Dork Tuesday: Making My Own Miniatures

Pictured below are a couple of concept pieces for a line of miniature figurines that I’m working on. I wanted to create highly stylized pieces that are relatively inexpensive and very easy for novices to paint and modify. I also hoped to make something substantial and pleasant to hold, like a chess piece.

They are similar to the chibi figurines that have been popularized by games like Super Dungeon Explore, but my goal is something even more rudimentary, along the lines of Sunday morning newspaper cartoon characters. Partly, this is because I am still an amateur sculptor, but the cartoonish look also compliments a couple projects that I’d like to use them for.

Beast01I have a board game in mind (who doesn’t), and I’ve talked to my nephew about doing a miniature-based digital comic strip. If nothing else, I am a parent. I am satisfied with making a game that only my children and I will ever play. So this is one of those indulgences that I can enjoy without worrying about it turning out to be a waste of time. My son gets a kick out of this stuff.

The first figure is a generic “beast.” The final product is going to have a more stylized coat with less texture, and I think I am going to make the head more oblong. Although there is plenty of room for improvement, and the paint job doesn’t look quite as good close-up as it does five feet away, I’m overall satisfied with the result. Most of all, I enjoyed sculpting it. I do wish that I had taken a couple of photos prior to painting it though.

Farmer01The farmer is a very rough concept piece with an unfinished paint job. Numerous flaws are readily apparent, but I wanted a quick look at what these figures would fundamentally look like outside of a sketch book. I think that the pillar was produced about twenty years ago by Fortress Figures. It is a work-in-progress part of the setup I’ll be using for the game with my kids.

I realized that large areas without any texture may actually be imposing to paint, and so I am considering what I can do to break up these expanses. This is an easy problem, as the grain of the wooden spheres that I’m building the models around becomes evident once they are painted, so I needed to sculpt something on anyway. I can do a layer of epoxy putty and lightly texture it with something like a bit of fabric, which will make it easier to do the dip method of painting. The real question now is whether to ditch the wooden spheres in favor of polymer clay as the base material.

I also discovered that super glue can be problematic when enthusiastically applied to some surfaces. This resulted in some rough patches along the belt line that I didn’t notice until the figure was primed. I’d never had this problem when assembling metal or plastic kits.

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