Monday, February 14, 2011

In which our hero kills a tree

I recently finished a project that I'd been fiddling around with for the better part of ten years.

That's the nice thing about hobbies, you can be way over deadline.

Anyway, the project in question was, in retrospect, one which I may have been a bit of an ironic choice to undertake - since it does seem a bit odd that the same guy who sculpts miniatures, lavishes such fiddly paint jobs onto them, and rails against both unpainted and proxy figures would also be the same gamer who has now produced an entire set of paper miniatures for fantasy football.

True, I am almost at cross purposes, but paper miniatures aren't so bad. Especially good ones.

I happen to think these are good ones.

The process was  pretty straightforward. I drew front-and-back outlines for every player on every roster (and given the rosters that have floated in and out of GRF over the years, I actually have quite a lot of unused art on top of the stuff in use).

After inking the drawings and cleaning up the pencil marks, I scanned the team and used painting programs to color the players using layers set to multiply so that the lines would be visible beneath the coloring.

In the early years of the project, coloring was done in photoshop with a mouse, and was tedious. I only finished a half dozen or so teams because it was a real chore to do these.

Enter my iPad.

The combination of the iPad, Sketchbook Pro, and a Boxwave stylus made this project not only remarkably fast and easy, but also thoroughly enjoyable. The coloring stage went from being a hand-cramping chore to an activity that provided zen-like relaxation. The nights I was going through these panels were a joy.

Once colored, I would bring the image back into photoshop and copy players onto a team sheet in the appropriate assortment.

Once layout is complete, they are printed on a good laser printer (inkjet has no longevity with sweaty gamer paws) and cut into strips which are folded over and then slipped into a color-coded base. I have a good assortment of the old Cardboard Heroes bases, but these have been out of print for a while. EM-4 seems to be a good source of similar stands at the moment should you decide to do something similar in this day and age.

The final result is something that I am not at all ashamed to put on a gaming table. They work well, they look like professional game components, and they let you play teams you have no miniatures for in a respectable way. I see these as a valuable way to improve the look and feel of my solo gaming.

But why do it at all? It's precisely because I am so disturbed by proxies and unpainted miniatures. I would rather see a full-color, accurate standup card on the pitch than a silver orc standing in for a wood elf catcher. It is precisely because I am a snobbish aesthete that I was compelled to draw and color these figures in the first place. I have made my peace with paper.

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