Friday, November 22, 2013

Blogroll Additions

A couple great blogs I've just come across, one for the Citadel fans and one for the D&D miniatures and particularly the Grenadier fans.

Life in Miniature is part memoir and part history of the early days of Citadel

Lead Menagerie is an occasional blog from what I can see but one that's been around for awhile. I just stumbled upon it for the first time tonight and think it definitely merits greater exposure. The painter/blogger showcases a nicely painted ecclectic mix of 70s and 80s fantasy figures including some unusual Asgard figures and great picks from the Grenadier catalog.

These are now in the list on the right and you can browse my comments for previous additions via the tag.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Denizens of the swamp

Painted: Lizardmen

I've posted pics of these lizardmen before but I haven't done a proper post about them.

Lizardmen Miniatures

Here's where I say a few words about how I came to paint Grenadier AD&D lizardmen over the other choices out there. First off, Lizardmen have got plenty of love over the years. Grenadier did no less than four versions of them, and I've collected all of them. Ral partha did them at least times as well and I have one set of these, the Guthrie ones. Citadel did them for D&D in the preslotta days and I have some of those too. There are some in the Dungeon Dwellers range. Otherworld makes some particularly good ones sculpted by Paul Muller and hewing really close to the design in the original Monster Manual, and I was sorely tempted by them. And there are plenty of other choices as well.

Originally my mandate for the D&D project was to collect each monster once in a quantity large enough for an appropriately sized encounter group, but you can judge by how many groups of lizardmen I have that I pretty much failed in that regard. This is the real danger for me in collecting vintage figures. The figures are far cheaper individually but there are so many varieties out there it's easy to wind up collecting a lot more than you intended. It's also easy to make up excuses for buying more as your finger hovers over the bid button, such as these Dragon Lords Grenadier lizardmen can represent a different tribe. The Citadel ones can be adolescents. If the Citadel ones are adolescents, then the Partha ones can be... ok, I never figured out what to do with those. I can say the Lost Lands Grenadier Lizardmen produces were from the beginning earmarked for troglodytes, which are another can of worms I'll tackle later.

Anyway, the Grenadier ones I have to show today, the first ones to see paint, are part of the AD&D "Solid Gold Line" from about 1980. It's my opinion Andrew Chernak got his sculpting chops up to speed in the course of the AD&D range, with the figures held over from the earlier Wizzards & Warriors range being fairly crude and the later (I assume) blister packs having some really wonderfully done figures, notably the goblins, kobolds, xorn and adventurers. These lizardmen are somewhere in the middle and still exhibit naivete. The tails in particular are crudely done, looking like little more than a big sausage of putty with some spots pressed deeply into them. But they have good presence (and are really the 7" feet tall the MM says they are, unlike the puny Partha and Citadel ones) and a fantastic likeness to the Monster Manual illustration.

All told four lizardman sculpts were produced for the AD&D range and from these I produced the conversions you see in the group above. A sword-armed lizardman was sold in the (2010) Denizens of the Swamp set, an the Axe-armed lizardman was sold in the (104) Lizardmen blister, and a club-armed lizardman was sold in either of the above. The champion is from the (8002) Action Art : Monsters box set. I painted these in 2011 and there are at least two stragglers, still unpainted, that will hopefully round out the group to at least ten t some point in the future.

The spear-armed lizardman is converted from the club variant. The center figure is the axe-armed variant but the axe has been swapped for a club.

The left most figure is stock save the axe came pressed up against the body to meet the demands of one-piece casting, and had to be cut away to straighten it, and the gap detail sculpted back in. The center figure had it's sword replaced with a sturdier falchion. The right figure is stock.

The champion originally had a lance, which was swapped for a sword. The tongue and several front teeth have been resculpted as they were bit oversized in the original casting. You've got to love the Kermit the Frog style leaf fringe around the neck.

Showing the prodigious size of these creatures, fully the 7' specified in the Monster Manual


I think I painted these after the goblins, and when I did the goblins I realized originally I wanted some more garish colors on these and the goblins were done fairly realistically. So for these Lizardmen I painted them green full stop. Not brownish green or yellow green but 8-pack crayon green.

Actually, to be honest, no matter how badly I try to paint naively I really can't. For example knowing what I needed to get the particular effect I had in my mind's eye I started by mixing turquoise-green (Vallejo Jade Green) into the base green so they would have slightly bluish undertones. From there I definitely used a mix of a number of greens. I think there was some GW Orkhide shade in there. The middle layers had some GW Goblin Green and Scorpion Green and no doubt some P3 Necrotite Green, which is almost day-glow toxic and a little bit is a great way to get greens to pop. The lightest bits I add some khaki or some other dull, light neutral. I also glazed these with a little green ink and lots of matte medium to increase the depth of color. These were painted over dark gray Dupli-Color primer.

The back ridges might have started goblin green and gone up to GW scorpion green. Vallejo Jade green is a really cool turquoise I like for jewelry, and in this case I added some GW Ice blue for the highlights. Jade green mixed with dark green is also the base for the head ridges.

The browns are P3 Gun Corps Brown and Bootstrap Leather, which are similar and both really nice paints.

In terms of technique I use a lot of matte medium, the wet pallet and lots of transparent layers to build up from dark to light and generally intuit what is needed and add a little here and there to mix as I go.

Parting thoughts

One, in painting these I realized they clearly have shoulder pads and armor made from the hides of other lizardmen. I tried out several possible explanations on my GF one commute home and the one she selected was that they honor the dead that way, and have a principle of let-nothing-go-to-waste. I wonder if thought was given to a reason as they were sculpted, or if it was more or less arbitrary.

Two, I really like the way the figures look photographed against a plane background the way I usually show them. That said, there is a much greater potential for miniatures magic if you stage them in dioramas. While I don't have any interest at present in gluing figures down in dedicated dioramas I am really interested in taking some more artful staged shots of the figures in environments with atmospheric lighting, etc. If and when I get to it the first ones will probably be in standard dungeons and outdoor settings, but bringing the idea back around to lizardmen, one day I would love to make a set of swamp terrain and photograph the lizardmen and a whole slew of other denizens in their natural habitat.

As always, the D&D collection and the rest are on flickr.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A few more scavvies WIP

Painted: Lich

Here are a few more scavvies WIP that were done at the same time as the others but for various reasons never got finished or painted. The top one has some paint on it now but isn't quite done. The middle one never worked for me, something about the lack of neck. I think I'll add a new head and just cut off the iron gob thing and sculpt something else there. I'm fond of the bottom one. I dremeled all around the orc mouth but left it there to serve as a filter mask.


These are on flickr with the rest.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


My first go at Blanchitsu circa 2006-07

Today let's take a trip back to the underhive.

Of all the wonderful gangs of Necromunda the scavvies are one you can really go to town on. Back when I made these in 2006 I was particularly fired up by the John Blanche Inquisitor Sketchbook and decided to try a round of blanchitsu on a motley crew of figures from various manufacturers and ranges. I'm not a huge fan of either the original Necromunda scavvies or the later Fanatic imprint versions. I do like the Jes Goodwin confrontation scavvies quite a bit and have those, but for various reasons they didn't make it in the first group here. I also like the Marauder Miniatures confrontation scavvies in principle but the bauble-head style doesn't gel with the other figures I have marked out for this, so those few I did end up using wound up converted. I can't remember now whether I took the dremel to them before or after I learned what they were worth on ebay. ;)

I got together about thirty figures all told, of which these eight are the first to see completion. I think well over a dozen ranges are represented in the initial pile, and this first batch draws from five ranges and three manufacturers. Actually, possibly four manufacturers depending on if you count Marauder as separate from Games Workshop. I didn't have any sculpting experience at the time and did the greenstuff work entirely a toothpick. They came out rough and ugly, but then that's exactly what I was after sculpting scavvies. Mutants are great sculpting practice. I guarantee you the first few heads you sculpt are going to look like mutants even if you're aiming for perfect human proportions. ;)

Mutant with the "exposed brain" mutation, an idea taken from the Inquisitor Sketchbook. It's heavily converted from a Gorkamorka orc.

A converted Marauder Miniatures scavvy. I took a dremel to the head, hands and feet and resculpted them nearer 28mm proportions. I like how the the bat-winged skull on the hat turned out.

Another converted Marauder scavvy. I replaced the head with a plastic chaos marauder one and gave him a new pistol and a scratch-made maul.

This figure is a chem-grunt from the Vor: The Maelstrom Neo-Soviets line. It's stock except I switched out the tubing for a length of tire wire. The weapon can be either a flamer or some kind of toxic hose.

The scavvies' leader. At one point I knew the make of this figure but now I'm not certain. It's sculpted by Bob Olley. There's a chance it was for the K-Force or Shock Force line. Let me know if you can ID it. It had a spear gun originally and I added the hat and mask. The hat is a nod to Ian Miller.

A mutant converted from a Mark Copplestone sculpt for Grenadier's Future Warriors. The head is sculpted from scratch and the weapon was replaced.

Another mutant sculpted over a Gorkamorka orc. Plenty of GW figures have no neck but for some reason it looks really wrong to me here. Good thing he's a mutant so I can say I intended him to have the "no-neck" mutation. In my head I call him No-Neck Joe after a character from an animated short of the same name.

A mutant converted from a Gorkamorka digga (human). I gave him a tunic and sculpted the head from scratch. This guy has gills, handy for sneak attacks from the sump.


I used a desaturated palette with a lot of browns and greens, with a hodge-podge of other colors for clothing and equipment as these guys are going to take whatever they can get. Using colors with little saturation gives the set a more uniform and a more weather-beaten look. Obviously the first step to get the effect is don't use colors that are too bright in the first place, but the real trick is to add gray, rather than white, to build your highlights. Even when I want a bright effect I tend to add light gray (or bone color) to the highlights, but here I made them even more gray by added some GW Fortress Grey (a light neutral gray) to make the medium highlights before going up to the lightest shades made mostly of Vallejo Model Color Light Grey. Dirt was added by stippling a mixture of mostly matte medium with alternately gray, brown, black, etc. In comics when a character is stepping out of shadow in a menacing way the eyes are often just white pinpricks, and I did that here, except for the glowing yellow eyes of the sump-swimmer mutant.

Somewhere in this post I should brag that I won a gold Kubla for these at Kublacon some years back, best squad I think.


I've talked a bit already about sculpting these. It was a good way to get some sculpting chops and I was really happy with the results as these were some of my very first times out with putty and toothpick. Still really happy with these, though I've definitely come a long way from the toothpick days and have graduated to metal and rubber tools.

Here are pics of the conversions. They pics themselves are pretty poor, but these were taken back in 2007 and if my sculpting has come a long way my photography skills have come even further!

There are a couple I don't have pics for the conversions, but here's a "before" shot of the Marauder figure with tall hat to show you what I mean about the crazy proportions:

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