Evolution of Phaerimm

Back to SeanKReynolds.com home


This page is about the process of creating a new miniature by hand. Because the Miniatures team at WotC has their hands full with the Chain Mail game, they're not going to be producing miniatures tailored for the Forgotten Realms campaign setting in the immediate future. So, on an artistic whim (and because it might be something we wanted to include in the Dungeon Delve at Gen Con this year), I decided to take matters into my own hands and design a phaerimm miniature from scratch. This process is documented below.
First I used Sculpey (a synthetic modelling clay you can find in hobby or craft stores and bakes to hardness in a conventional oven) to form the limbs of the creature. At the center of each of the arms is a bent piece of paper clip to give it stability and prevent bending before baking and breakage after baking. I also created several small spheres and some large spines. I baked these accessories to hardness and then got to work on the phaerimm body.
I rolled out a length of sculpey, then folded it in half, twisted it, and folded and twisted it again. This gave the body a segmented appearance without me having to accurately carve grooves on its surface. I created the mouth opening by pushing the end of a "flying creature base" into the front of the body until I had the size I wanted. I then pressed the baked arms into the positions I wanted to make a dimple for gluing later. I did the same with the baked spheres (I ended up not using the spines--they were too big compared to the body). Finally, the body was pushed onto a "flying creature base" in the position I'd want it to be when finished; this left a hole for the base that could be used later (it also meant I didn't have to think about drilling this weird-shaped and possibly fragile model). After the body section was baked and cooled, I glued the arms and spheres onto it. The base was left unattached so I wouldn't have to worry about getting paint on it. The photo is of the assembled miniature.
I removed the model from the base and primed it with Citadel white primer. The primer gave the miniature an even color, a consistent surface for the purpose of binding layers of paint, and helped bring out the details in the miniature.
The next step was to fill the deep grooves in the mini with black paint. I suppose I could have painted everything else and then used a black ink wash, but I wanted to do some drybrushing on this mini and not worry about screwing up the paint job in the later stages if I did the wash wrong. Of course, it makes the phaerimm look like a zebra. :)
This is the primary color of the mini, a dark purple (Citadel Warlock Purple mixed with Citadel Chaos Black). I painted all of the non-crevices except for the tumorous bulbs on the back. And if you're wondering what those tumorous things are anyway, well, so am I. The phaerimm are weird creatures and probably prone to magically experimenting on themselves. The phaerimm may be sick, it may have unformed young growing on its back, it may be a weird set of magic items taking the "cloak," "robe," and "vest" item locations. Make it whatever you want. :)
Here's where some of the more detailed painting starts to come in. I drybrushed the body and limbs with Warlock Purple, painted the tumors with Citadel Vile Green mixed with Chaos Black, then drybrushed the tumors with just Vile Green. The picture doesn't show it well, but the first few segments of his body have spots on them, which are Warlock Purple mixed with Citadel Bestial Brown. That same color is also on the palms of his hands.
And this is the final version. I mixed a little Citadel Skull White with some Vile Green and dabbed a dot at the top of each tumor (although it's hard to see in the photo). The spots on the body got a small spot in the center (pure Bestial Brown). The stinger-tail was painted in Citadel Blood Red mixed with Warlock Purple, and the end was painted again in Blood Red, with dots of Blood Red moving up the body from the end of the stinger.
I thought about making teeth out of Sculpey, but I decided that would be too much of a pain in the butt and so I just did a ring of dots using Citadel Codex Gray, and put a dot of Skull White on each of the gray spots, and that worked out pretty well. I then sprayed the mini with matte clear finish to protect the paint job and glued it to the base.
This is a detail shot of those teeth. At a normal viewing scale they look remarkably like real teeth, so I'm pleased with how they turned out. You can see some better detail on the stinger, too. As for the weird yellow near the top of the picture, that's just some of the background of the photo, which I didn't completely remove in Photoshop.
Here's a more realistically-scaled picture. Some things that look strange close up, or small flaws that are visible close up, usually look normal or are unnoticeable at a typical viewing distance. After all, you're usually looking at a miniature at an arm's length (on a table) rather than just a few inches. FYI, when on its base, the miniature's body center is 1.5" (3.8 cm) off the table and its uppermost arm reaches about 3.5" (8.9 cm) from the table

This miniature was auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Red Cross.