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Dark Tide - Moonglow Paints Pirates and other Maritime Minis

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Dark Tide - An Ongoing Painting Project

Starting another WIP thread for my other major ongoing project - Dark Tide: a nautical 5e campaign.


While my other project, Frostrun, at least got a few sessions in before pandemic put a stop to in-person games, Dark Tide is my pet project that's been in the works for going on three years.  I have pages of world building notes and have been collecting a ridiculous amount of minis to populate the islands and port towns of the world.  Here is where I will document some WIP as I start painting through the minis and build myself a fleet of ships to accompany them.


I would love to hear feedback or hear tales of your own nautical adventures.  And feel free to share photos of your own maritime miniatures!

The Ships


A major part of this project is building a fleet of ships.  I have attempted this in the past and abandoned the project when I became unsatisfied.  I have recently restarted this project, building on my knowledge from the first attempt.  You can follow my progress here:


Moonglow Builds a Boat


Troubled Waters - an Introduction to the Seas

For centuries, the kingdoms of Cellion and Aridia have warred over the seas that separate them.  For the last 100 years, a shaky truce has kept war from the water.  But rumors have surfaced that the Aridian Emperor is dead, and tension once again brews over the waters between.


To the east of the mainland lies the Great Sea Wall, a vast expanse of jagged rocks, stretching high up out of the ocean.  Beyond this wall are the Wild Seas.  The waters are violent and dangerous, and terrible creatures inhabit the depths.  Few have reason to travel these forsaken waters, and fewer still are brave enough to attempt it.


It is said that long ago, Chrona, the goddess of death, forsook the seas.  Drowned souls are doomed to swim the waters for eternity, never able to rest.  Because of this, sailors have a healthy fear of the seas they travel, and go out of their way to rescue the bodies of any who die at sea.  Only proper burial on land can carry their souls to the other side.


Yet for all the danger and risk inherent in sea travel, many find its call alluring.  The open ocean, the promise of new land, and the rumor of lost treasures from times long ago.  But for those attracted by treasure, nothing is more alluring than the lost treasures of Captain Dread.  The legendary and fearsome pirate king was rumored to have hidden an immeasurable horde of treasure on the island of Istishia.  And yet the island's location remains a mystery.  And as for Captain Dread?  He vanished, along with his ship, and the knowledge of the Istishia's whereabouts.


Captain Ulysses Ashe

Captain Ulysses Ashe is said to have sailed alongside the infamous Captain Dread.  Word around Port Venture is that he's looking for a crew to man The Bloodhawk.  And rumors say he's going after the lost treasure.


Frost?  Who is this Frost guy?  This is Captain Ashe!  Every crew needs its captain.

In the role of Captain Ashe, we have Barnabus Frost, Pirate Captain 77132




But our captain here needs a proper base, and he's missing something pretty important...





... ahh much better!  A base as symmetrical as his needed some green stuff to blend it out.  I'm not the greatest at it but it works.  Also made a hat for the first time!  Found a guide on the interwebs of someone making pirate orcs and the hat seemed pretty simple.  Just flatten out a small circle of green stuff, press it on your minis head, fold up the back flap, then fold the front two sides.  Easy peasy!

Just need to let that Green Stuff cure before i can prime and paint.


Ghosts of the Drowned Souls

With the seas forsaken by the goddess of death, the drowned souls are doomed to swim for eternity.  Here they are easily picked up by all manner of dark being promising them an escape from their eternal suffering.  


"You best start believing in ghost stories."


No pirate campaign would be complete without some ghost pirates!  I was painting up a demi-lich recently and loved the ethereal wisps i ended up painting on it.  So i felt inspired to paint up some other ghostly minis.


Finally decided to put some paint on the Ghost Pirates from Bones 4.




I started by gluing them to bases and blending the edges in with some super glue and baking soda.




I have started trying to think about what i'm going to paint before priming and choosing a primer based on that.  I typically prime grey but figured it'd be useful to prime these ghosts with white so i'm giving that a try.




Going to paint up the ethereal wisps with a bluish-green color and transition to a more traditional physical paintjob on their clothes and bodies.


Also, if it wasn't obvious, I decided to paint over the translucent.  I've avoided the translucent minis so far because I wasn't sure how to handle them, but I think I might end up being in the camp of painting over them.  I think i can both control the paint better that way, and will enjoy the end result better.




Edited by MoonglowMinis
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Ghosts got a bit of paint today. Got the basics of their ethereal tails done. And some basic colors blocked in. The drowned woman is the most complete. As she was sort of my test piece and the one whom I had the best idea of color choices.  Fairly happy with the way her dress transitions into the ethereal.  Still a bit of work and then the bases. 




Trying to keep the color palette cold on these guys.  I do regret priming them white though. It's taking way too long to build up a base layer of color. But they're coming along. 

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A bit more progress on the ghosts today. Most of them just need a bit more work up top and the bases finished. Not turning out exactly as I'd hoped, but at this point I'm just going to finish then to the point where I can call them acceptable and move along. I'd rather start a new mini than continue to repaint the same one over and over.




Don't mind me watching Black Sails in the background. Needed to get into the piratey-mood. 

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A bit more progress on the captain. Struggling to decide what to do with his sleeves. Was going to make them the same color as the vest and imply that he was wearing a shirt under a sleeveless coat, but the vest got patterned more like silk or embroidery. Thinking I should make the sleeves into a brown leather just worried about the sleeves and straps being too similar and having too much of the same color.

What do you all think?


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The way you've painted up Barnabas, he looks like the owner of my FLGS here in town. ^_^


(also thanks for the reminder with the Bones version. I painted that one up for RCon last year but totally forgot about him. Saves me from hacking on the newer metal version of him.)


Nice effect with the bottles, love it!


Overall fantastic work on these.

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Pretty happy with how he turned out. Spent longer than I expected on him but tried some stuff I hadn't done before. Spent extra time on the hands trying to define them, especially the knuckles. And also adding a bit of pink warmth to the skin. 


The coat has a cross hatched texture which I haven't tried before. Also proud of the cream-white color I made. Need to write down that recipe. 


The metals here are TMM but mixed with some non-metallic colors to kill the sparkle a bit and to help create darker/and brighter shades. I've done this before with silvers, but I mixed the bronze/gold metallic with some different colors than usual. Really liked the rich yellow gold I achieved and used on the jacket clasps.




Hopefully I'll take some better photos soon. Not sure what I'll work on next, need to find some new motivation for the next nautical figure. 


Also still need to finished the ship.


Thanks for following along!

Edited by MoonglowMinis
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The Octopus Sculpt

I had some spare green stuff left over after making some alterations to another mini.  Rather than waste it, I figured it was a good opportunity to practice and improve my sculpting skills.


I have played with green stuff sculpting once before when i was making swarms of snakes.  They were pretty simple and not very detailed, but they definitely work for gaming.




This time I wanted to try something a little more complex, but also within the limitations of m skill level.  So i made a tiny octopus.





I relied on reference pictures and was surprised how much they curl their tentacles.  They are not the sentient spaghetti I thought they were.  I'm decently happy with this little guy.  Not perfect, but better than the last attempt.  I skipped the suction cups on the tentacles, and the eyes are a little wonky.  Hopefully some paint can help smooth over the rougher areas.


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