As this transition to life in Texas stretches onward, I’ve struggled to work on anything new. Most of my gaming and hobby time has grind to a halt as we wait for our house to finish up and most of my stuff stuck in storage. There are some signs of light at the end of the tunnel as things look to close in the next couple months. Still a ways to go but soon we’ll measure the time in weeks and days instead of vague months. That being said, I did have some projects I finished up right before the move and was able to carve out some time today to showcase them properly.
Back almost a year ago, friend Sean and I were talking about Christmas and he brought that friends of his used to exchange painted minis as gifts to each other during the holiday season. This was something that I’d been thinking of off and on for awhile now but the concept was never well-formed until this discussion. Nothing formal really came of it but I decided to look into it in more detail.
Both Sean and Colton have private google sheets detailing their Infinity collections. This is a smart way to track what they own and their progress (existing vs owned vs assembled vs painted) but, having shared their lists with me to show me how I could do the same, I now had access to what they owned. The idea started to take shape that I would secretly get them a miniature and paint it up for them for the holiday. Life would ultimately get in the way and ambition would morph the project into something much bigger than just a painting project.
For Colton, I checked through his list and decided to go for Perseus who seemed good for general use army builds. We’ve joked around a bit about the Nomad faction players and their jokes usually involving replacing the head of a person with the Nomad faction symbol. I thought this figure would be the perfect opportunity to try out the meme and work it into the model.
After cleaning and assembling the model, I took my sprue snips and cut off Perseus’ head.
A small pin would serve to keep the new head in place. The last thing I wanted was all the hard work to be undone with a loose head ball coming off and getting lost.
My greenstuff skills are good enough to at least make a ball so I worked one to the appropriate size and let it cure. Once cure, I drilled in the pin hole to mount it and finalize the model. For painting, I actually kept the head separate to make painting easier.
While Colton prefers the standard company paint schemes for his minis, I did want to do some research to see if there was anything else. In doing so, I stumbled upon this amazing diorama from Steve Garcia. Ironically, Steve is in the Austin area and I just recently signed up for a two day painting course he is running in October. While I ultimately decided to keep with the standard Corvus Belli paint scheme, the diorama concept was inspiring.
I started down the rabbit hole of Dioramas and then stumbled upon Lazy Painter and this gift set concept he started doing. The article is a fantastic read of both conceptual design and execution (and I built my whole concept from his ideas).
I knew I wanted to make a diorama and an integrated miniature that could be used in game as well much like the Lazy Painter did. I got working up painting Perseus (now named Bromadeus after the common “Bromad” name of Nomad faction affiliates). At the same time, I decided to pick up an Echo Bravo from PanOceania for Sean.
The Echo Bravo unit is one I’ve been looking at a lot even though I don’t play the faction. I really liked the sculpt and thought the pose and design of the model would work well with the new airbrushing technique I was using. Having picked up the model after the diorama concept was formed, I was already seeing the space I wanted this mini to exist in.
Painting up the models went quite well and I was very happy with how they turned out. The bases were similar to the ones both Sean and Colton already use. Sean’s Varuna sectorial also uses the traditional Corvus Belli paint scheme so I continued with that theme for both models. I was really happy with how Bromadeus’ head turned out. The concept is really easy but I was worried the precise nature of the angles and smallness of that detail would be something I’d struggle with. I also like the edge highlighting and airbrush shading I was able to do on Sean’s Echo Bravo.
In parallel with the painting of the minis, I was also laying out the diorama scheme. For Bromadeus, I loved Steve Garcia’s use of an interior hatch space and found some suitable terrain on Thingiverse (unfortunately I don’t see it up on the site anymore).
I printed the various pieces and glued them together for Bromadeus’ display. The concept would use not only the bulkhead as a background but I also wanted depth and to add a lighting feature to each display.
For this one, I built another hall that would run behind the bulkhead and have a out-of-view tea light flickering to add some additional interest. I then primed everything black and used some successively lighter grey tones to add some lighting detail.
With the main walls printed, I measured out the structure and created the base plate in Fusion360. I needed a recessed hole for the mini’s base to fit in and some floor detail to match the base theme and help it look integrated to the space.
With everything primed and fitting well, it was off to the detailing stage.
Keeping all the components separate, I was able to easily detail the dirty interior of the walls and give that depth that I was hoping for with the fully painted back wall.
With all the interior painted and sealed, I glued it down and assembled the lighting piece. Greenstuff was used again to seal in the gaps between the tea light and the walls. Finally, I built a top to cover that back space and allow the corridor to remain dark in any lighting environment and give the tea light a chance to flicker in the background. I added a cutout whole on the top for any of the Infinity patches that are offered by Corvus Belli and other fan groups like my Bromad Academy patch.
The only thing left was to mask the interior and base coat the outside black and run a final seal pass.
Working on the Bromadeus display first taught me quite a few things about how to make the setup easier. By comparison, the Echo Bravo display was a cake walk. I found that I could pre-assemble the walls in the slicer and I wouldn’t have to worry about gluing and greenstuffing the gaps afterwards. Also, I could use the base of the Bromadeus display to build the Echo Bravo one.
Jumping forward, I created the full wall and then the large base in just two prints making assembly very easy. The pose of Echo Bravo gave me this idea that I wanted her coming in from above and lighting something up below with her close range light rocket launcher. This would give me a chance to add a lighting feature with one of my favorite items: a flicker candle smoke piece. Both the Echo Bravo and the smoke piece would be removable for actual board play.
PanO being a “cleaner” faction in my view, I instead used a the airbrushing to do some cleaner highlights and a little OSL with the lower floor to help accent the flames.
It was a lot of fun working on these and I even made boxes with pluck foam holders to transport everything. The gifts were given to Sean and Colton just days before I finally left. They promised to get a game in with both of their new minis and didn’t disappoint. The Echo Bravo ended lighting a ton of Nomads on fire but poor Bromadeus underperformed and bit the dust after a few bad rolls.
If I was to do it over again, I would have completed the package by integrating both displays into one. Or maybe making them serve as standalone terrain pieces as well. Or Both!