Today’s model is the Reaper Bones Hydra, from their first Kickstarter. This model is one that I started about 14 months ago. I wanted it to work decently both as a display model as well as a wargaming piece. I used a few pieces of slate, carefully placed, including a nice sized piece in order to elevate the model – both literally and figuratively. During the process of painting this model and the time that it spent sitting on my desk waiting for some attention, I noticed that the heads of this Bones hydra tend to get a bit lost amongst one another.
These first two photographs serve well to illustrate a couple of things about how Games Workshop/Citadel paint and pose their multi-headed models. Workshop seem to either carefully split the heads, avoiding having any in almost-identical side-by-side poses as the two rear ones on the Bones model are. With other models, such as Archaon, GW design their models specifically to have the heads painted in different colours or styles – which again helps them to stand out from one another. Which isn’t to say that this sculpt, by Sandra Garrity is a bad one. Just that the way that the model is posed compared to other, more recent models which are sculpted perhaps it’s fair to say – with the finished, painted product more in mind became apparent. I think simply changing the pose of either the middle rear or middle left head head/neck would elevate this model further.
I’ve been painting for a long time now, and I’ve been able to turn out things to a nice standard for a lot of that time. I was commission painting when I was 16, and at 18 I won Best Figure and Best 40k figure at Cancon. (Before they gave trophies, unfortunately – assuming that they do now? I got a pair of certificates which are well lost at this point.) While that’s all well and good, what it really means is that as a painter I hit my plateau pretty early, and improving further from there has been a long, slow process.
Since I started blogging again as a way to share my models and motivate me to paint more, I’ve also been trying to improve and add new skills to my bow. Part of that is risk-taking and experimenting with new methods, materials and techniques. I have more than one of these models, since Bones 1 was in the days I went quite heavy on Kickstarters. Knowing that I had another one up my sleeve allowed me the freedom to try something I probably would not ordinarily have tried – that is instead of painting the Hydra in a shade of green, or even a turquoise/teal that fits my overall Dark Elf scheme, I went for what I wanted to be more naturalistic browns. I also played around with my airbrush (which I am awful with!) to try and achieve some nice looking gradients. While that actually worked(!), I felt that the rather deep scales sculpted onto this model demanded more contrast since the airbrushing was so smooth and the sculpted scales didn’t stand out at all.
My (attempted) solution – which in my opinion didn’t work well – and is the reason that the model then spent a year (or two?) sitting on my desk unfinished until recently was to try a mix of Minitaire’s Airbrush Paints – specifically, their Ghost Tints. I’ve used them before, though never on a model this size. Now coming to the model for the first time and seeing it finished in these pics, it might look fine to the reader. But you know when you have a picture in your head about how you’d like something to look? Now imagine that, and imagine it coming along nicely, and then imagine it all coming undone once it dries. Now if I’d gone for Oil Washes, I probably could have removed it all due to the way that oil paints dry much more slowly and can still be removed and cleaned up with spirits.
I think the base worked out well, but in the end, the model fell short of what I’d envisioned for it. Could I go back and try to fix it up and redo elements of the model? Sure, but at the same time, I have another one to paint that would be a better use of my time than repainting this one, and my enthusiasm for this particular model waned to the point where it literally sat in front of me for over a year before I made myself finish it off. Sometimes you’ve just got to call something good enough for what it is, and call it done. In the end, the model looks decent and perfectly fine for a wargaming model.
In gaming terms, the model will have a home in the Pan-Elven army to start with (using the Dark Elf/Twilight Kin list), and eventually find a home with the Mythological Greek Army.