SEPTEMBER’S WORK IN PROGRESS: The Prelude
With the launch of the Illustrated Historical Artist magazine and our first painting competition, THE FIGUREMENTORS TEAM has been very busy these past few months. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t also been working on a variety of painting projects! Here’s a look at some of the pieces we’ve got on our worktables.
Here’s a little news from my workbench. I must confess I tend to work on many different projects at the same time, sometimes too many for my own good… Sometimes it takes forever to finish something as opposed to when I work more focused.
I recently finished my piece “The Legend of Raistlin”, which is a study in painting darkness by applying small amounts of light and a self-contained light source. It is also a strong example of how you can start with a rough sketch and after much refining end up with a nice and smooth result. Don’t forget to read my article on Raistlin.
I’ve been prepping some miniatures for paint jobs later in the autumn. My big 75mm orc wolf rider from Terrible Kids Stuff. It took a lot of work to assemble him, just because of his sheer size. I am currently working on building up a groundwork to evoke a feeling like in Tolkien’s books, with these ancient elvish ruins poking out of the rocky grasslands. Because he is 75mm and I have not done much in this scale before, I have to go to great lengths to source basing materials that fit the scale. It is slowly coming together and I look forward to throw some colour at him. Inspired by The Illustrated Historical Artist issue 1 cover story I have prepped and base coated this 75mm Roman Aquilifer miniature from Ares Mythology. It is going to be great fun to experiment with oil paints on this fella.
Lastly I am working on this Mad Max inspired Inquisimunda warband. These are for a game called Tor Megiddo, that I have been invited to take part in, in Helsinki in early October. It is a great chance for me, since I don’t get to play much with my figures anymore, grown up parenting life and painting competitions tend to get in the way. Yet my whole background in painting miniatures comes from playing games like Warhammer, Necromunda, AD&D and many more and I still love to play these games from time to time. Making such gaming miniatures creates an important dynamic for me, I kind of swing like a pendulum between rough and fast paintjobs like these and big excessive showcase and competition pieces. It is very important for me to not only make one kind of miniatures. When I do the faster ones, which I often call recreational painting, I rehearse and learn new techniques which I then can use on my bigger more important stuff. It is both a playground for me and a place where I can experiment without fear of failure. Mostly just fun, which is the most important part of not only our hobby, but any hobby.
DAVID ‘BAILEY’ POWELL
Lately I’ve been working on several fantasy pieces, instead of the historical work that is more typical for me. I’ve spent a lot of my time these past few months focused on the Orc Brave from Ouroboros Miniatures. A while back Tim from Ouroboros approached me to help out with their Kickstarter and provide an exclusive painting journal on one of the pieces for their backers. There was no specific deadline, but I didn’t want to keep them waiting too long. So I tried to make the piece a focus (with a few breaks to work on other projects and recharge!). I managed to finish this piece up at the end of August and, in addition to submitting the painting journal, was able to take it along with me to the NOVA Open and submit it into their Capital Palette painting competition.
Sticking with the orc theme, I also returned to the Redghar figure from Big Child Creative’s Black Sailors line. I had made good progress on him months ago, but ran into a bit of a road block with the leather sections. I wanted to come at it with a better approach in terms of both technique and color palette, so I set it aside to give me the time to figure out those issues. My work on the Ouroboros orc actually helped me make some breakthroughs and got me back to painting Redghar too! I used that knowledge and put together an article on painting worn leather. Be sure to check it out if you haven’t already!
Redghar is just one part of what I hope will be a larger piece. Another figure I’ve had in the works from over a year and a half ago is Barbarela, the dwarf pirate from Latorre’s MProyec. Though it’s from a different company and sculptor, I think it fits thematically with the Orc pirate and the scale works perfectly too. I’m envisioning these two as part of a misfit pirate crew. Unfortunately, since I painted Barbarela quite some time ago, the level of quality isn’t quite up to what I’ve done on Redghar. As a result, I’ve had to redo a lot of Barbarela in order to up the contrast and get these two pieces on a similar footing. You can check out a side by side look at the dwarf pirate showing the earlier version and the current one with the increased contrast on the clothing.
The lighting conditions are similar, so the differences are almost entirely due to the painting. I think the upped contrast makes it pop more and also helps to better define the volumes. Soon I will begin building the scene for these two and add yet one more piece to the crew, so stay tuned!
The last couple of months, I’ve been preparing for SMC and my plan was to paint Nelya Vitvitska’s Jigoku Dayu’s Dreams, but I had a small clumsy accident and manage to brake it quite badly and thus needed to find something else to paint for the show. My choice fell on the Don Quixote bust from Nuts! Planet, a bust full of character. It’s proven to be quite hard because I tend to paint female figures and I don’t have much experience painting male skin tones, outside gaming miniatures, so it’s a good challenge. It’s also the first time I’m really trying out sketching as a method and while it feels a bit awkward now in the beginning, I do like it and plan on continue to use it. I haven’t made any huge progress on Don yet, but his face is slowly getting more refined and I hope to have the face done in a couple of weeks. After that there will be a lot of metal to try and finish before the show and time is running out way too fast, but I hope to have him finished in time for it.
I also dug up an old project that I started quite some time ago but lost interest in, Kitty Reimer from Scale75’s Smog Riders range of chibi characters. I’m alternating between them so I have something less serious to paint when I get tired of Don Quixote to give myself a little break and an opportunity to play around a bit more.
After Don Quixote and SMC I would like to do a diorama, which is something I really enjoy making. It will be kinda a post-apocalyptic setting heavily inspired by the novel Roadside Picnic written by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky and the movie adaptation, Stalker, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. The plan is to make it in 75mm scale and I hope to be able to get some of the miniatures needed while at SMC.
The summer months have kept me busy with family vacations (the beach and the eclipse), kids’ sports, and heavy work at my day job, which hasn’t left me very much time for hobby activities. Despite this, I still attended World Expo for half a day. Other than catching up with some painter friends and viewing some of the best historical and fantasy miniature art in the world, I picked up a few items from the vendor booths, including a Black Crow bust to add to my hunter collection, the Vignettes How-To Guide book, and AK Interactive’s Ultra Matte Varnish. All these items played a role in the rest of the pieces I worked on over the summer.
Black Crow: Tenzing the Hunter Bust:
Black Crow produces a lovely line of realistic fantasy busts that I was lucky enough to pick up at World Expo. I collect figures under a very generalized theme of hunter. Tenzing looks modeled after a veteran Mongolian eagle hunter and that’s where I took my inspiration for his weathered face and furred clothing (fox fur, maybe). I took a chance and applied oils right over an acrylic primer instead of slogging through an acrylic base coat. I have only taken a first pass with the oils and haven’t painted the darkest shades or lightest highlights yet. His helmet will be a brick red and the feathers on the arrow after a golden eagle. I’m looking forward to making more progress on the bust this fall. The colder weather should get me in the mood.
Infinity the game by Corvus Belli: Last Man Standing: Ajax the Great vs. Tarik Mansuri
I have well-established vignette dynamic composition grids set in my head for rectangular layouts but not for a circle. Since both characters are cocked for a big swing I thought I could position them in two intertwined golden spirals, commonly recognized as a Yin Yang. I’m still getting everything into the correct position and just cut up the hard foam in spiraling shapes of cracked rubble. An ancient, wrecked giant mech occupies a tail of one of the spirals. I’ll heavily weather and corrode the Ultron toy giving the feeling of an ancient battlefield millennia old. I’ve sourced a PVC sewer cap to serve as a faux wood plinth, rasping in wood grain that will be stained and painted to look like wood. When finished I hope the base vignette enhances the inherent dynamic movement of the two figures. As this project matures I will find lots of good composition and construction best practices from the Vignette: A How To Guide book.
Terrible Kids Stuff Frank Von Stein and Tanaka:
I couldn’t resist ordering these two limited characters from Terrible Kids Stuff. Tanaka is only 32 mm scale and is a little sexier than I’m used to, but I love the scene of a warrior squatting on her vanquished demon severed head. The height of Frank surprised me at almost 4 inches tall but I guess most flesh golems are taller than the average man. I cannot wait to get started on these two figures, my first from TKS.
Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylics limited palette and a Red Box Games Orc Study
Every few months, I pick up a new brand of paint out of curiosity. If I limit myself to just a few colors, then I can afford the small investment into a new line. Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylics line boast the use of a clear binder that eliminates the usual acrylic tendency to darken when they dry. The W&N acrylics claim to retain their initial wet hue/value/saturation when dry. I figured this characteristic would benefit the accurate application of thin layers for smooth blends, by knowing the exact color your brush transferred from the palette to the figure would stay true after it dried. Now, I’m not highly skilled at blending and the orc I painted here was closer to a sketch or a study than a finished piece. The W&N paints had a good feel and the Titanium White was very smooth even when heavily thinned. Unfortunately, it was hard to tell if there was a color shift from wet to dry. I guess I need to do more studies. So far, I like the W&N acrylics and would look to expand my palette. They are heavy body but can be easily thinned with distilled water on a wet palette. As long as you load your brush properly, they shouldn’t be hard to handle. I mixed in some of the AK Interactive Ultra Matte Varnish as most artist acrylics have a glossy finish, and that matted them down nicely, but did affect their wet to dry color consistency. Thinned with distilled water they still had a matte finish. Their transparency really helped give the leather some weathered depth.
Hopefully, I will get more hobby time this fall and make some real progress on all these projects.
That is it from the team this time around, happy painting, peace, hugs and inspiration to you (Ed).