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After a long break from painting minis, I got back to the workbench early this month.  I've completed 3, just to shake the rust off my already weak skills.  Encouraged by making some progress and starting to enjoy painting again, I started work on Carinth, a Reaper Dark Elf sitting incomplete for a couple of years.  She was originally intended for a contest entry, but now I'd just like to figure out the lighting challenges, experiment with this two-model method, learn some new things and generally improve.

The 'two model method' is an idea that has been around for a while, but given the cost of most minis these days, is understandably not a popular technique.  With a comparatively cheap, older model, I can give it a shot.  The idea is to use one for practice, to work out the problems and make mistakes. The other is for a better attempt, working at perfekt. :-)

 

The design/story: Drow priestess in a deep cavern, protected by magic glowing staff, dips her magic sword in lava to imbue it with greater power. 

Challenges: I've not done a lava base before now, and it seems there are now 4 light sources at work on this mini. Ambient/overhead is somewhat weak, but present; lava flowing in several spots in the base will give some under-lighting; the top of her staff will be glowing blue/white; the sword has a blob of lava dripping from it.

First up is the "better" version we'll call Carinth-A.

 

post-2299-0-62962000-1396320853_thumb.jpg

 

post-2299-0-05738400-1396320855_thumb.jpg

 

post-2299-0-31831600-1396320856_thumb.jpg

 

 

Next is Carinth-B, the draft version where I got rather ahead of myself in playing around with lighting effects:

 

post-2299-0-89767900-1396320857_thumb.jpg

 

post-2299-0-11067800-1396320859_thumb.jpg

 

post-2299-0-58301000-1396320860_thumb.jpg

 

 

Comments, critiquesm questions and suggestions are all welcome, here.  I want to improve, so chime in, please!

 

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Here is Carinth-A after 'finishing' most of the main painting like gems, metals, etc., over the last few days.  Glued to base last night, some Apoxie Sculpt for the base tonight.  Hair yet to finish, plus lava (only white primer so far), the sword and ground work before tackling the light effects.  I am also not happy with the claw/orb/spider on the top of the staff, but can't quite put my finger on what bothers me or how to fix it.

 

post-2299-0-02746800-1396321365_thumb.jpg

 

post-2299-0-54551700-1396321366_thumb.jpg

 

For the sword, I am thinking black with red runes or such that turn up through orange to yellow near the lava.  However, the sword would be glowing to red and reflecting some light, too, so the runes may get lost in there.  I am not sure I can make it work.  Thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

Edited by GreyHorde
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I like your draft on the OSL's, just my thought on the lights

 

I think you took the orb glow too far down her leg for your stated level of illumination. I would stop higher on her thigh. I'd also do some intermeshing light striping between the red and blue OSL. And that would be on hip bones, lower ribs. The colors contact each other but are blocked by shadows so would 'stripe' against each other.

 

Looks good and can't wait to see your progress.

 

Loth

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Thanks, all.  :blush:   ::):   I have been painting for a while and have some good coaches in my corner; they don't let me get too horribly rusty.  And 'long time away' for me means 6 months, at least in this case.  Besides, these models were partially painted before the rust monster attacked.  Before picking them up, again, I ran through 3 tabletop-level models.  So, don't read too much into it - my definitions of rusty, long time away and goals for improvement are all personal & subjective.  YMMV.

 

@Loth - good call on the draft version's orb OSL (lower leg) and overlap.  There are parts of the orb that face almost straight down to leg and ground, but they are small and distant from those areas.  If any light gets there at all, it's going to be faint. That means I also need to tone down the highlights on A's lower right leg before getting to the orb glow.  I think I follow what you mean by blocking and striping.  Let me think this through, repeat it back and generally over-think it...

  • Blocking - areas where neither lava glow nor orb light reach, at least not directly.  Only ambient or reflected light can be there, which is to say it would appear as greyed-out or even a solid black shadow in the deepest areas (done).
  • Striping - areas where a shadow cast by one source is 'striped', or slightly cut across, by the other.
  • Contact - two sides of opposite, sharply defined surfaces, each lit by one light source.  Example: hip bone might be bluish on the upper back, and reddish on the lower front.  Only a small edge exists where the lights overlap, and at this scale, probably not noticeable.
  • Overlap - some areas might get a little of both light sources.  Those areas might appear somewhat purple due to the reflection of red and blue light.  These would have to be softer surfaces, like skin and cloth, rather than reflective surfaces like metal.  And since the skin is a grayish-lavender, it would read as purple there.

Is that about right?

 

I'll try to shine a pen light or other small light source at the lower front and upper back to mimic light sources.  If I can do that and get pics, I'll try to Photoshop them together and try to pinpoint where the blocks and contact points are.  The lower, weaker light from lava glow on the base can be added later and probably won't affect things very much.

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I could not find the pen light, so I tried with the led light on my phone.  Too bright, but small enough and close enough, I think.  Sorry for the blurry pics, but the camera couldn't focus and the highlights are blown.  In Photoshop, I shoved brightness down about 100 points and contrast up about 60 to get this close.  Without a bunch of time, I can't Photoshop them to overlay, so I think they're good enough to use for future reference, get the lights in generally the right places, and keep moving forward.  I noticed the orb and lava blob are almost perfectly opposite of each other on the mini, with the torso directly between.  There doesn't seem to be much overlap.  Some contact and edges, but not a lot of overlap.  This might be one of those times of choice, deciding between style and realism.  Do I stay with true realism, or exaggerate it, make it more colorful and 'tell a better story'?  I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get there.  For the moment, here are the current pics:

 

post-2299-0-02809500-1396410811_thumb.jpg

 

post-2299-0-52490400-1396410809_thumb.jpg

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Those images while blurry are very dramatic and evocative of the story itself. The other light source you are missing is the lava on the blade.

 

How do you feel about limited palette on the non-light portions? I think it would be ambitious, but a lot of rework from what you've already done (twice) and probably not worth it

 

Regarding style vs realism, scale really dictates. In order for detail to be visible colors have to be exaggerated. I say go for style, emotive images inspire better than illustrations.

 

Loth

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The 'lava' LED was placed at the blob hanging from the blade.  It seemed distracting to me, though, so I cropped it from the photo.  I did not attempt to shoot with the LED at any of the lava flows in the base, figuring those will give less intense under-lighting and I can SWAG those in later.  I willl have to remember the blob will radiate light in several directions, but more downward than up toward the blade.  I think it should be cooling a little on the top side, moreso up the anchor strand. So, the blade may glow a bit on its own and have a little reflected light along the edge back toward the hilt.

 

Limited palette, you say?  Hmmm...nice thought, but yeah, this is the 3rd 4th 5th lost-count-time something has been reworked on one or the other of these two.  It will soon be time to move on to other projects.  I do appreciate the suggestion, and I may try a more limited palette sometime.  Maybe once 'A' is finished, 'B' might go into the paint stripper and eventually find her way back to my paint table.

 

Progress report: with painting, glazing and careful washes, I darkened and somewhat greyed-out all the areas where the lights will not really reach.  I also did a bit of research, looking for dark elf symbols and runes tor the blade.  I considered some for the skirt/loincloth thing, but there is not a lot of room for it.  Besides, it's a fairly 'busy' model, to begin with, and I think it would risk overdoing it a bit, pulling the viewer's attention away from the #1 focal point, the sword/lava/face side and the 2nd focal point, the left/orb/glow side.

 

Okay, enough typing for now...back to painting!

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excellent lighting effects!  Really impressed with the light from the staff.  I 'blob' of lava really through me off though.  I would think if it was 'cool' enough to blob like that it would start to cool down and there would be black flakes on the outside.  Excellent job overall.

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You're right, the blob isn't working.  On Carinth-B, the practice model with the lighting effects, it's big and clunky.  It's a little better on Carinth-A, a little smaller and better placed, but it's still not right.  In hindsight, I should have had this photo on hand when I made the blob out of greenstuff.  Now I'm thinking of clipping the blob and making several strands, maybe have one stretching all the way to the base.  That might better connect the sword to the lava flow, show that it's not cooling yet.  I want it to look very hot and fluid, try to convey the action of pulling the sword out of lava on the base.  The lava needs to be flowing away quickly, without sticking to the sword.  It's all supposed to be a magical process, kind of a 'forged in the fires of Mount Doom' thing, and the blob simply doesn't tell that story.

 

Dang.  More work to do.

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Redid the lava on the sword for Carinth-A.  Found the pen light, couldn't get it to work right, used the phone, again.  Then the pen light started working better, so I shot the orb side again with that.  Now, if I just had 2 working pen lights, I could have shot both sides at once.  :rolleyes:   Won't bore you with all the pics; here are the main two:

 

post-2299-0-13865100-1396917741_thumb.jpg

 

post-2299-0-56543400-1396917753_thumb.jpg 

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Lava is mostly done.  Needs a little something, though, some black/brown cooling specks in certain spots.  Then base touch-up, lighting, paint the plinth and wrap up.

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Lava and lighting from it are done.  Next is the orb glow.  I am not sure if I will post any more photos, though, since it's possible this one might end up in a future competition.  Most have rules against prior publication of finished photos.

Edited by GreyHorde

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