Big Frank

Actually, it's Big Frank's monster

In my endless quest to purge the shame of unpainted miniatures from my home and family, and learn a bit about art in the process, I persevere and offer up Big Frank. A stone golem from Reaper Miniatures, Big Frank bears certain resemblances to particular Franks of myth and story, though ultimately I decided that wasn’t the direction to go.

A stone golem mini from the front, painted grey, red and gold.
Photo by Jim Tigwell, used with permission

The Tale

What’s most interesting about golems is their makers and design, always. Big Frank is a stone golem, which implies that he did not come into existence naturally. He was made, from the tips of his toes to the top of his tin head. In rpgs, Frankenstein’s monster is traditionally represented as a flesh golem, stitched together from various corpses and much cheaper to produce. Frank would have started life as an elaborate sculpture. The strength and ability to move come from layered enchantments, and aren’t related to the nature of the sculpture at all, so consider this: they could have had David, the Fallen Caryatid, or the Fearless Girl, but instead opted for something that looks archetypally tough. With muscles on muscles hewn from rock and towering over ordinary people, Big Frank is clearly designed by someone who craves the elementary intimidation of being bigger, without any subtlety.

I can only assume that Big Frank’s owner is some manner of deeply upset hobbit, also named Frank, and relentlessly put upon because he’s supposed to be Big Frank, and this is Big Frank’s monster.

The Technique

As someone definitely bad at painting and also super colourblind, Big Frank was an opportunity to think about layers of colour. I got to start with some simple colours and had a lot of space to try and make them more complex. A common method for minis is to focus on the basic colours first, the grey of his body, the red of his skirt, and the metallic colours in his face and head. From there, you add lowlights using washes and highlights using drybrushing. It sounds easier than it is, but one of the big things that I learned was to try and start with three or four essential colours that are gonna serve as the base for the rest of the mini.

One of the things I tried was pre-shading Big Frank when priming him, which I picked up from this Tabletop Minions video. I don’t think I really got the paint thin enough for the shading to show through, except around the face. Using wet palettes was an experiment for another day, I decided.


A closeup on the stone golem's abs.
Photo by Jim Tigwell, used with permission

Big Frank’s literally chiseled abs were a good chance to try and work a wash deep into the cracks, and I think it turned out strongly medium. I definitely didn’t focus enough on painting the wash into the crevices, opting to paint it over the area and relying on it to settle where it should. It turns out that care and attention are great assets there.

One thing that did turn out was painting up through colours. His face was gold painted directly over the primer, and while the pre-shading shows, the gold on the left side looks a little washed out. On the cuffs, I painted a yellow first, and then gold over the yellow, which made it really pop. I look forward to more of that, as well as utterly botching various colour combinations in doing so. Remember, more colours means more skill.

A comparison between the gold of the stone golem's face and the cold on the cuff of the wristband.
Photo by Jim Tigwell, used with permission

Finally, the back was subject to my first attempt at drybrushing, which went about as well as you’d expect a first attempt to go. It looks like someone attacked him with a rasp, and I decided that it was one problem that more paint wasn’t going to solve. This is what happens when your brush is insufficiently dry, FYI.

A stone golem mini from the back, painted grey, red and gold.
Photo by Jim Tigwell, used with permission

Big Frank is a large boy, and has a lot of broad expanses that were really fun to paint.I am in love with the notion that he has an array of gold faces for use for various occasions, In addition to trying a bunch of new things with this mini, I learned that the most important thing when painting is to love the mini. Big Frank’s monster is my sweet son and love made me more patient and careful with him. I look forward to him looming over a player character only to quietly hug it out.

Jim Tigwell

A survivor of two philosophy degrees, Jim Tigwell spends his days solving interesting problems in software. By night he can be found at poetry slams and whatever art opening has the strangest cheese selection. Host of the biweekly Concept Crucible podcast and occasional blogger, Jim is also a juggler, musician, magician, and maker of digital things. You can find his music and videos at Woot Suit Riot, a channel that doubles as a home for wayward and timid creators. Observe his antics there, or heckle directly on Twitter @ConceptCrucible. If the software and internet game doesn’t pan out, he’s determined to be a great Canadian vampire hunter.

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