THE SLAYER KING

 

I wrote up a monster post about this piece, as it was a really big time investment and creative effort for me. I’m planning on doing a post per entry, and posting them in chronological order of when the projects were completed.

 

Completion Date: 01/18/2017

Time: 119 hours (prep and paint)

 

CONCEPT

This is an awesome sculpt by Raul Garcia Latorre. Marc Masclans’ box art captured the spirit of the original model, a green skinned Ogre (Cyclops Ogre?) with copper armor. I knew I didn’t want to be in the same realm of the box art, so I started to play around in Photoshop with ideas for different color schemes (see below). I thought maybe if he had gold armor, he could be some kind of king. But still, there’s a ton of battle damage on him, so he can’t be a fancy king… he must be a Slayer King!

 

SCULPT

Rule #1 of kings is that they need crowns. I initially sculpted a crown out of Fimo, but it didn’t have enough resolution/sharpness sculpted into it, a direct result of my very meager sculpting skills. I tried to convince myself that I could paint my way out of it, but literally 20 hours into texturing it, I let it go, as it looked irreconcilably terrible:

 

I searched for 3D models of crowns, and found one that I thought would work. It wasn’t originally designed for 3D printing, so I spent quite a bit of time in C4D thickening walls and removing detail that was too fine (opposite problem of my sculpted crown). I also had in printed by Shapeways in four different sizes (one version that I thought was exactly the correct size, and three insurance versions, +10%, -10%, and -15%). I used the -10%, so the insurance versions definitely ended up paying off, although I now have three awkwardly sized crowns sitting in the bitz box.

 

I had an idea that the Slayer King collected flesh trophies from his kills, but was still dignified enough that he wore them like military awards. I did some more scouring for 3D models and found some military awards that worked. The attached bones are from a tiny kit that Figone did… they released it right as I was scouring for trophy ideas, so I smashed the two together.

 

I designed the front plate and had it etched by an online company called Ponoko. They take a vector based graphic, with different colored lines for etching and cutting. When I set the design, I decided not to specify any cutting lines, thinking that I’d rather cut it myself. This was an oversight. The material they etch on is an absurdly hard and slick plastic, and will not cut straight even with a sharp blade (it will crack before it cuts). I actually snapped a scalpel blade from applying too much force. In the process of attempting to cut out the front plate, I accidentally split it in half, which is the same split you see on the final piece. I still had five more untouched versions of the same etch on the printed sheet, and could have tried again, but I felt like it was a happy accident, so I kept it.

 

PAINT SUMMARY

I’m really going to insert a bunch of shoutouts in here, because I’ve seriously learned so much recently from the generous protips and advice that have been given to me directly from other painters, as well as from classes, blogs, and tutorials. This is such a different environment than when I was painting Space Marines in the late 90’s and only had White Dwarf ‘Eavy Metal tutorials to learn from.

 

I don’t have extensive NMM experience, so I decided to “borrow” Masclan’s box art highlight placement and volumes. I felt like my color and conversion choices were unique, and keeping this aspect of the box art made sense. Being a NMM neophyte, I also employed a protip about that I learned from Marike Reimer at her GenCon class, about using complementary colors for shadows and highlights in order to maximize hue contrast. So, knowing that my highlights would be a yellow-brown, I went with purple shadows. Yet another protip I absorbed was one from Ben Komets, about having a common shadow hue across the entire piece, for harmonization purposes. Although I see this “rule” broken sometimes to amazing effect (check out Aleksandra Cvetanovski‘s insane work), I was aiming to be baseline competent in a conventional approach on this one, so I used the purple as the shadow color on the skin and leather as well.

 

One thing I wanted to do before actually applying any paint was nail down exactly which physical paints I wanted to use for each hue I had decided on in my Photoshop concept. So, employing yet another Marike protip, I did an extremely janky sketch and colored it in:

 

 

 

This test was actually super helpful, as one thing I noticed was that my mixed purple (from Vallejo Model Color Flat Red and the skin tone color VMC Sky Blue) wasn’t saturated enough for what I was going for. So, I switched from a mixed color to a specifically selected paint from Reaper.

 

As a competition piece, I wanted to cram as much as possible in, so I took the broad flat surface of the shoulderpad as an invitation for some freehand. I ping-ponged back and forth between laying out designs in Photoshop and trying to freehand them in my sketchbook. The result was several iterations of removing detail until the design was something that was actually manageable with the amount of physical real estate available.

 

 

The other thing I wanted to accomplish was making a strong differentiation between different textures. I painted the skin primarily with glazes for maximum smoothness, while using a combination of stippling and glazes for the armor, to give it a splotchy, forged look. The leather and bone was all high contrast stippling, trying for a very rough, pitted texture.

Some random progress pics:

 

GEAR

A few new things on this one. I designed and 3D printed a combo dry/wet palette design. “V1,” which I used for most of this project, sucked. It was too shallow, and when closed, paint would stick to the bottom of the lid, creating a huge mess. “V2” fixed this problem, and is what I’m currently using. I couldn’t help myself, and emblazoned the lid with “Metal AF” and some sick skulls which you can’t really see in the photo:

 

 

I tried out some different brushes on my test freehands to see what would produce the tightest lines. Being an avid reader of David Soper’s blog, I immediately bought a Reaper Pro Sabre II when he mentioned that it was his preference over Winsor Newton S7 for freehand. After testing, however, I found it too much to adjust to, and stuck with my S7 000.

 

I also started branching out and using paints that aren’t Vallejo. The now popular Schminke TItanium White was perfect viscosity for the tight NMM Gold highlights, and Reaper’s Monarch Purple was a more suitable shadow hue than what I could find in Vallejo’s line.

 

GOOD/BAD/UGLY

Good: I really got to dig into NMM on this one, and feel like I came out of it with a better understanding of material and reflection.

Bad: Nothing really bad here. It was a fun project, I learned a lot, and I’m marginally satisfied with the result.

Ugly: The original sculpted crown that I tried to “paint through.” Not only is it literally ugly, but between painting and sculpting, it also represents a 27 hour total wasted timesink (7 hours sculpting and 20 hours painting it to final and then resetting three times over before I gave up). It’s also hard to rationalize as a “learning experience” because the only lesson is to make a course change sooner rather than later if something looks wrong. It’s a lesson to be learned, sure, but 27 hours is an absurd price to learn it.


The Second Voyage of Sindbad

I wanted to document this project as I worked on it, but never got to it, so I made a condensed post:

007_sindbad_final1 007_sindbad_final2007_sindbad_final3007_sindbad_final4007_sindbad_final5007_sindbad_final6

Completion Date: Aug 2016

Time: 110 hours (!), sculpt and painting inclusive

Concept Summary:

This was made for Marike Reimer’s Ranbow Brush competition at GenCon 2016. I found out about it in late May, and decided that I probably had enough time to complete something in two months. I was mostly correct… I ended up pulling an almost all-nighter the night before I left for the con.

I knew I wanted to do something from the Arabian Nights, so I re-read some of the most popular ones. In the Second Voyage, Sindbad spends some time in a valley filled with diamonds, giant snakes, and rocs, which seemed like a fun concept. I decided on a moment where Sindbad has paused to inspect a diamond in the sunlight, and is ambushed by a snake approaching from behind. A giant roc footprint would fill in unseen elements of the story, and Sindbad’s own footprints combined with some bones and an abandoned bag would tell a fun secondary story for anyone who examined the diorama closely.  I also began collecting reference material:

007_sinbad_refs

Sculpt Summary:

I found a Reaper mini that seemed like it would work well for Sindbad with some conversion. I also found a Reaper snake that I thought would work, but on closer inspection, it was underwhelming in size and pose. That’s when I decided to scratchbuild the snake, which is also the moment the time investment in the project blew up a little bit.

The snake started with armature wire, was built up in layers of Fimo, and then finally skinned with greenstuff. The fit of the snake with the rocks was extremely tricky and required what seemed like endless fittings.

007_sindbad_sculpt_progress

Paint Summary:

Photoshop and Kuler helped out trying color schemes:

007_sinbad_mockup

The sand and rock dictated warm tones, so everything kind of fell into a complementary scheme of warm tones paired with the cyan diamonds. I wanted a rainbow refraction effect on the face (cool looking and also appropriate for the Rainbow Brush!), and bought an additional test model to try and sketch it out:

007_sinbad_test

…but it didn’t make it to the final version because if was confusing and not clear that it was a refraction. (Big thanks to Ben Komets for pointing that out… he gave me a round of notes via his Patreon Virtual Coaching, and they were very helpful).

I spent a lot of time as I was painting adjusting the exact hues:

007_sindbad_progress

Gear Summary: Not a ton different than what I had been using… all of the painting was done with WN S7 size 1 and 000, and Vallejo paint. I did try Secret Weapon pigments for the sand, which added a dusty feel that didn’t exist with just the acrylics.

Good/Bad/Ugly:

Good:

The diorama won the Rainbow Brush and a Silver in its category in the overall competition. I just got back into painting a year ago, so it’s great to win something. I’m also generally happy with how it turned out, except for…

Bad:

I really wish I hadn’t titled it the way I did. In retrospect, it seems boring. It should have been “Sindbad and the Valley of Diamonds,” or something similar. “The Second Voyage” doesn’t give any information about the piece unless you’re already familiar with what the Second Voyage is. The sculpt on the snake and the conversions could also have been substantially cleaner, but what I did was pushing right up against my skill level.

As an overall thing, I think it’s solidly put together, but failed to have a big “wow” factor. I watched people look at miniatures in the display cases at GenCon, and certain pieces seem to have a gravity that pulls people into orbit.

The Sindbad model could have also been more ambitious. The robe could have been taken up a notch with some freehand.

Ugly:

Really wish I could have made the rainbow effect work on the face.