This was supposed to be a post about getting 18 miniatures painted in 18 days. I needed to finish 18 Orks to finish my battalion detachment, and I gave myself 18 days to do it in. ‘Easy,’ I said. And that’s why today’s full title should be Mini Monday #10: Good Enough and the Power of Being Satisfied with the Chance to Try Again.
It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting ideas for your roleplaying table.This week we talk about mediocrity, the value of arbitrary goals, and being satisfied.
Here’s my kitbashed Ork boy with rokkit launcha. He’s the only figure I finished in the 18 days.
Mini Monday #10: Good Enough
I’m very happy with the kitbashing I did with him, but not with the paint job. But, you know what, it’ll do. It’s better painted than unpainted.
The 18-day goal was arbitrary, but it was still good for a few things.
Just Your Average Geek
For one thing, it was good to remind myself that I’m no pro painter. This blog isn’t about me teaching you. It can’t be. The only thing I have to give is passion and the determination to keep learning. Rather, this blog is about sharing my discoveries and, hopefully, encouraging you to go make your own, paintbrush in hand.
Flinging Paint on Plastic
I still have 17 minis to go, but the 18 days meant I got closer to finishing them. How long will that take? Who knows!? All I can say is that whatever time I spend painting is progress. If I want to get through that pile of plastic, the only way to do it is to sit down and paint.
Got anything to say? Slap it in the comments below and let’s talk about painting, kitbashing, and the benefits of more dakka!
It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying table. Today we’ll look at making smoke grenade objective markers for your games of Warhammer 40,000 or Kill Team.
These were easy to make, but before I break it down, I need to point out that the best part of these, the bases, were a lucky find. They are from a line of Steamboy collectables, and I had six of them in my box of D&D minis, so I used them instead of gaming bases. Games Workshop has some excellent bases that would be a great substitute, such as their Sector Mechanicus Industrial Bases.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Once I Caught an Ork Alive…
I used a kid’s stencil to create an outline for my own numbering stencil, and then painted the numbers on in white. I then painted the outline of each number in black.
The smoke is cotton wool, pulled apart slightly to make it more whispy. I left mine white, which made sense for a smoke grenade, and glued it down as is, with PVA glue.
The grenades were the most fun to make. You’ll need a thin, hollow plastic rod and a paper clip. I used the stick from a lollypop and a single paper clip for the six grenades, so these are really cheap to make.
Cut the rod into six 5mm segments. Using the end of a pair of needle-nosed pliers, bend the paperclip so that it makes a small D shape. The left part of the D should be 5mm long, so that it fits into the small segment of rod. You’ll need six of these D shapes, and they should pinch the rod segment when inserted inside them. This is your basic grenade.
Fill the top and bottom of each rod with PVA or wood glue. When it dries, this makes the rod look like a solid, closed-off container and they’re ready for painting.
I base-coated my grenades black, then mixed green and black for the body of the grenade. I then painted the striker lever of the grenade silver, but a dull metallic dry brushed on would work better.
Glue these so that the top of the grenade is sitting in the smoke. Varnish everything except the smoke and your smoke grenade objective markers are done.
It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying table. This week we’ll look at expanding your literal and figurative toolboxes, so that you can achieve more with your miniature projects.
The Figurative Toolbox
As you tackle and complete more hobby projects, you’ll learn and practice skills, building your repertoire. The important thing is to keep challenging yourself and learn new things. Find better ways to paint or scratch build, find out what doesn’t work, and master useful skills. That will build your figurative toolbox, allowing you to achieve a much wider range of things with the hobby.
The Literal Toolbox
This includes all the tools you use to work with miniatures, like paint, brushes, cutting boards, files, hobby knives, glues, and everything else you use to cut, shave, sand, or paint a miniature. Collecting these tools can prove expensive, but you can build your collection of tools up over time. This gives you a chance to learn how to use those tools before you become inundated with stuff.
When I got started, I bought a Citadel Colour Paint Set (which I still use), and an extra brush. I got some hobby knives for a birthday and an old emery board (nail file) from my mom. That was enough to get me started with cleaning and painting minis. Later I got more brushes and spray cans, which stepped things up a notch. I kept collecting tools and built up the collection I now have.
Here are some of the most essential tools you’ll need to get started:
A variety of cutting tools is useful for tackling different jobs. Extra blades and a clean, tough cutting board is essential. Sharp blades make a big difference, and don’t forget to cut away from yourself.
Different grits and types of sanding tools, like files and sandpaper, give you more control over how you finish a surface. You can glue sandpaper to a popsicle stick to make your own sanding sticks.
Paint, brushes, and a pot for water rounds out the collection. I recommend getting a starter set unless you have a very good idea of what you’ll be painting. Even though you might never use all the colors in the set, it’s good to have a wide range of colors to pick from. Don’t worry about getting an ultra-fine brush; go for two cheap, medium-sized brushes and build your collection from there.
If you’re just starting out, then you’re in for a great journey. Take your time, enjoy it, and you’ll learn loads. It’s a very rewarding hobby.
It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying table. This week we’ll scratch build and kitbash weapons for Warhammer 40,000 Orks. Because everyone needs MORE DAKKA!
I’m busy converting a bunch of old Warhammer Orcs into 40k Orks, and kitbashing two Deff Dreads. The hardest part has been making weapons, and here are a few lessons I’ve learned so far.
You can make great ammo belts using cable ties. Cable ties come in so many sizes that you’re bound to find one that matches your model’s weapon.
Method 1: I used a cylinder of sprue to form the main body of the “launcha,” then added bits from other weapons to make it look more like a weapon. For mine, I used a handle from a Dark Eldar weapon and two disks from a Gundam kit on either end. I drilled into the ends to finish it off. Really, it all depends on what your bits box has to offer. You can see this “rokkit launcha” in the last image, below. He’s the second Ork from the left.
Method 2: I used the caps from small medicine vials, which I glued together onto plastic tubes. I added greeble from sprues and bits of bent plastic to make this monster-of-all-rokkit-launchas. They look great on my chibi-style Gundam Deff Dread, and when they’re painted will look like they’ve got rockets loaded and ready to go.
Grot Lash & Grabba Stikk
Here are my custom Ork Boys and Runtherd, which I hope will inspire your own army of green-skins.
I want to call out the Runtherd’s grot lash and grabba stikk. He’s the third from the left.
The grot lash was made with modeling epoxy clay, which I rolled thinly. I drilled a hole into the Runtherd’s hand, then glued it in. This guy’s not going under any bridges, but it gives him a dynamic look that the rest of da boyz are missing.
The grabba stick is a bit of wire attached to a plastic stopper from a nose spray. Yes, lots of medical waste here. Again, I drilled a hole into his hand to take the pole, then I finished it off with a bit of fine chain.
We Gotz MORE DAKKA!
Scratch building weapons can take a lot of playing around with bits of plastic until things fit, but the Orks — with their bashed-together aesthetic — are a very forgiving army to work on. Oversized weapons are never out of place in the Waaagh, and a wide range of weapon designs adds visual appeal to your forces.
It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying table. This week we take on two quick terrain projects, which you can bang out in an evening.
The first project is a stalagmite, those naturally forming spikes of rock that you find at the bottom of caves.
For mine, I used paper clay, but any type of clay should work. I drilled a hole through it and threaded a bit of chain through the hole to create some visual interest. I dripped super glue down the chain, which keeps it stiff. To paint the stalagmite, paint with a dark gray then dry brush with a lighter gray on the raised edges. The chain is painted black and then painted with a metallic color. Done!
The road sign is a bit of chopstick and popsicle stick, shaped and stuck together with wood glue. I used paper clay for the base, and you need something that is heavy enough to keep the sign upright. I then painted it brown and edge-highlighted it with a tan brown. I didn’t paint a name onto the sign, because I wanted to be able to add names to photos with Photoshop, as I’ve done above.
Both of these projects are simple and quick enough that you could turn out several in an evening, and they’re great projects for beginners. Besides being cheap, you can get a lot of reuse out of each bit of scenery. My little stalagmite has appeared in every prison and dungeon I’ve run since making it, and fills an inch square nicely.
Is there anything you’d like to see me paint or build? Let me know in the comments below.
It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying table. This week I’ll show you some easy mushroom miniatures to make with clay, to decorate the subterranean caverns of your RPG table.
Badgers love mushrooms, everyone loves mushrooms! On pizza or in the dungeon, mushrooms add a touch of class that’s hard to beat. These mushroom miniatures give your players something interesting to fight around, a refreshing change from the ubiquitous grey walls and stone tombs found below.
I made these mushrooms with air drying clay. I added gills underneath with a sharp tool, by drawing lines outwards from the stem.
When they were dry, I painted the stems with white mixed with a touch of green, which gives a sickly tint to them. The mushroom caps were painted purple, and I used two shades. Lastly, I varnished them with a matt varnish, and they were done.
I molded the mushrooms by hand, and there’s nothing inside them to give them more structure, but you could use toothpicks or wire as a core — a good idea for longer stems. If you’re making bigger mushrooms to take the weight of a miniature, then use a tightly pressed core of aluminum foil as the core. It’ll be lighter and will dry quicker than a hunk of solid clay.
I didn’t base them, so they’ll fit anywhere, but you could make up mushroom forests on a large base, or myconid figures or shrieking shroom markers on smaller bases. You can find rules for myconids in the Player’s Companion.
It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying table. This week we’ll build a miniature ship to go with your Ghosts of Saltmarsh campaign or Undersea Sourcebook inspired adventures.
This little boat is very easy to make, looks great on the table, and is highly customizable. I’m planning to make a small armada for my undersea pirate campaign, which won’t take much time or break the bank with this technique.
Building the Ship
I used foam board, which I marked out to be an inch wide and 5 inches long. I then cut it and shaped the bow and stern.
For the gunwales, I used cardboard strips, which I glued to the sides of the foam board. The prow and rudder is made from balsa wood, and the tiller is a match stick. The deck was left plain, except for four struts, which are used to mark the squares off for models to stand on. The mast is a bamboo skewer, with thick yarn glued around the bottom of it.
I then undercoated the miniature ship in white, and painted the hull and prow a dark red. The rest was either painted dark brown to resemble wood, or light brown to resemble rope.
When the paint was dry, I rolled up a thin strip of linen and tied it to the mast. I then glued it in place and painted the yarn. To finish up, I painted the whole thing, including the sail, with matt varnish.
Full Stats Coming Soon
The wind runner, which this is a model of, will appear with full stats in our forthecoming Undersea Sourcebook: Feats & Equipment, which includes two new ships, two submersibles, and an airship.
It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying table. This week I’ll show you a simple scratch building project for a flying sword.
This was a simple scratch build, and there are plenty of ways to get similar results. I wanted a flying sword animated object for one of my NPCs, but the model can just as easily be used to mark a guardian of faith or spiritual weapon spell.
I took the scimitar off an old Warhammer orc, then drilled into the base of the blade to insert a pin, made from a paper clip. I then used modeling epoxy to craft the handle, then attached this to a small base. Done!
I undercoated with white, then painted black over the sword and pin. I then painted the base green and dry brushed the sword with metallic paint. I used brown with a leather brown color for highlights on the handle. I then flocked the base and varnished the whole thing with matt varnish. For the second varnish coat, I used gloss on the metallic parts and matt varnish everywhere else. And that was the painting done.
This was a quick project and the idea can be used for so much more, such as spell effects, other animated objects, floating orbs, and markers, such as a triggered blade trap.
It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying table. This week I’ll show you a simple drow paint scheme to have you ready for your next drow encounter in no time.
Base coat your drow miniatures with a medium to dark grey. I use this as the skin tone for my drow, since black is a very flat color that pulls in light. Your drow figures are going to be predominantly black, so the grey gives you some variation, and you can always darken it with a wash later.
Any Color as Long as its Black
Paint all the armor, weapons, bases, and gear black. Leave only the skin and hair grey. For variety, you could paint the armor and any cloth dark red or deep purple.
Drybrush the hair white. This works very well with the grey basecoat, which defines the recesses.
Pick out metallic parts by dry brushing with a metallic color. I used Mithril Silver from Citadel, which shows how old my paints are. Mithril Silver is a bright metallic, now called Runefang Steel. I painted the swords with the same metallic paint, but might have gone with a darker metallic color, like Leadbulcher, just for more variation.
At this point, the simple drow paint job is done. They’re ready for gaming.
If you have time, you can go back into your simple drow paint scheme and pick out details like eyes, belt straps, wands, or markings. With white, you can highlight the hair, and use greys to highlight the skin. When you’re done, use a dark purple wash to bring out the detail, but leave the hair.
Painting Heroes and Villains
This tutorial works best for rank and file drow, but you can extend these principles for major NPCs and dark elf player characters. I use this technique as my first stage on all my drow figures, then work in more detail for the major minis.
Pro Tip: Us a purple base coat if you want your drow to look like the ones in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kit bashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying table. This week I’ll show you how to build a miniature Japanese torii gate for Steampunk Musha, Legend of the Five Rings, or similar East Asian inspired settings.
Here she is, folks. This miniature Japanese torii can easily accommodate most Large sized D&D or Pathfinder figures in the center.
Steampunk Musha – Shangti Factory Hub
This project is the first part of my Steampunk Musha terrain project that will consist of several factory pieces set in the mega city of Shangti. Since it’s steampunk, I figure this set will work well for both my Warhammer 40k games and for fantasy gaming, so this is a “two birds with one stone” type of deal.
The torii gate we’re making today is highly customizable, but is perfect for a Japanese themed game. You could use a similar technique to make gallows or other structures featuring a prominent wooden frame.
You’ll need balsa wood for this, but popsicle sticks will work well too. A sharp hobby knife, wood glue, and sandpaper will do all the heavy lifting, then you can paint and varnish the gate as you see fit when it’s done. I used hardboard for the base.
Make a paper template for the top piece of the gate (the kasagi and shimaki). Cut 3 of these. Cut 1 long crossbar (nuki), and 6 poles (to make the hashira). We’ll add more bits later, so keep any extra wood aside.
Place 1 top section on top of 2 pillars. There’s no need to glue it yet, but you can if you like.
Glue the crossbar onto the pillars, with a small space between it and the top piece.
Score lines on 2 more pillars under the crossbar, like so:
Then cut along the scored lines.
Glue the longer sections of pillar below the crossbar. Glue the short sections of the pillar over the top section. This forms the very center of your Japanese torii gate.
Don’t worry too much if the glue is causing all the pieces to float around. When you’re done you can move everything nicely into place, and sanding will clean it all up when we’re done.
Bulking Up the Top
Score lines to match the location of the pillars onto the second top piece.
Glue the pieces of the second top piece onto the first top piece. In the end, this gives the model more strength and bulk.
Finishing Up your Miniature Japanese Torii
Now glue on the last of the pillars and top piece. If your glue is still wet at this stage you can move things around, then put a heavy book on the gate and let it dry.
Next, add a small down piece between the top and the crossbar. Then cut 2 identical pieces to form the very top section of the tori. These will look like slightly curved french fries.
When it’s dry, use your hobby knife to make everything flush along the edges, then sand the model. An emery board (used for fingernails) works very well for this.
I base coated my model white, then painted the whole thing red. I washed it with a purple wash to pick up the natural wood texture of the balsa wood, and to age the model a bit.
For the base, I used hardwood covered in two grades of sand, the finest for the path. I painted and dry brushed this before adding flock. I varnished everything when I was done, because I like harder wearing gaming pieces.
Pro Tip: Suppliers of Shinto religious goods will often have miniature Japanese torii for sale. Personally, I prefer to make my own.