Sunday, May 24, 2015

Lady Mechanika Part 1

I've hit a block on the Hussar bust.  I moved on to the black uniform and it's been giving me a lot of difficulty, so I decided to take a break and work on something else for awhile.  I've been meaning to start on one of the steampunk figures from Scale75, so I figured now was the time.  I'm working on Jessica Thunderhawk, however the sculpt is based on a piece of art for Lady Mechanika so that is how I'm planning to paint her.  Lady Mechanika is the main character in a steampunk comic.  The box art for the figure followed the original artwork exactly... so I felt like I needed to do something different.  I used some of the other artwork associated with Lady Mechanika and here is what I came up with, just a quick base coat and color sketch.

And here she is with a little more work on her.  I spent about 1 or 2 hours cleaning up the stripes on her pants (though they will obviously get more work when I start to shade and highlight them).  I also went to work on the skin.  The approach for female skin is a bit different from male skin.  While you can still have high contrast, you generally want softer transitions and to downplay the more minor features.  So the lines from the nose down to the corners of the mouth are subtle and lines under the eyes aren't brought out at all.  The darker you make features like those, the more masculine the face will look.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Hussar Bust Part 2

I spent some time this past week working on another painting project... but it's not far enough along to make it worth sharing.  So instead here's a brief update on the Hussar bust.  I've continued to make minor adjustments to the face.  I've also taken the first pass at his hair.  I really don't like painting hair.  It takes a while and is not that much fun.  It's getting there, though I want to go in and fix some of the blends.  After that I'll hit it with some glazes to tie it all together and reinforce some of the shadows.  Then back in to redo highlights as needed.

For the colors, I started out with some dark browns (Brown Liner, then Blackened Brown).  From there I went into more of a medium brown (Muddy Brown) and then used skin colors to highlight (Tanned Skin and Fair Skin).  I work up to roughly a 50/50 mix of Muddy Brown and Tanned Skin, then I start to add Fair Skin to that.  The skin tone colors are a nice highlight for browns.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Scale, Contrast, and Bad Advice

I wanted to share a few thoughts on painting today.  I enjoy working on a variety of different scales: 28mm, 54mm, 75mm, 90mm, and busts (150mm or 200mm).  If  you just want to paint for gaming, that's fine.  But, if you want to focus on display and competition level work, I think that experimenting with different scales can help you push yourself.  Larger figures give you the chance to work in a lot more detail, experiment with the larger area, and plenty of opportunities to work on blending and color transitions.  Then, when I work on smaller figures, I try to figure out how to apply the lessons I've learned to the smaller areas.  If there is a size you really like to work with, there's nothing wrong with focusing your efforts there.  But, from time to time, try something new.  I know my larger scale work has helped improve my smaller scale painting.  And, if you look at the galleries of the top artists on CMON or Putty and Paint you will see that a lot of them work on a bunch of different scales.

One of the things people often ask when trying a larger scale for the first time, like a 54mm figure, is how is painting that 54 different from painting a 28mm?  And, most of the time, someone will offer the advice that for larger scales you need less contrast.  In theory, yes, this is true.  On a full scale figure you wouldn't need any contrast, so we can assume as the figure gets larger and larger, the amount of contrast should get smaller and smaller.  However, in practice, I think that is terrible advice.  When you go from 28mm to 54mm or 75mm you are still working on a figure that is 1:35 or 1:24 scale.  That is a hell of a long way from 1:1 scale.  Furthermore, when people look for suggestions on improving their work one of the most common critiques is the figure needs more contrast.  So, unless you're already being told you've got too much contrast, do not intentionally dial it back when you're working on a larger scale.  Okay, the 'right' amount of contrast is subjective.  Some people don't like high contrast painting and that is fine.  Paint the way you want to paint.  But high contrast painting is the hot style these days and does well online and at competitions.  So I see absolutely nothing wrong with continuing to push the contrast even when working on bigger figures.

As an example, let's look at the bust I'm currently working on.  This is 150mm or 1:12 scale.  It's about 5 times the size of a 28mm.  The range I have on the face has a dark shade of roughly 70% Mahogany Brown, 20% Rosy Shadow, and 10% Burgundy wine.  You'll see this in the dark shadows around the eyes, under the nodes, and on the right side of the face.  The highlights go all the way up to Fair Highlight and even Pure White in a few spots.  I would say this is a big contrast range, even for a 28mm figure and certainly for a 150mm one.  But, at least to me, this doesn't look wrong or out of place here.  There's nothing wrong with high contrast on a larger scale figure, as long as it's combined with variation in the level of the shadows and highlights.  While I may use that dark shade in the bigger shadows, on the smaller features like the side of the nodes and wrinkles around the face I use a much milder mix of Rosy Shadow and Fair Skin.  A deep crease in the face would be darker and a shallow crease.  So vary those shadows to get a more realistic effect and remember that applies to any scale you want to paint.

Before I sign off, let me give my response to the question of 'how is painting a 54mm or 75mm different than a 28mm?'  I would say it really isn't that different.  If you've painted a 28mm ogre or troll, that's about the same size as a 54mm regular human.  The biggest differences are that the figure (if metal) will be noticeably heavier, so you may want a decent holder while you paint, and you should expect to spend 2 to 3 times as long painting the figure (more if the figure is even larger).  My approach really doesn't change for 54, 75, or 90mm figures.  As you get even bigger, then other tools such as an airbrush or oil paints can make your job a lot easier.  But I'm focusing more on 28 to 54, 75 or 90mm figures (not stuff like the 1/6 scale garage kits).  The only thing I really change in my approach is, as the figure gets larger and I have more room, I try to work in more details.  The eye is an obvious place to spend more time.  But also it's easier to develop subtle details like wrinkles in the face or just better define the major line and shades.

As a final example, below are the faces from four reasonably similar figures ranging from 54mm up to 150mm.  In terms of contrast, there's no gradual decline with scale and I'd say the one I've pushed the contrast the most on is the 150mm figure.  In terms of detail, you can clearly see that increasing as the scale goes up.


Thank you to everyone who posted comments and/or has joined my painting blog over the past year.  Your feedback has really helped inspire me to continue to share my work and thought process here.

Earlier today I assigned everyone who is a member or has commented on the contest post a number and then had a computer program randomly select two winners.  Congratulations to BloodFather and Derek M!  You are the first and second place winners!

BloodFather, I already have your contact info so I will be sending you an email shortly.  Derek M, please send me your email address either through the contact form at the right of this page or, if you're on CMON, you can send me a PM there.  Once BloodFather has made his selection, I will send you a list of prizes so you can pick which you would like.

Thank you again to everyone who left a comment or has recently started to follow this site.  I hope to post a lot more (hopefully helpful) content over the next year and maybe I'll organize other contest at some point.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Hussar Bust Part 1

There's still time left to get in on the contest.  I will choose the winners tomorrow.

In the meantime, I've started a new figure.  This is a bust of a Prussian Hussar from Young Miniatures.  The last time I painted a bust was a little over 3 years ago and I've learned a lot since then, but there's still a lot of adjusting to work on this larger scale.  I've completed the initial work on the face, however there's still more I need to do.  I've got some shadows and highlights I want to tweak.  And, once I finish the hair, I will go back and apply a variety of glazes (reds, blues, and purples) to the skin to give it some more color variation.

I also got a surprise in the mail today, the Child Thief from Terrible Kids Stuff.  It's a great looking kit and one I hope to start soon.  They only made 200 of them, so if you want one get it now before they sell out.

EDIT: I just applied some glazes so I thought I'd tack on the updated photos.  Some red, blue, purple, and a touch of yellow glaze.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Contest Reminder

Don't forget, the deadline to get in on my blog's one year anniversary contest is just two days away.  Thank you to everyone who has left a comment or joined in the past few weeks!  It's great to see so many people responding.

If you did not see the announcement here's the deal: for a chance to win you must either be a follower of this blog or leave a comment on the contest post:
If you're a follower and you leave a comment, you get two entries and twice the chance of winning!  The winner will get their choice between my Once and Future King figure or an unpainted kit.  If you don't want the finished piece, I've set aside a selection of unpainted kits from my collection and you'll be able to pick either one larger kit or two smaller ones.

The official deadline is midnight PST on Friday, May 8th.  However, I won't tabulate all the entries until sometime on Saturday... so as long as you join and/or comment before I wake up then you're in.

Since there's been a really nice response from the community (and I'm feeling generous), I'm giving everyone an extra chance to win something.  I decided to pick both a first and second place winner.  The 1st place winner will get their choice between the painted figure or an unpainted kit.  Then the 2nd place winner will get their pick of whatever is left.  The winners will be randomly selected and you are not eligible to win both places.

Thank you to everyone who has been following this blog and good luck with the contest!