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Flinging Fish Eggs

Fishmen Artillery & Specialists
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4 March 2001page first published

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The first step in this whole process was to come up with a vision for the Fishmen Artillerists. Did I want colorful goldfish-like Fishmen? Evil grey shark-like Fishmen? Maybe shambling Creature from the Black Lagoon style Fishmen?

What I finally decided upon, inspired a fair bit by what Evil Gong has written about the race, was to go with a cold, amoral Threat from the Deep - a fishy menace that emerges from the sea to invade the hearth and home of the coastal kingdoms.

With some experimentation, this led to a basic paint scheme: prime with white, coat everything dark blue, drybrush heavily with metallic green, then finish off with a clear gloss.

Why prime with white?
No particular reason. Since the blue is so dark and covers so well, you might even be able to skip priming.
Why dark blue as the base coat?
Usually my 15mm fantasy figures are light-colored, as I think that looks best in this scale. However, I decided to try something that would be more menacing on the tabletop. (The paint used was Ceramcoat's Phthalo Blue.)
Why the metallic green drybrushing?
With the dark base, and since I'd be following with a gloss, I really needed something to bring out the detail in the figures. I experimented with a variety of light blue and green shades, and the metallic green was what worked for me - it gave the sheen of fish scales, but wasn't too much contrast. (I used DecoArt's Crystal Green.)
Why the gloss coat?
I thought that the gloss would give the figures a "wet and slimy" look, perfect for Fishmen emerging from the sea.
Fishman Crew figure at an intermediate stage of painting

The only details in the anatomy that would need to be painted separately were the eyes. I wanted something that would stand out, and so decided to go with yellow eyes and black pupils. I needed a paint with good coverage, so went with DevoArt's Pineapple (yellow-white).

Putting a drop of black ink in the mouths make them stand out, which is important since Fishmen get a lot of their character from having their mouths obviously open like fishes...

When it came to equipment, I decided that a cold-hearted, unimaginative race like my Fishmen would have strictly utilitarian equipment. So my Artillery Officer wears straps of light tan (human hide?!), with a shield and telescope of "unpainted" metal (I used gunmetal paint). My Artillery Crewman carries a gunmetal-colored bucket, with a medium brown rope handle.

And then there was the Catapult...

My thinking was that a race living under the sea would have to build catapults from available materials - driftwood and the bones from monsters of the deep. So I painted the framework grey (driftwood), washing with black ink to bring out the details of the wood. The metalwork - the arrow bow, the axles, the crank handle, nail heads - was painted gunmetal. The draw cable and ropes were medium brown. The other ropes - the ones which lash the front of the catapult together - were drybrushed with light grey to make them look worn. The catapult arm was painted white to look like bone, then washed with medium grey to add dimension.

I also gave the catapult a gloss coat, for no particular reason except that I thought it looked nice...

The "ammunition" looked like some kind of fish eggs to me, so I painted the little balls orange with a wash of dark red. A final gloss made them look slimy.

View of the catapult and ammunition

These pictures show how it all turned out. The only difficulty I ran into was painting the eyes - the sculptor has put texture there, but I failed miserably at trying to follow the contours or even drybrush the two eye shades (black and yellow). What I finally did was ignore the detail, paint the eye solid yellow, and use a .01 marker pen (ZIG brand, available in department stores) to draw in the pupil.

One mistake I made was not watching the clear gloss carefully enough. I'd used this brand before, and hadn't had problems with air bubbles showing when the paint dried. This time I did, and ended up with bubbles. Fortunately, that actually contributed to the "slimy" look I wanted on the Fishmen and Fish Egg Ammo... (Next time, I'll use a toothpick to carefully prick any bubbles in the drying paint.)

Crew and catapult

About the Bases

The Fishmen are attached to 1/2" x 1/2" metal bases, and the catapult to a 1" x 1 1/2" metal base. I prefer metal bases for storage reasons (using bins lined with magnetic sheeting). The bases were chosen for practical reasons, not having anything to do with any particular rules system. I mounted the crew separately from the catapult so that I could remove the crew if needed (due to casualties or morale).

I wanted to go with a "wet sand" look. The bases were spray-painted white on top, and black on the bottom. At this point the completed figures were attached (using two-part epoxy glue - I find it holds better than superglue). Putty was used to blend the figures into the bases - particularly the "ammunition pile" (I used pre-mixed putty from the hardware store). The bases were then painted dark brown and sprinkled with sand. Next came a wash of dark brown (mixed with a matte clear coat to held the sand adhere), followed by a drybrushing of light tan, and one final coat of the watered-down matte clear coat.

Final Thoughts

I'd be curious to see what other people do with their Fishmen. Mine turned out darker than I thought they would (due to the dark base color, then the gloss coat which has the effect of darkening colors), and the green highlighting is probably too subtle. The color scheme is perhaps too garish - though easy to paint!

Enemies beware! The Fishmen firing line.

In the end, I think my Fishmen look rather nice on the tabletop. (I'd better paint more Fishmen, then, so I can field an army!)

P.S. About that catapult - Yes, it makes no engineering sense. It wouldn't work in real life. It's kind of silly, actually. But it looks kinda cool.