Painting a Darksword Miniature – Part 1
Darksword minis are a bit daunting to the average joe painter like myself. Very fine detail with great care going into the proportion of the limbs and weapons. Then of course there is the professionally painted miniature that they have done to show it off to it’s very best. The one I’ve included as the main picture on this post was by Matt Verzani, and is an exceptional piece of work. I mean I’m not going to get close to that, and up till recently that’s always put me off.
I’m used to painting old Citadel pre-slottas which were always sculpted in fairly broad strokes compared to Darksword. They have bolder detail, chunky limbs and occasionally are just a bit, well wonky. Darksword are statues that just happen to be 35mm tall. Tom Meier set the standard for true proportions, and it’s carried through on all Darksword miniatures.
So why have I changed my mind and started painting a few. Well I think I’ve got a bit better over the last few years. Trying to paint for an hour every day has made a difference to the quality of my output. I also like them, which is why I sell them in my shop. They’re not cheap, but if you are a painter and collector like me, it’s an investment in your collection as well as a painting challenge. I decided on DSM7409 Female Ranger with Falcon.
What’s in the blister ?
So what do you get in your blister pack? Well in this case a metal miniature with the falcon on her hand as a separate casting. Both have the little metal casting channel bit’s and bob’s still attached, and the main figure has a slight moulding line running across it. The sword was bent where it had been pressed against the side of the blister too. This is very common with thin cast sections in blister packs, most end up looking more like a horseshoe than a fighting weapon.
First job, using smooth jawed pliers was to gently straighten the blade of the sword. Don’t just try and yank it back in one go. Little tweeks done gently is all it takes to get it back straight and in line with the hilt.
Cleanup is again a gentle and somewhat boring affair with a sharp scalpel knife and a selection of fine files and very fine abrasive sticks. I don’t sell these but the Grumpy Welsh Wizard at MDP does, along with a host of other useful bits an pieces.
I don’t think there are many painters who actually enjoy preping their miniatures before painting. It is though essential groundwork if you want a good result. The same goes for attaching the falcon to her outstretched arm. The sculptor has provided a small dimple and pip arrangement, which probably worked perfectly on the green master sculpt, but on the production cast is now a bit crude and lumpy.
Attaching the Falcon
It’s tempting to just sand the pip off and blob on some superglue, a method I’m guilty of for too many pieces in my collection. This being more exacting, I have to be as well. I still removed the pip on th end of her arm, but now I’ve put a centre mark and drilled in very carefully using a pin vise. I’m going to be pinning it with a short length of 0.5mm brass rod to give it a bit more strength. Drill the hole a little oversize so the rod is a bit loose. When you glue it in, it allows a bit of room for the superglue to work round the rod and also make contact with the metal of the miniature.
The dimple in the gloved hand beneath the falcon acts as a centre point for the second hole. Again drill it a bit oversize. Next, cut a short length of the 0.5mm brass rod and carefully glue it into the hole for the falcon. The trick here is to let it set completely before doing anything else. Once it is set, offer it up into the hole on the arm, and cut away any excess till just enough is left protruding to fit in the hole comfortably. Again glue this in place and leave it to dry.
There will probably be a bit of a join gap left, so a tiny bit of expoy putty and a bit of patience smoothing the stuff out will make that good. I used Brownstuff from a well known retailer who also has a good range of Darksword miniatures 😉
I tried an airbrush but have never really got on with the thing, so I continue to prime by brush. The bulk of my paints are Reaper MSP now so it makes sense to use their primers too. I think everyone has their own views on what colour is best. Some swear by black, others white and others various shades of grey. A lot is down to personal preference on how you want your mini to turn out. Dark colours always cover better than light ones, so trying to do a mostly white miniature over a black primer will take a lot more work. I tend to go for a light grey by mixing some of Reaper’s Brush on Primer, with their Grey Primer to make it less dark. Brush on a couple of coats, allowing for proper drying inbetween and that’s it, prep done.
Now just to paint the thing, but that’s for Part 2.