Completion Date: 02/26/2017
Time: 176 hours
I had originally conceived the Vanity idea for Michael Kontraros’ Vampire Queen, with the idea that the Queen has commissioned a portrait of herself that hangs behind her in the throne room. However, I have other plans for the Kontraros miniature, so I went searching for another option and found this miniature from Dark Sword.
I put together several rounds of concept art. It was originally conceived as living inside a vanity box. However, I couldn’t find anything of suitable dimensions. If I was working on it now, at the time of writing (almost a year later), I would probably 3D sculpt the vanity box base, but that wasn’t my mentality at the time.
So, I changed tack and did some concept art for what it would look like on a traditional base, and moved forward with that.
There were a lot of discreet challenges with the sculpt. The first basic conversion was that I needed to replace the mask with a hand mirror. My first attempt at this involved simply shearing off the mask and attempting to sculpt a mirror in its place. This didn’t work because the join was so small that the new mirror kept popping off at the smallest touch. So, I ended up having to buy second copy of the model (this happens to me constantly, it seems), to borrow a new mask piece. I then shaved down the mask, and built the mirror around the core that remained.
The furniture was pre-made dollhouse 3D sculpts from Shapeways, making it possibly the easiest of the diorama elements. The frame was a challenge. I found a 3D model of a frame that was designed for video gaming and not 3D printing, and it required heavy conversion to make it printable. It took several design-print/ship-examine-adjust iterations before I got something that worked.
The small box on top of the table was 3D sculpted by me. Because it’s so small, it was made from primitives, and not a big task.
Finally, the mirror etch was done through Pokono. It also took a couple iterations. The 3D print for the frame and the etch for the mirror were essentially two moving parts which had to be calibrated.
I found this image and was immediately inspired to borrow the color scheme. I used Marike Remier’s box art as a template to re-color in Photoshop.
Another inspiration was this miniature. I love how it’s completely covered with different textile patterns:
I did a paint sketch to find my pigments and originally thought I would paint the gold with TMM:
However, I didn’t like the way it looked in the sketch, and I tried painting the table in TMM as a test, and hated the way it looked, so I changed course and used NMM for the gold elements. It was a similar approach to the Slayer King, with purple shadows and yellow highlights. The main difference was that the common shadow color in Vanity is a dark, desaturated red, so the purple in the gold shadows had a bit of that as well.
I’m finding lately that the first area on a miniature that I refine ends up getting completely repainted, and this project was no exception. After starting with the freehand brocade on the front of the dress, I eventually circled back and completely re-did it, because it looked too soft, and the pattern wasn’t structured enough.
Another technique that was helpful was pre-printing guides for the wallpaper freehand. I borrowed David Soper’s approach that he uses for his nameplates, and varnished on a printed sheet which had my guides for the wallpaper:
The painting was its own mini-project. I almost exclusively stippled the design to try and create texture like you might see on some oil paintings.
I started using Schminke Titanium White for the first time on this project. The viscosity solved a big problem for me. I can now put down a thick, opaque highlight without any problem.
Good: This was my piece at GenCon that people seemed to really respond to. Given how much time I spent on it, I’m happy that people like it. It was also fortunate enough to win its category (Open).
Bad: My previous project (Slayer King) had a ton on NMM gold, and when I started this project, I was already sick of painting it. I didn’t really think very hard about how much NMM gold this one had as well. I wanted to kill myself by the end.
Ugly: Looking back, I could have nailed the presentation inside an actual vanity box, had I thought to 3D sculpt it. It could have been awesome. Even more ugliness is that there is a huge amount of freehand on the train of her dress that you can only see from the side. Could have skipped that.
A FEW SHOUTOUTS
Marike Reimer and Jessica Rich for the awesome boxart variants which I liberally borrowed ideas from.
Aaron Lovejoy and Ben Komets for feedback on my WIPs.
Finally, here’s some random WIPs: