How Not To Paint: Descent Naga

I’ve spent a lot of time this week working on how to make D&D (3.5) simpler for me to run. Firstly I bought Herolab (for £2) and spent an hour or so dropping all the heroes into that. Took me a lot longer to get the swashbuckler in there because I had to build her up from scratch, but I think it’s working now.

But the major thing I’ve been working on is a DM tool. I had a look at D20pro, DunDjinni and Fantasy Grounds, but I didn’t really like any of them. So in the end I set about using flash to design my own tool. The idea is to have a flash map, which when you click on a room opens that room in the main window. Then each object and monster in the room can be hovered over so that vital stats are displayed. For example a door might have the hardness, hps and break DC’s listed, a chest might display its contents including trap info.

Unfortunately the map I’m designing is for the Sunless Citadel campaign and so is completely copyright protected, which means I can’t put it up for download to show you guys how useful this tool is, but I may do some generic stuff in the future…

Anyway, on with the show. This week we’re doing Nagas. After undercoating with Black Primer I painted the eyes Astronomican Grey, the teeeth with Tausept Ochre, Mechrite Red for the tongue and the body with Hormaguant Purple.P9250290Next I added white to the eyes, a mix of white and burgundy to the tongue, pale flesh for the teeth and then painted the whole body with a thick layer of Royal PurpleP9250291 Like so. (10 points to the first person who can name the show I’m watching. Minus points for anyone who names the episode.) Next I added White to the Royal Purple and painted all the texture on the body. P9260292 Yes, that really does take as long as you might think, a whole hour in fact. I wasn’t following the details of the model exactly with this stage, I’m just trying to give the impression of texture to the paint work.  P9260293 The next stage was to drag a thin coat of Royal Purple over the whole thing. The paint is very thin so works well for this. I just dipped my brush in the pot and dragged it over the body, making sure the paint wasn’t allowed to pool in large amounts. The result you’re left with is certainly a reasonably stopping place for this model, however I wasn’t done with the self flagellation yet!  P9260294 The next stage was a lot faster. I added a line of Blue Grey approximately two thirds of the size of the original ridge to all the top sides of the body. I aimed to put the blue grey between the purple lines, but I was working quickly and not overly neatly. P9260295 Now with Astronomican Grey I added a line approximately a third of the size of the original. This time I was aiming to get each line between the blue grey lines. I also used this stage to add a bit of detail to the face, especially the eyes, lips, nose and ears. P9260296 Both sets of highlights took about half an hour and were applied quickly rather than scientifically. Next I added Cygnar Blue to all the spikes. I also added some details to the face in White, these will be painted red later. P9260297 So, I added Burgundy to the white areas to make them red. I then set about highlighting the spikes and yes, that took ages too! Each spike was given three or four lines of Blue Grey as a highlight. I could have then done a second highlight and wash, but that seemed a bit much for a boardgame piece.

The final stage is wash the whole model with Leviathan Purple. Let it dry and then wash it all again. Lastly I picked out any details that may have gotten lost such as the eyes and teeth and then did base. P9270298 I went with Gale Force 9 earth, rocks and clump foliage. The grey rocks are Javis. The edge of the base was painted with Pale Flesh. P9270299 For those who want to put in the time and effort, this would be a great model for adding custom elements to the base. For example an egg clutch would look great. P9270300 I could have added more depth to the model by doing another couple of layers of Blue Grey and Astronomican Grey ridges, but I feel this is enough, considering there are three of these bad boys in the box.

The very last thing is to spray the model with some Purity Seal to stop the basing flaking off and making a mess of the box.

So, that’s Nagas. Join me next week for more monstery goodness.


  1. Wow - you turned a pretty ordinary figure into a fantastic one. Great job.
    I have two Otherworld rust monsters just waiting to be painted, your work is a great inspiration.

  2. Thanks Sam. Sometimes it pays to paint what's not there. Adding extra detail to a model with paint can spruce up some terrible sculpts.

    As for those OW Rusties, they are excellent models! Get some paint on them. Dont forget to put an order in with OW before the sale ends on thursday!

  3. Have got a bunch of OW figures - they are very nice to paint. I keep looking at the site and wondering what to buy, and then looking at my ton of unpainted lead...
    On which note - I saw from looking through older blog entries that you have done comissions before? Is that something you still do? It'd be great to send you a few figures you are interested in paintng and pay for them to be painted up.

  4. Hey Sam. I do do commissions, it's not my main source of income though, so I have to fit it around my other work. You can contact me at this email address and let me know what you want painting etc.

  5. Great work Chris! While some of the Descent sculpts leave a bit to be desired (IMHO), this one is actually quite good. Your talents have elevated it to outstanding.

  6. Thanks Finch.

    I agree the plastics FFG produce are not "miniature game" standard, but you can still get a good looking result out of them.

    Because the models themselves aren't perfect, I don't care as much about being perfect either. This means I can work quickly, painting often in two tone and relying on washes to elevate the work.

    For example the Sorcerers took about 45 minutes each, the Hell Hounds an hour. Even this Naga only took 3 hours and its a big model. If it had been an Otherworld model it would have taken three days.

    As I said before, painting what's not there can add a lot to any model. Small things like facial hair, tattoos, freehand runes can all help to make a plain and boring model look great.

    I've nearly finished the step by step for the skeletons, once that's done I'm taking a break and focusing on my OW goblins!


  7. I am always nervous about adding touches like tattoos and runes - always worried I'll mess it up and have to paint over. Best I've done is a bit of woad on some barbarian types.
    Should just bite the bullet and give it a go. Any tips?
    Hope you indulged as much as I did in the OW sale :-)

  8. Actually I indulged in a couple of vouchers a while back so I'm set for OW spending money for some time to come.

    I tend to shy away from freehand stuff too. I've done some bits on body armour for futuristic models but not much. For that kind of thing I can recommend using a bold out line like Black or White to really pick the design out and it can also be used to tidy it up.

    Another tip for freehand work is to buy a good fine tip pen and draw your design onto the model and then paint over it. Generally people will have greater control over a pen than a brush and ink flows much more freely than paint.


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