Yo Ho A Pirate’s Life for Me

Now that I am fully back into the minipainting swing of things I decided to take a little detour and work on a commission that a local D&D DM had given me to work on. I had done a previous job for him which was a pirate beholder that he seemed pleased with and thus he gave me three more fantasy pirate models to work. So buckle up and grab a drink because this might ramble on for quite a while.

The first one that I worked on was a female orc pirate with a slight conversion. Originally the model had a hook for a right hand but a slight tumble caused it to snap off at the base. This was actually a good thing because he was looking to have a cannon or firearm there instead. So I searched my bits box and found the assault cannon from the Ravenwing upgrade kits which was a good match for a gatling gun of that time. I drilled out the barrels, cleaned up the contact points and then drilled a hole into each piece so that I could pin them together.

With the piece done and no other conversion work needed I primed and zenithally highlighted all three models in order to be more efficient. The game plan for orc was simple, a green skin tome with a red vest and bandana and blue pantaloons. Any leather would done using an altered recipe from the one used for the Dark Angel Outriders. In a nutshell it consists of a basecoat of Rhinox Hide followed by a stippled layer of VMC Flat Earth (making sure to leave some of the Rhinox Hide showing). I then mixed a bit of Dark Sands into the Flat Earth for highlights and then layered on two or three coats of thinned Agrax Earthshade.

I also took the opportunity to try more of the Monument Hobbies Pro Acryl paints. In particular I tried the Burnt Red and Bold Pyrrole Red for the vest and bandana. The paint is quite good but there is a very slight learning curve as you have to thin it less than you think to get it to flow correctly. The metals were done with either Vallejo Metal Color Dark Aluminum or Magnesium.

I then airbrushed on a gloss varnish over the model because I attempted to try an oil wash on the cloth on her right forearm and the cloth on the anchor. To make a long story short, it didn’t exactly work out. After mixing up a burnt umber oil wash, I put it on the cloth and let it dry for like 10 minutes. Afterwards, I got some makeup sponge sticks with some odorless thinner and proceeded to removing the excess wash. The only problem is that I ended up just removing pretty much all of the oil wash instead so I didn’t get any of the recess shades or definition I was after. I instead opted to use regular washes from GW and once those were dry sealed it all up with some matt varnish.

The next model I worked on was the Davy Jones Octopus Captain. This was a bit daunting because not only is it a lot of exposed flesh, it is almost entirely just tentacles and suckers which are things I don’t have any experience painting. With no clear idea on what to do I decided to do some research and look up reference photos of real octopus. I landed on doing an orange beige base color for the tentacles with highlights that would be stippled after finding this particular photo (shown below).

I started with a base of Bugmans Glow followed by a layer of VMC Orange Brown. I then stippled on highlights of VMC Orange Brown mixed with Dark Sand making sure to focus the highlights on areas facing up or were clearly exposed. With the flesh out of the way everything else was pretty straightforward. The only notable thing I could add was that I used Citadel Aethermatic Blue contrast for the smoke on the pipe and tassels on the shoulder. Overall, this particular model was a bit of a chore and not as enjoyable as the Dwarf Pirate which I saved for last.

The Dwarf Pirate was far more straightforward of a paint job compared to the other two because it’s just a dwarf in pirate clothes, no exposed flesh or weird appendages to deal with. With that in mind I decided to use a turquoise as the main color as its a color I have been wanting to use for a while. Since the turquoise coat takes up most of the mini I used warmer colors for several of the accents and details. So the trims was a burnt red, the feathers were a magenta, the undercoat was a cream color and the sash a brighter red color. With so many bright colors on the mini I needed a way to draw the viewer’s gaze to the face and ended up making this Dwarf Pirate a bright red-head. That is because orange is a color that naturally stands out , you see it a lot on items that demand your attention like safety vests or traffic cones, and by leveraging that trait I can very easily pull focus to the face.

Overall I was very pleased with the overall scheme for the Dwarf Pirate out of the three as I got to use more interesting colors and was still able to keep the overall paint job balanced. I was also able to make most parts of the mini visually striking in some fashion which is illustrated best on the back of the coat. On the back of the coat I made distinct transitions between the highlights and shadows from the midtone in an almost cel-shaded style which breaks up what would have been a very uniform area. The hat was highlighting used a series of short strokes in order to impart a bit of texture and also break up the uniformity or monotony of that section.

This was an interesting commission and I am very grateful that I was given free reign to paint them as I pleased. It let me try several things and explore more color options that I would have normally. I look forward to doing more one off projects in my off time as trying stuff like this was very freeing.

However, the last of the Nova Albions are still waiting and I am in the home stretch for that project. I hope this little detour was refreshing for all you and hopefully the next time you’re here the Nova Albions will be ready to march for war.

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