After a hard month at my day job, I’m finally back to a point where I can focus on my creative work again. I’m not kidding, it was a rough month – at one point I worked eleven, nine hour days in a row. But now I’m back and craving that sweet storytelling fix.
Because August was a fairly dry month creatively, I really want to hit the ground running. Beyond getting back to the 3rd draft of my book, I have two new short stories to work on. For those of you who have read a few of my blogs before, you know this means finding a couple of painting projects that fit my stories. In the spirit of refreshing new beginnings, I have decided to pick a couple old minis that could use a fresh coat of paint.
Project Number 1: A Deadly Construct!
This poor golem has seen better days. I bought it on a whim (it is an Iron Golem from the WizKids line) and ended up using him to test paint markers. I do, however, think this will work as a base for what will be a weathered, ancient golem when I’m done.
The story it is paired with is for a contest inspired by Steven King’s flair for making every day things seem otherworldly and scary. The contest cites Christine and Cujo, but my mind went to The Mangler. Something about a normal machine with the desire to kill speaks to that bit of my brain that is far too willing to personify objects.
Project Number 2: A Pretentious Dragon!
This poor brass dragon (also Wizkids) was the sad result of neglect. I was working on him during a group painting night and was much more focused on the social aspect of the event than my dragon. He was also my second mini of the night, so he got far less time and much more tired eyes. The result was far too much shader on a mini that, let’s face it, is already lacking in definition. I’m going to need to grab lighter versions of the red and copper I used and slowly build definition into the paint job.
This mini will be matched with a story about the character who originally inspired my color scheme. He’s one of the dragons from my own fantasy universe and, while he does not appear in my book, he’s an important part of the world he lives in. He’s also a huge hipster, and when I saw a contest pop up for hipster fantasy stories, it was a no-brainer.
Those are my two main projects for September. I’ll write up a post for the results of each. I’m pretty confident I can pull off the stories, but let’s see if I can fix those messy minis I ruined!
A new weekend has come, bringing with it new opportunities to spend long hours on a new project. For the next couple of weeks I will be working on entries for a horror publication doing a special issue on the theme of mythology. for this I plan to write one short story (somewhere between 2500 and 3000 words) one flash fiction story (roughly 500 words max) and a poem (likely a Shakespearean sonnet as that’s my preferred format). None of these are daunting tasks but getting them all done before the end of the month will take some discipline.
For this task I knew it would be hard to pick a writing partner. I’m going to be writing multiple pieces with only the genre of horror and the theme of myth connecting them. No one miniature would do. Some tasks need an army. This one needed two.
I’ve had this box on my shelf since it came out. It is the Warhammer Age of Sigmar Feast of Bones set which contains a small army for both the Ogors Mawtribes and Ossiarch Bonereapers. It is a big set with a ton of really fun minis in it. As my side project I hope to have this box constructed and primed before the end of the month.
As I have mentioned before I don’t play a lot of Warhammer and tend to use the minis more for RPGs. So for this project we’re aiming for variety, both in writing and in miniatures. I’m not a “what you see is what you get” kind of guy.
The skellington army has a lot of variety that requires very little effort on my part to bring out. This is true for both construction and how I would use them in games. For example: the main leader unit would make a very nice lich in any game. He is the one in the front carrying around his crumbling tomb.
The Mortarchs (the flying bois) work as either strange gods or undead angels. They come with two different weapon options, two single hand weapons or the large glaives. I can make one of each option without it costing me any extra time or effort.
The three Necropolis Stalkers (those weird skeletal constructs) can work as advanced bone golems or a variety of other constructs with a bit of imagination. They come in three very distinct configurations and plan to build one of each. In games I can see them guarding ancient treasure, being the discovered life’s work of a mad mage, or as the main event in some twisted black market auction. Great stuff.
Last but not least there are ten basic Mortek Guard. These guys are a bit fancy to be basic skeletons but I’m a big fan of skeletal champions and more advanced undead. I imagine them guarding a really powerful necromancer or a lich. There is a lot of variety in this kit; spears, sword and board, banner bearers etc. I plan to build at least one of each variable over the ten minis.
The straightforwardness of these kits really matches my ideas for the poem and flash fiction. Variety out of the box, easy to create, should be no problem. It gets more complicated with the short story and our second army.
The ogors are tricky. With fewer minis and lots of options I need to either make some hard choices are do some time consuming kit-bashing. For the uninitiated, kit-bashing is when you take pieces from different minis and use them to construct something new. I usually do it to make interesting leaders and heroes out of basic infantry units.
The leader, the Ogor Tyrant, is a great miniature. I’m uncertain as to how he fights with both a spear and a hammer, but I’d love to write about it. I imagine I would use him as the final boss for a short mid level campaigns. He’s unsophisticated but deadly in close combat and commands loyalty through fear in his forces. He also requires no extra work which is nice.
The basic infantry kits (if creatures that big could be called that) can be constructed as either Ogor Gluttons (melee units) or Leadbelchers (ranged units). These minis can be used in a variety of story scenarios. They fit in anywhere where you need a stronger than average leader or as a group of heavies supporting a bigger bad. There are 8 of them and the units break down in units of 6 for the Gluttons and units of 2 for the Leadbelchers. So the math is easy right? Not entirely. Looking through each kit I found the Leadbelcher had four unique guns, all of which are pretty cool. So then I thought, “ok, I’ll just make 4 leadbenchers and kitbash them with some extra hand weapons on their backs or something.” That way if I ever do play them in Warhammer I can use them for either unit. Then I noticed how many different Gluttons were possible. They have all kinds of really neat weapons too. I could magnetize them… but that would take too long. So when I go to assemble they ogors I have some hard choices to make.
The choice for the large siege weapon is easy, the Ironblaster shown in the image above is way cooler then the alternate Gnoblar Scarplauncher (a goblin catapult). In my experience siege weapons don’t come up often in RPGs but I’m sure I’ll find a way to use it for a set piece some day. At least that’s one easy choice, right? Not really. looking over the kit I’m now wondering if there are enough bits to build the catapult as a separate mini with some creative kit-bashing. With these kinds of things I just can’t help myself. There is a phrase my friend came up with years ago while reviewing one of my scripts. He liked the ending as a concept but didn’t know how I could pull it off. He said I had to “circle square it.” This has become a common turn of phrase now in my inner circle and it essentially means making a round peg fit into a square hole. It’s possible, but extremely challenging. I like challenge, in-spite of what this will inevitably do to my time table.
Speaking of time table ruining, look at all those decorative gnoblars (goblins). You can see one of them on lookout in the awesome banner bearer shown in the full army picture above as well as a ton more in the picture below. There are a ton of them… and I’d hate to just use them as intended. So I’ve textured up another ten bases and I’m going to see how many of them I can reuse as new goblin miniatures. They are too unique to pass up, full of character and interesting gear. I can imagine them leading or supporting more standard goblins in battle. However, this means another circle to square and a whole new force to construct… with a potential centerpiece of their own if I can figure out the stupid catapult.
Three forces for three projects and only two weeks to work on it. What could go wrong. Well, some of you might point out that it probably wasn’t wise to spend this much time talking out how to construct this box of plastic armymen when I should be writing. Well… maybe. But in the time it took to write this I have written outlines for all three writing projects, I textured all the bases and organized all of the kits into piles by unit and in the order I plan to tackle them. It’s only procrastination if it doesn’t help you focus. There is a method to my madness.
I finished my travel writing story and I’m pretty happy with it! Fingers crossed it makes the top ten for the contest I entered. I’m also pretty happy with how my octopus turned out.
I think he it turned out pretty good. As I worked out the details for each of the Pine Island locations I talked about, I layered on the base coats. That laid the framework for both the octopus and my narrative.
Next I took the real life stories and I gave them all an edge. Turning what was childhood misunderstandings and half forgotten memories into something more sinister. With the octopus I did this by choosing a pattern that indicated its venomous nature rather than the more nature red color most people pick for this mini.
Next I had to take a loose series of stories about an area and turn them into a cohesive narrative. To do this I used a common horror trope, the unreliable narrator. Though in this case he isn’t so much unreliable as he is biased. The octopus is unreliable though. Turn your back on it for a moment and suddenly you’ll be engulfed.
That was a fun week of writing and painting. However, as usual, there is no time to rest. I have my eye on another publication with a new theme to work with. Here’s a hint: it’s of mythic proportions.
I’m working on a new story for a travel writing contest. At first I was really scratching my head trying to think of an idea. I write genre fiction and historically I have a really hard time bending for contest conditions and themes. Then I saw that entries could be fiction… Time to write, but who’s going to work with me on this one?
I decided to write about the Pine Islands, a fictionalized version of the Puget Sound area a friend and I came up with. We have written many stories about this area and I have visited the Islands that inspired it many times. It’s a pretty easy place to picture in my head and one I can imagine traveling through. Though I would venture through it with no small amount of apprehension.
As usual I sat down to this project with a miniature on the corner of my desk. I made my decision based on regional flavor. I picked a giant octopus.
This is a miniature from Wiz Kidz pre-primed line. I chose it because the region I’m writing about is the home of the Giant Pacific Octopus, an animal that inspired fascination in me long before I moved here. I don’t think I’ll be painting mine red though. While my beloved devilfish are known for their striking red coloration, I think I’ll paint mine up like a Blue-ringed Octopus. My reasoning here, beyond it looking rad, is that my version of the region is more menacing than the real location. So, my octopus will be more dangerous. Imagine if the largest octopus was also one of the most venomous animals on the planet. Wonderful, isn’t it?
Beyond the paint scheme I also have to decide if filling in a small factory imperfection (the line under the eye where the head meets the body) is worth re-priming my new partner. I usually don’t bother with these cheaper minis, but I really like this sculpt. Either way, I’ll post the results after I have finished both the contest entry and the mini. Stay tuned!