Friday 21 December 2012

The rocky road to creating a rock. Part 2

Rather than sitting here and tapping out (yes that is how I type!) a step by step on painting the base I've decided to try a more visual approach. The techniques used are a fairly straightforward combination of layered dry brushing and washes. As I said in my previous post I've taken a very organic approach to painting the base and the finished result is all about variations in balace between the colours I've picked and the paint application. First lets look at my colour palette for the base.

Base Colour:

Calthan Brown & Astronomican Grey mix

1st Highlight/Drybrush:

Base colour mix + Vallejo Grey Primer

Wash colours (in no specific order):

Blazing Orange

Vallejo Burnt Cadmium Red

Iyanden Darksun

2nd Highlight/Drybrush:

Base colour mix + Vallejo Grey Primer using increasingly lighter mixes than the 1st highlight

The entire base was painted with the base colour and then dry brushed all over with the 1st highlight colour. Thereafter the coloured washed and highlights are applied in various combinations. As usual I diluted my washes quite heavily and built up several layers of each.

Now lets look at how these colours and techniques look in combination on the base.

click image to enlarge
click image to enlarge

Tuesday 11 December 2012

The rocky road to creating a rock. Part 1

I've decided to split this post into two parts with a follow up on painting the reworked base to follow very shortly. The process has developed in a very organic way with both the paint scheme and the base undergoing continual adjustment. So consider the picture below as something of a teaser for the state of the base at the time of posting.

I like to be able to sit back and consider my next move carefully before making it. In the case of my Dark Eldar diorama base I've been considering for over a year!

I'm very pleased with the monoliths and how the Sourge minis interact with them but I was less happy with how the overall piece sat on it's plinth. It's not that there was anything particularly wrong with it, it was just a bit boring. I came to the conclusion that the union between the base and the plynth needed to be more dramatic.

So I took a deep breath, steeled my nerves and reached for the superglue, cork and earth! 

I decided to have some of the ground surfaces on the base breaking out beyond the edges of the plinth. To do this I broke up a cork placemat (very cheap from IKEA) into small pieces and glued those into place with super glue gel. The broken cork gives a really great texture and, once the glue is set, it can be easily cut or carved into. I also added some more basing slate to match that already used. Once all the glue was fully set I went about filling up the gaps with some green stuff. The final touch was the addition of some garden soil sprinkled onto superglue (watch out for the fumes if you try this).

The resulting patchwork is a bit jarring to look at but that's easily fixed with the application of a base coat.

To paint the base I'm using lots of dry brushing and washes following the same sort of process I used to paint the monoliths.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Dark Eldar Diorama - Starting the 3rd Scourge

Here we go again!

I want this third Scourge to match the first one I painted, but not to be identical so a little conversion is called for. I'm using the head option with the ponytail again. I really prefer it's sleeker look to the punk feathers on the majority of Scourge heads but I've swapped the ponytail with one from the wych box. 

I also wanted to change the way the Scourge is holding her spear. As the Scourge minis only have one option in the box I've done some chop and swap with a Hellion to get a two handed grip on the spear. This has also enabled me to create something of a mirroring of the Scourge's positions. This will come into play on the diorama as the two of them will be roughly on either side of the 'Scourge Witch' and I think this will help to create an interesting symmetry.

The wings haven't been fixed on properly yet. It will be a lot easier to paint them separately and then glue them in place.

Thursday 22 November 2012

Black is the new blue

It seems to be all the rage at the moment and, despite being wary of simply following a trend for the sake of what's in fashion, I've been trying out a black background in my photos. 

I'm having a few issues with camera flash and lighting in general and need to experiment further but here are best shots I've achieved with a black background so far. I have very mixed feelings about the results and I'm not sure that such a strong black in the background suits my minis but the effect is quite striking. For the most part I think I just need to get used to seeing my minis presented this way before I make a final judgement.

Sunday 18 November 2012

Scourge Witch - Finished

I've been back and tweaked a few things based on some really useful feedback from Coolmini but the Scourge Witch has finally come together surprisingly quickly in the end.
The base is temporary for display purposes. I put it together very quickly using insta-mold to take an impression from an egyptian style ornament. I cast this up in plaster and after a little carving added soil and superglue to make the ground. I'm rather pleased with the result and I think it deserves the addition of a permanent resident atop it.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Old dog ... New tricks

Progress on the Scourge has been steady with lots and lots of layering to get the wings looking right. I wasn't 100% happy with the inside surfaces of the wings but once the hands and fingers were properly shaded and highlighted it all came together so the bulk of the work has been spent on getting the outside painted.

When Games workshop announced their new paint range I knew I was in for trouble of a sort. At the speed I paint I could easily foresee a time when, despite stocking up in advance, the colours I'd started using on this project would no longer be available. The time has come to start exploring new possibilities.

There is certainly some inconvenience involved but in the long run I think the change is a good one for me. It's very easy to get stuck in your ways and keep falling back on the familiar. Knowing just how a particular colour will behave under different circumstances is particularly useful and makes it possible to really work that colour but it can also make you reluctant to try new things out. On the whole I think a fresh pallet of colours will encourage creativity and experimentation. As I've said before 'nothing ventured - nothing gained'.

My immediate concern has been finding alternatives for some of the colours used on my Scourges. I've used a lot of Dheneb Stone in the flesh tones and needed to find a good match so I could complete the wings. Thankfully in this case GW have provided and the new Rakarth Flesh is perfect. It's a slightly deeper shade than the Dheneb Stone but that is no bad thing and most importantly it gives the same results as Dheneb Stone did when mixed with the other colours I've used in the flesh tones.

The next challenge is to find a good replacement for scorched brown as I've use it in the armour and I need to make the next Scourge (I've already started prepping the mini) match the two done so far. The best new GW equivalent seems to be Rhinox Hide but the similarity is superficial. This is a very different colour to Scorched brown and seems to include bit of black in the mix. This becomes even more apparent when you start mixing it with other colours. Scorched brown contained a fair amount of red in it's makeup and could give some unexpectedly pinkish or purplish tones depending on what you mixed it with. Rhinox hide gives muddy greyish tones under the same circumstances - not well.

All is not lost, as I believe I've found a solution. Valejo Model Color Panzer Series 70985 Hull Red seems to provide what’s needed. The colour is not an exact match but my initial tests are very promising. This brings me to another of benefit brought the enforced change. I've expanded my use of paints beyond the GW range to include those from other companies - and about time too! I'm no GW basher and I'm a big fan of their paints but I can't help noticing how they charge more money for less paint.

I'm also transferring my GW paints into dropper bottles. It’s a little fiddly to do but I find dropper bottles so much better for ease of use and practicality than the GW pots.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Dark Eldar Diorama - Painting the Scourge Witch's wings

With the Tomb King finished I can return to painting my Dark Eldar Diorama and more specifically the wings on my custom Scourge /Witch. It's been a year since I painted the wings on the first Scourge so I've turned to my own Tutorial to make sure I follow the same technique.

I have to confess that consistency is something I've always found especially difficult. I have a very low boredom threshold and once I've painted a mini I want to move on and try something different so painting a 'flock' of Dark Eldar Scourges presents quite a challenge to me. This will be the first time I've ever painted a unit of any sort.

After a frustrating start the insides of the wings are starting to come together and need just a little refinement before I move on to the outside surfaces. I've found that I need to take my time over these, painting a little and then setting the mini aside for a while before continuing. This helps me to take a fresh look at the paint job after each pause and asses the next step.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Mummy Mania - The Finished Tomb King!

The last stages turned into a bit of a slog and there were a couple of dramas involving static grass and a broken lamp but he is finally finished.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Less is more!

Having spent what time I could during the week prepping various scenic elements for my Tomb king base I turned to painting and assembling them at the weekend.

Saturday went like a dream and saw the addition of a major new element to the base that provides some much needed height (notice that I'm not giving too much away here). Its something that I picked up while on holiday in Cyprus this Summer from a place called, appropriately enough, The Tombs of the Kings.

This was a fascinating location packed with tombs where the stone was being eaten away by salt from the nearby sea. I can easily see it being a source of inspiration for a future project.

I finally glued the King onto the base together with the pile of skulls he is resting his foot upon. I always find this stage pretty nerve racking as it just takes one miss step with the superglue and you are in for a world of pain! I made a point of having several glue free practice runs and viewing them from all angles before committing. I then used the garden soil/superglue combination that I'd textured the mummy pit with to cover up the joins. I am really very pleased with how the mini now looks on the base.

Sunday's tasks were a matter of bringing together the finishing touches. I've always planned to incorporate the undead vulture from the Tomb Guard standard into the piece so I set about painting it up. Although the painting went well something felt wrong. However I ignored my doubts and pushed on.

Another new element for the base has come about as a result of some feedback I've received. The initial idea was that the papyrus scroll was quite literally bleeding. In my mind's eye the whole ghastly scene played out thus:

The Tomb King raises his arm brandishing an ancient and bloodstained scroll beneath the desert sun. Unholy words of power escape from the long dead jaws of the ancient tyrant to corrupt the very air. The blood stains change first becoming fresher then glistening as they ooze and seep. When the cursed blood drips down upon the ground beneath the dead rise up.

As you can probably tell I'm not adverse to a little melodrama!

It's a pretty little scene but it's very difficult to convey the supernatural origin of the blood in a static mini! Sure enough the first piece of feedback I had on the bleeding scroll questioned exactly that. On the whole I have to agree but rather than removing the blood as sugested I've decided to provide a source for it within the diorama. The first idea I had was simple and unobtrusive showing a source for the blood with no more than a single drip. Then I had another idea and pursued it with enthusiasm. The result of this burst of 'inspiration' can be seen glistening in the picture below.

Surfice it to say that sanity (and good taste) eventually prevailed and I will not be using this particular element but have instead returned to my rather more elegant first idea. Neither will I be using the vulture as once in position it just didn't work as a part of the whole. These two element were simply wrong for the piece feeling both visually and tonally crude and although this means Sunday's efforts were largely wasted I can't help but feel I've dodged a bullet. That's no mean feat considering that I was the one shooting the metaphorical gun!

Monday 15 October 2012

Mummy Mania - Painting the Tomb King part 8

A quickie update to announce that, following a very productive weekend, my Tomb King mini is finished. Admittedly its just the mini thats finished not the diorama. I've got a few scenic bits and pieces to paint up for the base (once they arrive in the post) and then I need to pull everything together for the overall composition. 

I just need to pace myself and keep the momentum up without rushing in an effort to get everything finished. The final assembly can really make or break a piece!

Next time I post a picture of this project it will be the finished diorama!

Sunday 7 October 2012

Mummy Mania - Painting the Tomb King part 7

Well, I've painted my last bandage and it didn't come a day too soon! I've had issues with painting the bandages on this Tomb King. Although relatively simple to pain the bandages have been the most frustrating and repetitive part of the project. For me the bandages are such a key element of what makes up a Tomb King that they must look as good as possible because if they don't they'll let the entire mini down. When all is said and done I'm very pleased with the result I've achieve so the time and effort were worth it. Just don't make me paint any more bandages!

I've re worked the blade on the weapon (again) to reintroduce a little of the rust I had on my first try. This time I've given it a more subtle stained/splotchy look by applying a thin layer of clean water to the blade then dotting on diluted orange paint and letting this colour bleed a little into the water. I've gone for a similar approach on the scale armour cloak the mini is wearing as it brings a bit more variety to the overall look without introducing something too new and different to the colour scheme.

This just leaves the back of the collar and the papyrus scroll to paint so I'm finally beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel!

Sunday 30 September 2012

A blast from the past - Sculpting my own models

I’ve previously mentioned a period when I wasn’t painting minis but in truth there’s rarely been a time when my hobby activity wasn’t related to mini painting in one way or another. I want to showcase some of the work I produced in this period as although it was produced during a time when I moved away from mini painting it ultimately led me back to the hobby with a renewed enthusiasm. 

Most relevant to this blog was the time I spent making Dr Who action figure customs. This was something that my mini painting experience equipped me for particularly well and it didn’t take too long for me to shift from customising to sculpting from scratch. It’s through sculpting that I became aware of the many online hobby communities and blogs that are out there. As a direct result I reconnected with the wider on-line mini painting community and started this very blog.

My sculpts were very much made as action figures hence the neutral poses and rather basic paint jobs. I started sculpting with green stuff as it was familiar to me it and It’s the only epoxy putty I’m not highly allergic to! Once I began trying to sculpt an entire figure from scratch I made the shift to Super Sculpey Firm and found myself on a very steep learning curve. 

Scratch built Dr Who action figure sculpts

My focus when sculpting these figures was on developing my technique and trying to capture a likeness (with varying results!). I then decided to try sculpting a couple of busts and found these far more creatively rewarding. I brought an element of design to these that I’d purposefully avoided with the figures. Painting the busts was also a more rewarding experience. I began to call once more on my mini painting experience in an attempt to create something more fully realised than the paint jobs on the action figure sculpts. Both of the busts I produced are my own re-imagined designs of classic Dr Who monsters.

Scratch built Silurian bust
Scratch built Sea Devil bust

It was just after finishing the Sea Devil bust that a fellow member on a Dr Who fan forum made me aware of the then newly released mini of the 11th Doctor sculpted by Steve Buddle. You can see where that led me by going to the start of this blog - my hobby interests had come full circle.