Friday, December 23, 2011

Resolution Kept

My new year's resolution for 2011 was to paint an average of 1 Citadel preslotta figure per week for a total of 52. I reached that goal in November which is just as well because in December I have been to busy with a combination of work and holiday stuff to paint. Note to self for next year: A lot of December gets taken up with decorating and shopping (searching Ebay for things for other people instead of old lead is so strange).

So goal for next year - 100 more to add to the collection below. Nearly doubling the amount is a challenge but I feel like I'm finding my painting rhythm and the FS dungeon floor tiles and furniture and groups of similar figs like Red Orcs and Fantasy Tribe skeletons should make it do-able, particularly now I have my basing system sorted out. Besides 52 figures didn't make much of a dent in the lead mountain and I'd really like to fool myself into thinking that its getting smaller.

Merry Christmas all, and success in your painting projects for 2012

Cheers, Caius

FA figures:

FF figures:

Add the two FS wizards on thrones for 52

And so to battle:
Cardboard dungeon floor is holding up nearly as well as the lead 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Late for Halloween

Lots of monsters getting wrapped up as the year deadline starts to close in:

FF Undead

Glowing blue eyes on the center ghoul definitely inspired by reading too much Fire and Ice over the last couple of months - not sure I'm going to bother with book 5 though.


Yes I decided to go with a scheme other than blood red


So many of these figures are hard to do justice to - this guy is no exception.

Goblin Family

Difficult to know what to do with the goblin girl in the center - such a simple figure I decided to keep her very plain

More very soon

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Game of FS Fives

The FS5 thrones seem to be one of the most enduring of the older citadel models. They often show up in lots of old Ral Partha or Grenadier models on ebay. Presumably they were added to those collections because those ranges lacked an equivalent. Of course they are mostly missing the wizard and almost always missing the lectern.

Just to prove my point - having just painted the two on either side I found the one in the middle two weeks ago in an auction lot at a small convention.

My version of FS5-1:

And FS5-2

OK I've taken dozens of pictures today - so I'll have a couple more updates very soon.

7 weeks to go - at 11 miniatures to finish - some of them are nearly done


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Who's Counting

I have been very lax for the last few weeks - not posting. But I have been painting.

With 11 weeks to go in 2011 I have 42 pieces of citadel pre-slotta painted:

So I have lots built up to show over the next few weeks

I have selected the pieces I'd like to finish by the end of the year (I have to aim for slightly more than 52 because my record of sending figures back to the dip suggests they may not all make it) :

... and I seem to have a good start on next year:

Seems like I might want to think about upping my goal slightly.

Cheers, Caius

Monday, September 5, 2011

Critters, crawlers and carbuncles

Finished three large-base-small-creatures this week.

FF50 Giant Scorpion, FF51 Tentacled Crawler and FF9-1 Carbuncle - an armadillo like creature with a giant ruby in its forehead  from South American myth apparently (and not as I believed until a few minutes ago just something from White Dwarf and later Fiend Folio - at least according to Wikipedia)

Actually I thought I'd also finished three undead from the FF series too - but looking at the pictures there is significant clean up and blending still to do. There is nothing like seeing your work at 5 x actual size under stark lighting to show how careless and lazy you are.



Monday, August 29, 2011

Pre-slotta Vacation

This week I participated in a couple of figure projects that don't fit with the theme of this blog.

First I completed and entered a figure for the WAMP site's Hasslefree competition. I have had the Geisha fig for a couple of years and the competition seemed like a good vehicle for getting her painted.

Then this weekend, which was possibly the most beautiful weather we have had all year, I spent all day both days in a classroom at games Plus in Chicago taking a masterclass with Mathieu Fontaine.

His site -

The class used a plastic GW Ogre to demonstrate a number of concepts and techniques. I learned a lot despite my many many years painting. It was also interesting so see 17 painters lined up with their kit, vision aids, and lamps.

My ogre isn't finished - we did pants and skin one day, faces and metals the next - with a lot of discussion of technique and color theory mixed in - so the hair, belt, boots, and fist are only base coated really.  I should also credit that the right eye on my ogre was painted by Mathieu.

On a final note Games Plus in Mt Prospect is possibly the best game store I have visited in many many years. The selection of miniatures is outstanding with full display racks of many ranges and manufacturers I have only seen on line.

And yes - actually I worked on several of the pre slotta project figures as well - its been a busy week

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pre Slotta Basing

Ok - I was planning to do this at some point anyway - and Glassboy asked. So this week is all about how I am basing these pre-slotta miniatures. (Besides I have been distracted by a couple of side projects this week including a Hasslefree geisha for the Wamp competition).

The answer is - the most ridiculously complicated way possible.

When I first painted these minis 30 years ago - I painted the bases a middle grey and called it good.

Then they got glued onto plastic slotta bases, I filled the edges with milliput, covered with flock and a sprinkling of rough sand or cat litter, and I painted the plastic edges dark brown. I still have several armies based this way that look quite handsome.

Then came Adepticon paint judging which gave extra points for base effort and my goblins sprouted handmade pumpkins, and my empire army painted flagstones.

At the outset of this project I decided to base them all with greenstuff cobblestones. The first 20 or so FA figs had their bases filed as flat as they would go and I sculpted each base with a thin layer of greenstuff cobblestones and left some gaps which I filled with sand. However I did not relish the prospect of sculpting at least 52 and probably hundreds more greenstuff bases. And there was often a mounding effect. So the following system has evolved over the course of the year:

I made sculpted green stuff cobbles on a variety of plain bases:

Then made molds using a two part silicone rubber - I used "smooth on" brand

And cast bases using a two part resin (also "smooth on" they came as a kit). Note that when you use this method your castings are slightly smaller than the original. Also there is quite a lot of wasted resin - if you are me - and that the resin bases often need a good sanding on the bottom.

If the model is suitable, and not particularly rare, I'll remove the metal base and pin it to the cast resin base. But this does not work for figures with thin feet, dragging tails etc. So for most figures I leave the original metal base (or most of it) and use a Dremel to rout out an indentation for the metal base to sit inside the resin base.

Then I use green stuff and sand to repair the cobble look. OK it is just has time consuming as when I started but it looks better and there are no mounds.

My bases are painted with dark brown, the cobble stones get two coats of P3 hammerfall khaki, and the sand is dry-brushed with earth brown. Then they get a generous coating of Citadel devlan mud wash, after which I pick out some highlights and hit them with figure flat.

All of the bases also get some additional treatment - static grass, rocks, twigs, leaves etc. to reflect the creatures habitat.

The idea is that the cobblestones and consistent colors bring them all together as a set

He is a progress shot of the whole project to date. The upper shelf are completed. Overall I've probably spent nearly as much time basing as I have painting - but at least the bases are nearly all done.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Goblin Green

Finished these this weekend - with the exception of base details - But there are five of them so I'm maintaining my resolution requirements. Simple color scheme I know but I'm very pleased with the NMM - contrast does appear to be the key.

FF series Goblins

When I got my first miniatures in the early 80's I quickly painted the C series orcs in a rich ocher brown, gnolls were tan, red orcs were of course dark red (probably some Humbrol Napoleonic color), but my goblins were always green. Nearly all of these figs got hasty green repaints when they were later pressed into service as warhammer regiments - but most are now lying neatly lined up in trays, stripped and ready to paint again. They will be getting their original colors and identities back.



Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Savage Sword of FA9

FA9-1: Its difficult to paint any barbarian with this kind of haircut and not recall the work of Frazetta, Boris, and everyone who did covers for The Savage Sword of Conan comic. So we have to have a girl in the scene and who better than FA20 - Houri with dagger. I have some Frazetta books and looking though them recently marveled at his use of colored light - green and purple hitting skin tones that set such great moods. For a set piece or diorama one could duplicate that style but for for the average single fig maybe not so much.

It's not what is about to come through that door he should be worried about

And one more with my typical background color to match the rest

I'm already regretting the pink - maybe I'll change it to a nice bright teal or something 


Sunday, July 31, 2011


There have been many times I have wondered why did I pick non metallic metals for this project. Quite a few of those times were this weekend. I got in many hours of painting but not many figures actually complete. Two almost complete miniatures I decided had gone too far in the wrong direction to be saved and were sent into the vat of simple green to start afresh.

The answer I guess is to push myself and make it challenging. I have to admit I am finding it to be just that. These three pieces have emerged today at the finished-enough-to-post phase and I would welcome comments and critique.



Fighter in Plate Mail with Sword

FA19-1 Female Fighter with Sword
FF17 Minotaur
(Axe replaced)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Werewolf and the Bard

Raining today and for the first time in a week I'm pulling cool fresh air through the studio.

Hot + humid + heat from lights + noise from old window air conditioner = unfavorable conditions for painting. I paint above the garage, lots of space, no Disney channel in the background, its usually quite civilized.

Finished these two anyway:  FA6-1 Bard v's FF19 Werewolf

Sing it Zevon!

You better stay away from him, 
He'll rip your lungs out, Jim, 

Cheers, Caius

Angel with a hangover?

The FF31-1 Satanic Angel has been a very challenging piece. Mine still needs some base work but it is just about finished:

 I started absolutely clueless for a color scheme. He is supposed to be "Satanic" so the obvious would be reds, browns and maybe black wings (If I find another I might try that I suppose) but I think he would get lost among all the bat winged demons. 

He has a squished broad face beneath high domed forehead and though full of character it is hard to take this figure seriously.  I can only assume that the sculptor was inspired (knowingly or not)  by Eagle comics Mekon - Dan Dare's nemesis.  And I'm sure if i had picked green the likeness would be striking.

But then the Mekon doesn't have wings - he is an early proponent of the flying disc (Eat your heart out green goblin)
(Mekon: 1950, Green Goblin: 1965, I looked them up)

Blue was another color I considered - but...

My Mum suggested gold for Servants of the Gods - and in the end I went with that general idea:

Cheers, Caius

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Three monsters in one

FF34 - Chimaera

Weird spelling but apparently correct - This figure is another I started months ago and am very pleased to have finished. Determining a "realistic" paint scheme (looking up pictures of lionesses and goats) and then executing it made this at least as much work as three miniatures. But I guess it only counts as one. Other than the two dragons which have barely got past the priming, basing and pinning phase this was probably the most complex of the 52 figures I'm working on.


Added just for Adam: Not much of a tail.  If it is supposed to have more than this it is long lost. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Monsters Monsters

Monsters Monsters

And if you remember and or owned the Tunnels and Trolls book of the same name I tip my hat to you.

These three large guys have been on my painting table for months - It feels really nice to have them finished.

The Crabman (FF4-1) was particularly challenging with large areas and really not a lot of detail. I started painting him (as described in the Fiend Folio "reddish brown" but he really did't look aquatic enough. So I started over and am much happier with blue green body contrasting with the orange patina on the shell.

The larger bases on monsters take more work and some invention or they look very plain - but I don't feel that base details or color should distract from the miniature. I have a shell and (though its hard to see) some spongy coral stuff behind the Crabman, The Phantom Stalker (FF5-1) has tendrils of melted plastic sprue rising from the ground (I wanted "elemental plane of fire" but subtle) and the Two headed ogre (FF16-2) gets twigs that match the bleached wood look of his clubs, leaves and some Spanish moss I gathered on a vacation years ago.



Saturday, July 2, 2011


At the end of last year – with my resolution in mind – I set about working out what the standard would be for the 52 challenge – paint style, NNM and basing.

I decided to practice, and rather than use Citadel figs’ I choose several from the Grenadier D&D gold line.

I was a Citadel snob very early on. Even at 15 I remember looking at the various offerings in the Waterloo hobby shop on long Island and being less than satisfied by the large assortment of crudely formed lead that were citadel’s early contemporaries.  I bought the Grenadier dwarf box set and painted them with testers paint (which is by far the worst paint ever in the history of paint – early cave dwellers had better products available) and then applied hacksaw and soldering iron to them to make “modifications and improvements” a few months later when I went back to the UK I think only two were left.  

But I must be going soft as I’ve started adding the gold line back into my collection – I’ll even concede that there are a few nice ones

Anyway - I figured if I could make these look good…


Apparently inevitable

I’m 46 years old – which means I have been painting miniatures for over 30 years. Not continuously of course – There were significant gaps like college when I was too busy; and there were addictions to other pursuits like a few years with Magic the Gathering and video games like Doom and Unreal. But overall A lot of time painting.

All of that time I have enjoyed the process of painting - brush in one hand, miniature in the other and all my paints and palettes and tools around me. However about a year ago I went through an apparently inevitable change in eye sight. I have worn glasses since I was nine and never had trouble painting while wearing them. Then I noticed I could no longer properly focus at my normal holding position while wearing my specs – So I would push them up and could focus on the figure just fine. But I couldn’t properly find my paints and tools. So I was constantly moving my glasses up and down and squinting.  It was messing with my painting groove.

So last month I went to our local optician (whom I had not used before) and took with me a half finished miniature, my trusty series 7 brush, and a bottle of reaper master series paint and explained. He tested me thoroughly then got me to sit in my normal painting position and tested me some more. I am now the delighted owner of what my optician (I’ll never go anywhere else again) calls occupational glasses.  I have special bifocals just for painting with my normal prescription above and a gentle 2x magnification below. It’s taken a little while to get used to but I’m very very happy with the results.

Ok that was probably really boring, particularly if you are younger than 40.

It was too hot to paint in my studio last night so I spent time working on basing details – Here are some newly finished miniatures:  FA13-2, FF11-2 & FA5-1


Monday, June 27, 2011

Painting by Numbers NMM

At the beginning of my task I made a couple of irreversible decisions - firstly how I was going to base the entire set (more about that another time) and second that I would use non metallic metals - even though I have limited experience with this method. Several of the pieces I have painted so far are complete with the exception of base details and finishing the metal parts.

I had a nice block of undisturbed time to paint recently and decided to put some real effort into NMM

In the pictures below my vintage minotaur (FF47) is holding a plastic dwarf axe – his own axe probably was lost in late 80’s. I've seen many axeless copies of this figure around so I know mine is not the only one in this condition. I'm not a purist so the plastic axe is pinned and staying.

I painted the axe plain medium metallic silver, shone a light on it and photographed it:

Then, in Photoshop, I pulled the colors out:

And used a 7 stage cutout filter to simplify:

So now I have a NMM PBN – paint by numbers – Which I did:

With a flat light, a flash, and some contrast adjustment you can see my brush strokes:  

On the reverse, for comparison, I used the MNNM method – using dark to light metallic paint in the same pattern.

In this case, of the two, I like the NMM best

But PBN NMM cannot be used on every subject - proof below

At the same time I tried a far more complex subject – an fully armoured paladin in a dynamic pose (FF10).
To make matters worse this 25mm fig is a rough sculpt by today’s standard.

Taking it through a similar photoshop process:

This is what I’m aiming for with warm grays for steel:

And this is a very quick paint job (Because I very quickly didn’t like where it was going):

The problem being that from any other angle he looks like the victim of a incontinent flock of birds

So In this case I’ll have to use artistic licence and fake it – I’ll let you know how that goes