manual one gathers that Djinn is the plural, and Djinni is the singular. Which is counter-intuitive to us because in latin -i indicates the plural, e.g. cactus/cacti. And another oddity is that in the Monster Manual II we're told that collectively, elemental humanoids including djinni, jannee, marids, and dao are known as "genie." So here "ie" is plural, just as "ee" for Jannee indicates plural. Meanwhile, the Grenadier catalog calls the figure a Djinn, singular.

So this led me to Wikipedia, which confirms Gygax was correct to call the collective number Djinn, and there's further support for Genie being plural, because we're told it's not a variant spelling of Djinni I had thought, but the plural of Genius. Still not sure about Jann/Jannee, why MMII uses Jann as the singular and Jannee as the plural. Maybe that one is a goof?

And lastly, for those not familiar with you old school D&D, while as a player it can't hurt to get on the good side of these powerful chaotic good creatures of the aerial plane, or else, better yet, master them (and the suggestion is you can succeed here in being a "good master," with the how left to the "referee"), as they can grant various boons, only a "noble djinni (1%)" can bestow that most valuable in-game commodity of all, the wish.

As always, the collection can be viewed in its entirety at flickr.


  1. Lovely vivid colours and another classic miniature rescued from the rubbish-heap of history. I do find your blow-by-blow accounts of preparity work and painting very informative too.