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Reaper released a new miniature for each of the 4 factions at ReaperCon this year.
This was the release that represented the River Widows: a woman and a big axolotl, both sculpted by Bobby Jackson.
(I figured that "Cailleach" was Gaelic but I didn't know how to say it. A web-search says it is like "Kal-ee-akh". The diphthong "ai" is the sound in our word "pal", not "pile".)
I put both figures on one 30mm round base, with a tree stump that I sculpted for her to stand on.
I did an image-search for axolotl colors. There are black, brown, green, yellow, pale pink/white ... but apparently the lighter colors are rare in wild specimens and more common for pets. I chose light olive-green (with dark mottling) with reddish gills, similar colors to what Cailleach is wearing. (But see below for how it would look as a lighter color.)
I can imagine people getting this axolotl figure to use on its own, for dioramas, etc.
I changed her hair a bit to match Talin's concept art more closely (shown here in a photo from the ReaperCon program).
The stock miniature has wavy hair covering both ears. I cut away the mass of hair on the right and sculpted a new ear and curls. I also added some sharper curls on the left side.
If I hadn't done that conversion, the figure would have looked more like this:
A quick experiment to make the axolotl lighter-colored:
Ok Reaper Buddies! Since I can't go outside on account of Monster Hurricane and I still (squee!) have power, I'm painting a bust. I thought it might be fun to try to do another "how to" hopefully to give some insight into busts and how I approach them. I may ramble a bit like usual!
So, my standard bust approach to to pick something I want to work on and pick a photo to use as a guide. This bust is Athena from FeR miniatures. I can't seem to find a good unpainted example and since I'd already basecoated mine, here is the box art from Pepa:
Please note- Pepa is truly awesome and the painted example above is NOT mine!
As you can see, it's the Greek Goddess Athena complete with her trusty owl. I'm tired of light skin though, and I need to practice my darker skintones. I'm using this bust to do that. The bust comes in several pieces: main torso, owl, owl wing and front arm. I drill all my holes for pins and deal with my mold lines, attach her to a cork and prime. Then I find more mold lines and tackle those. I wait on assembly until most of the painting is done to make it easier.
Next I pick colors I think I might use and try to remember them. If I'm smart I write them down somewhere. I highly recommend that!
Hmmn. This is one where the swatches don't really reflect reality. Walnut brown is dark, and mahogany brown is a nice deep red-brown but much lighter than walnut. At any rate, I'm also using Anne's fancy red shade yellow which is like a bright golden yellow for the cloth and some ochers. I'll try to list those later when I get into the cloth. But those are the skin tones I want to use. Initially I mixed a fun shade for my basecoat thinking I wanted to go more greenish in my shadows, but I changed my mind. For completeness sake, the basecoat below is a mix of:
Ends up fairly gray due to the red and green together, which is why I decided to just go warmer. I think I'd fight too much working in the green. I may just glaze it in later in certain areas, but I'll get to that.
Ok, next I want to pick a light direction. This is super important on larger minis, because they add interest. It allows me to go deeper with some shadows and higher with certain highlights. This makes the viewer's eye bounce around. This is a good thing. We want to keep the viewer interested in the mini, so all out little tricks are designed to do just that!
Here I've held the mini up to a bright light source and taken the pictures. I could choose to use this as a reference as I go, to make sure I make the light look natural as it flows over the form. This brings up a good point. See how certain parts of the mini are brighter? Like the SCM muscle in the neck and the collarbones?
They stick out when the neck is flexed in one direction and the collarbones have very thin skin over them. They catch light. Like the nose and the cheekbones, the area above the top lip and the chin... all of these either have thinner skin or stick out farther, catching most light sources. Using the idea of "volumes" in the face helps paint it more naturally. Knowing where things go and how they fit together helps paint the larger faces.
Here's an example courtesy of google:
See how they've broken the surface up into geometric shapes? We can do that with painting just like drawing.
I decided to play with my olive skin and disliked it immediately. At this point I was playing around, and didn't have a model to follow. I wasn't sure what skintone I wanted. But as long as I use thin layers, I can always paint over it. I decided after this to go back to google like a good Erin and pick someone to copy.
Isn't she gorgeous? Naema Hossain from Bangladesh. Yay! Inspiration always helps me paint, and it's a lot easier to follow a map than to make it up as I go along. The light source in this photo is more or less what I want, and it's a high resolution photo, which means I can zoom way in to get the eyes the way I want.
Now I've worked in a bunch of the mahogany brown in glazes over the basecoat and added in highlights where I see them on the photo. See how that starts to define the face more. I've also decided on painting a yellow patterned sari and I'll go with black hair. Note- I am NOT using a pure black here, just the walnut brown as my off black.
puttering along, pushing and pulling. The blends don't have to be smooth and I'm really only worried about making the anatomy make sense at this point. All minis enter this weird ugly stage almost up until the point where they're finished. This is normal. It doesn't mean you're doing something wrong.
I worked in some shadows and cleaned up my lines and decided her eyes were just too blank. I can only have dead eye on a mini for so long. I still have to straighten up her gaze and clean the eyes, but at least they're not staring at me anymore. I also love how gaze helps develop personality in miniatures. It really changes then feel of the piece.
Not sure what I changed, but I tried to make myself stop and take photos every now and then. It's hard because I get in a groove and want to paint while I have energy and direction. When I stop I lose focus. Sigh.
Ok I played with the blending and the lips for sure. Probably a bunch of layers I don't remember. The key is layering and keep referencing the photo to make certain I'm following my map.
I decided to take a break from skin and work on the hair. Hair is fun!
See where I've taken the walnut brown and mixed it with the olive skin? I did a stark layer to show where I'd put the highlights. When anything bends in relation to light, you'll get a highlight on the bend- more or less. This is a good rule of thumb to tackle hair. Notice, I'm not painting individual strands, but blocking out my highlights?
Same on the crown of the head.
I like this photo- it shows how I've blocked in a lot of volumes, but haven't bothered with the blending yet. This will keep me from getting lost later.
Then I worked in some linen white. Black hair is, well, dark, but it still has high highlights. Not all of them are the same. Again- I go back to my light source. Parts that sitck out further or are close to the light get higher highlights. This is probably another one of those sneaky tricks I should mention. Varying the intensity of both shadows and highlights add interest and make the mini more natural. Sometimes when we harp on contrast, we don't mean taking everything up to white and down to black. We mean contrasting the depth of our shadows and highlights- making some pop more than others. This is a gold-level trick I think.
And I started to work on the highlights on the braid. As long as most of the hair stays walnut brown, it will look black. It just has some very narrow highlights. That's all black is- being very careful with how much highlighting I do.
Ok, more when I'm done with my ice cream break! Or maybe after I clean out my Diablo stash... maybe tomorrow... fingers crossed for power!
Let me know if you have questions or if I can explain something better or differently to make more sense.
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