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Tiny Furniture's "Dungeon Garbage"

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(Rough draft for an RPG.net review. For more Tiny Furniture Reviews, see : https://www.rpg.net/reviews/search-review.phtml?productCompany=tiny+furniture&orderby=category&showinfo=publisher


Tiny Furniture's "Dungeon Garbage" is a seven-piece miniature set of heaps of garbage and medieval junk. The miniatures have excellent detail, with an assortment of garbage suitable for dungeons, city states, and villages. Each heap pile is a collection of smaller distinct items, so don't underestimate the time you should dedicate to painting these miniatures. The miniatures are based on molds from Lady Sabelle Designs. If you're familiar with Hirst Arts, think of Lady Sabelle Designs as molds for accessories, rather than game tiles and buildings. I tracked down these miniatures to Lady Sabelle Designs' "Mold #3 – Rags and Riches", if you have experience with resin and plaster molds.


The contents and a description of the garbage piles are: 
* Random: smaller pile of wood, fabric, and pottery.
* Treasure: medium pile with wood barrel, axe, and book.
* Treasure: small pile with urn, skull, and small chest.
* Random: small pile with urn, boot, and wood.
* Residence: medium pile with pitcher, plate, bottle, bread loaf, and wooden chair (?).
* Random: medium pile with plate and wood.
* Gears: medium pile with large gears, ox idol head, and bottle.


The descriptions are just approximate. Certainly you can find whatever you'd like your players to find in these piles. My only nitpick is that the "gears" miniature seems a bit out of place, since most dungeons and medieval settings, other than maybe a mill or clockwork tower, wouldn't have a pile of large gears as debris. 




Painting: Theory:  Unfortunately, my "trial and error" painting experience didn't turn out as well as I would like, so I'm including some painting suggestions in this review. I wasn't sure whether or not to distinctly paint the various items on the miniatures, or paint them realistically like, well, garbage. When painting, most of the time, you can use a realistic image to help you paint. Not so with garbage. Most garbage images are pretty homogenous and it's hard to see anything in particular. You might want to search on "illustration junk pile" rather than "garbage" for ideas. Again, even if you try to make each piece of garbage stand out, the result may be too busy to distinguish any details, so you will want to paint each piece of junk a different color to increase the contrast. Be careful with highlighting. Highlighting any piece in particular may make it appear new, and thus not like dirty old garbage. I pretty ran into all these problems (and am writing these tips to make sure you're aware of them before painting). The professionally painted images are on the bright and new side, while, before repainting, I tried a homogenous and dirty side (used too much wash, though, before trying out distinguishing individual items). However, in the end, this *is* garbage, so it's fine if it's something that should be unnoticed in the background, rather than forefront like some centerpiece terrain. If your players are anything like ones I've had, you'd want the piles muted so a player won't spend half an hour of your game session focused on searching through a pile of trash...


Realism or Individual: Painting the individual items risks making the miniature on the busy side, making it difficult to distinguish these items. Pretty obviously, this defeats the purpose of painting these items. On the other hand, real garbage is pretty homogenous (and gross) so you may end up, like I did earlier, with something that looks more like an indistinguishable pile. After a repaint or two, I experimented with the items in the garbage piles more distinguishable. I'm still not satisfied my color choices, not that anyone throwing away garbage puts much effort into making a refuse pile look presentable. I think once I cut out the individual miniatures from the sprue, they should look more reasonable. In hindsight, then, you can try following the professionally painted version (picture at the end) and not try to make it look realistic. 


Contrast: Miniatures, of course, are small, so it's hard to see individual items. Contrast, then, makes it easier to see these tiny items. Junk piles are something of a surprising challenge, since they're a random collection of items, some of them different than their usual form. For example, your may know it's a junk pile, but you don't know if some piece of junk you're seeing was a chair, barrel, or oxen statue, particulalry if you're only seeing its broken form. Compare this to a typical generic fantasy hero. The head will always be on the top, the body underneath the head, the legs underneath the body, etc. The hands are likely to hold some sort of generic fantasy object, such as a weapon. Besides an unexpected assortment of items in a somewhat unidentifiable state, a garbage pile is supposed to be dirty, so you have to give the suggestion of a dirty pile of junk, even though an individual item may not be painted dirty. It took a fair amount trial and error, but I think the way to suggest this is to first paint the miniature realistically (particularly with coats of brown Strong Tone Army Painter) so much of the miniature is dirty. Then add constrast by painting individual items on each junk pile their own distinct color. 


Arbitrary Color Choices and Color Harmony: Some items on a miniature are not natural, so give you full leeway on what color to paint them. Cloth, urns, and pitchers are examples from the miniature set. Unfortunately, much like choosing the wrong colors of clothes to wear, chosing the wrong colors for objects on a miniature can cause the miniature to somehow look wrong. You can certainly experiment (like I did) but expect mistakes and repaints if you do no planning. You can always still follow the minature painting guideline of two main colors and a third minor color. I my case, it was blue and red, with green. I chose blue because it's an easy color to paint. I then went with red because I felt green or a color with blue would not do as good a job suggesting the chaotic randomness of the junk. Despite the three-color guideline, I ended up with a four-color Square color scheme (blue predominant, red, green, and orange-brown). Ideally, you will want each pile to be independent of each other, perhaps even each having their own color scheme. 


Tiger Colors : https://www.tigercolor.com/color-lab/color-theory/color-harmonies.htm


Natural Colors and Colors not on the Color Wheel: The above link shows various colors on the color wheel, but note that many common generic fantasy colors, such as some browns for wood, grey for rock, and metallic grey for metal, do not show up on the wheel (or the rainbow, for that matter), because the color wheel only has "pure" colors. However, when your brown is more like orange, it's on the color wheel, and I ended up with an orange-brown as one of my color harmony colors, as wood. Ochre can be off the color wheel when it's more like white, but on it when it's orange-brown, like some of the ochre-colored items on the miniature.

Glossy vs. Non-Glossy: Some pieces of junk, such as the bottles, should be painted glossy, and the urns may or may not be painted so. Also, some of the more vague and unidentifiable pieces can be painted as glass. Metallic items have some shininess. Glossiness, of course, helps make a piece of junk identifiable when viewing hte miniature. When painting, you may want to balance out the gloss, by having a piece on the opposite side of a glossy item, be painted glossy, even though it may not have to be painted that way. 




Painting: With all that theory out of the way, here's a suggestion how to paint the miniature. First prime in brown, then wash with a brown wash, such as Army Painter Strong Tone. Basecoat the wood in a light orange-brown. Paint the metallic pieces metal. Paint stone pieces grey. Select a color harmony for the cloth, urns, pitcher, etc. You can also use ochre for cloth and paper, and desaturated brown for the boot, etc. Apply another brown wash. Might as well do this as quickly as possible (I spent too much time on this) since the brown wash will make everything look dark. This will make the trash look realistic. You will want to keep this realism for the trash you don't add contrast to, to give the impression that the trash piles are realistic. Individual items you will increase the contrast (detail and highlight in brighter colors) so viewers can more easily see the items in the trash piles. 


Wood: Select at least three different brown shades to distinguish the wood. I used orange-brown (light brown) for broken wood, and dark brown for the axe. You may want another color of brown for the broken chair and leather boot. Personally, I don't like using orange-brown as a natural color, so ended up glazing darker brown paint on the orange-brown until it looked closer to wood. In any case, make sure the browns you end up with are clearly distinguishable from each other.


Cloth and miscellaneous: Besides the colors used in your color harmony, you can paint cloth ochre and white to increase the contrast against the brown. By white I mean starting at ochre, then highlighting white and washing with brown to make the folds and texture apparent. Other non-metallic, non-wood, non-glass items, such as the oxen head, skull, plate, stale bread, bottle labels, and rope, can be painted similarly. Since these items aren't flat like cloth, they can be easily distinguished from the cloth items. 


Metal and Bottles: You can further highlight metal pieces if you'd like. I only did so with the axe. I like to hold up a model with light coming from the side and overhead, then paint the reflected areas in a lighter shade of paint. Do this for the same with the bottles. Add a layer of gloss (eg. Tamiya Clear) to the bottles.


Conclusion: Like other Tiny Furniture miniatures, these miniatures have quite a bit of detail, and can take awhile to paint properly. Hopefully, these tips will make your painting experience less of trial-and-error than mine was, so you can get some well-painted garbage onto your gaming table!




Notes on the photos:

- The first photo was taken immediately after washing the miniature. Doesn't look like it was dried off.

- The third photo was my attempt at making "realistic" garbage piles. I wasn't too happy that the details were hard to see because of my dark colors (mostly too much brown wash).











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