Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Layers of character

When I'm sitting at my allocated hobby space, about to start painting an individual character miniature (as opposed to batch painting) I realise that in my head, as I look at the piece of sculpted lead, I contemplate bringing it to life with some sort of colour scheme. I'm sure I'm not alone in having this internal monologue about how I am going to make this mass consumed model, unique and interesting to paint; in other words flesh him or her out by creating a backstory and therefore an individual character. This all happens before and sometimes whilst painting. One of the joys of older Citadel miniatures from the 80s is that they are so very characterful and individual and when I look at the details or the expressions, or clothing or weapons I can easily imagine a backstory to the character and I like to think the original sculptor would have done the same as he was mixing the green-stuff. The dwarf adventurer range is a prime example. These aren't well equipped, beefy mono-pose  soldiers but rather that wonderful pathetic aesthetic from this era; the flawed, ill-equipped, even scared or wary looking models from a bygone era. I challenge you to not find these quirky, bearded stunties interesting and characterful!

So once I've chosen which of these models to buy (I now only buy models that have character and that I want to paint, otherwise it has to be converted) I start the painting process and it hit home as I was about to paint this dwarf adventurer, that I was having an unusually long internal chat with myself (perhaps even with the model) to find out who he is and how that will determine my painting approach. Here he is with some base coats on, the decisions behind each is outlined below:

Now this fella is to be the hero of my tale as I narrate and build a dwarf warband around him. I needed to make decisions about how to paint him and this depended on such questions as to whether, for example, he is  young or old, wealthy or poor. In more depth, his age determines the colour of his beard, his wealth determines the condition of his weapons, armour and attire, his wealth is determined by his success as an adventurer etc, etc.

So I decided he was to be old, poor and not very well equipped (more on the backstory when he's finished). I then gathered a few images to help me paint in these realistically and tried to colour match them with the paints I would use to recreate them:

 Balor brown and Dawnstone

Mournfang brown and baneblade brown (lighter areas with Balor brown or dry pigment)

Doombull brown and black. Scratches with Balor brown.

Baneblade Brown and Dawnstone 

So with the model now nearly finished, the decisions I made in my colour palette and the choices I made in his appearance have helped me make my own unique miniature, especially when I write about his backstory in my next post. I see these two elements of the hobby as intrinsically linked and (in my book) there should be no random approach to painting or collecting miniatures! Choose a characterful model (or convert one) and create your own character out of that characterful model!


  1. Cool post. Very interesting

  2. This is a great way to go about things! Looking forward to reading more on him. ;)

    1. His story is in my head, just need to type it all up now and take some decent photos...

  3. Great illustration of how you work; nice and clear. Thanks :)

  4. Really, really nice, it's great to have an insight of the work behind.

  5. Really nice to see all these reference pictures in between, it's like we get a peek behind the curtain.
    A fantastic post, I like it!