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.