Cleave him to the brisket! – Gruff Grimecleaver

Avast ye you lily-livered landlubbers! This week’s showcase features Gruff Grimecleaver sculpted by Jason Wiebe. Pirate dwarves are few and far between, but this one was definitely fun to paint. I will elaborate a bit on the base, as I carved the ship planks texture right into a plastic base. After all I am no son of a biscuit eater! Naturally paints used will be covered, too, and a simple technique to depict smoke plumes. Savvy? – Then all hands hoay!

If you compare the metal to the Bones version you will see that the former features a dead chicken in his left hand, the latter a blunderbuss. So depending on your needs, you can use him as an actual cook or a proper combatant. The Bones version is alright detailing wise, but his belt came out a bit soft on the Bones version.

Run a rig

After a few weeks crossing the briney deep a ship gets pretty small. Especially when taking on new ship mates. Gruff seemed always at the end of a bad joke with the new ones. “Cook, your food taste like hot garbage”, “Cook, when do we get some meat!” He was in the business for a bit longer than these scallywags, saw it all. Survived it all. Most would not make it one tour, so to hell with them.

A dwarf cook on a pirate ship. Not a very common sight. “No place for a dwarf!”, at least that was what his old man said. Back home he would be in a mine, breaking his back with a pickaxe day in day out. Nah, he had a better idea. So far it worked out well. He got his share of booty. The captain was a drunk, but hey, so was he. An old Oger with a temper – Brukk One-Eye. Gruff actually liked him. Knew how to pick the right ships, and how to punch a face in. Good at playing cards and didn’t talk too much. Unlike that cabin boy.

The lad never stopped talking and – no surprises here – felt it was funny to put little surprises in his food. Last supper the captain found a tooth in his stew. Yeah, that didn’t go down too well. Got old Gruff a broken tooth. Brukk wasn’t very bright, so he blamed the cook. Gruff didn’t mind, with the next booty he could get a golden replacement.

Anyhow, as they say, revenge is a dish best served cold. He closed the barrel of pickled meat and fastend it with a few hard strikes. Brukk believed the story without a second thought. Poor cabin boy went over board during last nights storm. Well, the stew would sure taste hearty the next few weeks.

Heave ho! – Painting grimy pirate garb

Painting Gruff was straight forward, no hornswaggle, I promise. Gruff’s paintjob started a few years ago, so he is one of the sad lads that ended up in my box of shame. Half finished and unloved he had to wait a few years, before I came back to him. That also implies he is not up to my latest work, but I still like how he came out.

Gruff Grimecleaver, Reaper Miniatures, Dwarf Pirate, 77133, Jason Wiebe

The basic idea was to paint his pants in a classic red and black striped pattern and his shirt an off-white. The shirt would allow to work with dry pigments and dirt effects. I wanted another focal point at face level, so I painted his scarf with a warm purple, which worked well with the red of the pants. His beard I wanted to be a washed out brown-grey, to reflect him being an old salt.

This basic scheme was established back a few years ago. So all I had to do was to highlight some areas and increase contrast a tad. I also tried something new on the blade of his cleaver and the metal parts of the blunderbuss: with a fairly dilute Army Painter purple wash I glazed over the areas that would not reflect light, adding some interest for the eye and also connecting the various parts of the miniature and base with each other.

The same principle was applied with the shirt, but here I diluted the purple wash even more. It is always worth it to work colours into your shadows. So not just using a straight black, but instead a dark purple, red or green, depending on your colour scheme.

Gruff Grimecleaver, Reaper Miniatures, Dwarf Pirate, 77133, Jason Wiebe

Rum blossom and plumes

His nose and cheeks got a similar treatment with a fairly dilute dark skin wash with a bias towards red. After a few claps of thunder you might look the same! To emphasise the drunk dwarf theme I added a matching flask from the WizKids Deep Cuts Wizard’s Room set and a small barrel. Once more the metal fittings got a light glaze with purple wash.

The bottle is cast in a translucent green resin, so all I had to do was to add some dark green to indicate the liquid and a coat of gloss varnish for the reflections. Check out this tutorial by The Brush and Boltgun, if you are faced with a metal or opaque resin cast.

You may have guess it already, the smoke plume is just a bit of fiber from a Q-tip. You can make it more resilient if you spray it with matte varnish and even add a bit of dilute grey to its base. Works really well with pipes, too. Onwards to the ship planks.

Shiver me timbers! – carving a wood texture in a plastic base

Usually modelers build on top of a plastic or a MDF base, using balsa wood or XPS. Both methods work well enough, but if you are after a nice thin base you can also carve a wood floor or ship planks directly into a plastic base.

First you scribe the planks with a needle tool and a ruler, followed by a harsh treatment with a steel brush to imitate wood grain. Obviously you should only scratch in one direction. Finally use the needle tool to make indentations where nails should be and add some deeper grooves. I also made the edges irregular with a sharp scalpel. If you want to add more of a three dimensional feel, you can also use some Greenstuff to model bulging planks.

Painting was straight forward: A dilute grey brown basecoat followed by a dark brown wash and some AK Interactive Green enamel paint to simulate moss. With the green enamel wash less is more. You really want a faint colour shift.

There we go me hearties! I hope you had fun and din’t hang the jib. If you have any questions, suggestions or feel like sharing your own pirate miniatures comment below. Landlubber or not, always wield your brush with honour!

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Mark A. Morin
3 years ago

Gruff looked cool, and I liked the tutorial! Though I’d have just cut and broken popsicle sticks and glued them – you approach certainly came out top-notch!