Sunday 29 June 2014

LXVII. Another Fate Deck (WIP)

Around Christmas 2013 I produced a custom handmade Fate Deck for use in my future games. The design was very simplistic. Since there are two sides in an encounter, each needing its own deck, I knew I would eventually need to make another one. From the beginning, the plan was for the second deck's art to be more elaborate. Since I was in no hurry I took my time, waiting for the moment of inspiration to come.

Eventually it did: during one particularly tiresome class I stopped paying attention and started brainstorming and sketching out some ideas for the deck.
The first step was to upgrade the suit symbols. So I opted for giving more weight to the rings of Spirit and Blood, as well as adding some simple detail to each symbol to make it more interesting.

The old suit symbols (bottom) and the new suit symbols (top).

After that I started thinking about the face cards. The original deck treated them as all other cards, simply showing their value (11-13) and the number of suit symbols corresponding to that value. This time I wanted to decorate them with some artwork.

The format is the following: the thirteens will be horsemen, the twelves quadrupedal beasts, and the elevens bipedal humanoids. Each figure is painted predominantly in the colour of its suit, with details in the other colour (Spirit and Bone are black with red detail; Flesh and Blood are red with black detail). Each horseman wears a helmet, carries a weapon in his right hand and a round shield in his left. By the feet of each horse is a small pet animal.

I'm not yet settled on the design for the two Jokers. I'm currently mulling over the idea of the Red Joker being all intricate and fancy while the Black Joker stands on the opposite side of the scale: fully simple and toned down.

My sketches and notes on the deck.
 When brainstorming for subject matter, I took the name of each suit and gathered around it a cloud of my personal associations.  For example: FLESH - carnality, hedonism, self-indulgence, luxury, wealth...; animals: goat, satyr, monkey...; details: ruffles, jewellery, expensive fabrics...; weapon: club (phallic symbol); horse: covered with a luxurious caparison. There is usually more than one direction in which associations can go, so I always picked just one of them (e.g. Flesh could also have been interpreted neutrally - as an anatomical, biological thing, the physical body; however this quite religious interpretation provided me with a chance to use more colourful imagery). I also took into account how fun it would be to paint the particular image.

I did the same for every suit, and ended up with a pretty clear idea of what I will be painting. Though there might be some tweaks to the designs as I go along, of course.  

Some more sketches: face cards and aces.
 The next step was actually making a few cards for each suit to see how my ideas looked when realized. Pretty good, actually:

The first deck (bottom row) VS the new deck (top row). Left to right: ace of Flesh, eight of Blood,  six of Bone and twelve of Spirit.

And now I just have to finish the rest. It's a slow process, since I only work on this when I really feel like it and I find enough time. But I'll get there eventually.  

Unlike the first deck, this one will feature illustrated Jokers and face cards (eleven to thirteen of each suit). So far I have finished these three twelves (Blood, Spirit and Flesh).

Tuesday 17 June 2014

XLVI. Eater of Children

This weekend I've been busy with this miniature version of the Pale Man, a grotesque child-eating monster from Pan's Labyrinth. I've wanted to make this conversion ever since I first saw the film, and now I had an excuse to do it. He will be a Henchman in the fairy crew I'm working on. :)
If you don't know what I'm talking about, take a peek at this post: HERE.

The Pale Man.

I found the perfect miniature to start from: GW Dark Eldar Ur-Ghul. It is Finecast (I won't comment on the quality of GW's resin casts; it's been discussed and ranted about enough all over the Internet), and it comes in two parts, plus an extra head for those who need more than one and want variety. The creature is about human sized, and it comes with a 25mm round base. It would look best on a 30mm, but I put it on a 40mm lipped base for practical reasons (if I ever wish to use this crew as counts-as Hamelin&co. in Malifaux this mini would represent Nix, and Nix is on a 40mm base).

When I was thinking about the pose I had several options, but I went with this one because it is the most iconic. This meant I needed a couple of open hands to replace the original fists.

The bits: one Ur-Ghul and a pair of plastic Pink Horror hands.

First I needed to take my power tool and grind his legs thin, turning some of the muscles into hanging skin flaps. I took the tool to his head as well, removing all the excess nostrils until he was left with the proper amount of two. I cut off the arms and built complete new ones with green stuff over paperclip armature. You can see the armature showing on the right arm in this crappy picture.

I sculpted the skin hanging under his chin, and the eyes on his palms. The eyes drove me crazy, I just couldn't get them right. Had to redo them three or four times.

After all the bits came together and got properly blended in, the mini was ready for some paint. This is just the white basecoat and the first light-grey wash.

The idea was to fit him among other fae, and at the same time keep him recognisable as what he is supposed to be. The colour scheme obviously deviates from the source material because I wanted to adapt him for the crew; this unnatural skin tone is standard for my fairies, and so are the creepy black eyes. But the details on the sculpt and the iconic pose should be enough for him to look familiar to someone who had seen Pan's Labyrinth. 

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You might have noticed a couple of new elements in the sidebar. In case you haven't, they look just like this:
Clicking on them will take you to pages dedicated to the Countess' and the Plague Doctor's crews. They contain pictures and fluff about the characters, all gathered in one place. For now it's just these two, but eventually each of the factions will get their own page.

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Sunday 8 June 2014

XLV. Stolen

The Stolen trio.
As I sad before, they are children that were stolen from their homes and are kept under the Piper's influence. Such kids are normally taken to a Fae market and sold as slaves, pets or snacks.

I wanted the Stolen to be visually linked to the Master of the crew, not too different from each other, and well-sculpted. I took a look at miniature children from a number of different companies, including Wyrd, GW, Reaper and Hasslefree, before I concluded these would be the best choice (although OOP). 
The uniformed look is plausible storywise, since the Piper might want to give his wares a standardised and recognisable wrapping. See, they are even decorated with a pretty yellow bow. 
The colour scheme of their clothing matches that of the Piper. The fairy enchantment they are under causes their skin to become eerily pale and their eyes give away a faint blue glow.

They all started as one and the same sculpt: Sidiamie from the old Rackham range. And since I wanted them to be quite similar but not identical, I had to make some minor conversion work. The one in the middle is unchanged- painted as it was. The one in the right just lost his horsey, and the rest of the distinguishing elements are in the paintjob. The one in the left went through the biggest transformation: his toy horse was likewise removed, but also the hat he used to hold behind his back. I sculpted a new hat on his head.

The boy with the hat; before painting.

My favourite detail about these is the little horse on wheels pulled by one of the boys. The paintjob on it is based on a traditional wooden children's toy from Hrvatsko Zagorje region in northern Croatia. I love those toys. The horsey on the miniature is really tiny, and I was afraid I would not be able to pull it off, but I managed quite well. :)

"Villagers along the pilgrimage route to the Marian shrine of Our Lady of the Snow in Marija Bistrica in Hrvatsko Zagorje in northern Croatia developed a technique for traditional manufacturing of children’s wooden toys that has now been handed down for generations.
The men in a family take soft willow, lime, beech and maple wood from the region and dry, hew, cut and carve it using traditional tools; the women then apply ecologically-friendly paint in improvisational floral or geometric patterns, painting ‘from imagination’. The whistles, horses, cars, tiny furniture, spinning dancers, jumping horses and flapping birds produced today are almost identical to those made more than a century ago – though no two toys are precisely the same, thanks to the handcrafted production process.
Popular among both locals and tourists, these toys are sold in parish fairs, markets and specialty shops around the world. They have also evolved with the times and, in addition to the traditional shapes such as horses and carts, new ones representing cars, trucks, airplanes and trains have appeared, reflecting the world surrounding modern-day children. Tiny toy instruments, carefully tuned as they are created, still serve as important components in the musical education of rural children."
- from the UNESCO website
Wooden horse, made in Laz Stubički, 1989. Photo by Ethnographic Museum/Zagreb.

And in the end, a group shot of the Fairy faction:

The Piper, Bratcatchers and the Stolen.