Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Goblin Quest and Mistborn Sale

Garden Ninja Studios is having a sale on our Goblin Quest and Mistborn Miniatures lines.

All Misborn and Goblin Quest miniatures are set at 30% off right now, and that includes the hand painted sets.

This sale will last through the holidays until January 31.

Goblin Quest Miniatures are based on the Goblin Quest Books by Jim C. Hines. Goblin Quest, Goblin Hero and Goblin War are Copyright © Jim C. Hines 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 and used by permission of Jim C. Hines,

Mistborn Miniatures are based on the Mistborn books by Brandon Sanderson. Mistborn, Well of Ascension and Hero of Ages are copyright © Brandon Sanderson 2006, 2007, and 2008 used by permission of Brandon Sanderson,

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Garden Ninja is proud to announce a new licensed miniature for sale.

Sergeant Schlock was sculpted by Melissa Mayhew and inspired by Schlock Mercenary by Howard Tayler. He's available hand painted or with a patina finish, or as a plain pewter mini if you'd like to paint him yourself.

As of this morning, we only have about 40 left in this run, so buy now to avoid waiting for the reorder.

Based on Schlock Mercenary by Howard Tayler, Sculpted by Melissa Mayhew. Schlock Mercenary Copyright Howard Tayler 2000-2009 and used by permission of Howard Tayler.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Privateer Press reveals plastic warjack kits

As Warmachine news goes, this one was pretty predictable.

Ok, we all knew that this day was coming. Ever since the Bastions were first discovered as plastics, we all knew that soon there would be plastic warjack kits replacing the old kits.

And then the Retribution heavy warjacks were all plastic kits with three variants in a $30 box set, so we all knew for sure that there would be warjack plastic kits for all of the other factions with three in a box.

Well, now we actually have it in front of us. On Privateer's site, there are three new warjacks announced, each one of them fits onto an existing hull that already belongs to two other warjacks. They're all new sculpts of the oldest warjack minis in the game.

This announcement is coinciding with their release of Grind, a stand alone board game that features a ton of plastic warjack minis- I really wonder if they're just blue of red colored versions of this same plastic kit (with special Grind weapons and arms). This mini has me wondering if I couldn't get grind and make myself a few extra heavy warjacks out of the bits.

Anyway, this is one of the big anticipations from PP's plastics line. Now, our biggest anticipation is to see some new plastic cavalry minis.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Lt. Allister Caine miniature!

Ok, I love Warmachine, and I especially love Allister Caine. So I was excited to find out that they were doing a new sculpt of my favorite warcaster. But now I've seen it for myself.

A dynamic pose for a dynamic warcaster. Anyway, check out Privateer Press' gallery for a 360 view of him.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On Painting Female Faces

Painting female faces is actually fundamentally different from painting male faces, and in some fairly strange ways.

First off, imagine that you are designing the lighting for a big Hollywood film. Ok, now how do you light the rugged hero? He's beat up, but he's tough enough to get through it all. You go ahead and light him with some somewhat harsh lights that accentuate all of the lines on his face. He looks tough this way, with a clear defined chin and cheekbones.

Now go to the woman playing opposite him. This time you want her to look attractive, so you use very soft lights. The lower contrast of these lights gives her a very different look. Some of the wrinkles and imperfections on her face get lost in the low contrast lighting.

That is the fundamental difference between painting male and female faces. Usually, you want to paint male faces with quite a bit more contrast than female faces. I've heard of a lot of different methods and tutorials about how to accomplish this - you can thin down your highlight layers with matt medium or water to make them translucent, or you can use a lighter shadow color than with male faces. Anyway, I'll just point you to a few tutorials on the specifics.

Beyond that, there are some needed details you can paint in a number of different ways. Makeup, for example, is a great detail to pick out. For lipstick, just mix a little red into your flesh tone and paint the lower lip only (paintint the upper lip makes her look like she's got too much makeup on, or like she has huge lips). Eyeshadow and blush are added in essentially the same way- you mix a little bit of your color with a lot of flesh tone and apply it lightly.

Eyebrows are something else that is important to pick out, and here I just used one of the darker colors from the hair.

In the end, painting female faces can be extremely rewarding.

Monday, October 19, 2009

On Painting Male Faces

The face is an enormous part of painting the miniature. Our eyes are naturally drawn to the face, it is the most natural center of interest on almost any miniature. So it is worth going the extra mile and making the faces stand out.

The problem with painting human faces is that we all know too much about what they should look like. On orks, trolls, undead or some other kind of non-human entity, we have a lot more leeway than on a human's face. We all see too many humans, and we look at their faces a lot, so we can perceive if something is amiss even when we can't point out what it is.

There are a few tricks to getting faces done right, and it can mostly be broken down into separate elements and tricks.

First off, it is important to get the eyes right. There are hundreds of tutorials on how to paint eyes, so I don't think I need to go into that right now. Find a method that works for you. I would recommend this method from Reaper, but that's far from the only way to go.

Just one note, I often exaggerate the eyes on a mini a little. If done right, it makes the eyes pop out, and the face can stand out from a distance.

Here's an example face, blown up so we can see exactly how he's composed:

One kind of detailing that I threw onto this mini is the red on his face. What I did was thin down a cadmium red paint and use it like an ink, only applying it where I wanted. On this mini, I put red next to the interface with the mechanical parts, and I added some below his eyes. This adds to his character quite a bit, making this chaos lord look a little sleepless.

Other places to add red include scars (as the commissar above) the ears (the mini will look more angry) or the nose (for more drunk minis).

Something else to note about this face is the five o'clock shadow. I painted this on after painting up the face in flesh tones by mixing my base flesh color with a little gray paint. The shadow can be expressed in a lot of different ways depending on the amount of gray you put into the paint, ranging from "I shaved this morning" and "I've forgotten what a razor looks like." This one is somewhere between the extremes.

Interestingly, I have discovered that sometimes it is worth painting on a shadow that is almost imperceptible. It makes the face look more real, even though a viewer cannot tell why. We really do expect to see things like this when we look at faces, so it is troubling when it is missing.

For comparison, here is a mini whose face is not exaggerated. It is good to note that I picked out the eyebrows on this mini, whereas on the exaggerated face, I left them alone. Too much eyebrow with the large eyes I had painted can make a mini look a little like a muppet. Otherwise, all of the same applications of red or gray apply:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Terrain Table

I recently got a commission to paint up the GW gaming table and some terrain pieces to go with it. The table is made up of 2x2 segments, making the whole table six feet by four feet. So, it is pretty big.

The strangest thing about GW's table is their use of skulls. Scattered about the whole thing, there are some dried bones, suggesting that perhaps this is some ancient battleground. But then, there are some sections of earth that have been upturned to reveal hundreds of skulls, and not other bones. This board could otherwise be used to represent almost any Warhammer, or Warhammer 40k environment (at least natural ones) but the skulls designate that it must be some Khornate Daemon world.

My client, who does not play Khorne, decided that that was very cheesey, and wanted me to cover up the skulls with something. I considered using some kind of water, and make the table into a swampland, or perhaps I could turn it into a frozen lake on an ice world. In the end, I made the table into a deserty badlands, and sculpted broken earth out of green and grey stuff.

Those sections of broken earth used to be filled with skulls.

Aside from that, I think my favorite part of the project was a destroyed rhino that I got to paint. I happened to know that a friend of my client plays a grey space marine force, so I couldn't resist putting it in as a cameo on the battlefield.

And battle damage is pretty much always a blast to paint. Since the rhino is as battered as it is, it really doens't take quite as detailed a job to paint it up, although this particular terrian base has quite a bit more detail on it than is standard.

Overall, this was quite a nice job, and I'd definitely do it again.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Spot Stripping Minis

Over the years, I've collected a lot of minis. Many of them were painted when I got them, and a lot of the final paintjobs are... well, sub par. I started painting when I was about ten, and I didn't have anyone to teach me technique, so you can imagine that many of them are true atrocities.

Of course, I'm saving a lot of old paintjobs as a sort of artifact from the era. That said, I've also become quite adept at stripping the paint off of older minis. The method I use most is a 50% Pinesol water solution. You can leave metal miniatures in there for a few hours, and when you pull them out, you can wipe the paint off of them with an old tuthbrush.

The trouble with most stripping methods is if you have any greenstuff on the mini, it will probably dissolve away in the mixture. I don't mind redoing some assembly and gap filling, but I'd rather not have to re-sculpt large portions of a mini due to a botched paintjob.

Janci found an interesting solution to this: Rubbing Alcohol. It seems that the alcohol can eat through acrylic paint at an alarming rate. It is so fast that you can even use it on the end of a cue tip.

Janci stripped this minis' face without touching any of the sculpted area on the mini:

I think that it is interesting that the alcohol has no effect on the primer. I suspect that it will not work on sealed minis, so it is probably best used if you feel like you've just messed up one part of a mini with too thick paint, and don't want to re-do the whole thing.

A nice discovery, to say the least.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Miniatures Review Launch

The Miniatures Review website is now up and running.

This is going to be a strong site for people looking for more details about minis than you normally can over the internet. I think they've been very practical in that regard- most of the miniatures they've reviewed are by smaller companies, and not available in most local game stores.

Also, shying away from the norm, they've decided to focus on 15mm scale sci-fi miniatures. I guess they felt that knowledge about that kind of miniature is under-represented, so they're getting the word out.

From their website, they have a lot of strong scale pictures, and comparison pics, so you know exactly what you're getting.

I think I'm going to keep an eye on these guys, but since most of the games I play involve 30mm miniatures, I'm mostly holding out hope that they'll start reviewing those soon.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Garden Ninja Email has been repaired

The email us feature at has been repaired. The best way to contact me is to use the Contact Us page.