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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Paintedfigs.Com - The Trouble with Character Minis

I like what Paizo is doing with Pathfinder, in particular, the way they are leveraging other products and the 3rd Ed SRD in order to put together a new, composite product -- and sell the hell out of it. 

What Paizo has shown us with Pathfinder is what Wyrd Miniatures showed us with Malifaux. You can have the nicest minis in the world sitting around, but unless you've a game of some sort to go with them, gamers tend not to be interested. To be fair, Reaper really should have got off their butts and sorted this out well before Paizo did it: it's a bit like if GW did hohum sales until the Warstore decided to create a game called "Warhammer Forty Thousand" and "Sigmar, What A Guy").

What this means for us out here is that there's more character painting to be done -- and its needs to be done in volume, cheaply, and quickly.

You would think character mini painting is a much bigger challenge than painting blocks of uniform figures, and you would be right. There are no efficiencies in painting, scale, or design. Figures need individualized attention not only from the painter but from me and Suraj (design), and this simply is not scaleable (and we've certainly learned not to mess with things that aren't scaleable).

We do manage painting blocks of characters though, but we do it by:

- using reference pictures we're asked to match or use to get general theme and feel
- hand-waves from the client towards the right direction ("make them look Arabian!")
- being left entirely to own devices ("it's clearly a jungle native in a grass skirt. Make him brown!").

Clients have the same challenges when working with a mass of individual characters a well though, so this is usually how things work out.

The problem is when we only have a few characters to deal with -- this is where things are manageable enough for the client to give detailed instructions per miniature ("red sash, yellow shoes, green eyes, black belts and pouches, etc...") but the time involved in execution starts scaling massively. This is one of the reasons we charge a minimum order free or urge people interested in just a single miniature, to try over at Coolmini.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Paintedfigs.Com 3d Printing: We Found a Fancy 3d Printer!

We visited a university yesterday that we heard had a high end, 3d printing machine which nobody was using. Turned out it was no rumor. What was even more fantastic, was that they were more than happy to have us use their machine to print our miniature masters (which we'll use for making molds later).

In the picture below, the structure I am holding is printed to a 25 micrometer resolution. That's finer than my eye can pick out. The machine just needs standard, .STL, 3d design files.

Generally, working with the government out here is massively annoying, expensive, and slow. We honestly weren't expecting to find highly professional, dedicated, honest academics who were excited as we were at the prospect of us using new technologies to produce miniatures.

This is Daniel, our engineer (playing with some sort of etching and milling machine). Daniel and the head of the lab got on famously, they geeked out over technology fairs; insane machines; and German engineering like, well, wargamers over a new codex.

We'll be doing a test print with them soon. We're also working on making molds and building a casting machine, so let's see where this little project goes.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Forge World Space Orks!

Lee Jones is an client of ours from Canada, and he is quite clearly mad.

If you take a look at our galleries, you'll see his name pop up fairly frequently. I'm pretty sure his is the largest Ork army we've ever painted, we've done several orders for it already and it looks like we'll have several more to go. The bar keeps being raised regarding what constitutes a horde army, but I'm guessing Lee is going to be one the chaps who gets a deciding say in where that bar is.

Here are some pics of some his Forge World items, I picked them because one doesn't see these every day. The centerpiece is the Marauder-conversion, he's done an excellent job of "orkifying" it.

We have some other projects we're working on for Lee, including Sisters of Battle. My hope is that they'll end up with a Hello Kitty theme and scheme, but to be fair, that's already been done.