Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Celt Part 1

I'm still hopping from project to project.  A while back I agreed to do a figure exchange with a friend.  I didn't want to take forever to finish (or even start) this, so I'm putting my personal projects on hold for a bit to make some progress on this guy.

The figure we chose was a 70mm Celt from Art Girona.  It's a neat sculpt, though the casting leaves something to be desired.  A bunch of pitting that I had to fix.  I've got a couple figures from Art Girona and they've all had one issue or another.  I like some of their sculpts, but the quality of the casting on the ones I've received means I probably won't buy from them again.

Anyway, this is a cool sculpt of a barbarian holding a severed head, presumably a Roman's head.  I gave the figure a quick base coat and then started shading and highlighting the face.  I wanted to try a different skin mix than I typically use.  I thought this would work better for a barbarian.  Instead of my normal base of Rosy Shadow, I used a 50/50 mix of Rosy Shadow and Bronzed Shadow.  For the shadows I used a 60/40 mix of Chestnut Brown and Basic Dirt along with maybe 10% of the base color.  For the deepest shadows I added some Walnut Brown.  The highlights were a 50/50 mix of Fair Skin and Bronzed Highlight, then some Pure White for the final shine on the skin.

Here's a close up of the face.  I included another face I did with my old skin mix for comparison.  I'm not done with this new face yet, will probably make a few tweaks and then apply a number of glazes.  But I like how the new mix looks.  I'll definitely keep it as an option for future projects.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Germanic Knight Part 1

Sorry for the long gap in posts, I haven't had much time to work on figures recently.  It will probably continue to be like that for the next few months, so updates will be sporadic.  Since I'm having a hard time finding more than an hour at a time to paint (sometimes less than that), the Count Melenth project is getting put on hold.  The OSL on the body is tough and I really need 3-4 hours to just sit and work through it until I figure it out.  I just can't make much progress on that piece with these short painting sessions.  So, I decided to start on something else that would work better for the time I've got.  I decided to go with a knight from FER miniatures.  It's a great sculpt and cast, so should be fun to work on.  This should give me a chance to work on metals, leathers, and freehand (for the clothing and shield).  I started with the freehand and I thought I'd show you my process.  Hopefully the amount of information in the write up will make up for the lack in frequency in posting them!

A while ago I'd ordered a table mounted vice. Normally when I do design work I'll start by adding little dots as guides. Unfortunately I need one hand to hold the ruler, one hand to the hold the brush, and one hand to hold the figure... that's one hand too many. This was a huge paint when I tried to paint the samurai. But, with the table mounted vice I can free up a hand and that makes this early step so much easier! I was able to reposition the figure at different angles and work my way around it. I used a scrap of paper with the spacing marked on it and added dots around the figure (second image). When that was done, I connected the dots to form the borders for the edge design (third image).

I needed a design for the chest.  I decided to use a double headed eagle.  I like that image and haven't done it before.  I looked around online for references and found quite a few different versions of the eagle.  I settled on this one since it's a neat one with plenty of detail

To transfer it to the knight, I created a simplified version to start.  I had previously drawn a vertical line down the center of his chest.  This served as a guide for where to place the eagle.  Measured the height of the shoulders of the eagle (roughly halfway between the top of the heads and the top of the tail) and place a horizontal line on the knight where I thought those should fall.  I placed dots for the location of each eagle head (measuring the distance from the center line so they're spaced properly).  I did the same for the wing tips.  I then created a very rough version of the eagle design.

Once I was happy with the roughed in version (the size, proportion, location, etc), I started to fill it in and add a few more details.  While doing that, I rough in the shadows on the design as well (following the locations of what I'd previously roughed in).
And then the wings...

The design is by no means finished, but I've got the main idea of what I want to paint on his chest.  At this point I start to paint and shade the background (the bulk of his clothing).  This figure will have a black design on top of a white surcoat, so I started with the white.  Right now I'm just focusing on this chest.  Normally I'd do all the white together, but with the limited amount of time I'm breaking it up into small pieces which work better for those short painting sessions.
You'll notice that the white background made the design fuzzy, obscuring the clean edges from before.  That's fine.  The next steps will have me going back over the design to do the full shading and highlighting on it as well as adding further details and refinements.  What I've got here is meant to be a guide for the next step and not the final design.

An important question: why did I rough in the design before shading the background?  Well, I could certainly have done that first and then painted the design on top of it.  The reason I didn't is that I planned to use white with a high level of contrast for the background.  Getting smooth blends takes time and lots of work (layers).  Why waste time getting a nice smooth blend in an area that will be covered up with another color?  By roughing in the design first, I save time and effort by only painting/shading the background areas I need to.  I will have to go back and clean up the edges of the design, but that's a much quicker task than shading all of that white.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Count Melenth Part 3

I'm continuing to refine the face on Melenth.  I did some more work on the skin under regular lighting, painting the back left of the head and his neck.  I also tweaked the shadow on the right of his forehead.  There was a section that was a sharp line which just didn't look right, so I smeared it out.  Then I painted the teeth (nice and yellowish).  And finally I did some work on the OSL.  I adjusted some of the placement and upped the brightness of the highlights (leaving the rest pretty dark so you get a more dramatic transition).  There are a few very minor things I want to tweak, but mostly I'm very happy with the OSL.  Oh, and the OSL on the neck is still unfinished, I need to bring up the brightness there to match the work on the face.

Here's a look at an earlier version and then the most recent one.  You can easily see the change in brightness and some of the other adjustments I made.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Count Melenth Part 2

I've taken my sketch on Count Melenth and started to smooth it out.  The OSL section is still in the early stages, but I have been working on the skin under normal lighting (along with some of the shadows on the dark side).  Of course even that is still a work in progress.  I'm still making tweaks to the shadows and highlights as there are a few parts I feel aren't quite right.  When that's done (along with the OSL sections), I'll go back in to add further detail with glazes (and maybe a few other things I want to try out).

Monday, September 5, 2016

Count Melenth Part 1

I got this fantasy bust from a new company, Polaris Minor.  They've got several sculpts for sale and they all look quite nice, but this one in particular caught my eye.  It's an evil looking fantasy character, so there are tons of possibilities for the painting.  I decided to try something new with this figure and make this a bit of a learning project.  In addition to the fantasy stuff I have planned (unnatural skin, fun with colors, etc), I'm going to try to play around with lighting effects (OSL).  The main light source will be above the figure and slightly to his left.  The secondary light source will be below and to his right.  To help me in the planning, I took pictures of the figure under each of these lighting conditions.
This will provide a (hopefully) useful reference as I work on the painting.  Speaking of painting, I began that by just sketching on the colors.  Using the pictures as a guide, I placed the main shadows and highlights without worrying about blending.  This will help me get see how it should look in the end and whether or not the effects are working as I planned.  Sure, I've done OSL before on the hobbit piece... but I really don't feel like come close to mastering the technique.  I still find it very challenging, so getting a bit more practice is a good thing.  Everything is still rough and, as I begin to blend, I'm sure I'll continue to tweak the OSL.
In general I like where this is headed, though I feel like it's not entirely right.  Hopefully I'll figure out what's bugging me as I go!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Redghar, Pirate Orc - Part 4

I've been using what little free time I've got to keep working on Redghar.  With the skin almost finished, I decided to base coat the rest of the figure.  I wanted to see how the various colors would look together.  I'm still trying to decide on a few spots, like the patch on his knee, but the rest I more or less know what I want to do.  The rest of him will be mostly brown, grey, and black.  The main exception will be the red cloth around his waist and some reds and yellows coming in as rust on the weathered anchor.  This will hopefully provide a nice contrast to the skin without over powering it or distracting from it.  For the pants, I decided to go with a stripe pattern.  Right now I've just roughed that in.  I'll clean it up when I start shading and highlighting there.

With that done, I went on to finish off the hands and paint the cloth wraps on his forearms.

As with the elbows, I switched the purple on the knuckles.  On human skin, I'd just add some red with glazes, but purple glazes over dark green would take ages (and kill the highlights on the knuckles).  So I just painted them on directly with opaque layers and then blended in the edges to the surrounding green.  I also did the palms in a different color (mix of khaki and purple).  Unfortunately, because of the way they're turned, it's not really something you can see in the photos.  Guess they'll just be for the people who look at this in person!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Redghar, Pirate Orc - Part 3

I'm continuing to make slow and steady progress on Redghar.  Since last time I've finished off the back and both of the arms.  I've still got to wrap up the hands, but then I'll be done with all the green.  Phew!  On the elbows I transitioned back to the Imperial Purple and Vampiric Shadow mix.  I also put a mix of Burgundy Wine and Terran Khaki on the undersides of the hands.  It's hard to see in any of the photos, but I wanted to add another color shift there.

I took a few pictures of the process as I worked on the right arm.  The initial photo, top left, shows just a rough base coat (primer still showing) and then the shadows blocked in.  To refresh your memory, the base coat is 2 parts Badger Minitaire's to 1 part Reaper's Burgundy Wine.  The shadows are created by adding more Burgundy Wine to the base.  The top right photo shows the shadows blended in to the base, the base with a more thorough coverage, and then just a bit of highlights added in.  Those highlights are a mix of 50/50 Reaper's Dark Elf Highlight and Vampiric Shadow.  I continued to add more and more of the highlight mix into the base, each time applying over a smaller and smaller area.  I go until I get to a light grey-green, but not all the way to pure Dark Elf/Vampiric Shadow.  The end stage for this part is shown on the bottom left.  At that point, I start adding just Vampiric Shadow to that mixture and really tighten up on the application area.  In a few select spots, I'll add a dot of pure Vampiric Shadow onto the figure.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Redghar, Pirate Orc - Part 2

I've continue to work on Redghar's skin.  I finished off the ears and back of the head, then started on his torso and arms.  For the scars, I tried a mix of Imperial Purple and Pale Violet Red with Vampiric Shadow.  A slight change from the purple I used for the lips and eyelids, so it wouldn't look exactly alike.  I'd like to do something with the veins in his arms, though that will probably be a mix of the basic skin shade with blues.  Not quite sure, but I'll experiment a bit and see how it looks.

I've still got to do his back.  You can see I begin by roughing on the midtone green and then sketch in the shadows.  I'll smooth those out and add the highlights so that it looks like the rest.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Redghar, Pirate Orc - Part 1

I've been wanted to work on another fantasy project for some time now.  After poking through my stock pile of kits, I decided to start on one of the figures from the Black Sailor's kickstarter.  For those not familiar with that project, they are a range of 1/35 scale orcs, goblins, and trolls themed around a pirate crew.  Lots of amazing sculpts, they are really worth checking out.  They are available for regular sale through Big Child Creatives.

I decided to start with Redghar, one of the orcs.  A while back when I was working on the dwarf pirate, I'd considered pairing these two (along with perhaps a third figure) into a pirate scene.  I may return to that idea, seeing as I never officially finished the dwarf and he's not glued down on the base I made.  But, I'll decide on that once I get further along with the orc.

The figure is roughly 75mm tall (a human at 1/35 is 54mm, but orcs are taller so the figure is bigger).  I started working on the face.  I'm doing it in small sections, so you'll notice the ears and back of the head aren't complete yet.  I wanted to do something a little different from the other versions I've seen of this figure, so I decided to go with a very dark green and paint him up as a black orc.  The base color is a mix of Badger Minitaire's Dark Green and Reaper's Burgundy Wine (2 parts green to 1 part burgundy).  The shadows are created by adding more Burgundy Wine.  The highlights are done by adding a 50/50 mix of Dark Elf Highlight and Vampiric Shadow to the base color.  Eventually I stop and just add in pure Vampiric Shadow.  I've also painted some purple sections on the skin (nose, around the eyes, and the lips) using Burgundy Wine, Imperial Purple, and Vampiric Shadow.  I'm going with a high contrast style for this figure and hopefully I will continue with it for the rest of the piece (though it's easy to fall back into old habits and use a smaller range).
Once I finish the green for the rest of the head and paint up the other details (teeth, earrings, etc), I plan to go back with some glazes and add more color variation.  I'll work around the nose, eyes, ears, and cheeks and use a mix of purple, blue, and red glazes.  Basically it will follow more normal face painting approach, though the location and color of the glazes may change some.  I haven't painted an orc in years and this is the first I'll be doing to a display standard... so I'm sort of figuring out my approach as I go.

For those of you not familiar with this piece, here's what the whole figure will look like:

To help me with this process, I've been looking to other version of both this figure and the rest of the Black Sailors range.  This has helped me with some ideas and inspiration.  The two best versions of Redghar that I've seen are by Sergio Rubio and John Keys (Megazord_man).  I put together a quick side by side comparison of my piece with each of theirs below.  As I said, I took inspiration from these but I also wanted to create a different take on the figure.  Plus I think it's neat to see how differently the same sculpt can end up looking.

Sergio Rubio's version and mine

John Keys' version and mine

Monday, July 18, 2016

Empress' Dragoons Officer Part 2

You may have noticed it's been a while since my last post.  Well, that's because the day after my wife and I had a new addition to our family!  Since then there's been a lot of sleepless nights and very little painting time.  But, I've managed to make a bit of progress on the dragoon figure.  I continued on with the dark green coat and finished off both sleeves.  From there I turned to the front and worked on the white for the coat and his shirt.  I used Reaper's Bone Shadow, Weather Stone, Leather White, and bit of Pure White.  I like this mix for natural cloth.  The belt was done with Misty Grey and Pure White to differentiate it from the white of the shirt.  The pants were done with Reaper's Khaki triad plus Walnut Brown for the deepest shadows.  You'll notice the epaulettes and braided cord are still just base coated with Burgundy Wine.  I haven't decided if I want to use metallic paints for those or matte colors and approach them more like NMM.