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Gandalf the Gray


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Thanks for trying the darker background -- glad you agree that the darker background helps (and thanks for mentioning my post).

This dark gray background works well, especially since your "gray" paint included the tinges of orange and blue. On future figures, you might have to experiment with making the background browner or grayer, in case the figure is blending into this particular gray.

 

I like the liveliness of your warm & cool "gray", but here I think it works against your OSL. The cold blue-white of this OSL would be more striking if you avoided using blue in the shadows on the rest of the figure: cold (blue) highlights from the OSL, warm (brown) shadows, maybe neutral highlights on the areas not illuminated by the staff.

 

The highlights simulating the light from the staff look best in the lower-right shot, on his left arm and on the hat. You could make an even greater distinction between the lights and darks, to enhance the illusion that the staff is the strongest (or only) light source. First paint the whole figure darker than you would normally paint it, and then add the OSL highlights. If the rest of the figure appears too dark or dull, bring it up when you can see how they look juxtaposed with the OSL highlights. You could make a sharp edge of the OSL highlights on his face/beard/wherever the line should go: this would simulate the shadow cast by the brim of his hat. And in this "shadow", you could add subtle highlights on the underside of his brow, nose, etc., to simulate where the light has bounced off his beard or robe and is then reflecting _up_. This might be too small to be noticeable on a 28mm figure, but it's something to consider.

 

The NMM sword, too, looks excellent on its own -- good contrast and smooth blends -- but its highlights seem about as bright as the "light" on the staff. This makes me imagine other light sources near the sword that are reflecting off the blade. When I do OSL, I'm careful to reserve the highest values (closest to white) for the thing that's shining and for the places where the light is reflecting from a shiny surface.

 

Here's another post where I wrote about OSL:

Link to another post about OSL

 

Looking forward to seeing future OSL work from you.

 

Derek

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The NMM sword, too, looks excellent on its own -- good contrast and smooth blends -- but its highlights seem about as bright as the "light" on the staff. This makes me imagine other light sources near the sword that are reflecting off the blade.

The sword was forged by the elves of... [thinks hard] ...Gondolin, who named it Glamdring and under the right conditions it could be its *own* light source... :unsure: ...it's all way better than I know how to paint.

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Mama (may I call you Mama? :poke:), like most of the responders I liked the subtlety of the OSL on Gandalf. The naturalistic colors really work well, with the exception of the cold shading Derek mentioned, which is competing with the OSL effect.

 

I think there's two things that bother me, in addition to the critiques you've gotten already. Really malefactus struck the nail on the head for me on the first one. While OSL can be subtle, the source should be clear (or it's implied direction obvious - in the case of off-scene lighting.) Gandalf's staff needs to be a notch lighter than the highlights, even the lighter than the ones on his hat.

 

Check this pic out. Yes, the movie lighting is necessarily harsher, but the crystal on his staff is obvious. It's just one notch above the lighting on the hat, but it's enough.

 

With this sculpt GW didn't really add the crystal well, and the wood itself is full of undercuts. Still, you can push the highlighting up a little more and the staff will read "light source" for the rest of the mini to reflect.

 

Excluding the crystal, you could make the undercut areas of the wood a brighter shade of the same blue highlight. OSL is a trompe l'oeil trick - in the real world undercuts like this get shaded by the room lights, spoiling the faux lighting effect. If you make those areas even lighter than the "source"color you'll soften this shadowing effect.

 

The NMM sword, too, looks excellent on its own -- good contrast and smooth blends -- but its highlights seem about as bright as the "light" on the staff. This makes me imagine other light sources near the sword that are reflecting off the blade. When I do OSL, I'm careful to reserve the highest values (closest to white) for the thing that's shining and for the places where the light is reflecting from a shiny surface.

 

I totally agree with Derek's comment here (beyond the other useful info he shared also.) The NMM is wonderful. By itself this style of shading is a good NMM convention, and gives the right metallic "read" to the sword. But here the sword looks as though it's being lit from three different directions, in equal amounts. Almost like a professional photograph of a sword for a catalog or something.

 

By changing the highlighting you can make it look more like the sword's lit by the staff. The underside definitely needs to be less bright - remember bounced highlights like that are never as bright as the ones in line of sight with the light source.

 

Overall, though, a very nice piece. I've watched you progress over the last few years and have been impressed by whatever you turn your eye (and brush) to!

 

Take care,

Laszlo

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Thank you so much, guys, for taking the time to write me such an in-depth critique. I am always trying to learn more with every figure I paint, and lighting is one area that is always hard to wrap one's mind around. I knew OSL was tricky, which was one reason I hadn't tried it yet. This figure, which I won for free, was a great piece to experiment on, considering the gray shading I wanted to try, and the perfect OSL subject it provided.

 

Derek, I don't think it would even occur me to me to do all the detailed things you suggest on the face, but I'll have to start moving my painting in that direction if I want to push myself into the upper tier. The face on this particular mini was frustrating, because the plastic was not very well cast, and the sculpting was not clean and sharp. There were pits, scratches, etc., that I couldn't manage to clean up before painting. (Prepping is another area I have room for improvement!)

 

I kept thinking the staff needed to be brighter, and kept applying layer after layer of white on it, but then it wouldn't blend into the blue well, so I'd add some blue to work on that, and ruin the whole thing again. I finally gave up and left it as is. Next time I'll make sure that the light source is the brightest part of the mini.

 

Laszlo, this sculpt did not include a crystal in the staff. The GW-painted version that is shown on the box it came in has the staff painted all brown, and if you look at the WIP photos, before I added the glow and the OSL, it may be more obvious.

 

Both of you, I will definitely read over your comments again before I attempt my next OSL project, and try to work those ideas into the planning of the figure, before I apply a single brush to the mini.

 

And again, thank you very, very much!

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