Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lead Painters League 8, Round 4: 28mm Conquest Miniatures "Winter" Indians

NOTE: I changed this to my Round 4 entry after photographing it...
My Round 4 entry in the Lead Painters League: Winter Hunt. These 28mm Conquest Miniatures Indians came up short against a well-painted entry 380-128, dropping me to 2-2 in the league.
In honor of the cold and snowy winter we've had this year, I thought I should paint up Conquest Miniatures' pack of 28mm Indians in winter dress. Even though round 2 will be right around April, I wouldn't be surprised if winter has yet to release us from its grasp. I realize now that this probably wasn't the most practical purchase I've ever made. Four of the five Indians I painted up are wearing snow shoes -- which means I'll have to flock them on a snowy type base. That means they won't match the rest of my Indians, and will look quite out of place on an ordinary, non-winter battlefield. Oh well...I bought them because they looked cool. And whether I find many uses for them on the tabletop or not, they will still fulfill that purpose...!

Although the pack contained six miniatures, I am trying to be ultra efficient in this Lead Painters League and paint the minimum five figures per round -- at least when I do 28mm figs. I decided to be even more efficient by painting this batch simultaneously with another set of five Indians. Painting 10 28mm figures at a time is probably about as big as I want to go. It was helpful to have them all at the same stage -- base coating, dry brushing, detailing, and so on.

I started with the flesh, like I usually do on 28mm figures. I paint Indians a base coat of Iron Wind Metals Red Brown, then dry brush Howard Hues Middle Eastern flesh, followed by a highlight of Ceramcoat Flesh. One of the figures is in what appears to be a coat made out of animal (bear?) skins. The other four wear thigh length tunics. As I often do when pondering what colors to paint minis, I examined a good source. In this case, "The Narrative Art of Robert Griffing: Vol. II, The Journey Continues." This large book has dozens of reproductions of the artist's paintings. Pretty much all of them are from the French & Indian War period, or right around that time. I picked out my colors, matched them up with the paints I own, and wrote down the details on the temporary cardboard bases I glue figures onto to handle while painting.

Lately, I've been experimenting with using washes instead of simply dry brushing everything. Two of the figures used this technique, while on the other three I employed the more common base coat and dry brush. Since I would be entering these in the contest, I added quite a bit more beadwork and decorative details on the Indians clothing and equipment. When it came time to add their warpaint, I went back to the Griffing book for more inspiration. Though expensive, the book is an incredible resource as Griffing's work is authoritative and highly regarded.

When it came time to wash the figures, a semi-disaster struck. Since I am getting down towards the end of the bottle of ink wash I'd mixed up, I'd noticed it produced a much darker color than I really wanted. So, thinking to thin it down, I added in some distilled water. For some reason, this caused a dirty fog or sorts to appear in different spots on the figures. After all that time and work on them, it was pretty annoying to have this happen. I'd read online that a shot of clear gloss will often "erase" a fog caused by spray clear coats. So, I decided to try something similar here. I purchased a bottle of Vallejo Clear Gloss arcylic resin paint and brushed it on them. Although it did not fix them completely, it did make the surface look beetter.

I was stumped at first on how to produce a snowy base for the miniatures. Then I remember my old method of using Liquitex modeling paste. It produces a white surface that can be made smooth or rough depending on how much water you add after it is applied. First, I glued some rocks or branches down to be poking up through the snow. Then, I carefully applied it -- constantly having to soak up any that had slopped onto the snowshoes of the figures. Once dry, I applied to watered down washes of the lightest blue I own. Snowfields often have bluish shadows, and I wanted to replicate the effect on the miniatures. And finally, wherever the Liquitex cracked as it dried, I covered this up with white glue and applied a thin patch of Woodland Scenics "Burnt Grass." I was very happy with how the snow bases turned out.

In general, I am still disappointed with what the wash did to the figures. This will probably be the last time I use that ink wash on miniatures. Remember, I did a second batch of Indians simultaneously, so there will be one more entry using it. I plan on trying to add some black paint to the Vallejo Clear Flat paint and see how that works. I will come back and add pictures of the painted Indians after this entry has finished its week-long contest.

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