A successful Heist
Guest Post by Bernd Diehl
One of my favourite wargaming genres is modern or ultramodern, as it is also called. Since I also like heist films very much, I was very happy about the Kickstarter project from Anvil. Especially that there is the possibility to assemble the STL kits in Blender the way I like it best before printing. The variations seem endless, especially because almost all designs can be combined with each other, even with existing ranges, so the only limit is your own imagination.
At this point, a brief excursion into the designs by Anvil, which I really appreciate because they don't rely on ultra-realistic proportions but retain the pulpy charm of old school sculpted figures, but have an enormously high level of detail that makes virtual design possible nowadays. I always finalise the parts of the various kits in Blender before I print. This ensures that everything fits together and looks exactly the way I want it to. And with a bit of skill, it's also easy to work in minor modifications to fit and adapt parts in such a way that things can be connected that were perhaps not intended.
Although the Kickstarter already included a complete vault and an enclosed bank counter, I had a scenario in mind right from the start in which the robbers were after a museum or the private collection of a billionaire. So while the resin printer was spitting out the first miniatures, I played around a bit in Blender to see if I could design a suitable photo backdrop. The first successful attempt resulted in several walls and a base plate, as can be seen in the photos. The plan now is to make at least parts of the Billionaire's Residence playable and not just use it for photos only.
One of the first and, in my opinion, most important decisions when painting miniatures is what the base should look like. The base gives the miniature a visual frame that, in the best case, allows the viewer (or wargamer) to immediately locate where the character is. This can be a swamp, a jungle, a barren stone desert or even the tiled marble floor of a museum or residence. Yes, the ground can vary greatly during a scenario, which is why transparent bases have become very popular, but I am a fan of designed bases. An empty, transparent base only says one thing: I may be a nicely painted mini, but I'm just a lifeless meeple. A designed base makes a miniature just as lively as the painting itself. That's why I really appreciate the fact that there are so many STL elements that can be used as base decoration for the Heist project. I opted for a tiled base for the robbers. After applying a light ivory-coloured base paint, I drew the grid structure with a fineliner and a ruler and then filled in the black fields.
Characters need heads and there are plenty of them to choose from. The various clown and animal masks etc. for the robbers in particular are an unmistakable reminiscence of current video game pop culture. It's really hard to decide here or you can go all in and decide on a (somewhat exaggeratedly large) bunch of robbers and simply use them all. I mainly use my favourite clown masks, but have added a few standard masks because I have a scenario in mind where the clown gang encounters a few other crooks who want to steal their loot.
Even while I'm painting, my cinematic mind starts running and I go through various options of what a wargaming scenario could look like, what special features and actions could occur at the gaming table and how these can be depicted in the most fun way in terms of the rules. This cinematic approach runs through the entire work on such a painting project. In the case of robbers with clown masks, it is clear that the viewer's eye is mainly drawn to the masks and that other details only come to the fore on closer inspection. In the case of the female hostage, however, there is no such main feature, so the idea was to find a way of giving such characters something that would catch the eye, even if it was something as simple as a chequered skirt. With the clown masks, it was also important that they didn't look like perfect film masks, but more like the plastic parts you can buy in the party department. So not too many details but bright colours that emphasise the toy look. A big advantage of such a non-military skirmish scenario is that you don't always have to paint uniforms in the same colour with few variants. Practically every miniature can be an individual with their own style of clothing. What a character wears and which weapon they use also form small stories for their background, which all help to create a coherent scenario.
Because people occasionally ask which colours I use: Whatever I have available, from Army Painter and Vallejo to Monument Hobbies, Citadel Contrast and Scale75, but I often mix and match until I get the colour I want.
What's next for this project? The robbers are completely finished, including the hostages. Next, I'll take care of the SWAT team, a police negotiator and definitely some civilians to further populate the scenario. Other STL kits from Anvil are perfect for this, as you can do a lot with them. And then there are two real pulp heroes waiting to be painted, with a big nod to Pulp Fiction. I also have a certain terrain feature in mind, which I don't want to reveal just yet, but which could possibly be decisive for the protagonists' escape.
I hope you enjoyed reading this little insight into my approach to such a project. Maybe we'll read again sometime. Until then, enjoy the hobby!
Thank you Bernd for sharing these fantastic miniatures, the cinematic style works perfectly with The Heist theme! Follow Bernd on Instagram to see more stunning miniatures and dioramas like this: @bernd_diehl
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