The Drunken Mermaid and Basing Materials

Fun in the Sun was one of my entries into the ReaperCon 2021 MSP Open. It was awarded a Gold medal, and the unexpected honour of being selected as the Best Themed Entry for 2021’s theme of pirates. Below are some pictures of the finished piece. Nearer the bottom of the article is information on the shells and other items I used to decorate the base.

Members of my Patreon have access to a PDF with extensive work-in-progress photos and information on all of the paint colours I used in thanks for their generous support. Their patronage allows me to keep this blog free for everyone to read. It takes a lot of time and attention to write these articles, and it takes more time and effort than you might think to find or create photos that help illustrate the points made in the text. I enjoy writing this blog a lot, and I love sharing information with other people to help them in their hobby journey, but I also enjoy paying my bills. I would not be able to write these articles as thoroughly or as often if not for Patron support.

If you would like to receive PDF copies of the articles I write with high resolution photos and the occasional exclusive exclusive like this, please consider joining my Patreon. And now onto the photos!

Mermaid face

The figure I used in this piece is the Drunken Mermaid, which was sculpted by Christine Van Patten. Christine has some other fantastic sculpts available from Reaper, including the adorable Finn Greenwell leprechaun that has appeared on this blog before with tips for painting the colour green. Christine also has her own independent line of miniatures, Moonlight Minis.

Mermaid back

This figure was originally included in one of the ReaperCon 2021 swag boxes, but The Drunken Mermaid is now available for everyone to buy in the new Bones USA plastic. The Bones USA material is a little less immortal than Bones classic, though it still plenty sturdy. However, sculpts in the Bones USA material are also impressively crisp and detailed. (I’ll try to share more pictures and comparisons of Bones USA in the future.) The mermaid I painted was a metal master, since the production moulds had not yet been completed when Reaper sent it to me to share on my weekly Twitch stream, Beyond the Kit.

Mermaid front

The theme of ReaperCon for 2020 (online) and 2021 was pirates. The theme choice was inspired by the Savage Coast setting, a location in Reaper’s fantasy work of Adon. In 2020 Joseph Wolf wrote the Landlubber’s Guide to Brinewind, a city run by a consortium of pirates. The Drunken Mermaid is the name of a large tavern in that city. Copies of the Brinewind guide have sold out, but it is my hope that it will one day be reprinted or made available digitally, since it is chock full of fascinating characters and intriguing plot hooks that could be slotted into most fantasy campaign worlds.

For ReaperCon 2021, an additional sourcebook was released – The Landlubber’s Guide to the Savage Coast setting. The area is filled with nautical wonders and dangers, and the coast itself includes a myriad of ruins and mysteries, additional pirate towns, flora, fauna, and even more dangerous monsters. Copies of the Savage Coast guide are currently still available for sale on Reaper’s website.

(DIsclosure: I was the editor on both Landlubber Guides.)

Mermaid left

The sculpt of the Drunken Mermaid is based on an illustration Christine Van Patten did for the Brinewind guide. Christine actually created two different versions of the Drunken Mermaid art, and shirts with the artwork are available in black and white or colour designs on Reaper’s TeePublic site. (I bought  a blue shirt with the reclining mermaid colour art and I love it!)

Mermaid right

I chose to paint the figure as a living mermaid lounging on the sign and anchor standing outside the pub. It was a fun opportunity to use vivid tropical colours and explore lots of different textures like the corrosion on the iron anchor and the old wood of the sign. I referenced a lot of photos of different materials to study different materials and textures. I definitely recommend looking at reference photos before painting items! I have a second copy of this figure from my swag box that I am thinking of painting in a very different way…

Wip mermaid anchor top

One of the things I enjoyed most about painting this figure was the opportunity to finally use some basing materials that I had squirrelled away for years! I’ve written before about why you should allow yourself to use the good stuff in your collection. In the case of these and many other basing materials, it wasn’t so much that I was hoarding away supplies unwilling to use them, as it was not having previously had the opportunity to paint a figure they’d work with.

IMG 1602

The tiny seashells and rocks that I used were from craft type stores. Some of the seashells had already been painted, as you can see in the picture above, but I painted over them to make sure that all the basing materials looked in scale with the figure and matched the colour choices on the figure. (I’ve written more about why you need to paint everything on your bases.)

I recommend bringing a figure along with you when you shop for things like shells and dried flowers (which are can add a nice little touch to bases) at the craft store. Things that look very small when you’re browsing the aisles can look a lot larger when you get them home and put them next to a gaming scale miniature!

The white pumice is a product from Vallejo, though I think they’ve changed their basing paste lineup since I purchased this. You can also find similar products from acrylic paint companies like Golden and Liquitex. Golden’s pumice gels can be used for varying earth and sand textures, and Liquitex’s line includes a couple of sand texture options. The video of my Additives, Mediums, and Texture Pastes from Reaper Virtual Expo includes more information on these (and other) products.

The last item I used was in the bag on the left in the picture above – Star Sand. These are the shells remnants of tiny creatures that wash up onto the shore in Okinawa. I painted them to look like starfish on my base. You should be able to find some Star Sand for sale online with a Google search.

Wip mermaid anchor right

I was very surprised and honoured that this piece was selected for the Best Themed Entry at the ReaperCon MSP Open. The trophy I was awarded is super nifty. It is a super sized version of Barnabus Frost, one of the pirate lords of Brinewind. Reaper does not sell Barnabus in this size, but you can buy a gaming scale metal copy of this version of Barnabus, which was sculpted by Jason Wiebe There is also another metal version of Barnabus with different accessories wearing a hat, (which I have also painted) and a classic Bones Barnabus that is similar to the one standing on the trophy. Both of those latter figures were sculpted by Bobby Jackson

Mermaid awards

If you have some MSP Open medals you’d like to display on stands, the stand I used for this photo is an acrylic mini easel. If you use that search term on Amazon you should be able to find this or something similar. Since the medals come on ribbons, you could also hang them from hooks. I know it can seem a little self-aggrandizing, but I think it’s helpful to put your awards and trophies out on display. When you are feeling down on yourself or feel like you aren’t learning or improving in your hobby efforts, you can look at your honours to remind you of your achievements!

Medal stand

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