Alright, well I think it's only fair to show you guys some photos, now that I've taken these guys out of the blister packs. I have just two, and they both demonstrate an aspect of this WIP.
The first photo is of my photo station, or light box if you prefer, though it's not exactly a light box, more like part of a box and some stand lights on tripods.
For anyone who's curious, the box is an Amazon size 1AC box I happened to luck out in getting fairly recently. When I saw the box, I knew I ought to save it, since it was exactly 11 inches on one side, which coincidentally is the same size as Hangar 18's backdrops. The cardboard is not as strong as I'd like, but it's strong enough to hold up a t-shirt (see next photo) and cut down with a box cutter as I've done it looks like it'll work perfectly for holding a backdrop. I might try stiffening it up a bit more with some tape, however.
The lights are fairly cheap LED panels I picked up recently with a 5600K temperature (approximately daylight) and up to 3200 lux at 1 meter brightness. They use 30 watts each, so not breaking the bank doing long shooting sessions or superheating my minis, and can be dimmed 0-100%. The best part though is I can hook them up with a cable and control both with the same dimmer, so no guesswork needed when I lower the brightness for longer exposure times (thus cutting down on noise), I know they'll both be the same exact brightness. That's why there's a second cable coming from each light, going under the table. I have a third light (got three for general studio work, but I think I'll only need two for mini photography) that I'll probably use in my workspace while painting since it's a bright soft light at a great temperature for working. I actually used the third LED panel from up high over my shoulder to light the scene, with the two panels pictured dimmed down very low, to cut down on silhouetting and let you see more of the set-up. That explains the shadows; in use, those shadows aren't in the box. They also come with those plastic diffusers you see. I don't think they're really necessary since the light already comes from 360 LEDs across a 10"x10" square, but it's easier to just put them on the panels and forget about them instead of finding a place to store them. For all I know, they may have some minute positive effect.
The camera is a Panasonic GH3 which is a mirror-less interchangeable lens camera in the micro 4/3 system. It's not my only camera (I'm a pretty serious photo hobbyist), but it's the one I'll probably do most of my mini photography with because it has the nice flip-open touch screen. It makes it very easy to shoot on the tripod when it's low to the ground. The camera also has a great big battery so I won't have to worry about it when doing WIPs with lots of pictures over many hours of work. I'll be shooting in aperture-control mode for depth-of-field control and using the touchscreen to set a focus point, rather than go full manual. Of course I've set the camera to 5600K white balance since that's what the light panels are, and I'm using the lowest ISO setting. My results testing the set-up were quite promising, but I'll be using this particular painting project to work the bugs out and get very comfortable shooting minis. Consequently, you can expect a lot of photos in this WIP topic once I start painting. I shot this photo (and the next one) with my cell phone camera, but you can expect all subsequent mini photos to be shot with this camera you see, in the photo station.
As a bonus for the observant, I stuck my brand new jugs of distilled water and Simple Green under the table to get them out of the way. You might also recognize my demo subject as everyone's favorite Sir Forscale (aka 77008 Garrick The Bold).
I don't normally think of orcs as particularly disciplined formation fighters (aside from Lord of the Rings), but hey, this was fun to set up.
My backdrops haven't arrived yet. They're supposed to today but I'm still waiting and the tracking info is... confusing. So for this I just put down a gray t-shirt over my light box frame and shot this quick with my cell phone so I could get everyone in the frame. That's Sir Forscale again in the foreground, of course. It's actually a pretty poor paint job I did in an hour at PAX Prime, but from this perspective I don't see too many of its flaws.
So, that's Kavorgh with the greataxe commanding his Snipers from the rear, watching their line carefully to make sure they loose when ordered. They're lined up nicely to shoot between the three Hunters keeping Sir Forscale from getting too close with their long spears. He will then have to contend with the three Marauders with their swords and shields, carefully flanking him from the right, and then be enveloped by the two Stalkers waiting for the right moment to circle around and attack his rear. If Sir Forscale manages to survive more than a few seconds, he'll surely be slaughtered when the two Berserkers push their way between the shields of the Marauders and hack away at him with their greatswords.
But then, fortune favors [Garrick] the bold!
Anyway, a few things I'll have to deal with. Most of the mold lines are not too bad, or well hidden by the sculpt. There's some rather obvious flashing in a couple places. The biggest issues are going to relate to the shapes of the minis themselves. The spears and a couple of the swords will need to be straightened. One of the Berserkers is a bit tippy and will need some bending at the ankles to be stable like his clanmate. I've also noticed that the Hunters are two-piece minis, with their spears and hands a separate piece. One of these is pretty solid, but the other two are a little loose and I think I'll want to get that fixed before I paint them. One, you can even see in the photo, has a significant gap at his right elbow. I can sort of get these pieces back in, but I think I'd better do a better job of it with some glue and/or green stuff. It's off to the art supply store for me, I guess. Am I right in thinking I should do the boil-and-straighten trick before I start gluing and sculpting?
Thinking some more about paint, I see that the shields on the Marauders are all metal, not metal-and-wood as I first thought. So I guess the only wood will be on the spearshafts, bows, and Kavorgh's axe handle. Fair enough. I'll probably aim for using the same blackened steel on the Marauder shields and I will for the rest of the armor plates, though I do still want to pain some kind of clan emblem or colors on there. Maybe a paly of five matching the color of their emblem? Maybe a crude chevron or pall? I suppose I could do one of each, to make every Marauder more distinct on the gaming table. Also kudos if you know these heraldry terms without needing to look them up. If you don't know them, think vertical stripes, ^, and Y.
Still no idea what that emblem would be. I'll probably choose the color at the very end but I'm thinking a fairly bright color to contrast with dark armor. I don't want red because then I can't have blood stains partially covering it on some of these guys. Orange might be tricky. I'm thinking yellow or maybe woad to go with that whole highlands/Scottish vibe. I could also go with a chalky white.
I'm also thinking about the Snipers' bows. I could use different wood colors for them, to help differentiate them, but I'm not convinced and I'm leaning towards ruddy brown. I also want to keep their arrow fletching uniform between them, as it would make sense for the same war band to share a common pool of arrows made from the same feathers. I think I'll differentiate these guys with their quivers, sheaths, and other leather, as well as the furs they wear. All the orcs in a given role will have their own unique skin color, of course.
While I'm playing with these guys, I'm also looking at their mouths and thinking maybe a yellowed bone color. I don't imagine they have great dental hygiene. I think I'll paint those yellow, do a wash, and then highlight just a teensy bit. These guys have such expressive mouths, I think it'd be a shame not to put a little extra effort in.
Kavorgh has a pretty interesting shield, with some severed hands, a femur, and various other trophies nailed to it. The shield also looks like its made out of two plates of metal, one stuck to the other. I think I want to make the smaller front plate shinier than the back plate. Maybe a silver, maybe a bronze. I'm leaning more towards bronze, but I really don't know. That will be a project in its own right, I think.
Thanks Serenity for the advice about freezing to stiffen the plastic prior to de-lining. I did read through Wren's posts but I'd love to actually watch somebody do it. I always learn better from watching than reading. And, while I'm asking for advice, what's everyone's favorite procedure for straightening out Bones minis? I know the broad strokes: boil, straighten, ice bath. The details elude me. Is there a certain amount of working time once it's hot? What should I be using to bend parts with so I don't burn my hands or damage the minis? Do I need to be maintaining its new form when I stick it in the ice bath or will it sort of hold it and I can just dunk and move on to the next mini?