Shadow Dragons from Descent 2E

Finally, another large monster from the core game is complete!

I had very mixed feelings on approaching the Shadow Dragons. On one hand, they are large miniatures which get an awful lot of use in the game, and have a really nice pose that fits their threatening nature. On the other hand, there are some really large gaps around the shoulders and right leg, a really bad mold line along the ribs on each side, and overall there just isn’t much detail – I have heard some other painters refer to the Shadow Dragons as “a blank canvas. Whether that is meant as a compliment or a criticism depends on your point of view, I suppose.

I began work on the minis by using some Elmer’s PVA glue to fill in the aforementioned gaps. I simply put some glue on the palette, brushed some into the gap, let it dry, and repeated until I felt the gaps were suitably corrected. A rather simple method, and much less messy than trying to use putty (although it is wise to use an old brush).

Like most Descent monsters, there was limited reference art for the dragons, but at least there was a full body shot to work from. The color palette of the dragon appears to be a greyish-purple, as shown below.


I decided to attempt this tone, and I feel I was rather successful. I struggled a bit with the base design, as I wanted to incorporate the “Dark” monster trait as well as the greenish cloud depicted in the art. I’m not really sure what the green is supposed to be: possibly the “Shadow” ability, or given the green color of the mouth, possibly the “Fire Breath” ability of the master. Regardless, I ended up with the base design as shown. Kind of makes it look like a space dragon, I guess, but oh well. It’s dark and has some green, what more do you want from me???

While I was very happy with the purple coloration, I felt that it would be a little boring to simply repeat the process on the Minion. I also like to try to change things up a little between the Master and Minion monsters, but being “a blank canvas” the only real option here was to change the main color. To that end, I substituted a very dark blue for the purple. The goal for both miniatures was to evoke a sleek, dark appearance similar to that of a panther, in which the muscles glisten a bit while the color itself is most apparent in the shadows.

And the two of them together:

Dragon Pair
A really bad day for the heroes!!!

Unfortunately, I must say that I actually prefer the look of the Minion to that of the Master, but I am happy with both of them for what they are. Let me know what you think.



Base color was a mix of ~40% Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Black Grey (70.862), 40% Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Bonewhite (72.034), and 20% VMC Blue Violet (70.811). Shade was created adding slightly more Black Grey and Blue Violet, while highlights were made adding more Bonewhite incrementally.

The bluish dragon used a similar technique, starting with 30% VMC Black Grey, 30% VMC Dark Sea Blue (70.898), 30% VGC Bonewhite, and 10% VGC Imperial Blue (72.020). Highlights with progressive additions of Bonewhite.

Spikes and Claws:

Based in VMC Black Grey, highlighted with VMC Basalt Grey (70.869).

Tongue and Eyes:

Initially painted white with VMC White (70.951). Based in VMC Flat Green (70.968) mixed 50:50 with VMC Flat Yellow (70.953). Shaded with straight Flat Green, highlighted with incremental additions of Flat Yellow.



Queen Ariad from Descent 2E

Queen Ariad has to be the most unattractive miniature I have painted thus far! The figure represents one of the Lieutenants from Fantasy Flight Games’s Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition. She appears as a “leveled-up” version of the Ariad Lieutenant, both of which appear as villains in the Labyrinth of Ruin expansion to the core game.

The main problem with this character is the rather gaudy and ambiguous color palette displayed in the limited reference art that is available. Like most Descent characters, there is only one image of Queen Ariad in the expansion materials. Fortunately, a recent expansion for the Runebound board game also featured Queen Ariad, giving one more reference picture. The lighting for the two pictures seem to be in almost polar opposite ranges, making it unclear how much of her coloration is natural or due to the dramatic lighting. The apparent blue-green body, red legs, and near-white claws creates a rather unpleasant color range, making the bulbous character resemble a rather patriotic tomato rather than an intimidating end-boss.

LoR Cover
Queen Ariad as she appeared on the cover of the Labyrinth of Ruin expansion for Descent 2nd Edition.
A picture of Queen Ariad from a recent Runebound Expansion

I also felt that the sculpt was rather chunky in many respects, especially around the undersides of some of Queen Ariad’s claws. While the upper surfaces have a nicely sculpted “scaled” appearance, reminiscent of a pine cone, the lower surfaces often fade into rather blurry lumps with edges that are jagged and misshapen. In addition, the ridged areas of the lower legs were often disrupted due to poorly placed and rather prominent mold separations. While these were somewhat correctable, the character is already something of an amorphous blob, lacking in interesting details, so the corruption of the few areas that HAD details was a let-down.

Regardless, I did my best to do justice to the sculpt and reference art. I’m especially happy with the red “crab leg” areas, as I have always heard that red was a difficult color to highlight. I also feel that the nonmetallic gold “crown belt” and “starburst” came out well (Both of these items were incorporated in regular Ariad’s costume, so I guess the implication was that Queen Ariad “sprouted” right out of Ariad’s original body?) Although I feel my final body color came out slightly more saturated than I would have wanted, I feel that the overall appearance is a respectable effort for a rather difficult subject. But you be the judge!





Base coated with an approximate 1:1:1 mix of Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Foul Green (72.025), VGC Dead Flesh (72.035), and Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Ivory (70.918). Began creating highlights by rebasing the upper surfaces of the body with the base color mixed with slightly more ivory.  The two sections were then blended together by highlighting the lower portion with the upper mix, and highlighting the upper portion with even more ivory, reaching an approximate 1:1:2 mix of the original colors. This was similar to how many painters wet blend, only done gradually.


The claws were base coated with the final highlight color from the body stage, an approximate 1:1:2 mix of Foul Green, Dead Flesh, and Ivory. Additional layers were added with more ivory, eventually reaching pure ivory for the final highlights.

Legs, Eyes, and “Stinger”:

All of the red parts were base coated with a 1:3 mix of VMC Hull Red (70.985) and VMC Vermillion (70.909), serving as the darkest shade. This was layered up to pure Vermillion for the midsections. Highlights were placed with progressive additions of VMC Flat Yellow (70.953). (The edges of the chest region were wet blended with the “red” base and the “body” base)


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).


The ground through which the figure is “erupting” was painted with a base coat of VMC Desert Yellow (70.977). This was then shaded with Citadel Agrax Earthshade. Highlights of the original Desert Yellow were added around the cracks and raised portions, with final highlights of Desert Yellow mixed with VMC Dark Sand (70.847).


Elementals from Descent 2E

Boy, are these guys intimidating miniatures to paint!  One of the primary problems is the complete, and utter lack of reference images.  The monster card (shown below) is the ONLY image available, and obviously it shows next to nothing useful.

So, as the card states, there are four elements associated with the creatures: fire, earth, water, and air.  Having looked high and low for reference art, I noticed that there is much variation in how these elements are divided and portrayed by other painters.  That is a result of the second major issue with the figures, which is some confusing sculpting.  It can be very unclear what the different parts of the figure are meant to represent, especially the back of the torso.  I chose to interpret this as earth, mainly because I felt the lower arms, chest, and abdomen were clearly rocky texture.  The back appears much more ambiguous, possibly being flowing water or fire.  Looking at the way the elements are listed on the card, however, I felt it made more sense to transition more clearly from element to the next following the specified order.

As I discussed in regards to the Cave Spiders, each monster group in Descent has minion and master stats.  Normally, I would try to incorporate red into the color scheme for the master, but unfortunately fire is… well red.  So I chose to go a slightly different direction, making the master appear “hotter” by concentrating on more yellow and LESS red than the minion.  Hopefully that, along with the red rim for the base will make it clear who is boss here!

As for the base, I waffled several times on what to do.  Out of all the monsters in the core game, expansions, and Hero and Monster packs, the Elemental is one of only three monsters with the cold attribute.  I felt that I needed to reference that in the base, but was conflicted because I thought some fire on the base would work much better in balancing the color distribution on the mini.  I considered doing fire on ice, but that just didn’t sound pleasing.  So I settled for attempting an ice floe.  Not 100% satisfied with the result, but I think it evokes ice well enough and also appears distinct enough from the water element to work out well.  Overall, I’m very satisfied with this paint job, but look forward to moving on to something less eclectic.



Based in Anita’s Acrylic (AA) Nautical Blue (11122), shaded with 50:50 mix of Nautical Blue and AA Azure (11179).  Highlights with AA Slate Blue (12006), then 50:50 mix of Slate Blue and Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Dead White (72.001), final point highlights with Dead White.


Based in Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Neutral Grey (70.992).  Highlighted with VMC Sky Grey (70.989), then 50:50 mix of Sky Grey and Dead White, final point highlights with Dead White.


Based in VMC German Camo Black Brown (70.822), first highlight with 50:50 German Camo Black Brown and VMC Neutral Grey (70.992).  Second highlight with previous mix lightened with some VMC Sky Grey (70.989).


Based in VGC Dead White (72.001), layered first with VMC Flat Yellow (70.953) then mixes of Flat Yellow and VGC Hot Orange (72.009) working up to straight Hot Orange.  Larger flames got a point highlight of VGC Bloody Red (72.010) topped off with small accents of VMC Smoke (70.939).  (The “Hotter” master monster was done in the same way, but using more of the lighter colors and omitting the Bloody Red completely.)

Ice Base:

Base coated the entire base in VGC Steel Grey (72.102).  Used a total of five layers mixing in VGC Glacier Blue (72.095) and VMC White (70.951).  Each layer was done with overlaid crosshatching, often alternating directions of the hatches in different layers.


Valyndra from Descent 2E

In addition to groups of monsters, such as the Cave Spiders, each Descent Second Edition boxed expansion features one or more boss monsters that are often encountered in the campaign’s finale.  Unfortunately, the expansions only feature these villains as cardboard tokens. Completionists, like myself, are easy targets to Fantasy Flight Games’s marketing strategy in releasing separate Lieutenant packs featuring plastic miniatures for the bosses.  Since we will finish the Shadow Rune campaign in the very near future, I decided to paint the dragon Valyndra, the Lieutenant from the next expansion, Lair of the Wyrm.

Overall, I was somewhat disappointed with both the character design and miniature for Valyndra.  She appears to be a red dragon, but due to the stylish object source lighting on the only available character art, it is impossible to tell what, if any, color scheme was intended.


Many fellow painters have attempted to reproduce this intense orange and yellow appearance, but in my opinion, the result always appears flat and washed-out.  I chose to paint Valyndra as a simple red dragon.  The sculpt was very difficult in areas, however.  The scale pattern doesn’t make much sense, as scales appear to overlap in random patterns rather than any orderly fashion.  There are also several areas, such as the tail, where there is no scale pattern sculpted at all.  Some of the skulls on the base have some serious mold offset problems as well.  Be that as it may, I think I still managed to pull off a pretty nice interpretation of this monstrous beast.

For the base, I tried my hand at some lava.  Not completely satisfied with the result, but it gives the right impression.


Only a mother could love this face…

Scales:  Based the whole body in Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Hull Red (70.985), painted each scale with VMC Cavalry Brown (70.982), then highlighted certain scales in Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Bloody Red (72.010).  Further highlights to the tips of certain scales with VGC Hot Orange (72.009), and final point highlights with 50/50 VGC Pale Flesh (72.003) and Bloody Red.

Wings, Spines, Horns, and Claws:  Based in 50/50 mix of VMC Green Brown (70.879) and VGC Bonewhite (72.034).  For the wings, I washed with diluted Daler-Rowney FW Sepia Ink.  Shading for all parts with VMC Chocolate Brown (70.872), highlights with pure VGC Bonewhite and 50/50 mix of VGC Bonewhite and VMC Ivory (70.918).

Lava:  Based in VMC Black Grey (70.862).  A layer of VGC Gory Red (72.011) was applied with a large brush in a sweeping pattern, followed by a second layer applied selectively to accentuate the wavy areas of the first layer.  Each wave was then strengthened with layers of VGC Bloody Red.  The middle of the waves were highlighted with VGC (Hot Orange) followed by VGC Sun Yellow (72.006).  Intersections of waves were further highlighted with VGC Moon Yellow (72.005) and then point highlighted with 50/50 VGC Moon Yellow and VMC White (70.951).


Cave Spiders from Descent 2E

The first group I chose to paint-up from Descent was the Cave Spiders.  These little buggers are from the core set for the game and are relatively easy to deal with.

Cave Spider Deployment Card

In Descent, the number of monsters deployed in each group changes in scale with the number of hero players.  In addition, there are two classes of monster within each group: minions and masters.  Minions are weaker and moulded in white plastic, while masters are stronger (often possessing abilities unique from the minions) and moulded in red plastic.  In order to differentiate the master monsters from the minion monsters, most painters work red into the paint scheme for the master in addition to adding other identifying markings.  Using several references found on Google (including this one:, I settled on a paint scheme for the minions as seen below.

I spent a good bit of time trying to decide on a fancy design for the bases.  There are lots of monsters available for Descent, so whatever I chose to do with the Cave Spider bases would back me into a corner with the other monsters down the road.  Each monster in Descent has two traits which limit the Overlord’s options in deployment.  I had toyed with the idea of having each base reflect those two traits; in the case of the Cave Spiders these would be “Cave” and “Wilderness.”  I did a quick paint-up aimed at mimicking art from the game tiles, but decided against it.  The spiders covered up too much of the art and the images looked grossly out of scale as well.

Failed Spider Base

So I settled on a simple cobblestoned base for the spiders.  I still may do some grassy, watery, fiery, or brick bases down the road, hopefully without looking too out of place.

Again, using inspiration from other painters, I chose to distinguish the master Cave Spider with a red marking on its back similar to the one on the card art.  The card art doesn’t clearly show the whole design, and many of the lines are so thin that they would be difficult to paint well over the “hairy” sculpted detail, so I created my own design.  I also painted some slight differences to the base, including a red rim and spider webs (fitting, as the master has the unique ability “Web”, which requires adjacent heroes to suffer one fatigue when exiting their space).

And finally, the finished group of Descent 2nd Edition Cave Spiders!

Cave Spider Group
Cave Spiders Everywhere


Base coated with Vallejo Model Color(VMC) Black Grey (70.862) lightened sequentially with VMC Basalt Grey (70.869), VMC Neutral Grey (70.992), and VMC Sky Grey (70.989).


Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Electric Blue (72.023)


VGC Cadmium Skin (72.099)

Red Markings:

Based in VMC Flat Red (70.957), highlighted with mixes of Flat Red and VGC Cadmium Skin (72.099)


Doombringer from Battlelore 2E

I was very excited to start working on the Doombringer as soon as I saw the sculpt.  What isn’t to like?  Spiky legs!  Spiky back!  Big mandibles!  Lots of pointy teeth!  Uninspired color scheme!  Wait… what?  Yeah, I didn’t particularly like the stock color scheme, as pictured below:

Doombringer artwork

The primary color for the Uthuk army is red, and I just wasn’t seeing enough red there.  On top of that, boney plates on a beetle just didn’t ring true for me, so I decided to pursue my own color palette.

In addition, I decided to try my hand at more interesting bases.  I had considered trying to do distinct groundscapes for the different armies (desert for Uthuk, graveyard for the undead, and grasslands for the Daqan).  However, sand/beige is a secondary color for the Uthuk, which might overdo the yellow range.  I also wanted to keep the bases as unconfusing as possible.  If the Banshee’s base looks like a graveyard, then it might cause a player to think she is on a graveyard tile if they don’t look closely enough.  So, long story short, I chose to paint all factions with the same grassland look of the board.  This is the final look I went with for the base:

Grassland base approximating the look of the game board

So, without further ado, I present my take on the Doombringer:


And the final look on the board:

On the board!


Based in mix of Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Gorey Red (72.011) and Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Black Grey (70.862), gradually worked in VGC Bloody Red (72.010), VGC Hot Orange (72.009), and finally VGC Sun Yellow (72.006) for the lightest areas.

Thorax, Head, Legs, and Spines:

Based in VMC Hull Red (70.985), shaded with VMC Black Grey (70.862), and brightened with VMC Cavalry Brown (70.982).  Point highlights with VMC Basalt Grey (70.869).


Based with a mix of VMC Green Brown (70.879) and VMC Iraqui Sand (70.819), built up with more Iraqui Sand until highlighted with pure Iraqui Sand.

IG-88 from Imperial Assault

There are a couple of aspects of IG-88’s miniature that really bugged me.  First of all, I felt that the mold lines were particularly difficult to remove, as is often the case with cylindrical or round shapes.  The step-offs between one cylinder and the next largest or smallest never seems to run level all the way around the arm, leg, or head.  This gives an obviously defective spot, most noticeable on IG-88’s left arm, and around the large hole on the right side of his ‘mouth’ area.

Still, I think I pulled him off rather well.  I was trying to avoid using metallic paints, as I have always felt that the reflections created by true-metallics appear out of scale for the size of a miniature, and prefer to be able to place highlights where I want them rather than where the true-metallic decides to reflect.

Anyway, here are my results (Paint Colors listed below):



Metal Areas:

Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Cold Grey (72.050) mixed approx 5:1 with VGC Night Blue (72.019);  Shaded/Highlighted with VGC Black (72.051) and VGC Dead White (72.001)


Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Black Grey (70.862); Highlighted with VMC Basalt Grey (70.869) and VMC Neutral Grey (70.992)

Straps and Pads:

VMC Leather Brown (70.871); Highlighted with VMC Flat Earth (70.983)

Eyes:     VGC Hot Orange (72.009)

Brownish Wires:    VMC Hull Red (70.985)