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


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.


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…



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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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!


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.



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.


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.






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

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)