Tuesday, 30 June 2020

[Miniatures] Dunkeldorf Prototypes and Painting Hans the Joyful

Like last year, the fine folk running King Games DK sent me some promotional material for their new line of Dunkeldorf miniatures. The box was larger than I expected: besides the resin prototypes, stickers, and some art, it also contained a cool mug, which will surely see some use during my painting sessions. The miniatures I received were a cupboard, some containers with food, Philipp der Pfau (the mascot of the Prancing Peacock inn), Hans the Joyful (a merry patron holding a tankard of foaming beer), and Franz the Mutant (your quintessential tentacled Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay mutant). Writing a preview about my first impressions felt half-assed, so I decided to set my current projects aside, paint one of the prototypes, and write a "How It's Made" special about the process.

From Denmark with love.

Have no illusions: this won't be a tutorial. I started painting miniatures only three years ago. I work slow, I don't use any fancy techniques, I don't know much about colour theory, and sometimes I don't even touch my brushes for weeks. It is a secondary hobby for me to supplement tabletop rpgs, and also a way to chill - until I spill out a pot or drink from the wrong mug. So instead of lessons, get ready for a recollection of my fumblings accompanied by rants and shitty photos.

As I mentioned above, the minis are made of resin, a material I'm not too fond of. Despite my prejudice I was pleasently surprised with what I got: the details were crisp, the material felt sturdy, and the only preparation I had to do was washing them well with warm water and dishwasher liquid to remove the remaining mould release agent. Of course I managed to drop a mini in my mug of water, and as I hastily reached for it Archimedes' principle kicked in, and I flooded the entire table.

The prototypes drying in company of some
Creative Sculpt Studio beastmen and slimes.

After everything dried I glued the minis unto the bases they came with. Here I ran into a small issue with the resin: the tabs were very thin compared to the slots. In case of metal you can bend it with a plier until it fits, but with the rigid resin that wasn't an option. In the end I glued Hans and Franz to the base by the foot with some UHU super glue. I prefer gel super glues, but alas I couldn't find it anywhere, so I had to go with liquid, which was almost empty, and its tube was broken leaking glue all over my desk and fingers. It felt like elementary school DIY classes all over again.

Silence before the storm.

Once I was done with the bases I fixed the figurines on a box with Blu Tack and grabbed my brand new rattle can of Army Painter Matt Black Primer to prime them. I usually cover my minis black, because I work from dark to light colours, plus accidentally leaving some black in the recesses doesn't stand out like a sore thumb. I shook the can vigorously (dare I say violently) until I heard a rattling under the bottle cap. It turned out the cap came off - an unprecedented accident so far for me.

After fixing the cap I put on my mask (originally given to me to fight Papa Nurgle, but I'm flexible), and primed the minis with short bursts until they were covered nice and smooth from all angles. Something I learned at my own expense is when it's hot it's better to spray from a shorter distance, otherwise the paint dries before it hits the mini, resulting in a rough surface. I didn't repeat that mistake this time. I left the minis out for half an hour. I would have left them out longer weren't for the coming rain. Nevermind, I can endure the smell of acryllic. Heck, I even enjoy it a bit. It might have something to do with helping my father spraying cars when I was a child.

I see a mini and I want it painted black...

At this point I was still unsure which figurine should I paint. Franz the Mutant is a far more interesting chap, he looks like someone stepping right out of The Enemy Within campaign. There were already plenty of images floating around the internet of him though, so I went with Hans the Joyful instead.

Hans the Joyful still looking grim.

The time has come to come up with a colour scheme. The official images show Hans wearing a yellow shirt and a lovely purple doublet. I decided to do something different: my Hans is a burgher wearing more mundane, dirty colours. After some Googling I decided to give him an off-white shirt, red doublet, and black boots. I did hesitate a bit about the red because of the awful quality of most red paints.

Googling for references.

After I figured out the colours I assembled the triads for them. For those unfamiliar with the term, a triad consists three shades of a colour which you will use to build up layers from dark to light. Some manufacturers, like Wargames Foundry and Reaper Miniatures sell their paints in triads, which is extremely helpful for beginners. I have found a handy reference for Vallejo triads too on The Bolter & Chainsword forums, though the more experienced I become the more I diverge from them. The Paint Color Comparison Chart and Miniature Paints Color Matcher are also invaluable tools for picking colours. 

The colours I used for Hans - from dark to light, with additional comments:
  • Skin: Foundry Flesh triad. I used to have ssues early with getting skintones right. After I got tired of fooling around with the bazillion skintones I already had I bought the Foundry flesh triads, and never looked back. Because Foundry paints are relatively thin I don't paint them directly over black. For the skin I slapped on a layer of VMC[1] Flat Brown first.
  • Shirt, feather: Foundry Boneyard triad. My go-to warm white, be it skeleton, linen, fur, etc. Similar to the skin, I painted it over a layer of VMC Flat Brown.
  • Doublet, beret: VGC[2] Terracotta shaded with a mix of Citadel Druchii Violet and Agrax Earthshade, VGC Gory Red, VGC Bloody Red. I washed the terracotta with the Druchii Violet and Agrax Earthshade mix to darken it a bit. The glossiness of VGC Gory Red made painting the transparent VGC Bloody Red over it a pain in the ass. If I could do it again I would go with my VMC reds instead.
  • Boots, belt, trim: CdA[3] Black, CdA Iron Grey, CdA Dark Grey. In the end I shaded the leather with a wash made from VGI[4] Black, to make the transition smoother and the black leather feel more... leathery.
  • Belt buckle: CdA Brass shaded with VGI Brown, CdA Brass, CdA Bronze. I bought these as parts of a bronze triad, but the middle tone (CdA Dwarven Bronze) was rubbish and didn't fit the rest of the colours anyway. The shade and light colours on the other hand are great (my girlfriend calls CdA Brass her favorite gold), so I ended up darkening the CdA Brass with brown inks and washes, and using the CdA Brass as the midtone.
  • Beer foam: P3 Rucksack Tan mixed with P3 Moldy Ochre, Foundry Boneyard 5B, Foundry Boneyard 5C. I did not want to use the entire Boneyard triad again, so I tried to mix up something more amberlike for the beer. Ironically it ended up very similar to the Foundry Boneyard 5A. Oh well...
  • Tankard: VGC Charred Brown, VMC Flat Brown, VGC Beasty Brown.
  • Tankard metal rim: P3 Pig Iron shaded with VGI Black, P3 Pig Iron, P3 Cold Steel.
  • Trousers: P3 Greatcoat Grey, P3 Greatcoat Grey mixed with P3 Ironhull Grey, P3 Ironhull Grey.
The tools of my trade:
  • Citadel S Layer: My go-to workhorse brush since I started painting. Has a good tip, it's fine for layering and highlighting too. I call it the "slayer brush".
  • Citadel M Base: For painting larger surfaces, especially during colour blocking. Its bristles got scruffy after first use, and I couldn't fix them ever since.
  • Citadel S Base: For those times the Citadel M Base brush is too big. Seems to be better than its big brother, it only has a single bristle that doesn't know its place.
  • Citadel S Dry: Solid drybrush I guess, I've been using this for a while, and the previous one had a decent lifespan too. I wish it was smaller.
  • Windsor & Newton Series #7 Sable Brush 0: I fucking love this brush. Sharp and short, perfect for painting small details - like eyes, tattoos, lips, eyebrows.

Once I had my paints, tools, mug of water, and dirt cheap homemade wet palette ready, I started colour blocking with thin layers of the darkest shades. I try to do colour blocking as neat as possible, though no matter how precise I am there is always something to clean up - like the face around the eyes. When doing the eyes I first paint them the same colour as the face, then darken the recesses around them with a brown ink. This outline makes the eyes pop, and they also won't look like stickers on a plastic puppet.

Damn, you're ugly.

Next I started layering with midtones. I only left the deeper recesses dark. Hans had some nice folds on his clothes and salient facial features that made picking out the higher parts easy. When I couldn't figure out what should be emphasized I drybrushed the area slightly with the midtone to highlight what's worth picking out. I keep having problems with layering boots for some reason, so I usually drybrush them entirely. Otherwise I avoid drybrushing if possible, because it's hard to control and can mess up neighbouring colours. I neatened up the area around the eyes, and used my sharpest brush to pick out the eyeballs using Foundry Boneyard 5C, and  the teeth Foundry Boneyard 5B (he doesn't brush them very often).

Now even creepier with white eyes.


After finishing the midtones I began highlighting the topmost parts with the lightest colours, using layering for larger surfaces and edge highlighting for the edges.This was the time when I noticed, that the hair feels more like thick strands of spaghetti. More and thinner locks, or not having a shoulder length hair would help a great deal in avoiding the hair looking like a rasta. The feather's barbs were awkward too, but that's less visible, and when I can't find a feature I can just paint it in where I feel it should be. In the end it's the shades what make your miniature feel three dimensional.

I used my sharpest brush to paint a thin black vertical line over the eyes. It's a good idea to do this with the iris being closer to the nose. The eyes will be assymetric anyway, but with the irises leaning outward the mini will feel squint-eyed - though in case of Hans I toyed with the idea of doing so to make him look really wasted.

Still in need of some final touches.

After all the above I took some time to fix small mistakes and paint missing features - eg. I tinted the lower lip with some mix of red and pink, and evened out the irises using Foundry Boneyard 5C. Once done I sealed Hans with a layer of Vallejo Polyurethane Glossy Varnish, left him dry until the morning, fixed some more mistakes that revealed themselves in the light of the morning Sun, then finished the entire process by sealing him with Vallejo Polyurethane Matt Varnish.

I was lucky enough that my friends fucked up plenty of varnishings before I wanted to seal a mini for the first time, and they wree kind enough to tell me which varnishes to avoid. Initially I used Coat d'Arms varnishes. They were pretty good, but noticably dulled the colours and ate the highlights. Later I discovered Vallejo's polyurethane varnishes, which didn't mess with my work and dried much faster.

Ready to have a good time!

Hans the Joyful is a rather simple, yet characterful miniature full of potential. I'm considering getting another one to paint it squint-eyed, drool leaking from his mouth, vomit spot on his boots, black hole among his teeth. Life is too short to repaint the same stuff over and over again though! The Prancing Peacock campaign is full of other intriguing characters, and I still have plenty of unpainted minis all over my room. The next one victim will be Franz the Mutant. I might write a post about him too, but I can't promise to finish that before the campaign ends.

If you want to see what others did with the prototypes, check out #dunkeldorf on Instagram, or The Dunkeldorf Community on facebook. If you want to know more about the project visit dunkeldorf.eu or the official Dunkeldorf Miniatures facebook page.

By the way I found my gel superglue between my shelves and the desk when I dropped something...

[1] Vallejo Model Color
[2] Vallejo Game Color
[3] Coat d'Arms
[4] Vallejo Game Ink

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