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Everything posted by dks

  1. I think the Bat Demon is the Reaper version of a nabasu/nabassu. In Pathfinder and some (most/all?) version of D&D, at least, nabas(s)us are Medium (1" base). Good luck to the heroes fighting it! Derek
  2. We’re All Painting Feathers Wrong (a.k.a. real birds are even more amazing than you imagined) by Derek Schubert This article comes out of my work painting feathers on miniatures over the last 30 years, and especially since I started teaching the class “Painting Fur, Feathers, and Scales” at ReaperCon 2016, 2018, and 2019. A few weeks ago at ReaperCon 2023, I taught a class specifically on painting feathers. While preparing these classes, I realized some new things, including what I had been doing wrong all along because I didn’t know any better. Eventually, everyone paints a miniature that has feathers on it. Maybe it’s a pegasus or angel or roc, or just some individual loose feathers adorning a fancy hat or a druid’s staff. And I’m here to say that most of us (including me) have been painting those feathers wrong! Usually we want to make a figure’s feathers more interesting by painting multiple colors on them – maybe a different color for the tip, or stripes along the feather. We’ve all seen real birds or at least photographs or illustrations, so we know that an individual feather isn’t always all one color. For example, juvenile golden eagles have tail feathers (and some wing feathers) that are a distinctive white with a black tip. Blue jays have some feathers that are blue with black stripes, some also with a white tip. Many hawks or falcons have light-colored wing feathers with dark stripes. From a photo by Brad Imhoff on the Macaulay Library, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/276052251 If a miniature with feathers isn’t a full bird, it’s usually something with feathered wings (pegasus, angel, etc.), so I’ll focus on wing feathers here. The long outer feathers include primaries and secondaries, usually 10 of each on each wing (and together these feathers are called the remiges (pronounced “REM-uh-jeez”)), as well as coverts on the upper and lower surface of the wings. There’s a modified arm of bone, muscle, and flesh under all those feathers. The primaries attach to the bones of the hand and the secondaries to the forearm; the bird can even move and twist these feathers in order to fly better! There’s a layer of covert feathers on the upper surface and another layer of coverts on the lower surface, but only one row of remiges (primaries & secondaries) that stick out from the fleshy wing. These feathers look translucent when lit from the back. Their top surfaces may also look different from the lower. Here is an overview of how feathers are arranged on the wings: From https://avianreport.com/bird-flight-tail-feathers/ , with copyrights attributed to peruaves.org Feathers on various parts of the bird have different shapes and sizes (primaries and secondaries and coverts on the wings, tail feathers, etc.), but here is the basic structure of an individual feather: From https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/feathers-article/ The central structure is the shaft or rachis. In the primary feathers (wing), the rachis is off-center and closer to the front edge. The flat flexible surfaces on either side are the vanes. The diagonal elements that make up the vanes are the barbs. I counted about 120 pairs of barbs on a blue jay wing feather (4” long), and 400+ on a wild turkey’s wing feather (16” long). Each barb has its own central stem with short fuzzy structures (barbules), which interlock into the flat vane. Birds use their beaks to smooth dislodged barbules back into place and repair the vane. Even a little blue jay’s feather has 120+ pairs of barbs, while a larger feather (such as a wild turkey’s or eagle’s) may have 400 or more, so at the scale of a miniature (roughly 1/60 life size for 30mm scale), the angled barbs would be so fine and shallow that they couldn’t really be sculpted into the feather. (Disclaimer: I’ve never sculpted a fully feathered wing on a miniature, just a few feathers as adornments on a few figures, or a simplified feather-texture on the heads and arms of my tengus.) Sculptors have to decide how to sculpt the feathers: rarely they make the feathers smooth (more realistic) but usually they exaggerate the texture (easier for most people to paint). With an exaggerated texture, the angled barb shapes are fewer and deeper, with 10 to 20 or even 30 little parallel cuts or valleys on each feather. That is far fewer than the hundreds of barbs on a real feather. (In a similar way, most sculptors exaggerate the ridges and valleys in the hair on a character’s head.) The sizes and shapes of sculpted feathers also vary widely from one figure to another. Some sculptors have studied bird anatomy in detail and they go to great effort to make their feathers realistic, within the demands of commercial production. On the other hand (or perhaps wing), some miniatures have wings with severely stylized feathers: often fewer than a real bird’s 10 primaries and 10 secondaries (but occasionally more), or no difference in the shapes of the primaries, or with a valley rather than a positive rachis (shaft) shape along the middle of each feather, or all long and thin shapes like primaries/ secondaries even when a real wing would have smaller coverts. Maybe these differences were deliberate stylistic choices by the sculptor, or maybe the sculptor just didn’t use reference but simply relied on incorrect assumptions about feathers and other points of bird anatomy. I remind myself that sculptors aren’t ornithologists, and I didn’t know most of this stuff about feathers until recently. A selection of feathered wings from Reaper’s offerings: When we see this exaggerated texture on the feathers, we make our biggest mistake. We imagine that when a feather has multiple colors, such as stripes or a different color tip, each diagonal barb must be all white, or all blue, or all black. (Maybe we draw a false parallel to our hair.) If we want to use multiple colors on a feather, we reason, then we have to paint V’s that follow those sculpted shapes, like I did on these figures from my collection: (I painted those blue jay feathers on the tengu’s staff in 2018! I didn’t know better, even so recently.) But that’s wrong. Real feathers do not have those V shapes. Look at these feathers: Blue jay secondary, 4" long Wild turkey primary, 16" long Juvenile red-tailed hawk primaries (9” long). Note the mirrored shapes: right wing (top) & left wing (bottom) Where are the V shapes? Trick question. There aren’t any! Let’s look even closer. The different colors line up along multiple barbs, and each barb has barbules of multiple colors! I was amazed when I saw this. So when we paint miniature feathers using multiple colors, we can take inspiration from real feathers and not be limited to our assumption of the "Fallacious V". The different colors will span across the sculpted valleys from one barb to another. I painted Reaper’s peryton a couple of years ago (2019). Julie Guthrie sculpted it. It is a fantastical beast that looks like a cross between a deer and wolf, with the wings of an eagle. According to the 1st-Edition AD&D Monster Manual, the body is blue and the feathers are green. Here are links to my WIP thread and Show-Off thread. I looked to real-world hawks for inspiration. The peryton's sculpted feathers have a good level of detail that accommodates both novice and more experienced painters, though now I'm aware that the feathers don’t quite replicate a real hawk, which would have 20 remiges (10 primaries and 10 secondaries) rather than 16, and the first/outermost primaries would be more pointed and asymmetrical. I also know that green feathers would be more appropriate to real-world parrots and other tropical birds. But I figured that a red-tailed hawk would be a good point of departure, so I used a lighter green with black bars and tips for the primaries and secondaries, and darker green with light edges for the coverts. From Birds of North America: A Guide to Field Identification (Golden Press, 1966) And I didn’t know about the online Feather Atlas when I painted the peryton, but the following photo shows the differences in shapes and colors of a red-tailed hawk's feathers even more clearly: From https://www.fws.gov/lab/featheratlas/feather.php?Bird=RTHA_primary_adu As another example, here is my take on the pegasus miniature in Bones 5, also sculpted by Julie Guthrie. This is the link to my Show-Off thread for it. My inspiration here was a gull rather than a hawk: specifically the brown juvenile plumage of the laughing gull, whose adults are white and gray with a black head. I imagined this pegasus living near the sea, and the brown and black feathers harmonize with the buckskin horse parts (golden-tan body, black mane & tail). The lesser coverts (at the leading edge) are lighter brown, the median and greater coverts are mid-brown, and the primaries & secondaries are black; the secondaries and the greater coverts also have light tips, but of course the tips are not V-shaped! The overall effect of my layered highlights is exaggerated and fluffy rather than realistic and sleek. From Birds of North America: A Guide to Field Identification (Golden Press, 1966) My main point here is this: Use reference. I make this point when I teach almost any aspect of painting, sculpting, or drawing, including my classes on Non-Metallic Metals, Expressive Faces and Eyes, and more. You might think you know how feathers look, for example, but your imagination will probably fall short of the wonder of real Nature. Learn how things really are, and then you can decide how to deviate from your reference and make your own art. Now you know that V’s of different colors aren’t realistic for the feathers on your miniatures, so I hope this article inspires you to expand your options. Happy painting! - Derek For further reference: “Everything You Need to Know About Feathers.” https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/feathers-article/ “Parts of a Bird: Flight Feathers.” https://avianreport.com/bird-flight-tail-feathers/ The Macaulay Library, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. https://macaulaylibrary.org The Feather Atlas, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. https://www.fws.gov/lab/featheratlas/index.php
  3. I basecoated and shaded the main color of the coat with less than full highlighting; then I sketched in the larger arc shapes with a lighter color, scribbled in the smaller shapes, fixed any major errors or inconsistencies in the shapes, and highlighted everything (with the highlights placed to look like the shapes were sticking out slightly and therefore catching the overhead light). I used a very fine-pointed sable brush and just the right thinned consistency of paint. The original effect is in Wayne Reynolds's painted portrait of the character, so I can't truthfully claim that it was my idea! Thanks, everyone, for the comments! Derek
  4. Good memory -- indeed it was! Many of the first few dozen in Reaper's catalog of licensed Pathfinder figures were originally released by Croc. The characters and creatures were from the first few books of "Pathfinder" (the series that is now "Pathfinder Adventure Path"). And thanks for the notes, everyone! Glad you like this one. Derek
  5. Here is my rendition of Amiri, Pathfinder's iconic barbarian. I sculpted her in 2008 and painted her in 2009, but I didn't make a Forum Show-Off post for her until now. The texture on her chest covering and the symbols on her armor plates are freehand; I sculpted those surfaces smooth rather than sculpting the texture and runes, because I didn't trust my sculpting abilities as much as my painting abilities. If I had to do it over, I might sculpt some texture so other folks could use a wash/drybrush/side-brush technique ... but there you have it. When I teach my "Painting Expressive Faces and Eyes" class at ReaperCon, I use her as an example. Her face reminds me of the actor Gina Gershon. Enjoy! Derek
  6. Here is my rendition of a sinspawn, a humanoid monster in the Pathfinder world of Golarion. It has little arms and hands on the sides of its mouth! Ewww. I sculpted it in 2007 and painted it in 2008, but didn't have a Forum Show-Off post until now. The stock miniature has its left arm attached to the base, but I clipped it apart and bent it forward for a more dynamic 3D pose. Enjoy! Derek
  7. Here is my rendition of Lem, the iconic halfling bard for Pathfinder. I sculpted & painted him in 2009, but didn't have a Forum Show-Off post until now. Enjoy! Derek
  8. These two villains were some of the first figures I sculpted for Pathfinder -- sculpted in 2007 and painted in 2008. Nualia is an aasimar (mostly human with some celestial ancestry, hence the silver hair and purple eyes) who turned to demon-worship (hence the red left claw-hand). Erylium is a quasit (a minor demon) with some custom skills and abilities. The 7-pointed star on her rock is the Sihedron, the symbol of the runelords of old. They appeared in the first issue of Pathfinder Adventure Path "Rise of the Runelords", or simply "Pathfinder #1" back then. This was when Crocodile Games had the license to produce metal Pathfinder miniatures, and later Reaper acquired the license and the molds. Paizo Publishing re-released the Adventure Path with revised rules for the Pathfinder RPG, and the two characters got new art, but this is how they originally looked. Enjoy! Derek
  9. Good work! The skin and hair colors evoke the ocean depths and seaweed. There's some extra texture sculpted onto some strands of hair above her ears, where it would be possible to add highlights or even dabs of contrasting color as if they were beads. I didn't bother with trimming mold-lines until many years into my painting career, but now I do. That pronounced mold-line on her left hip might be a result of the mold being old and the two halves shifting more than they did when the mold was new. Looking forward to your next share.
  10. Thanks for sharing! I've been enjoying your WIP and Show-Off posts of your Dragonlance work. Glad to know that this figure gave you an outlet for painting that obscure Krynn sea elf. It is great to see a different color scheme on him.
  11. Thanks, all! @Rigel: Yep ... them teeth! <gnaw gnaw gnaw> @Grand Slam: I worked the paint on that pie back and forth a few times, because a real pie would have its darker color on the raised areas where the oven browned the pastry, but that's at odds with how we usually apply highlights to minis. @72moonglum: Right, he's just a baker in the town, rather than an adventurer ... or is he?! Now I'm imagining him in a dragon's lair. In the next moment he will toss the pie a few inches up, quickly two-hand his rolling pin like a baseball bat, and hit a line-drive of magical deadly pastry at his foe. Adapting Tolkien's lines for Bard the bowman: "Pie!" said the baker. "Blackberry pie. I have saved you to the last. You have never failed me and always I have baked you anew. I had your recipe from my father and he from of old. If ever you came from the ovens of the true king under the Mountain, go now and speed well!" Derek
  12. Very nice! Subtle but with a good variety of values among the browns and grays. And that's some tight brushwork on the freehand symbol at his neck/chest. Do your photos make him look even greener than he is in real life, or would you say that the color is accurate? When I photo my figures, I include a card in the frame with white, red, yellow, green, blue, and black, so then I can auto-correct the color and crop the card out of the image. Thanks for sharing, Derek
  13. Understand that Tub is a dwarf baker, not a dwarf-baker! He has nice simple shapes for blending, with room to add detail with freehand (such as my diamond motifs, wood-grain, and "spilled flour"). Tub is part of a themed grouping with Nub the dwarf sausage-maker and the two halfling cooks (Chop and Grub). You may have seen Rhonda "Bird with a Brush" Bender's renditions of those other three. (And if you haven't, then go to the blog on her website!) Enjoy, Derek
  14. Very nice! I'm drawn most to the golden-brown hair, and the subtle variety among the other browns and tans. Derek
  15. Great! Fantastic subtle color palette (greens going warmer or cooler, lighter or darker), damage and weathering, and shield freehand. I had to look up the original model to see that the stock shield has 3 oak leaves in relief. Good luck to the character. "Heathens beware." During the RPGA's Living Greyhawk campaign (2000-2008), I lived in NorCal, corresponding to the Theocracy of the Pale. The followers of Pholtus argued a lot with the followers of St Cuthbert. Derek
  16. Thanks, everyone, for looking and commenting! Glad you like how he turned out. It was fun to juxtapose this painted mini with memories (or on-screen images) of the old action figure. (Internal monologue: "The action figure's helmet is a flat dark blue. How should that look as a real object with highlights and shadows?" etc.) And if you haven't seen the 2 paintings of this character by Wayne Reynolds (c. 2005), you can find them with a web-search. @KruleBear: Frazetta was definitely an inspiration. Thanks! Derek
  17. One of my friends bought this mini several months ago and asked me to paint it for him. I rarely take commissions, but I made an exception here with a nod to '80s nostalgia. Kev White sculpted it, and Forge of Ice produced it as a limited-edition resin. The webstore of Fenris Games has it, and that might be the only place. In 2005-'06, I painted a special-secret-unreleased version of this character, sculpted by Bobby Jackson. Actually I painted that one twice -- once with Reaper Pro-Paints, and once with Reaper MSPs after I switched over. It was fun to revisit the character. My painting style and palette have changed a bit in the past 16 years. I sculpted the rock base from a mix of Aves Apoxie Sculpt + Greenstuff. The grass is a "Winter Tuft" product, which I cut into smaller sub-tufts because even the smallest tuft was too big. Enjoy! Derek
  18. Thanks, everyone! These are two cute figures, and I wanted something quick and fun to start my 2022 painting. Derek
  19. Here are two little guys for the new year: Bones vege-(or vegy-)pygmies, sculpted by Kevin Williams. In the game lore, they are plant creatures arising from infestations of russet mold, so I wanted to incorporate rusty orange- and red-browns with the green. (And if you're still in the holiday spirit, you can sing a rousing round of "Rusty the Moldman".) I spent about 2-3 hours on each. It was fun to play with a few oranges, reds, and purples, along with the greens. I thought about adding foliage or other material on the bases, but decided to call these two done for now. Enjoy! - Derek
  20. Great work, Andy -- congratulations! Thanks for the links to the sculpt and paint WIPs. You had a vision for bringing these drakes to life and you saw it through!
  21. I made it, as planned. It did cost only $3.00 + $1.50, but it took a bit longer than I expected. There were very few riders in the middle of the afternoon. DFW has some signs "Rail to Dallas" pointing the way to the train station, but it is somewhat hidden. You have to get outside on the bottom level (Ground Transportation) and then walk to the north end under a fabric canopy. The connection at Bachman Station from the Orange Line to the Green Line wasn't timed right, so I waited 20 minutes for the next Green Line train. The connection at Trinity Mills from the Green Line to the DCTA A-Train wasn't very well-signed, but I found where to go and I didn't have to wait long. At the Denton end of the A-Train, I walked to the Square and had an ice cream cone at Beth Marie's, and then caught the #7 bus and walked the last half-mile to the Embassy Suites. ReaperCon ahoy! Derek
  22. She is coming along well. Have you read Rhonda Bender's recent 2-part blog post "Tips for Contest Entries"? https://birdwithabrush.com/blog/ Check it out and see how you would apply her tips to this model. I'm usually on the team of ReaperCon judges for the Open Division (heavy conversions & scratch-sculpts), but sometimes we also judge a portion of the Painter's Division. Painter's has 2 or 3 other teams on it. This mini will go into Painter's. If you're really gunning for a Gold, know what the judges will be looking for, and strive to get as high as you can in all criteria. Gold doesn't mean "perfect", but it still has to be great overall. You can (re-?)read the rules and the scoring breakdown here: https://reapercon.com/contestrules Painter's Division: Difficulty 5% Creativity 10% Workmanship 10% Painting Skill 70% Presentation 5% For a detailed breakdown of why I would award a Silver medal to one of my gaming models, check my October 22 post in this thread: https://forum.reapermini.com/index.php?/topic/83152-14089-aundine-conversion-pale-maiden-of-the-waves/ You can also go through the galleries of past ReaperCon MSP Opens, and make a mental library of which figures got Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals, for honest comparison to your own figures. (Note that although we try to be consistent in our standards, some teams may be easier or harsher, and sometimes a figure awarded Gold by one team might look worse than a figure awarded Silver by another.) More thoughts for your Sarah... Difficulty: That is, the ambitiousness of the sculpted figure, without paint. This score is set once you've started painting. Sarah is a nice clean model, but not the best for a contest entry because she's so simple -- I would say at most 3 out of 5. OK, accept it and carry on. Next year, you might choose a harder figure (more intricate and/or bigger) to get the extra points here. Creativity: "Creativity comes into consideration [in] this division in the use of original color schemes, free hand designs and other elements painted onto the mini that were not part of the original sculpt." Distinctive lighting effects would also count. It is often harder to get high Creativity points on a model with low Difficulty (simple and/or small, so not much latitude to be creative). How would you reckon the Creativity score of Sarah now, and what could you do to get more points? Workmanship: Often a freebie for the full 10 points if you've removed all the mold-lines and corrected any casting errors. I don't see any problems, but you can be sure that the judges will look closely. Painting Skill: This is 70% of the total, so do all that you can to get the full score. Really go over all your blends and delineations, under magnification. Find any rough spots or mistakes and fix them. Add fingernails and color in her eyes to show off. Presentation: This includes the basing. How do you think a flat gaming base with ballast rates, compared to the bases of some other contest entries in the past? So ... check those links for reference, see how you can improve your scores, and keep going. Derek
  23. Thanks again! @Iridil : Yes, I wanted the colors to be different from how I would paint a weretiger or a were-cheetah. Rather than being animal-colored all over, their bodies are mostly human skin tones but with hints of the animal colors and patterns (tiger orange-red with stripes, cheetah golden-brown with spots). @RogaDanar: Great relief! I look forward to seeing how you paint yours -- please share here on the Forum and/or Discord. @zoroaster100 : There are tips and tricks about freehand on clothing (and classes offered at ReaperCon over the years). One hint is that different kinds of freehand may be easier or harder to paint on different kinds of clothing! For example, the paisley pattern worked well on these pants because I could make the shapes sprawl across the folds and billows, and they disappear into shadow along the inner seam of each leg, whereas it would have been harder to plot out a geometric arrangement of lines or symbols over all those folds. And yes, if you've painted a nice blend on an article of clothing, it can be scary to risk ruining it with freehand -- well, "ruining" is an exaggeration, since really it means having to spend more time fixing the mistakes or repainting it -- but at some point you take the plunge and do it. Some people feel more comfortable if they follow a pattern and they practice drawing or painting the shapes on paper first, while other people enjoy making it up as they go along, sketching and scribbling right on the mini. Derek
  24. Great! Thanks, Jon. And thanks for the warning about the A-Train not running on Sunday or Labor Day Monday, @Xiwo Xerase. The transit option takes longer than driving (2+ hours, vs. 35-40 minutes without traffic), but should be cheaper ($4.50 per person, vs. $40+ per vehicle). And if you don't want to take Uber/Lyft for the last 3 miles from the Downtown Denton Transit Center (DDTC) to the hotel, walk one block north to Hickory St and catch the hourly #7 westbound / Razor Ranch bus. I think you can ride the bus with the same ticket that you got for the A-Train. It gets you within 0.6 mi / 12 min walk of the hotel, from the Scripture / Bonnie Brae stop. Along the way, you'll pass Denton Square, with the courthouse that you see behind Jon & Dave on Reaperland. Or you can walk 10 minutes to Denton Square, get a drink or a bite or ice cream there, and then catch the #7 bus from the NW corner of the Square. Sample times I'll land at DFW at 3:55pm on Tuesday. Take the free DFW Terminal Link bus (runs every 10 minutes) to Terminal A, Entrance A10. Walk to the DART train station in the terminal. Buy a $3.00 "AM/PM Pass", which is good all afternoon. Get on the Orange Line train at 4:34, ride for 31 minutes until 5:05. If I miss the 4:34, the next one leaves at 4:54. Get off at Bachman Station, transfer immediately to the Green Line train at 5:05 (or 5:25), ride for 19 minutes until 5:24 (or 5:44). Get off at Trinity Mills, transfer to the A-Train (buy a new all-afternoon ticket for the DCTA system, $1.50) at 5:30 (or 6:00), ride for 44 minutes. Arrive at the DDTC -- the end of the line -- at 6:14 (or 6:44). I would have to wait until 6:53 for the next #7 bus, ride until 7:05, and walk in the hotel doors around 7:17. So maybe I'll get a ride from DDTC to the hotel, or walk to the Square and grab a quick bite before catching the bus. Derek
  25. Thanks, folks! @Inarah and @72moonglum : Right, it's just this camera angle that makes the cylindrical part of the necklace look like a blue-and-gold cigar. 😉 Face close-ups: @AlonTey : Yeah, they both had some pernicious mold lines (his left foot, his right biceps & chest, her right sleeve/elbow, etc.), which required a bit of work with the knife, some glopping on of brush-on gloss sealer or other thick paint as gap-fillers ... and then some carefully planned camera angles to hide the lines! So don't worry if you did the mold lines to "good enough", because "perfect" would probably take another hour or two. My mind raced with so many other color schemes and patterns (rich reds? jewel-like greens? cloth-of-gold? diaphanous translucent silks?), but ultimately I had to choose one and leave the rest as "could've been"s. One of the great things about these minis is that the clean sculpting lets you either show off how smooth your blends can be or experiment with some wild freehand. I look forward to seeing your rendition, since it's bound to be different from mine. @Neatpete and @Metalchaos and @KruleBear : Thank you! For the trousers, I did a few web-searches on Indian textiles for inspiration, and paisley came up on one, so then I searched specifically for paisley patterns and found one that I liked. I simplified the shapes from that pattern, and simplified the colors to 3 (red-purple, green-blue, and gold), but it still took about 3-4 hours (right leg in a 2-hour session, then left leg the next day -- he's a regular guy who gets his pants painted one leg at a time, just like the rest of us!). And another online pattern inspired the freehand for the center panel of the front hanging cloth. The details on the male's dagger scabbard are all sculpted there, so I just had to decide how to place my highlights to accentuate those shapes. And yes ... IIRC, mythical rakshasas had a variety of shapes or deformities, but someone among the D&D designers over the years latched onto "reversed fingers" as the main one. So then I wonder: how are the muscles of their forearms different? and the bones of the hand, and the ulna & radius, too?! The mind boggles. All right, who is up for the challenge of converting a rakshasa skeleton mini? Derek
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