Category Archives: Painting Challenges

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…

Apologies.

While fifteen days between posts is hardly a rarity here at Dead Dick’s Tavern, my almost complete absence from the blogosphere during that time certainly is. So, to all my friends, new and old, whose blogs I regularly offend with my presence and inundate with my witticisms, I humbly beg your pardon.

The fact is that since my last post, I have been consumed with real life apprehension which culminated in the object of my terror: an accreditation survey that was conducted over the past two days via Microsoft Teams, a program that, until 10 days ago, I had never used.

These surveys are never fun. Ever. They are, by definition, audits. And when was the last time anyone had an audit where the auditor didn’t find something you missed?

It has been a stressful two weeks, friends. This past weekend was the worst. I think I slept a total of three hours from Friday-Monday morning. Anyway, it’s over now. I think I did ok. I’ll know for sure in three weeks or so.

So, I need to get back into the swing of things. I’m currently taking a class at the RPG Writer’s Workshop that I am already a week behind in (see above), so I need to make up some time there. But I recall that Dave Stone over at Wargames Terrain Workshop is hosting a terrain challenge this month and next, and although I’m bad at terrain-making, I’m all in on this one. I have way too many scenic pieces awaiting my attention, and this is the kick in the ass I needed. Plus, Dave was kind enough to participate in Monster May(hem), and to provide support and encouragement to all and sundry. Can I do any less?

(Well, I HAVE been doing less, but that’s over now. Promise.)

I have to go figure out what house I’m gonna paint, or whatever else I decide to do. I’ll be back soon!

Forgotten Heroes 2020: Nexus

Continuing the First Comics theme, I bring you another character from that ill-fated publisher: Nexus.

Nexus was another Mike Baron creation, this time with co-creator Steve Rude. Once First Comics went under, Nexus was picked up by Dark Horse and, like other First Comics properties, made its way through several different publishers. I’m not sure who has the license now.

Nexus is Horatio Hellpop, which is either the coolest or stupidest name ever, I can’t decide. He is a guy given cosmic power by an alien force, called the Merk, in exchange for services rendered. In Nexus’s case, that service is to find and kill serial killers. Nexus has the usual superhero powers: flight, super-strength, telepathy and the ability to shoot frikkin’ lasers out of his hands. The Merk keeps Nexus motivated to do his job by making him feel the pain and anguish of the killers’ victims until he tracks down and ends the serial killer; which I guess is a good way to make overtime mandatory…

Much like Badger, I never got into Nexus, either. Maybe it’s a Mike Baron thing, maybe not. Still, I have a few comics with him in it, but I can’t tell you the last time I read one.

To make Nexus, I used two old Heroclix: a Hydra soldier and the Hobgoblin, both from the Marvel Heroclix Infinity Challenge set, not really hard to find (the Hydra soldier is actually tougher to find, and he was a common figure in the set).

I removed both the miniatures’ left arms, and with the help of some green stuff, did a Frankenstein’s monster on them. I also sanded his raised parts down a bit, then mounted him on a scenic base.

One quick repaint later, and Heeeeeeeeeere’s Nexus! The gloves don’t match, but by the time I remembered that I had already painted him and I didn’t see the need to go back and green stuff the gloves. I can live with it.

I have one more Forgotten Heroes submission I hope to complete by month’s end, and this time it’s not a superhero (gasp!). Suffice it to say it’s a character for whom I have long wanted a miniature…

Forgotten Heroes 2020: Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger….

How I miss First Comics.

First Comics had a pretty respectable roster of publications. Most were pretty good (Jon Sable; Freelance, Whisper, Tim Truman’s Scout, and my personal favorite: Grimjack), some not so great (I couldn’t get into American Flagg no matter how hard I tried). First secured the rights to publish Lone Wolf and Cub (which they did out of sequence and only for about 60 issues, if memory serves), complete with new covers from greats like Frank Miller and Bill Sienkewicz; they published Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar for a while, and they even got Jon Sable made into an extremely short-lived TV series, Sable, which I have tried in vain to find anywhere in these days of digital streaming.

First Comics went out of business in the late 80’s. Most of their properties were picked up by Dark Horse, at least for a while. I remember being pretty bummed out about their demise. One of their longest-running comics was Badger, created by Mike Baron.

Badger is Norbert Sykes, a Vietnam veteran who suffers from multiple personalities (those of us in the biz refer to that as Dissociative Identity Disorder nowadays). One of his personalities is Badger, an expert hand-to-hand combatant and crimefighter. Badger lives in a castle in southern Wisconsin with a 5th century Druid who he met in a mental hospital. Hilarity and action ensued. I guess.

Badger was too batshit-crazy a book even for me. Despite my love of all things martial arts, I just didn’t dig Badger all that much. Not sure why, but that hasn’t stopped me from making Badger for Forgotten Heroes this year. Here’s how I did it.

It wasn’t hard. I used these two Heroclix: Nighhtwing and a one-armed Fury (don’t know where she lost her harm), both from DC Hypertime.

One quick head swap later, and he’s already starting to look like Badger. I filed off some of Nightwing’s costume for easier repainting. I debated losing the escrima sticks and just going with clenched fists, but Badger is an expert with all martial arts weapons, so why bother?

I repainted him as Badger, and voila! First Forgotten Heroes submission done for 2020! I have another one in the can already, and I’m hoping to get a third submission completed by the end of the month. Check back here in a few days for my second submission!

Monster May(hem) Straggler: The Dung Monster!

First: Thanks to everyone who took part in Monster May(hem), formerly called Monster Month, but now irrevocably changed, thanks to Roger. You guys are awesome, and there were many impressive and inspirational submissions. It’s my hope to continue this annually. I’ve hosted some challenges in the past, but this one seems to be the one that resonated best with people. In addition to my good buddies Roger (Dick Garrison) and Jeremy (Carrion Crow), I got to meet some new hobbyists, like Matt from PM Painting and Ken from Blue Moose Arts; as well as deepen my acquaintance with Dave from Wargames Terain Workshop, Harry from War Across the Ages, and returning participant Coyotepunc, who once converted a Toob tapir into a wizard (still love that). So, bring on Monster May(hem) 2021!

One of the great things about Zoom meetings where I don’t need to be on camera is that I can do whatever I want while “listening” to whatever drivel someone spouts off. This morning, I decided to paint one of the two monsters I didn’t get to by the end of the month (i.e. yesterday).

This is the “Dung Monster”, by Reaper. It’s their version of the Otyugh, a classic (if somewhat disgusting) Dungeons and Dragons monster. Otyughs live in filth, mostly trash and shit. This is what they usually eat, too (unless some tasty adventurers are doing a dump dive); so you can imagine the smell coming out of that massive cakehole must be pretty horrific.

This miniature came together quite by accident. I wasn’t planning on painting him for Monster May(hem)…in fact, I forgot I even had him. That’s because he was part of that same Craigslist lot that gave me the Marauder Giant I painted yesterday (2 posts in 2 days. BOOM.). I accidentally mixed too much Magic Sculpt while filling the gaps in the giant, so I had to use it lest it dry out (that shit’s not cheap). I rooted around in my insanity pile…kind of like an otyugh roots around in well, shit…and found him. I put him together and thought…”well, if there’s time this month…”

I decided there was time. This thing wasn’t gonna sit on my desk for another year, not when I had an interminably boring Zoom meeting to sit through. So I painted him.

This guy is actually a pretty old Reaper miniature, and he’s all metal, as his current price tag will attest ($12.99!) For those of you who want your own shit monster but don’t want to pay that much, you can find a different version in the Bones range for about 4 bucks. It also looks quite good, but different.

So, how did I achieve this particular shade of putrescence? I gave him a base coat of Vallejo Brown Violet (the violet part of which eludes me), then highlighted him with Army Painter Hemp Rope, followed by Army Painter Sulfide Ochre. Then, I gave it a final highlight of Citadel Zamesi Desert before washing the whole thing in Citadel Athonian Camoshade. Not bad for a couple of hours work, and certainly preferable to sitting through a Zoom meeting without painting anything.

I still have one monster on my desk that I didn’t get to last month. You can expect to see it soon, because like this ugly fellah here, that guy isn’t sitting on my desk for another year, either.

Fee Fie Fo Fum!

I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!

Not surprising, really, since I know of at least three Englishmen who frequent Dead Dick’s Tavern. Only too likely one of them would leave their spoor behind. Of course, I would never grind their bones to make bread. That’s just silly.

This is the classic Marauder/Citadel Giant, and he is my “Big ‘Un” for Monster May(hem) this year. This guy came out circa 1989 or so; and for decades he was “the” Warhammer giant; there wasn’t another until well after this one ceased production. I’m pretty sure he was sculpted by one or both of the Perry brothers, but I could be wrong. (Edit: I was wrong. A simple Google search turned up it was sculpted by Aly Morrison. Thanks to Matt and shame on me.) Whoever sculpted him did a great job. (It was Aly Morrison.) I’ve always loved this model. As an Orc and Goblin player back in the day, I always wanted one, but could never lay hands on it.

Then, a few years ago, I bought a miniatures lot off a guy on Craiglist who was getting out of the hobby (which was a pretty aggravating experience, but eventually turned out ok). This giant was in there, assembled and primed white (which I HATE). Back in 2018, when I first decided May was Monster Month (remember when it was called that?) , I put this guy on my desk to paint him. I decided to do my Orc Warlord on Wyvern instead, and there the giant sat until now. Every once in a while, when I squeezed out too much paint, I would dab some on him somewhere. He looked a mess, and I made no progress, always telling myself I’d get him done eventually.

Well, he’s done. Mostly.

About halfway through painting him this month, I noticed he’s incomplete. He’s missing two pieces: a keg which he has slung around his hip (where the rope meets in thie picture above), and a sword that attaches to his other hip. The guy included a huge bag o’bitz in the Craigslist purchase. Guess which two bitz were not there?

I guess it doesn’t look terrible without the keg. And who needs a sword when you can rip a tree out of the ground and swat someone with it? Anyway, I did what I could with him, and I’m pretty happy with the result. I’m most happy that he’s DONE, and I can remove him from my painting desk forthwith.

I know I just said it a few paragraphs ago, but I’ll say it again. I love this model. No computer sculpting or 3D printing here, and no resin or plastic to be found. This model is all metal, and reminds me of a time when transporting your army doubled as a biceps workout. Bring back those days…

Here’s a scale comparison to a Reaper Hill Giant (also all metal, though they make him in Bones now), and an Empire Greatsword. I know the current GW giant is even bigger, but I think this guy is just right.

And that brings Monster May(hem) to a close…or does it? It is currently 7:30 a.m. at Dead Dick’s Tavern. That means there’s still 16 hours or so left in May…and I have two unpainted monsters still sitting on my desk. Can I get one painted before midnight?

Be sure to check out all the other participants. Since last post, Matt painted yet another monster: the cloak fiend, and Dave sculpted and painted a Bantha for some Star Wars gaming! Plus, I forgot to mention Harry painted some unicorns and treekin over on his site, along with his High Elf dragon!

Next month is Forgotten Heroes over at Carrion Crow’s Buffet, and I can’t wait. But for now, there’s still time to paint some monsters!

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

My Dinner with Mugato

The following excerpt is from my forthcoming book, Domo Arigato, Mr. Mugato, soon to be available at fine booksellers everywhere.

From a small part in a popular 60’s science fiction show to the entertainment tour-de-force he is today, Mugato has been a giant on stage and screen over the last five decades. I caught up to him in London, where he was in the midst of a two-month engagement at the Southwark Playhouse. His portrayal of Torvald in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House has been called a masterclass in the Stanislavsky method.

AP: Mr. Mugato. It’s truly an honor. Thank you for meeting with me.

M: Please. Call me Mugato.

AP: Thanks. Sorry, I’m just a little nervous.

M: Don’t worry. I don’t bite. Not anymore, anyway (laughs).

AP: Do you mind if we talk about Star Trek?

M: Why would I mind?

AP: Well, it’s just that some people have said…

M: That I don’t like talking about it? Nah. I’d like to think I’ve done better work, that’s all.

AP: Of course. But…

M: Ask your questions, kid.

The role that started it all…

AP: Do you remember how you got the part?

M: Right place, right time, I guess. In ’67 I was working as a caterer in the Hollywood hills. Serving drinks, wiping tables…you know. One night I was working a party at Roddenberry’s house. He must have liked my look, because he told me to come to Desilu the next day. Couple of hours after that, I was tackling Bill Shatner on planet Mongo, or wherever the hell they were that week (laughs).

AP: And from there a star was born.

Mugato and Lucille Ball.

M: Not quite…I got offered a lot of parts after that, became the toast of the town. Everyone wanted me around. I was Hollywood royalty. But then came the seventies…

AP: Right. The blacklisting, because of the war.

M: Well, they didn’t call it that, not officially. Everyone was still raw from the fifties. But, Jane (that’s Jane Fonda; I call her Jane) Jane and I sure as hell couldn’t get any good work once everyone found out how we felt about the war. If that’s not a blacklist, I don’t know what it is.

AP: Still, you managed to find work…

M: Sure. My unique look gave me an advantage. I’m lucky. I’m a humanoid, apelike creature with a lethally venomous bite, so obviously I can play just about anything. It’s tough to typecast me, so no one ever tried. Melvin hired me, then Russ…it was an interesting time.

AP: You mean Melvin Van Peebles? And Russ Meyer, right?

M: You got it. Mel gave me that part in Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and Russ gave me the lead in Watch It Jiggle.

AP: Do you regret any of those movies?

M: Nope. Both gave me the chance to show my range as an actor, and Russ helped me understand that I like boobs. (Chuckles).

AP: About that…over the years you’ve been linked romantically to Raquel Welch, Uschi Digard and Serena Grandi, to name a few. But the most persistent rumor is that Carly Simon’s famous song, You’re So Vain, is about you. Is it?

M: I dunno. We dated for a while. You’d have to ask Carly. Anyway, I don’t kiss and tell.

AP: In an April, 1987 interview with Cinema Verite, Stanley Kubrick claimed that the five greatest actors of the last 100 years were Olivier, Welles, Streep, Day-Lewis…and Mugato.

M: I saw it. That was kind of Stan to say.

AP: What do you think?

M: I mean, I’m flattered, but I think Bobby D and Marlon got screwed (laughs).

AP: Yet you never worked with Kubrick, even though it’s rumored he had you in mind for Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket.

M: Yeah…Stan thought I’d be all over that because of my not-so-private stance on Vietnam. But I was ready to move on from that. I was doing a lot of coke at the time, too. That’s probably what cost me the lead in Children of a Lesser God earlier that year. Still, Bill Hurt did ok, I guess. So did D’onofrio.

AP: That brings us to the nineties…

M: Yeah, look…not to be rude, but I have a curtain call in 10 minutes. I do mostly theatre now. Back to basics. But remember, I didn’t get my start in the theatre. I’m doing things in reverse. Make sure you write that in your book.

AP: OK, one last question?

M: Sure.

AP: Why don’t you go to Star Trek conventions?

M: You’re kidding, right? (sighs). Look, I was practically a kid when Star Trek aired. Bill, De, Leonard…they were ok to me, but I wouldn’t call them my friends. Jimmy Doohan and I once ran into each other over at Pink’s, getting hot dogs. That was years later. By then I was a bigger name than him. But hey, Jimmy was all right.

The short version is that those guys and me…we only worked together long enough for me to attack Kirk and then get disintegrated. There wasn’t much chance of a recurring role after that happens to your character, and I was in demand elsewhere. I guess I’ll always be grateful to Roddenberry for giving me my shot. But I took it and managed to do pretty well. I managed to make some decent coin in this business, and I’m not looking back. Those conventions are just…sad. Anyway, thanks for dropping by, kid.

Thus, for a brief time, I had been in the presence of a master of his craft. I still had a million other questions for Mugato, but that was undeniably a dismissal. Regretfully, I shook his three-clawed paw and took my leave.

Monster May(hem) is winding down, and I’m happy to say I still have one more contribution to make, most likely on the last day. But…it’s my big ‘un this year, so if all goes well I will be happy indeed.

Be sure to check out all the other participants. Harry posted some pictures of his completed High Elf Dragon, Matt made the most terrifying (and clever) monster of all, and Ken completed a couple of Displacer Beasts that look great! That just leaves His Crow-ness, and I have faith he’ll deliver by the end of the month. (But even if he doesn’t, he’s been up to some pretty impressive Dr. Who gaming and diorama-making over on his site. You should go there and see.)

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

Giant Scorpion

Monster May(hem) continues with my latest submission: a Giant Scorpion (and some smaller, yet still quite large scorpions). from Reaper. These Bones miniatures are define what an “impulse buy” is to me. I had no need for either the huge scorpion or its little brothers, yet I bought them to “pad” an order to get free shipping, as I recall. I’ve had these for a few years now. Since I’m finding any excuse NOT to work on the big monster I have vowed to paint by month’s end, I painted these guys instead.

The good news is that even though I don’t really have a use in mind, much like Rrrraaaaaang, this beastie can be quite versatile.

Kip Kincaid and Sarah Litmus are beginning to regret exploring Planet X…
Perhaps Lara should have done more research on why it’s called “The Temple of Stingy-Sting-Sting.”
The wizard said hunting for spell components was quick and easy work. The wizard lied.
Epitaph: “Clean Head” McGee. Never backed down from a fight.

Matt from PMPainting just completed an amazing-looking Cthulhu model for his third submission of the month, and Harry painted a Warhammer High Elf Dragon, after painting a Wood Elf Dragon just last month. Now I literally have no more excuses not to tackle my own big fellah…but I’ll probably find one before long.

Check out all the other participants in Monster May(hem). Visit their sites and see what they’re up to!

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

Happy Painting!