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9th gate Miniatures presents Collection of Mysterious Miniature Models of Pirates Busts Kickstarter:
Lots of busts based on a certain Disney Pirate movie...
Reaper Miniatures 03716 Ghouls sculpted by Bob Ridolfi and old school RAFM 02953 Ghoul Warlock.
I painted these in August for a D&D encounter but I had to repaint them because the varnish has created a white fume all over the models when I sealed them. It probably happened to many of you as well. It was the third time I wasted painted models because of that undesirable fume without being able to put my finger on the reason why. I think I now know why it happen.
Trick or treat : A true horror story
It was very humid outside that last August. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to shelter myself in the basement while I was speed painting some exquisite Reaper Miniature models. Late that day, as I was done painting a hand full of Undead models, I decided to seal them with that half-full / half-empty "you choose" can of anti shine matt varnish. It's important to mention that I had already used that very same spray can a month earlier.
This being said, after shaking the spray can for a good minute or so, I opened the basement door leading into the backyard. Immediatly, a draft of hot and humid air invaded the doorway and shook my face. I remember swearing when I felt the moisture condensing to beads of sweat on my skin. Without losing a second, wanting to get back to shelter in my man cave, I spray some figurines. In the darkness of the night, everything seemend to be allright under the dim light of the portico.
The day after, I noticed the damage. By a terrible curse, the models I spayed the night before were covered with a thin, powdery layer of white dust. I gazed around looking for sneering Gremlins but saw nothing unusual. Disconcerted, I became aware of the extent of the damage. There has to be a logical explanation behind this ghouly phenomenon.
As much as I like science fiction and horror stories, I had to find a scientific explanation to all this madness. Wasting other models by this evil spell was not an option. I reused the same spay can to make a test. The only parameter that seemed to be different was the fact that it was very humid and hot outside the night before.
I did not want to ruin hours of time spent painting another model to do this test. So, I sprayed a colored cardboard. Furthermore, I made an exception to the sanitary rule and used the spray can inside. The result was surprising. Even though I was using the same spay can, there was no fume this time. Since then, I've been reusing that same spry can on other models whitout any problem.
What happened that draid August night? Was it the imps playing tricks on me or just the excessive difference of temperature and the heavy humidity in the air catched by the aerosol varnish? I will probably never know but one thing is for sure, I will always test my spray can on an expendable object before spraying my art.
I've been wanting to paint a bust since I got back from ReaperCon. I missed my chance to pick up Julie Guthrie's beautiful sculpt from the convention, so I did a bit of research. I had already picked up a larger scale mini from FeR Miniatures at Scale 75's table this year, so I started there. In addition to some more intricately detailed stuff, FeR also had a few busts that seemed a bit more on the simple side, so I grabbed them. They're both in the "Portraits From the Middle Ages" line. I started with this one, the Saxon Huscarl, Hastings, 1066.
I started off by doing the face, using Reaper's HD flesh quadrilogy(?) I mixed them to create midtones, but it still came out less smooth than I had hoped. I think it looks ok for a first go, but I definitely have so much room for improvement. I'm definitely going to do a bit of touching up on the face.
I did the eyes next, and I really like the way that they turned out! They give him such a ruthless look! After this, I base coated the chainmail in dark grey mixed with some black, and then I left it there for the night. I'm going to try and do the metals as non-metallic, so we'll see how that goes!
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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