Wednesday, March 15, 2023

A-to-Z Blog Challenge 2023 Theme Reveal

I'm probably going to regret this, but I'm throwing my hat in the ring for the 2023 A-to-Z Blog challenge.

I haven't done the A-to-Z since 2017. I stopped doing it because April is a very hectic time for me at work, so it never made sense to try and write and visit so many blogs during my busiest time of year. So why am I doing it this year? I don't have a friggin' clue. Maybe because I have something interesting I want to talk about?

I guess that leads me straight into my topic reveal reveal. This year, I want to blog about... MINIATURE PAINTING!

What is miniature painting? Not limning, which is the 16th-17th century art of executing small, fine portraits on vellum, prepared card, copper, or ivory.

I did not paint this 1524 portrait of Henry VIII. That was Lucas Horenbout (probably). Credit:

No, I'm talking about painting miniature gaming figurines - the kind you get with board games, tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons and wargames like Warhammer 40K. It is a fun, finnicky hobby that takes up a lot of time (and money). Personally I love it and find it very peaceful and relaxing - though I can appreciate it's not everyone's cup of tea. Painting tiny details on models that are barely an inch tall may appear daunting to some. 

Here are some minis that I did paint, along with a handy Canadian quarter for size comparison.

It can certainly be tricky at times, and frustrating, but I enjoy learning and improving. I painted my first minis nearly twenty years ago, but I never really got into it because I had no idea what I was doing. I just recently got back into it about six months ago, and I've gone hard. (Please don't tell my wife how much I've spent on paint and brushes) (Though it's partly her fault - she bought me a 3D printer for Christmas) I've basically been trying to catch up on the last two decades by painting as many models as I can as quickly as I can, and yeah, it's a hobby that's rapidly turning into a bit of an obsession.

Anyway, I've been chronicling my painting adventures here on this blog (read part one here and part two here), but I'm going to get into more of the nitty-gritty in the month of April where I'll talk about different painting techniques, types of paints and brushes, as well as share pictures of my own work as well as photos from people who are way, way better than me. I'm sure it will be of absolutely no interest to anyone but myself, but that's what the A-to-Z blogging challenge is all about, isn't it?

That's it for now. I know you're waiting with baited breath to read about brush hair length and zenithal priming, but you're going to have to tremble with anticipation for a little bit longer. I'm off to check out some of the other participants, and I'll be back April 1st!

Good luck, everyone!

Hugs & Kisses,

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

My Miniature Painting Journey (Part 2: Speedpaint and Etsy)

This is an ongoing series about my newly re-discovered love of painting miniature gaming figurines. To read part one, click here. It was mostly about old lead minis and how I didn't thin my paints properly.

The last thing I shared in my previous post were a couple of Stormtroopers I painted, which were a pain in the ass because white is a really hard colour to work with. The reason I painted those Stormtroopers was because I was hoping I would be running a Star Wars roleplaying game. I've probably mentioned it before, but I'm a huge fan of the old Star Wars roleplaying game, and I was going through a phase where I was trying to convince my family to play a game with me. It... still hasn't happened, but it gave me an excuse to paint some Star Wars minis, which is lots of fun.

This batch were not official models from Lucasfilm, but from a designer called Black Remnant Studios. I bought the files from his Patreon and then had them 3D-printed on Etsy. After buying a couple of dozen of these is when I realized I should probably get my own 3D Printer.

After my poor experience painting Stormtroopers, I tried this Imperial Admiral using a dry-brushing technique. It worked pretty well, but it left a dusty texture on the mini which I don't like. I've since learned that this is caused by the material you use to wipe the paint off your brush, so I'm hoping the next one works better. There's also a little drip of red coming off his rank insignia that drives me nuts—I can't remember why I didn't fix it. I think I tried several times and each time I added white I messed up the colours, each time I fixed the colours I messed up the white, etc... sometimes you just have to know when to quit.

These Ewoks were done mostly with Army Painter Speedpaints. Speedpaints are a type of high-viscosity contrast paint that contains different weights of pigments, so the the darker, heavier pigments sink to the recesses of the models, and the lighter, brighter pigments sit on top. Basically it has your contrast layers built in, allowing you to paint your model much faster. In theory this is great, but it's a bit trickier than than the advertisements suggest. First, you really need to put this paint over a light, preferably white, undercoat in order for the colours to come out properly. It's hard to tell from these pictures because I messed with the brightness so much, but I used a dark grey primer on the Ewoks so they came out REALLY dark with the Speedpaint, which I was not happy about.

The other, even worse drawback is that Speedpaint never really dries. When you paint over it with anything wet, it reactivates and the paint mixes with your new medium. There are ways around it when you get the hang of it, but it's a huge headache when you're first using the stuff.

This batch of models was also some of the first I tried with custom basing (decorating the base the minis are sitting on). The Ewoks have "dry moss" material I got from the dollar store, which worked out okay.

These Jawas also used Speedpaints, which I was starting to get the hang of and worked a bit better. There are much nicer contrast gradations on their robes and belt pouches. The sand on these guys also came from the dollar store, but I painted it this time so it gave it a passable desert-looking appearance. 

This is the Crimson Corsair, a character who gets like 15 seconds of screen time in The Force Awakens. Still, it was one of my favourite paint jobs for a long time. I used a combination of regular acrylic and Speedpaint and I think it worked well. This was my first time using some gloss varnish for the helmet to give it a little extra pop (usually I use matte varnish for everything). Varnish is important for minis to protect the paint job from scuffs and scratches when you're handling them on a game table. I use matte varnish, which cuts down on glare and light reflections, which can ruin the details on such small figures.

Something varnish doesn't protect against though is the fact that 3D printer resin is really brittle. My daughter knocked this guy off a table and broke off the end of his rifle (it should be sticking overtop of his shoulder). I never found the broken piece and it irked me for a long time.

Speaking of my daughter, she picked this figurine out at the game store and asked me to paint it for her. This one is not 3D-printed, it's made of cast plastic (which is why the sword is bent—I've since learned how to fix that). It turned out pretty well—the blue is Speedpaint, which explains the really nice contrast there. The armour is a metallic silver with some darker wash in the recesses, which came out nicely. 

My daughter wanted her to have purple hair, and I bought purple metallic paint by accident, but went with it anyway. The sword was also metallic purple, but I tried to add a red tint to it and turned it completely red instead. Oh, well. My daughter liked it like that so overall I call it a success.

This is a dwarven toilet paper salesman. It was also 3D printed from Etsy. I bought it because it was hilarious and I don't regret it. Painted entirely with Speedpaint except drybrushing for the white, I was mostly happy with this one, and I was starting to get the hang of the Speedpaint... with Santa Claus  I didn't use any Speedpaint at all! This is another Etsy special... I paid a lot of shipping leading up to Christmas. For Santa I used all straight Vallejo and Army Painter acrylics, and tried to shade and highlight it by hand. I used a bit too much wash, but overall I was super happy with it, until I put on the varnish.

Up until this point I used Army Painter Anti-Shine Varnish, which comes in little 17ml bottles and is very forgiving. I was getting low on the AP stuff, so I bought a larger bottle of Vallejo matte varnish, and this was the first model I used it on. I shook it up well (which I guess you're not supposed to do) because it went on with tons of tiny little airbubbles. I noticed it but didn't think anything of it, until the air bubbles hardened and popped, leaving ugly craters ALL over my Santa Claus. They're hard to see in the picture above, so here's a close-up:
Apologies to anyone with Trypophobia.

Finally, since I did the knight above for my daughter, here's one I did for my son. We have a little pug named Grimm that he adores, so of COURSE I had to paint a pug dressed like a Grim Reaper! It would have looked better if it was a beige-coloured dog, but since our guy is black I had to work with what I had. I was also pretty pleased with this one, especially with the wrappings around the handle of the scythe, as well as the blade itself.

I've discovered as I go on with this hobby, I often find little things that I like or did well with specific models, and I try to incorporate those things with future paintjobs. I learn something everything time I paint a mini (especially at this point—I was in the middle of a rapid learning curve when I did the models collected here), so I am slowly add new skills to my toolbox. This Grimm the Reaper was also the first time I was happy with the eyes of a mini. You probably noticed from most of my models that I don't usually paint eyes... because it's REALLY HARD when the eyeballs are like half a millimeter wide. At least Grimm's were a bit bigger. 

All that to say, painting eyes is NOT something that's made it into my toolbox yet...

Anyway, that brings us up to Christmas, when I got my 3D Printer. Now I've started printing and painting ALL KINDS of stuff. Stay tuned for the next update!

Hugs & Kisses,

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

I'm not British Enough (#IWSG March 2023)

Hey, I actually worked on Gale Harbour book 3 this month! I think I wrote two new chapters and touched up several old ones. That's more than I've done in six months, so I'm pretty stoked about that. I'll get back into the groove eventually.

Also, I may be crazy, but I'm considering doing the April A-to-Z blogging challenge. Is that still a thing?

Since today's IWSG question is an excuse to post quotes from some of my favourite books, let's just right to that!

March Question - Have you ever read a line in novel or a clever plot twist that caused you to have author envy?

I've said this before, but in case you missed it: I'm not smart enough to write like Kurt Vonnegut, and I'm not British enough to write like Terry Pratchett. Virtually everything they've ever written gives me author's envy.

Here's a few of my favourite quotes from a couple of my favourite books:

Terry Pratchett, "THE HOGFATHER," regarding children believing in Santa Claus:


"So we can believe the big ones?"



'You can't give her that!' she screamed. 'It's not safe!'

"IT'S A SWORD," said the Hogfather. "THEY'RE NOT MEANT TO BE SAFE."

'She's a child!' shouted Crumley.


'What if she cuts herself?'


And one more for fun:

"Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time."

Kurt Vonnegut, MOTHER NIGHT:

“I had hoped, as a broadcaster, to be merely ludicrous, but this is a hard world to be ludicrous in, with so many human beings so reluctant to laugh, so incapable of thought, so eager to believe and snarl and hate. So many people wanted to believe me!

Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.”

(Mother Night was originally released in 1961. In our world today these words are more true and appropriate than ever)


“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

And just as an added bonus, here are a few from Douglas Adams, my other favourite author. 

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

“The story so far:

In the beginning the Universe was created.

This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

Life, the Universe and Everything

“The Guide says there is an art to flying", said Ford, "or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

“Let's think the unthinkable, let's do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.”

That's all folks!

Hugs & Kisses,

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group at

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