Sunday, January 31, 2016

Samurai Part 11

I feel like the end is in sight for this figure.  There's still a lot to do, I've got another 11 pieces to add and a base to build.  What can I say, it's a complex figure!  But now that I've started to add the armor around his waist, I feel like I can finally see how the whole figure is going to look.  I've attached the front panel and one on the side (the other two will wait until I've painted the rest of his bent leg).  The colors for the panels around his waist are the same as the ones on his shoulders.

I still have to add the panels around the back.  But it will be a lot easier to paint the rest of his bent leg without those in the way.  I decided to go with white for the cloth around his calf (although right now it's just base coated grey).

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Samurai Part 10

I think this is my first project to make it to it's 10th post without being completed.  But I guess that's not too surprising considering how complicated the figure is.  It took some time, but I completed the lace work on the helmet, just like on the shoulder plates.  I then took care of highlighting the black and the rest of the metallic portions for the helmet and shoulder plates.  I attached the remaining pieces for the helmet, a knot on the back and the crest on the front, and painted those too.  That pretty much wrapped up the upper body (with the exception of his left hand), so I moved on to his lower body.

The pants will be done just like his right sleeve, so I began with the main orange color.  This is a bit tricky since there will eventually be more armor plates covering his legs and I need to account for those in the shadows and highlights.  To help me with this, I tacked them on and then sketched in my highlights and shadows.  I used that as a map and then went in to do all of the blending to smooth out the color transitions.  You can see here how it looks before the armor plates are in place and then how it looks with them on (at least temporarily).

Before I add the plates, I still need to do the design work on the pants.  You'll notice some odd white dots on his legs.  Those are my guide dots and mark the center for the circles.  Just like on the sleeve, I measured the spacing between them to keep the look consistent.  Next I'll lay down the main circles (measuring to keep their size the same), and then paint in the leaf/flower image.

I still have one color decision to make.  He's got some more cloth wrapped around his calves, which will show from behind.  I'm still thinking about what color I want to use for these.  At first I was going to go with green... but then I thought, maybe it's better to leave just the single sleeve as the only green (which helps it stand out and draw attention up towards the face).  So the next logical choice would be purple.  That should work, but perhaps, with all the armor, it would be too much purple.  White is another option.  For now I'm just going to hold off.  I figure I can add the front and side armor panels and see how the colors look on the lower body.  As long as I don't put on the back one, I shouldn't have any problem getting to his left leg to paint it.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Samurai Part 9

Although my last two posts have been on other topics, I've been continuing to work on the samurai.  After finishing up his back, I painted the undersides of his shoulder armor plates and attached them.  Painting the other sides of those plates took some time, as it was a lot more of the lacing details.  The color pattern I'd chosen was a gradient pattern, using purple as my main color.  The typical gradient pattern for these armor plates is a white row at the top, a yellow row just below that, and then a light to dark gradient of whatever color you've chosen (purple, red, green, etc).  For the yellow row I did not use a true yellow, instead I used the same orange as his clothing but leaned more towards the highlight side of the mix.

With the shoulder plates almost finished, I decided to add the rest of the helmet.  Like the last pieces, I first had to paint the underside of this one before attaching it to the figure.  Once it was in place, I started working on the upturned flaps on the front.  These are the final sections of his chest design (phew).  The other side will be done just like the laces on the shoulder plates.  As you can see from the rear view, I've just started to base coat this section.  Once all of that is done, I still need to add the crest/horns to the front of the helmet.  I haven't quite decided if I'll do that at this stage or save it until later.  It's a fragile piece sticking up from the model, so there's also the chance I'll not into it while painting and break it off.

2016 Crystal Brush Rules have been Updated

For anyone planning to go to Adepticon and possibly compete in the Crystal Brush competition, the updated rules and categories have been posted for 2016.  They've made some changes so it's worth taking a look even if you've competed before.  The two most significant changes I noticed are:
1) Submissions are due by 6 pm on Friday, April 1 (not noon on Saturday like last year)
2) No sculpting category

I could see that first change causing some problems if people aren't aware of it.  I imagine it's a reaction to the issues they had last year getting all of the photographs taken and posted for online voting.  There were some major delays, but this gives them a lot more time to get that setup.  I was a bit surprised that they removed the sculpting category.  Although last year there was only a single entry, so I can understand why they dropped it.

In addition to those changes, they have clarified a lot about how the event will be run.  This doesn't necessarily represent a change from previous years, but it does provide some useful information on how everything will work.  I thought one of the more interesting sections were on how they do the photos:

"The number of photographs shown for each entry during online voting will depend on its category. Single figures, large scale, chibi style, and young talent will be represented by three photos—front, back, and an angle or detail shot. Vehicles/monsters and units will be represented by four photos. Dioramas will be represented by either four or five photos, depending on their size and complexity. Display plinths and any portion of the entry which falls outside of size restrictions will not be represented in detail in the photography."

The other part that I recommend reading is their description of the onsite judging criteria.  They break it down into Technical Quality (preparation+construction, painting, and presentation) and Artistic Quality (painting, composition+design, presentation, and general effect).  For the diorama category they add a third criteria, Narrative Quality.  If your new to painting competitions it's definitely a worthwhile read so you can better understand what the judges are looking for when they rate the pieces.  And if you're not new to painting competitions, it's still a worthwhile read!

They've also updated the list of sponsor categories, though there isn't much there.  Right now it's just Best Dark Age and Best Wrath of Kings.  It looks like they are still arranging sponsors and more categories may be posting between now and the show.  I'm hoping they get Pegaso to come back, I'd like another shot at that one!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Unnatural Skin

On a number of projects over the past year or two, I've been working on my mix for unnatural skin.  What exactly do I mean by unnatural skin?  Well, something that looks human, but not quite right.  Maybe it's an evil wizard, a warrior warped by the powers of chaos, a vampire, etc.  You could take the same ideas and apply them to orcs, aliens, etc, but my focus is something that looks human-ish, but not quite right.

So here is a look at a couple of my projects and the colors I used.  The most recent one (and the one I think has finally achieved the look I want) is the dwarf pirate.  Here's a close look at his face and also his hand.
My normal skin mix (for regular human skin) is Reaper's Chestnut Brown, Rosy Shadow, Fair Skin, and Fair Highlight.  For this guy, I tweaked that a bit.  I used a mix of Rosy Shadow and Burgundy Wine for the shadows.  More Burgundy wine for the darkest shadows and then maybe 10-20% Burgundy Wine for the lighter ones.  Into that mix (90/10 Rosy Shadow and Burgundy Wine), I started to add my midtone, 50/50 mix of Fair Skin and Vampiric Shadow.  To highlight I then used Vampiric Skin and Vampiric Highlight.  You can see what some of those colors look like in the image below.  Burgundy Wine is on the far right and Vampiric Shadow is in the front left.
This mix gives you some cooler shadows (purple tones instead of healthy reddish browns) and creates a paler skin by mixing the fair skin with vampiric skin.

Now, on top of that I applied a number of glazes.  Normally I use red, purple, and blue ink (red for the cheeks and nose, purple for the darkest shadows and under the eyes, and blue for the stubble).  In this case I shifted those colors.  So, instead of red, I used two parts red and one part purple.  Instead of purple, I used 1 part purple and 1 part blue.  This reddish purple went in the cheeks, under the nose and on the knuckles, the bluish purple went in the shadows and under the eyes, and the pure blue ink went in the veins on the back of the hand.

By taking an approach similar to what I use for normal skin, the end result reads as flesh.  But, by shifting the colors, I create a different effect.  Compare the dwarf pirate to a normal head I painted a while ago.  The technique and approach are the same, it's just the colors that are different.

Let's take a look at another mix I used for unnatural skin.  This is a dark elf assassin I painted last year.  In this instance I used Dusky Skin, Dusky Skin Highlight, and Vampiric Shadow to create the skin.  I applied similar glazes (again shifting towards purple and blue).  The glazes are subtle, but you can see them under the eyes and in the cheeks.  I think that approach worked well for a figure that was mostly in shades of grey, but I prefer the effect achieved by mixing in some regular skin tones and going a bit further with the glazes.

Okay, this one is not unnatural skin, but I wanted to talk a little bit about it anyway.  This is a bust I started a while ago.  As I said, my normal mix is Chestnut Brown and Rosy Shadow.  In this case I also added a little bit of Burgundy Wine to both of those shades.  It wasn't enough to make him look unnatural, but it took a little bit of the health and vitality from the shadows.  I guess the point I'm trying to make is that there is a whole range you can work with.  You can tweak the mixes a little bit or a lot depending on the effect you want.  Maybe you tweak just the shadows by adding blues or purples.  Or perhaps you adjust only the lighter colors and make them more pale.  Experiment on your own and decide what is right for your figure.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Samurai Part 8

Remember the samurai figure?  It's been a little while, but I didn't forget about this project.  I got a little hung up on what I wanted to do with the arm designs, so I took a break.  Unfortunately with the Crystal Brush coming up at the end of March, there's no more time to stall on this project.  I kept the rest of the design on the left arm pretty simple.  I needed something for the right arm and whatever goes there will be repeated on the pants.  I looked through a lot of reference images for ideas.  In the end, I decided to go with the mon (clan crest) for Minamoto.  It's a set of bamboo leaves and gentian flowers.  As with the rest of the design work, I measured the distances between the designs and their diameter to keep things consistent.

From there I did some work on the back.

Once the back is finished, I'll add the shoulder armor plates.  You won't normally see the bottom of these, but you can from certain angles.  So I've got to paint the details on the undersides as well.  It's mostly armor plates and laces connecting them.  But there are also some sections which will get a repeat of the chest pattern.  I've started on the one for his right shoulder.