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"Liriel Unplugged": ReaperCon diorama


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Here are some photos of my diorama from ReaperCon.

It won a gold medal in the Open category, as well as the Gold Sophie Trophy for that category (the judged award) and the overall Best in Show (as voted by all entrants).


As I wrote on the card that accompanied my entry:

"Liriel Silverlocks, elven bard, is a classic figure from the Dark Heaven Legends line. In 2009, I sculpted a new rendition of Liriel sitting and playing her lute. The pose came directly from Tim 'Talin' Collier's cover to CasketWorks #7, on which she is playing for four gargoyles. I sat the figure on a tree stump instead of a wall, and I raised her head and sculpted the face as if singing wistfully.

"For this diorama, I have given Liriel an audience of sylvan creatures, mundane or fantastic. The figures are various Reaper familiars and animals. I was inspired by the illustration of the 'Meistersinger' (a woodsy variant on the bard) from The Complete Bard's Handbook, from 2nd Edition D&D."


To plan the layout, I got ahold of most of Reaper's animals and familiars, and then spent a couple of hours arranging subsets of them around Liriel, with bases and blocks of wood to add height, with a piece of paper underneath. I considered their size, direction of gaze, relative elevations, and probable colors, and then traced around the composition on the paper and made notes about what animal went where and how high it had to be.


The bulk of the base is Super Sculpey. After I baked it, I glued it to a base plate of basswood. I added the rocks, tree stumps, and other details to the base with green stuff. The stump that Liriel is sitting on is a bulked-out version of the one included with the figure. The oak trees are etched-brass foliage, made by Squadron, my first attempt using them; I used epoxy glue to thicken the trunks and major branches.


I painted all the figures (including the two trees) separately, glued them to the base, patched around them with green stuff, and then painted the whole base in one frantic day and applied the static grass at the end. (You can probably see the difference between the more deliberate and the rushed painting, and I was planning to add fallen leaves and other terrain details to the base.)


I enjoyed emulating the real-world colors of the animals, using wet-blending, layering, even some drybrushing, and a lot of glazes.


I intended to use blues or purples in Liriel's outfit -- something different from my rendition of the standing Liriel (sculpted by Sandy Garrity) with a green outfit and a frog on her base -- but I started undercoating in grayscale and then found that I liked the subtleties of the grays too much to change them.


The unicorn and the dragon were the last creatures to be painted, because I knew I would have more leeway with their colors. At first I painted the unicorn white with green shading, but it stood out too much in the composition, so I repainted it palomino. I also considered painting the faerie dragon green or purple, but decided that these colors would have been too prominent, too. Although I looked up colors from various butterflies besides monarchs -- such as coppers and blues and buckeyes -- I defaulted to the monarch as time was running out and the strong pattern was already sculpted on the figure's wings.


Anyway, I hope you enjoy seeing these pictures.








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You probably put more time into planning your projects than most people spend actually painting! What a wonderful diorama. Truly outstanding - my daughter was looking over my shoulder, and now I think I'm on the hook for a pack of Reaper animals for her to paint ;)


For your next project, how about you hook up Liriel to a wall of amps and speakers, with a mosh pit of Chronoscope minis doing their thing? I see lots of pink, purple, electric blue and green mohawks...

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This might be my favorite work of yours yet Derek. Fantastic imagery and as always near flawless painting. You set such a tranquil mood, I can almost hear her singing drifting in from the woods behind my house.

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Usually, my response to an awesome piece of work is "Wau, awesome paint work." This is one of the things I thought when I saw it at the con. Looking back at it, I find, though, that I'm even MORE impressed by the COMPOSITION. Those are all stock figures, aren't they?

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Thanks for all the background info on the planning that went into the piece. It's always helpful to get a peek behind the curtain like that. Love the mood and overall charm of this one.

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Thanks, everyone.


@TollHouseGolem: Yes, the time spent planning saves a lot of time in assembling, taking apart, re-assembling, etc. Good luck to your daughter in painting her own mini-animals! As for the "electric" version: Laszlo already made a great diorama (10-12 years ago?) of "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars", including giant alien robot-spiders crashing the stage of a rock concert. ::):


@Mercius: If you hear singing coming from the woods, watch out -- it could be a faerie trick. :;):


@Duliniel and @Wren: Thanks, I hoped/figured that the finished result would be more interesting if I also told what led up to it.


@Dr.Bedlam: Yes, they're just stock figures with deliberate posing. Thanks for noticing & commenting on that. (Minor changes: I added horns and arms to the faerie dragon, and I removed and resculpted the raccoon's tail so it hangs down along the log, and I elongated the bear's snout a bit.) I added the tree-trunk next to the bear so he is leaning against it instead of seeming to lunge in an attack, but the posture is no different.


@Heisler: Oh no -- I meant to add some red mushrooms with white spots! How unrealistic! ::P:


@pez5767: As Miss Hoover said on The Simpsons of the word "embiggens": "It's a perfectly promulent word." :;):



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