Thursday, July 11, 2019

Hera Models Orc Bust

Wow, it's been quite a while since I've updated this blog! Over the next few posts I'll try to catch up on the projects I've completed. The first one I want to share is my most recent, the academic orc bust from Hera Models. I think their academic line is a neat idea. It provides figures that are great for focusing on a technique or skills such as shading, blending, skin, etc. They also provide a nice base figure that could be converted into something unique by adding clothing and equipment. While I didn't make any modifications to the orc, it's something I'd like to try on some of their other busts at some point.

I've seen this bust painted up quite a few times. It's a popular figure and, having now worked on it, I can easily see why. It's a dynamic piece with a lot of great shapes to work with. Unfortunately, since he's already been painted by so many artists, I struggled a bit to find a way to do something unique with him. In the end, I decided to focus on lighting. Most of the versions I've seen use traditional zenithal lighting, so I decided to move my main light source off to one side. It's a bit like 3/4 lighting, but perhaps a bit farther to the side that even that. I also liked how this lighting throws half of the face into shadow and, in my opinion, makes him look even more menacing. I think I also angled him a bit farther forward that most of the other versions I've seen. He feels a bit more feral this way. And, it's a bust, so there's no clear 'correct' angle like you'd have with a figure on foot.

With the main light source off to one side, I added a secondary light source from the other side and below. This helps provide some definition to the shapes on the shaded side of the face and, in my opinion, just looks cool. =P Working with multiple light sources is something I still find very challenging, so the academic bust provided a great opportunity to practice. I painted the entire bust with the primary light source before added the secondary light. I did a rough sketch of the secondary light to check my placement, did it look like the right surfaces were being hit? I went through several iterations of that. Refining the sketch with some rough blending, allowing me to start to vary the intensity/brightness. Stop to see how it's reading. Some parts would look good, other parts wouldn't feel quite right. So back for another round. As I became happy with regions, then I'd go in and refine the transitions to smooth them out. It took some time, but in the end I was happy with the final result.


Monday, January 21, 2019

Mollymauk Part 5

This has been a project I've had going on in the background for quite a while.  With all the design work, it's an easy one to get burnt out on.  So best to work a bit here and there, keep it moving forward while taking breaks with other projects.  But, as we're getting close to Adepticon, I'm redoubling my efforts to finish off the pieces I want to take with me.

The tiefling is very close to being completed.  The part that was giving me headaches was the crescent moon pattern on the inside of his coach.  I took a couple different attempts at it before finding an approach I liked.  I started just free-handing them (without a guide).  You'd think I'd know by now that that never turns out well.  I then moved on to placing equally spaced dots (see the guide dots from many of my other posts on freehand) and drawing circles around each one (again using a guide to get the sizing down).  From there, I could fill in the circle and then use the background blue to carve out a bit to make the crescent shape.  I took two stabs at this before I finally got a size and spacing I liked.

I've done the inside of the sleeves and hood, but still have to do the inside of the main body of the coat (which will be visible around the legs).  Going to be tricky getting in there, but I should be able to fade them into shadow as they go up and make my life a bit easier.

Other recent work has been on detailing the horns.  Still working on that, but happy with how it's looking.  Hopefully in the next week or two I'll finish up the painting on him.  There's still the base to do, but I don't plan on doing anything too complicated with that.


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

2018 Year in Review

Well, it seems like a good time to look back at all my painting related work from the past year. This year included a move to a new city, which provided a bit of a disruption from my normal hobby work. Unfortunately my new hobby space is a bit more isolated, so I'm still trying to find the balance between work, family, and painting. Of course we'll be moving to a new place (same city though) in another 3 or so months... so perhaps that setup will end up working a bit better for me. :)

There's been quite a bit of painting though, because I've got some bigger projects in the works, it hasn't resulted in that many 'finished' pieces.  Only three pieces were fully completed this year: a 28mm White Speaker (commission project), a 54mm Knight of the Third Crusade, and a 54mm dwarf (Brom from Enigma miniatures).  The White Speaker, like this post, was a trip down memory lane.  Several years ago I painted the 54mm version of that figure, so it was an interesting project to see how, with more experience, closely I could replicate that work at half the size.

The knight was a really enjoyable project.  I'd had my eye on the kit for a while.  It's a pretty simple figure from Romeo Models, but there was something about it that just stood out to me.  There was plenty of room for interpretation and personalization with the color scheme and iconography.  The piece was also a great project to work on my metallics and my freehand.  It ended up being the subject for two articles in the Illustrated Historical Artist (one on freehand and the other on TMM) and won first place in 'Eavier Metal's 'Eadbanger competition (Master Single Figure category).


The final completed piece was Brom.  I'd wanted to do a relatively quick fantasy project, so I picked up this old 54mm Engima figure from a friend.  As usual, my 'quick' project turned into something much more involved... but it was a piece I definitely enjoyed working on.  The sculpt is pretty unusual.  The figure is wearing a hodge podge of cobbled together armor, much of it corroded.  That, along with the pose, pushed me to come up with a narrative for the figure long before I even started painting.  Although I wanted to keep this a single figure scene, I still worked to tell a story with the piece.  I actually have another article in the works describing that process, though it will likely end up posted online on the FigureMentors site as opposed to in a magazine.  So be sure to keep an eye out for it! ;)

In addition to my finished pieces, I've got a number of projects in various states of completion.  The largest of them is the 3 figure fantasy pirate diorama I've been painting for quite some time. Two of the figures, Barbarela Lord of Mussels and Redghar, were pieces I started in 2015 and 2016! I've had this idea of combining the dwarf with some other pieces, so it's been something that's evolved over time.  Between then and now, I ended up repainting most of the dwarf.  My skills had improved and the orc was noticeably better than the dwarf.  So he needed updating in order to work together.  Those two figures are essentially finished and the third, a monkey, is nearly complete as well.  The base is still under construction (though that's nearing completion), but painting the scene will still be a significant undertaking.  I'd like to take this with me to the Crystal Brush competition, so hopefully I can get it wrapped up in the next couple months!

Another big project was the 75mm Tiefling figure based on Critical Role's Mollymauk. This started out as the Child Thief (aka Peter Pan) from Terrible Kids Stuff. While a neat piece, it never inspired me as much as I wanted it to. But, when I decided to create a figure based on one of the Critical Role characters, it seemed like an ideal piece to convert. So I redid a lot of the detail on the outfit and added the horns and tailed needed to turn him into a tiefling.  It was my biggest conversion by a large margin, but only the beginning of the project.  The character is covered head to toe in design work, so there's been a ton of freehand that's gone into this project.  Still more to do, though he does appear to be nearing completion.  I've got a base already planned for him (thankfully not as complex as the pirate scene).  But it also needs to be built and painted.  I'd like to also get this piece done in time for Adepticon/Crystal Brush, so lots to do and not much time to waste!

In addition to all of those, I've worked on a 28mm figure of Vax (also a Critical Role character) released as a special edition.  It's almost finished.  Just a little work left on the wings and then a small display base to build and paint.

I also worked on a 54mm gladiator from Pegaso.  This was a kit that I've liked for quite some time, but was a bit intimidated by all the armor.  After painting the knight (shown above), I felt a lot more comfortable with my approach to TMM and decided to give the gladiator a go.  While the main figure is mostly finished, I felt he needed another figure to complete the scene.  I picked up a fallen gladiator from El Viejo Dragon, but so far have only base coated him.  Since there's no specific contest I have planned for this piece, it's taken a back seat to some other projects.  But I do hope to return and finish it up shortly after the Crystal Brush.

And finally I did some early work on a 75mm Napoleonic Trumpeteer. Pretty much just focused on the face, so he's in the very early stages.

Aside from the painting projects, I've joined up with a new painting group in San Jose (at the Game Kastle in Mountain View).  They're a great group of painters and have quite a few people who are focusing on display painting (and larger scale pieces) and pushing themselves to improve their abilities.  It's definitely been a highlight to get to interact and paint with them on a weekly basis.

Looking ahead to 2019, I've made plans to attend Adepticon after missing the last two years.  I'll be teaching two workshops on painting faces and skin plus a demonstration for freehand.  A little closer to home, I'll be repeating the faces and skin class at KublaCon in the bay area.  I've also got a weekend workshop at Game Kastle planned for July, though we are still working on the details.

All in all, it's been a productive and fun 2018.  And I'm definitely looking forward to what 2019 has to bring.  I should be able to finish off a number of big projects and I can't wait to get back to teaching some classes!  I hope all of your 2018s were just as memorable.  And I look forward to seeing what projects everyone else will be working on in the coming year.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Brom Part 8 1/2

I'm working on an article about this piece for FigureMentors in which I'll describe in detail how I approached the piece and attempted to let the character's story guide me.  In that I'll discuss how I built the base, but I wanted to share a few pictures of the process here...

After coming up with the concept, I roughed out the shape of the base using cork.  The cork is torn, not cut, to create the rocky shapes.  I used some sculpting tools to break off pieces too, carving out the recess in the front.  The figure was set on the base at this time to see how it all looked in relation.

I then began constructing the bridge.  I started with the main posts and support ropes.

From there, I created the planks from balsa wood.  I used an x-acto knife to carve up the edges and make them look more like old wood planks.

With the bridge finished, I started to flush out the ground details.  I used a modeling compound (a bag of powder stuff you mix with water from the art store) to smooth out the soil surface.  At this point I also added a number of real stones.  That way they were submerged in the soil and not simply resting on top.  The modeling compound doesn't have a lot of grip, so when it had dried, I applied a layer of 'Super Thin' superglue over it.  This helped to lock them into place, without adding thickness (obscuring detail) like a gap filling superglue might.  That is the shiny look you can see in the picture.

To provide some further texture, I used sand.  Taking some white glue and an old brush, I applied glue to various areas on the top and sides of the base.  I then sprinkled sand over these.  This gives more of a rocky texture (the actual rocks are more like large stones, while the sand are small rocks) and helps to hide the look of the bare cork on the sides.  When dry, I used more of the super thin superglue to help hold the sand in place (as it can be knocked off more easily if only white glue is used).

The base was then primed and layers of brown were applied.  This is still early in the painting stages, but you can see how all the above materials look with some color.

Lots more painting followed, along with the final addition of grass, arrows, and of course the figure.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Brom Part 8

I managed to finish Brom with a few hours to spare before the FLGS contest deadline!  I added some grass to the base.  The figure's color scheme is primarily orange and green (with jut a hint of purple), so I wanted to introduce some green into the base too.  I glued him to the base and used putty to make the ground meet his feet, which then had to be painted to match the existing base work.  I also painted his feet right around that time.

With that done, all I had left was to put on the final details.  Arrows were added to the base and I applied the rest of the blood effects on the figure and base.  Here's the end result...







And one last picture for a sense of scale...


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Brom Part 7

This project has been neglected for quite some time.  But, we've got a contest at our local game store (Game Kastle) coming up next week, so I decided to finish him up so I could enter.  The main figure was mostly finished.  He still needs his feet painted and some final weathering, but nothing major.  The base, however, still needed a lot of work and that is where I've focused my attention.  When it comes to painting the figure, I usually have a clearer vision.  But bases tend to be more experimentation and reworking things until I'm happy (or at least happy enough to move on).

Here's a look at the last image I posted of the base. 


From there, I lightened up the center of the soil.  This is the path, so I wanted a lighter color for it.  It also functions to guide the viewer toward the figure.  The rocks needed painting of course.  For those, I went with a light grey.  The result was fine, though a bit boring.  So I went over them with glazes of brown and green.  Not everywhere, just to darken shadows, bring up some greens on the sides of select rocks, etc.  I also applied a mix of Linen White and matte medium to create some bird droppings, so give the rocks some history and a touch of realism.  For the wood portions, I wanted an old faded look.  So I went mostly grey.  I used Walnut Brown as the shadow, then Dusky Skin as the base (a brown-grey), and finally Weathered Wood (from Secret Weapon) for the top highlights.






The base is pretty close.  I've got a little bit of painting left to do on the ropes.  After that, I'll add some grass and other details on the sides (leaving the center path clear).  The figure still needs to be fixed to the base, so I'll fill in some gaps around his feet at the point and paint them to match the existing groundwork.

There will be some final details added after that.  Some blood, perhaps some dust with pigments, arrows into the ground, etc.  I've only got until Monday to get it in for the contest.  So we'll see how much I'm able to do before then!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Trumpeteer Major Part 1

Well, it's been a while since I've updated this blog.  I haven't had as much time to paint as I'd like and, when I had the time, it seemed like I wasn't making enough progress on anything to make it worth posting.  I think I've been in a painting funk for a bit.  Got a bunch of projects, but some just aren't inspiring me at the moment and others seem stuck, where I might know what I want to do but just can't quite figure out how to do it.  I spent some time thinking, trying to figure my way out of the funk.  I came to the conclusion that the best thing was to just start a new project.  Something without any big plans or complicated ideas, just something I could have fun with and recharge my painting mojo.

I settled on a 75mm Napoleonic figure from Pegaso.  Historicals are comfortable for me and I love the colors and details on Napoleonic pieces.  This won't exactly be an 'easy' figure.  The colors are primarily white, red, and metallic gold lace.  But looking ahead, I don't see a part of the project where I anticipate getting stuck if that makes sense.

I built and primed him on Saturday.  Got about an hour of painting in that night to do the base coating and initial shadow sketch.  Then had another couple hours on Sunday while the little on napped to try and finish the face.  Also on my mind is my upcoming workshops at Adepticon.  I'll be teaching a two sessions of a class on faces and skin.  So while I was working on this figure, I took pictures are each step along the way.  I'm planning to put together a handout for the class to supplement my demo and lecture.  So I expect I'll use this figure as part of that write up.  Anyway, here s how he began (basecoat only) and how the face wound up.

Something I've discussed in tutorials and will include in the class is the use of glazes to finish the work on faces and skin.  It's a subtle step, yet I think it really helps capture a more realistic look.  So I like to show these side by sides.  On the left, the face after all of the shading/highlighting.  It looks fine, but compare it with the image on the right (after glazes) and I think you'll agree the right looks much more life-like.