To Give a Dwarf, (or A halfling’s guide to carving decoys).

“All dwarfs have beards and wear up to twelve layers of clothing. Gender is more or less optional.” ― Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!

After what seemed a lengthy hiatus, I got the chance to run another game for my other group who are relatively new players. The occasion coincided with the birthday of one of the players, so cake and ice cream was as much a part of the festivities as dice and character sheets.

Having known of this with a respectable amount of time in advance, I decided to wait until nearly the last minute to start work on the birthday present. Yet to be fair, the inspiration hit me late in the game, so to speak. There’s always a long margin to consider in sculpting minis, especially with epoxy putty. It takes at least 4 hours before you can fiddle with green stuff without deforming it, give or take some time depending on the temperature. So each stage is likely to eat up a good part of the day. This guy took about three days to sculpt with one day in the interim where I didn’t touch it.

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I finished painting this guy with only a matter of hours before the event, which granted me some well earned sleep before I boxed him up. I managed to snap a few pics after he was done. Here hes standing on the map I made along with some of the 3D map icons I made for the session, but more on that in another post.

This figure had some new elements which took me out of my comfort zone. The axe head and the shield were made from miliput where usually I sculpt from green stuff (kneadatite). While green stuff is great for organic shapes, it’s less than stellar for shapes with hard edges. Believe it or not I used to carve weapons out of materials like wood or plastic, and to my mind, they’re still viable options as they turned out fairly decent. This time though I went with the orthodox method of making the rough shape out of miliput then sanding and carving the shapes down to what I wanted them to look like. The reason a putty like milliput works better is because it doesn’t cure rubbery. It cures hard with the consistency of ceramic which lets you drill or sand it down.
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The second issue was the cloak. I hate sculpting cloaks. They have their up sides. They cover up a lot of detail you don’t have to sculpt onto the back side of the mini, and they generally look cool. You can get a dynamic pose by having the cloak being wind tossed and so forth. But sculpting cloaks require a base piece sculpted on a greased poly bag (clear plastic bag) and then glued carefully to the mini, then having layer after layer sculpted on the base piece, and having a ton of back fill packed into the voids so the mini is one solid piece rather than a mini with a rubbery cape. The difficulty lies in the patience it requires to wait for each step to cure, and to get the folds of the cloak, robe, or cape to look right and to look smooth like hanging cloth.

Anyway, in spite of my sculpting shortfalls and learning curve, the recipient was delighted. Holkvir, the one eyed gold dwarf mercenary was its own, one of a kind, miniature.

 

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