Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dwarven Forge: Filling in the Bow-tie Connector Sockets Tutorial

Even if you've only considered throwing your lot in with Dwarven Forge, you may have encountered the older sets that have little bow-tie connectors to knit the dungeon together. Dwarven Forge is beautiful stuff on the whole, but the ties are just plain unsightly and unwieldy. I never even considered actually using the ties as I build-on-the-fly rather than set up the dungeon ahead of time and don't have time to fiddle with little ties, and those empty little empty sockets are a blemish that I notice in-game.

And filling in those tie sockets is one of those projects you mean to do but don't get around to… Except I'm pleased to say I did get around to it back in January and here are the results. The pic shows a partial set but I got a whole basic set done. You can also click through for full-size pics if you like.

Dwarven Forge filled in bow-tie sockets Dwarven Forge filled in bow-tie sockets

Sorry, no fancy step-by-step photos here but I do have the steps, paint formulas and a wip shot for you in case you're considering trying this. Be advised there are no easy shortcuts here and you're in for a few hours of work. Definitely have an audiobook at hand.

Step one, I filled in the sockets 2/3 full with pre-mixed concrete patch. Anything archival will do, and you could honestly just skip this step and go right to the DAS clay if you prefer.

The stuff I'm talking about:

Pre-mixed Concrete Patch

Step two, I filled in the remaining space with a mix of DAS airbake clay and white glue. I used the spatula end of a basic sculpting tool and my finger for this. When this was dry I carved the lines between the stone slabs back in with a box cutter and did some detailing with a sculpting needle. You can see I used terracotta DAS but white would probably leave your fingers less colorful.

Here's what DAS looks like in the package

DAS Airbake Clay

And here's the sculpting done and the painting yet to come:

Dwarven Forge filled in bow-tie sockets

The last step is painting over the patched bits. I use cheap craft paint, brands Delta Ceramcoat, FolkArt and Americana. Just a quick aside, my local Michael's no longer stocks Ceramcoat and I'm getting a little nervous as certain of my colors run low. Let me know if you have a source for these in California. Maybe Jo-Ann fabric and craft? Anyway, here's the process I used:

  1. Base coat: 50/50 mix of Ceramcoat Charcoal and Americana Charcoal. The Americana is very brown and the Ceramcoat very blue-grey. Mixing the two is a good match for the Dwarven Forge floor base color.
  2. Then do several progressively lighter passes, adding the following to base coat mix. I do the lighter passes a little splotchy but not quite a dry-brush technique.
  3. Add FolkArt Raw Sienna and Ceramcoat Hippo Gray. The dark brown-gray + Raw Sienna = greenish and the Hippo Gray can pull it back toward Neutral as needed.
  4. Then add Americana Light Avacodo. This color is the closest match I've found in a single paint to the green tone in the Dwarven Forge.
  5. Add Ceramcoat Mudstone or a light neutral of your choice. Ceramcoat Territorial Beige may be of use somewhere around here too. I tend to have a number of paints on my pallette and feel as I go.
  6. Wash of base color. That's a thin wash made with opaque paint and lots of water. This is important as it brings the colors together.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Asgard/Viking Forge Orcs

While on the subject of goblins I'd like to give a nod to the Asgard/Viking Forge ones. You'll see below I went an photographed the whole range, which may have been helpful back in 2005 when I took them as Viking Forge had smudgy, dark scans of the catalogs up at the time, but recently Viking Forge went and put up even better ones and made these redundant. Maybe the scale shot will be helpful, but mainly I'm just throwing up these pics along with this post as an excuse to plug the figs.

These are called orcs in the catalog but they fit my and I hazard to guess a majority of peoples' idea of goblins more so than orcs. Though the line between orcs and goblins is mainly semantic in Middle Earth, which was probably the main influence on the design of these figs.

Now, I'm eccentric even among miniatures enthusiasts I know because I collect various styles but don't mix them on the tabletop. You've seen some of my D&D collection so far but in terms of fantasy figures I also have a big, mostly old school, Warhammer fantasy collection, an Iron Kingdoms collection, a small Reaper collection, and a collection I intend to use in dark age game world inspired by metal, Norse and Celtic myth and sword & sorcery stories. These Asgard goblins helped launch this last collection, where they now sit alongside Red Box humans and elves, Confrontation Drunes, various stuff by Nick Lund and a few other things. It seems to me they fit even better with the grim vikings Tre Manor sculpts than his own goblins, and there's no doubt they fit a lot better with the Frazetta-inspired Confrontation Drunes than the weird, bobble-head goblins of the Confrontation line.

I get a definite sense of evil from these little guys, and that's not the easiest to achieve in a 25mm sculpt. I love their hunched backs, lanky arms, nasty expressions and that oh-so-finely rendered detail. You also get so many poses you can have a whole warband with no duplicates in sight, and you get a great variety of physique types as well between the alphas and the betas. There are many brilliant little details in the individual sculpts but the shaman holding out a possibly-still-beating heart is easily my favorite.

Jes Goodwin of Games Workshop fame is the sculptor and they have a tight, meticulous feel that he dropped by the way when he went to Citadel. Soon after he was doing much more stylized, chunky figures that became his signature and helped define the Warhammer style as a whole. As I was such a fan of his Warhammer figs for so many years it was a little strange to get a hold of these goblins, not having prior knowledge he did them, and putting the "JG" etched in the bases together with some vague tell-tale idiosyncrasies of the sculpting to arrive at the conclusion these were Goodwin's.

One day I'll paint these in a near-black hue and pit them against the Njorns.

Asgard/Viking Forge Orcs Asgard/Viking Forge Orcs Asgard/Viking Forge Orcs

A shot for scale:

Asgard/Viking Forge Orcs
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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Comparing Goblins Miniatures

I scrounged up a bunch of goblins this morning and lined them up for you. Click for big.

Goblins Comparison

BTW, I love coming across comparison pics like these—they can be incredibly helpful. They do take some work but I have a mind to keep going with these. I even have some more goblins tucked away I could do a sequel to this one. Let me know if you like these!