Orcs from Classic HeroQuest – Part 1: The Butcher Boys

Ever since I started painting my copy of HeroQuest I have been fearful of beginning this monster group. Including the miniatures from the Kellar’s Keep expansion, there are a whopping sixteen Orcs in a full HeroQuest set. Like the Goblins, there are a variety of weapons wielded by the Orcs. Knowing that it would take me several months to complete all sixteen monsters, I decided to post each time I finished a particular weapon group. I find that it is beneficial to my morale to tackle smaller, more manageable goals.

Orc Card
Orc monster card (Thanks to http://www.yeoldeinn.com)

The group that I chose to work on first are the four Orcs carrying cleavers. I was incredibly excited to attempt some non-metallic metal work on those huge, flat blades. With the intent of painting each weapon group with different colored clothing, I thought it would be fitting to paint these four with some white tunics, making them look like they might be Zargon’s kitchen staff. It is popularly stated that white is one of the more difficult colors to paint, due to the fact that once you have painted something white, there is no lighter color with which to create highlights. I read several tutorials and watched a few videos on the subject to prepare.


I think both the metal and the white tunics turned out rather well!

With two other groups of “greenskin” monsters (Goblins and Fimirs), I felt it was important to develop different skin tones for each species. The Goblins were painted with more of a standard green tone, the Fimirs were painted with more of an olive coloration, and I stumbled upon a pretty interesting bluish-green scheme for the Orcs. I really like the way their skin turned out, being not only unique among the figures in my game, but rather different from any of the other Orcs I’ve seen online.

Another technique I tried to employ with these guys was to incorporate a common highlighting color in different areas of the miniature. In this instance, I used Vallejo Model Color Green Grey in my mixes for both the skin and the leather. While the leather looks somewhat strange by itself, I think the result works very well next to the skin. I plan to try this technique on some other miniatures as well, as it seems to help create some tonal harmony.

Well, that’s about all there is to say about this foursome. I have the first couple Orcs of the next group primed and ready to get underway, so hopefully it won’t be too long until I have more pictures to post. Please leave me a comment to let me know what you think of the work so far.


The base coat consisted of an approximately 1:1 mix of Vallejo Nocturna (VN) Deep Forest Green (74.009) and Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Green Grey (70.971). Layers were added with the incremental increase of Green Grey. Highlights were done with a mix of about 1:4 Deep Forest Green and Green Grey, with final point highlights of pure Green Grey.

White Cloak:
These areas were base coated with a mix of about 1:1 VMC Khaki (70.988) and VMC Iraqui Sand (70.819). These areas remained the darkest shadows. Layers of pure Iraqui Sand were added to the raised areas, followed by the gradual addition of some Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Dead White (72.001). Final highlights of Dead White were reserved for the very tips of the most exposed areas.


The belt, bracer, and boots were based in VGC Beasty Brown (72.043). Medium tones were created with the addition of some VMC Green Brown (70.879). Highlights included the addition of some VMC Green Grey (70.971) to the Green Brown, and accentuated with point highlights of pure Green Grey. In a few areas, slight shading was done with a mix of 1:1 Beasty Brown and VMC Black Grey (70.862).

Chainmail and Bracer:

These areas were rather simple. A base coat of VMC Black Grey (70.862) was applied, followed by a 1:1 mix of Black Grey and VMC Green Grey (70.971). Very tiny point highlights of a 1:2 mix of Black Grey and Green Grey finished the black metal.

Cleaver and Skull Belt Buckle:

A standard non-metallic metal application was performed using VGC Black (72.051), VGC Cold Grey (72.050), and VGC Dead White (72.001).


The small exposed handle of the cleaver was painted with a base coat of Vallejo Model Air (VMA) Golden Brown (71.032). Some shade was added with a selective wash using a 1:1 mix of Golden Brown and VMC Dark Grey Wash (517). Two layers of highlights finished off the wood; first with VMA Light Brown (71.027) followed by VMA Sand (Ivory) (71.075).

HeroQuest Box Art


Mummies from Classic HeroQuest

I thought painting skeletons was bad…

In HeroQuest, the mummies represent the strongest of the undead monsters. These slow, shambling enemies hit harder and take more damage than the Skeletons and Zombies. Only the Chaos Warriors and the Gargoyle are more fearsome! In addition to having better stats, those monsters have something even more important that the mummy lacks…


The card for the Mummy

The one saving grace with the mummies was that the core game and Return of the Witch Lord expansion only require a total of six of these monotone monsters. Now, a mummy may appear rather simple at first glance. Base coat it white, do a brown or black wash, call it a day, right? Well, that’s just not good enough for my taste. Instead, I spent far too long blending layers of off-white bandages.

While I think the effort paid off, it was much more difficult than I expected to achieve matching levels of contrast and brightness between the six different models. This actually became something of a blessing in disguise, as I like to have some variation between the individual figures (as seen with the goblins’ shirts, the skeletons’ scythes, and the fimirs’ gems). I decided to use the inconsistent levels of contrast as part of that variation, along with differences in skin tone. I reasoned that mummies with lighter, brighter bandages would have died more recently, so their skin should be more pale and undead in appearance. Thus, the “youngest” mummies have bluish-green skin, as shown below:




The middle-aged mummies have the same skin tones, but their bandages have begun to age. Although the pictures may not show the difference all that well due to white balance, there is darker shading and a more brownish tone to these figures, as opposed to the slightly yellowed appearance of the previous group.



Finally, the oldest, meanest mummies have a more realistically colored skin tone. I have read that the skin of real-life mummies takes on a deep brown sheen, similar to that of polished wood. In addition, the wrappings of this group have been stained by decades of putrified seepage, resulting in a cruddy, discolored look.



The color variation is more accurately demonstrated in the group picture below:

I prefer the brown skin tone to the bluish-green skin, although I think the wraps of the middle-aged mummies have the most attractive level of contrast. Overall, I am mostly satisfied with how these baddies turned out, but I am really looking forward to moving on to some more interesting subjects. The next focus for HeroQuest is going to be one small set of orcs (there are a whopping 16 orc figures), followed by the zombies, and then back for some more orcs.



The different levels of contrast all used the same colors, simply starting and stopping at different levels of brightness.

The darkest wraps started with an approximate 4:1 mix of Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Chocolate Brown (70.872) and VMC Buff (70.976), creating the darkest lines between the bandages. Individual bandages were then picked out with increasing amounts of Buff, and blended up to highlights of pure Buff.

The brightest bandages started with a 2:1 mix of Chocolate Brown and Buff, jumping straight to pure Buff. Highlights were added with the incremental addition of VMC Ivory (70.918), with spot highlights of pure Ivory.

The medium bandages fell between the other two, being based with a 3:1 mix of Chocolate Brown and Buff, and ending with highlights of Buff mixed with Ivory (never reaching pure Ivory).

Blue Skin:

Base coated with a 1:1 mix of Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Steel Grey (72.102) and VGC Dead Flesh (72.035). The medium tone was a 1:2 mix of Steel Grey and Dead Flesh, highlighted with the addition of VGC Wolf Grey, and finally some point highlights with a little VGC Dead White (72.001).

“Mummy Brown” Skin:

Base coated with VMC Mahogany Brown (70.846), then layered with the incremental addition of VGC Plague Brown (72.039). Highlights added with the addition of a little VMC Dead White (72.001).


HeroQuest Box Art



Fimirs from Classic HeroQuest

After painting the large groups of Gobins and Skeletons for HeroQuest (twelve minis for each group), I decided I needed a little more immediate gratification. So for my third group, I decided to paint the Fimirs, which only require six minis to cover all expansions. The Fimir race was created by Games Workshop specifically for the Warhammer universe, and appears in HeroQuest due to some crossover between the two games. It was not a particularly popular monster, however, and never extended into other fantasy properties, such as Dungeons and Dragons.

Apparently, Warhammer lore established that Fimir are cyclopean lizard-men who live in swamps and routinely kidnap and rape human women. While I am not in support of swamp racists in general, I find it oddly endearing that Games Workshop went to the trouble of creating a backstory for the whole species which is at the same time rather specific and glaringly uninspired.

Fimir Card
The monster card for the fimir.

For those unfamiliar with the game, the Fimir is the brute of the green-skins, having the highest attack, defend, and health values. Accordingly, they are relatively large miniatures with nicely exaggerated muscles perfect for highlighting. They have minimal clothing and armor, and what they do have appears to be gold in the pictures.


As with previous HeroQuest miniatures, I tried to continue working on my nonmetallic metal skills. Overall, I think they turned out rather nicely, despite some rather difficult areas of the molds. The belly “plates” and shoulder “discs” were not very round and tended to have misshapen details which distorted where the highlights should go. Even so, I still prefer the resulting appearance to true metallics. I have seen several versions of this character painted very well, but these poorly sculpted areas tend to catch light oddly and really make true metallics look out of scale.

The area that I feel needs the biggest improvement in my minis is the wood. I need to get better! If anyone has a good tutorial or step-by-step they can recommend it would be greatly appreciated.


In order to introduce a little variety to the models, I decided to follow the example of several other painters, and attempt to make the central areas of the armor look like gemstones rather than flat pieces of metal. I think the effect came off decently, especially from a little bit of distance.

The red stones really worked well, picking up the red of the eyes. The purple stone was not quite as effective, in my opinion, but it is actually my wife’s favorite so I chose not to repaint it in a different color.


After slogging away at those larger sets of miniatures, it feels very good to have gotten through another monster group as quickly as I did. After finishing up some more Descent monsters, I will get back to HeroQuest with the mummies, which I hope will go even more quickly than the Fimirs. I may throw in some furniture as I go along if I feel the need to break up the monotony. Slow and steady wins the race, or so they say.


But here is the whole group of Fimirs. Let me know what you think.

Fimir Group
The Fimir Mob


Base coated with Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Golden Olive (70.857), shaded with mixes of Golden Olive and Vallejo Panzer Aces (VPA) Splinter Strips (70.348), then highilighted in stages with the addition of Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Dead Flesh (72.035).


Base coated with VMC Woodgrain (70.828) mixed 2:1 with VMC Orange Brown (70.981), progressively layered with more Orange Brown, and then highlighted with the addition of some VMC Dark Sand (70.847).


Base coated with VGC Heavy Brown (72.153), layered with VGC Heavy Goldbrown (72.151), highlighted with mixes of Heavy Goldbrown and VGC Dead White (72.001).


Base coated with VMC Flat Earth (70.983). Stripes were added with VMC Woodgrain, and VMC Japanese Uniform (70.923). Glazed with VMC Smoke (70.939).


HeroQuest Box Art

Skeletons from Classic HeroQuest

Boy oh boy, am I glad to be done with these guys.  I really enjoyed painting the first skeleton, but after painting bone after bone after bone…  There’s just not that much variety in skeletons, and I had to really push to get through all of these.


With most groups of minis, you can add variety by mixing up weapons, shirt colors, skin color, or hair color.  But for skeletons, there wasn’t much I could think of changing.  I had considered adding some gold teeth or glowing eyes, but those effects just didn’t look right in the end.  So I settled for slightly different wood colors for the handles of the scythes and adding some rust to some blades as well.

There were also some real bad seam lines along the one side of the ribs which I was able to mask decently with some well applied paint.  Overall, I’m pleased with how they turned out.  It just took a lot longer than I would have liked.

First, the darker handle…

Next, the lighter handle…

Now for the rusty blade…

And finally, the group shot of all twelve members of the Undead Skeleton Army.


Based in Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Khaki, (70.988), layered with Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Bonewhite (72.034), and highlighted with 50:50 Bonewhite and VMC Ivory (70.918)

Scythe Handles:

Dark – Based with VMC Flat Earth (70.983), washed with Daler-Rowney FW Sepia Ink to darken and deepen the brown tone, highlighted very small areas with VMC Leather Brown (70.871) mixed with a touch of VMC Khaki.

Light – Based with VMC Flat Earth, shaded small areas with 50:50 mix of VMC Flat Earth and VMC Leather Brown, highlighted very small areas with VMC Flat Earth mixed with a touch of VMC Khaki.


Nonmetallic metal technique with a base of VGC Cold Grey (72.050), darkened with VMC Luftwaffe Uniform (70.816), lightened with VGC Dead White (72.001).

Rust added with a wash and layers of VMC Mahogany Brown (70.846), lightened with VGC Plague Brown (72.039), and highlighted with Plague Brown mixed with a touch of VMC Khaki.


HeroQuest Box Art

Goblins from Classic HeroQuest

Two years ago my friend introduced me to HeroQuest.  This was my first foray into tabletop fantasy gaming (sad to say), but I was bitten by the bug instantly.  I was lucky to find a 100% complete box myself for only $50, and have since completed the miniature collection for the Kellar’s Keep, Return of the Witch Lord, Against the Ogre Horde, and Wizards of Morcar expansions.

Goblin Card
The monster card for the goblins

First up on the painting table were the goblins, 12 in all including the Kellar’s Keep set.  I love these minis.  The cartoon-like evil smile, the oversized head and limbs… these little guys are so reminiscent of the 80’s fantasy art that I grew up with and loved (Like the Rankin Bass version of the Hobbit, and Paul Bonner).  With so many of the same figure, I wanted to liven things up with a little variation, so I chose to paint the wielders of different weapons with different colored shirts:

Yellow shirts for the hatchet holders:

Red for the short-sword stabbers:

Blue for the scimitar slashers:

This was also my first attempts at non-metallic metals.  I have always felt that true metallic metals give an out-of-scale look to miniatures, and much prefer being able to place highlights more purposefully than the reflections created by real metallics.  I think the effect came off quite nicely for a first try.

And so, after several months of trial and error, I finished my fully painted goblin army:

Goblin Army

Next up for HeroQuest will be the skeletons!


Goblin Skin:

Started with Anita’s Acrylic (AA) Foliage (11153), Shaded with VMC Camo Olive Green (70.894), Highlights with Apple Barrel Leaf Green (20528) and point highlights with AA Green Apple (11074)

Boots and Belts:

VMC Flat Earth (70.983), Shaded with VMC Leather Brown (70.871), Highlighted with AA Coffee (11044)

Yellow Shirts:

AA Coffee (11044), Shaded with VMC Flat Earth (70.983), Highlights with AA Antique Gold (11033) and point highlights with layers of AA Golden Yellow (11013)

Red Shirts:

VMC Cavalry Brown (70.982), highlighted with VMC Scarlet (70.817), point highlights with AA Mandarin (12008)

Blue Shirts:

VMC Steel Grey (72.102) highlighted with VMC Wolf Grey (72.047) then glazed with AA Ultra Blue (11149)


Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Cold Grey (72.050),  Shaded/Highlighted with VGC Black (72.051) and VGC Dead White (72.001)


HeroQuest Box Art