Friday, April 14, 2017

Empress' Dragoons Officer Part 7

And the piece is finally finished!

Since my last post, I worked to finish off the column.  I focused on the front side first before turning to the back.

 The rear was done just like the front, working on 4 or 5 stones at a time.  It was a relief to finally be done with all of them!!!  After that I laid down some basic dirt brown shades for the ground.  I tried to keep it light.  I wanted it to look like dry earth, not dark mud.

I also took care of the sign on the front of the column.  I applied a few subtle shades of dark grey to the gate to give it a little variation (though nothing major).  Then I added a bit of grass and some dead leaves to break up the ground work.  A few pigments here and there on the ground and base of the column, and the scene was complete!

The final step was the add the sword and scabbard for the dragoon.  The scabbard was painted in black, like the boots, and metallics for the fittings.  The cloth bit wrapped around the handle was done just like the yellow-gold details on the uniform.

Here's how the final result looked.  All in all, a fun project and one I'm happy with.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

SCAHMS Show 2017

This past weekend was the SCAHMS (Southern California Area Historical Miniature Society) show.  It's an annual event in Los Angeles put on by our local figure modeling group.  I hope to write up a report on the show, but in the meantime here are a number of pictures I took at the show...


Yup, my stuff was there too.  The only piece I had in the competition was the Dragoon (on the left). But I gave a presentation in the morning on painting historical figures in acrylic, so I brought along the other figures for the talk.  Once I was done, I included them in my display, though they were for display only and not judged as part of the show.  The figures are a bit underexposed against that white background, so not the best picture.  But since I already have nice close ups of each, I didn't spend much time trying to get nice shots of my own work at the show.

During the award ceremony I was surprised and honored to be given this year SCAHMS Masters Award.  This is something they present to one person each year recognizing your body of work, not just your entries at this years show.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Empress' Dragoons Officer Part 6

The base is coming along brick by brick.  Makes me wish I'd picked a simpler setting for him but too late now!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Empress' Dragoons Officer Part 5

I finally had the time to sit back down and finish off the Dragoon's left boot.  Here's a quick close up of the finished boots next to the sketched in ones.  In case you missed my last post, the tutorial on how I did them has been posted here.

That means the figure is essentially finished.  The only thing to add to him is the sword (which he'll be holding in his left had).  The bottom of the scabbard will be resting on the ground while the handle will be in his hand, so I wanted to wait until he was ready to go on the base before I permanently attached it.  That will actually be a bit tricky.  I've got to get the attachment right at both ends.  Then there are the straps which will go around his leg and attach where they disappear beneath his coat.  I'll have to bend and adjust these so they look right.  If I'm not careful, it'll be easy to scratch up the existing paint job on the figure.  It's all stuff I should be able to handle, but it will need to be done with some care.

In the meantime, I need to paint that base.  I started on that the other day.  I gave the gate a dark base coat (it will be wrought iron) and then applied several different shades of grey as base coats for the stones in the column.  I plan to make this using light grey/white stones, but I want to have some variation in there.  Right now it's a bit extreme, but as I continue to paint and highlight each one, I think the end result will look subtler.  So far I've just painted a few, but I need to keep moving along if I want to get this done in time for the SCAHMS show!

Monday, March 6, 2017

New Tutorials

I've got several new tutorials up on FigureMentors.  Here's a list in case you're interested in checking them out:

Painting a Shiny Black (with Matte Paints)
The most recent work looking at how I did the black sections on the Dragoon and the hair on the Fallen Angel

Step by Step Painting of a 54mm Saxon Warrior
This is an older project, but I only recently got around to writing it up.

Knight of the Holy Sepulchre
A summary of my work on this.  Not a true step by step, but still an in-depth look at the project.

A Reference on Crusading Knights
Not a true tutorial, but a good summary reference for anyone interested in painting crusaders.

Empress' Dragoons Officer Part 4

Taking advantage of the painting time and getting as much done on the Dragoon as I can.  I cleaned up the gold lace/cord and did the rest of the cords and epaulets.  This was done with Burgundy Wine, Muddy Brown, Palomino Gold, Buckskin Pale, Linen White, and Pure White.  I then took care of some small details (the last of the horse hair on the top of his helmet and the medal on his chest) and then I turned my attention to the boots.  Like the horse hair, I wanted a shiny black look for the boots.  I'm putting together a detailed tutorial which will be posted over on FigureMentors (though I'll share the announcement/link here as soon as it's up).  In the meantime, here's a quick look at how I painted them.  As you'll notice, I only completed one of the two boots.  The blending is a time consuming process, so I find it easier to just focus on one at a time.  I'll hopefully take care of the other boot later this week.

First, I began with a sketch of where I want the highlights

Then I start the slowly blend them back down into the black.  I start with the lightest shades and gradually get darker and darker.  Here's a look at that partially done.  The image on the right has been blended from Vampiric Shadow (an off white) to Dark Elf Highlight and then to Dark Elf Skin.

From there the blending continues, going from Dark Elf Skin to Dark Elf Shadow.  A little Pure Black was used in some shadows, but most of what appears to be black is just the Dark Elf Shadow.

Finally, I went back in with some Vampiric Highlight and then Pure White to add some extra pop to the reflection points.  You can see the comparison below between the previous blend (on the left) and the one with the brighter reflections on the right.  I also made a few tweaks so some of the blends (like on the top of the foot) while I was at it.

I've written up a much more thorough discussion of how I did these and how I approach shiny black in general.  I hope to get it posted in the next few days, so check back for an update with the link!

Now that you've seen the boots, here's the rest of him.  Just a little more to do on him and then it will be time to tackle that base.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Empress' Dragoons Officer Part 3

After finishing up the Fallen Angel, I thought I'd try to finish up another old project.  The SCAHMS show (the local Los Angeles figure group) is coming up in a little over a month and I don't have anything to bring!  I've been working on a lot of pieces, but nothing is finished.  The Fallen Angel is the only piece I've completed since last year and it's already off with its new owner.  I could keep working on the Celt, but I'm not sure if I have enough time to finish it before the show.  Redghar and Count Melenth are close, but both are a bit stuck and I'm not sure I can work through them in time either.  Luckily, the Dragoon is a relatively straightforward piece and should be easy to finish off in time.  If I'm lucky, maybe I'll even have time to finish something else like the Hussar bust... but that's getting a little ahead of myself.

After dusting off the Dragoon, I started to work on his helmet.  I did the basic metal for the helmet and then started working on the leopard skin.  Although not this specific Dragoon's helmet, here is an example of a French Dragoon Officer's helmet.

Using that and some other online images as a guide, I tried to recreate the pattern on the figure.  For the background color I used Bronzed Shadow, Bronzed Skin, a 50/50 mix of Bronzed Highlight and Khaki Highlight, and finally a bit of Linen White.  For the spots I used Pure Black, Dusky Skin Shadow, Dusky Skin, and Dusky Skin highlight to do the black outsides.  I tried to vary these in shape and size, using the online references as a guide.  For the inside of the spots I used a 50/50 mix of Bronzed Shadow and Muddy Brown, and then highlighted that with Bronzed Skin.  Below is a blown up image of the mostly finished helmet.

After that I attached the red plume on his left side.  This could have been done in white (as it is on the box art), which I believe would represent the chief of staff.  But for the typical Empress' Dragoon it would have been red.  I like the extra bit of color (the other red is mainly seen from the rear of the figure), so I opted for red instead of white.

My next task was the horse hair crest.  This was done in black, much like the hair for the Fallen Angel.  I liked how the faux glossy black turned out there, so I plan to use that trick on a number of other figures!  I started by sketching in the shine and then went back to blend in to the black hair.  For this I worked with Vampiric Shadow (for the shine) and then blended to black using Dark Elf Highlight, Dark Elf Skin, and Dark Elf Shadow.

My next big task will be to do the cord/braid details.  This is supposed to be a gold lace.  In the past I've used metallic paint and metallic paint mixed with matte paint, but was never 100% happy with the results.  So this time I decided to do a NMM look for the braid.  Yes, it means I'm mixing TMM on the helmet with NMM on the braid, but they're different materials and I've already essentially done a NMM gloss finish for the horse hair crest.  I did a somewhat rough sketch on part of the cords hanging from the shoulder and am pretty happy with the result.  I did a more finished version on the tiny details on the tail of his coat.  Now I'll go back, clean up the cord and paint the rest of the gold lace.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


I'm in the process of trying to finish up some other projects.  Did a little work in the past few days on the Dragoon Officer, did some sketching on the Deaths Head Hussar bust, and of course I need to get back to the Celt.  We've got the SCAHMS show coming up in a month and a half, so I'd like to get at least two of those three projects finished so I can bring them to the show.  Progress has been minimal, but when I get a little more done I will share some photos here.

In the meantime, I've started to plan out a future project.  Black Sun Miniatures just put up a new centaur figure for pre-order.  The sculptor, Joaquin Palacios, also recently did a centaur for Terrible Kids Stuff, but I happen to like the Black Sun one better.  The kit actually comes in two versions, one with an elf rider and one without.  I'm happy they're offering both versions as I just wasn't that big a fan of the elf.  Anyway, I just pre-ordered the centaur and started to think what I want to do with it.  The figure has a great action pose, rearing up with a spear ready to strike.  It's a cool figure by itself, but the pose is just crying out to be paired with another figure for a duel-type scene.  I looked through a lot of companies that carry 75mm figures, considering both fantasy figures, historical knights (which can be used for fantasy), and Greek figures (for more of a mythological setting).  I came up with several possible options, but I think the best may be the Barbarian from Scale75.  Using photoshop and images I grabbed from online, I put together some rough mock ups on how I think these figures will look together.  Here's what I came up with...

Another top contender is Leonidas (also from Scale75).  My main issue with that piece is the figure is essentially naked (except for a cape, helmet, and greaves).  I'd want to sculpt on some clothing/armor if I were to use him.  I could either keep him as a Greek warrior, and go with a mythological theme, or replace the head as well and use him as a knight/warrior for a fantasy piece.  Since I'm not too confident in my sculpting abilities (even if just for conversion), I'm still leaning towards the barbarian... but perhaps I'll change my mind.

I thought about adding another warrior to the mix, but couldn't quite find a figure to fit.  A friend on one of the forums suggesting a non-fighter figure like a woman or a child.  I like this idea as it takes a neat looking duel scene and adds some stakes to the outcome.  Is the barbarian trying to rescue the girl?  If so, will he succeed?  Or perhaps the centaur is her protector and the barbarian the aggressor.  Will she be safe?  Switching it up and having the barbarian be the bad guy would be interesting.  Of course, since the centaur is larger, the barbarian seems like the underdog.  In which case, perhaps I should stick with him as the good guy.

I started to look around for a figure that might work in the non-fighter role.  El Viejo Dragon has a lot of female figures in 75mm, but none seemed quite right.  Plus, most are naked and I'd probably want to sculpt on at least some clothes.  I looked at some other companies and I think my best bet may be this fairy figure from Aradia Miniatures:
I'd probably ditch the wings (easy enough to do).  I could treat her as a human or maybe a fantasy creature like a dryad, naiad, nymph, etc.  I could portray that with coloring (non-human flesh tones) and/or conversions like horns/antlers, replacing the lower legs with those of a faun, etc.  What I pick will influence the story.  As a human, it's implied she's on the barbarian's side and he's rescuing her.  As a fantasy creature, perhaps the centaur is her guardian instead.  Another option is the Fallen Angel figure I just finished.  The one I did was 54mm, but Milosh has a 75mm version too.  As with the fairy, I could leave off the wings and make her a regular human or convert into a fantasy creature too.  Her pose works best for captive.

So, lots of text and not so much painting, but I just wanted to share my thought process and hopefully wet your appetites for this upcoming project.  As always, it will be interesting to see how similar or different the end result will be to these early plans.  Probably won't actually start this for a couple months (don't think the centaur will ship till late March and I've got other stuff on my plate).  But I'd love to get this done in time for next year's Crystal Brush, so I do want to get going on this before too long!

As a final thought, when it comes to creating a scene, sometimes that can come together organically as you go.  That's what happened to me with the hobbit piece.  I started with just the figure holding a lantern and the rest just sort of happened.  In this case, what I want multiple figures to look like they are interacting, I think it helps to plan beforehand.  That way I can start to build the base and get the figures positioned convincingly.  That doesn't mean things won't evolve as I go, but in this instance I want to start with more of the scene figured out.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Fallen Angel Part 5

Here are the pictures of the finished Fallen Angel.  I've wrapped up the work on the wings and applied some additional glazes to the base (plus some little tweaks here and there).