The magpie has a reputation as being a thieving bird, collecting shiny objects to adorn his nest. He is also reputed to be rather nasty, attacking the nests of other defenseless birds. As it turns out, while the Magpie is indeed a savage predator and will eat the eggs and young of songbirds, his reputation as a thief is less deserved and apparently springs from a 19th century French play. Nevertheless, while painting Sumothay, it seemed a particularly apt nickname for this grizzled mercenary, decked out in a variety of bits of armor plucked from remains of numerous battles.
(...and to be honest, he's either a savage magpie, or the inspiration for the tv show "Hoarders"...)
Sumothay never met a piece of armor that he wasn't willing to somehow strap to himself. His getup is a mix of plate metal pieces, hardened leather, cloth, leather, fur... you name it, he's affixed it to his person in some way. This is part of what really attracted me to the mini in the first place, but it also proved to be something of a challenge to paint. I'm not the fastest painter and after a while I got a bit exhausted with the process. I did something I don't often do and took a bit of a break in the middle of painting the big fella to work on some of my Bushido minis, but having returned to finish him off, I'm very pleased with the result.
I've written before that basing a miniature is one of my biggest challenges. It's something I'm working on, but it doesn't feel like it comes naturally. With that said, I'm learning and I'm very happy with my base for Sumothay.
Sumothay comes with two options for his back, either the crossed sword scabbards or a big cloak with the banner pole rising above it. I really wanted to use the banners, but the cloak required a lot of manipulation to look decent. It felt a bit tacked on and not terribly connected to the miniature. After some musing, I realized that I could still use the banners without the cloak and have them stuck in the ground instead. I started building a little narrative in my head of Sumothay preparing to take on a series of enemies, planting his banner in defiance and dropping his scabbards anticipating the fight.
I built up the base using mostly cork for all of the larger rock formations and some small rocks for the pebbles. After painting (and getting a good chance to use some dry pigments, which I don't break out nearly often enough) I added some moss and grass tufts to complete the scene.
Having finished Sumothay himself and the base, I just needed to paint the banner to finish the piece. I'd already decided on the "magpie" nickname during painting so wanted to try and paint a rough barbaric-looking bird theme. Perhaps Sumothay originally acquired the nickname as a slur people muttered about him under their breath while crossing to the other side of the road, but then he decided to embrace it and adopt it as his personal motif, roughly painting it on his banner. A superstitious man, Sumothay then added a few runes to fill in some of the extra space around the birds… magical wards or good luck charms. (This particular birds image was inspired by a Norse design I found online.)
Having posted some of the finished shots above (with more now in the gallery), below are some of the work-in-progress photos. For other works in progress, check out my WIPs page, or follow me on twitter!