Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Templar Sergeant Part 1

With one knight just about wrapped up, I began to prep a new one.  Seems like as I get ready to start a new project I often go through an indecisive phase.  I know any figure is likely to take me two or more months to complete (a full time job and a baby don't leave me with a ton of free time!), so I go through a variety of ideas before I find the one that really grabs me.  I enjoyed working on the knight, so I am tempted to do something similar.  I've had this kit from FER sitting next to my painting station for some time and it's one that I've been interested in painting.  Officially the kit is a Hospitaller Sergeant-at-Arms holding a cross.  First off, I like to do something different from the box art.  The figure definitely has a warrior monk feel, so I have a hard time as seeing him as anything other than one of the crusading orders.  But he doesn't have to be a Hospitaller.  I looked around a bit online for references and eventually decided to do a Templar.  I know, not the most novel choice, but it's been a long time since I painted a Templar so why not?  Plus, the figure is a sergeant, not a knight.  So instead of the traditional Templar white, he will be dressed in black with a red cross detail.

The second thing I wanted to change from the box art was the cross.  Sure, the knight will have a cross on his clothing, but holding a giant cross icon just felt like when you look at the piece it's more about religion than the knight.  So I decided to swap out the cross for a banner.  I removed the flimsy resin post he was holding and drilled through the hand so I could insert a metal rod.

Next I had to create the actual banner.  I know that's not the most complicated thing, but I haven't done much sculpting so it's a challenge for me.  I started by looking through banners in other kits I own.  I found a nice one from a 54mm mounted Pegaso knight that seemed to be the right size and shape for this knight (and the motion matching that on his clothing, similar wind state).  My initial thought was to use instant mold to do a one sided cast and create a copy.  Well, that worked horribly.  One side looked fine by the other was atrocious.  I briefly considered just using the other kit's banner here... but decided that wasn't a good idea.  The main issue is that it's a metal flag and the rod supporting it is not all that thick.  It holds, but I'm concerned it would start to bend over time.  Plus if I ever want to paint or resell the other kit, the missing banner would be an issue.  

So I moved on to a new plan: sculpt a banner from scratch.  I looked at some tutorials and settled on an approach.  I took some procreate putty and created a thin sheet between two pieces of wax paper.  Using a rolling pin I further spread it out and evened out the thickness.  Using a straight edge and a hobby knight, I cut out the shape of the banner (using the one from the kit as a guide for the size and shape).  I then began the process of carefully folding and bending the putty to create the look of a flag in the wind.  Again, I used the other banner for guidance and inspiration, though mine is not an exact copy.  Here's how it turned out:

Unfortunately on the opposite side the wax paper crinkled and stamped a texture into the banner.

I considered having another go at it, but first I wanted to see if I could salvage what I had.  I started sanding down the texture and I think the result is much improved.  I want to work on it a bit more and perhaps I'll see if I can use some more putty to fill in some areas that I haven't been able to work out with the sanding.  If all goes well, then I will be able to use this banner after all.

Here's a quick look at the banner relative to the figure.  I plan on sculpting a bit more of the banner where it connects up to the pole and will embed the rod at that point to get it on there nice and secure.

I haven't decided on the setting for the figure yet, though I am currently brainstorming ideas.  I doubt there will be much narrative to the base.  But the box art has him weathered (dirt and blood) which I like.  So I'm thinking a post battle scene.  However will it be in a castle, on regular dirt, in a ruin, etc?  Ideally I'll come to a decision before I start painting... but in this case I don't think that is as critical as if I planned a scene for the figure and base told more of a story.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Knight Part 10

Having wrapped up the White Speaker project, I spent some time trying to get the knight finished up too.  I'm not quite there, but he's getting very close.  This weekend I spend time working on his base.  I'm picturing him somewhere in Outremer, so I went with a rather dry looking base without much plant life.  I put a bit of dried grass in among the stones, but I still need to clean it up a bit and then use some washes or pigments to give it some color variation and tie it into the base.

There are a few other details I need to wrap up.  One of them is the arrows.  I planned to have two stuck in the ground and another two on his shield.  I figure for the arrows in the shield, he would have snapped those off, so they will just be stubs with the other half lying on the ground near his feet.  So this brings us to the question of how do I make miniature arrows?  Well, I'd already found some brass rod at about the right thickness.  But I still needed to make the fletching, the feathers on the arrows.  For this I remembered reading an article over on MassiveVoodoo about using real feathers on miniatures.  Turns out it was authored by Matt DiPietro.  In it one of the applications is feathers for arrows.  I mostly followed that tutorial, though I made a few minor changes.

To start, I got a bag of feathers from a local arts and crafts store.  Now, in Matt's approach, he clips off a section of the feathers shaft and glues that to the arrow.  I just clipped a portion of the outer section and was careful to hold it together while attaching it to the arrow (first image below).  To attach, I took the end of the brass rod and rolled it in glue.  Then I carefully placed it against the edge of the feather section I'd clipped off (second image below).  These pieces are intentionally too large so it'd be easier to hold them.  Once they dried, I went in with a small scissors and clipped them down to size (third image below).

The process requires some finesse.  I managed to screw it up a couple times.  But, easy to just scrape the feather off the arrow and clip a new section.  Take your time and be gentle as you clip the feather ends down to size.  So far I've got the one down and another half finished.  I still need to do the two ends from the shield, but I'm getting a better handle on this as I do more and more of them.  Once those are complete, I'll go in and paint the shafts.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

White Speaker Part 4

Here is the essentially finished White Speaker.  The only thing left is her spear, which will be stuck into the base.  It's possible I'll tweak one or two things on the figure as I take some time to look over it.  But at the moment I don't have any more work on her planned.

On the base, I started with just the basic dirt and rocks (plus the skulls and lantern).  After painting it, it was just a lot of grey and dull brown shades.  In part that's what I wanted.  The figure itself doesn't have much color, so I wanted the base to be simple so she would stand out.  But upon review, I decided the base was too uninteresting.  I weighed a few options and ended up deciding to add some red ivy along the ground.  I had some etched brass vines that I'd bought a while ago, so I clipped off a couple short sections.  I dulled the red a bit by adding in brown, so they didn't compete too much with the figure.  The use of red for the leaves, as opposed to green or some other color, was to tie in to the red already on the figure.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Brom Part 1 - Planning

Last weekend I picked up Brom Hard Bark from Enigma and I intend for it to be my next project.  I wanted something a bit more limited in scope than the huge pirate scene, something I could finish off relatively quickly.  And, since I was just doing the historical crusader, I wanted a fantasy figure to change things up.  Though the piece is just getting started, I though I'd share how I go about planning a project like this.

These days when I work on a display or competition piece, I try to either come up with a distinct approach to painting them (different from what I've already seen) or come up with a story that I can work into the scene. Basically the point is to find a way to make the figure unique and (hopefully) stand out. In this case I can't really think of a unique take on the painting, so I'm focusing on the story. For this I look at the figure, the expression and pose, and ask what are they doing, where are they, what emotion is there, etc. Brom looks determined/angry. He's in a fighting stance, but it feels more defensive (he's waiting for an attack instead of charging towards someone). His clothing is ragged, he's got a bandage around his head... he looks like he's in trouble. In my mind he's backed into a corner facing a bunch of enemies. Maybe this is his last stand. That's the story I want the scene to tell, so now it's just a matter of filling in the details.

As I said at the beginning, I want this to be a small project. Therefore the enemies he's facing will be implied rather than actual additional figures on the base. I considered having him literally backed into a corner, with a wall or large stones right behind him. But that blocks off the rear of the figure from view. I also didn't want to have to represent a cave scene in terms of lighting. So instead he's outside and I came up with the idea of having him standing in front of a broken bridge. Now the story is he's been chased and harassed by a mob of goblins. He's been fighting them off while trying to escape. He's made it this far only to find out the bridge, his means of escape, is out. Now he turns to brace himself for the final assault.

With all that in mind, here is the start of the scene I'm building. I've put together cork to make up the bulk of the ground, though it will be most covered with putty, sand, and rocks in the end. I've started to build the bridge. I've placed the two posts along with some ropes and stakes holding them in place. I will add another set of ropes at the bottom and then a series of wood planks which will hang off the back of the base. Below I included an inspiration image to show more clearly what I hope to create. The base is rather compact, since I just want to focus on Brom and have the enemy unseen. As I said I just want to imply them... but there needs to be some details to indicate they are there. A simple way to do this is add some arrows to the scene. My though is to have one sticking out of Brom's wooden shoulder pad. Maybe there will be a broken one in his thigh, with some blood running down the leg. I think an arrow in one of the wood posts next to him would be fun too. Perhaps I'll add some in the ground, perhaps not. I'll see how those first couple look and then decide if it needs more.

Well, that's a lot of text and not much in the way of model to show for it. But I hope some of you found it informative. I expect I will continue to build the base and prep the figure while I finish of the White Speaker. Hopefully this one will be ready to start painting by the time I finish the Kingdom Death piece.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

White Speaker Part 3

This project has moved along at a pretty good pace.  The figure itself is just about finished.  I've got a couple small touches and, once I do the base, I'll be adding some limited OSL from the lantern.  Here's a look at the figure on the base, which I hope to start painting tomorrow.

Friday, February 2, 2018

28mm White Speaker Part 2

Here's a quick update on this project.  I made some adjustments to the skin, most notably the right leg and left hip.  I also took care of the hands and feet at the same time.  Now I've started on the clothing.  Overall I'm planning to stick pretty close to the versions of the White Speaker shown in the official Kingdom Death art.