Category: Uncategorized

BustQuest #40: Jaina Proudmoore

 

Completion Date: 08/01/2018

Time: 62 hours including printing

PNP link: https://www.puttyandpaint.com/projects/19290

 

I’m forgoing my usual concept/sculpt/paint summary sections because I tried something new on this one that involved all of the steps happening at once.

I wanted to sculpt, 3d print, and paint a bust from start to finish, all without using outside resources. Essentially as a proof of concept that I could produce a bust end-to-end. I had gotten close a year earlier with Ecocide, which I sculpted and painted, but the 3D printing was done by Shapeways. However, I purchased a 3D printer (Anycubic Photon) earlier this year, and felt that I had all the pieces I needed to produce a bust in-house.

In order to keep the process itself as simple as possible, I used a pre-exisitng IP for the concept art, Jaina Proudmoore from WoW, referencing several depictions of her, most notably this one:

 

 

I decided to cast Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell from Game of Thrones) as Jaina. I hard-surface modeled the shoulderpads in C4D, and then started on the bust itself in Mudbox. When I felt I was getting somewhere, I printed it out and did a quick one hour sketch paint to see where I was:

 

…resulting in the ugliest thing that’s ever happened. I spent a lot more time on all aspects, reconfiguring as best I could despite my limited capabilities:

 

 

I was simultaneously learning how to effectively use my 3D printer as I was attempting to not suck at sculpting, and it took nine prints to finally get one that was artifact free and paintable. I didn’t document the painting process itself too extensively, as most of the time and effort was spent on the production of the model.

 

Good/Bad/Ugly:

Good: I successfully took it from concept to sculpt to 3D print to finished painted miniature.

Bad: Both bad and ugly, see below.

Ugly: It’s very ugly. And boring (Ecocide was ugly, but at least it was interesting).I need to improve my sculpting skills. I find this piece embarrassing. 


BustQuest2018 #38: EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY

 

Completion Date: 2018.06.16

Time: 50 hours

PNP link with more pictures: https://www.puttyandpaint.com/projects/19027

 

CONCEPT SUMMARY

After attending Banshee’s class at Adepticon, I went on a bust sketching journey which I documented on Facebook. Most of those busts were 90 – 180 minute sketches, but as I closed in on forty sketches, I wanted to spend more time to develop some of them into competition pieces.

My idea for Sorscha was that she was in a frozen wasteland, looking up to the sky as ordinance exploded above. Unlike my typical Photoshop-concept-first approach, I tried something totally different here…I did a bunch of sketches (stripping paint occasionally in between), to try different textures and techniques. The grid of sketches 1-8 on her may look very similar:

… and maybe they are, but what I got out of it was experimenting with different variations to the light direction and NMM effect. The color palette itself remained mostly the same, as I had that fairly settled from the beginning. Once I had a sketch I liked, I started to develop it…

 

PAINT SUMMARY

Unlike previous projects, the painting approach was very very simple here. I just took my initial sketch, and continued to tighten it, dialing in details until it looked like something final. The fifty hours I spent on it is still a lot, but considering that my previous Privateer Press entry (Skarre) was a hundred and forty hours, the fifty hours spend here represented my fastest complete bust by a huge factor.

The only new technique I tried was doing an airbrush pass over my initial sketch. This was something I was introduced to by Sergio Calvo Rubio in his Adepticon class, and further encouraged to do by Aaron Lovejoy, as he has really taken to the technique. The idea is that after your initial sketch is in a complete but still rough stage, you airbrush some midtone color into the midtones and shadows, which smooths them out and basically gets a lot of the work done that you would usually do with glazes. I did this on Sorscha with a blue midtone from below, but also very very lightly airbrushed her from the key light direction with fluorescent orange in order to maximize the chroma contrast across the piece.

While I was airbrushing, there was a “happy accident”… there was a cloggy airbrush spurt that shot droplets everywhere. As I scrambled to clean them up with a wet brush, I saw that one landed perfectly on her face, creating a convincing birthmark. So, I kept that one, and basically didnt touch it after that.

I did spend a lot of time trying to crack the best approach to the metal armor reflections and how exactly it would work. I looked at actual reflected metal, as well as other painters approaches. What I ended up with was a textured metal look that included a magenta/green chroma displacement.

 

GEAR SUMMARY

I did record the paints I used (minus fluos, which somehow didn’t make it into the pic), mostly just because I think it’s a good habit:

 

GOOD/BAD/UGLY

Good: This was a super simple and fun project without any complex moving parts. Very relaxing after Pharaoh’s Curse, which was a hot mess. It also won its category at the Privateer Press competition.

Bad: It was a fun exercise, but I think the end result is pretty boring.

Ugly: Nothing ever got ugly, at least.

 

THANKS TO:

Banshee and Sergio Calvo Rubio for blasting my brain with new ideas.

Aaron Lovejoy and Ben Komets for improvement ideas.

Dallas Kemp for his feedback / improvement ideas after the competition at GenCon.

 


PHARAOH’S CURSE

Completion Date: 03/22/2018 (literally the day before Crystal Brush)

Time: 249 hours

PNP link with more pictures: https://www.puttyandpaint.com/projects/18869

This is my third of three posts about my 2018 Crystal Brush entries. You can find the first post here, and second post here.

 

CONCEPT SUMMARY

I knew I wanted to bring an original piece to Crystal Brush. I had a fairly well developed idea in mind to pursue, and I spent a week trying to get started sculpting it myself when I realized that there was no way my sculpting skill level was at a place that I could produce anything close to what I was imagining.

So, I did some fairly exhaustive research, searching for a sculptor that met the following criteria: 1. Sculpted really well (obviously), 2. Sculpted in a way that was compatible with my painting approach, 3. Sculpted digitally (for mostly logistic and timeline related reasons), 4. Someone that wasn’t super well known, i.e. they would be hungry to do a great job on the sculpt and not just think of it as an annoying piece of side work.

By the time I contacted Charles Agius, I was fairly certain that he was the optimum match for the project. I prepared a crude Photoshopped piece of concept art:

 

And a guide that attempted to data-dump all of my thoughts about the elements of the sculpt:

 

 

 

SCULPT SUMMARY

Charles really crushed it. I got sweet looking updates:

 

 

…I gave some notes, and pretty soon, I was the proud owner of some .stl files, which I sent off to be 3D printed. I got two copies, one for potential future casting, and one to directly paint (again, because of timeline considerations, I had to get started painting immediately).

One thing I came to realize, however, was that the material that was used for printing this particular piece was more brittle that I am used to, which combined with the top-heavy nature of the Pharaoh sculpt, created issues keeping the piece safely pinned together (more on that in the ‘ugly’ section… yikes).

 

PAINT SUMMARY

My usual approach to finding my color scheme involves using Kuler to solidify my palette ideas, and then taking versions of the miniature painted by other artists, desaturating it, and digitally painting over it with my new palette (if you go through previous posts, you can catch Photoshop paint-overs of Marc Masclans, Kat Martin, and Marike Reimer). This results in a guide I use while painting the miniature in real life.

Even if I want the light in a different place than where it started with my reference art, the baseline contrast of the volumes is there, which makes it easy to play with. With this piece being original, I had to try painting over an image of the 3D model, which is much harder to digitally paint into a useful place. I ended up with this monstrosity:

 

 

…also visible is an Arnau Lazaro piece that I was sampling as a potential palette source.

My pigment test (i.e. translating my Photoshop image into real life paint) occurred the day before I needed to get on a plane to leave for a winter break (with painting supplies packed for the trip), so it was very minimalistic, but got me the info I needed to get started:

 

 

 

 

By the end of the project, this is what I ended up using:

 

 

Unfortunately, when I did the test, I didn’t have any inks or fluorescents, so when I started painting the lighting effect with a standard matte red, I couldn’t get the contrast I needed. Because of this, this project had a very extensive “shit phase”:

 

 

Once I got my hands on some super saturated reds, it was still a challenge to find the right hue.

 

GOOD/BAD/UGLY

Good: I think it’s a miracle that I was able to finish this project in time for the Crystal Brush and actually get it to the show without breaking anything. So, the fact that it won 3rd place Best in Show is kind of doubly insane.

 

Bad: It’s honestly my least favorite of the three pieces I brought to Crystal Brush. I feel like even though it’s my original concept, I spent so much time working on it that I lost perspective on what I was doing and was just pursuing the goal of finishing it. One of the reasons I want to get the full diorama cast as a resin kit is that I’m 100% sure that someone else out there can top my version of it.

 

Ugly: The pinning between the Pharaoh’s feet and the base was always suspect because the legs (being 3D printed) were hollow, and the material was brittle. I knew that it was a potential failure point, and was relieved when the piece made it to the show intact. However, on the way home, a friendly TSA agent at O’Hare decided to toss the carrying case off the x-ray conveyor, and the Pharaoh snapped off at the feet, which also caused two other areas to snap from the impact. I was able to pack the broken pieces into extra bubble wrap that I had in my bag and get the piece home without even further damage. As ugly as this is, I think I could potentially fix it in as little as 8 hours. However, I have let it lie in state since “the incident” because I wanted to direct my energy to future projects rather than spend time repairing old ones. However, if I decide to sell this piece, there will probably be a multi-week waiting period for the buyer while I find the time to do the required fixes and reinforcements.

 

CASTING INFO

Due to the funds invested in designing and 3D printing this piece, I need to recoup what I spent! There may be casts of the full diorama in the future. I’m still trying to gauge demand (if you’re really interested, definitely drop me a note on FB, as it will help me get an accurate reading).

For now, there is a bust version available:

I distributed some at GenCon this year and may have some available at future shows. Pale King Hobby did a great review of the bust. I will have copies at future shows I attend and you can also buy online at Mr. Lee’s Minis.

 

THANKS

Thanks for reading, and thanks to the following people for their help along this journey:

Charles Agius for taking on the sculpt.

Aaron Lovejoy and Ben Komets for their input.

Paul at Visionproto for the 3D print.

Caleb Wissenbeck for the sick plinth.

Jen Haley for the awesome pics at Crystal Brush.

Vincent Venturella for the amazing first version of the bust that we’ve seen (and is currently being used at Mr Lee’s)

 


SLAMBOLICIOUS

 

Completion Date: 2017.12

Time: 82 hours

PNP Link with more pictures: http://www.puttyandpaint.com/projects/17267

 

This is my second of three posts about my 2018 Crystal Brush entries. You can find the first post here, and a FB post about my overall Adepticon reaction here.

 

CONCEPT SUMMARY

I started planning this project around the same time as Through the Never. I had a short list of 28mm miniatures and Slambo was at the top, as the miniature to me epitomizes Games Workshop nostalgia. He’s a miniature straight out of the 1980s, but updated to contemporary sculpting. It’s a weird phenomenon that the images we remember from the past are distorted through our inner emotional lens. This updated Slambo sculpt is how I remember original Slambo looking (i.e. awesome), and original Slambo just looks like junk to me now.

So, my goal with this piece was to also paint Slambo the way we remember him, or maybe how we pictured him as children (I’m addressing all of my fellow GW gamers / former GW gamers who were children in the 80’s and 90’s here). We’re talking SENMM, Sorayama-style. We’re talking over-the-top lava. We’re talking Heavy (not so much ‘Eavy) Metal:

 

  

 

With all that in mind, I put together the concept:

 

 

SCULPT SUMMARY

I really liked GW’s Baleful Realmgate (I used a snippet of it in my concept), but it was way too big of a piece, so I did my own sculpt in C4D, and shamelessly duplicated a lot of the shapes, but on a smaller scale:

 

 

I took the clean geometric sculpt into Mudbox and cut in the lava flow, rock texture, cracks, and chips. Despite my best efforts to estimate in the software where Slambo’s feet would land, the first test print had the feet squarely on top of the lava flow:

 

 

I expanded the base and did a second test print (in Shapeways super cheap PLA). The geometry of that print worked, so I ordered a final print in the FED material.

 

PAINT SUMMARY

I started with the usual sketch to find my pigments. I wanted to try out Warcolours, as I had won a big box of them at Rainbow Brush at GenCon. The Warcolours black didn’t really work for me (too glossy), but most of the other saturated primaries/secondaries worked well for what I needed. I also selected a blueish gray that I knew I needed and didn’t want to have to mix every time. Another cool thing about Warcolours is that their transparent colors are super consistent coming out of the bottle (as much as I love Reaper transparents, sometimes no matter how hard I shake the bottle, I get a droplet of coagulated pigment surrounded by a soup of medium).

 

Another critical preparation step was getting a better understanding of how different chrome shapes reflect the environment around them. I had done the concept art for the piece with a kind of abstract idea of how it would work, but I wanted to cement my understanding of the different shapes and how they would reflect. Besides taking a newfound interest in anything chrome or mirrorlike I encountered in the real world, I also did a test in C4D:

 

 

The actual physical execution of the painting process of Slambo was smoother than usual. I ended up spending only half the time that I spent on Through the Never. The main challenge was getting the lava into the right level of chroma saturation, which was accomplished with several fluorescent passes.

 

GEAR SUMMARY

Nothing new other than the aforementioned Warcolours.

 

GOOD/BAD/UGLY

Good: It won a Crystal Brush, which was really cool (I had doubts about it making the cut). Even cooler was peoples reaction to this piece. It was by a huge margin the most popular of my three Crystal Brush pieces, based purely on apparent enthusiasm. I think we all have a shared nostalgia for Slambo.

Bad: Nothing exactly bad, but…

Ugly: The lava flow coming out of the skulls sucks. At the top of the post I listed the completion date as 12/2017, which is mostly true in that he was 99+% done at that point, but I actually slapped on that lava flow around 18 hours before I entered the piece in the competition (I had put it on hold to focus on Pharaoh’s Curse). I feel like it’s the weak link in the piece.

 


THROUGH THE NEVER

 

Completion Date: 2017.11

Time: 168 hours

PNP Link with full photo sethttp://www.puttyandpaint.com/projects/17177

 

This was one of my three entries for Crystal Brush 2018. I wrote some more broad Crystal Brush thoughts in a Facebook post here. I will be posting WIP articles about my three CB pieces.

 

 

CONCEPT SUMMARY

I started on this project in April 2017 after seeing the results of the Crystal Brush come in. I was inspired by Kat Martin’s gold winning piece, and decided that I wanted to attend the following year and definitely bring something for the sci-fi single figure category. I already had a short list of 28mm scale miniatures that I thought had potential for a big project. I knew I wanted a massive space background, and Yvraine seemed to fit, so I started gathering reference material, arranged it all in Photoshop, and ended up with this:

 

SCULPT SUMMARY

Working in Cinema 4D, I got started designing a base. The concept for the platform part of the base evolved quite a bit into the cubes idea that made it into the final version. The grid of cubes were procedurally generated into a guide shape, which was fun. My first pass had issues:

Besides looking wonky, another issue I found based on a 3D test print was that there was no way I was fitting her cat on the base with her while still staying within the legal 50mm diameter restriction. So cuts and adjustments were made, and two test prints later, I had the final design. I ended up having to print the arches in FUD material because Shapeways didn’t like the arches in HDA (writing this months later, I forget why):

The only non-3D printed sculpting element I got into was the ripple effect on the portal as she passes through. I did a battery of tests:

 

…and ended up settling on using Water FX as a basis for the volume (because it holds rigid shape so well), and then using liberal coats of Mod Podge to smooth the whole thing over.

 

PAINT SUMMARY

I did my usual pigment test to try and translate the concept art into pigmented colors:

I would usually want to mix that darker red from primaries, but I wanted to keep my shadow colors super consistent, so I went with the premixed dark red to keep it anchored to a single hue/value/saturation point that I couldn’t accidentally drift away from with poor mixes.

As I began to sketch everything in, I started with a gold brocade on the side of the dress:

 

But I felt that it had too much contrast and was distracting from the face. So, I mocked up some potential ideas for more subtle freehand in Photoshop:

…which I thought worked, and tried to replicate as closely as possible, although in both cases, I had to simplify volumes based on the amount of area I had to work with.

 

GEAR SUMMARY

Nothing new this time around.

 

GOOD/BAD/UGLY

Good: I think this project was a big step for me as far as lighting and atmosphere. The project was also well received at Adepticon / Crystal Brush, and won its category.

Bad: Due to a superglue accident, I had to cannibalize two different Yvraine miniatures together in order to produce the one piece.

Ugly: For maybe the first time, I don’t think there is anything super ugly that happened or resulted.

 

 

Shoutouts to Aaron Lovejoy and Ben Komets for their critiques of my work.

 


ECOCIDE

 

Completion Date: 08/14/2017

Time: 72 hours

PNP Link

 

 

CONCEPT SUMMARY

I had been following the Rainbow Brush 2017 narrative and decided that it was almost definitely not happening this year, and had already moved on to a Crystal Brush project, when I saw that it had sprung back to life. I knew I wanted to enter, especially with 2017’s theme of environmentalism. I also had a desire to sculpt something original. I had been playing around with Mudbox, practicing on some bust ideas. So, I trolled around on Google image search looking for inspiration for a possible sculpt. I found this image:

 

I decided I wanted to do a similar dual bust theme. However, I wanted to keep it in the realm of fantasy, so I went with a vampire. I slapped together this concept art while simultaneously starting the sculpt:

 

 

SCULPT SUMMARY

My workflow was Cinema 4D -> Mudbox -> Cinema 4D -> Meshmixer -> Shapeways. My first “Nature Head” print was accidentally sized too small, so I took the opportunity to use it as a testing ground for water and foliage techniques. After a bunch of iterations, I decided on melted plastic and water effects. Not a ton of pics, as everything was so rushed.

I had some ideas for a base that tied it together, but I was running out of time, so I put them on a thematically appropriate feeling wooden plinth.

 

PAINT SUMMARY

I started with a rushed 2D sketch to find my pigments:

I decided on a common warm shadow tone, which mixed up through a green range on the nature side, and a cyan range on the vampire side. I started each bust with a sketch:

 

…and basically kept doing passes to refine the sketches until I ran out of time.

I tried a few new techniques, including using some gloss varnish on the eyes, on the spilling oil, and inside the mouth, in order to produce environmental rather than forced matte reflection.

 

GOOD/BAD/UGLY

Good: I tried a ton of new effect techniques on this, including the water effect, the mixed foliage, the oil effect, and the rust. It also won ‘Best Interpretation’ at the Rainbow Brush.

Bad: The sculpt has some anatomical issues, a product of my amateur level sculpting ability. I find that I can push through crudely painted areas that don’t work by simply wiping them clean and iterating them until they are where I envision them… kind of a brute force approach that requires a lot of time and effort to compensate for lack of technique, but eventually produces results. I haven’t yet found any success with that approach in sculpting.

Ugly: Because of the aforementioned sculpting shortcomings, I think the entire thing looks kind of wonky.

 

 

SHOUTOUTS

Oakwood Studios for the plinth.

Shapeways for the 3D prints.

Massive Voodoo for the endless tutorials on any and all effects.

Aaron Lovejoy and Ben Komets for protips.

Marike Reimer for starting the Rainbow Brush, and Will Thompson for carrying the torch.


SKARRE, SUMMONER

 

Completion Date: 06/02/2017

Time: 143 Hours

P&P Link

 

CONCEPT SUMMARY

I wanted to have two entries in the Privateer Press competition, and Skarre has been really the main character of theirs that has captured my attention. Having already done a 28mm single figure, I decided to also do the bust version. I decided to stick with the glowing neck gem concept, and the overall ambiance (a blueish nighttime exterior look). I used Kat Martin’s Skarre bust as a base layer, and put together this concept art:

 

SCULPT SUMMARY

I had found the flying souls in Privateer Press’ bitz library. The egg shaped part of the base was a plinth that was included in 2015’s Rainbow Brush prize support. The only real sculpting was fusing everything together with apoxy putty. I took a month long trip in April and decided that I would take this bust, primed, to start on. I barely got the piece assembled and primed before leaving, and did’t get any pics on my way out. 

 

 

PAINT SUMMARY

Another aspect of the trip was taking just the handful of paints I knew I needed. I barely had ten minutes to bang out an (incomplete) test sketch to find my pigments:

 

I ended up using only four colors, but adding an entire arsenal of fluorescents for the gem area. Once I arrived at my trip, I got my painting area set up, and started with a sketch to find the basic volumes from the OSL:

 

The main challenge was figuring out which surfaces were getting hit with which lights, and at what angle. In some cases, liberties were taken to try and create a more interesting image rather than be accurate.

 

 

GEAR SUMMARY

Nothing new here. I just took the bare essentials with me to paint on the trip: selected paints, Rathcore holder, wet palette, W&N S7 brushes, and two portable LED lights. I also took the cutting mat, although it’s about as essential at the painting stage as a placemat is to a meal.

 

GOOD/BAD/UGLY

Good: This was a fun bust to paint. Since I was on a break, I was able to get in a good groove in extended-length four hour sessions (usual for me is 1-2 hours). And I feel like I made a breakthrough with my source lighting.

Bad: No P3 contest love for this one (Silver coin, no category win), even though I think it’s miles ahead of my other rather gaudy P3 entry (Gold coin, won category). I guess that’s just how these things go.

Ugly: I do think some of the volumes on the face are questionable. Especially if you look at it at thumbnail size, it seems like something is off, but it’s hard to identify. I’m also not sure how the time on this one got out of control. I had a sketch done and looking 2/3 complete at the 30 hour mark, but somehow ended up spending another 113 hours on it.

 


ATTACK AT MIDNIGHT

 

 

Completion Date: 4/3/2017

Time: 130 hours

Putty and Paint Link

 

CONCEPT SUMMARY

I knew from the start that I wanted to bring two pieces to the GenCon P3 competition, and I’d already decided that one of them was the Skarre bust. I had an idea that it would be interesting to do a single figure Skarre as well. There are a lot of Skarre miniatures, but something spoke to be about this one, and I imagined a gloomy night scene atop her ship. I put together some initial concept art:

The concept art differs from the final result in a lot of ways, but the first thing I decided to change was the angle. I felt that I wanted to see the source of the green OSL in the piece, and the side view didn’t offer any realistic placement opportunities. I also thought it would be more interesting having her coming straight at the viewer. As I proceeded with the sculpt, I threw together a really janky new piece of concept art to solidify my idea:

 

SCULPT SUMMARY

Before I could even start the sculpt, I embarked on a long exercise in wave tests, trying to figure out how much transparency and gloss worked. Here was the master list of possibilities:

  1. Totally opaque and matte
  2. Totally opaque, but with selective gloss varnish
  3. Totally opaque and totally gloss varnished
  4. Opaque main wave, gloss varnished, with transparent water FX at caps
  5. Transparent main wave, transparent water FX caps, with opaque paint in troughs
  6. Transparent main wave, transparent water FX caps

 

I started with melted plastic as the main form of the wave, and slapped tests together, sometimes one over the other:

I came to a pretty simple conclusion. If you are going to have strong forced lights in a scene, you need strong forced reflections. Meaning no gloss, no transparency. So, I ended up at option 1 – totally opaque waves with reflections painted on with matte paint.

With that process behind me, I looked to the ship. The box kit for Skarre comes with the top of the ship poking out of an ambiguously earthy base (I guess it’s supposed to be a shipwreck), but I needed more hull area to make the piece work. I tried carving the earthy part out, but it’s an extremely dense pewter. So, I made a resin cast of the piece (sorry, Privateer Press, but it wasn’t for resale), and was able to easily cut into it and use the carved down piece as the basis for an extended boat sculpt with Apoxy putty.

I then built up layers of melted plastic waves and added a chain and skull suspended in mid-air, both blown to the side by the wind, and called the sculpt complete:

 

PAINT SUMMARY

I did my usual 2D pigment test to find my colors. In this case, though, I was indecisive about the overall saturation and exact blue hue of the entire piece, and ended up doing two side by side tests with different shifts:

I ended using this boatload of paint to complete the project. For someone who usually only uses three colors plus black and white, this was a LOT (and was even more when I added in the magenta):

I embarked with a finished sculpt and finalized paints, but the first sketch pass on the piece revealed a serious flaw:

 

There was zero focus on the face. The eye immediately goes to the green OSL (most saturated) and then bounces to the moon (brightest), and passes over the face completely. Drastic measures were necessary, so I decided to force another light onto her chest and face.

Some random WIPs:

 

GEAR SUMMARY

This was my first venture into fluorescent pigments. Despite usually limiting my palette to just a few pigments, I ended up using fluorescents from Vallejo, Kremer, and Stuart Semple. The main challenge was that blending over the small areas where I included fluos still needed the hue to change, which required a separate set of colors, rather than just a single fluo pigment.

My Rathcore V2 miniature holder also arrived in the middle of the process. It’s kind of insane how helpful it is. I was previously using a piece of cork jammed into an old Citadel paint pot, which seemed fine, until this awesome piece of hardware showed up.

 

GOOD/BAD/UGLY

Good: Despite this being my least favorite of the five pieces I brought to GenCon, it won its category at the Privateer Press P3 competition, so I guess it isn’t the worst.

Bad: However, I do really hate this thing. I was trying to get some really saturated colors and strong hue/sat contrasts, but the final result is more abrasive than I would have liked.

Ugly: Several. You can’t see the chain in the photos because it blends in with the waves behind it. This is unfortunate because the chain is one of the parts that I think really works. I also didn’t like all of the course corrections that happened, they felt more like reactionary saves than something that would have been a good idea to begin with.

 

SHOUTOUTS

Ben Komets and Aaron Lovejoy for pro-tips on my WIPs. 

Stephen Rath for designing the awesome miniature holder.

Roman Lappat and MV for the endless tutorials. I wouldn’t even have had a starting place for the water without them.

 


VANITY

 

Completion Date: 02/26/2017

Time: 176 hours

Putty&Paint Link

 

CONCEPT SUMMARY

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.

 

 

SCULPT SUMMARY

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.

 

PAINT SUMMARY

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.

 

 

GEAR SUMMARY

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/BAD/UGLY

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:


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.