This weeks showcase features leathery skin, the pungent smell of decay and everlasting hatred. My, what a menu! We take the fairly funky Reaper sculpt Leisynn Mercenary Mage and convert it to an ancient Lich. I will also focus on how to paint illuminated book pages. So keep your smelling salts at the ready and descent into the lair of the Lich.
Leisynn ascendent – how to become a lich
As far as sculpts go Leisynn is definitely imaginative. The Bones version suffers of limp staff, but I guess a Lich really doesn’t care anymore. Otherwise the sculpt is nicely detailed, crisp, but naturally not as good as the metal version. With his horns and snake he sure looks demented. As I mentioned before, Bones miniatures are perfect for conversions. Easy to cut and cheap, so don’t try this with the metal Leisynn.
Leisynn’s story is a sad one. He was once a half painted wizard in a dark storage box. The years of captivity took their toll and he lost all his marbles. Once released he underwent a painful procedure to take horrible revenge. Little did he know that his captor was also his surgeon.
The first step is to remove all the unwanted detailing: In my case the head and hair, most of the front detail, and the staff. I kept the parts, as they might come in handy down the road.
With some wire and a bit of sprue I pre-shaped his new staff, added a Warlord Skeleton head and halved rip cage.
Next, with the help of some greenstuff, I sculpted leathery skin on the head, making sure the features of the skull were not covered. This was done with very little greenstuff and first a clay shaper to press the epoxy in the recesses of the skull and then a needle tool to get finer detail going. Usually I wait until the greenstuff is cured before I move on to another section.
As I cut away almost all front detail I now had to reshape the stola on both sides. A thin band of greenstuff was shaped and smoothed with a clay shaper.
To add some more interest to the book I made a press mold of a Statuesque head and made a copy of the face only.
Finally a wider band of greenstuff was applied to the front to cover the rip cage. This piece was then shaped to form the robe and belt. In hindsight it would have been easier to just sculpt the robe and the belt the next day.
With the front detail finished, I now was able to revisit the staff and face.
I added some more facial detail, such as a rotten nose and tongue, eyeballs, one eyelid and wispy hair. The staff got a gnarled wood texture and I integrated the crystal more, as if the staff grew around it. Again, the important part is to only sculpt one section at a time. Onwards to painting the lich!
Undead colour schemes
Painting the Lich posed a few challenges. The skin should read as old, dry and leathery, the robes dusty and weathered. The most difficult aspect was definitively the book, as I wanted an illumination and not only text.
I painted this chap in 2019, so back then I did not push contrast as much as I do now. Nevertheless I went for a desaturated purple and red, combined with a bright purple crystal and faint brocade texture on the stola as well as bright purple ‘glowing’ eyes. To dirty is robes I used my trusty Tamiya weathering pigments.
I hoped to establish some contrast with the brocade texture and guide the eye along the sculpt with the eyes, crystal and robe pattern forming a triangle. Nowadays I would make the shadows, say the folds of the robe, significantly darker and add some more varied tones to the skin. Maybe a cold green or even to achieve more contrast.
As I mentioned before, the illumination was difficult to pull of. The magnification shows that any writing is just an interrupted squiggly line. It helps if you use a bit of flow aid to get the paint of the brush. The drop cap and illuminations were both painted with a sharp tipped size 2 brush. First you make a sketch and refine it, then you go in again with color.
I am not sure if it is really that discernible, but the illumination shows the devil riding Behemoth from the medieval Liber Floridus. I think it kinda works, but these days I would try to add more detail.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s showcase and now feel inspired to either convert a mini or to paint a freehand. Any suggestions, questions or other things to share: comment below. Whatever you do, wield your brush with honour.