Friday, 5 May 2017

Making Boring Models Interesting

Over the last few months, I discovered the alchemical secret of getting paint off miniatures.That means that I now have a large number of stripped miniatures, some of which are old and a bit ropey. Here is everything I've found out about making boring and weirdly-cast models more dynamic.

1. Head swap.

On humanoid figures, attention is naturally drawn to the face, which if exposed is often a different colour to the area around it, and which conveys the emotion of the model. Older figures may have dull expressions or may lack the sharpness of casting in modern models. Swapping heads will change this, and will make a better focal point for the model. In GW models, the Genestealer acolyte and Dark Eldar wytch boxed sets are worth a look, as you get a lot of spare, crisply-cast heads. But there are many other examples. It is also worth pointing out that with models in thick clothing or armour, it is often only necessary to swap the head to convincingly turn the model from male to female, which can introduce some variety into an otherwise dull group of figures.

Old body, new head.

2. Neck and waist twist.

Owing to older casting methods and (in fantasy) the need to rank the figures up in a unit, many models have a static, soldier-on-guard pose: feet slightly apart, body and head facing directly forward, weapon either held upwards, spear-style, or across the body (guns, especially). This is a very two-dimensional pose, as the model has width and height, but very little depth.

The easiest way to remedy this is to turn the waist, which gives the impression of the model twisting around to react to something from the side, immediately giving the model extra dynamism and motion. Turning the head is also very effective, especially if the head is turned to look the same way that the model’s weapon is pointed. Even if the model is standing with a lowered gun, it will look more as if it is expecting an attack rather than just standing around.

The head and shield are pointing a different way to the legs, as if he's twisting to strike.

3. Selective paintjob

On some older miniatures, especially lead ones, the casting is so soft that details are lost or blurry to the point where you don’t quite know what you’re looking at. Take the plastic Fire Warriors. What’s going on at the end of their trousers? Some kind of hooves, maybe, with a sort of strap like a sandal? It’s hard to be sure. Only recently, with the release of similar, crisper models, has it become clear to me where the paint’s meant to go. I would suggest just painting the whole thing black or some similar undistracting colour, washing and highlighting and putting the more dramatic colours somewhere more central and eye-catching on the model. Or chop the offending bit off and replace it. Which, if you’ve got 100 Tau in your army, is not practical.

Or just put them in a cornfield.

 4. Basing.

This is more than just the usual flocking and basing of the model. If a model is standing in a very flat, symbol-on-the-toilet-door pose, putting objects on the base that go off at an angle may lead the observer's eye towards the model and do something to counter the 2-dimensional pose.

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