Ruined Arcane Archway + WIP video

This piece is a 3D printed model designed by Devon Jones at Masterwork Tools. I tweaked the original model slightly, removing the square tile base and replacing it with a STUB (Scatter Terrain Universal Base). I also scaled it up to 147% (nothing magical about 147% per se, it’s just that maximum size I could make this piece and still have it fit on my print bed as a single piece).

The top of the archway comes as a separate piece. There are actually three different styles of columns and tops you can choose from which you can mix and match. I like this piece quite a bit. There’s sharp relief in between the bricks and the other details, but it still printed without any problems and required only minor cleanup.

I also made a WIP video showing how I painted and finished it. You can find the original model here, or purchase an unpainted or fully finished version here! Thanks for the awesome model, Devon!

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Swarmlord WIP – part 2

I talked about my start on the Swarmlord in a previous post. Of course, where would he be without his retinue of Tyrant Guard? Probably arriving via Tyrannocyte, but that’s for another project.

I’m participating in a Paint & Play at my FLGS, where I picked up a box of these guys the other day. In addition to playing games, we’re painting our armies in 500 point chunks. The Swarmlord plus three Tyrant Guard armed (get it, “armed?”) with crushing claws weighs in at just under 500 points, so I’ll throw in a couple of spore mines to top it off. Now that this first batch of models is assembled, on to painting!

I also made a short video talking about these guys some more.

Swarmlord WIP – Part 1

Behold, in all of his unpainted glory, the raw might of the Hive Mind made manifest in physical form, the Swarmlord! I decided I’m going to change things up a little for my next 40k match, and I’m bringing the Swarmlord along as part of my new list.

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I got into 40k partway through 5th edition, right when the new Tyranid codex came out. The Swarmlord made his debut in that codex, but the official model came some time later, when the Hive Tyrant kit was converted from metal to plastic and new bits were added that let you make either a regular Hive Tyrant, a Flyrant, or the Swarmlord. I stopped playing 40k right around the time that 6th edition was released. I didn’t get in a ton of 40k games the first time around, and I’ve never used the Swarmlord in a game before.

I got this model last fall when I picked up a bunch of second-hand monstrous creatures at a good discount*. The guy I got them used a ton of superglue and greenstuff because to assemble and magnetize this model, along with some other extremely sticky substance that left behind a considerable amount of residue. Fortunately, I was able to clean it off with some dish soap and elbow grease.

I didn’t anticipate having to do this much work to get this model ready. Frankly, the amount of time and effort required made getting the discount from buying it used a wash. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any mention of the sticky residue in the auction description.  I’ve been more and more disappointed with eBay sellers lately.

The swords were magnetized, but the magnets in the torso sockets were so crudely placed that I decided to dig them out and clean out the excess greenstuff and superglue. I was originally planning on going all-out and making this a nearly fully-articulated model, but I decided in the end to keep it simple. I did add magnets to where the torso connects to the lower portion of his body, so at least it has one point of articulation, plus it’ll make transportation easier since I can separate the upper and lower portions of the body.

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Plus, I can mount the torso on a flying base from one of my screamers of Tzeentch!

 

*After writing this, I realized that I left the Swarmlord out of that picture that I linked to, but he did in fact arrive with those other guys.

3D Printed Earth Elemental + WIP Video

This earth elemental is one of several sculpted by Duncan “Shadow” Louca. You can find the 3D model for this mini as well as lots of others over at his Patreon page. Also, check out the WIP video if you want to see how I painted it.

One advantage of 3D printing is that you can scale the models to virtually any size, the main limits being the size of your print bed and how long you’re willing to wait for the print to finish. I scaled the earth elemental down to 60% of its original size. Even at this size, it’s still a fairly large miniature. It’s not very tall, but it’s quite bulky, and I mounted it on a 60mm base which is fairly large, but anything smaller didn’t look right.

I’ve painted several earth elementals over the years and have always gone with a brown color scheme (including the most recent one that I did). I decided try something a little different and opted for a gray tone with this one.

There’s a a lot of motion and energy captured in this sculpt. I like how the elemental has shaped its upper limbs to make them reminiscent of a sword and shield. While it does have a vaguely-defined head, there are no real facial details, unlike most earth elementals that I’ve seen, making it feel less humanoid and more like the alien being from another plane that it is.

Print lines are visible, but try to look past them, as this is a limitation of the current state of 3D printing (or at least of my particular printer), not of the sculpt itself. This is a great mini and I imagine that at some point I’m going to print out the other sculpts — not just the other creatures and characters that Duncan Louca has created, but the other earth elemental sculpts in particular. With the ability to scale them down and the ease at which these paint up, I already have ideas for an encounter featuring a group of smaller earth elementals, each with its own unique sculpt.

 

Don’t forget to check out the Gamermulticlass YouTube channel and watch the WIP video!

Narthrax WIP

I’ve been painting miniatures almost from the start of my life as a gamer, so about 25 years at this point. I’ve painted hundreds of miniatures of all different types over the years, but until recently, I could literally count on one hand how many dragons I had completed. Sure, I have a bunch still sitting unassembled, some more that are assembled and even primed, and a few more that I’ve started but never finished; but actual painted dragons that have gotten their coat of sealer are rare in my collection. Note that I’m not even counting finished bases. If we add in that parameter, the number shrinks down… to one or two.¹ So, it is with much excitement that I share this WIP of my newest  completed dragon miniature, Narthrax.

Narthrax debuted during the Bones 2 Kickstarter and is one of my favorite minis from that bunch. Besides being a rare specimen of a completely finished dragon, this mini also represents a couple of firsts for me, which I will point out in the WIP.

 

Assembly & Prepping
Narthrax comes in six pieces and is simple to assemble. The pieces fit together so extremely well that I didn’t need to do any gap-filling!

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After gluing him together, I added a base from Secret Weapon Miniatures, which I’m using it for its size and shape; the surface details are all going to be covered up shortly. To make Narthax more impressive, I added a customized 3D printed rocky base, making Narthrax the first miniature I’ve completed that incorporates printed elements. It’s not a tall piece, but even the slight increase in height and overall bulk makes a fairly dramatic difference.

 

 

Placing the printed section directly on top of the sculpted details of the Secret Weapon base left a large gap around the perimeter since it doesn’t fit flush. I filled in most of it using caulk, but I left a significant part of it open on the rear side, which will come into play when I finish the base work.

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Caulk is a faster, cheaper, easier solution than greenstuff in situations like this.

 

After adding the caulk, I applied sand over much of the base to give it more texture. This not only makes it more visually interesting and appealing, but it also helps disguise the fact that the lower part of the rocky base is a separate addition.

 

 

Priming & Basecoating
The normal rules for priming don’t apply to Bones miniatures. Unlike other minis (even other plastic ones), spray primer doesn’t typically work because the plastic that’s used for Bones minis usually reacts with spray primers and takes an extremely long time to dry (up to several weeks, as I learned early on). The best way to prime them is using the Liners from Reaper’s Master Series.² For whatever reason, their chemical properties cause them to adhere amazingly well to the plastic used for Bones.

Planning ahead, I used Blue Liner as this would work best with the color I’ll be using for the base coat. The airbrush worked like a dream for this in terms of cutting down time and eliminating visible brush strokes. Priming also results in all of the various basing elements having a more cohesive look.

 

This version of Narthrax is going to be a black dragon. Without getting into a scientific explanation, in nature, colors that we perceive as “black” are rarely, if ever, truly black; in reality, they’re actually very dark shades of brown or blue. Using a pure black on Narthrax would appear too harsh and unnatural, so I went with Nightmare Black (Reaper Master Series). At full strength, it has a virtually imperceptible bluish cast, although the blue becomes readily apparent when it’s thinned down. Using the airbrush, I applied this as the basecoat over the entire model. Another first: using the airbrush for significant portions of work on a model, and not just for priming.

 

 

Painting
Ok, so I’ve technically started painting in the last step, but I’m calling this section “painting” since I’m getting into it proper now, not just priming and basecoating. I decided to finish painting the base before turning my attention to Narthrax himself.

At this point, the Pareto Principle is in full effect. The bulk of the work still remains, but the effects, despite having a noticeable impact on the finished mini, will be fairly subtle for the most part (with the exception of what I’m going to do to finish the base, once painting is entirely finished). It’s difficult to see in the photos, but I added a wash of purple (RMS Royal Purple, I think) to the top and underside of the wings at this point to give them more depth. The purple is also in a similar part of the color spectrum as Nightmare Black, so it adds more color while still having Narthrax read as a black dragon.

 

 

Next, I built up highlights over the entire mini using the Dark Elf Skin (RMS) paint triad, a series of grays with a slight hint of purple — perfect for highlighting the other colors I’ve used so far. I drybrushed all three colors at full strength over the scales, claws, spikes, and horns, with increasing amounts of pure white paint added to Dark Elf Highlight for the brightest highlights. I pushed the highlights even farther on the claws, spikes, and horns, drybrushing more layers until I was eventually using white with just a tiny amount of Dark Elf Highlight. The drybrushing was by far the most time-consuming part of painting this mini.

 

 

The last phase of painting was finishing the eyes and mouth, and touching up mistakes. I still hate painting eyes.

I used a few layers of various RMS ivory colors on the teeth, touched off with a final highlight of RMS Linen White, to give them a more yellow tone in order to differentiate them from the other light-colored spiky bits on the other parts of the mini.

Painting now complete, I gave the entire model a couple of light coats of matte spray sealer, followed by a light dusting of a semi-gloss sealer on Narthrax himself to make his scales a little shiny.

 

Basework
I really tried to go to town finishing the base. I used a variety of basing materials, starting with a layer of flock, followed by clumps of Super Turf, and finishing with various colors of grass tufts. Finally, in yet another first for me, I applied several layers of Woodlands Scenics Realistic Water to the gap on the rear side of the base to simulate a small stream flowing from under the rock (told you I had something planned for this part!). I’ve only just started using it in the past few months, but so far Realistic Water has proven to be some really cool stuff! I’ve been pleased with the results I’ve gotten on terrain pieces I’ve tried it on, and I really like how it looks here.

 

Closing Thoughts
This was a really fun mini to paint. I rarely paint multiple display-quality versions of the same mini, but I could see myself painting another Narthrax in a different color at some point. There’s an enormous number of dragon miniatures available. Many of them are really good, but Narthrax is one that stands out to me for a number of reasons. He’s big enough to be impressive, but not so big that he’s unwieldy — in terms of both for painting and for gaming. There are many dragon miniatures that are impressive if for no other reason than their size, but they’re too large to be used as realistic foes for anyone but the most powerful adventuring parties. Narthrax could represent a fair challenge to adventurers of various levels. And I love his dynamic pose and the sense of motion that’s captured in his sculpt. It makes it tricky to find a good angle for a picture that captures everything, but it makes it a really interesting sculpt in real life.

I haven’t painted many miniatures in the past few years, and it’s been even longer since I painted one that I’ve been this pleased with.

 

 

 

 

1. In case you’re wondering:

  1. The plastic dragon from the old Dragon Strike board game, painted as a black dragon. I used silver paint for his teeth and claws which I thought looked really cool at the time!
  2. Red Dragon II from the old “Dragon Lords” line from Grenadier — made of lead!
  3. The White Dragon from Ral Partha’s AD&D minis line — the only one with a completely finished base as well!
  4. The Black Dragon (anyone else seeing a pattern here?), also from Ral Partha’s AD&D line, sub-categorized under the “Council of Wyrms” line of miniatures.
  5. The limited edition Ral Partha Dracolich. (Yeah, I was a pretty big Ral Partha fan back in the day). I painted the integrated base, but I never added a decorative base, which I think it really deserves, so while it could technically be considered fully finished, it could still use some more work.

2. As originally discovered and reported by one Buglips *the* Goblin, if memory serves correct.

Battle Buggy Wreck – Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

My wrecked version of Scudjuice’s Battle Buggy is complete. Some images going from 3D model to finished terrain piece:

The print settings I used could use a little tweaking because the layer lines stand out on this piece way more than normal. As I was working on it, I was already able to think of a few improvements that I’ll try the next time around, but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Battle Buggy Wreck – Part 2

Part 1
Part 3

Not only printed, but painting on the buggy is mostly finished as well. I might touch it up a little bit, but the main thing that needs to be done now is the base. I’ve actually painted very few vehicles or even mechanical-type minis over the course of my painting career, so this one has been a learning experience as much as the creation of a new terrain piece. The airbrush was extremely useful in getting the red base coat applied in record time versus using a hand brush.

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“Da red wunz go fasta!” Or, at least this one used to.