You'll find a little of everything here. Genres covered in this blog include (so far) prehistorics, fantasy, old west, swashbucklers, pulp, Blood Bowl, Ghostbusters, gladiators, nautical, science fiction and samurai in 6mm, 15mm, 28mm, 40mm, 42mm and 54mm sizes. You'll also find terrain, scenery, basing, gaming, modeling, tutorials, repaints, conversions, art and thoughts in general about the hobby.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Red Samurai

My new shipment of samurai from Steve Barber arrived today, and while clearing off the table, I discovered this guy sitting off to the side with a partial paint job. So I finished him during a rainy afternoon.
This figure is actually a conversion of a samurai who is drawing his katana.

I kept the palette simple with two colors -- red and white. The red came out lovely, and I almost left the figure entirely in red. But I wanted him to be just a little more garish to fit in with the Edo gangs. So I painted up a simple fern pattern along the hems of the hakama and haori.

The new shipment includes a new sculpt. I'll try to get him painted up later this week. After this next batch is painted up, I'll have plenty to do some samurai gang battles.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

When dinosaurs rode the earth

Yes, I'm still on a dinosaur kick. They're fun and easy to draw (and easy to sell!) I've slowed down for now while I resupply myself with new art supplies (it's surprisingly difficult to find ink for my technical pens in my town.)

When the new samurai arrive at my doorstep, I'll probably switch over to those. In the meantime, I still have a primed brachiosaurus towering over my painting table.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fun dinosaur paintings

This small collection is now in the hands of friends of mine (to be hung in the bedroom of their three -- soon to be four -- young sons.) These are all 11x15 inch watercolors with pen brush lining. I think I'll make some for myself, now.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dino repaint: Nigersaurus

This is nigersaurus (by Safari Ltd.) It is a small sauropod from the middle Cretceous period. The dinosaur (not this toy -- thank goodness) had 500 teeth arrayed in a wide mouth.

Just like the gryposaurus, I wanted to keep this paint scheme simple, hence the uniform gray all around. Still, I wanted to make the model pop just a little, so I painted the spines red, which makes for a nice accent.

The original paint job on this guy was actually quite nice, and I debated whether to repaint him at all. In the end, I'm enjoying painting these models, so he got added to the queue.

I have a pachycephalosaurus on the table and a brachiosaurus getting primed, so yes, more to come!

Note: I reverted back to the Army Painter/Testors Flat Black combo. I think the Flat Black/Craft paint combo I used on the gryposaurus works; I just think it was rubbing off of the gryposaur because I forgot to wash him. Another part of painting these dinos is that I scrub them down with water and Simple Green to get all the dust and oils (from playtime) off of them before priming.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dino repaint: Gryposaurus

This is the Gryposaurus by Safari Ltd (1:40 scale; 40mm figure in photo for scale.) It's a great model of a nice hadrosaur, which, honestly, I had never heard of until I saw him at the store.

Hadrosaurs are my favorite, but it's difficult to find some nice ones in this scale. There are certainly a few, but not as good as this one (and the Schleich Parasuarolophus.) A lot of them have great sculpting on the body, with nice wrinkles and texture, but they fall flat with the head, which is usually simplified and lacking much texture. Not this gryposaurus; look at that neck and head.

On this dino, I used the priming combination of Testors Flat Black follwed by a layer of black craft paint to kill the tackiness. I managed to rub off a couple areas while painting, so this combination is less effective than the other I used (Army Painter Primer followed by Testors) seemed to hold up pretty well, so I'll probably go back to that.

A lot- A LOT of dinosaur toys these days are getting flashier and flashier paint jobs, so I decided to tone this guy down a bunch. He still got some tail stripes, but in muted colors. And I still gave him a flash of color on his face, so that he can make a display to attract a mate. (Perhaps his display is to puff out his nasal passage to show off his red face.)

This was a fun dino to paint; I might get another, unless I can find a different species of hadrosaur that fits my personal tastes. I'm not sure what dino to paint next, but I have a few options. I guess you'll find out what's next when I post it.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Camarasaurus repaint

This is a 1:40 scale camarasaurus by Safari Ltd (that's a 40mm figure next to him). The original paint job was ok, just a two-tone blue-gray, though, it was somewhat glossy (not as bad as the original Safari Ltd figures, but not as matte as the newer ones.) I originally purchased the dino a few years ago with the intention of repainting it.


I used the Army Painter primer on this figure. Then I followed that up with the Testors Flat Black to kill the AP gloss. I think it'll be cheaper (and just as effective) to use Testors Flat Black first, followed up by a brushed-on layer of black craft paint to get rid of the tackiness. I used the second method on a gryposaurus that's on the work table right now. The primer/paint on both figures seems to be holding up well.

I hadn't bought any new dinosaurs in a while, but the newer Safari Ltd figures are made of a slightly harder and much more matte material. It's still a little bit tacky with a coat of Testors primer, but not nearly as much as the old glossy figures.

New technique

Another thing I discovered for myself was that masking fluid works nicely on the dinosaurs. I painted the camarasaurus tan/beige, highlighted and shaded. After the paint was dry, I added spots of masking fluid and on the head, neck and tail, before painting the blue. I could have just as easily painted tan/beige spots (as I did the blue spots), but it was a simple experiment to see if the masking fluid would work. It does! Now, I'm nut sure what I can use it for -- complex patterns maybe, though, I don't plan on anything that ambitious. (Note: wait until the paint dries before rubbing off the masking fluid.)

Next up

I have a gryposaurus (a large hadrosaur) on the table. I'm not sure what color scheme to do on him, but once I choose something, the painting should go fast. I'm also giving away most of my dinosaur collection to the sons (four of''em!) of friends of mine. But I'm keeping some nice dino representatives to eventually paint up. It'll be easier to paint a dozen dinosaurs rather than 50.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Surprising Dinosaur Facts: Diplodocus

(Artist Note: The line down the middle of the piece is the center fold of my sketchbook; sometimes, I like to draw across the spread.)

"Robots were made to serve their Diplodocan overlords during the Jurassic Period. A staple of Diplodocus' diet was chocolate milkshakes, though, famed paleontologist Robert Bakker subscribes to the new and radical theory that the milkshakes were probably in fact strawberry and feathered.
Harriet Tubman's eventual formation of the Underground Railroad would free the robots, and without their milkshakes, Diplodocus soon died off."

Friday, June 13, 2014

I painted some dinosaurs; it was fun

I'm still busy with the traditional arts. There aren't a lot of figures on the table, so I'm letting the watercolors fly. The first piece was painted for friends of mine whose son won't stop bringing frogs into the house. (It might be difficult to see, but there's a frog on the rocks in the painting. The caption reads, "Are you bothering that froggy, little boy?")

The other two were done for the son of another friend. Her son, as so many is simple a dinosaur nut. I painted for him a parasauralophus and -- it's not an ankylosaur but one of the I-can't-spell-that-name cousins of the ankylosaur. The parasauralophus has dark contour line because I was trying to draw him like a Bill Watterson dino, but I got a little carried away. I'm learning, and enjoying the hell out of drawing and painting all these dinos (there are more I haven't posted here.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Samurai: Priest and Bandit

Nothing much done with these two, except for the usual custom-hammered weapons. Otherwise, I used the yamabushi head on a ronin body to create a yamabushi/follower of Shugendo armed with a katana. And I used one of the samurai heads on the body of a bandit. I like him; despite the flowery kimono, he has a little bit of attitude with his head tilted slightly down.

No more samurai for the time being, though, Steve has finished sculpting another, and I have him working on a couple extra heads for some variety. So they'll certainly return in the near future. I'm not sure what else I'll be working on. I've been busy filling my sketchbook with landscapes and other non-minis related art. Maybe I should throw together a few more things for Tusk.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Tusk: The Mammoths

The finished mammoths, all "upgraded" in one evening. These are 1/30 scale, done by Safari Ltd.
Tusk is first, a game of hunting mammoths, but it also includes rules for hunting dinosaurs (for which I also have plenty of models that are close to scale with my 54mm cavemen.) But today, I talk about these mammoths.

Right out of the box (OK, they don't come in a box, they come loose on the shelf,) these mammoths are ready to play. Safari Ltd does some great prehistoric toys, and the mammoths carry on that tradition; the painting is great, the sculpt is fantastic, and their shear size is imposing on the table. Still, I wanted to "upgrade" them a bit.

For the first mammoth, I recurved the tusks so that they would extend out just slightly more than the others (mammoth at far left in above photo.) On the second mammoth, I use a candle (carefully!) and heated up the trunk so that I could curl it down toward the ground (it's the mammoth at far right in the above photo).

Green stuff used to" beef up" this one a bit.
The third mammoth got the most work done. The biggest thing I did was to saw the head off and reposition it, turned a little more toward one side as if to avoid a spear thrust, or in preparation to smash a poor little Waiteri hunter to pieces. This left an ungodly seam, but I had planned for that: I also prepared a hug gob of green stuff and started off by making a simple "collar" to cover up the seam.

I added more green stuff to give a more prominent and imposing shoulder/back/hump to this mammoth -- this was going to be the leader of the group. Then I used a needle to sculpt fur into the new mane, blending it into the existing sculpt as best I could. (I knew the paint would also help to cover up the seam between my additions and the existing sculpt.

Drybrushed reddish-brown highlights. Eyes repainted.
After the green stuff had cured, I gave the mammoth a light layer of Army Painter Black (it works on vinyl toys! Oh Shit -- I can repaint all of my dinosaurs!) After the primer had dried (all of 5 minutes,) I gave the mammoths a nice drybrushing of reddish brown (as per the latest scientific research indicating this as the color of at least one mammoth specimen.) I followed that up with a couple layers of highlights and shade. I also repainted the cartoonish eyes.

For the Daddy Mammoth, I decided to do something a little more special and gave him some actual markings (not supported by any scientific research, but by my imagination.) I wanted to keep these simple, so I made large black stripes that narrowed as they projected from the neck. That mammoth is definitely the centerpiece, of the herd and probably always on table. The markings could also represent ritual paint on a domesticated "war" mammoth. All of these conversions, repositionings and painting took one evening. As I said, Safari Ltd's stuff is ready to go out of the box.

A bit large in scale to my 54mm caveman, but close enough.
This was also the first time I tried the Army Painter primer on vinyl toys, and it worked great- no tackiness at all. This finally opens up the realistic probability of repainting a bunch of my old toy dinosaurs. Many of which I've given simple and effective drybrushings to. But now, I have the opportunity to repaint them in earnest.

First, though, I want to find some more scale-compatible prehistoric mammals; I have a tribe to feed!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

My Tusk 20th anniversary set

The original characters from the first set of Tusk rules. I have many more figures, but these were representative.
July will mark the 20th anniversary of the mammoth hunting game "Tusk." I figured it was a good time to finish my 54mm prehistoric collection. What was missing from the collection? Mammoths! 

Why so late on getting the most important asset to a Tusk collection? Well, simply put, I stopped playing Tusk for a while. I also rewrote the tribe to fit into a post-apoc setting with all of my other 54mm figures, so there was little reason still to get a mammoth. But then I realized the anniversary was rolling around and that it would be nice to actually use my 54mm cavemen for their original purpose. Enter the mammoth.

I found some mammoth toys by Carnegie/Safari Ltd that were 1/30 scale, which is only a touch larger than the 1/32-54mm figures. So, as I say, they were "cinematically compatible." I found a good deal on eBay, so I bought three of the beasts. They look great, by the way. Carnegie has done a good job with their prehistoric beasts, especially in the past five years. 

I actually have conversion plans for a couple of the mammoths. One will get a head repositioned. Another will have his tusk readjusted. And the third, I think I will add an extra large "mane" of fur (using green stuff) to bulk him out, add some age, and make him look more fearsome. I might also give them a few drybrushings of paint (rusty red/orange) to add some a little more depth and natural color.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A couple samurai bandits

Not much new here, not even much conversion work -- the bandit has a head swap, and the peasant has had shoulder peaks added (using green stuff) and has been painted to look like he's wearing a simple jinbaori (jacket vest.)

I like the bandit here (with katana.) The photo doesn't do the red justice; it's almost a plum red achieved using Reaper HD colors Crimson Red, Rusty Red and then a little bit of off-white mixed in to the Rusty Red for highlights. (The purple is from Foundry paint.)

I also painted these using the Reaper HD paints (I had been using Vallejo for a while.) I just want to try them on something other than Reaper Bones (for which they were purchased.) Right now, I think the Reaper (HD only) paints are winning the which-is-my-favorite-brand-of-paint contest. Their only con is that the range is limited and triads are difficult to put together.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Tiny update: Working on new samurai

Here's the latest bunch of samurai from Steve Barber. No new sculpts in this bunch, just a couple head swaps and minor conversions.

But there is one more commissioned sculpt that Steve has recently finished -- a bandit wearing nothing but a simple set of Do armor. I've seen him; he looks great and will fit in nicely with either the skirmish side of the samurai I've commissioned, or as a lowly samurai or ashigaru for the more warring states side of the range. (He comes with a tetsubo, but looks like he can easily be fitted with a yari.)