Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lead Painters League 8, Round 1: Splintered Light Miniatures Mice

My Round 1 entry into Lead Painters League 8: "Fight the Gouda Fight!" Splintered Light Miniatures mice, painted and based for the fantasy miniatures rules set I'm writing. I won 443-17 in that round to start with a 1-0 record.
Since Round 1 of Lead Painters League 8 is a theme ("Classic Fantasy"), I decided to go to the inspiration for Splintered Light Miniatures excellent 15mm-20mm line of anthropomorphic animals. The mice of the Redwall series are the iconic force from Brian Jacques line of young adult fiction novels. I've wanted a mice army ever since I read the first novel in the series. However, whenever I parked myself in front of the Splintered Light booth, something else always seemed to catch my eye. First it was the badgers, then Squirrels, Fauns, Raccoons -- it seemed everything animal in the forest was cutting in front of the mice. However, when I decided to write my own set of fantasy miniatures rules, I knew it was time. I bought the figs needed for the mice from David at Splintered Light.

And there they sat. At least for a year. Until the league was announced, and the Classic Fantasy theme was unveiled. I am assuming that the league won't have a problem with them counting as "classic". After all, a line of 22 books is fairly extensive! Anyway, my new rules feature units on hexagon-shaped bases. Each base contains 3-5 figures. So, I sorted through my lead pile and pulled out two bases worth of mice. One is a unit of spearmen, er, spear mice, and the other is armed with swords.

Like I do anytime I paint an animal or SLM anthropomorphic animal, I did my research first to see what mice really look like. I sorted through Google images until I found and downloaded a range of colors from white, gray, tan, brown, black and yellowish-colored mice images. I always glue my figures down onto cardboard squares to paint them. So, I wrote on each piece of cardboard what that particular figure would look like. Each base would have a standard bearer, leader figure, and three rank and file mice. I decided to go with a "quartered" medieval look. The spear unit would be green and white, while the swords would be red and yellow. I also intended to give them a regimental name. In a rare bit of whimsy (for me), I decided to name each regiment after a type of cheese, and give the a battle cry based off of that. So, channeling the state of New Hampshire, the Brie regiment would have a battle slogan of "Live Brie or die!" The Gouda regiment would be "Fight the Gouda Fight!"

The first step was to paint the fur. Using dry brushing and washes, I did my best to replicate a variety of mouse looks that I'd found in the Google image searches. The figures are crisply detailed and relatively easy to paint. There is not a overabundance of equipment on them, so they went fairly quickly. I did a dry brush for each color of their uniform quartering, too, beginning with a darker tone and dry brushing the lighter over it. I really liked how some of the figures turned out -- the medieval hooded surcoat in particular looks sharp painted up in a quartered pattern.

I wasn't overwhelmed with the job I did on the shields. I was even less pleased with the look my ink wash gave me. I've been using this new method of washing ever since I abandoned the clear Acryl and black mixture. The acryl has a tendency to strip the acrylic paint I use off of the miniature to the bare metal. The ink was a change, and I have been fairly pleased with it. I am starting to become disenchanted with it, though. This league may see me switch if I'm not pleased with it again, soon.

For the banners, I used a combination of Google images and Photoshop. I created a rectangular banner with an image of cheese on it, with the battle slogan for each unit. I printed them off on my color laser printer and glued them around the standard bearer's pole. The mice standard bearers are cast with no flag, but simply a large crescent shape atop their pole. I also decided to change the way I do the flocking for this entry. I painted the base with white glue and poured Woodland Scenics brown medium ballast over it. Once dry, I painted it in Burnt Sienna -- my favorite earth-red ground color. I then dry brushed a light tan over the ballast. I also added a few slightly larger pieces of tallus as rocks. I did my ink wash over the surface, and then Woodland Scenics blended gray turf was added to it for patches of grass, and clump foliage further added for brush.

All in all, I am pleased with how these two bases of mice came out. Will they bring me a victory? Well, smaller scale figures tend to not do as well in the Lead Painters League. So, we'll see, as these little buggers measure about 10mm from feet to eye level. I'll bill them as "15mm" in the contest. Otherwise, voters always assume the figs are 28mm.

Remember, pictures will be added after the first round voting is complete (late March).

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