Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dwarf Wrecker Part 2

So, just because I spent the weekend at Adepticon doesn't mean I didn't get any painting done!  I took a few seminars and one of them, Rhonda Bender's Glazing seminar, asked us to bring along some nearly completed figures to work on during class.  Glazing tends to be one of the later steps, so it was more helpful to work to use an existing work in progress than to start on a new figure.  One of the projects I brought along was the dwarf wrecker I was working on a few months back.  In addition to the class, there were painting tables and lights setup for general use at Adepticon so I spent a little time painting along side of BloodASmedium, Sionid, and some other CMON friends.

I spent a bit of time working on the metals for the flame thrower.  I'd done the steel on the shaft, but the brass fittings and tip needed to be painted.  After that (and during the glazing class), I used several layers of purple glaze followed by some layers of black glaze to create the burned metal look on the top.  I also used some purple glazes to deepen some of the shadows on his clothing and add a little more color and interest.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Crystal Brush Part 3

First off, thank you to everyone who signed on and voted for the Crystal Brush entries.  The competition was great and the level of quality for all the pieces was really high.  I was incredibly pleased to receive a gold for both my Knight of the Holy Sepulchre and my Saxon Raider.  But, better than that, was getting to meet a bunch of my friends from the figure forums.  Here's a group photo from the awards ceremony of myself, Derek (fluisterwoud), John (BloodASmedium), and Katie (Sionid).  Congratulations to John and Katie who both took home an impressive load of trophies.
It was also great to meet some of our painting idols.  I had a really nice chat with Ben Komets, a super nice friendly guy.  Here he is hanging out with John.  Ben's piece, the orc pirate diorama 'High Noon' took 1st place in the diorama category and 2nd overall.  As technically beautiful as the 1st place winner was, Ben's piece had so much going on and a whole lot more heart in it.  I would have been very happy to see that take the top prize.  Both were deserving but unfortunately only one could win.

Okay, getting back to the entries.  Here are the display cases with all the pieces.  I got this shot before the hall opened, that was the only way since during normal hours there was always a crowd around the cases admiring all the work.

And a little closer look at one of the cases.  You can see some work from Khonner, Fluisterwoud, and Sionid on the top shelf.  The overall first place is right there in the middle, the huge space marine.

Another one of my favorite pieces was Danse Macabre, a delicate and beautiful piece using Kingdom Death's Flower Witch.  This piece took 2nd in large scale and 3rd overall.

And here are a few other pictures...

The event organizers ran into a bit of trouble with the internet voting.  For Crystal Brush half the score is decided by the judges and the other half by popular vote.  To do this they have to photograph all of the entries and post them online for everyone to weigh in.  Unfortunately, a bunch of entries coming in just before the deadline (noon on Saturday) and some technical glitches caused a long delay in the start of the internet voting.  Voting was supposed to start around 1 pm Saturday but it didn't begin until around 1 am.  No one was happy about the delay, but it was clear the Crystal Brush team was working really hard to get it all together.  This year they also made a first cut and only those pieces were eligible for internet voting.  There were a few strange choices, for example the historical single category had 7 or 8 entries but that was cut down to only 2.  I understand making a cut, but why not 3 or 4?  I'm thinking this was partially influenced by all the issues with getting the photos setup for voting.  There have been complaints in previous years that the quality of the winners in different categories varied wildly, so maybe it's an effort to keep the standards high for every category.

There are some definite pros for making a first cut.  Number one, it make the internet voting much easier as there were far fewer pieces to go through and everything that was there was really good. And it does keep the standards more consistent across the categories.  My main complaint is that it was not well communicated to the contestants.  Most of us have been preparing for this competition for months.  I see that now the first round cut is mentioned on the website, but I do not recall seeing anything about it months ago when I referring to the site for rules and category specifics.  Maybe it was there and I just missed it, but it took me and a lot of my fellow painters by surprise.  When they make changes in the rules/judging from year to year, it would be nice if there was something on the website highlighting those changes.  Maybe it was just an oversight on my part, but it seemed like a lot of people were confused by the missing pieces.  But, next year we'll know!

So, while there were a few minor problems, overall it was a great event.  Lots of good entries, good people, and the official photos came out awesome.  I hope to be back next year and regularly after that.  If you did not see the official photos, here is a link to all of the winners
And you can see all of the first cut piece here.  The site shuffles the entries, so it's easier to browse by category rather than look at all of them at once.  When you click on the next page they shuffle and you can miss pieces that way.  It's also interesting to click 'select order' and then 'score (descending)' to see how the pieces ranked beyond 1, 2, 3.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Crystal Brush Part 2

Public voting for Crystal Brush is almost live!  Okay, it's been almost live for the past 6+ hours.  They've had some issues getting all of the photos finished (entries were still coming in this morning) and it sounds like some technical issues as well.  But hopefully they will be up soon.  Check back with the Cool Mini page to see the countdown.  The award ceremony is tomorrow at 2 pm local time in Chicago, so all internet votes must be in by then.  There were a bunch of great entries added this morning, so lots of great stuff to see.

In the meantime, here's a closer look at one of the entries: Ben Komets diorama with figures from the Black Sailor's kickstarter.

Friday, March 20, 2015

2015 Crystal Brush Part 1

Well, I have finally made it out to the Crystal Brush competition at Adepticon!  Flying with my figures was a bit stressful.  I'd brought supplies in case I had to do any repair, but they made the trip without any issues.  So far I've sat in on two seminars, two brush blending and an introduction to sculpting with green stuff.  Very interesting to see the two brush blending approach, a nice quick way to achieve good blends.  It definitely takes some practice, my first attempt was a mess.  But I will definitely keep playing around with it and hopefully work it into my routine (along with all the stuff I already do).

I wanted to put out a quick reminder that tomorrow (Saturday) around noon or 1 Chicago time, they will be posting all of the photos on Cool Mini or Not for public voting.  If you have a Cool Mini account (they're free) you can vote on all the entries.  Voting should be open for at least 12 hours, so if you have the time please log in and vote!  Hopefully we won't have to many people trying to game the system, but the more honest votes (ie rating things the way you normally would in the CMON gallery) the better.  I've got my four pieces: Saxon Raider (Historical Single), Knight of the Holy Sepulchre (Historical Vehicle/Mounted), Young Arthur (Fantasy Single, and the Officer of the Guide (Large Scale).  There are also a bunch of regulars on the CMON forum so plenty of stuff to vote on.  Plus you'll see some really cool stuff!

I've taken a few pictures and I thought I'd share some of the competition.  These are some of my favorite entries, but far from everything.  I will take and most more pictures in following updates on this blog.  There are other really neat pieces, but I'm using my phone camera so not all of the photos were good enough.  You will definitely want to check the official photos when the voting goes online, because even my 'good' pictures don't do the colors and figures justice.  Anyway, here's a quick peek at some of the entries...

There were a couple pieces from the Black Sailor's kickstarter.  I believe these are both box art and were ineligible to compete, still really neat to see.

And there was also a Black Sailor's diorama (this is in the competition) that is incredibly well done.  Definitely a contender for a top three finish overall.  It's double sided with another figure on the far side of the wall.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a good picture of it, so be sure to check it out when they post the official photos tomorrow.

Fantastic scratch built space marine from (I believe) Kirill Kanaex (Yellow One).  The piece is probably 150 or 200mm scale but the detail is amazing.  The face also looks a lot like Daniel Craig for whatever reason.  They're still excepting entries, but this has to be a favorite for overall winner.

Here are a couple Chibi figures.  The style really isn't my thing and I thought it would be a rather weak category, but there are some really well done entries.

Diorama from Matt DiPietro.  Not a great shot of the figure, but in my opinion the scene is more the star than the figure.

Justin McCoy's version of the Remora kit from Industria Mechanika.  The main ship is the regular kit, but he created quite a few pieces for the deck.

Really cool samurai version of a 40K Imperial Knight

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Once and Future King Part 3

After wrapping up the knight and Saxon figures, I returned to my 4th piece for the Crystal Brush Competition, Arthur.  I painted this figure back in December but was stuck on the base.  The figure represents a young Arthur right after he has pulled the sword out of the stone, so I wanted the base to fit that scene.  I checked out some reference material and I also looked up pictures from the Disney movie (why not?).  The main element of the scene would be the stone and anvil, but I wanted a little more to fill up the space.  So I decided to include a banner as well.

These aren't especially tough things to sculpt/create, but my sculpting skills are near zero so it was challenging for me.  To make the anvil I began with some blocks of balsa wood for the basic shape and then used milliput to fill it out and add the rounded shapes.  Same with the stone, a larger block of wood for the volume and then a thin covering of milliput for the rounded edges and some texture.  I took a few attempts on the banner.  The first try was milliput, but I had trouble getting it smooth enough without falling apart.  I also tried cutting it out of plasticard and then using heat for some waves.  But that didn't quite work for me either.  In the end I used some thin brass sheet that would retain its shape when bent.

To paint the banner I went with a red and white color scheme.  In part because it matches colors from the figure, but also because of a story regarding Merlin and a red and white dragon.  So I worked the dragons into the banner along with a sword.  I intentionally kept the details to a minimum so the banner would not draw the eye too much and the figure would remain the focus of the scene.

I initially had the rear of the banner as just a plain white and red... but that seemed a little too boring.  So I added an image of the sword in the stone/anvil and the main quote about the sword.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Knight of the Holy Sepulchre - Completed

I did a little more weathering on the horse and some work on the base.  I'm finally calling the knight complete.  Two more weeks until the Crystal Brush competition.  This is my 3rd piece for the show and I've got one left to finish.  Luckily that one just needs the base so plenty of time to wrap it up.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Knight of the Holy Sepulchre part IX

While I was taking pictures of the Saxon, I thought I'd snap a few of the knight too.  This one got some weathering.  I did a little bit of pigments mixed with matte medium, but not too much as he is in more of an arid climate.  Just a little mud caked on his feet, the horses hooves, and a bit on the shield.  Then it was dry pigments and a lot more of them.  This went on the shield, back of the cape, the lower part of his clothing, the horses legs, and plenty on the base.  I also put some blood on his shield and a few drops on his clothing.  I didn't want to go overboard with the weathering, lots of mud and blood didn't seem right for this figure.  But he needed some dust and dirt to help ground him in reality.

I still need to add some vegetation to the base.  I ordered some sea-weed grass from El Viejo Dragon (through Red Lancers) that I'd like to use instead of the field grass I already have.  That should arrive later this week and then I can put the finishing touches on this one.  While I was ordering from Red Lancer, I took the opportunity to pick up a 70mm Celt from Art Girona, which will be a fun project once I'm done with Crystal Brush.

WIP Saxon Warrior Part 6

So I finished this figure about four months ago, but his base remained a work in progress.  It's an interior scene, some building this barbarian has broken into on a raid, and there's a lot of wood texture to deal with (not the most fun to paint).  I gave it an attempt earlier but didn't like how it was looking, so I put it aside for a while.  I had planned to bring this to the Crystal Brush competition as my historical single entry.  And, with the show only two and a half weeks away, I really couldn't drag my feet any longer.

After painting the various parts of the base I went back in to do the weathering.  The scene is right after some sort of struggle with stuff strewn all over the ground, so this is an important part of the story.  Like with the figure, I began with pigments mixed with matte medium to create some mud.  Then it was dry pigments to create a dusty dirty look.  And finally I used some Tamiya Clear Red (plus a bit of black ink) for some blood stains.

New Events List

I've added a new page to this blog listing painting events and competitions from around the US.  There are a lot of great shows outside the US (Euro Militaire, Salute, Hussar, Scale Model Challenge, Monte San Savino, Golden Demon, and many many more) but I'm focusing on those a little closer to me.  After all, they are the ones I'm most familiar with.  For those of you in the US, take a look and I highly recommend checking out any that are near you.  The online community has done a lot of great things for painters, but actually seeing the figures in person can give you a whole new level of appreciation.

Many of the shows (Lone Star, SCAHMS, MFCA, HMSNEO, Bay Area Open, NCMSS, MMSI, LIMMS, and Atlanta) operate on the open system of judging.  The way this works is, instead of directly competing against other people, each person's entries are judged against a set standard.  The judges score your work and determine whether it merits a gold, silver, or bronze medal (or certificate of merit).  So if 20 people deserve a gold medal, then they hand out 20 gold medals.  This system is a nice way to chart your improvement.  With podium style judging (only 1 gold, silver, and bronze per category) you can get a gold one year and then nothing the next.  With the open system, if you keep improving your abilities, you should be able to go from bronze one year to silver the next and finally gold.  Now, the bigger shows tend to have tougher standards because the competition level is higher.  A gold winning figure at the NCMSS show might only get a silver at the MFCA, but don't let that discourage you.

Here is the link to the events page, but you can also find it listed on the menu at the top of this site: