Gargan Mirklace from D2E

Oh, Mirklace. How I looked forward to painting this brute. Among the lieutenants available for Descent Second Edition, Mirklace definitely brings a presence to the table. In terms of concept, I imagine the game designers sat around throwing out single traits that they found intimidating, and then the artist smooshed them all up into the strangest looking character they could make.

 

The backstory for Gargan Mirklace is that he was an evil sorcerer who had experimented with inter-dimensional gateways, eventually being trapped between dimensions. Apparently, this causes one to grow gigantic antlers from one’s back and ooze an oily secretion from the midsection. They also appear to have amazing arm and chest machines in the “Black Realm” and no shortage of jewelers. However ridiculous this all sounds, I have to admit, it does look pretty cool.

As far as gameplay, Mirklace can be a powerful force for the Overlord. With a high defense, high health, and moderately strong attack pool, this guy is bad enough. But then you have to factor in his set of magic-based abilities as well. Blast allows him to extend an attack to include adjacent heroes, Sorcery allows him to increase either damage or range by using unspent values for the other attribute, Aura deals damage to heroes who move into spaces adjacent to him, and Split Earth allows him to damage and move heroes along a linear swath of four spaces. The heroes definitely want to keep their distance if they can.

The sculpt of Mirklace had some definite issues. As I have come to expect with older Descent miniatures, mold lines were problematic in several areas. The gold rings were very roughly textured (making NMM a headache) and there was some evidence of mold misalignment in areas, especially behind the right elbow. The palm of his right hand was also very strangely sculpted, being almost perfectly flat and featureless with sausage fingers that ran perfectly parallel to each other (rather than in an anatomically correct ray configuration). To rectify this situation, I chose to do my first true modification on a miniature to date. Using a piece of thin floral wire and some Aves Apoxie Sculpt, I added a tendril of the black oily substance protruding from his malformed palm, as is shown in the reference art. This not only covered the problematic sculpt, but also created additional visual impact for this dark sorcerer.

So, without further ado, I present my take on Gargan Mirklace…

 

Overall, I am very pleased with this paint job. He posed several difficulties, from the poorly engraved tattoos to the rather chunky and ambiguous musculature of his back. It was also a bit challenging to get the correct bluish black sheen for the oil, but I think I ended up with a very nice result. Because Shadow of Nerekhall is a city-based expansion, I chose to paint the base with simple sandstone blocks. The color of the pavers complemented his skin tone well without detracting from the complexity of his sculpt. In the end, I feel like I hit this one out of the park. But let me know what you think with comments and critiques.

Now, I just have to hope my heroes are up to the challenge when they come face-to-face with this “warped and twisted” sorcerer from the Ynfernael.

 

Skin:

Base coated with Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Camouflage Green (72.031). Occasional shading with the addition of a very small amount of VGC Scurvy Green (72.027). Layers were built up with the incremental addition of VGC Dead Flesh (72.035), until highlights of pure Dead Flesh were achieved. Final point highlighting in selected spots with the addition of some VGC Dead White (72.001).

 

Oil:

Base coated with a mix of approximately 1:1 Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Black Grey (70.862) and VGC Night Blue (72.019). The deepest recesses were shaded with a 1:1 mix of VGC Black (72.051) and VGC Imperial Blue (72.020) – which is a bit more vibrant than the Night Blue. Layers were built up with the addition of small amounts of VGC Dead White (72.001).

Horns:

The horny growths from his head and back were based with VGC Bone White (72.034). The faded red tips were achieved with several layers of glaze created with Vallejo Glaze Medium (70.596), a drop of Vallejo Retarder Medium (70.597), and a mix of 4:1 VMC Vermillion (70.909) andVMC German Camo Black Brown (70.822). Thin glazes of Ivory were used at times to smooth the transitions. Slight shading to the undersides of the horns was a mix of about 5:1 Bone White and VMC German Camo Black Brown (70.822). This was very slight, and almost unnoticeable, but it helped to give a sense of dimensionality.

Gold:

The non-metallic metal gold was done with my normal mix from the Vallejo Non-Metallic Metals set. Base coat with VGC Heavy Brown (72.153), layers with the progressive addition of VGC Heavy Goldbrown (72.151), followed by the addition of VGC Dead White (72.001). Point highlights with Dead White were kept to a minimum, given the small size of each metallic element of the miniature.

Sandstone Pavers:

The base of the miniature began with a base coat of VMC Khaki (70.988). The joints between the stones were painted in with a 1:1 mix of VMC Khaki and VMC Black Grey (70.862). The gradient on each stone was created with the addition of VMC Green Grey (70.971) to the original Khaki, stopping just short of reaching pure Green Grey.

dj01_feature_art

Advertisements

Merriods from Descent 2E

Sharks are scary. Sharknados are scarier. Walking sharks with tentacle arms that have mouths and claws on the end are even scarier. All a merriod lacks to be truly terrifying is frickin’ laser beams attached to its head.

This monster poses a serious threat to the heroes of Descent. They roll a relatively powerful set of attack dice, have a respectable defense, are able to attack from two spaces away with Reach, and have the ability to Immobilize heroes (Descent revolves around action economy, so any limitation can be very problematic). To top it all off, the Master’s Flail ability allows a single attack to target two heroes at once. These guys are not to be taken lightly.

merriod_1_recto
The Act I monster card for the Merriods

Unfortunately, the miniatures representing these nightmares have a few problems. Right out of the box, there are some pretty nasty gaps where the legs, arms, and tentacles attach to the huge lump that is the main body. I did my best filling and blending these gaps, but inevitably they are still somewhat visible. Much like the Shadow Dragons (Shadow Dragons from Descent 2E), the sculpts were primarily large open spaces with little to no detail. This makes sense, since sharks are little more than sausages with teeth, but it makes for somewhat boring painting. Lastly, my minion had a mess of glue running from its right tentacle down the cheek and onto the belly (leftovers from the factory assembly of the multi-part casts). I cleaned it up as best I could, but it’s still visible.

As usual, I wanted to make the minion and master appear markedly different. I chose to paint the master according to the reference art, and to model the minion after a real life shark. In order to bring some visual interest to an otherwise dull color palette, I decided to incorporate the distinctive stripes of a juvenile tiger shark. In the end, the minion proved a bit more difficult than the master, as the blending of monochromatic gray tones was a bit unforgiving. I decided to leave some of the contrasting values a bit starker than normal in an effort to give a wet sheen to the skin.

 

For the master, I loosely followed the character art. I used some blue tones that were a bit more vivid, again mimicking the coloration of the real life mako shark. I decided not to attempt the translucent barbing along the tentacles, but I did paint the eyes a bright, glowing yellow, which contrasted nicely with the blues of the skin and the flesh colors of the mouth. While the black, dead eyes of the minion successfully emulate the disturbingly expressionless eyes of real sharks, the blank glow of the master’s eyes look pretty creepy in their own right.

 

Being “land sharks” as well as being one of the few monsters in Descent possessing the “Water” trait, it was obvious that the bases needed to represent the Merriod’s amphibious nature. I reversed the portions of the base that contained the water in order to create more contrast in the overall presentation. The blue water works well under the bland, gray body of the minion, but the earth tones of the beach help the master’s blue to form pop.

Base Back

Base Front
The bases reference both of the monster’s traits: Water and Wilderness

So, that’s one more monster group from the core set complete. Slowly, but surely, the set is coming together. While these two miniatures may appear uncomplicated, it was satisfyingly challenging to blend realism and fantasy while balancing visual interest and monochromatic color palettes. Despite these shortcomings, I think I still managed to pull off some interesting miniatures. But let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

 

 

 

Gray Minion

Skin:

Base coated with VMA USAF Medium Gray (71.275). Minimal areas of shading were added with the addition of some VMA Ocean Gray (71.273). Highlighting of the upturned surfaces was kept relatively subtle by adding very small amounts of Dead White to the USAF Medium Gray in two to three layers. The stripes along the back were done with USAF Medium Gray mixed with a very small amount of Ocean Gray.

Underbelly:

Base coated with Vallejo Surface Primer USN L. Ghost Grey (70.615). Layers were added with the incremental addition of Vallejo Model Air (VMA) USAF Light Gray (71.276) followed by the addition of Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Dead White (72.001).

 

 


Blue Master:

Skin:

The base coat of the skin was an approximately 1:1 mix of VMC Prussian Blue (70.965) and VMC Grey Blue (70.943). Layers were built up with progressive additions of Grey Blue, pure Grey Blue, and then progressive additions of VGC Electric Blue (72.095). Pure Electric Blue was used for point highlights.

Underbelly:

This area was based in a 1:1 mix of VMC Grey Blue and VGC Electric Blue. Layers of pure Electric Blue, followed with the incremental addition of VGC Dead White (72.001). Finally, point highlights were added with pure Dead White.


Common Areas:

Mouth:

The inside of the mouths was basd with VGC Rosy Flesh (72.100). Some shade was added around the “throats” with a mix of Rosy Flesh and VMA USAF Medium Gray. Highlights were created with the incremental addition of VGC Pale Flesh (72.003), with point highlights with pure Pale Flesh. The teeth were picked out with pure VGC Dead White (72.001).

Claws:

A base coat of VMC Black Grey (70.862) was applied, followed by highlights of VMC Neutral Grey (70.992) to the claws and a point highlight of VGC Dead White (72.001) to the eyes.


Bases:

Dirt:

Base coated with a 2:1 mix of VMC Flat Earth (70.983) and VMC Iraqui Sand (70.819). Several layers of stippling were added with the addition of more Flat Earth, followed by the addition of some VGC Ger. Fieldgrey WWII (70.830)

Plants:

The areas of vegetation were base coated with Vallejo Panzer Aces Splinter Strips (348). Next, a layer of pure VMC Golden Olive (70.857) was roughly stippled, leaving a border of the darker color around the edges. A final stippling of a 1:1 mix of Golden Olive and VMC Flat Yellow (70.953) was applied to smaller areas as a highlight.

Water:

The water on these bases was done in a manner similar to that of Verminous’s base. The base coat was actually the lighter tones, with a mix of approximately 3:1 VGC Dead White (72.001) and VGC Steel Grey (72.102). Layers were added with incremental additions of Steel Grey, followed by pure Steel Grey, and finally Steel Grey mixed with a small amount of VMC Dark Sea Blue (70.898). By working lightest to darkest, I was able to work away from the coastline, which helped to protect the earth that I had already painted. Final thin highlights of nearly pure Dead White were added along the leading edges of the ripples.

dj01_feature_art

Verminous from Descent 2E

Having bested the brutality of Bol’Goreth in the Trollfens, our adventures in Descent were destined to lead us next into the Shadow of Nerekhall campaign. This expansion contains several new features for the game, not least of which is four additional Lieutenants. Ever since I saw the reference art for Verminous, the filthy-looking rat-king of the city’s sewers, I couldn’t wait to get him on the painting table.

Verminous1

While there were many aspects of this character that I loved, there were still a couple issues that concerned me a bit. First, the color palette is rather limited. With only off-white, brown, flesh, and some minimal dull red, there wasn’t a lot of visual interest to the reference art.  The face of the miniature is also incredibly asymmetrical. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and may in fact have been intentional, but it also may have been a sculpting or molding flaw (the miniatures of the SoN expansion are widely considered to be the worst all the Descent expansions). Whenever I tackle a miniature that has large areas of fur, I get concerned about the placement and severity of mold lines, as it is very difficult to remove the flash without also removing the fur detail in the process. This can lead to noticeable “bare patches”, which are usually more of an eyesore than the original mold lines. Unfortunately, the extent of this potential damage is difficult to judge prior to attempting the removal, all to commonly leading to the great frustration of making matters worse while attempting to “correct” a relatively minor flaw.

With that being said, I was actually very pleasantly surprised when I began prep on the miniature. The mold lines were surprisingly subtle, and most of the detail was crisp. I adjusted the color palette slightly, increasing the contrast between the different colors. I made the fur a little less yellowed, the skin a more standard rat-flesh, and the red sashes more saturated. For the overcoat/cloak, I really wanted to create a wet, greasy-looking fabric that was obviously different from the leather armor. I think I did a pretty good job of making this guy look visually bold, but rather disgusting at the same time. But you be the judge…

 

 

I am particularly proud of the non-metallic metal work on his rapier. The reference art really makes this sword look scratched and dinged, more like the cheap, tinny metal of a fencing saber rather than a finely crafted steel weapon.

According to his character history, Verminous is a “sly and dangerous monster that haunts the sewers and alleys of Nerekhall is a phantasm, a bogeyman invented by mothers to make their children behave.” To this end, I intended the art on his base to suggest the floor of his sewer kingdom. I knew this would include some water, but I did not think the “pond water” effect I had created for Bol’Goreth would read correctly for this model. The effect I created here is much more stylized, but I think it reads well as a dark, underground stream.

Verminous Base
The dank, mossy floor of the Rat-King’s home.

Overall, I could not be more pleased with how Verminous turned out. I am especially happy with the base, the rapier, and the rat-flesh. There weren’t all that many versions of this guy painted-up on the web, so I didn’t know exactly what to expect from the sculpt, but I think I managed to create a very impressive villain, full of character and interest. He will definitely be a pleasure to see on the board. As always, I appreciate any comments or feedback you have to offer. Until next time…

 

Fur:

Base coated with a mix of 3:1:1 Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Green Grey (70.971), Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Black (72.051), and VMC Buff (70.976). This mix was remixed with incrementally reduced amounts of Black for several layers, before mixing in VGC Dead White (72.001) for several layers. These layers were placed in progressively smaller areas with near-dry brushing over the tips of fur that extended into the darker areas. A final point highlight was placed with straight Dead White. In several places, the Dead White was painted in thin lines where no texture was available.

Rat-Flesh:

Base coated with a 1:1 mix of VGC Parasite Brown (72.042) and VGC Heavy Skintone (72.140). Some slightly darker lines in the deep shadows with the addition of a little VMC Mahogany Brown (70.846). Layers were added with the original mix and the addition of VGC Dwarf Skin (72.041), followed by some VGC Cadmiun Skin (72.099). Point highlights with pure Cadmiun Skin finished off the brightest areas.

Cloak:

The base coat was a mix of 2:1 VMC German Fieldgrey WWII (70.830) and VMC Leather Brown (70.871). Layers were added with the addition of VMC Neutral Grey (70.992) followed by progressive amounts of VMC Sky Grey (70.989). At times, additional Leather Brown was added if the mix became too unsaturated.

Leather Leg Armor:

Base coated with a 1:1 mix of VMC Leather Brown (70.781) and VGC Beasty Brown (72.043). There were some small areas of shading with the addition of some VGC Charred Brown (72.045). Layers and highlighting with the progressive addition of some VMC Khaki (70.988).

Gloves and Leather Trim:

The base coat was a 1:1 mix of VGC Beasty Brown and VMC Khaki (70.988). Slight shading was done with a dash of VMC Leather Brown. Layers and highlights with pure Khaki, followed by the addition of some VGC Bone White (72.034).

Red Sash:

Base coat consisted of 1:1 mix of VMC Khaki (70.988) and VMC Vermillion (70.909). A shade was created for beneath the sash with the addition of some VGC Charred Brown (72.045). A layer of 1:1 Khaki and VMC Amarantha Red (70.829) with final higlights adding just a bit of VGC Bone White (72.034).

Knife and Rapier:

Non-metallic metal work done with VGC Black (72.051), VMC German Fieldgrey WWII (70.830), and VGC Dead White (72.001).

Stones:

This followed a very similar process to that described in the Cave Spider post, found here: Cave Spiders from Descent 2E

The only difference was that some VGC Steel Grey (72.102) was mixed into the greys in order to give a darker, more bluish hue to suggest the subterranean sewer environment this character is said to inhabit.

Water: 

A base coat of VMC Sky Grey (70.989) mixed 3:1 with VGC Steel Grey (72.102) was applied to the entire area. Several layers of VMC Dark Sea Blue (70.898) were glazed over this color in somewhat random parallel lines. Some lines were progressively darkened with further glazes, while some areas were lightened back down with the original mix. The resulting effect gives the impression (I think) of dark, flowing water with some ripples.

dj01_feature_art

Bol’Goreth from Descent 2E

Of all the expansions in Descent Second Edition, the Trollfens was the one I was most excited to crack open. Not only did the expansion contain the Plague Worms, which are one of my favorite monster sculpts (hopefully soon to be painted), but the featured Lieutenant is the hulking troll brute named Bol’Goreth. I was impressed with most aspects of his sculpt, although there were a couple problem areas which I will discuss shortly. But overall… well just look at this guy!

 

BolGoreth
Character art for Bol’Goreth

Cobbled together from the shields of his vanquished foes, Bol’Goreth’s armor was a great opportunity to work on various non-metallic metal effects. His dirty loincloth was well sculpted and dynamic. Although a majority of the figure is bare skin, which can sometimes lead to a boring and tedious palette, his unusual coloration and well defined muscles made the task much more enjoyable.

But, as I already stated, there were a couple snags. First of all, there were several molding defects in the various ropes that hold the shields down. Some of the strands just withered away to nothing and others were just completely absent (most notably, the strand that connects his shoulder piece to the kite shield on the left breast). I did my best with some Aves Apoxie Sculpt, thickening the weak strands and adding a couple in places I felt made sense.

Secondly, a mildly nit-picky complaint, perhaps, but there was mud sculpted on his feet. While this makes sense thematically, the detail was not particularly inspired. It could be mistaken for a hairy hobbit foot or just very poor molding. Again, I did what I could with the paint, but this is one area that continues to draw my eyes critically.

The last problem area is also the worst. One of the interesting features of Bol’Goreth is his  very unusual flail made from the decapitated head of a statue. This plays into his special action, Rampage, making for a truly fearsome ability, as shown below:

I loved pulling this off in-game, imagining this beast charging towards the group of heroes with his chains swinging wildly. Unfortunately, those same chains must have been difficult to mold, making a terrible eyesore when viewed from the back. What should be empty space between the links is instead solid, flat plastic. While I understand the practical necessity for such a limitation, it really does diminish the overall sculpt, in my opinion. Regardless, I did what I could in minimizing the impact of that area.

Well, judge for yourselves how I did…

 

 

I really think I did a decent job of selling the non-metallic metal, especially on the kite shield and the shoulder piece. But I did not want all the shields to be simple hunks of metal. In order to break up the monotony, I decided to paint some designs on two of the shields which are also easter-eggs of sorts. The yellow and blue shield over his belly is a simplified version of the emblem for the Daqan Lords, the heroic human faction of Terrinoth (the world shared between Fantasy Flight’s BattleLore, RuneWars, RuneAge and Descent games). Also, the blood-fly design on his left elbow acts not only as a logical family sigil one might expect to see in the marshlands, but it is also a simplified version of the expansion icon used to identify components of the Trollfens box. Both references can be seen below:

Lastly, I tackled the base. As with my previously posted Lieutenants, I tried to make the base appropriately themed for the character. In this case, my goal was to create a wet, swampy look. I’m pretty satisfied with the look of the ground and the translucent effect of the pond water, but recognize that the plants probably come off as somewhat cartoonish.

Bol'Goreth Base
Swamp base

Still, overall I am quite satisfied with the finished model. I’m pleased with the non-metallic metal work, and feel that I have succeeded in doing justice to one of my favorite characters from the game thus far. Stay tuned for more Descent miniatures shortly, including one that I consider to be my best work to date. As always, please leave comments and criticisms.

 

Skin: 

The skin was based in a 3:1 mix of Vallejo Nocturna (VN) Cold Flesh (74.014) and VN Pale Flesh (74.015). Shading was added with pure Cold Flesh, and the deepest shadows mixed in a small amount of VN Frozen Flesh (74.010). The highlights were built up using the original mix with progressively more Pale Flesh, eventually reaching pure Pale Flesh. Selected areas received a final point highlight of Pale Flesh mixed with a small amount of Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Ivory (70.918).

Teeth and Claws:

The claws in VMC Green Brown (70.879). Striations were added with a mix of Green Brown and VMC Buff (70.976), with a second layer of striations with pure Buff. The points of the claws were picked out with Buff mixed with a small amount of VMC Ivory (70.918). The teeth were done by the same process, only skipping the pure Green Brown base.

Gums and Tongue:

Although a very small area, the gums and tongue were an area of concern, as I feared to make them too pink or attract too much attention. I avoided this by simply mixing the pink color, Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Rosy Flesh (72.100), with a splash of the VN Cold Flesh. This dulled the pink and helped tie the color into the other skin tones.

Loincloth:

The base color was a 1:1 mix of VMC Leather Brown (70.871) and VMC Khaki (70.988). Shading was accomplished with a mix containing more Leather Brown. Highlights were built up progressively with increasing amounts of Khaki to the original mix, eventually reaching pure Khaki. Some small point highlights were added with a mix of Khaki and a small amount of VMC Buff (70.976).

Ropes and Skulls: The base color for the ropes connecting the shields and fetishes was VMC Green Brown (70.879). This was mixed progressively with VMC Iraqui Sand (70.819) to build up some layers, eventually ending with pure Iraqui Sand for point highlights.

The skulls were painted in the same way as my HeroQuest Skeletons, first basing in VMC Khaki (70.988), adding progressive amounts of VGC Bonewhite (72.034), with final point highlights of Bonewhite mixed with a small amount of VMC Ivory (70.918).

Wood: The plank of wood on his right shin was painted following the step-by-step included in Vallejo’s “Wood and Leather” paint set. Base coat was applied with VMC Flat Earth (70.983). Two washes were applied, first with VMC Smoke (70.939), and secondly with Smoke mixed with VMC Black (70.950). Grain lines were added with a mix of Flat Earth and VMC Dark Sand (70.847). The wash with Smoke was reapplied, and final touch-ups were done with some mixes of the same colors in areas I felt were too dark/too light.

Marble Statue Head: Base coat was a mix of VMC Green Grey (70.971) and VMC Green Brown (70.879) in an approximate ratio of 4:1. A shade was applied to the lower 1/3 of the head using the base color with a dash of VGC Black (72.051). This was blended into a smooth transition with the base color. Highlights were added to the upper raised portions of the shaded area with the base color, and then to the raised portions of the base color with the addition of some VMC Ivory (70.918). Finally, some pure Ivory was added to select areas of the upper surfaces.

 

 

dj01_feature_art

SaveSave

SaveSave

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.

ShadowDragon

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.

 

Skin

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.

dj01_feature_art

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.
Queenariad
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!

 

 

 

Body:

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.

Claws:

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)

Gold:

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).

Ground:

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).

dj01_feature_art

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.

 

Water:

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.

Air:

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.

Earth:

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).

Fire:

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.

dj01_feature_art