02909: Nienna, Elf Ranger

This mini is another from Reaper. I like this sculpt very much, as it involves a pose that integrates the terrain so nicely.

I went monochromatic with various desaturated greens. At one point I had bright green on the sash, and it really jarred against the rest of the paint scheme. I’m learning that some flaw in my painting or color mixing technique makes all my colors desaturate when I shade and highlight them.  On this mini it was on purpose, but even on my other minis, I cannot often avoid it.

The sword blade is actually TMM (true metal metallic),  but I’ve mixed the silver with blue and shaded it with brown/black glaze, so it doesn’t show like typical TMM. The rest of the metals are Bronze + brown wash + bronze + gold + silver. Body armor has an added layer of purple wash to help bring out more detail.

Enchanted Fountain

Part of the Barkan-Seesholtz collection, this is an Enchanted Fountain from Grandier’s box set “Encounter at the Forest of Elvenwold.”  Seesholtz had already painted the rest of the set, this fountain was the last piece to be finished, so I felt compelled to get it done.

I picked a few earth tones for the pavers around the base, and added a neutral gray to each color to tone them down and give them similar hues.  The stonework of the fountain got some khaki, again toned down with the same neutral gray.  The water was the challenge with this one.  I was not confident I could pull off convincing water, but it was the quickest part of the mini.  The coins in the lower pool don’t show up very well, perhaps I should have made them bigger.  There’s nothing obviously “enchanted” about the sculpt, so to indicate that there was indeed something magical about it, I made the runes around the base glow with some OSL effects.

Griffon Twins

This is a pair of Reaper’s 03662 Griffons.  One will be given to a friend as a gift, the other will go in my display cabinet.

I agonized over the wings for a long time, wondering how to cover those large surfaces, whether I should do more fancy patterning on them, should I make them identical or different…  The light wings were a little too blank, so I did the dark feather tips.  The dark wings had enough detail to satisfy me with the highlighting, so I didn’t do any further detail work on them.  I was much more interested to do the lion bodies, which I wasn’t sure I could pull off well, but I’m happy with these results.

Winged Reaper

This mini was part of the Barkan-Seesholtz collection. It was made by RAFM Miniatures in their “Death Angels” series; RAFM RAF03896 Winged Reaper.  My original concept was to put the reaper in a field of tall grass at night. So the colors would all be very dark with moonlight highlighting, grass approximately 1/2″ long blanketing the base, maybe looking like it was swaying in the breeze.

When trying to figure out how to execute, I came up with the idea of using fur cloth. I got a chunk of some shaggy brown fur cloth and attempted to airbrush it black. That went ok as far as it went, but the fur fibers were too thin to look like grass, even after I gave it a haircut to trim it down to the length I wanted. There was no good way to stick fibers together the make thicker,more grass-like strands. Also, cutting the cloth caused lots of fur to to fall out around the cut edges, which revealed the cloth mesh that holds the fur. After I got the fur painted and stuck to the base and highlighted with dark blue-purple, it ended up looking more like some strange smoke, or maybe fire, but not grass. So I ripped it off tried again with another piece of fur, was dissatisfied with the results again.

There are several tutorials on YouTube about making miniature grass for dioramas, but not the tall field grass I was after. Making a field of short grass with static grass is easy enough, and making long tufts of grass (like what I ended up using in the end) is simple, but have have not yet found any scheme for making anything akin to a field of tall prairie grass.

So what I ended up with was the Reaper in a snowy field, with some tufts of field grass sticking up out of the snow.


Fighting Men

This group is from the Grenadier “Fighting Men” box set, circa 1980. These, along with the Wizards box set, are the minis I started playing D&D with at age 8. My brother was DM for a game in which the characters were all Knights of the Round Table, but set in Greyhawke instead of Camelot. They let me play Sir Perceval, who had a Girdle of Storm Giant Strength. Lancelot, Galahad, Arthur, and Merlin were all represented at the table as well.  I don’t remember doing much other than rolling dice, but the impression it had on me has been life-long. I think that all of us geeky D&D players are now the lawyers, engineers, programmers, physicists, and entrepreneurs that are now running the world. The jocks and burnouts who teased us way back then have fared far worse over the years, I’d wager.

My original plan was to divide these minis into two five-man groups, each with its own color scheme: the trees against the fleur-de-lis. In the end I made them all one army with matching color schemes.

Communing Cleric

I remember this mini from when I was very young. I played D&D with my brother and his high school friends (I would have been about 10-12).   One of his friends had the Grenadier Specialists box set of minis. This cleric always caught my eye. It has an unusual pose, a snapshot of a warrior priest at a penitent moment. I always thought it was a female until a couple months ago when I was inherited the Specialists box set from a dear friend.

I used this as an opportunity to work on my NMM (Non-Metallic Metals) skills. I’m pretty happy with the breastplate. I’m ok with the helm and holy talisman, though I acknowledge that they could both be better.

Because I’m colorblind, the red robes were the most frustrating part. I knew how the colors ought to be mixed, and where they should be placed as I was layering them on. But because there isn’t any significant distinction between the red shades for me, I had no idea if I was getting them in the right places. I had no idea if I was glopping anything where it shouldn’t go, etc.

I wanted to keep the focus on the gold breastplate, so made a very simple base; a dark stone slab with edge highlighting as if to indicate the cleric’s space was holy or hallowed.

Planted Aquarium

Will insert photo of current tank here…




  • Anubias
  • Dwarf hairgrass
  • Ammania gracilis, Ludwigia arcuata, or Rotala macandra (red stem plant, don’t know which)
  • Hygrofila deformis? (something bushy and green that I can’t identify…)


  • Cardinal Tetras
  • Sterbai corydoras
  • Otocinclus catfish
  • Snails…millions of snails…I hate them.  They came in on some of the plants I bought and (stupidly) didn’t dip in bleach solution before putting the tank.

Assorted Adventurers

Most of these guys were donated to me by Mike Monaco when I was getting back into painting a couple years ago.  Mike has more minis, by far, than anyone I’ve ever known.  And astonishingly, they are almost all painted.  How he does it, I’ll never know.  But he cranks out painted minis.  His blog, Swords and Dorkery, showcases a lot of his work.

Painting these minis reminded me how fun painting is and got me re-hooked on the hobby.

The dwarf here is standard dwarf fare; armor, helm, axe, shield.  I was just trying to make a clean look.  The ranger is meant to be concealing himself in some tall reeds or swamp grass.  His colors were meant to be hunting colors, so he’s pretty drab.  The female is shown completed in the next set of pictures.

On this pair I was focusing on shading clothing and highlighting hair.  I went with a monochrome blue on the male’s robe and cowl.

On several of these early photos, I still hadn’t figured out how to take photos of such small things, so many of them are blurry.  This one’s blue background throws off the colors of the mini. It looks much less saturated in real life.  There is a blue ribbon tied to his right leg, indicating he has won a tourney or something.

The wood plank base and the striped bandana were the fun parts to do on this guy.  More camera difficulties has washed out the color in these photos.

I spent a lot of time blending the pale yellow into orange on this girl’s clothes.  The little silver dot pattern on the cape and the hair highlighting are also features I was proud of when I finished this mini.

This guy’s pose was difficult to make sense of.  I figured he was winding up to make a backhand strike at something.  I was trying to bury the original base with basing of my own, but got the mix of grain sizes WAY off, so it ended up looking much more chunky than I intended.  I just tried to make it look like rubble and put a clump of moss in front of him like some plant creature rising up in front of him.  His shield is also unusual in that I rarely see shields with this kind of dramatic distinctive sculpting.

I don’t like minis with big helm decorations like this guy has.  I almost never know how to paint them realistically, and still don’t.  I did take the opportunity to do some freehand work on the shield that came out pretty well.  Experimented with some sculpting paste on the base, didn’t work as I intended.  It looks too droopy and gloppy.

This ninja is intended to be torch-lit from above and to his left.  This is typically called Object Source Lighting (OSL), but for this mini the “object source” is not part of the mini, just implied.  The shadow on the ground on his right isn’t a real shadow, it’s the original color of the base before I painted on the torchlight color.

Orcs by Tre Manor

These are Reaper minis sculpted by Tre Manor.  One orc is never enough.  Four orcs is never enough.  But I’ll never have the patience to paint 20 or 30, so this will be all I paint for the foreseeable future.  I like Tre Manor’s stuff a lot.  He has his own mini company now, Red Box Games, and all the stuff there is really nice.

77056: Orc Sniper, 77059: Orc Berserker, 77051: Orc Stalker, 77045: Orc Hunter