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Quoralei the sea elf bard (03631) is one of my sculpts from several years ago that I'm finally getting around to painting. Sharing the base with her is a sea ray, one of the aquatic familiars sculpted by Julie Guthrie in the Familiar Pack VII (02948). Pics first, then some more words: Reaper released several underwater figures around 15 years ago, including Bob Ridolfi's Slithe Queen (02902), Julie Guthrie's aquatic familiars (02948) and Werner Klocke's mermaid (03078). I was inspired by the way they simulated the underwater setting and buoyancy, with coral or seaweed on the bases, dynamic poses, and floating hair and fins. I extended Reaper's aquatic offerings by sculpting a male and female sea elf in 2006. In 2007, I made a diorama of a coral reef with my 2 elves hiding from the evil mermaid and her Slithe Queen hunting-beast. I intended to populate the reef diorama with at least one of the aquatic familiars, and I prepped and primed Julie's manta ray, but I ran out of time before painting it -- the diorama was a contest entry for GenCon. (It won Best of Show even without the extra creatures!) The primed manta ray went back into my bits-box. A few years later, in 2012, I sketched a few characters for ReaperRon to review, and he liked this female bard with the conch-shell horn and a boy-shorts swimsuit. I sculpted her, Reaper released her, and Reaper's painter at the time (Martin) painted her for the online gallery. Without the pressure of painting one for the gallery myself, I left my copy of the figure unpainted and went on to sculpting and painting other things. Now it's 2021 and I'm finding new motivation to paint. I've been watching / listening to Anne's Twitch show on most days, among others. I'm clearing my backlog of figures, with the added incentive of points in the Reaper Challenge League. I painted my Frost Giant Princess a few weeks ago, for example. The casting of Quoralei had some noticeable mold-shift around her arms and hair, but I used a knife and gloss sealer to fix the problems ... not perfectly for competition-level, but well enough. She already has a seahorse under her arm, but I decided that she needed a bigger companion to fill the foreground space. I auditioned some other fishes and sharks for the part, but I came back to the ray. I did a web-search for photos of real rays, and one blue-spotted ray inspired the colors that I used here. I used many of the same colors on the elf and the base as what I had used on my Reef diorama (since I still have my notes), but my techniques and eye for contrast have changed a bit. I'm especially pleased at the interplay of the blues and browns on the base. I didn't have a result in mind, but I just put some colors on my palette and mixed and stippled and glazed for a while. The colors on the conch shell and the seahorse are also mostly accidental -- several layers of glazes and fine stripes with whatever was on my palette, until I decided "enough". Enjoy, Derek