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My Anti-Procrastination Weekend

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stingray20166 writes:

I tried to save time (since this was just a small unit of eight models!) by rushing ahead, instead of painting one model to completion and using it as a guide for the others. Bad idea.

YES! I don't know how many times I have done this myself. And I always think - well, this unit should be easy. . .I can get away with it. . ..Wrong!

I really like the idea of the goblins being forced to wear embarrassingly fancy uniforms. I might steal that!


Revision Log
18 April 2005page first published

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7,099 hits since 18 Apr 2005
©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
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As I mentioned on the forums, last weekend I set myself the goal of completing one of those "accursed" units - you know, the kind that haunt your workbench for the longest time, and somehow you never take the time to finish them.

The Saga of Princess Shasta's Goblins

The sad thing is that I've been working on this project for about as long as TMP has been around - maybe 10 years? Of course, "working" isn't quite the operative word... more like experimenting, stalling, abandoning and coming back to, lingering...

Once upon a time, I got a chuckle out of one of the old Ral Partha 15mm D&D Battlesystem packs - it was a set of goblins, with various armament. Some of the uniforms were quite ornate, and I thought to myself - No goblin would dress himself that way, someone else must be dressing these goblins! And then my imagination kicked into gear, and I decided I had to paint some of these up.

I had to pick up a number of packs before I had enough of the goblin halberdiers to form a unit. I pictured the unit in a colorful uniform of a royal purple hue (with the goblins themselves being yellow-skinned, if only because an old gaming buddy felt so passionately about goblins having yellow skin).

But I couldn't come up with the right approach to paint yellow skin. So I would sit the project aside, then come back and try again... and this went on for a number of cycles, until years later I finally found what worked for me. Namely, a base coat of bright yellow (Ceramcoat Opaque Yellow), a wash of yellow ochre (Aleene's Yellow Ochre), and highlights of yellow-white (Americana Pineapple).

Which removed the roadblock... so I resumed painting the unit, only to find that the particular paint mix I had used for the "royal purple hue" - which was so memorable that I didn't need to write it down - was forgotten. So I went shopping for paint, and picked up the colors which looked closest to me: Ceramcoat Egg Plant and Magenta.

So, I finally finished those goblins!

But There Was A Problem...

I was quite proud of my goblin halberdiers, and I showed them to my friends - and their response wasn't what I expected. They remarked that my fearsome goblin regiment seemed a bit... pink.

My goblin halberdiers

My new color choice, it turned out, wasn't very "royal purple"...

But then my imagination kicked into gear again, and I realized that it wasn't the goblins' fault - obviously, someone else had designed the uniforms! Which is how Evil Princess Shasta came into the picture, an ambitious but not very powerful sorceress whose favorite colors are eggplant and magenta, who would really prefer an army of trolls and ogres but must make do for now with goblins (they are inexpensive!).

Back to the Subject at Hand...

However, even if the goblin halberdiers had finally been completed after umpteen years, there was a second unit of goblins still waiting.

Shortly after I started the goblin halberdiers, I decided to add a small force of goblin wolfriders to the force. The figures I picked this time were Reaper's Mounted Goblin Crossbowmen, as I thought that if I were an evil overlord, I'd give my goblins crossbows.

Sadly, this unit languished while I had my painting trials with the original goblin unit - which is kind of embarrassing, as this unit consists of only eight models!

So for my anti-procrastination weekend, these eight guys were ripe for completion!

How It Went

The goblin crossbow riders after I cleaned the dust off!

At the start of the weekend, the armor was done (except for some ugly experiments where I had tried to use orange to highlight magenta), and the wolves were done (having gone from gray to brown).

Don't highlight magenta with orange!

So my starting point was to re-do the flesh, using my "new" goblin flesh technique (explained above). Then I realized, to my horror, that I had somewhere in previous years painted over the eyes and mouths - so I had to do these again (which would usually be the first thing I would paint, not the last on the face!

Then I took a fresh look at the faces, and realized my technique wasn't working well on these figures. The Ral Partha goblins had big heads; the Reaper goblins had smaller heads, and it seemed like they were all shadow and highlight - so I came back and painted more of the base yellow, to try to give them more of the quality I wanted.

Not all goblins have the same size of heads!

I finished painting the sword scabbards (dark grey over black), and then had trouble finding the right approach for the crossbows. They had been black, then dark brown, and now I tried light tan - which certainly made them stand out, but it seemed to lighten up what had been a dark and menacing figure.

So I tried a brown ink wash (Higgins Brown), which darkened the crossbows far more than I expected - but gave an interesting pattern of shadows, so I decided to go with it.

But I needed something to make the crossbow a bit more visible. There were some parts of the crossbow that I could imagine to be reinforcing metal bands - and I realized that if I were giving crossbows to goblins, I would want to give them something sturdy. But cheap. So I decided to paint parts of the crossbow FolkArt Solid Bronze.

The final crossbows

I briefly considered adding some accents to the wolves - glowing eyes or whiter teeth - but decided I liked how the "dullness" of the wolves directed attention to their riders.

The last detail I wrestled with was the shields. There was some kind of faint pattern on the shields - maybe something abstract, maybe a demonic stick figure? - and I originally tried using Princess Shasta's old reliable eggplant and magenta, but there wasn't enough contrast. So then I drybrushed the shield black, and picked out the pattern in FolkArt Antique Copper - which is this dark metallic color. But still the contrast was low, so I ended up highlighting the pattern again with Accent Imperial Antique Gold.

The final shields

So I finally finished another unit of goblins! I probably spent about six hours all told in my final session, a lot of it in tedious corrections (fix the ear, fix the helmet, fix the ear again, fix the helmet, fix the face now...).

The goblin crossbow riders are done!

Are There Any Morals To This Story?

  1. Persistence pays off?
  2. There comes a point when it's "good enough for the tabletop," even if you didn't live up to what the sculptor deserved!
  3. I tried to save time (since this was just a small unit of eight models!) by rushing ahead, instead of painting one model to completion and using it as a guide for the others. Bad idea.
  4. One of the wolves lost a leg along the way - can you spot him?
  5. It feels so good to get these guys off my painting table!
The goblin crossbow riders take their place in the army


OK, after being hounded by my old friend Scurvy - who, it now turns out, has never painted a mini in this scale! - I've done the eyes, teeth (some), and nose of the wolves...

The updated wolf