Monday, September 18, 2017

Knight Part 2

Well, once again I'm jumping from project to project.  This time I'm returning to a 54mm knight I started back in June.  This is really just about relaxing and having some fun painting.  My other big projects (Count Melenth and the pirate scene) are at points where I either need to sculpt something or build the base.  But I haven't done much painting lately and I really wanted to work on something that could get me back to that.

I decided to simplify my vision for this piece and reduce the amount of freehand I had initially planned.  I still intend to do some, but won't go overboard.  I'd like to keep this a relatively quick project so that I can get back to those other longer term ones.

When last I left this piece, I'd base coated the surcoat in red with a yellow stripe along the bottom.  So that's where I continued to work.  I'm taking it in sections.  First the upper body, then the waist, and now the parts around the legs.  The belts and splits in the coat break it up, so I can just focus on one region at a time.  For the red, I used Violet Red, shaded with Burgundy Wine, and then highlighted with Fire Red and then a mix of Linen White and Buckskin Pale.  The yellow is Palomino Gold, shaded with Burgundy Wine, and highlighted with Buckskin Pale and then Linen White.

I still have the lower right section of the surcoat to do, but you can get a good comparison between that region where I just have sketched in shadows and then the more finished sections of the figure.  I need to do a bit of tweaks to the highlights on the top.  I also plan to add some sort of design to the front of the figure.  Right now I'm thinking a lion's head... but I may change my mind before I get to that part.  After I do whatever design I choose, I'll need to do some clean up with the background red, so I'll take that opportunity to fix the highlights up top.

By the way, if anyone wants a real close up look, here's the full res version of the last image.  Just click on it for the big version

Monday, September 11, 2017

Count Melenth Part 4 - The Count Returns!

Wow, it's hard to believe my last post on this figure was a year ago!  I got a bit stuck on how I wanted to approach the OSL on his clothes.  My problem was the location of the OSL source. The glow on his face had gotten a bit too bright, so I couldn't get any brighter as I moved down the body. This makes it hard to have an unseen light source below the figure and thus I want to sculpt a hand holding a light source closer to the face.

By the way, for future reference, there were two mistakes I made here or at least two things I did which lead to this dilemma. Having the glow on the face too bright was one. The other was making the main light on the face so bright (and skin so light). In order for the OSL to read well, I needed it's brightness to be at least somewhere near the main light. If I'd made the main lighter dimmer and darkened the face more, then I could have more easily made the OSL dimmer and had somewhere to go in terms of brightness farther down the figure. I suppose I could try and repaint a good portion of the face to correct that, but I've done so much work I really don't want to redo it all (hence my attempt to sculpt a solution instead). Still, it's a good lesson to learn and if I do something like this again I will approach it a bit differently.

Anyway, a few months ago I made a first attempt at sculpting a hand. Well, technically third attempt, but first actually completed hand.

I was pretty happy with that, but I still felt it wasn't good enough. The figures felt a bit boxy, the pointer still looked off, and it just didn't seem to match the figure. In testing it's placement, I also felt that no matter how good the hand looked, it's positioning would still feel awkward. So I decided to try a different approach. Instead of the right hand holding a magical blue flame, I'd have his left hand holding a cane with a glowing orb on the end. I think I can position this so it won't look awkward and will still provide a logical source for the light. I started sculpting this weekend. I've still got a ways to go, but here's how it's looking...

I began with an armature, slightly different than the last one but I liked it better for positioning the fingers.

I then started sculpting over it. I began with a very thin layer for the main body of the hand and baked it so I had something to work over. I then did a second layer where I started the figures and added another wire for the thumb, then baked that. Reasonably happy with the structure, I started to flesh it out and further develop the shape and start adding details on the back of the hand. That's the current state and I plan to work on it more before baking it again.

It will be positioned so that the main view is of the back of the hand and upper part of the fingers, so those are my main focus. Once those are done, I'll do the rest of the fingers and inside of the hand. Still got a ways to go and, if it's not good enough, I'll give it another try (and perhaps another try after that). But I'm hoping if I continue slowly and carefully, this one will be decent enough that I can use it. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

What's Next

I just got back from NOVA Open and plan on writing a review of the show, my experience in the seminars, and the Capital Palette competition.  In the meantime, I thought I'd share a quick post on what's next for me...

With NOVA behind me, I'm thinking about the next big show on the horizon.  Okay, there are a lot of shows coming up, but due to family and work obligations (not to mention cost) I've got to pick and choose carefully.  The next big show on my schedule will be Crystal Brush coming up next March.  That gives me about 6 months to finish up some new pieces.  While plans may change, here's what I'm thinking I'd like to bring...

Redghar, the dwarf pirate, and one of the monkeys - These three will be combined into a pirate crew themed diorama.  Two of the three figures are almost done, so I'm starting to plan out the base/scene.  That won't be simple, but I think this is far enough along I should definitely be able to finish it in time.  The diorama category is super competitive, so if I can even make the cut I'll be happy.

Count Melenth - I'd like to bring him along for my entry into the bust category.  There aren't any easy categories at Crystal Brush anymore, but this might be might best shot to medal.  I still need to sculpt a hand for him, but I've brought out the clay and am starting to give it another try.  This guy is maybe halfway there.  But, if I can sculpt a hand I'm happy with, I should be able to finish him in time.

Large Scale Piece - I've been going back and forth on this, but I know I'd like to bring something for large scale as well.  I was almost decided on the Celt I'd started a while back, but just decided to scrap that plan (though I still intend on finishing the piece).  My main reasoning was the Celt looks good from certain angles, but the pose or perhaps just my painting looks just okay from others.  You can't control how the judges see the piece or how the photos are taken, so better to bring something I'm happy with from all angles.  I've been debating this a lot, but I think I may have my mind made up.  I want to paint Lozza from Latorre.  I preordered this piece a while back and it's supposed to go out in October.  It's a 75mm fantasy piece, but some of the early WIP images made me think of post-apocalyptic mad max style scenarios.  So I'd like to do some minor conversions to him and reimagine the piece in that other setting.  I've already got ideas for a story and scene for him, so I'm eager to get my hands on the piece and get going.  Obviously that may all change once I have the figure in my hands, but for now that's my working plan!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Orc Brave Completed

In the last post this piece was getting very close to being finished.  I'd say the last major detail was the orc's axe.  Given the style of the sculpt, I painted it as a stone axe rather than a metallic one.  The approach is like a subdued NMM.  I'm still hitting the edges and working on contrast, but not as extreme as a true NMM.  Another important part of the illusion is painting in cracks.  Now, a number of these were already sculpted into the axe head.  But other areas I just adding them in freehand.  It's simple enough, just paint a thin dark line and then right below it, paint a thin line of highlight.  That's all it takes to create a 3-D crack effect.

Aside from that, I took care of the remaining details on the orcs clothing, painted the ground, and added a bit of dried grass and dead leaves.  I'm picking a pretty arid environment, the tree is long dead and the water has all dried up, so the base is not going to be lush and green.  But just a few remnants of what used to be.

And that was all it took!  I'm calling this one officially finished and just in time for a couple competitions.  I'm entering him in the 'Eadbanger Competition over the 'Eavier Metal facebook page (deadline Aug 31).  I'll also be bringing him with me to NOVA Open next week to enter into their Capital Palette competition.  Hopefully he'll do well in those, but honestly I had a lot of fun painting this project so that's all that really matters.  Oh, and if you were one of the backers in the Ouroboros Tales kickstarter, keep an eye out for the painting journal describing in much more detail how this figure was done.  I've shared some of the process here, but the rest had to be saved for the journal since it's a kickstarter exclusive.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Orc Brave Part 4

Well, I haven't been too diligent posting updates on this project, have I?  There's been quite a bit of work since I last shared him here.  The previous post showed the wire frame for the tree.  Since then I'd sculpted putty over that to complete the tree and also added additional texture to the base with more putty and sand.  I've been painting the base and, though there is still work to be done on the ground, it's getting very close to being finished!

As for the orc, I painted a good deal of his clothing and the other bits hanging off him.  There are still a number of small detail stuff I've got to do (some of the dangling stuff on the bracelets, belt, and necklace, the finger nails, earrings, etc) and also the axe, but he's pretty close to being finished.  I'm hoping to bring him with me to NOVA Open at the end of the month and also to enter him in the 'Eavier Metal painting competition (on their facebook page), which also has an end of the month deadline.  So, I'm going to just focus on him for the next couple weeks.  After that... well, we'll see!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Barbarella Part 8

I've continued to work on Barbarella and am very close to wrapping up this figure.  Since my last update I've done the yellow details on the coat and head covering, I've updated the shirt and pants, and I've painting some new details like the boot, belt, and skull on the hat.  The only unpainted part of the figure is the grip on the sword, but I've got a few more small details to update (pistol and peg leg) and I might redo the beard (probably should, but definitely not looking forward to it).

To really see the difference that the revisions have made to this figure, here is a side by side comparison of the piece as it was a year and a half ago and as it is now.  The lighting isn't exactly the same, but it's pretty close (as you can see by comparing the unchanged sections like the face, beard, and pistol).  The increased contrast has made for a much more dynamic figure, volumes look more well defined, and small details are brought out.

(click for a slighter larger image)

Here are a couple other views to give you a better look at the updated version of the piece.

I'm working on a tutorial over at FigureMentors that will go into detail on how I do my textures.  It's been an area I've focused on lately with all the leather work on the dwarf and pirate orc.  Hopefully that will be posted early next week.  In the meantime, I've included some ultra-close ups below.  You can click on the images to get a good look at the surfaces and see how the color and brush strokes went onto it.  There will be more of this and detailed explanations in the tutorial, so be sure to check back for the link!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Redghar Part 6 and Barbarela Part 7

Well, what started out as two independent pieces has now become a multi-figure scene... so the titling gets a bit confusing!  Over the past week I've done some more work on my pirate crew.  I initially focused on Redghar, trying to finish off the leather sections.  However, to make sure the overall piece looked consistent, I decided to work on the dwarf pirate, Barbarela, too.  Before I go into the details of each, here's how the two currently look as a pair:

Since I was working with leather, the obvious place to focus on the dwarf was his hat.  There was a bit of distressing in the sculpt, but I added to that with a bit of stippling to create more texture and some added cracks painted on as well.  His belt and boot will get a similar treatment, but haven't been finished yet.  In addition to the leather, I redid his red coat to bring it more inline with Redghar.  One problem I had to address when pairing these figures was the difference in contrast level.  The work on the dwarf was done back in December 2015.  Redghar was started almost a year later, at a time when I was more aggressive with my highlight and shadow range.  For the two to fit, I knew I needed to make some adjustments to the existing work on the dwarf.  The rest of his clothing and equipment will get touched up as well to deepen shadows and lighten highlights, where appropriate.  It's not done, but already I feel these two seem to fit together better.

As for the leather hat, here are a couple close ups to show the details and how the texture is done.

As for Redghar, the leather work continued on the same as before.  I did the belt around his waist and then took on the boots.  I might make some small adjustments (the new belt work might be a bit too light in spots), but overall I think it looks pretty much in line with the earlier work and lighting on the piece.

Soon I will need to start building the base.  I plan to do some conversions on the third figure (the monkey), so I will need the base to make sure he is posed correctly.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Redghar Returns! Pirate Orc - Part 5

It's been almost a year since I've done any painting on Redghar.  As often happens, I get to a point on a figure where I'm not quite sure how to move forward.  So I set it aside, work on other projects, and come back to it when I've had a chance to come up with a solution.  With Redghar my issue was the leather parts.  I find leather is tricky because you're painting texture along with highlights and shadows, so it's not something I feel 100% confident with (though I feel I'm getting a better handle on it).  However, my issue here was more a matter of color.  I did not feel the tradition brown-yellow leather colors would look good with the color palette I'd been using for the orc.  So I put this project on hold until I could come up with a mix I liked.

As often happens, my work on a different project ends up helping me figure out how to do a different one.  In this case it was my work on the Orc Brave.  I mixed some basic browns with the teals I used in his skin, creating a dull (slightly greenish) brown that I thought would work well on Redghar.  I made one further modification, mixing Burgundy Wine into the shadows (since that is the shadow tone used on the skin, red sash, and purple parts of the orc).  The mix for the brown leather was...
Shadow: 50/50 Walnut Brown and Burgundy Wine
Midtone: 60/40 Basic Dirt and Marine Teal
Highlight: 90/10 Terran Khaki and Surf Aqua
Top Highlight: Vampiric Shadow

I used this for the leather plate cover his waist.  For the belt on top of the sash, I decided to do a black leather.  The approach for that came from seeing Ben Komets' work on his Uther bust.  There were some nice black leather portions on there.  My version used a mix of Black and Marine Teal as a substitute for the Dark Sea Blue.  Highlights were done with Vampiric Shadow.

From there, I continued on with the leather work and tackled the strap around his chest.  Like on the belt, I tried to bring out the cracks and scratches.

Here are a couple close ups.  You can click on them for the full res version.

So, with Redghar back on track, I put some more thought into what I plan on doing with him when I'm finished.  For a while now I've been tempted to pair him with the dwarf pirate (another figure I'd almost finished).  Though they are from different ranges, I thought they fit well together.  You've got the diminutive captain and his big enforcer. I wanted to create a diorama of a pirate crew, but felt they needed a third crew member.  I had a few ideas, but nothing that seemed perfect.  After some more thought, I decided I will use one of the monkey's from the Black Sailors line (where Redghar is from).  That figure will need some converting.  I'd like to reposition the arms, legs, and tail.  But, I think that's within my abilities.  If I screw it up... well, the monkey wasn't that expensive a figure to begin with.  I did a quick mock up of how I think the scene will look.  Redghar and the dwarf will be on the deck of the ship and the monkey will be hanging from the rigging (pointing his gun off towards the right).

I'm going to redo a decent amount of the dwarf to bring him in line with Redghar.  The contrast isn't bad, but I wasn't pushing it as far as I am on the orc.  I'm sure it will be a while before the whole scene is done (I do need to get back to the Orc Brave soon to finish that piece up).  But I think this piece could be done in time for Adepticon and Crystal Brush.  I don't expect it to win in an ultra competitive category like Diorama... but if I can just make the cut I'll be very pleased.