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Geisha diorama


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K, so I've decided to go very very courageous and tackle a diorama in time for Reapercon. I'm going to post my WIPs for brutal feedback because I need to push to the next level... and I've never done a diorama before.


I started work on the geisha last night, putting down a skintone and shaded the leg. Here is problem no 1: I use a daylamp, and when I work under it, the shadows and highlights seem pretty obvious. But take the lamp away, and the shading is very subtle and not all that contrast-y. This may be what is going on here. The other thing may be that I haven't as yet figured out the optimal camera settings to photograph my minis




The theme behind the diorama is that she's in a garden, on a hot, moonlit night.

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hey good mini there, I saw it once but didn't want to get it coz I felt that the kimono needs a lot of freehand to make it pretty

anyway I like the shading on the leg/knee area, if it's the be view in real instead of just photo I think the shading is better as being subtle?


anyway for inspiration here's a typical japanese garden/small bridge (typical with japanese garden) diorama


(the Preacher one, scroll down)

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The kimono before putting on the pattern. I thought about a light green one, but considering the diorama is going to be in dark blues and green I needed better contrast.



next step would be to add the flower pattern

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So mid-last week, I learned my first lesson on freehand - design it first BEFORE putting on the mini, as opposed to making it up as you go along. To make a long story short, I had to repaint over the dress. Utterly disgusted with myself and rather disheartened, I turned instead to the base. I decided to tackle the longest, most tedious portion - the weeping willow, that is supposed to have the leaves dangle softly into the water of the pond.


I'll update with pictures, but ultimately I raided my cross-stitch thread collection, gathered a good bundle of threads, and glued them together to make the trunk. The rest of the four evenings was spent unravelling each and every strand in the clump. If you've never seen a cross-stitch thread, there are usually 6 in a bundle... and the threads are actually two smaller threads spun together rather tightly. As I think I had about 10 bundles, meaning 60 threads, each having to be unravelled... it took a very long time.

When it was all done and my tree looked more like a poorly designed muppet, I tried to change the colour of the threads (which were a coral red and pale twilight blue) by painting over with a mix of brown ink and Ultramarine Blue. Try being the operative word. I just ended up tinting the threads with the brown.


Now I'm part-way through the last tedious bit - coating each and every strand in glue then in a mid-green flock. I completed about half of it last night; I hope to finish it tonight. But I am actually very glad I didn't wait to build the diorama until the mini had been finished painted!

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My tree



I'm envisioning the leaves to trail outside of the diorama also.



The tree with half the "leaves" done. This took me a long long long time! You can see to the right all the fine, little threads that I ended up with.



Ta-da! The tree in all it's afro bushyness. I also sculpted on a trunk and attempted to get some branches in.



Pruned tree. I'm still thinking the leaves are too "bushy" and notthe straight up-and-down that I want it to be. I am pondering on how I can do that.




Base and Base with sculpting. That hole is where the pond is going to be. I'm going to start an experiment tonight to see if the water effects look better clear on a coloured ground or tinted a dark blue.



My hedges. Japanese gardens are surprisingly well manicured, so some pieces of foam stuck together, "sculpted" with the scissors into their ball shapes, covered in glue then dipped in flock.




The challenge has been keeping these little light floaty balls away from the cat.

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Yesterday was more focus on the base. And what japanese garden is complete without some koi




I painted the base a very dark blue. The intent is to have all the surrounding areas of the model to be in shades of blue and purple to a) draw attention to the model being all light coloured and whatnot and b) imply that it's evening. I staged some of the items to get an idea of how I'd like things to be. The rocks around the pond were important - I made sure that the big ones were on the edge of the cork and it gradually went smaller so that the smallest ones were in front of the model - another trick to draw focus to her. The stones were also positioned so that part of the stone would be submerged in the water.



Then painted the same dark blue:



The koi in the pond:



I had experimented a couple of nights ago on applying the water effects with a setup similar to the base, only with two closed-in holes. One had a blue base with clear water, the other had tinted blue water over the blue base. It looked better with the tinted water, so I decided to go with that. And so I left it. Lesson no 3: Cork is a bit porous. I returned the next night and noticed that there wasn't much left in the holes. I thought it had to do with stories that people would tell of the water effects shrinking, but when I picked it up and looked underneath, it had soaked through. So I noted this, and made sure that the bottom of the pond would get a coat of brush-on sealer, a coat of pvc glue then another coat of brush-on sealer.


In my eagerness to get the water effects in to go through the 24 hour period of drying, I neglected to seal up the holes between the stone. D'oh! So when I poured in the water, I had a fair amount of leakage, and I quickly rolled up some greystuff to seal up the leaks - but the damage had been done. So I poured out the water, let it sit and instead I sulked a little and went to play Dragon Age. In hindsight, however, it was a pretty good mistake - I had tinted the water too light a blue, and the putty between the rocks now make an excellent place to put moss and little tufts of grass. And now, the resin has made a tight seal over all porous areas of the cork so next time there won't be any leakage at all.


I also poured in this water into the experiment base with the intent of seeing how I would be able to paint moonlight reflection on top of the water.


Finally, I had started sculpting a lantern. This is to be the legs - I had started with a block and then carved out, with a rather blunt xacto knife, the arches underneath:


This was a result of lesson no. 2: use reference pictures. The first lantern I attempted to sculpt looked like crap, so I started over again with a picture as reference. I have a flat, hexagon piece, and the hexagon piece that will be the actual lantern currently curing. This is the reference picture:


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The base and lantern part of the lantern have been cured. So I superglued the three pieces together. It does look a tad lopsided, however, but eh.




The day was dedicated to painting the model, since I'm still sulking slightly over the base mishap. I spent a good two or so hours trying to find an adequate pattern to put on her kimono. I found one that would work for this scale, but I'm a little unsure on to how it translated:








I know there are places I need to touch up, but I tend to do them last in case I make more boo-boos (which is typical)

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If that's how you sulk.... Pattern is nice, consistent, even into the folds of the cloth. Great job.


Personally, I think you're doing a great job. I have some of those cork plant cushions for bases myself, planned on using them for dragons and larger creatures because you can easily carve the cork.


I like your weeping willow.


Keep going, this is getting rather fascinating.



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