Monday, December 18, 2017

Knight Part 8

I feel like I'm really in the home stretch on this one.  If it weren't for the holidays, I'd be sure I could finish him by the end of the month.  But, if he has to wait a bit longer, that'll be okay.

Over the weekend, I finished off the chain mail on his legs and then did a bit more detail work.  There was the leather on his feet and some clean up needed around the dagger (I'd knocked it off a while back and had to re-glue it).  The only details left on the knight are the dagger handle and the arrows in his shield.  I gave the base a first coat, but still have plenty of painting to do there.  Once all that is finished, I'll do the final weathering and call it done!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Knight Part 7

I've been working on my TMM approach and made a number changes for this piece.  I normally mix in some matte paints with the metallics to control the shine (mixing dark matte colors into the shadows keep them from reacting to the light).  Previously I'd work with several shades of metallics, a dark, medium, and light silver shade.  This time I ditched the additional shades and just worked with the medium metallic shade.  As I add in dark matte colors to make the shadows, the balance of metallic finish vs matte finish seems to be better than when I started with an already dark metallic.  For the highlights, I mixed the light color into the metallic.  This keeps the highlights where I want them and they're less dependent on the room lighting.  The blending with that can be a bit tough, so I'm still working on that.  But I feel like it's headed in a better direction.

Another change to my approach is to use more stippling in the metal application.  It gives the surface more texture and helps with the blends.  That's helpful on the larger surface, don't quite know of a way to do that on the chain mail.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Knight Part 3, 4, 5, 6

Wow, so I've been pretty behind with posting here.  I didn't realize it'd be so long!  Well, let's try to quickly catch up...

After finishing the basic color on the surcoat, I took on the leathers.  Here a big focus is the texture, in addition to lighting.  It's an area I feel like I've struggled with for a while, but am finally starting to feel comfortable painting the leather sections on my figures.

Next I did the design work on the front of the surcoat.  My plans for this figure changed along the way.  In the end, I settled on a griffin image (found it in a reference on English heraldry from the 1200s, but switched up the colors to match this figure).  The approach started with a simple sketch before filling in the pattern and then adding the final details.

After that, I took on the shield.  Obviously I used the same design as the chest.  But, since the shield gave me more room to work, I went into greater detail.  Here's how that design progressed:

And, just the other day, I had a bit of time and decided to take on more of the metals.  I focused on the helmet.  I approached it more through stippling.  I started with a dark undercoat and applied some brown tones on top of the black (broken up).  This will be mostly covered up, but will still show through in spots.  Then I started with a dark metal (Scale75's Heavy Metal + Reaper's Pure Black).  This was applied all over, but through stippling rather than a complete layer.  Thus the underlying color still showed though in areas.  I then started lighting the metal (more metallic, less black) and applied lighter and lighter layers through stippling.  I concentrated the dots in the areas I wanted more light reflected.  On edges I did use some long, continuous strokes.  But even these I tried to break up a bit to give the surface a more uneven look rather than appearing too smooth.  The benefits of the stippling approach are two fold.  First, it gives you a beaten sort of texture to the armor.  Second, it helps create some blends without being true blends.  I find metallics hard to blend, but the grey metals are especially troublesome.  A section might look like it has a decent transition, but it's being hidden by how the metallic paint reflects the light.  Turn the figure and change the light angle, and all of a sudden that smooth transition looks anything but.  So stippling helps create the look of a blend without being a true blend and, for me, helps avoid the trouble I was having before.

And with that, we are back up to the current state of the figure.  I need to continue on with the metals for the chainmail.  The stippling won't quite work there, so I'll have to play around a bit to figure out my approach.

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!