Monthly archives: September, 2017



Completion Date: 08/14/2017

Time: 72 hours

PNP Link




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:




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.



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: 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.




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.



Completion Date: 06/02/2017

Time: 143 Hours

P&P Link



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:



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. 




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.




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: 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.





Completion Date: 4/3/2017

Time: 130 hours

Putty and Paint Link



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:



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:



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:



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: 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.



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.