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Model Design and Aesthetics. What Do You Like (and Hate) To See In Miniatures  [RSS] Share on facebook Share on Twitter Submit to Reddit
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Made in ie
Veteran Wolf Guard Squad Leader





Dublin

The obvious factors that make a great miniature are good design concept, sculpting, posing, detail, modular / build options and capturing the flavour of the faction it belongs to. Beyond that we all have our personal loves and hates. Here's mine. What are yours?

I like:

1. Realistic proportions. In the past, miniatures were squat and bulky for reasons of durability and ease of casting. Thankfully as technology has allowed it, some miniature ranges have evolved finer, more lifelike proportions. Just look how much better Forge World Imperial Guard look than plastic Cadians with limbs as thick as tree trunks.

2. Cohesive poses. When the entire squad is sculpted to look like its doing something particular. Like charging forwards, or crouched and sniping. Really floats my boat.


I dislike:

1. Truly Daft Poses. What gets my goat is sculpts that are great in all other respects are ruined by ridiculously improbable poses. Like the Blood Angels Sanguinar, who looks like he just jumped out of a box. Though who knows, maybe he did -he is a bit of a strange chap after all.

2. Fragile Bling. Detail is nice. Detail that bends or snaps off before you can get the damn kit off the sprue and clear of mold lines is a design flaw. The teeth, wolf tails and glyphs hanging from space wolves weapons is a prime example of this.

3. Statutory Basing bits. It's great if you get a big rock or whatever that you have the option of posing your miniature on. It's a pain in the ass if the miniatures legs and feet are shaped in such a way that it can't be affixed to the base without using the rock. Now I know those basing details look pretty cool, but there's practical reasons why I often avoid using them. Namely tall model syndrome. If the pile of skulls my Khorne champion is on prevents him from being placed in a doorway or under an overhang that he could clearly stand under, then that pile of skulls is nothing but an inconvenience to me. As is the model falling over constantly from being top heavy because it's sculpted hovering on top of magic flames.

4. Oversize bases. For similar reasons to 3. Fine if a large monster has a 60mm base. Aside from being a bulky creature the model probably needs it for stability reasons. But smaller models like Thunderwolf cavalry should go on narrow oval bases. I dont want issues placing models in scenery that they should be able to navigate. The issue gets complicated by rules that are dependant on measurements from, or contact with said bases. Well then ammend the rules. I'm looking at you GW!

Summarising 3. and 4: If a model looks small enough to fit somewhere then it shouldn't be hampered from doing so by inconsiderate design.

5. Oversize weapons. "See that champion with the huge axe? Yeah, the one that if scaled up to life size would weigh 60kg. Well he wouldn't be able to swing it in real life." I just don't go for silly-big weapons. I commonly cut power axes down to size. Maybe I'm collecting the wrong range of miniatures, but I feel the need to "fix" them.


6. Overly Baroque Minis. I almost forgot about this one until other posters mentioned it. Mostly limited to Imperial and Chaos minis, and 3rd part equivalents. I don't go for tabards, leather pauldron tassels, giant scrolls and other things that have no place on a modern warrior, let alone high tech soldier of the future. I've blunted quite a few blades removing them from minis. In addition I find they contrast horribly with the smooth and futuristic look of other models from the same armies -Cataphracti Terminotors just don't look like they belong next to a Sicaran battle tank. A few small details lie skulls and spikes, or scrolls on vehicles has my approval. A giant church organ on a tank that is supposedly a rocket lancher doesn't. Nor do those Mechanicum tanks that look like someone slapped a gun and tracks on a giant cog assembly. Practicality first please.

[Thumb - Blood-Angels-The-Sanguinar.jpg]

This message was edited 7 times. Last update was at 2017/02/02 16:36:55


I let the dogs out 
   
Made in us
Powerful Phoenix Lord





My preference in normal every-day aesthetics transfers into miniatures. That preference is simple and subdued. I'm not nine years old. I don't need spikes, daggers, skulls, and dripping blood to indicate that something is evil. I don't need a half dozen books, candles and cherubs to show me that a Space Marine is loyal to the Imperium. I don't need dozens of swirling ribbons to indicate something is moving.

For this reason I've almost never liked the Chaos aesthetic and I dislike the overly-ornate recent Space Marine obsession. To me it smacks of laziness. There is some genuine truth to the adage that very often "less is more". I think a lot of the recent computer sculpting just gets carried away with "let's add more stuff because we can!".

   
Made in gb
Keeper of the Holy Orb of Antioch





avoiding the lorax on Crion

 Elbows wrote:
My preference in normal every-day aesthetics transfers into miniatures. That preference is simple and subdued. I'm not nine years old. I don't need spikes, daggers, skulls, and dripping blood to indicate that something is evil. I don't need a half dozen books, candles and cherubs to show me that a Space Marine is loyal to the Imperium. I don't need dozens of swirling ribbons to indicate something is moving.

For this reason I've almost never liked the Chaos aesthetic and I dislike the overly-ornate recent Space Marine obsession. To me it smacks of laziness. There is some genuine truth to the adage that very often "less is more". I think a lot of the recent computer sculpting just gets carried away with "let's add more stuff because we can!".



Check out some 30k stuff... Might be perfect.

And things I hate. Tiny feet contact points... Skitari.. Your cool and all, but those feet.

Sgt. Vanden - OOC Hey, that was your doing. I didn't choose to fly in the "Dongerprise'.

"May the odds be ever in your favour"

Hybrid Son Of Oxayotl wrote:
I have no clue how Dakka's moderation work. I expect it involves throwing a lot of d100 and looking at many random tables.

FudgeDumper - It could be that you are just so uncomfortable with the idea of your chapters primarch having his way with a docile tyranid spore cyst, that you must deny they have any feelings at all.  
   
Made in my
Veteran Knight Baron in a Crusader






At my desk

I'm agree with all of your points.

Another dislike of mine is over-done detail. Some models just have too much going on on them. Belisarius Cawl is a good example of this in my opinon - I get that you want him to look incredibly augmented and give him huge numbers of mechadendrites and all that, but it's just too dense and looks a bit messy unless you really get in close to establish what everything is.

I know that it's an annoying comment to make 'Yeah don't make it boring but be sure it's not too overdone', but I think Forgeworld has pretty much nailed it in most cases. Look at the Horus Heresy Character Series: Striking looking, interesting miniatures (Fulgrim, Sevatar & Pollux are my favourite examples) that you can look at once and pick up all sorts of featres without having to get out a magnifying glass.

3000pts Blood Angels (4th Company) - 2000pts Skitarii (Voss Prime) - 2500pts Imperial Knights (Unnamed House) - 1000pts Imperial Guard (Household Retainers)

2000pts Free Peoples (Edlynd Fusiliers) - 2000pts Kharadron Overlords (Barak Zilfin) - 500pts Ironweld Arsenal (Edlynd Ironwork Federation) - 1000pts Duardin (Grongrok Powderheads)

Wargaming's no fun when you have a plan! 
   
Made in us
Powerful Phoenix Lord





Oh, another nitpick which ties in with my previous post...

I know it's a science fiction world, based on fantastical things, but that doesn't excuse components to a figure which would be monumentally absurd to wear into combat.

This is a solid example:


Why on earth would you run into battle with a huge roll of toilet-paper (blessed by the Emperor) between your legs? In combat? Literally something to trip over or shred, lose, or drag through the mud.

Kharn is another huge offender here.


I don't care how strong you are or how much power armour you're wearing (or 3/4s of it)...how much would tons of chains and weights hinder your performance or just get in the freakin' way? People will shout "oh it's dynamic!" and "sense of movement" blah blah blah. It's just beyond absurd to think he'd be fine swinging an axe while his chains/weights wrapped up his arm and he tripped over them and couldn't maneuver. Try running with big chains/skulls hanging between your junk...good luck with that.

I can do big weapons - got it. I can do not-wearing-a-helmet-defeating-the-entire-purpose-of-wearing-power-armour...I get it. But physical impediments ruin a figure for me immediately.
   
Made in us
Fresh-Faced New User




Detroit, rebel occupied British North America

i likewise would prefer more realistic proportions, heroic scale doesnt bother me per say but catachans are a sad case in point of taking things too far, which depresses me because id love a vietnam war themed army on can only hope the lord of change will give us new plastic molds of non-cadians one of these days

another thing i absolutely hate is fire and magic being represented in molds. it turned me off from buying manic's demon army (and thus ive yet to invest in kings of war), i was thinking about using fiber optics to make awesome glowy army like this http://whfm.blogspot.com/2010_04_10_archive.html but too much work for me right now

Chaos Daemons
Word Bearers
Genestealer Cults

 
   
Made in gb
Buttons Should Be Brass, Not Gold!






Norn Iron

Couldn't agree more with all the answers so far.

For me, sculptors sculpting animals and creatures, when their closest reference to animal anatomy is grabbing a frozen turkey on December 23rd. This turns out to be most of them.
Okay, that's a bit unfair; but even expert mini sculptors who have the human form down pat, can have a kind of blind spot with animals and natural poses. Tom Meier's dire wolves for Dark Sword, for example, or Tre Manor's first few attempts at horses. Though there are worse examples. Much worse.

Some of the best creature mini sculptors worked back in the 80's, IMO. I'd hazard that at that early point in fantasy miniature history, some of them were coming from a background or interest in animal art, rather than repeating well-known, generally accepted, but very unrealistic tropes. That was left to the imitators of those earlier sculptors! Things are getting better with Seb Perbett and others, but imagine what we might have today if one of the first had stuck around.

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2017/01/23 04:08:19


   
Made in gb
Regular Dakkanaut





For me i like all of the over sized weapons and extra detail , whislt playing a game having oversized stuff really helps to make a model stand out . I do agree in diromas that perportions are really important because you are almost inspecting it when you admire it
   
Made in gb
Agile Revenant Titan






I must say I love the new slightness that the newer Eldar models have. Really really beautiful stuff.

I'll echo the points about the business of recent Chaos and SM models. For some reason I'm more ok with it on SM models as it plays up the whole 'warrior monk' aesthetic, but the CSM stuff seems to be a lot of bling for no real reason.

Comparing the old-school Raptors to the new ones is the prime example. Somewhere in-between would be much better.

I must say I've been impressed with the more recent animal sculpts. Put together a Carnosaur recently and it's phenomenally realistic. Paint it badly and put it in the shop at the Natural History Museum and no-one would be any the wiser...

Check out may pan-Eldar projects http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/702683.page

Also my Rogue Trader-esque spaceport factions http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/709686.page

Oh, and I've come up with a semi-expanded Shadow War idea and need some feedback! https://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/726439.page

Lastly I contribute to a blog too! http://objectivesecured.blogspot.co.uk/ Check it out! It's not just me  
   
Made in gb
Been Around the Block





 IMMORTAN_AL wrote:

... another thing i absolutely hate is fire and magic being represented in molds...


Agree. Also, anything ethereal - I've yet to see it done well.

An obvious one, but I don't like the 40k aesthetic that's crept into fantasy miniatures in the last few years. I like the dominant part of an orc model to be its green skin, not some brightly coloured power armour.

I'll also add "too many notes" to my list of dislikes. Just because it's possible to put much more fine detail on a small model these days, doesn't mean it looks good.
   
Made in gb
Enginseer with a Wrench






Likes:
-Asymmetry
-Techno-gothic weirdness
-Blanche-esque
-Lots of mechanical details and bling
-Strange, impractical clothing and armour
-Anachronistic clothing and equipment

Dislikes:
-Modern military aesthetic
-Overly sleek sci-fi
-Lack of detail, lots of flat surfaces
-Too much uniformity (puts me off Necrons)

   
Made in gb
Buttons Should Be Brass, Not Gold!






Norn Iron

 Ynneadwraith wrote:

I must say I've been impressed with the more recent animal sculpts. Put together a Carnosaur recently and it's phenomenally realistic.


That'd be one of Seb's.

Paint it badly and put it in the shop at the Natural History Museum and no-one would be any the wiser...



   
Made in gb
Esteemed Veteran Space Marine






Northumberland

Couldn't agree more with the OP or most of the other posters here. As an SM painter, a personal gripe of mine is the static poses of the basic Tactical squad. You've got the wonderfully dynamic Assault or Vanguard legs, with a real sense of motion to them, then you give the Tactical Squad legs which suggest they're waiting for a bus. IMHO, I'd much prefer a set with say 5 Static, 5 Running and an optional 1 or 2 crouch/kneeling legs - that would be a kit well worth buying. This would apply even more so if you're painting a chapter like Carcharadons, Minotaurs or Blood Angels that focus on CC tactics.

What I do like to see (Again biased towards SM as I haven't yet painting anything from GW's other factions) is that they're beginning to think more about giving the modeller the option to craft unique poses. Seperate hands, 'Aiming' arm sets and a plethora of optional accessories are definitely better that precast detail when it comes to the core units.

Now with 100% more blog: 'Beyond the Wall'

Numine Et Arcu
 
   
Made in bg
Storm Trooper with Maglight






Like - Models that have a bit of realistic war tone.
Like - Exiting highlights

Dislike - The Ridiculous edge highlight meta, units are looking like Tron movies.
   
Made in ie
Veteran Wolf Guard Squad Leader





Dublin

 Elbows wrote:
Oh, another nitpick which ties in with my previous post...

I know it's a science fiction world, based on fantastical things, but that doesn't excuse components to a figure which would be monumentally absurd to wear into combat.

Why on earth would you run into battle with a huge roll of toilet-paper (blessed by the Emperor) between your legs? In combat? Literally something to trip over or shred, lose, or drag through the mud.



LOLd at the toilet roll! Totally agree about absurd detail, I forgot to include this on my list. The giant book open on the bonnet of the Sammael's jetbike wins the "Silly Detail"prize for me. Or perhaps blessed paper doesn't tear and blow away when you're doing 300mp/h!
[Thumb - Sammael.jpg]

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2017/01/23 16:56:22


I let the dogs out 
   
Made in us
Powerful Phoenix Lord





Didn't the Dark Angels have a land speeder with lit wax candles on it?
   
Made in us
Regular Dakkanaut





Looks like I'm a lone dissenter. I love hero scale and all of the dangling extra bits and nubbin's! I'm playing a sci-fi toy soldier game, I want my troops to look like they just stepped out of a comic book.
   
Made in us
Member of a Lodge? I Can't Say





Philadelphia PA

My preference in normal every-day aesthetics transfers into miniatures. That preference is simple and subdued. I'm not nine years old. I don't need spikes, daggers, skulls, and dripping blood to indicate that something is evil. I don't need a half dozen books, candles and cherubs to show me that a Space Marine is loyal to the Imperium. I don't need dozens of swirling ribbons to indicate something is moving.

For this reason I've almost never liked the Chaos aesthetic and I dislike the overly-ornate recent Space Marine obsession. To me it smacks of laziness. There is some genuine truth to the adage that very often "less is more". I think a lot of the recent computer sculpting just gets carried away with "let's add more stuff because we can!".


I definitely agree with this. I do wonder if computer design is partly to blame for some of the absurd busy-ness of models. I just having a librarian be different, I get he might have a book or something to represent his powers, but does the book need to have another, smaller, book stacked on it? Do there need to be skulls on literally everything?

As someone else said that's why I play 30k, for the sleeker aesthetics and lack of overdetailing (some minor stuff aside like the Prospero SW character). Power armor for an assault should not have a million little bits that will get caught on every doorway, curtain, rug, etc when you're trying to conquer a planet.
   
Made in us
Stalwart Veteran Guard Sergeant






I absolutely love the Gothic, chunky, over-detailed style of 40k models. It just makes me happy as a painter because of all the work that I get to do. What I hate are models that give me dozens of tiny puncture wounds when I build/paint/play them (looking at you Chaos Marines and Dark Eldar). I mean, we get it! They are evil little suckers, but I don't want to get my hands perforated whenever I touch them!


 
   
Made in us
Shadowy Grot Kommittee Memba






I realized a couple years ago that all I really, truly judge are hats I don't like.

Eldar/Darque Ayeeldaeryui cone hats (love anything without a cone hat!)

Imperial Guard Spaceballs Helmets

Space Marine silly grimace helms (don't mind beakies)

Chaos Marine topknot hats and stupid topknots in general


"Got you, Yugi! Your Rubric Marines can't fall back because I have declared the tertiary kaptaris ka'tah stance two, after the secondary dacatarai ka'tah last turn!"

"So you think, Kaiba! I declared my Thousand Sons the cult of Duplicity, which means all my psykers have access to the Sorcerous Facade power! Furthermore I will spend 8 Cabal Points to invoke Cabbalistic Focus, causing the rubrics to appear behind your custodes! The Vengeance for the Wronged and Sorcerous Fullisade stratagems along with the Malefic Maelstrom infernal pact evoked earlier in the command phase allows me to double their firepower, letting me wound on 2s and 3s!"

"you think it is you who has gotten me, yugi, but it is I who have gotten you! I declare the ever-vigilant stratagem to attack your rubrics with my custodes' ranged weapons, which with the new codex are now DAMAGE 2!!"

"...which leads you straight into my trap, Kaiba, you see I now declare the stratagem Implacable Automata, reducing all damage from your attacks by 1 and triggering my All is Dust special rule!"  
   
Made in us
Dakka Veteran




Whilst I don't have any particular major preferences in minis, I know what I like when I see it.

However, I can say with a burning passion I really really dislike GW's current obsession* with putting smokey/wispy/flamey effects on practically everything (which is creeping a bit into PP with Horgle2). Can't we have plain censers or braziers any more?

I also dislike GW's sudden decision to have made the Dreadnought's sarcophagus literally the marine helmet poking out he front (rather than it being decorative). This of course leads to abominations like Murderfang with the stupid fething bare head poking out the Dread.

On a personal note. THAT fething plasma gun conversion. You know the one I'm talking about. Looks terrible, It's not funny and ruins the whole mood of the model. If I could smash every one of these I would.




*Yes, I'm aware there are some older models (such as the original Skaven assassins) with these effects. So don't point that out

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2017/01/23 20:39:39


 
   
Made in us
Powerful Phoenix Lord





Groo_The_Wanderer wrote:
Looks like I'm a lone dissenter. I love hero scale and all of the dangling extra bits and nubbin's! I'm playing a sci-fi toy soldier game, I want my troops to look like they just stepped out of a comic book.


Oddly I agree with you...I'm completely fine with the over-the-top aesthetic which is generally seen on the Warhammer models. I'm not okay with designers who haven't spent more than seven seconds deciding if a model could actually function the way they're portrayed. You say "...stepped out of a comic book", I say "...stepped out of a comic book and immediately face-planted because they tripped on their chain/skull/loincloths"

I'm fine with back banners. I'm fine with huge weapons. I'm fine with the concept of tabards. I'm fine with helmet-less super soldiers. I'm fine with arms exiting a suit of armour above the head of a person (looking at your Terminators).

However, I'm not fine with tripping over stuff, or armour that would penetrate your groin if you sat down or bent over (there is a TON of this in modern miniatures). It's not tough to look at something and simply think "huh...that guy couldn't walk like that" and change it. There are so many avenues of things you could do. I find it super lazy.

PS: One other minor gripe...I can appreciate advances in model-making, but I don't love that GW is rapidly approaching making only models that 80% of their consumer base can't paint well. I look at a lot of miniatures they put out and think "Cripes, I wouldn't want to even try to paint that...". I think there is room for both slightly more detailed character models and basic troops etc. which aren't hugely annoying to paint.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2017/01/23 21:02:57


 
   
Made in us
Utilizing Careful Highlighting





at the keyboard

Boobs.
I don't wanna see em. I don't want to paint 'em.
I barely like female models anyway without adding overly endowed sexual characteristics to them.

Also:

Three part faces, four part arms - I'm looking at you Wyrd. Nevermind Yan Lo's beard wtf is with Gremlin feet, somers head and bayou rifle arms?! (Yes I know they're improving overall but ugh)

Things I like tend to be:

dynamic poses (just not in a silly 'heroic' way per se, I mean more athletic oriented)
real equipment (like Oathsworn Minis adventures and old school D&D with lamps etc)
MICE/RATS <3 <3 or well, just about any animals. I love anthropomorphic miniatures like Darksword Miniatures and Reaper's Mouslings!! And Skaven, I love my Skaven (yes there's a theme here)
the P51-D Mustang

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2017/01/23 21:08:44


   
Made in us
Powerful Phoenix Lord





The P-51 is a solid thing to like. I'm a P-40 guy myself.
   
Made in gb
Esteemed Veteran Space Marine






Northumberland

@Elbows + Guildenstern - Cough *Spitfire* Cough

Now with 100% more blog: 'Beyond the Wall'

Numine Et Arcu
 
   
Made in gb
Towering Hierophant Bio-Titan





Fareham

Biggest dislike has to be stupidly overdone effects.
I get they are trying to make it dynamic or interesting, but half the time it is without all the extra rubbish added.

The new avatar thing is a perfect example.
Nice well sculpted model, then completely obscure it in needless effects so you can't actually see it.

The celestant prime from AoS is the same.
Really nice model then they cover it in swirling rubbish that has no use being there.




Subtle effects like on the harlequin solitaires cloak is great and looks good, but it's a small detail as opposed to 70% of the entire model.




Biggest likes are actually simplicity.
Forgeworld has it perfect with most of the 30k range.
Realistic poses, not overly crowded with rubbish, practical armour etc.





And I did chuckle reading this as I had the thought of kharn getting tangled in his own chains and falling over.

   
Made in us
Longtime Dakkanaut




Central California

Jumping on the skulls and blood and blech band wagon. I get SO tired of skulls all over. Just lame and aimed at a different crowd. There is way too much "Aztec Temple" motif going on (and this certainly isn't new)
The real problem I see with most of the added bits (like that roll of toilet paper and Karns chains) is scale. At the real scale of the miniature, a page from even a large book should be tiny. Same with chains. To sculpt a chain at that level...unrealistic, so Karn has the equivalent of an anchor chain on his arms.

What do I like? Poses matter more than tiny details I guess. Light is better in combat, I don't care what power armor you have or what the date is...drop your overloaded pack before you run into actual combat please...take your bling off before infiltrating as well.

Keeping the hobby side alive!

I never forget the Dakka unit scale is binary: Units are either OP or Garbage. 
   
Made in gb
Buttons Should Be Brass, Not Gold!






Norn Iron

Ruin wrote:This of course leads to abominations like Murderfang with the stupid fething bare head poking out the Dread.


That model reminds me of the guy from the second Ace Ventura film, just his head poking out of the bag, snarling and trying to bite people...

https://youtu.be/75UT97Q12-Y

Elbows wrote:You say "...stepped out of a comic book", I say "...stepped out of a comic book and immediately face-planted because they tripped on their chain/skull/loincloths"


IMO some of GW's minis and backgrounds, while they've long had a certain level of OTT wackiness, are doubling down the attitude that comics were at in the 90s (the 90s): grimdark mistaken for maturity; spikes, skulls, oversized guns, a thick crust of gubbins; everyone riddled with muscle...

   
Made in us
Powerful Phoenix Lord





 Warpig1815 wrote:
@Elbows + Guildenstern - Cough *Spitfire* Cough


They're all wonderful planes, just from a looks standpoint...the P-40 hits me in the feels.
   
Made in us
Krazy Grot Kutta Driva





My pet peeves is the unnecessary "detail" on a lot of the new CAD modeled minis. Just because it's easy to add a hundred skulls, chains and flames doesn't make it better. It's like a Power Point where every page has 13 clip-art pics because they're easy to add.
   
 
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