Friday, 21 October 2011

The Last of the Velites

And, no, I'm not talking about a possible Tom Cruise roller coaster with a lots of lessons about human values...

I simply finished (still no bases... ) the last elements of psiloi needed to field a DBA polybian roman army; 2.

here they are:

I am still painting the last remaining stock of my miniatures that are primed with the mould lines, so you'll have to forgive these said lines, again.

I can't help but notice that I was a bit more sloppy this time... I'm a bit disapointed, but I think they are still nice.

Thanks again for all the comments left, here and on TMP.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


Hello again...

Hectic week... very few time spent painting. Very few... as in "none".

But, as this is still a new blog, I have a huge stockpile of material I can post about, and here it goes; a few 28mm fantasy (old metal empire soldiers from Games-Workshop) without a base... yes yes, I know:

The thing I wanted to show here is that there are, in my opinion, other methods of producing nice miniatures than obeying the rules of the wheel of colours. Where the wheel will help you pick opposing colours for a maximum, yet harmonious contrast effect, the same can be achieved by using two methods:

One: the contrast effect is achieved by opposing two colours with very different brilliance, or brightness. Here, we have a rich red, contrasted with a bright yellow. The eye perceive the red as dark, when opposed to the yellow.

Two: The harmony is created by using a simple trick: linking the colours by a similar tone during shading and/or highlight. In this example, The yellow is shadowed by adding a darker orangy-brown to it. This orangy-brown is then used to basecoat all the leather parts of the miniatures, and then a dark reddish brown is used to shade the leather. This reddish brown is also used to shade the red, and is also present in the darkest recesses of the skin. This way, all the colours seems to "fit" well one with another.

Sorry to all the "formal artists" out there who may know these thing as very common knowledge... But I was quite proud to figure all that by myself, and I think it may be useful to many peoples!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Thin coats

I learnt two things this morning, or maybe I should say that I remembered two things this morning:

First: I drink too much coffee... Makes it harder to paint, because of light shaking, and light headaches that comes when caffeine effect wears off; coffee hangover. My favourite time for painting is during my lunch break at work at my office, in front of a huge window. On an overcast day, like today, it is as close as to a perfect environment that I can think of. Unfortunately, my favourite time to drink coffee is during the morning, at work... especially on dull overcast days... like today. less coffee next time.

Second: The thinner the paint you use, the "messier" you can be. It can be seen on these minis, freshly painted 20 minutes ago:

I usually paint my minis using the "dressing-up" order (paint like you dress: skin, first layer of clothing, next layer... up to details like straps). So in this case, I painted the flesh like I did on the Velites, using layering of paint thin enough to prevent a texture build up, but thick enough to be opaque. When I started on the brown tunics, I diluted my paint up to water consistency, giving a very VERY transparent result. I did that on a whim... don't ask why.

The way to use paint as thin as this is to paint many, MANY, M-A-N-Y coats one over the other, depositing only a very small amount of pigments every layer. The only important thing is that you do not flood the miniature as you would with a wash, but instead pick up a small amount of coloured water on your brush, and paint with it using the layering technique. A very long job you may think... not really: As each coat have very little effect on the whole paint job, you can apply it very roughly at the location where you want it, it does not matter at all if you you slip and accidentally cover a spot you did not want to... as long as you don't accidentally cover the same spot many times! in fact, you DO want to cover lightly different areas of the same spot as that is what will give you a smooth colour transition.

I did know this technique, but I always come back to "short-cuts" like thick paint-layering, drybrushing and dipping. The fact is that this method is not terribly longer than any of the short-cuts! Painting these two Hastati took me less than an hour, and would have taken even less if TMP member "ancientgamer" would not have pointed out to me that moulding lines are very visible on my Velites (thank you, by the way...) and if I did not spend a few minutes removing them. (EDIT: damn... I just saw that I missed some... I conciously left the spears alone, but there are some others that I missed... This is for me the main downside of 1/72 minis)

Try it out.

Lastly, I would like to thank every one who took the time to leave a comment, either here or on TMP. It is very encouraging, motivating, and helpful.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


Here are some bases of WWII Heer Germans I did, for use with "I ain't been shot, mum". They are, again, 1/72.

As 1/72 miniatures seems to be designed with diorama in mind, as opposed to, say 15mm or 28mm, which are sculpted for wargaming, a big proportion of them have poses that does not suit the traditional single basing. Drawing inspiration from many places, like the "flames of war" elaborate diorama bases, I built those:

They are basically soldiers doing what they were sculpted to do. Those who seem to be peeking over/around something, are peeking over/around a bush, those who are taking cover behind something... you get it.

The figures were painted with my old "cheap paint job" approach, that is: blocking basic colors, washing them up (using GW delvan mud), and adding a single highlight where the wash turned out too strong. They look not so bad in pictures, much to my surprise, but they look like nothing more than brown blotches on the gaming table, due to poor contrast. For WWII miniatures, I must admit that "being a brown blotch" probably  fit the historical context, but that does not makes them beautiful miniatures. I am in the process of painting some Russian adversaries for them, and we'll see if I can do better with the technique used with the Velites.

The bases were simple to do, if a little time consuming. I used wood filler to build up the ground around their original bases, and to add more texture to the ground. Before the filler was completely dried, I roughly painted the darkest brown of the soil, using an old brush. This eliminated much of the roughest texture and smoothed the ground to something more realistic. Again, before the dark paint was dry, I wet-brushed a lighter shade of brown over it. The remaining moisture permitted a better blending of the browns, unlike what I would have obtained by dry-brushing. Dry-brushing give a more "dusty" finish that suit more a desert or dry-land base (yes, I am thinking of my new Velites in need of basing).

Home blended flocking was then added, along with bushes made of woodland scenics "clumps". I always use a very mixed up flocking, containing "fine turf", "coarse turf", static grass and colored wood chips (which look a lot like fallen leaves, at that scale). I really don't like uniform ground covers in miniatures. battles rarely took place on golf turf. The wood fence was made of wooden coffee stirrers, cut to shape and painted with many coats of very watered down paint, which soaked into the wood and show the real wood fibers.

There you go! more later.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A beginning

Here it is; the beginning of a new blog. It stars with an experiment.

I buy and paint 1/72 miniatures since 2010. Up to now, these minis received a paint job of about equal quality as their monetary value. Cheap minis, cheap paint job. They were not very well detailed and quite badly moulded anyway, so simple blocking and dip should be enough. There is nothing to gain with a nice paint job, right?

well, wrong:

Paul's bods blog showed me that cheap plastic minis can look as good as any other. My painting experience (more than 15 years... closer to 20 now) then did the rest. I started with the idea that as the details are very shallow on these, the painting must exaggerate them with brutal contrasts. Also, as the surfaces are relatively smooth, they are very unforgiving with thick paint, so thin coats of paint only. They took about an hour to do. Of course, they are not based yet, as I did not decide what they will be used for (DBA, probably).

I am very satisfied of these roman velites.