Quick and Dirty

As I said in my last blogpost, I haven’t had much time to paint miniatures or to play any (long) games recently. But even though my gaming hobby has been on a backburner, this does not mean I’ve been totally idle either. In fact, I’ve tried some new dirty techniques recently to paint minis quickly and still get some reasonable results. Using washes, glazes and a lot of drybrushing, I’ve been able to paint up some board game miniatures in quite staggering time. And because board game miniatures are both cheaper and less detailed, they have been the perfect canvas for me to try these techniques and get more experience in speed painting. I have to note that the photos included are rather bad, but as my nice old Nikon died last month, I have to do with some smartphone images 😦

Undercoated D&D Adventure game miniatures
The Dungeons and Dragons Adventure board games come with quite a lot of miniatures. Here are two, just undercoated, sets from Castle Ravenloft and the Wrath of Ashardalon games.

One of the games I’ve played quite a bit recently, is the Dungeons and Dragons adventure game Castle Ravenloft (Wizards of the Coast). And like more and more board games coming out, this game comes with a set of rather decent miniatures. In fact, the game has 42 pretty well detailed figurines included in the box. I have to admit that the detail of these sculpts is quite a low compared to ‘real’ miniature games from GW, PiP or Corvus Belli. But even when you take this into account, they are nice to look at none the less. And unlike cardboard tokens or wooden meeples, they do emerge you more in the game world.

Painted D&D Gargoyles
Gargoyles can be quite dangerous foes in D&D. They may be made out of stone, but their eyes burn with anger…

As I’ve been playing the D&D adventure boardgames quite often lately, I’ve decided to emerge myself even more in the crypts of Castle Ravenloft. And what is a better way to get yourself emerged in a game with miniatures, than to paint them up? Right, there is none! So I got my paint brushes ready, picked up my paints and got some clean water to clean my brushes and started painting. But considering the impact of a paintjob on the overall game, and the amount of miniatures normally on the board, I decided that spending hours upon hours on a single miniature was not worth the effort. There is only so much detail that you can pick out on these miniatures, while the miniatures have to fit in the rest of the game also (the game board, counters and tokens). It is for this reason I decided I should get some speed painting experience.

Weak on their own, and still weak as a group, these rat swarms are probably the easiest enemies in the crypts of Castle Ravenloft.
Weak on their own, and still weak as a group, these rat swarms are probably the easiest enemies in the crypts of Castle Ravenloft.

The photos shown here are the first examples of my speed painting practice. And I have to say I’m rather happy with the results. Using only simple techniques like drybrushing and washes, I’ve been able to pick out lots of detail and even add some extra ‘flair’ here and there. Only some minor parts have been layered, as there was so little texture that drybrushing did not seem like a reasonable option. This was mostly on the backs of the Rats Swarms and the claws of the Cave Bears. The more positive side was that, while I was painting these models, I noticed some nice small details like the tails of the rats or the very subtle texture on the Gargolyes. You can notice them on the ‘plain’ miniatures, but it was rather difficult to see before I painted them up.

Wrath of Ashardalon Cave Bears
I haven’t played the ‘Wrath of Ashardalon’ game yet because I want to complete all the adventures in Castle Ravenlofts dungeons first. But painting up the minis of Ashardalon along with the Castle Ravenloft minis saves quite some time. These rather angry Cave Bears look quite the part for board game minis 🙂

Painting these miniatures has been quite a pleasure. But it was not only a good news show. Before painting, I decided I would leave the mould lines on these figurines, and that was probably a pretty bad choice. While some of the D&D minis have only a few small mould lines, the mould lines on the Cave Bears have more in common with a mountain range. And the Cave Bears are unfortunately no exception. Another important tip is to wash the miniatures with water and soap before undercoat. Normally I do not do this as I’ve had no problems with my paint sticking to the miniatures. But even though these minis have not suffered from skipping this short step this, I have noticed that the normal paints had trouble sticking to the minis when I patched up the bits that my undercoat missed. So I can conclude that the problem with paint not sticking is far worse on PVC (soft plastic) minis included in board games, then the hard plastic minis you normally get with miniature games. Finally I have to say that some sculpts are rather poor or weirdly posed. Especially some of the heroes and the ghouls from Castle Ravenloft seem a bit odd. But considering the amount of value you get from these boardgames, this point seems only a minor nuisance. So, get those paint brushes ready and start painting 🙂

Gravestorm the Dracolich (undead dragon) is one of the most fearsome villans in Castle Ravenloft. This photo shows my progress thus far. I still have to complete all the rotting flesh bits on the bones and within the membrane of the wings.
Gravestorm the Dracolich (undead dragon) is one of the most fearsome villans in Castle Ravenloft. This photo shows my progress thus far. I still have to complete all the rotting flesh bits on the bones and within the membrane of the wings.
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