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.