Completion Date: 02/26/2017

Time: 176 hours

Putty&Paint Link



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.



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: