Dark Arts of Nerdery – Miniature making. For non-visual crafters / DnD-players

2016 May 30
by mackan

A few of my readers know that when I lost my eye-sight, a few years back, I started to look for games to play with my kids, And that is pretty much how I got back into RPGs after having been away for almost 20 years (with just an occasional game here and there).

I have blogged about how I started to play the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons, here. How it was to DM it, in a group of visual players, very much into miniatures and counting squares. (IE 4 ed players…). And I recently blogged about having started to make my first dungeon tiles.

Now, my kids are both sighted and they LOVE miniatures. But I don’t really have the dough to buy every monster, hero or other figurine they want. And then I ran into DM Scotty’s and DMG Info YouTube channels. and I got so pumped with creativity!

I want to make it very clear to everybody that I have pretty much taken their designs, as I understand them, and maybe only slightly tweaked the methods for un-sighted DM-crafters. And here are my first miniatures.

Undeads. (Skeletons and Zombies)

Gerry from DMG Info has a great video on how to make skeletons. Here are the method I used from that video (and later built upon, to make zombies).

FIRST – A FAIR WARNING:
I used to solder before. A LOT. I have mended more mic cords than you have probably seen in your whole life. So I have a soldering iron and I have soldered a few things even since I lost eye-sight. But. It is effing hard. And you can really hurt yourself with molten solder. So. Know what you are doing lest you hurt yourself.

With that said – what you need to make a wire skeleton:

What You Need

What you need to make a skeleton

4 pieces of wire. 3*2 cm and one of 3 cm.
Soldering iron.
Solder (duh)
Something to wrap your longer wire piece around. I took a small Allen key.
Tongs and Wirecutter. I have miniature ones.
Paint.
Blue tack / clay or something to keep parts, temporarily, from moving while you solder them.

Step one – form the rib cage.

Take the longer piece (3 cm) of wire and wrap it around something thin so you get a spring. This is going to be the rib cage of your skeleton.

Step two – form the spine and hip bone.

Take one of the pieces of wire and find, roughly, where the middle is. Now, form one half of the wire into a little loop. This is the hip bone of the skeleton.

Skeleton parts

Wire. Formed into skeleton parts

Step three – attach the ribcage to the spine.

Thread the ribcage onto the spine and push it all down into the blue tack, so that it is laying still. The ribcage should be in the middle of the straight spine, IE half way up from the hip bone loop. Solder it in place.

Now – I believe I said earlier that you should know how to do that or jump to the Zombies part already? Yeah. I meant that. But as a small piece of advice, get the iron well heated up and then hold it to the ribcage/spine for a while to heat that up before you try to melt the solder onto it. It is hard and I had to redo this several times, because it would fall apart when I took it out of the Blue tack.

Four – make and attach the legs.

I basically just bended one of the other wire pieces into a “U”-shape and then soldered them to the bottom of the hip bone loop. Again – Blue tack is your friend.

Five – mount the arms.

Arms are attached right on top of the rib cage, but soldered to the spine. Blue tack is your friend.

Six – Attach head.

I simply glued a bead in place and painted it all.

Unpainted skeleton

Unpainted skeleton.

And thus the skeleton itself is complete. I use 1 inch washers as a base to mount my miniatures on, so I did the same here. Two drops of hot glue from my glue gun and it was done.

Using washers, I think, is really good since it makes the miniatures really bottom-heavy and stable. They are harder to knock over on the table when you play and I am thinking about glueing washers to all my bought miniatures’ bases too, for this reason. Eventually I am thinking about making magnetic tiles to play on… More on that later, I guess.

I paint all my miniatures with black acrylic paint as a base. Then I highlight with different shades of grey, to make the shading kind of “pop out”. Now – this process is really hard to describe, since I don’t actually see the results.

But I dillute the paint with water, somewhat, on the paintbrush so that it will get everywhere on the model. And then I apply the first layer. All black.

The skeleton is supposed to be rather light grey. I hope that it is. My fiancé tells me it looks fine, so I trust her. But I paint it with light grey by just dabbing the paint on, very lightly. My hope is that it will NOT cover some parts, and there will be a natural shading to it that way.

Sighted players can judge the picture below.

The skeleton, painted

The skeleton, painted. Base painted black.

Now Zombies

Making zombies came as an afterthought for me. Soldering the skeleton was really, really hard. So my idea was to hot glue the next couple of skeletons together. I mean, you can never have enough skeletons, right?

Anyway – hot glue is great in a lot of crafting. But it is rather messy. It left large gloopy bubbles of paint or the joint would just break. One can think of this as a problem. Or one can think of this as an opportunity.

I mean –  skeletons certainly don’t have gloopy joints. But what if I could use the hot glue gun to add “flesh” to a more zombie like monster?

So – think of my zombies more like “hot glued skeletons”. With extra hot glue on the parts where I wanted to have some rotting flesh.

Zombie or Banshee or something-

So this is my first zombie. Clothes made from toilet paper. I think it is an undead necromancer. My friends tell me it is a Banshee.

During the process, it became clear to me, though, that I could also add clothes to them, in order to cover up some faults. So I basically rolled some small pieces of toilet paper around the legs to form pants legs, or a skirt. Small square pieces became shirts or mantles.

My first zombie became an undead necromancer – s/he has a cloak and a bead as an orb.

My later tries involved tissue paper to make pants and skirts and shirts and it eventually became this rather cute zombie couple. (Once they were finished, though, I fell in love with them, and let them fall in love with each other, so now they are dancing. Facing each other in an undieing embrace. Open ribcage to open ribcage.

Yup. I am quite the romantic.)

I only have black and white paint at home, so all I can do is black and white and different shades of grey. But sometimes I think that can be good, too. At least for more spooky kind of monsters.

Mr and Mrs Zombie. Unpainted. Glued wire skeletons with tissue paper-and-white glue clothes.

Mr and Mrs Zombie. Unpainted. Glued wire skeletons with tissue paper-and-white glue clothes.

Zombie couple dancing. Painted and mounted.

Zombie couple dancing. Painted and mounted. Not all girlfriends get these kinds of gifts, but mine did.

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