Porky’s Wild Bore – Paintbrush down. Don’t slouch. One, two..?

The wind’s changed and I’m back, with another weekly riff off the House blogrolls.

First out of the carpet bag is laser-cut terrain. I’ve seen a lot of this, and I’ll probably see a lot more. But remember Von’s revenants for SAGA – painted almost as if carved bone or fired clay – and Dave’s post on monochromatic colour schemes? Well, now I’m looking at laser-cut a bit differently.

Why? Take a look at the industrial landscape Ian ‘Hendybadger’ Henderson has been building at Tales of a Tabletop Skirmisher, using terrain from Impudent Mortal and Multiverse Gaming.

The overwhelming effect of the unpainted wood is to suggest a world almost in sepia, as if seen in an old photo, and the historical style of the buildings adds to the feeling.

It would be easy enough to paint a set of miniatures in the same tone and suddenly you’ve got a tabletop stylised for a historical or pseudohistorical vibe, maybe for things like steam- or dieselpunk. Almost as if playing in a photo.

But that’s just the beginning of course.

If you don’t want sepia, the solution might be as simple as inking over it, to get a fae, eerie or murky landscape in any given colour.

Incidentally, the use of sepia poses an interesting question. After all, it does reflects one of the major means of conveying information here in the real world. What might be the equivalent to photography for a more fantastical setting, and how might that be reflected in the way we build and paint? The range might run from cave paintings, through chalked street art, to holographic projection and beyond.

For a good example of another approach, this week Dezartfox at The Vanus Temple posted some pics of another commission, some urban Tau with lit surfaces, with a contrasting achromatic scheme. Dezartfox really is a master at conjuring up mood through suggestions of light, and suggestions of the processes of a wider world in general.

Maybe paradoxically, colour schemes like this could be a way of getting even more life out of a collection – a recent subject – as well as a way of getting more games in, by making recognition simpler for newer players.

How so?

If each coherent group of miniatures and set of terrain pieces in a single collection had its own near-monochromatic colour scheme, the comparable simplicity might mean that the models and pieces harmonised when mixed up together in hybrid games. The differences in the base colours might, if big enough, suggest worlds colliding, but probably not clashing; and maybe no more than, say, the varying poses of miniatures already do, which being fixed don’t necessarily reflect the context at any given moment in a game.

At the same time this approach might ease play by making the different groups in the game more distinct, thanks to their individual single base colour, while that limited palette also places the emphasis more on the structural differences among similar designs, making the miniatures work more like traditional playing pieces. This could help players when it comes to identifying silhouettes, and new players especially, and also help in learning the setting concepts the shapes reflect.

There’s one final point. Choosing to stylise clearly means making a decision, but it might be a decision not so much towards something, towards what the style will be, as a decision that’s essentially away from something, presumably away from a prevailing set of standards or assumptions. It’s a decison essentially on what the style won’t be.

If so, it suggests a move away from the real, maybe even a flight from reality, which could be a natural complement to the nature of gaming.

S? I.

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