Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Super Secret Christmas Present: Apoca vs. the Minotaur

Over the years my cousins and I have played thousands of hours of tabletop RPGs. From AD&D, to RuneQuest, to D&D 3rd, 3.5 and now Pathfinder. For the most part it's always been my three cousins, their dad and myself playing. Sometimes we'd have a few extra friends playing as well, but for the most part it's always been us as the core group. And over the years my cousins and I discovered our love for Fantasy miniatures.

It seemed like every Christmas the three of them were constantly getting each other miniatures, and if I got lucky on the family's Secret Santa drawing, I'd get some too. It was during these years that I started painting them for my player characters, which eventually turned into painting our entire parties.

Now-a-days, they still give each other miniatures at Christmas. But due to being older and having more responsibilities the group has shrank a bit and we rarely get the full core group together anymore and have since stopped playing in person, instead playing via And we haven't had the full core group since a failed Pathfinder campaign, sometime last year. And my cousin, Rob, hasn't played since then.

Well last year I drew Rob's name and got him a PSN card and something else that I can't remember, it seemed pretty generic. I figured since we weren't playing in person, that a set of miniatures would be pointless. This year I drew his name again, except this time I decided to do something special, since last year's present seemed kinda "meh".

 Rob's always liked Barbarians and burly melee types. Plus he's a huge fan of Minotaurs, he's even played a Minotaur character. And that was the ticket, I decided almost instantly that I needed to make him a diorama of a Barbarian fighting a Minotaur. So I hit up Reaper's website and started combing through pages of minis and eventually settled on two that I liked, I decided to go with Tre Manor's Garok the Ravanger and Jason Weibe's Cretus, Minotaur.

The plan was to have the Barbarian charging down a corridor in the face of the Minotaur. I decided to stick close to the 5ft = 1inch measurements found in D&D and Pathfinder. Knowing that I was going to use that for my scale, I could start work on the scenery before the minis arrived. I used the old standby pink insulation foam to carve out the blocks and basic shape.

Carving the door archway proved to be an interesting challenge, and in the end it ended up being slightly small. But, the Barbarian and the Minotaur are both hulking brutes. I figured it's safe to say that they are so large that a regular man sized door would be slightly small for them.

Once the pieces were carved for the basic idea, I went out and got a piece of poplar, which I cut to size and routed the edge. Finally I stained it with some cherry stain and was able to start laying it all out on the base. The foam is held into place by Elmer's glue and wire pins.

With the walls in place, the next step was to cover the "stones" with drywall filler. Like I mentioned before, drywall filler is awesome! Using a chip brush and a bit of water, I am able to further simulate grain and roughness of stone a lot better. But I knew I didn't want to just drybrush it all grey and that real world stone walls had moss and stains and such on them from weathering.

So, i mixed up varying shades of green and made up custom washes. With these I stained the walls in the cracks and crevasses. I then used an old drybrush brush to spread it out, kinda like how I did the rust on the SDE Kobolds. I really liked how it turned out.

While I was painting the Barbarian, I wanted to try to keep him from blending into the background. I have a
tendency to make things dark and I didn't want him to be all browns. So, I decided to do a tiger pelt for his furs. I've done tiger fur once before, with the SDE Barbarian and I thought it might look nice on this one. Though I was worried that it might be too much. All in all I think he turned out pretty sweet.

The Minotaur was another challenge completely. I ordered the Bones version of him, because I knew that with hot and cold water you could easily reposition limbs and such. And since his arms are so wide, I knew he was going to be a tight fit. After trying to rework his right arm 3-4 times, I finally gave up and decided to cut his arm off and reposition it the old fashion way. It's a good thing that I went with the Bones version, because it made cutting and moving the arm a TON easier. Also when painting him, to make him white, both for visibility and because of the Greek mythology of the White Cretan Bull, father of the Minotaur. I spent a solid two days painting his fur with varying shades of White. Unfortunately I don't have any good detail pictures of the Minotaur, because once he was finished, I was so excited to put him in the diorama that it totally slipped my mind.

This has been a great project and super fun. I do believe it's my most ambitious completed project to date as well. So without further ado, here are the shots of the final piece.

And he loved it! He was super surprised that I made it for him and he wasn't expecting anything like it at all. He ended up showing it around to the rest of the family too. Makes me feel really happy and proud.

Man, this was such a fun fun project. I'll admit, I had my doubts about how well it would turn out at first. But now I can't help but pat myself on the back. Like I said, I'm on a huge mini painting kick at the moment and the next goal is to finish Mr. Bones' Garden. Hopefully I'll have that posted up soon. 

Merry Christmas!