Category Archives: Painting Challenges

Fem-bruary: Under the Sea…

Got the song in your head? good. I’d put a picture of Sebastian the crab here, but the Mouse is known to be one litigious rodent…

Anyway, it had to happen eventually. I made a diorama. I’ve never done one before. While I can marvel at and enjoy a good scene as much as the next guy, I’ve always been more practical when it comes to painting miniatures. I do so assuming I will use them in a game someday (see how that has turned out), so keeping miniatures locked in place holds little utility for me. That, coupled with my ambivalence towards scenery-making, has pretty much kept dioramas off my personal hobby list until now.

Behold: The Mermaids’ Grotto. I actually had the idea to do this a few years ago, but shelved it because I couldn’t get excited about making a diorama. I pretty much followed the tutorial from Eons of Battle for constructing underwater bases. The seaweed is made from twist ties; the shells are from a novelty candle that was full of pink sand (don’t ask), and the “rock” is pink XPS board.

All the miniatures are from Reaper’s Dark Heaven line. This one is Children of the Zodiac: Pisces (03300), sculpted by the legendary Sandra Garrity. She was the first one I painted.

This is Pearl, the Mermaid (03078), sculpted by Werner Klocke.

And finally, Coral, the Mermaid (03554) sculpted by Gene Van Horne. This miniature required some cutting and repositioning, as her original pose was this:

As you can see, her tail disappears for a while under the surface of the water. This wasn’t going to cut it in a scene that’s supposed to take place on the ocean floor, so out came the nippy cutters and the green stuff. It’s not a perfect join, but it looks ok.

The octopus and the eel were from Familiar Pack VII, which features a bunch of aquatic critters.

Here’s another shot of Pisces.

Halfway through making this diorama, I realized that my first Fem-bruary submission shows a lot of boobs. Don’t get me wrong, boobs are great; it just wasn’t really my intent to focus so much on them in a month celebrating female miniatures. (I’m not a teenager. It’s just that most mermaids aren’t particularly modest.)

I’m hoping to get a couple more female miniatures done soon, one of which will be my D&D Character of the month; so watch this space.

Fem-bruary is upon us!

Ever since Roger from Rantings Under the Wargames Table lent his dulcet tones to the Imperial Rebel Ork Podcast; I’ve been hooked. In fact, I’ve binged all of IRO’s excellent podcasts over the last couple of weeks (yes, that’s right, yet another thing to blame Roger for). It was through listening to IRO’s musings and hobby spotlights that I recently was made aware of a painting challenge heretofore unknown to me: Fembruary, the brainchild of one Leadballoony, a hobbyist also heretofore unknown to me; but one I will certainly follow now.

The rules, such as they are, appear quite simple. Paint at least one female miniature in the month of February. That’s it.

Well, I can do that. In fact, I’ll go one step further and paint ONLY female miniatures in February. Not because I’m an overachiever; but because I have a lot of female miniatures that need paint. (I’m in the middle of working on a diorama that features only female miniatures anyway, so I can count that, too.)

Of course, as cool as Fembruary is, it doesn’t excuse me from my prior obligations (read: Resolutions): like painting a Dungeons and Dragons character class for February. Only this time, she’s gotta be female.

No problem. I got this.

So, fair warning: although as everyone knows Dead Dick’s Tavern is usually a bastion of testosterone and sheer, unbridled masculinity (because of ME), next month I will showcase some badass lady miniatures that have waited far too long for paint.

I encourage all of you to do the same.

Kurn Velden, High Priest of Yevona

For my first character of 2021, I created a cleric. The miniature I chose is the War Priest kit from Avatars of War. I picked this miniature for three reasons: one, because he’s awesome; two, because I have had him for at least 8 years; and three, because he was sitting in my side pile, and I didn’t get to him (or anything else in the pile) like I wanted to in December.

Like most Avatars of War miniatures, this kit offers choices when it comes to assembling your hero. I chose two hammers, but I also had the additional options of giving him a holy symbol or a shield. If you have to ask why I would choose two warhammers over these other options, then welcome to Dead Dick’s Tavern, because you’re obviously new here.

While I painted him, I thought up a back story. Here it is:

Yevona is the goddess of purity and virtue, healing and knowledge in the service of good.  Yevona’s clergy are many, and are primarily clerics, although many monasteries and knightly orders serve the goddess as well. Priests, mendicants, friars, and healers revere Yevona, as do all good-aligned beings. Several orders of paladins and warrior-priests protect her Faithful and bring her light where it is needed most (and often welcomed least).

Kurn Velden is one of the goddess’s most devout and zealous faithful, raised as a foundling by the Sisterhood of Chadirra; a female monastic order devoted to healing and wisdom. Although the order is peaceful and pacifistic, there have been times in the Sisterhood’s past when they came under threat. As a result, they created the office of Champion of the Order; a position traditionally filled by the most qualified sister, most often a former warrior or soldier retired to the cloistered life. Kurn Velden is the first male to ever hold the office; because, despite the peaceful teachings of the Sisterhood, Kurn Velden has a talent for war.

Velden wields the Strikers of Undjask; twin magical warhammers forged in centuries past, once borne by one of Yevona’s greatest paladins and imbued with the power of the goddess herself. These divine artifacts are potent against the forces of darkness, especially the undead. (D&D 5E: On a critical hit against any undead creature, the Strikers automatically cast Divine Smite at Velden’s current level. This does not use a spell slot.)

While some in the order disapprove of his zeal for combat, others recognize him as a gift from the goddess; a bulwark against those who would do the order harm. Those who would threaten the Sisterhood will find Kurn Velden all too ready to meet them, singing a song of praise to the goddess with hammers in hand.

These pictures were taken with my new iPhone, which seems to work just fine with WordPress now. I use the same camera for my Instagram photos. The resolution is insane, so any flaws (and there are many) stick out like a sore thumb. Less work for me, but more unforgiving. Good and bad, I guess…

2021 Resolutions

Today, I thought I’d try to get things back to whatever passes for normal around here.

Usually I would do a post like Mark A. Morin and many others did; where I first rate my performance against last year’s resolutions before making new ones. I did that last year, but when I went back and looked, it doesn’t seem like I actually made any resolutions for 2020. I think I forgot to; but somewhere along the way, I must have silently resolved to finish all my Star Trek miniatures, because that was one thing I did manage to do!

Mostly, anyway. I would have succeeded completely, if it weren’t for that meddling Dave from Wargames Terrain Workshop, who just had to make some awesome Trek-themed computer consoles and bridge chairs which of course I just had to buy. They’re not done yet. Bummer.

Anyway, this year, I’ve decided not to focus on too much. That’s because every year I resolve to start a new project and/or army, and that never gets done. (I’ve been saying I would start my Old West scenery for years now.) I think in 2021 I will keep it manageable and realistic. I’m going to paint whatever the hell I want, whenever the hell I want…with some minor guidelines. With that in mind, here are my plans for Dead Dick’s Tavern in 2021:

1: More Roleplaying Stuff. The response to my RPG write-ups has been pretty positive, both on and off Dead Dick’s Tavern. I have some Instagram followers who particularly seem to enjoy them. They correspond with me about my blog, but never leave comments here. (You can do that, guys. Really!) Anyway, expect to see more exploits of the USS Adventure, as well as some other games I run. Expect to see something new soon.

2. One character a month. I came to miniature gaming through roleplaying games, specifically Dungeons & Dragons. With this in mind, I’m going to set a fun challenge for myself: each month, I’m going to paint one model based on a classic character class from Dungeons & Dragons. So, I may do a cleric in January, a fighter in February, etc… I’m not going to officially limit myself by assigning classes to months (whatever I feel like painting, I will paint, remember?); but by the end of the year I should have 12 different characters painted. This will give me an excuse to paint some of my Reaper miniatures that have been sitting around for years in their blisters. Watch for the first one soon!

3. Painting challenges. I like them. In May, I’ll be hosting Monster May(hem) again (blame Roger for the name); so get your monsters ready by then if you want to take part. I will most certainly be participating in Forgotten Heroes again in June, because it’s so much fun. (I expect to see Big Wheel, Jeremy.) If Dave hosts the Summer of Scenery again, I’m in; I never would have got my sludge pool done last year if it weren’t for him. I’d also like to do Fem-bruary for the first time this year, after learning of it by listening to the Imperial Rebel Ork podast. I gather it involves painting at least one female miniature in February; I’ll go one better and paint ALL female miniatures in February (I have a lot of them to paint).

4. More After Action Reports. I love playing games, and I love blogging about them. Expect to see more; a pulp game that’s been set up for months (but sadly unplayed as of yet); and likely more Star Trek games down the road (which should please Dave).

Santa brought me this stuff, and I just wanted to share it with you all. First, some 5/64″ wire, perfect for pinning pesky models that don’t want to cooperate. I was running low, and it’s amazing how St. Nick just seemed to know what I needed. Second, some Gorilla Glue gel; a perfect stocking stuffer for any miniatures enthusiast. Lastly: this magnifying visor that has CHANGED MY LIFE.

I’ve been using reading glasses to paint for a few years now, as I can’t seem to see shit anymore. This visor is so much better. First, it has a selection of magnifying lenses you can swap out or flip up, which is quite helpful. Second, it has a two-setting LED light right on the front, which illuminates areas on the miniature like the face, which can be problematic to paint when you can’t see shit. Third, it doesn’t take batteries: it’s rechargeable with a USB port. Last and most important, it’s comfortable. It fits snugly around my head, and doesn’t annoy me. I love this thing. I recently used it to help me assemble some Cruel Seas ships (I hate assembling plastic models).

Although I don’t ask Santa how much she pays for stuff (that would be gauche), I found these on Amazon for $30. (Worth it!)

That’s about it for now. I’m off to choose my first character class for my new challenge!

#oldorcs finis

My #oldorcs submission took me longer than anticipated; after all, it’s just one orc model. I should have been able to complete that in an hour or so. But the more I looked at it, the more I put off actually beginning to work on it. I really wanted to capture the Oldhammer painting style; a style I haven’t used since, well, since the Oldhammer days of my youth. I painted the basic green skin tone and left the model to sit for a bit while I prepped my Vamp for Vampifan, the Red Duke.

I’ve been having an odd sleep schedule lately, and I found myself thinking about him at 3 am. It was a night of soaking rain here. Usually that helps me sleep, but I had Ork on the brain. I got up and went to my painting table, and I stared. I stared at the Ork for 15 minutes or so, while the rain came down on my bulkhead. I stared, and he stared back. And then I knew what I was going to do.

I decided to make him a Death Skull; because I’ve always been partial to their blue facepaint. Once I did that, the rest of the model came pretty quickly.

When I painted my Warhammer Orc and Goblin army decades ago, I used the same orc skin recipe on almost all the models: Snot Green base, Goblin Green tone, Scorpion Green highlight (all are avialable through Coat D’Arms nowadays). I didn’t want to do that here, so instead I used a base of Citadel Caliban Green, followed by Reaper’s Turf Green and Meadow Green. This resulted in a slightly darker skin tone than I liked, so I once again added some Scorpion Green highlights. For the blue face paint, I based it in Vallejo Prussian Blue, highlighted with Reaper’s Dragon Blue, and then a final highlight of Vallejo Andrea Blue.

The rest was pretty easy: I just went back to the brightly-colored John Blanche/Mike McVey Oldhammer palette that was the norm when I first started playing. You can see plenty of examples of it in old White Dwarf and Dragon magazines, if you have them; or of course any old codices, catalogs and army books of the time. Barring that, there’s always the Internet…

This was a fun little diversion and my first Instagram painting challenge. Thanks to Old Man Paints for hosting it! There are prizes to be won, but they weren’t my motivation. I really just needed the kick in the pants to get back to hobbying.

Now, back to the bloodsucker…

A Vamp for Vampifan: Part 1

Roger from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table has organized a tribute to fellow blogger and miniatures enthusiast, Vampifan (Bryan Scott), who sadly passed away earlier this year. I knew Vampifan from his blog, Vampifan’s World of the Undead, and from Painting Challenges like Zomtober and Forgotten Heroes. We tread the same internet and blog byways, but I can’t recall ever corresponding with him directly. I wish I had. By all accounts, he was a great guy, a veteran gamer generous with his advice and encouragement; a good friend, a real credit to the hobby, and a man who will be missed.

This month, to honor an absent friend, Roger has proposed painting a vampire miniature in lieu of simply raising a glass in Vampifan’s memory (although feel free to do that, too). I’ve got a vampire miniature, so count me in.

The miniature I have chosen is one I have had for about 25 years: The Red Duke, by Games Workshop. I bought him right around the time GW split their Undead army into Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings. I chose to go with (though never played) Vampire Counts; the Red Duke was to be my general.

As you can see, he was primed black some time ago, and 25 years of being knocked around in a box has worn some of that off. He also had a cape at one point, but I seem to have lost it. No matter. This Heroclix Hobgoblin shall donate his. You may recall this particular Heroclix has already donated his left arm to my Nexus Forgotten Heroes submission earlier this year. I’ve also removed his head and cut him off the glider. Waste not, want not.

You never know when you’ll need an empty goblin glider. Ask Norman Osborn how dangerous they can be…

Anyway, I don’t want him to go on a boring cavalry slotta base. I’m going for a more dynamic pose: I want him on a rearing skeletal steed! The billowing cape should help the overall effect. I chose a 60mm round base, then added a 30mm base for height and applied some Magic Sculpt to level everything out.

A bit of green stuff, drilling and test-pinning, and I think I’m ready for a re-prime. I’m going to paint the Duke and the steed separately before fitting them together. It seems I may have to use more of the dreaded green stuff to sculpt some reins, as his new, more dynamic pose doesn’t “sit the saddle” the way it was intended.

At this stage of the game, I’m happy with what I have. It looks like this could be a good-looking miniature when I’m done, if I don’t fuck up the paint job. Fingers crossed!

#oldorcs

The other day I stumbled across an Instagram painting challenge for Orctober. Old Man Paints is running his Old Orcs Challenge. The rules are on his site (which is a cool site to visit anyway), but put simply they are: paint an old orc miniature from the Oldhammer era (mid 80’s-early 90’s) and post it on Instagram by the end of the month. (There are hashtag requirements and stuff like that, but that’s about the gist of it.)

Well, if there’s one thing I have a lot of, it’s Oldhammer Orcs. Sadly, all of mine are painted already, and one of the rules is a “before” picture is necessary. It seems I was out of luck.

Well, it just so happens I have had a 40K Ork army as a planned project for about 10 years. This makes no sense, as I don’t play 40K anymore; but who among you can say you don’t have similar nonsensical ambitions in your pile of shame? I have a ton of Orks, most still on the sprue, just waiting for assembly and painting. (I’m in no hurry.) The vast majority of these are from this millennium. In other words, most of them.

Then I found this guy, along with a handful of other Rogue Trader-era Boyz. I’m back in business.

I have no expectation of actually winning this challenge, considering the level of talent I see on Instagram; but I figure I can pretty easily paint one ork in my sleep by the end of the month, so why not participate? Next time you see this guy, he’ll have paint (and arms) on him.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!

The Summer of Scenery: The Sludge Pool

First: You may have noticed a new look to Dead Dick’s Tavern. I’m experimenting. I’m open to suggestions…

More important: I finally finished up my submission for Dave Stone’s Summer of Scenery over at Wargames Terrain Workshop. Behold: The Sludge Pool!

While waiting for my Vallejo Still Water Texture to arrive in the mail, I did a bit more highlighting and texturing to the base piece. I weathered the barrels and the machinery with MIG rust pigments and a bit of Citadel Typhus Corrosion and Ryza Rust. I added some Vallejo Diesel Stains to the base of the machine and gave the whole thing a blast of Dullcote to lock the rust dust in place. I highlighted the green water coming out of the pipes with some Vallejo Yellow Green.

Then it was time to add the water. I could delay no longer. I was pretty nervous about using the water effects, as the only stuff I had ever previously used was “Magic Water”, a 2-part floral product that requires precise mixing to cure properly. The last time I used it was several years ago, and the swamp scenery I made is still tacky. But my friend Dick Garrison swears by Vallejo Water Texture, and he has achieved some amazing results with it, so who am I to argue with success?

I poured some into a plastic cup and added a few drops of green craft paint, the same kind I used to paint the basin. It mixed together perfectly, and I poured it out and moved the base this way and that until it covered the bottom. It flows like thick water, kind of like motor oil, so it was quite easy to work with. My first layer was done.

I noticed a problem about 12 hours later. Vallejo Water Texture is a “self-leveling” fluid. My workbench is level. The bottom of the piece is level. I found out the hard way that the inside of the basin, where I was pouring the texture, was obviously not level, because the water effects began to pool on certain sides of the basin. Dumb, rookie mistake. Since the mixture was still fluid enough to flow, albeit slowly, I quickly mixed and added more water texture and paint to shore things up. Then I played around trying to get the stuff to flow where it was needed. I wasn’t entirely successful, as you can see.

I added a second layer of clear (no paint added) texture out of the bottle, hoping that would obscure the uneven bottom layer. It didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong: I love this product, and I think it looks amazing. But it took more like 48 hours for it to cure before I added the next level, and then another 48 hours before I thought it was ok to touch.

Overall, I can live with how it looks. I think the Vallejo product is pretty impressive and easy stuff to use. After 2 layers (3 mm thickness or so), I have about half a 200 ml bottle left. The area I covered wasn’t small, though. Note the Space Marine for scale. The bottle cost me 17 dollars (US$).

So…I’m thinking of adding one final layer of clear water, but I’m not sure if it will really do anything aside from make the basin look deeper. Thoughts?

The Slump is Here…

I’ve hit a bit of a painting slump. Actually, it’s a bit more than that. It’s a general hobby slump. I haven’t painted a miniature since I finished up Kratos for Forgotten Heroes. In fact, I’ve barely done anything at all since July 1st.

Partly this was due to real life work anxiety getting in the way of any pleasant diversions I might seek. Now that that is mostly over, though, my painting mojo still has yet to return. A quick turn around some of the blogs I follow shows I am not alone in this; for whatever reason, we all hit a slump every now and again, or as The Dude would say, “strikes and gutters. man…strikes and gutters.”

So what HAVE I been doing? Playing video games, mostly. I recently did a replay of The Last of Us and the DLC, Left Behind; because I don’t know how long I can resist buying the long-awaited sequel, released a couple of months ago. The Last of Us is a true masterpiece; the only video game that I have ever played, finished, and immediately replayed. I did the same thing again recently. It’s an amazing storytelling experience, and it serves very well to get my mind off of shit I don’t enjoy thinking about. My mind naturally goes to these places when I paint; hence the whole no painting thing lately.

I’ve also been making some Starship Corridor tiles, using Heroic Maps Starship Corridors and DM Scotty’s 2.5D method. There’s a pretty great video on it here by The Mighty Gluestick (ironically not by DM Scotty, but whatever). It’s pretty quick work, but I’ve since run out of double-wall cardboard and need to get some. I really don’t want to buy it from a craft store, but I don’t have any heavy-duty boxes lying around.

I still plan on producing something for the Summer of Scenery over at Wargames Terrain Workshop, but it won’t be as much as I would have liked. In other words, no Western town or graveyard; but as you can see, I managed to give the sludge pool a quick basecoat (space marine included for scale)…

…followed by a black wash and some texturing with Stirland Mud. I’ll hit it with some light drybrushing before beginning the weathering process. Hopefully my Vallejo Water Texture will arrive by month’s end and I can complete this thing soon.

In the meantime, I need to find a project that will drag me back to the painting table.

The Summer of Scenery

That’s the name of the challenge hosted by Dave over at Wargames Terrain Workshop. I’ve decided I can certainly find some things to make or paint over the next two months. The challenge for me is to make scenery that I will use, but also to clear out some stuff that’s been sitting idle for a long time.

Like this thing. I bought it about 12 years or so, by my best guess. It’s all one piece, constructed out of some kind of foam. It feels a lot like solidified ‘Great Stuff”, that gap-sealing foam that comes in a spray can.

It’s not a small piece. I should have included a miniature for scale, but I forgot. The barrels are definitely 28mm scale oil barrels, if that helps.

The pool area is deep enough for water effects. I’m not great at it (mine never seem to dry completely), but I’m strongly considering using them, as I think it will really make this piece stand out once it’s done.

Now, one terrain piece should be easy. But why stop at one? I’ve had another project sitting in a labelled, white box for about a decade. With a recent Reaper order, the time may have come to complete it…

I’ll give you three guesses…