An intro and a chance to Zoontalis
The past couple of months have been a stretch for me both as a new comer to the team here at Diary of a Lincoln Geek, but also as an artist. The immediate jump from painting for yourself to potentially painting for an audience of others can be daunting for anyone but doubly so when you’re doing this so far outside of your normal subject matter!
For those of you that are just seeing me for the first time, hello! I’m Dominic, I’m a relatively new artist to the team and I normally do mechanical pieces such as BattleTech or landscape. When I was given the chance to work with the team, Chris tossed me not only a large break as an essayist but also as an artist by handing over to me the Zoontalis Foxes and Rabbits packs, throwing me into a world of organic shapes and vibrant colours and allowing me creative freedom to test out techniques. Some of those, as you’ll have seen from pictures, are not the best and we will get to those. Let’s first start out with the positives though, and there are many!
Freedom from the sprue - Zoontalis
Firstly, yes, Zoontalis from Dice Heads (https://dice-heads.com/) is completely 3D printed. The miniatures are resin printed out in what looks like an 8k resolution U.V. printing set up, given the amount of detail on every figure I’ve handled. This creates a very unique set up of being able to just wash, clean, prime, and getting to paint as soon as you open up the box and bring them out of their plastic protective bag. Because of the high detail from the resin printing process there is a minimal amount of cleanup on the figures themselves. So gone are the slip line cleanups, gone are the gaps needed to fill with green-stuff between joined parts, and best of all gone are the fears that in cleaning those up you’ll ruin some detail on the figure.
The resin printing allows for some great geometry on the figures and for the magic characters some intersections that would otherwise be impossible for standard plastic injection systems. It also allows for thinner details on bows and ranged arms, while allowing a great weighty feel for melee weapons. The figures are scaled to a tabletop standard of 28 millimetres, which for the rabbits makes them some quick looking boys and galls and allows the foxes to keep a sleek figure. The resin takes a primer very well when properly cleaned up in some dish soap and dried.
To give a lot of credit to their process, beginners and experts alike will find some challenges and work that can be rewarding with these minis as art. The cards provided give a very simple and useful colour pallet for each character that you can choose to follow or ignore as you see fit. Using the cards as a pallet you can paint to a tabletop standard of three colours efficiently, or plan out what colours are needed as highlights and shadows within mere sight of the cards. The level of detail on the minis give so much to the imagination in their high points and low points that everyone from the quickest slap chop style user to those looking to recreate an ‘Eavy Metal feel will be satisfied.
The figures come with their own blank, black bases that they aren’t attached to, so you can modify these as well. For those just wanting to use a simple base set up simply keep un-primed, wash and then superglue your completed mini to the base and you are good to go. For those like myself who wish to do a bit fancier work with the bases, these are the standard we all cut our teeth on. They take glue, primer, and paint all very well. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to use diorama grade paints and materials to make these the envy of those you’ll be smacking around.
Layers and the devil in the details - Zoontalis
With the good gone over, let’s get to the bad, and there are few but they can be very major.
Using resin has the issue of layering and having to dial in each printer you’re working with and having to re-level those printers after each cleaning if not taken care of properly you can have a delamination in a print. To explain what a delamination is to the non-3D printing and Damascus steel forging world, it is what happens when layers of a resin print separate either because of lack of support or a non-level printing surface. This can be devastating to a print of a single piece, but if you’re working in mass production this can be devastating to a company if you can’t pinpoint what is causing the issue. Those of you with keen eyes in the audience will note that there was an experience of this with one of the models that we have on display, the right leg of the fox rogue was delaminated from foot to hip creating a very unique experience for me as an artist. For those of you who come across these rare misprints get in touch with the company and discuss getting it replaced or find some way to work with it. Whether or not you choose to have the mini replaced you should still get in touch with the company just to advise because that can help them sort out quality issues that they weren’t aware of in a batch print, and create a better standard operating process. For those who keep the mini and don’t have it replaced you’re in for a very unique challenge that will make the mini specific to you both as a gamer and as an artist. What I did with the delamination was just turn it into a peg leg. But that is not the only issue with resin, as my rubber floor would show me.
Yes, I have a rubber floor in my office.
No, it is not because of spillages of paint, water and coffee (which are easy to clean up because of said rubber floor ... not that they happen… frequently), but because it is able to absorb impacts from weights as my office is also my house gym. Those who have worked with resin before will now see where I’m going with this, resin prints don’t deal well with any level of impact. I had four breaks working with these minis, three of which were impact breaks. The fourth I’ll get into later on in the article. Like any and all plastic models, you have to make sure that you take care in regards to drops, especially so with resin prints. This now leads me into the final issue with resin prints that I found with the fouth break.
Resin and alcohol aren’t the best match, plastics and any alcohol aren’t good really. Resin is more resilient in an alcohol bath than other plastics but as I found out from stripping the rabbit archer you should still treat it a bit gently when scrubbing in alcohol to prevent a break because it will weaken very thin areas, which in this case was the wrist. You can quickly strip paints from them with some simple green and a sonic cleaner but I don’t have those on hand so I went with what I got. So not something that everyone will run into but be prepared for later restyling as your skill grows or if you buy second-hand and want to repaint.
A final note, because they are resin printed in whole there are some VERY hard to reach areas to work with, and parts can blend together really too well. If you can’t reach an area with your brushes you are going to have to learn how to mask that in positioning on the base if this is a display piece, which can be easy. The hard bit is keeping track in your mind what is a finger and what is a fire ball flare on the fox magician because they really utilised that ability that they have in printing that you don’t get in injection production and that can be a bit mind boggling.
I still highly recommend these for both those in the art side and the gaming side of the hobby because for all these negatives these are well done pieces, and the game itself is fun, and that makes it worth the time.
Styles I really liked using on these minis - Zoontalis
Because of the free range I was given, I really tried a couple different art styles on these guys. I found the vibrant art style of comics and cartoons works very well for them given the size and style of the minis. A vibrant colour pallet of solid blocking can lend very well to the beginner and can be worked with by the professional in a way to create a Saturday morning feel that we all miss deep down. The amount of detail within the miniatures works well with dry brushing styles as it allows you to work with every fine detail in the hair of the animals and create a sense of depth to the piece that could otherwise be lost in just working with straight blocking techniques. My failed attempt at slop chop as well should not deter those learning that style, if anything these are great to learn it on. What I found worked the best for me will not be the same for others but if you can share it with us here and with the makers of Zoontalis to show what’s going on and what can be done with the minis.