Tuesday, July 29, 2014

OcGRE - Gaming and Painting Event in Orange County

Just wanted to give a quick post about OcGRE, the Orange County Gaming Regional Expo.  There's a group trying to setup this event for November of this year.  Right now they're running the project through Kickstarter, trying to raise enough funds to make this a reality.  They're almost halfway to their goal but the project deadline is 11:59 pm on August 8th, so not a lot of time left.  In addition to the gaming this will be another event in the Draconic Awards circuit, so expect a fun competition and some good painting/modeling seminars.

If you're in the Southern California area, nearby, or have always wanted to visit, then check out the project and help support a new event.  You can pledge for a 3-day pass to the event and/or a variety of other perks.
For anyone not familiar with Kickstarter, you are only charged for your pledge if the project successfully meets its funding goal.

Olfo Completed

It took about a month but I've finally completed Olfo, or as I'm calling it now 'Lost in the Dark.'  I liked the forest setting but still felt like it needed something more, some ominous presence in the dark to add some drama to the piece.  In the end I drew inspiration from the Mirkwood scene from the Hobbit (and Shades' suggestion) and went with a giant spider.  It took a bit of searching online to find a figure I was happy with.  The GW ones tend to be too cartoony and I wanted to be able to pose the legs.  Somewhat randomly I found this giant spider kit from Otherworld Miniatures.  Truly massive on a 28mm scale, even at 1/35 scale this guy is pretty huge.  What really sold me on the kit were those long slender legs.  I used a small pin to attach the main body of the spider to the tree.  Then I posed the legs with a little bit of bending, some filing, and some green stuff.  Their attachments aren't quite as secure as I'd like, but with the pin supporting the weight of the spider they should be okay.  Just don't want to drop this one or knock it over!

I found a nice tutorial on making spider webs from UHU glue over at the 5th Dimension blog.  Surprisingly simple and I really like the end result.  In the tutorial they apply the glue strings to a pair of tooth picks and then to the base, I skipped that intermediate step and went directly to stretching them around the trees.

I've submitted this guy to the contest over at the 5th Dimesion.  Submissions are accepted until September 5th, so it will be a little while before we see how he does.  In addition, this past weekend I took him up to San Jose for the Bay Area Open 2014.  I was lucky enough to win Best in Show with him!

I wanted to give a quick blurb about the painting competition because they're trying to start up something new and I think it's an interesting idea. The group running it is trying to create a circuit of painting competitions culminating in their Dragonslayer competition which will pit winners from the different circuit events against each other for the Dragonslayer title. They've got events planned for OcGRE in Anaheim (Nov 21-23 if the show happens), Templecon in RI (Feb 6-9), Las Vegas Open (Feb 20-22), G&GCon in London (sometime in 2015), CaptainCon in MA (2015), and Califaux in Sacramento CA (2015). This is all still pretty new and I'm guessing they're looking for more conventions where they can sponsor competitions. The entries are judged using the open system, so there's not just a 1st, 2nd, 3rd. All entries are rated against a set standard and they hand out as many gold, silver, and bronze medals as are earned (not just one of each).  You can enter at the master level or the journeyman.  Another neat feature is their scoring system.  You're rated out of 10 points and your total score is the average of the 5 judges.  It's all on the computer so you get a print out of your scores along with any comments the judges make.  I thought the comments were especially nice.  Always helpful to hear what they liked, what they thought could be improved, etc.

After all the scoring they pick an overall best in show that wins a special trophy (this will be unique to each event and fit into the dragonslayer theme), some other prizes (the BAO had a Badger airbrush and the complete set of minitaire paints), and entry into the culminating dragonslayer event. I think it's all an interesting idea, they just need publicity and people to go enter their work! So keep an eye on their website for more info

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Olfo Part 7 - Testing out the Airbrush

Time to start putting some color on the base.  While I could use a regular brush, this seemed like a good time to dust off the airbrush and try it out on a real figure for a change.  For a while know I've known that I needed to add an airbrush to my set of tools.  There are a lot of instances (like right here) where it can make painting a lot easier.  Unfortunately I haven't devoted the time necessary to really learn how to use it.  Hopefully in the next month or two I'll set aside some time to run through some tutorials and practice models.  But for this mostly dark base I figured I couldn't screw it up too badly so I decided to jump ahead a few lessons and give it a go.

The first thing I needed to do was cover up that horrible satin black.  I took the blue-grey tones from Olfo's dark side and covered the base.  I applied several coats to create some simple highlights.  With the base a little more in tune with the moonlit feel I switched over to my lamplight color (the mix of Polished Bone and Lemon Yellow).  Now I tried to lighten up any areas that would be lit by the lamp.  I tried my best to spray from the direction of the lamplight, so plenty of rotating the base so I'd hit it at the right angles.  I kept this paint pretty thin so I could gradually build it up.  I wanted the areas closet to the lantern to be the brightest, so I applied more layers in those areas.  So, for example, the tree on the right is intentionally brighter than the one on the left.  After I'd finished with that I switched back to the darkest of my blue-grey colors to fix some of the shadows.  Olfo's body blocks some of the light so I had to darken some of the ground behind him and fix some of the overspray on the trees.

Overall I'm quite pleased with the results.  This would have taken me the better part of a week with the brush and I was able to do this in less than two hours.  That's good motivation to devote a few weekends to actually learning how to use the damn thing.  Anyway, now I will go in with the traditional brush to clean up the OSL a bit and add some colors to the lit areas.  I kind of like it as is, with only Olfo in color... so I will probably try to use some more muted colors for the parts of the base in the lamplight.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Olfo Part 6 - Building the Scene

I've begun the base for Olfo.  I ran through a couple different options but decided to stick with my first idea, a dark forest.  For the OSL effect I feel that it's important to have a solid backdrop behind the figure.  So I tried to place the trees close enough together to form a mostly continuous background.  I also used the trees to stretch the scene vertically so the figure looks even smaller, surrounded by the dark.

The main structure for the base is cork (from an Ikea Trivet, you can get a set of 3 for about $3).  It's best to tear about the cork instead of cutting it.  By tearing you get some nice jagged shapes good for dirt and stone.  I started with one large piece and then glued smaller pieces to it to extend it down the wood block and also to give the top some variations in height.  The trees are just dried sticks that I found on a walk, broken into roughly even sized pieces.  I used a saw on the bottom ends so I had a flat surface to connect to the base but I intentionally left the top sections jagged.  To help place them I drilled a small hole in each and inserted a pin. Then I could push each into the cork and experiment with their placement before I did any gluing.  After that had dried I took some green stuff to create some roots and fill any gaps where they contacted the base.  It's a little hard to see the roots in the images below, but one on the far right is pretty visible. 

The last step was to add some more texture to the ground.  I used an old brush to spread white glue over the cork and then sprinkled the base with sand.  This creates a nice rocky texture.  The best option is to pick up some sand from the beach (cheapest option too).  If that won't work you can find some at a pet store.  Look for a bag that has different sizes.  You don't want the sand to be too uniform.  After that I took some leaves and forest litter from Secret Weapon and sprinkled that on top of the sand (along with a little more white glue).

To see how it all looked I primed the base black and then carefully set Olfo into his spot.  I'll remove him before I start painting of course.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Olfo Part 5 - Day for Night

I've continued to work on Olfo's back.  I redid most of what I had in the previous post.  Instead of the black-teal-skin mix I used only the Scale75 paints for the blue steel in their NMM set.  The effect I'm going for is similar to that day for night filming technique where they'd use a blue filter to simulate a nighttime scene.  The idea here is just use shades of blue (mostly dark) on the unlit section and then all the other colors where it's lit by the lamp.  In theory I can then still do a decent amount of highlighting in the dark areas so I get the needed contrast. I want it to look like he's in darkness and not like he's just walking through a dimly lit room while also carrying a lantern.

I'm pretty happy with the results, although I'm sure I will continue to tweak.  I can still see some blends that need work.  After the first pass it got a bit too bright so I used some dark glazes to knock the highlights back down (I did the same thing on the dark side of the dagger, it's much more subdued than in the previous post).  However there are a few highlights I think I'd like to restore.

This is pretty much how I envisioned the figure when I first began.  I'm taking him to the SCAHMS meeting tomorrow so I'll be curious to see what sort of reaction he gets there (and from the online community as well).  Once I put together the base and start to see how everything works together I might come back and make some changes.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Olfo Part 4

Just a quick update.  I've started working on Olfo's back, the part not hit by the lamplight.  I wanted to go monochromatic with this and do it all in shades of blue-black.  Make it seem dark with perhaps a bit of moonlight giving some contrast to the shapes.  It's still pretty rough, I need to clean up a lot of the transitions.  I'm trying to decide what else it needs.  I'm thinking I should add a little more contrast in the back by taking the highlights up a bit.  I'd also like to do the few other metal parts like the 'dark' side of the dagger.  However that seems a bit too bright, so maybe bring that down with a couple dark glazes.  I'm open to suggestions and thoughts on what I should do with him.

The back was done with the same Black, Marine Teal, and Tanned Skin mix I used for the Praetor.  The 'dark' side of the dagger was done with the Scale75 NMM Steel paint set.  That set has 4 neutral grey colors which I used on the 'light' side and 4 blue-grey colors which I used on the 'dark' side.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Olfo Part 3 and NMM

I've just about finished the portion of Olfo lit by the lamp.  With the pants and legs finished I could finally attach the cape and backpack.  Not too much to paint here.  The left end near the lamp would be brightly lit, so the highlights were pretty close to pure Polished Bone and Lemon Yellow.  Some light would also hit the bottom of the cape between his legs, so that got some color although not quite as bright.  For the scabbard I used the same leather mix as for the belts.  Lastly a little light would hit the bedroll just above his shoulder, a portion of his walking stick, and the edge of his mug.  I went with a mix of black, mahogany brown, and chestnut brown for the walking stick and mug.  For the bedroll I also took a couple browns.  While I could have gone with something a little more colorful, I really didn't want to introduce any new colors especially since only a very small section would be lit.  A purple would blend in with the hood and cape too much and the green from the pants just didn't seem right, so brown was the only reasonable choice.

The section I've been avoiding was his dagger.  With the strong OSL I did not want to use TMM.  You can make it work, but it's difficult.  Instead I thought I'd give NMM a try.  I've had the Steel NMM paint set from Scale75 for a while but never actually used it to paint NMM.  In all honesty, probably not the smartest purchase.  After all, steel NMM is just made up of grey and every line offers those... but NMM had me so intimidated I got suckered.  What you're seeing here are the white and 3 neutral greys from the Scale75 set plus a bit of Reaper's Pure Black.  The Scale75 set also has 4 more blue-greys for a slightly different NMM effect.  I'm planning to use those for the other side of the dagger to give it more of a moonlit feel.  This is my second attempt at the NMM dagger.  My first one didn't look too good.  I did my best to fix it, but the more paint I layered on there the bigger the mess I had.  So finally I just carefully sanded all the paint off and started again from a smooth surface.  For the hilt of the dagger I pulled together a couple of the Reaper colors, Blacked Brown, Chestnut Gold, Palamino Gold, and Pure White.  I may have mixed in a little bit of black too.
Overall I'm pretty happy with the metal.  I'm far from an expert in NMM, but I think it turned out about as well as I could have hoped.  Next I have to work on all of the unlit sections and somehow make it all look good together.  That should keep me busy for the next few nights...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Olfo Part 2

I've made some more progress with Olfo over the past few nights.  I started out with the cowl, like the face this was lit from below.  I used Reaper's Burgundy Wine for the shadows and then into their Violet Red and Pale Violet Red.  For both of the reds I mixed in a grey (a medium grey from Scale 75 for the Violet Red and Reaper's Misty Grey for the Pale Violet Red).  It turns these reds into the nice purple that you see on the figure.  From there I mixed in a little of the Polished Bone and Lemon Yellow that I've been using as a highlight.

I originally planned to do a dark brown for the pants, but on the box art they'd done a checkerboard pattern which I liked.  This was with the non-lamp version, for all of the OSL examples I've seen everyone has used just a single color, no pattern.  Combining the pattern with OSL was going to be a bit challenging but why not give it a try.  For the two colors I chose purple (matching the hood for some consistency) and green.  I began by sketching out the pattern using Burgundy Wine and Jungle Moss, a dark green.  No need to be super precise here, I'll have plenty of time to clean up the pattern as I do the highlighting and shading.  This is just to get the general placement of the patches in the pattern.  The vertical lines are pretty straightforward, just follow the bend of the leg.  For the horizontal ones I keep them level with the bottom of the pants on the lower part and perpendicular to the line of the leg on the upper part.  At the bend in the knee the patches get shorter near the back because of the folds.  Mostly you just want it to look right, so make adjustments as you see fit.

For a pattern like this you'll usually start with the lighter color first.  That's not really obvious here so I went with the purple.  The colors are the same as the hood and I let it get real bright, up to pure Polished Bone and Lemon Yellow, the closer I get to the lamp.  As I highlight I try to define the shapes of the patches and fix them up a bit.  Don't worry about getting into the green areas, that will be covered up.  Turning to the green I mixed the Jungle Moss with Pure Black to get some nice deep shadows.  I used this to clean up the green squares everywhere but the top of the left leg, there I just used Jungle Moss.  I approached the highlighting the same as with the purple, just being a bit more careful not to wander into the other color regions.  From Jungle Moss I worked up to Highland Moss, and then into the Polished Bone and Lemon Yellow highlight color.  After I was finished I went back and forth between my green mix and my purple mix fixing minor errors, sharpening up corners, whatever needed to be done.

The lamp is still a work in progress.  More of a sketch than anything else.  With all of the light coming from inside, the outside is basically in shadow.  However the edges near the openings will catch some of the light.  So that's basically what I've done, it just needs a lot of cleaning up.  Now that the legs are finished I can finally add the cloak and backpack.  I'll probably do that before taking care of the hands, lamp, and dagger.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Organizing a Paint-a-Long

So a friend recently asked if I had ever thought about organizing a paint-a-long.  It's a neat idea so I'm trying to see if I did one would enough people be interested.  The basic idea, as I understand it, is we all paint the same model or a similar model.  I'd be a pseudo-instructor and post a lot of step by step photos and details, but everyone shares their work and gives and receives feedback.  There are a lot of talented painters out there, so it'd be great if others are willing to go into more detail on their approach and post step by step photos as well.  If we can get a number of co-pseudo-instructors that would be awesome.

I was thinking about what sort of figure to pick.  While I like 54mm and larger figures, I think a lot of people would prefer 28mm.  Plus they're quicker to paint and cheaper to buy.  I also want to do a figure that focuses on something I feel reasonably competent painting... so I thought how about a project involving skin tones.  I haven't selected a specific figure yet, but I'd like to do one of the barbarians from Red Box Games.  They are 28mm, reasonably priced, and plenty of room to paint skin tones, maybe we'll even try out some freehand tattoos.  I personally like the RBG figures, I think they've got a lot of character and the proportions and anatomy seems to be a bit more realistic than other figures (though still stylized).  Plus it's always nice to support a small company.  While it'd be great if we all did the same figure, really any barbarian or gladiator style figure would work.  RBG has some Norse figures that would work too.  If there's enough interest I'd be willing to do both a male and female figure so people have even more options on what they choose to paint.

I'd most likely create a special thread for this over at Cool Mini and perhaps one at WAMP too.  I'm not sure when we'd do this, but if we can get it going soon then people would be able to submit their finished work into the RBG contest over at WAMP.  The deadline for that is August 24 or August 31 if you're a WAMP supporter.  

What do you all think?  Like the idea?  Interested in joining in or even being a co-instructor?  Let me know by leaving a comment here or over on my Cool Mini WIP thread.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Olfo and OSL

I clearly have self control issues because I've just started yet another figure.  The Roman Tribune is going to be a long project and I wanted to paint something I could finish relatively quickly.  So I looked through my pile of kits and settled on Olfo Fast Feet from Andrea Miniatures.  He's a 54mm scale but, since he's a hobbit, the figure is only about 30mm tall.  He comes with a choice for his left hand, either an open hand or one holding a lantern.  The second option is where this figure gets really interesting (and rather challenging).  So of course I picked the lantern and decided to dive right into OSL (Object Source Lighting).

I've only done one half hearted attempted at OSL, a glowing plasma pistol on a space marine.  This will be a figure dominated by the lighting so no way to avoid it.  It might sound odd, but in some ways I feel like this isn't a bad figure to learn OSL on.  You've only got one light source to worry about.  If you're trying to paint a glowing orb or something you've got to balance that with the main zenithal lighting plus the secondary lighting.  That seems more complicated to me.  Here I drop the zenithal lighting since it's night or he's in some dark cavern and just use the lantern as my primary light source.

I started with the face but my first attempt ended up being a mess.  I tried to go directly from my dark black tones to the skin highlights.  Basically replacing my normal shadows with a blue-black mix.  The results did not look good.  Clearly I needed those normal shadows for my intermediate tones.  So I stripped him and began again.  To get the OSL to look right there are a couple things I'm dealing with:

1) Direction and Path of the Light - All of the light is coming from a single point, the lantern.  As a result anything above the lantern will be lit from below, anything below the lantern will be lit from above.  You also need to consider the path of the light.  For example the main body blocks the light from hitting most of the right arm (except the very end), so most of that will be in shadow.  To make visualizing all of this easier I left the lantern hand off.  Then I would rotate the figure so I was viewing the face or whatever part I had to paint from the point of view of the lantern (or where it would eventually be).  You've got a bit of artistic license to work with here, you don't need to be exact.  I probably have more of the face lit than really should be but that's okay.  But using these sight lines was very helpful.

2) Intensity of the Light - Basically the closer you are to the light the brighter the highlights will be.  You should also consider the material.  If it's reflective like metal or leather that will be brighter than a more matte material like the cloth.  As I worked on the leather belts next to the coat I tried to keep the intensity of the highlights similar in both materials (falling off as we move away from the light source).  The eyes are another highly reflective surface so it was important to add that catch light in the left eye (the right is blocked by the nose).  Even though the dagger is far away, when I get to it I will have some bright highlights and then quickly fade to the darker shadows.

For both of these being consistent as I work on each part of the figure will be key to selling the illusion.

Okay, so that's generally what was going through my head as I approached this project.  There's still plenty to do but he's far enough along to see how the OSL is turning out.  Keep reading below for more info on my color mixes.

For the skin I started with a black-teal mix for the shadows away from the light.  I then transitioned into a mix of Chestnut Brown and Rosy Shadow, then Rosy Skin, then Fair Highlight and Lemon Yellow.  Lastly just a bit of Polished Bone and Lemon Yellow.  I'm working a little yellow into the highlights since they're coming from lamp light.
After that I went back in with thinned down GW Bloodletter Glaze (red glaze) and gave a little more color to the nose.  I thought about doing the cheeks too but with the lighting from below I didn't want to mess with it too much.

The coat goes from Black to Blackened Brown and then into the Olive Skin series.  For the brightest spots I again use the Polished Bone and Lemon Yellow mix.

For the belts I used a slightly different brown mix to distinguish them from the coat.  Again I went from black to Blackened Brown, then into Oiled Leather and then Leather Brown.  From there I again went  to Polished Bone and Lemon Yellow.  Lastly I took a bit of Pure White.  As leather I thought this would have a bit more shine to it so I wanted that extra bright highlight.

Assuming all goes well and I don't get distracted by yet another project, I'm hoping to enter this guy in the contest over at the 5th Dimension painting blog.  If you're not familiar with their site check it out.  Lots of really get stuff!