These are the first of six models purchased off Ebay. The armoured orc was sold as a Black Tree Designs figure, with three identical models supplied. I don't know how to confirm the provenance as they are no longer on the Black Tree site. The horn-blowing orc is part of a set sold as OOP Harlequin Lord of the Rings models - though it seems Scotia Grendel now sell them as Stygian Orcs. Given that my aim is to find a set of orcs suitable for the Blue Cursed tribe in my homebrew D&D setting, it's good news that I can get more of the stygian models if I decide they are good representations for my purpose.
The Blue Cursed
The Blue Cursed are a tribe of orcs loyal to the Fourth Son, the mysterious long dead antagonist who is the namesake of my D&D campaign. They currently serve his lover Jerrana, a powerful sorceress. Having taken root in northern Ddaran, and served as the primary opponent for the players in the campaign, they are currently besieging the city of Port Duross.
The Cursed are identifiable by their blue tattoos and runic symbols, and many have notches cut into their ears as symbols of rank and custom. I like my campaign setting to feel 'believable' (as far as fantasy goes!) and these orcs are not a mindless, aggressive, evil enemy (well, maybe a bit evil) but intelligent outcasts from a nation to the east of the campaign continent. Thus, I need orc models which are well-equipped, and distinctive enough that I can create cultural markers such as the tattoos and runes. Ideally, I'll also find a second set of models to represent orcs from other kingdoms or tribes, so that the Cursed remain distinct.
Painting the Models
I started with the armoured orc, since I knew painting armour was fairly easy for me, and pleasingly I completed him in one evening. To help distinguish the model from other armoured characters I gave the armour a blue sheen using a mixture of washes and Vallejo gunmetal blue. After finishing I found the model a bit plain so I painted on some runes and tattoos. I'm not completely happy with these but they will suffice for now. As I've got three in the same pose I can always try more iterations.
By the time I started the horn-blowing orc I had purchased a colour wheel to help select paint schemes. After puzzling over what colour to paint his robe I gave up and went with blue since that matches the name of the tribe and the tattoos, and goes quite well with green. Initially the years-old GW blue paint I was using appeared purple against the black primer, but by the time I'd finished layering up I was fairly pleased.
The model unexpectedly had the benefit of some iconography on the armour, medallions etc which I picked out in the gunmetal blue to match the theme, and again I painted some basic runes on the sword.
After literally Googling 'best paint brush for miniatures' I purchased a Winsor and Newton Series 7 Size 0. I'm effectively a novice painter but this was a great buy - it's made detail work so much easier. It forms a lovely point and along with my improving brush control means I can paint some very fine lines - if I am concentrating and if I am not very far down my bottle of beer! It's recommended to look after these brushes as they aren't cheap (though around a tenner seems reasonable to me for something I should only have to buy occasionally) so I got some paint cleaner as well. I'm not sure if I'm using it correctly as on the second day of use the brush seemed to be splitting a bit. Fingers crossed for the third day that I haven't ruined it...