Miniture Monday – Tengus


This week we travel into the far east and encounter some legendary creatures: Crow people!

The Tengu (aka Kenku, how D&D calls them) miniatures are relatively small, but very finely detailed, especially the armour details are downright amazing if you consider size and material. The theme is somewhat special and probably not for everyone, since tengu/kenku are rather exotic critters from a western perpective, but I’m still glad we chose to paint them.  The level of detail aside the minis are really nice for use with asian RPGs (we have a “Legend of the Five Rings/Rokugan” campaign, eg), as unusual encounters in standard fatasy and for funny and strange RPGs like “Turtles/TMNT” where you get to play all sorts of mutant animal characters. Maybe just seeing them painted works as inspiration for some of our readers!

I painted my tengus in three different colors:


Thinking about the minis I decied to give each one a separate basic color: Red for the samurai, green for the rogue/ninja (ranger, in this case) and dark purple for the spellcaster. The skin/feathers are black and claws and beaks dark grey, as in real crows, although you often see crow and raven feet and beaks in contrasting yellow (the biologist inside me wonders how that happened, are there yellow-beaked crows in the US somewhere?).
I painted much of the minis with washes and liners again, mostly because that way the details aren’t obscured and I don’t have to be so careful with the paint (lazy, tired me) – it flows into the recesses all by itself! Some parts I painted with opaque colors too, to give a variation within the colors. This way I could paint the minis relatively quick in a couple of hours (free time is rare and valuable with a small child, belive me!).


Dirk also tried different colors:


His minis are mostly WIP, the rogue/ninja is nearly finished because he already knows where to use (an “ongoing asian RPG campaing” was all he wanted to disclose… Spoilers? I’m a player in most of his groups, after all…). For the samurai he wanted to try a yellow armour, as samurai armours allows for much brighter colors (and colors at all) compared to its european counterpart. Yellow is alsways a bit tricky, he started with a yellowish brown undercoat (Army painter’s “Desert yellow”) and will continue with layers of yellow for a realitic and rich tone. The robed tengu will be some kind of monk (not sorcerer), but with a nod to shaolin monks who wear brightly colored robes too.

In case you were wondering why the eyes on all our tengu seem to “glow” a bit – we both used “Vallejo Metal medium”, a kind of mother-of-pearl color, to give the eyes a special look.

Michael painted one of the Tengu for a friend:


He wrote he painted the minis in advance in February, and did the robed one for a friend who is playing a kenku cleric (may I ask in which game? Some kind of D&D setting?). He used reds and blues on the cleric and painted the other two to go along with that. Michael had fun painting the little details and adding a pattern to the breastplate – well done! Do I see right that you even painted the eyes of the demon head on the staff? I didn’t pay that much attention (reason see above) but maybe my minis deserve a closer look and some more detailwork too…!
Michael wrote he is also quite happy with the shading on the ninja/rogue’s sleeves, which the picture doesn’t do justice (like always).


Arjen’s Tengu sports a ghostly green:

Tengu Arjen

Since Arjen had to bring the kids to bed (I feel with him) he didn’t write much about why he used green and purple, but anyway I think that’s an unusual, but really interesting choice! The pale green looks as if it is glowing, that’s probably where my “ghostly” association comes from. Are the feathered areas brown, or does it just look like that on the photo? During my quick research I read that tengu can have many different colors, eg deep red, so maybe if I ever paint another batch I could try another species of bird… maybe a magpie?


Jim’s tengu wear brightly colored clothes:

JimBones Tengu IMG_4074

Jim wrote that he claims artistic licence for making the tengu that colorful, but fortunately we’re not working for a museum here but just for our own fun, so please don’t worry  😀 In fact, I really like the contrast and clear colors on your minis (mine tend to be a bit dark and muted in times), I bet they look great on the tabletop, and all the details seem to have been painted with great care too! Jim wrote he painted a golden pattern on the warrior/samurai’s trousers (you can see it on a close look), which is quite funny because Dirk plans something like this for his tengu too!

Jim wrote that the minis were surprisingly fun to paint, which is great news – with this project we try to bring all sorts of minis in the spotlight, even strange or special ones which one wouldn’t have painted normally.

This week’s gallery:

Coming next:

04/30/18 Bones II Aaron the Conjurer (B2 Core)

Want to participate in the next post? Email the pictures of your minis until Friday 04/27/18 to  (It’s a .de domain, in case emails are bouncing)

–> Attention: The submission date for photos is about three days before publishing date, to give us a bit of time to actually write about your pictures  😀

This way you’ll have two weeks/one weekend to paint, and we have one weekend to write (which is the only time of the week where we have some open minutes).

You can of course send in pics later, but to take out a bit of the stress (most pics arrive here rather last minute) please consider the three day deadline. Later pics will show up in an update  😉

(I added some of your suggestions already, I might shuffle them around a bit, but keep them coming! For some minis there are no pics in the onine shop yet so I’ll add them later.

As you can see I prepared a lot of date entries but am still looking for mini ideas. Post your suggestions if you like! The ‘Type of mini’ placeholder is just that, if you want something else tell us!)


05/14/18 Bones III Werebear (B3 Core)

05/28/18 Bones III Nazeera Bloodraven, female fighter (B3 Core)

06/11/18 Bones II Bugbear Warband! Hunter, Warrior and/or Leader (B2 Core)

06/25/18 Bones III Let the dogs out: War Dog and/or Foo Dog (B3 Core)

07/09/18 Eastern Encounter II: Oni demon female and/or male (B3 Core)

07/23/18 Bones III Quinn, Iconic Investigator (B3 Core)

08/06/18  Catch-Up Monday – your pick from Bones 1 & 2 incl. extras. What about some demons (toad, wolf, slime…), a dragon or a giant?

08/20/18 Bones II Skeletons, as many as you like (like this or this or this one) Here you can find the Bones 2 Core Set picture, look for “Shambling Dead”. On you can search for “skeleton” and check the bones minis to find them. If you have other skeletons to paint just send us pics of those!

09/03/18 Bones III Ogres (guard, smasher, clubber) (B3 Core)

09/17/18 Unhooding woman/cleric (not yet available) (B3 Core)

10/01/18 Bones III Bregan, Valkyrie (B3 Core)

10/15/18 Bones II TBA

10/29/18 Bones III Hobageddon: Hobgoblin warriors (B3 Core)

11/12/18 Bones III Elven Blacksmith (B3 Core)

11/26/18 Bones II TBA

12/10/18 Bones III Animal/Monster TBA

12/24/18 Christmas break

12/31/18 New Year’s break

01/07/19 Bones III Humanoid TBA

01/21/19 Room for your suggestions!

This entry was posted by Antonia & Dirk Vogel.

7 thoughts on “Miniture Monday – Tengus

  1. Less is more….I like Antonia’s and Dirk’s Tengu best this week as they have strong simple and effective color schemes. The eye effect is a nice touch. Jim’s blue with yellow rogue is also a very nice combination. I wonder why you all assume Tengu are crows, mine is a starling (has a green shade on the feathers).
    My color scheme is based on the Tengu painted by Derek Schubert on the Reaper website (the metal equivalent for this mini). I think he did an amazing job. I tried as best as I could to copy him (yes, there is a little gold line between the blue and the purple armor!). Trying to emulate him is really a challenge (even though I did not come anything near his result). My mini is bright purple, but unfortunately the camera had trouble picking this up, it now looks a bit faded.

    • Hi Arjen, thanks for the background info! Emulating another artist is really an old tradition, especially with painters, because, as you wrote, one can learn so much just by focusing on certain aspects, colors and techniques. It helps a lot to sharpen one’s own view too.
      About the crow aspect – when I read about the tengu from japanese legends the texts said they were depicted as crows, mostly, strangely despite the fact that they sometimes have deep red skin and not much avian attributes besides claws. The starling version is a great idea, since the pure black can be a bit boring (although it allows for colorful and contrasting clothes).

  2. I wish I’d have found out about this blog way back when you were still doing Bones 1 minis.
    Would have truly helped to try to get through some of my pile of unpainted! Love the site.

    • Hi Cole! We’re glad you like this blog – and good news: You can still submit Bones 1 minis if you want!
      08/06/18 for example will be a “Catch-Up Monday” where you can paint (or just show off) minis from Bones 1 & 2, as many as you like! 🙂

  3. How can you go wrong with Japanese minis! They can be painted in almost any colors and being fantasy allows for even more options! I just wish my painting skills could do them justice. I admit, I’ve always been a little intimidated by oriental minis, but I think we all did a good job.

    Antonia – That explains the eyes! The green armor on the rogue/ranger is looking really good. I thought he looked kind of like a ranger, too! The more muted tones work well. Colors in Japan seem to either tend toward the bright almost gaudy or to the subtle muted earth tones. As far as American crows go, I don’t think any have yellow on them at all.

    Dirk – More muted colors! The ninja is coming along well and it’s interesting that you used blue on that one. Good idea using the wizard as a monk. The outfit works perfectly. I think the brown base layers will support the yellow nicely as you highlight up. I’d like to see him when you’re done.

    Michael – Nice work on all three! Again we have blue armor on the rogue, hmmmm. I love that dark red color on the warrior armor, the rogue hood and the wizard robes. The warrior came out beautifully.

    Arjen – I love the color combination. The pale green and various purples are bright but fit the samurai persona very well. Painting him as a starling is a cool idea. I guess I just assumed mine are crows! All in all a striking mini.

    Mine look a little washed out as I took the pic in direct sunlight. Doing that has good points and bad points! I’m not sure why I chose blue armor for the rogue, as I too thought he looks a bit ranger-esque. His hood is actually green, but Arjen’s right that it definitely looks yellowish in the pic. I lived in Japan when I was a kid and the warrior’s cloth is copied from a doll (maybe a giesha?) my Mom has that is wearing an orangish red silk kimono with a gold pattern that I have always loved.

    After painting these, I think I like the rogue mini best in general. Out of all our painted versions though, It’s kind of a toss up between Michael and Arjen’s warriors.

  4. Nice everybody!

    As Jim said, all sorts of colors work on these minis.

    I think the color-coordination on each of both Antonia’s and Dirk’s three models looks great. These are good minis to try that on, I think. To a degree, it reminds me a little bit of some video games, where a distinctive color palette gets applied over the character you select. And the eyes look great!

    I think I like Arjen’s starling samurai the best. Very inventive, and the details look great.

    Jim’s bright colors really stand out. I think you also did a really super job with all the little highlights, especially on the warrior and ranger armor. I love the idea of the patterned trousers too!

    So, for mine, the caster is my friend Rob’s Kenku cleric Viktor in our D&D Tomb of Annihilation game. Viktor is a charlatan who’s always trying to sell people brightly colored potions that don’t really do anything, and I made sure to put those on his hip. Antonia, I did paint the eyes on the staff; since this was a custom piece for a friend, I really took my time on the little details.

    Interestingly, I never thought of the one with the one-handed sword as a rogue or ranger, but more of a light fighter – the kind you might find in a wuxia film. The mold of the sword made me think more of a dao than a Japanese-style sword. I think that influenced my color scheme too, as I made the sleeves white to evoke the colors of the Korean flag (the Winter Olympics were also ongoing when I did these, so there’s that too!).

  5. Pingback: Miniature Monday – Werebear | Caffeineforge

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