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By Geoff Davis
This is my diorama entry from Reapercon 2019 "Done and on to the next one". It received silver in the diorama category and 2nd place Dark Sword Individual Figure. The two figures are DSM7627 Female Ranger with Bow from Dark Sword Miniatures and 77189 Creature from the Blood Reef (Bones version) from Reaper Miniatures.
My intention with this piece was to show a dynamic interaction between the two figures as compactly as possible and with a clear indication of the action, but with enough uncertainty in the details that the observer can be lead to many different interpretations of the story. For example, did the creature just miss her with a claw attack, or is he clinging to the rock in dying desperation while she contemptuously uses him as a launch pad? I went through many challenges with this figure (including crushing her in transport, breaking off her arm, crushing the bow and snapping off her leg at the ankle).
Some of the detail work I did on this included:
cleaning out the quiver and sculpting new arrows
re-sculpting her chest and back to be a wool dress (the original figure has a bare stomach and back)
adding the taught bow string using monofilament fishing line
changing her bracer so that the buckles are on the side away from the bow string
carving up and adjusting the creature layer by layer until he fit exactly where I wanted him (this is why I chose the Bones version - I would have found it nearly impossible with a metal figure)
I am very grateful to Brice Cocanour who gave me a lot of advice on how to bring out the best look of the piece by adjusting the colour and value balance. He was also kind enough to let me use some of his tools and his big container of water effects to fix some of the problems with the base. Once again, I learned a ton from seeking help from the artists. I also really appreciate the feedback I got from the judges. As a first-timer at the MSP Open, I made some newbie mistakes that I will fix for next time, and as a long-time painter, I appreciated being told exactly where things were off so that I could reflect on them for future projects.
The judges feedback was:
They liked the tartan, the fabric texture and the colour choice. Some of the lines on the tartan could be made cleaner. One way to do this is to do the lines repeatedly with very thin paint. Small mistakes are then harder to see, but the correct position of the line gets hit repeatedly making the visual appearance of the lines neater. Another suggestion was to map out the tartan pattern in light grey first before adding any colour. Use pure white to make landmarks at the intersection points of the lines which are bright enough to show through the subsequent paint layers. This helps to make the layout of the pattern more precise and less risky. Because the pattern is laid out before any colour is added or a lot of work is put into highlights and shading, any mistakes in the layout can be corrected without having to do a lot of repair work.
Overall composition was good with the story being very clear with the construction being very tight and kept to the essentials (no wasted space and unnecessary features).
They liked the overall skin tone and highlight placement to focus attention on her face. They pointed out where improvements were needed to some of the blends on the skin, specifically on her calf where some of the shadow, dirt and highlight blends are misaligned or too abrupt and not bright enough (her ankle for example needs to be a bit brighter).
The final surface texture of her skin could have been smoother. Suggestions for this included using brush-on sealer to smooth out flaws, paying close attention to cleanliness of the figure (eg large dust particles) and removing them as soon as they are found, then filling the craters and smoothing their edges, and glazing additional layers of the mid-tone to smooth out some of the edges of the blends.
Clean up the water effects where they meet the base to give a crisper line between the action and the base.
It was recommended to mount the diorama directly onto the wooden plinth if possible rather than on a gaming base attached to the top of the plinth.
The judges scores were 3, 3 and 4 for 10/12 (Silver).
The Faceless is a neat game with some really interesting miniatures.
The player token is a compass, and all of the miniatures have magnets in them to manipulate what direction the compass points. When the players move, they have to follow the compass direction.
It is a really neat game, and most of the minis are little double sided dioramas (they have one side that’s a poor child about to be abducted by a monster, and the other side is the creepy little chimera that he turns them into).
Anyway, here are the minis I painted:
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