Thursday, August 20, 2020

Miniature Showcase: Frodo at the Cracks of Doom

Many, many moons ago, around the year 2000 or so, the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game was released by Games Workshop. This game featured miniatures based on the character designs from Peter Jackson's The Lord of The Rings trilogy, which was right up my alley.

The original range was very impressive and filled with fantastic masterfully sculpted miniatures.  As time went on I would occasionally pick up a few  here and there, though I never got around to buying any armies or playing the game.

Frodo here came in a three pack of models with Sam and Gollum all based on the climax of The Return of the King. I had bought this set shortly after they released, mostly for the Gollum miniature since he was my favorite character in the trilogy.

For a long time I had grand plans to build a small diorama using all three of them. Though in the back then I lacked the skills to make it a reality. Unfortunately, in the intervening years, Sam seems to be been lost o the ages. I've searched my drawers and boxes of stored miniatures and he's no where to be seen. Maybe he walked off with the Ring?

At that point I had decided that perhaps a Gollum and Frodo diorama would be nice to build and was all set to make that happen. But in the end I chose to paint Frodo by himself because sometimes you just want to paint a specific miniature, ya know?

Building the Cliff

The first order of business was to build the base in which he'd be standing on. I could have gotten crazy with it and tried to recreate the scenery from the film. Instead I decided to just have fun with it and built the base up by stacking broken up cork sheeting on top of each other.

Once the cork was layered it was time to add the rocky texure to it. In the old days I would have used air drying clay, but recently I've noticed bases cracking and splitting from the clay drying out too much. That was not a great discovery at all.

This time around I used Milliput as my medium of choice. I've had very good luck with Milliput holding up over time and it's rock solid once dry. Unlike the clay, this stuff doesn't seem to crack over time and crumble itself apart. That's a lot better for longevity, for sure.

Once I was happy with the coverage on the cork, I added a bit of rock texture to the Milliput by jabbing the side walls with a piece of broken up cork. I just kept hitting it from different angles until I felt that there was a believable rocky surface. To really sell the rocking feel, I added some small rocks and gravel to the floors too. Now it looks like a proper rock outcropping.

The Floor is Lava

Lava is something that I've never really messed around with painting. While I have done some fire effects, such as on the Gandalf vs the Balrog piece, the mixture of OSL and brightness required to make it look good was always intimidating. It is kind of integral to this piece though and something I would need to pull off to make it work.

I spent many hours pouring over tutorials seeing how other folks handled the problem. Most called for use of an airbrush, which isn't a massive issue, but it's not something I'm very comfortable with overall. I decided to give it a shot though and see what happens.

I knew I needed a bit of body to the lava so that it was more than just a flat base surface. Also the top of GW bases has a bit of texture to them, which needed to be hidden. Liqutex Heavy Gel Medium proved to be an all-star for making ripples, giving the lava some life of its own.

To make sure the fiery lava was as bright as possible, I sprayed the entire area with white paint and also did a bit of drybrushing on the cliff face to help saturate it with white. From there it was all a matter of building up the colors from yellow to red. I didn't have great luck with the look of it though and ended up going back over the actual body of lava with thinned paint so I could control the flow of colors some more.

To finish it off I did a few dark specs near the edges of the rocks to simulate slag floating around.

I'm pretty pleased with the overall effect.

Painting Frodo

Finally it was time to paint Master Frodo. I tried to make sure his rear half was painted darker than the front to allow the illusion that the lava was illuminating him as he stands poised to discard The One Ring.

It was very difficult to get the balance correct and I repainted him three times before I was happy with the overall look of him. For the most part I tried to keep his colors muted, while making sure hard edges were highlighted to allow the osl to work.

The hardest part was painting the face to give the effect of it being underlit. I'm not sure I pulled it off totally, but the miniature is so small that there's not a lot of room to work with to begin with. Its grown on me more since I've finished this piece. The face was the main reason I kept repainting the miniature, so I guess that's a win!

That's pretty much it for this one. It was so nice to get this idea out of my head after so many years. Which means, don't feel bad about your miniature painting backlog, eventually a project or idea will click and it might come back around.

As always, I'm working on writing more Miniature Showcase articles. Until then, catch me on Twitter and Instagram. I'm always around and showing off projects that I'm currently working on, there you can see all kinds of things I'm working on as they happen. Hit me up and talk shop!

If you like what I do and want to support the site and my painting endeavors,  you can do so a couple of ways. First, you can toss a couple bucks my way on Ko-fi. All it takes is $3 and it's much appreciated.

Also, you can buy The Brush Wizard shirts and such over on my Teespring shop, where you'll find a selection of shirts and other goodies including a new series of Stickers featuring other miniatures I've painted!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!