I wanted to document this project as I worked on it, but never got to it, so I made a condensed post:

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Completion Date: Aug 2016

Time: 110 hours (!), sculpt and painting inclusive

Concept Summary:

This was made for Marike Reimer’s Ranbow Brush competition at GenCon 2016. I found out about it in late May, and decided that I probably had enough time to complete something in two months. I was mostly correct… I ended up pulling an almost all-nighter the night before I left for the con.

I knew I wanted to do something from the Arabian Nights, so I re-read some of the most popular ones. In the Second Voyage, Sindbad spends some time in a valley filled with diamonds, giant snakes, and rocs, which seemed like a fun concept. I decided on a moment where Sindbad has paused to inspect a diamond in the sunlight, and is ambushed by a snake approaching from behind. A giant roc footprint would fill in unseen elements of the story, and Sindbad’s own footprints combined with some bones and an abandoned bag would tell a fun secondary story for anyone who examined the diorama closely.  I also began collecting reference material:


Sculpt Summary:

I found a Reaper mini that seemed like it would work well for Sindbad with some conversion. I also found a Reaper snake that I thought would work, but on closer inspection, it was underwhelming in size and pose. That’s when I decided to scratchbuild the snake, which is also the moment the time investment in the project blew up a little bit.

The snake started with armature wire, was built up in layers of Fimo, and then finally skinned with greenstuff. The fit of the snake with the rocks was extremely tricky and required what seemed like endless fittings.


Paint Summary:

Photoshop and Kuler helped out trying color schemes:


The sand and rock dictated warm tones, so everything kind of fell into a complementary scheme of warm tones paired with the cyan diamonds. I wanted a rainbow refraction effect on the face (cool looking and also appropriate for the Rainbow Brush!), and bought an additional test model to try and sketch it out:


…but it didn’t make it to the final version because if was confusing and not clear that it was a refraction. (Big thanks to Ben Komets for pointing that out… he gave me a round of notes via his Patreon Virtual Coaching, and they were very helpful).

I spent a lot of time as I was painting adjusting the exact hues:


Gear Summary: Not a ton different than what I had been using… all of the painting was done with WN S7 size 1 and 000, and Vallejo paint. I did try Secret Weapon pigments for the sand, which added a dusty feel that didn’t exist with just the acrylics.



The diorama won the Rainbow Brush and a Silver in its category in the overall competition. I just got back into painting a year ago, so it’s great to win something. I’m also generally happy with how it turned out, except for…


I really wish I hadn’t titled it the way I did. In retrospect, it seems boring. It should have been “Sindbad and the Valley of Diamonds,” or something similar. “The Second Voyage” doesn’t give any information about the piece unless you’re already familiar with what the Second Voyage is. The sculpt on the snake and the conversions could also have been substantially cleaner, but what I did was pushing right up against my skill level.

As an overall thing, I think it’s solidly put together, but failed to have a big “wow” factor. I watched people look at miniatures in the display cases at GenCon, and certain pieces seem to have a gravity that pulls people into orbit.

The Sindbad model could have also been more ambitious. The robe could have been taken up a notch with some freehand.


Really wish I could have made the rainbow effect work on the face.