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.

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

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)