Tuesday, July 30, 2019

An Introduction: Ethereal Creatures & Citadel Contrast Paints

Just out the bath and ready for priming after drying
Followers of this blog already know I have an affinity for the macabre and the supernatural in my gaming preferences. As such, I've been collecting ethereal creatures for years: banshees, ghosts, ghasts, shrouds, spectres, spirits, wights, wraiths, etc. I've painted up some here and there but they've never been a priority.

Then Citadel's Contrast paints came on the market, and I became intrigued by their capabilities. I've watched hours of tutorials, read a jillion reviews and have come away convinced a solution exists here.

Yes, one can make them artificially for probably cheaper, but I have enough to do without taking the risk on working out the right mix of ink, flow enhancers, avoiding tea stains, etc, etc. Further, these are figures that probably won't get a lot of table time anyway.

Apathy had been winning for a very long time. But now, what the heck - I bought the fancy expensive primer (Gray Seer), the brush on version as well as Contrast "Aethermatic Blue". Why, I can whip out near a hundred models in one go, won't that be fun!

The store I was at did not have the Wraithbone spray. To my eyes, Gray Seer works best with cool/cold colors like the blue, greens and black. Wraithbone is best with reds, yellows, browns, and tans where a richer undercoat is desired. Website Bell of Lost Souls has my favorite guide to what Contrast paints will look like. Click here to see them all - here's a shot of what affirmed my color choices for this project (at A. below) :

Because the Wraithbone undercoat (B.) is warm and yellow, putting a cold blue color over it makes it greenish. Expected, but not desired for my purposes. Even the pure white is too cold.

Well I started poring through the collection, picking put figures here and there. I eliminated from play all the ones I thought shouldn't be transparently blue at all but mostly black - the grim reaper and wraith types. Putting those aside, I also put aside those that were not going to be predominantly blue - like figures where the body was ethereal but the clothing and gear wouldn't be. Probably an arbitrary result that was heavily influenced by my looking at other paint jobs online. Some just make more sense as not purely ghostly. I've been saying that these paints are really best for models that are largely a single color if you want to maximize the speed and simplicity factor. Trying to pick out small details with these paints could save some time here and there but I think their strength lies elsewhere.

As you can see from the top pic, 39 figures made the cut. As I was cleaning them up, I continued to narrow down which ones would be entirely monochromatic. So I will have to go get the black and a couple grays. (I can do the wraiths, reapers with those too.) I have a ton of other paints to pick from for spot details so many won't be purely in Contrast. but quite a few will. Planning on red eyes for clearly evil spirits, pupils for the neutral/good ones. I may even highlight with other colors to differentiate hair and clothing from skin and other articles.

Random notes:
  • It's an eclectic collection - some are clearly for fantasy games, others are better in a purely horror setting, many both. Hardly any of them look quite right with each other being either cartoonishly simple (the Reaper Spirits) or outrageously detailed. There'll be no giant ghost army here with this lot. 
  • I was going to do Old Glory's wonderful Ghostly Pirates as entirely ghost, but maybe those should be done with Wraithbone undercoat and Contrast Warp Green? Or maybe just the skin as ethereal, clothing and equipment as normal? When I got caught up in this indecisive thinking - I just excluded them. Speed is my priority here. 
  • If I think I can pull off OSL (Object Source Lighting) - the whole model being a light source, then I will try.
  • This Polish site also had great examples of what the Contrast colors look like over Gray Seer and Wraithbone. Really useful! And it serves as a reminder to not let this stuff puddle too much.

In any event, watch this space. Over the next few days I'll be tackling this lot and trying out different things, then organizing the posts in my usual rational way for easy searching and reference.

 Thanks for looking - questions, comments and followers are welcome and encouraged!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

25mm Ghost Miniatures - Wizards 2/6

Blogger is too clunky for me with the image control - I'll just post these as I finish them.

Tried to do a little OSL effects on the sleeve. I also wanted to find a use for colors I use very infrequently: the turquoise/green build from Vallejo Game Color. Flame was too obvious, so was a gray to white or a straight blue.

I have two others finished but are really too glossy to show just yet - when I finish the last one I'll dull coat them all and pull them together.
Thanks for looking - questions, comments and followers are welcome and encouraged!

25mm Lance and Laser - Old Crone

Lord knows the woods need sweeping out.
Near impossible to see here is a dead rat at the cat's feet.

I've been collecting witch models for ages - don't know why they have captured my attention, but the whole witch hunter theme is so interesting for the purported occult aspects as well as the historical grounding of mass delusion, hysteria and tragic injustice.

 West Wind's and Foundry witches are in progress and likely next. Stay tuned!
Thanks for looking - questions, comments and followers are welcome and encouraged!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

L'Empereur et Jean Baptiste Eblé à Berezina

Eureka Miniatures has a number of miniatures that are hidden in plain sight at conventions, but never seem to be on their website. These are a good example and are sold together.

I s'pose the uniform could give him away, but a scenario, where he is hidden among the men, might be a fun one.

Illustrator Michael Chappell in his book with Haythornthwaite, show the Emperor in a red cap with this ensemble which is originally what I had done. Further research turned up this portrait so I had to make a change near the end. There's another of him in this gear questioning a serf that Google has now hidden from me.

Building by Pegasus
Back to wizards and witches for a bit.

Thanks for looking - questions, comments and followers are welcome and encouraged!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

25mm Ghost Miniatures - Wizards 1/6

There are six figures in this pack - still available from Old Glory.  I'll just update this entry as I finish them and include them all here. The other five are in various stages of completion with mostly small details left to finish off. At first, since they are just ok models, I thought I would paint them entirely against type - the "good" ones I would paint as evil and the "evil" ones as good. I ended up not doing that as much as I had planned as there is a kind of ambiguity about the sculpts themselves. This one was partly inspired by my distant memories of Saruman in the Hobbit films where he is a goodie.

More to come including a group shot - watch this space!

Thanks for looking - questions, comments and followers are welcome and encouraged!

25mm Citadel - Hunchback Beggar on Crutch ca 1982

Painted around the turn of the century. Photographed not too long after.
The no flash version - flooded with light

Thanks for looking - questions, comments and followers are welcome and encouraged!

25mm Grenadier - Fantasy Lords - Dungeon Raiders - 1/2 Elf Maid with Sword

I don't recall many in this 12 figure collection - the Assassin and the Dwarf are about it so I'm pretty sure I picked her up singly somewhere. Painted in the early 00s.

Quite a crazy looking chocolate cookie she's running on.

Thanks for looking - questions, comments and followers are welcome and encouraged!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

25mm Grenadier - Fantasy Warriors - Witch

I wanted this one really earthy - so entirely browns and tans but with green accents. Is she malevolent? Could go either way. Thinking of games where the Witchfinders can't be certain - trying to create some moral dilemmas. I s'pose the staff gives her up.
Also experimenting on changing my flesh recipe for witches - should they be done in greens like the WWotW? Grays like monstrous undead? or simply in less ruddy flesh colors like this one?

This model has not yet been sealed though I did gloss up the gems to see how'd they turn out. I'll have to do those again after the dullcoat.

This is a tiny miniature and the cat's 'eyes are just blank divots in the face. There's actually 2 shades of green on the cat's eyes here but difficult to see either.

Thanks for looking - questions, comments and followers are welcome and encouraged!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Historicon 2019 - Friday's Tables of Interest

I'll establish a couple things ere I get going here: first, I'm mostly a day tripper/shopper and never gamer so I didn't play in any of these. I was here from about 9-5 or so, so very well have missed some games, perhaps even a room of games. Second, I loves the venue and think it's preferable to what the Host has been in the past. It's nice to not have to go outside in the humidity if you don't have to.  Climate control was in excellent shape, staff was helpful and knowledgeable, and bathrooms as I needed them were well maintained. Third, downtown Lancaster was charming and had a fair amount of diversion of it's own - especially the farmer's market bazaar across the street. I've been coming to Historicon for almost two decades and had never been anywhere near the downtown so it was a pleasant surprise. Let's start with the Dealer Hall, the demo games therein and other displays.
1. Blood and Plunder was well supported and there were several games of this going on throughout the day and around the convention.

This looks like a ton of fun. Beautiful presentation too.

2. I'm not trying to knock this company with any malice or ill will, but I think the fur on these mats is way too long. Yes, you can (and should) trim them down for scales other than 25/28mm and possibly 40mm too. Especially as pictured, the artifice is hurting my eyes. It just creates a world engulfed in gray flames. Preferable than billiard table felt maybe but still hard for me to like. I do love the accessories atop it though - great stuff but out of my preferred scales.

3. Cigar Box - I do prefer these and decorated with 3D modular terrain can make a great set up. My only objection the them is the portrayal of 3D items like hedges, walls and trees. It works in a pinch, but I'd prefer they model a forest floor if necessary than the trees. Leave off walling and hedging, standing corn, etc altogether. Two cents.

4. The theme of the Con was jungle warfare - this one had a lot of little interesting vignettes hidden it its depths - neat!

5. Hadn't seen these painted up before - these were at Brigade Games

Even a Putin! Funny

And these were nearby

6. Shanty town from Miniature Building Authority. I've been priced out of acquiring their stuff for years, but great, ready to play pieces.
7. From Sash & Saber's booth: I don't think any of these are new, but they are just terrific - beautifully painted and arranged models.

8. Now we move to the Tournament area - these games look better and better every year. These must be more Blood and Plunder set ups.


9. I like these Team Yankee ones a lot. Note the little car parks.

10. Nice wintry mix here. In general these little FoW boards are terrific - they get rolled out every year and are solid, practical and look great adorned with terrain features. all are edged in black laminated wood and look really sharp.

11. That's right Ma, skulls! All skulls.

12. I think this is for a LOTR game? In any event, I like these dead tree vignettes. I would distribute the grass a bit differently and trim others, but otherwise very nice.

13. Helm's Deep - great functional set piece here. But where to store it?

Lovely details

14. Ah - everyone needs The Argonath, also known as The Gates of Argonath or The Pillars of Kings,  a monument  carved in the likenesses of Isildur and Anárion, standing upon either side of the River Anduin at the northern entrance to Nen Hithoel. Duh! Everyone knows that.

A board of ONLY choke points?
15. More LOTR

Lets go back and look at 12 again.



18. Somewhere among these I'd gone back upstairs again to the main gaming floors - lost track a bit after cropping out people and backgrounds.

19. These little fields look great -- I need some at some point.

20. I also adore these flexible rubber field mats. Simple, durable evocative. Edged with lichen or low clump foliage and they would really pop.

21. This one caught my eye from a distance with its brightness. There's an article out there about using expanding foam for forest. I can't say I'm a fan of this but it was eye catching.
22. Here's where the long fur looks great!

The color appears to be a little dead to me but with 25/28s the length looks pretty good.

23. This was an eye catcher - maybe a best in show for me on Friday morning. It wouldn't hurt if everybody scaled up their trees somewhat. It won't be cheap but the more realistic height can really make a difference despite all its other impracticalities of cost, storage, getting figures in between, falling over, etc.

You are there. Looks fun.


25. I'm an unabashed Russophile in gaming contexts so I like to grab shots of games set in Russia. also here's fur that looks great to me in terms of length. Very natural and realistic to scale


This game was crowded and busy and I would have loved to move the play aid from these shots, but would didn't want to disrupt.


28. Another favorite - beautiful attention to detail here.

29. Nice

30. I've no doubt this was a fun game but a kitchen sink aesthetic is very much in place.

Opposite side of the beaches - there's that green.

32. This one also was very popular and had some very impressive altitudes - that's Romans vs Irish in there.

The difference between the highest point and lowest point on this table was around two feet - very impressive!

33. Battle Cry right?  A very fun game.

34. Beautiful, natural.

35. 6mm?


37. Yeah - gotta cover the tree illustrations with actual tree models.



40. Epic scale!

41. The only prison is in your mind

42. Another probable contender for best in show was this sprawling Western - lots of great stuff in this one.

The rock pillars and mine set pieces are wonderful. Whole campaigns can be played out on this table without moving a thing.

43. Back down near the tournament space

44. This one looked fun too.

45. There's always one thing that strikes me as eminently practical and the winner this year are these little casualty/unit ID markers. Simple, elegant, unobtrusive - well done. [Update - Reader Gonsalvo notes that these are commercially available from from Lancashire Games. Get them here]
Well that's it - I do love attending this thing - it's fun to watch games develop and see everything up close. I think the venue was a great improvement and organizers should seek permanence here in that regard. I also feel like Friday might not be the best day for spectacle games. There were a lot of beautiful set ups, and the usual turkeys but I was on the lower side of impressed this year than I have been in the past. That's not to knock anybody or anything - it takes a tremendous effort, in time, money and heart to prep and put on a game scores of miles from home and I do appreciate it.

I'm sure the Saturday games will be a step above and look forward to seeing those pics online.

Thanks for looking! Questions, comments and followers are welcome and encouraged.