Friday 27 March 2015

Infamy's Mole - Part 3

I may revisit Mole’s troublesome trousers to push the contrast a little further but, for the time being, they are finished enough to allow me to move on to other areas. My first priority is the face. Like many other painters, I like to get the face sorted as soon as I can because it sets character of the mini. Equally it really doesn’t matter how well the rest of the mini is painted if you can’t get the face right! 

My first pass at Mole’s face was OK as a start, but the contrast was too strong and it lacked overall subtlety. So I went back and glazed over the face with colours in the mid-tone range. For the first time ever, I consciously tried out the principle of using yellow tones in the top of the face, reds in the middle and blues in the lower section. I was a bit sceptical but swiftly changed my mind on the subject. Even though I was using very subtle glazes the face really started to come alive and the flesh tones were greatly improved. I’ll put that down as a lesson learned! 

With the basic flesh tones sorted I set about refining the detail. Mole has a very distinctive face with heavy lips and fleshy jowls and it was all too easy to paint him in an overly cartoony stile. It took me a lot of going back and forth but I finally reached a result that I was happy with. I’m really struck by just how much the face on the sculpt matches the concept art. 

Mole’s Goggles are a key element of his face and require due attention. To my surprise I painted the lenses very quickly. The rest of the job was going to take more care and attention as I’d decided to use true metallics (TMM) on this mini. I’m woefully out of practice with TMM on account of my on-going love affair with non-metallic metals (NMM). Scalecolour have come to my rescue once again with their metallic paints. The word on these has been very good and they seem to live up to their reputation for ease of use and a great metallic finish. 

Once the face was done I could move on and paint the shirt. I’d decided on a simple white shirt but wanted it to look very dirty. Mole’s excavations would definitely leave a literal mark on his clothing. A combination of Petroleum Grey, Rakarth Flesh and Ivory gave me a pleasingly dirty grey/white but the colour was a bit flat and uninteresting on it’s own. Some subtle touches with GW washes livened up the colour just enough and some less subtle Gryphone Sepia in the armpits added appropriately unpleasant sweat stains! 

With the shirt now ‘weathered’ It seemed like a good time to begin adding dirt to Mole’s trousers. I mixed brown pigment powders into a stiff paste with Valleyo matt varnish. This mix was carefully dabbed onto his shoes and the bottom of his trouser legs. I find it best to build up effects like this a little at a time. You can always add more, if you need to, but add too much and you’re in trouble! I’m very pleased with how the dirt effect has turned out and I may add a little more dirt to mole’s clothing later on. But first I’ll paint the drill so that I can balance out the dirt effects over the entire mini. 

The shoulder brace & gauntlet for mole’s drill were the first significant areas of metallic I had to tackle. It probably makes things a little easier that I want a dirty and greasy look to all of the metallic areas on Mole. That said I had to proceed with caution as I was on a fairly steep learning curve. 

I picked Peridot Alchemy from scalecolour as a base colour and worked over this with a series of glazes to shade and dirty it down. I quickly realised that a mix of dilute paints and washes was more effective than washes alone. Washes made the shadows very matt which looked bad against the metallic. It also failed to look suitably greasy. This was particularly important to me as the business end of the drill will be dirtied down with pigments to give a dustier/earthier look. 

I’ve avoided inks for years. Back in the mid eighties some of my minis were displayed in a shop window. After just three days all of the ink (Windsor & Newton) had been bleached away. I lost all the shading from the best part of my entire collection! I’ve finally swallowed my fears and ordered a set of inks. This will give me more options with the level of gloss available in my glazes and I’m really looking forward to experimenting with them!

Monday 16 March 2015

Infamy's Mole - Part 2

Real life has its way of sticking a spanner into the works of even the best-laid plans and so it has proved with my painting schedule! My parents are moving home! This is fantastic news but after having lived all their lives in the same village and almost 50 years in the same house it’s a very big deal for them! All those weekends I thought I had free for ‘project Mole’ are suddenly looking very full with project ‘moving Mum & Dad’. 

I’ll carry on as best I can with Mole but the Salute deadline has to come second in my list of priorities. There are some ‘interesting times’ ahead for the Soper clan.

Trouser Troubles!

What could be simpler than painting a pair of brown trousers? Well apparently just about anything as I’ve really struggled to achieve a satisfying result on the offending garment! 

On reflection a combination of factors have contributed to my trouser troubles. I started the week in a very low mood and that rarely makes for a good painting experience. Also, I feel that my initial colour choices were not successful and, although they seemed right at the onset, they really didn’t work well in combination. After a couple of evenings, struggling to no good effect, it was time to reconsider my approach. 

My choice of a highlight colour seemed to be the chief culprit. Once on the mini it had a warm yellow/gold tone, but that didn’t work with the (comparatively) cooler base and shade colours. A brief trial with Vallejo ivory quickly yielded a more pleasing result. Feeling confident about my basic palette helped matters, but I decided that still more was needed because, when all is said and done, a pair of plain brown trousers lacks a certain something in terms of visual interest on a mini. Even worse, I’d decided to dirty Mole up with a lot of mud and dirt from his excavations and brown mud on those brown trousers gave me another reason to rethink my approach! 

I was ignoring the obvious! Mole has stripes sculpted onto his trousers and all I had to do to inject some interest was paint them as stripes. With that decision made I took the plunge and went for a red stripe (Scalecolour Red Leather) on the now light brown/cream trousers. That’s a lot more dramatic than I’d initially intended for this mini. However, the desaturated palette helps avoid too much colour contrast and somehow the whole thing looks a bit more steam punk to me with stripes. 

I’ve still got quite a struggle on my hands with this mini. This must be the most desaturated colour palette I’ve ever tried to work with, and it really goes against all my instincts. That said I’m feeling happier with the results I’m getting now, so I just need to have the courage of my convictions and see where they take me!

Monday 2 March 2015

Infamy's Mole - Part 1

If you’re a regular follower of this blog you’ll know that I’m a fan of Infamy Miniatures. So I was more than happy when James from Infamy generously sent me a mini to paint ahead of it’s official release. This is Mole, Infamy’s steampunk take on The Wind and the Willows’ meekest hero. 

To be honest, Mole didn’t grab my attention from amongst all the other wonderful character designs when James first revealed them. Now I’ve got the mini in my hands, it’s quite another matter! 

The mini comes in six parts that need to be released from their sprues. This was a straight forward job as the sprues all join to the mini in places where they can be trimmed off relatively easily and cleaning up doesn’t impact on any areas of delicate detail. The casting is of a good quality with very few air bubbles and no serious mould lines. In fact I had quite a job to find the mold lines on this mini. 

The sculpt is packed with lots of characterful. There are some wonderful touches ranging from from the mole on Mole’s cheek to the burst stiches and ragged tears on his clothing. 

The parts all fit together as they should with no need for gap filling. That’s a major plus point in my books! Although I’ve decided to pin the arms to reinforce the joins (I usually drop my minis at some point during painting), I don’t think this is an essential step for this particular mini. 

With Mole assembled, primed and base coated I’m looking forward to getting stuck into painting him. I’m especially eager to try out true metalics and to experiment with the contrast between the finishes I can get when using both Scale Colour and Games Workshop paints.

Sunday 1 March 2015

Project Nurgle Part 10

With Salute fast approaching it’s time to put Project Nurgle on the back burner. I’ve now completed painting everything above the (not inconsiderable) waist on Gutrot Spume and I’ve finally base coated everything below. So there’s no more bare plastic to offend the eye! It’s quite a wrench to put this mini aside but I’d always intended to start a project for Salute at this time. 

Coming next: The Wind in The Willows – Infamy style!