Sunday, June 28, 2015

Whats Next? And a few thoughts on competition painting

Work is taking me away from the painting table for the next few days and, as I near completion on Sorondil, I began to think about what my next big project will be.  After the Bay Area Open in two weeks, I don't have plans to attend any in-person competitions until next year's Crystal Brush so that gives me a lot of time to focus on my entries for it. I was incredibly pleased with how that show went last time around, but my goal for next year is to place in a non-historical category.  The 28mm scale isn't my strength, so that leaves me to focus on Large Scale, Diorama, or something like Fantasy Monster/Vehicle.  As I look around for a good project there are a couple of things I'm considering...

1) It has to be a figure I want to paint.  If you're painting purely for competition and not because you actually want to paint it, you will burn out and find it difficult to devote as much time to it as it really needs.

2) I want a figure that will allow me to show off my strengths.  Whether it's freehand, OSL, NMM, weathering techniques, faces, or any of the other things that can make you stand out, if you're good at it then use it!

3) Finally, I want a figure that, even without me doing anything to it, is a neat eye catching figure.  There's a reason why the winning figures are often champions, generals, and standard bearers and not just plain ol infantry.  Higher quality sculpts, dynamic poses, lots of details, and interesting features will give you a leg up over a generic figure painted to the same standard.

I put those in what I consider their order of importance.  But, for a highly competitive show like the Crystal Brush, I want to check as many of those boxes as possible.  It's important to paint well, but when so many other painters are also painting at a high level you need to do something to stand out!

Okay, so here are a few figures I'm considering...

Going left to right we have
(1) Captain of the Hussars - 75mm Pegaso. I love the sculpt, lots of great detail, but in the end it would just be a nice looking historical piece. Would it really stand out? Perhaps but it could definitely be out shined by other entries.
(2) Northumbrian Warriar - 54mm Latorre. This is just there for the sake of scale. This is the sized figure I normally do, so you can get an idea of how much larger the other pieces are.
(3) Cyanolith - 90 or 120mm sculpted by Carmine Giugliano. I doubt many of you have seen this kit before, although you may be familiar with the art it's based on, Paul Bonner's Ogre Jockey. It was done about 2 years ago and, with Paul Bonner's approval, was released in limited numbers. I've only just begun assembling it, there are a lot of pieces missing from the picture. It is a fun crazy figure, lots of character. Now this is something that would definitely stand out in a competition. It's also huge. I'd have to fix it so that I could make some parts removable just so I could travel with it. It would definitely be the biggest kit I've ever done. Even if I start it now, no idea if I'd be able to finish in time. I'm also not sure if this would qualify as a large scale figure or if it would have to go into diorama (in my opinion, the toughest category).
(4) Elf Dragon Prince - 90mm Micheal Kontraros. Another neat kit that isn't widely known. Lots of flowing cloth to do design work. I've got a pretty good idea how I want to paint this (in the style of Nuada from Hellboy 2). It's a cool sculpt and, with a lot of freehand, it could stand out from the other entries.

Plenty to think about.  Right now I'm leaning more towards Cyanolith or the Elf. Cyanolith would be really cool, but I worry it's too ambitious a project. As big as it is, maybe I should wait until I'm more comfortable with other techniques like the air brush or oils.  Most likely I will give it a go.  If I start on the big ogre, I can see how it goes and how long it's taking me.  If I'm not making enough progress I can always switch over to the elf.

I'm still focusing on Sorondil and the Bay Area Open for the next two weeks.  But, after that, we'll see what I pick for the next project.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sorondil Part 5

Now that is a spear!  But, if you're hunting dragons or dinosaurs I suppose you need a weapon up to the task.  The past two nights I've been working on the spear blade.  Based on the sculpt, I went with a stone look instead of metal.  For the colors instead of pure grey, I used Reaper's Dark Elf Skin triad and then went into the Vampiric Skin triad (mostly just the shadow, but a slight touch of the midtone in a few spots).  They're a bit more interesting than your neutral greys.  Plus I've used the Dark Elf Skin colors in the figure (for the dark scales and mixed into a few shadows) and the Vampiric Skin Highlight has been used for a lot of the top highlights, so it brings some more consistency to the figure.  To further sell the stone look I drew in a few cracks.  These are simple enough, a thin line of Dark Elf Shadow, then a highlight below it (a bit lighter than whatever the original shade was).  After that I can go back with the original color for that area and then those lines until they look like fine cracks.

And a slightly closer look...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sorondil Part 4

I haven't done much painting in the past week, though I did manage to completely reorganize my hobby area... so I guess that's something!  I also got Sorondil's right arm attached and took care of the rest of his skin.  

Although I didn't get much paint on the figure, I did put in some time creating the base.  You'll also notice his little buddy in the pictures.  As I said earlier, I found a box of 1/35 scale (same as the main figure) velociraptors from Tamiya, so I put one together as his hunting companion.  I will probably add a leash or something once the figures are both attached to the base.  Okay, so on to the main point... creating the base.  I wanted to do some sort of primordial forest/jungle so I needed to create a tree.  I've seen some tutorials using wire armatures for trees, so I thought I'd give it a try.  The basic idea is to take a bunch of wires of more or less equal lengths and then twist them together to form the main trunk.  You can then pull off sections and form the branches and roots. I could have used more wires and pulled them apart more at the top to create a bigger network of branches, but I wasn't going for the full tree, just a section so the scene would not become too large.

The ground itself is made of cork (thicker cork made from a pack of Ikea trivets) torn to create an irregular shape.  A few more pieces were placed on top to give the base a little more height variation.  I then wrapped the wire roots around the cork and pressed the ends into it in places to anchor it onto the base.

The next image covers several steps.  Since it would be messy, I used some painters tape to make off the wood plinth.  Then I took some scultpamold modeling compound and coated the wires to give the tree some thickness.  I applied some to the surface of the base as well.  Using sculpting tools I shaped it around the tree until I had something I liked.  It was a bit lumpy, but that was fine for my purposes.  Once that was dry I took some sand paper to smooth out the roughest parts.  Then, using some white glue, I applied some sand and rocks to the ground to give it some more texture.  I applied some on the sides and bottom of the cork to change up its look.  After that I took some milliput and did finer adjustments to the tree's shape and covered the wire for the dangling roots.  The last step was to paint the tree using a crackle medium.  This was done to give it more texture.  I'd bought this a while ago, but this is my first time using it on a project.  It's interesting stuff to work with, the thicker the coat, the larger the pieces it creates.  A thin coat will create very fine pieces, though too thin and nothing happens.  The tree has a mix of large, small, and then completely smooth portions... though I think that works.  It will definitely take some practice if you want to have a lot of control over the size of the pieces the crackle medium creates.

There is still more to add to the base.  I've got some etched brass jungle foliage, moss, more hanging stuff, etc.  But I think I will prime it and get the colors for this main part done first.  For the foliage, I'll be using the tropical assortment pack from Hasslefree Miniatures.  They've got a bunch of other ones which now I'm wishing I had ordered.  If I order them now, I'm not sure they will arrive in time... but it may be worth a shot.


Quick Update: Here's the primed version....

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sorondil Part 3

I've finished more of the figure.  The sculpt has this patchwork look to it, so I find it tricky to balance introducing those multiple colors while still creating a cohesive look for the figure.  To help I'm using a lot of the same colors in the different mixes.  The purples (Burgundy Wine and Imperial Purple) show up a bunch, either in the mixes or tinting the shadows.  Then the browns (Brown Liner, Muddy Brown, and Tanned Skin) show up and get mixed in with blues, reds, and other colors for the cloth and leather.

In the last update I attached one of the arms, this time it was the quiver.  I attached the main part of the quiver, but waited until the glue had set before messing with the straps.  If I start to push the straps into position too early it could have easily popped the quiver off.  The straps were longer than they needed to be, so I pushed/bent them into position and then cut off the excess length.  You can see the intermediate phase below.  I was also test fitting the arm with the spear to make sure I wasn't going to run into any issues with the quiver positioning.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sorondil Part 2

More progress to report on Sorondil.  I'm more or less making this up as I go along.  I knew I wanted to do red scales and I thought I'd do a lot of red and purple on the rest of the figure.  I don't have a super clear vision for the rest of the colors, so I'm starting with the parts I know and I'll figure out the rest later.  First up was the scales on his back.  To give it a little more visual interest I added a dark stripe down the center.  Since the pattern is organic I threw a bit of randomness in there too.

Up next I went to work on the leather and bone.  The texture is important for the leather parts.  With the straps I used a lot of short semi parallel strokes, getting lighter along the edges and more worn areas.  For the larger sections on his lower body I switched to more of a stippling approach.  The darker shades were done normally, but as I got into the highlights it stopped being continuous and was just a series of tiny dots.

With the scales and the padding on his sides finished I was able to add his left arm.  I wanted to out a string on the bow.  I know this isn't new (though it's new for me), but I decided to try using hair for the bow strong.  It's strong and very fine.  I began by wrapping it around one end of the box and then dabbing it with a drop of thin superglue.  After that dried it was on to the next side.  The final step was to use a knife to cut the loose ends.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Sorondil Part 1

During Shades' (and friends) Hobby Hangout last night I decided to start working on something new.  I've got a couple projects already in the works... but they're all either at a tough spot or just not inspiring me at the moment.  I decided it was a good time to go back to a 54mm figure, they tend to be quicker projects for me and the scale is much more in my comfort zone than the larger ones I've been doing recently.  I was also on the lookout for something I could bring with me to the Bay Area Open next month for the Draconic Awards.  I settled on a fantasy piece from Andrea called Sorondil, Dragon Hunter.  It's not the most popular one from that range, it took quite a bit of searching to find any other versions of it online.  But I think it's an interesting sculpt and I've got an idea of where I want to go with it.  I'd actually prepped and primed the figure over a year ago but for some reason got distracted by other work.

It's a bit of a tricky build.  Hanging from his body are a quiver and a horn, but will be added later so it's easier to paint his main body.  I also left off both of his arms.  The left is holding a bow and, again, was left off to make painting the details on his clothing easier.  The right arm doesn't really block the body... but it's holding a spear with a huge blade and a very thin shaft.  If I tried painting this figure with that in place, I'm fairly confident I'd have accidentally broken it before I was even done base coating the figure.  So for now he will look a bit funny, but I will begin to add those remaining pieces before too long.

I began (as usual) with the face and skin.  I made some small adjustments to my usual mix.  Normally it's Mahogany Brown with ~10-20% Rosy Shadow and Chestnut Brown with ~10-20% Rosy Shadow for the darker tones, then into pure Rosy Shadow, Fair Skin, and finally Fair Highlight (all Reaper paints).  To shake it up a bit, I mixed in 25-33% Imperial Purple into the Mahogany Brown and Chestnut Brown.  It's a fantasy figure so there's more flexibility in the color choice and I'm planning to use a lot of red and purple tones throughout the project.  On top of that I use some red and purple glazes to further develop the colors on the skin.  I ordered the Inktensity set from Scale75 and it arrived today.  So I used the red and purple from that to make my glazes.