Finally finished fantasy frogs

Following on from my post in the Month of Marsh, I’ve finally finished a group of six fantasy frog minis.  I’ve been working on them on and off since September.  A couple of them were a bit frustrating to paint, and there are some rough edges, but overall I’ve achieved the effect I was after.

I knew I wanted to paint each frog in a different colour scheme, based on real frog patterns.  So I tried to select sculpts that would look coherent in a group, ideally with some sort of identifiable culture rather than a generic fantasy look.  Mayincatec frogs and lizards are common, either due to Amazon Basin biodiversity or Games Workshop’s slann and lizardmen of the 1980s and 1990s.  I opted for a half dozen who looked like they would be more at home in (or around) the Pacific islands, with shell armour, wood-and-bone weapons – compatible enough with future Amazonian purchases but with their own distinct flavour.  From left to right, two Reaper Bones II squog warriors, three Otherworld Miniatures lesser boglings II, and lone Reaper Dark Heaven Legends Mudcroak, frogman shaman.

This was my first time painting Reaper Bones and I remain unconvinced.  I had difficulty trimming away the rough edges (I found the whole mini had too much ‘give’ to either cut or file), and found that they lacked sharpness in the details – washes and drybrushing didn’t seem to yield good results, leaving me to paint details in very manually with my smallest brushes.  I was also not particularly fond of the integral bases, which seemed very roughly sculpted.

To resolve that last issue first, I re-based them in 25mm round slotta bases.  That’s definitely ‘in’ rather than ‘on’.  I cut away the top of two bases with a scalpel, stuck the remaining ring onto wide masking tape, and part-filled them with Araldite, into which I then plopped the squogs.  I did my best to avoid crevices around the rim using Araldite and later

strategically applied liquid green stuff and various technical paints.  This gave me a very deeply recessed base, which I’d eventually fill with Vallejo water effects.  I also used this instead of varnish on the minis – it’s very thick, looks really wet and seems to remain flexible, so should be suitable for the Bones material.  I did have a couple of setbacks with the bases:  the water effects reacted strangely with the lichen, creating a milky effect, and seemed to get drawn up into the tufts.  Lesson learned.

I undercoated them both; one with Army Painter matte white spray and the other with Citadel Imperial Primer.  I know that’s not meant to be necessary – and Reaper Bones reacts quite badly to some sprays – but I figured it was worth experimenting.  I didn’t have any trouble with tackiness or adhesion, although I did find that some later layers seemed to be more fragile on the sprayed mini.  I think that’s more to do with the paint I was using – I’ve found  at least my pot of Citadel’s Dryad Bark doesn’t adhere well to anything much.

The colour schemes were inspired by New Zealand’s green and golden bell frog (Ranoidea aurea) with abnormal xanthochromism, and the American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus or Rana catesbeiana).  According to Wikipedia:

This frog has an olive green back and sides blotched with brownish markings and a whitish belly spotted with yellow or grey. The upper lip is often bright green and males have yellow throats.

I really enjoyed the transition from Granny Smith apple green through yellow, olive and into browns, which I think rather lifts what might have been a bit of a dull paint job.  For the rest, I used pretty standard wood, leather and bone colours for most of the equipment, red for the loincloths, and a formula of off-white, pink and blue that seems to work quite well for the shells.

As I’ve said, I found these two quite challenging and frustrating.  I’m actually quite happy with the final results though, despite the imperfections, so I won’t write off Reaper Bones just yet.

I don’t have a huge amount more to say about the Otherworld lesser boglings.  I really enjoy painting Otherworld’s miniatures.  They have a fantastically retro design ethos, with subtle and understated details.  I would definitely recommend them, especially to anyone with an interest in Oldhammer or early editions of D&D.  Two of them came with turtle-shell shields.  I wanted the shaman to be the only unarmoured member of the group, so the third lesser bogling – the tall one in the middle – received a 90s Games Workshop shield, painted gold and weathered with oxide.  The colours, again from left to right, were adapted from an Australian green tree frog (Litoria caerulea), poison dart frog (Ranitomeya amazonica), and yellow-banded poison dart frog (Dendrobates leucomelas).  Again, I varnished them with a thick layer of Vellejo water effects medium.

I painted Mudcroak last.

This is an excellent mini.  It’s absolutely packed with details, and almost all of them contribute to the mini’s unique identity.  There’s no arbitrary swords or other generic fantasy accessories – instead he’s bedecked with starfish, shells and seaweed.  It’s in three parts – the staff-arm is separate, joined at a weird shoulder pad – and there’s an optional skull-helmet.  I painted the skull separately, otherwise it would have been tricky to get colour into the eye sockets and nasal cavity.  I assembled the rest in advance.  The integral base is quite large so I needed to use a 30mm round slotta to achieve the same effects as I’d used for the Bones squogs.  This and the larger weapon left the some of his underside quite inaccessible, but I think I managed comprehensive coverage of at least the base colours.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I liked the idea of a humble, ugly, purple frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis) wielding strange arcane and cosmic power.  To suggest some standing among his peers, Mudcroak alone isn’t armed with any melee weapons or shields, and I painted his loincloth with a jaguar skin pattern.

Somehow a little bit of undergrowth got stuck to his nose during varnishing.  Perhaps it’s a herb, used to heighten his consciousness.

So:  six months after a random D&D encounter with a couple of bullywugs, and a month too late for the Month of Marsh, I’ve finally finished my fantasy frogs.  I think I need a break before I buy a slann.

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3 thoughts on “Finally finished fantasy frogs

  1. Ive wondered about the Reaper frogs and their suitability to conversion. I don’t know that I realized they were their “bones” range. That’s . . . too bad. Still, yours seem to have come out well, thanks to the effort invested. The water effect looks pretty nice. I’ve only just begun experimenting with brush on glass varnishes. (Applied sparingly in places. I’m usually pretty fond of flat.) My frogs I simply left unvarnished, so that the natural sheen of the ink made them look glossy. (I’ve done that with a few miniatures.) Maybe I should go back and hit them with a gloss varnish. That’s a nice bunch of pond people you’ve got there. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for your comment! The Reaper frogs come in both metal and Bones – I got Mudcroak in metal because the Bone’s version is actually just a warrior body with a skull helmet, and I wanted the shaman’s staff, and the Bones warriors to try out this fancy new, dirt-cheap material. The metal warriors look like they’re pretty much identical to the Bones version in design, but about four times more expensive (and presumably easier/more fun to work with). There’s another, taller set of three frogs from Reaper too.

      Interesting tip about the glossy effect from the ink. I went for a super thick coat because the Vallejo medium seems to form a fairly flexible skin, and I was worried about how my paint would adhere to the Bones. I used the same approach on the metal minis for consistency. I’ve only really been painting for about six months, so I’m just now starting to use inks with more precision than a general ‘dip’.

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