Saturday, December 24, 2005

Holiday Season, South Asian Style!

Christmas is much lower key in Sri Lanka than it is in the US or UK. The population is mostly buddhist, but everyone likes a holiday. We went out of town yesterday to attend a ten year anniversary of my Dad's hotel -- Theravada Buddhist style.

There are two kinds of successful people in Sri Lanka. The first kind lives large and flaunts that they made it. The other kind -- well, they have nothing to prove. Saman Villas, the country's number one luxury hotel, is run by this former sort. How did they mark their tenth anniversary? With a half hour religious ceremony that not even the guests knew about.

A Dane
A Dane (pronounced THA-nay) is sevice where buddhist monks gather to repeat sermons first delivered by the Buddha. They are an oral tradition going back 2,500 years. The chanting of these sermons is called pirith, and is typically about kindness towards all.

The Dane started with the priests being fed. In case you're wondering, buddhist priests are vegetarians (as all buddhists are supposed to be. As you may guess, we have our C&E sorts too...). This is the only "payment" these priests receive for this service.

After the priests have eaten, everyone who will listen to the pirith sits in front of the priests on the ground. A spool of string (made from a leaf) is passed amongst the gathered, and everyone holds on to the string (you'll see what this is for later).

After the pirith is over, a cup of water is poured. This is done because buddhists believe reciting pirith generates merits, which can be passed on to the dead. This is to aid in their reincarnation into better lives.

Here you see what happens to the string. It is cut into sections and each of the attendees has it tied around their right wrist. This is their badge of piety.

These are supposed to be worn for several days. My Dad likes to wear them till they fall off.

And that's pretty much it!
While we're on a buddhist kick, I'm jump ahead to the end of the day. We joined the managing director on a trip to a nearby temple that the hotel is going to do some community work for (repairs and new construction). The temple was on a small hill that was the highest point in the area, so Dad and I went on a little hike.

Unsurprisingly, the summit was swarming with jungle growth and we couldn't see a thing. This pic is the last interesting thing before the summit.

I ran the image today in a negative filter, and it looked pretty Cthulhoid :) .

The steps were pretty treacherous, but the lack of a handrail just made the climb more awesome.

Monks in training.

I was very happy to get this shot of a monk ascending.

Afterwards, I just hung out with my kid cousins and ate like a pig. These are shots of Saman Villas, one of the most relaxing places I've ever been.

These are my kid cousins. The older one, Shalin, is nine, the younger one, Dulin, is three. This was Dulin's first time swimming. Both would much rather paint (or maybe I should say "paint") than wargame.

The equally amused and outraged looking gentleman with Dulin is my Dad, Sugath Weeraratne. That's Mr Sugath Weeraratne to you...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

We're Sponsoring Adepticon!

I am proud to announce that we'll be providing some of the prize support for Adepticon '06.

The Best General players of the 40K Team tournament, and the 40k Championship Best General will be receiving our "Adepticon Warmaster" Certificates. These will entitle them to:

Ten character miniatures professionally painted for you by Asia's best 28mm craftsmen. Elephants, shipping, and dancing girls, not included.

Originally we had hoped to be the "official painting service" of Adepticon, but since Adepticon isn't actually getting anything painted by us, it made more sense go to for "Proud Painting Service Sponsor."

Jeff Chua is the fellow in charge of Adepticon I believe, and he seems a pretty level, approachable guy. You can visit Adepticon's site here.

And now, a picture of me relaxing a weekend ago at my Dad's hote, Saman Villas (I'm reading Kurzweil's "Spiritual Machines"). They're having their tenth anniversary on the 23rd, so we're probably not working on Friday.

I don't know about you guys, but when you work Saturdays and often Sundays, you take days off wherever you can...


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Painting Prices Seem to be Falling...

Tom Petty once said he knew he had made it when he saw posters advertising tickets for a bogus Tom Petty concert. I know we're a good way and certainly a lot of work away from "made it" status, but I think I know how Tom felt when I read things like this (from

" ... We also changed the pricing structure to be a bit more competitive ... Remember we are not Farming out the work to someone overseas, your money will be spent here in the US on cheap crap from China. "

The way I see it, there's hobbyists who paint minis for the love of the hobby and for extra cash to buy more minis, a
nd there's people who paint minis to pay bills and taxes. I know there are more than a few of the latter out here in Asia.

Here are some pics of an enginseer I painted recently for a friend. This is at what I call our character quality, which is $5 a 28mm figure.

You can see a the full gallery here.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Talk Like a Pirate Day is today!

Aye that's right, September 19th.

Learn more here me hearties. And with that, I'm off, cause by order of the cap'n (and that be me), TLAPD be an official holiday!



Building An Ancient Indian Temple

I got an interesting project recently. Simon, a client from Britain who plays a "De Bellis Antiquitatis" (DBA), Ancient Indian army, asked us if we could make him a terrain piece. Specifically he was looking for a camp, or Built-Up-Area (BUA) for the army. He sent us the picture you can see over here on right.

Now, we don't do terrain. It's bulky and sometimes heavy which drives up mailing costs, and its not as cost effective as painting miniatures.

But man -- how often do you get a chance to build an Indian temple?

It wasn't a hard decision. I said yes and haven't looked back.

Ancient Indian architecture is dominated by statues. Let no pillar go unadorned with sculpture. William Durant in his still excellent History of Civilization wrote, "The Hindus built like gods, while the Muslims built like jewellers."

Our job? Build something godly, but on a jeweller's scale.

The first step was to go visit some temple vendors. Here are some stalls we visited outside the Kathiresan Temple in Colombo.

Happily, it wasn't hard to find lots of fairly high detail, miniature statues! There were lot that had already been hand painted too, but they were a little large. I asked some vendors, and the pieces had all come from India. This worked well for an Ancient Indian army order -- I was already going to use real Indian dirt for the basing.

I took some pictures of miniature statues, and sent them to the client with prices. He liked what he saw, and gave us a go ahead and our budget.

We decided on a temple to Hanuman,
the Monkey God.

Why Hanuman? Primarily because we couldn't find a Shiva that was the right size. Shivite devotion is the earliest known form of Hinduism, and if the BUA was Shivite, Simon's army would be appropriate in even the most ancient battle scenarios.

But we found no Shiva. So we went Monkey God. Mostly cause I wanted to be able to say I built a temple to a Monkey God, but Simon went for it :) . Above is a picture of an actual temple to Hanuman in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka (picture courtesy of wikipedia).

Over here you can see the miniature statues we picked out - a 28mm figure is next to Lord Hanuman for scale. Among the other, smaller statues were a Ganesh and a Lakshmi.

My temple plan was simple: a desert like area, with an avenue of smaller gods leading up to the larger Hanuman. Jungle would be on the outskirts of the temple, trying to creep in.

First, laying it out.

I had a piece of plywood cut int an 8in by 8in square. I measured an 8cm avenue down the middle, Simon needed it to be wide enough to admit a figure with a 60mm base.

Some of the figures didn't stand right, so they're shown here propped up with scaly green and graveyard earth :) . We fixed that problem with some expoxy cement.

The next step was to dirt base the plywood. I put down a thick coat of PVA glue and covered the plywood in dirt. I brushed off the excess, and threw down another layer of PVA and then more dirt.

After a second brush off, it looked this.

The next step was to make the dirt look a little more interesting. I painted it with a large brush using a mix of water; grave yard earth; dark flesh; brown ink; and PVA glue. The result looked more like red clay-based dirt than, well, the red-clay based dirt you see everywhere in Sri Lanka. I was pretty pleased with that.

The next step was the jungle plants. I got some regular aquarium plants (not the Games Workshop regular aquarium plants, mind you), and tore off all the rosy, colorful bits.

Then I tore up the plants to make them smaller, and give me a more varied range of plants to work with. It was important that nothing be much taller than any miniature statue it was paired with.

The problem was, the plants were just too bright and friendly.

I took care of that by dipping them in a very dark, polyurethane, stain. This also had the added advantage of making the plants look wet, like jungle flora in the morning covered in dew. Here's a side view.

Finally, I inked the detail on the Hanuman. This made him stand out more from the other miniature statues besides being larger.

Nothing too fancy, but definitely breaks the benchmark set by the sample image. Also, done within budget, and that's important when you're billing for time-intensive work.

After we did this, we got thinking about other terrain projects. A friend of mine has some floor plans of Angkor Wat I want to study, and we have some insane plans.

A giant temple? No expenses spared? Animatronic jousters? Oh its happening.

Me. How can you not trust this face?

Double Eagle - The Tale of a Miniature Painting Service in Asia

Hello. And welcome to the blog of how I've chosen to completely change my life.

I used to work a real job once. Managing a mid-sized medical practice, wearing a tie, commuting across the state, working insane hours, getting lousy pay (did I mention the lousy pay? The pay - it was
totally lousy). It didn't take me long to realize that this sort of thing was all I had to look forward to if I stayed in suburban corporate America.

I had to get out. I needed to make my own path. I had to stop being a victim of capitalism and instead be empowered by it. A good friend of mine who built a 12 million dollar company in six months, told me there are two ways of getting rich: one, being a salesman; two, starting your own business. I had no more interest in wearing ties, and that just left me becoming an entrepreneur.

But what was I going to do?

Well, I knew I wanted to wargame - so I started there. A year of research, getting laid off, and a one-way ticket home later, here I am.

With your help, let's see how far I get.

- Navin Weeraratne,
Colombo, Sri Lanka