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Well, you know what season it is as the leaves start turning and the air starts getting chilly... ...the season of the WITCH! Specifically, here's Dita, the Steampunk Witch, 80006. Her techno-accessories look like they put her well after the 17th century, but let's not forget a) prostheses were actually very advanced for those who, like Gotz of the Iron Hand, could afford them, and b) WITCHCRAFT. Here's more Dita. And that description, witch*craft* is a powerful thematic indicator. Witches are hobbyists and craftspeople. They make things. In a fantasy schema or in a folktale context, this is what distinguishes them from your average sorceror, warlock, or diabolist. The old witch from "Hansel and Gretel" was a baker and confectioner. Baba Yaga makes bone lamps and flying cookware. The witches from Macbeth make horrible stews. Bread and herbs, roots and wax, comb and yarn, thread and needle and pins; imbued with will and spell and spite and hate, these are the tools of the witch. (An artificer is different in that they require witch-*engineering.*) So here's a horrible little moppet with a rusty knife. This one was fun to paint. Comes from the Familiars 2 set, 77096. Hard to parse until there's a layer of paint on her. A big mop of tousled yarn curls, a single button eye, a little smock and bag. I love the wobbly toddling pose of the thing. The little Creepy Rag Doll from the Familiar Set 2 (77096) is a bitty wee thing. Here's a close-up, penny for scale. Click for thorough turnaround. And here's Estra, the Iconic Spiritualist. A glorious sculpt--it's good to see more elderly women. She's got all kinds of shawls and wraps and ribbons and scarves. Fun to paint, especially with some eastern-European-inspired designs. (Also with her is a cat stolen from Edna the Cat Lady.) Definitely a wise woman. A witch? There are rumors in the town, as there often are about old women who live alone and have cunning and practical skills. More angles (and witches know all about angles; ask Keziah Mason): More witch-crafts! Here are three horrible wooden "Mannikins" from Warmahordes' Circle Orboros. They are definitely NOT fae or natural plants, being lashed together with cord and twine. Hobbled, ungainly, bent and jointed in ways that seem viscerally wrong and cruel. Is she calling them forth or putting them down? The sharp-tongued biddies and resentful burgomeisters know which story they are going to tell, either way.
Ok, I meant to do this a lot sooner, but I figured I could use this project to explain a bit about diorama composition. Reapercon is fast approaching! I know folks always try to figure out how to tell a story with miniatures as well as develop a composition that both makes sense to the story and is pleasing to the eye. I have a hard time explaining why some things work well and others don't. But, I can take a miniature I'm painting and explain why I chose to place elements as I did. I hope that might help or at least get the creative juices cooking! So, I'm taking: ...this guy, and I want him to tell a story. Why's he got his hand up? What he doing? He's looking at something, right? A summoning? hmmmn. Questions questions. Now I'm pretty sure Izzy said something about him holding a dripping heart in his hand, but I'm in the mood to tell a happier tale. Something sweet and romantic in a creepy necromancer sort of way. Because reasons. So I painted him up and decided I'd stick him in an eerie swamp. Actually, long before this I had a plan and I'll get to it. But when I first look at a mini, I want to find a way to accentuate the pose and make it do something exciting. Or interesting. Just as a color aside, I used the same colors in his skin as I did on the base. I want him to fit into his environment. For any piece, I want it to make sense. Using fewer colors helps, because then they don't fight each other as much. I'm using a simple complementary color scheme of red and green. It's an easy way to get contrast without working hard. Note that while my red is intense (ie bright, really red, looks pretty red, hey that's a red) my green is desaturated (dull, boring, stuck some other colors in it to make it look less green, more olive, not bright) I'll admit- his red isn't showing from this side, but here: See? Red. Then I found him a friend! A lady friend! There we go! He's going to summon her right out of the swampy water. Let's dance! Actually, the title will probably be "Dance with Me" but I'm willing to take suggestions! Now, I want to explain why I like these two together. First, I love the negative space they form in between their bodies. They create two intersecting areas at the hands and the skirt/knee section. The space between them is interesting. While it would be cooler if she was looking at him and pulling our eyes back into the center, at the very least, the negative space helps with that. Negative space is made up of the areas in between form. In painting or drawing it looks like this: I like the ones that trick the eye. A vase or candlestick? Or faces? You choose! But in art, use of negative space can be a powerful tool to create interest. I put the arrows in the show where I see my viewer's eye flowing along lines in the composition. See how the rock I made creates a line that points up and in? I sculpted it that way on purpose. His hand points out, her body forms a line that points down. It's a triangle in its most basic form. Also, their hands form parallel lines. Their forms create an x. X's are cool. The eye likes x's. So when I'm making something, be it basework or premade stuff, I want to put it together to help tell my story in a pleasing way. It's one of the reasons I make so many fancy bases. I can control exactly how things fit together. Then it makes the lines I want. But it isn't enough! Let's play with a tree! I took a black cherry sprout that invaded my garden and added a few branches. You can see the ones with a wire core versus the real ones. A lot of the time I make the tree from scratch, but I liked this sprig and since I killed it, I'm making use of it! Ok, yeah. Now we've got some swampy furniture to set the stage. See where the lines point? I adjusted the branches a bit to make them more pleasing later, but you get the idea. I'm thinking about how I want to create intersections and how I want to balance the figures in order to make it seem harmonious. To that end, there's way to much pointing to the right. I need something on the left, correct? Add in some roots and something to anchor the left side of the composition... Take a look at the roots and see what lines they mimic. I added a few branches to my left tree. I poured the water base and the water effect is still drying here. I wanted a swamp, right? and from the back. I picked this piece of wood because I liked the way it mimicked my roots and water. So, I'm still not sure that helps explain why things work or don't, but let me know if something doesn't make sense and I can scribble a few more arrows and use my words better!