Monday, 30 January 2017

Eliza finished, on to Raythen

So, it's been a few weeks since my last post. Whilst I've been painting here and there I've been struggling against the weather that seems hell bent on pushing past 40C as often as possible (that's 104F for anyone reading from the US).

Anyway, I've finished up Lady Eliza Farrow, highlighting her hair with a Gold Yellow:Moon Yellow mix, then pure Moon Yellow, and finally Moon Yellow:White mix. I also finished up the cup with bog-standard Gunmetal -> Chainmail -> Silver.

Finally, I ducked into Games Workshop and grabbed some wash (I just can't seem to get my homebrew to flow properly) and picked up some Blood For the Blood God from their technical range hoping it'd add a bit of depth to her blood trickle. Nope! I seriously can't tell the difference. Oh well, she's done now so nothing to complain about. I'll take some better photos later, but here she is complete:

And on to Raythen, the hero version. One of my friends plays a Dwarf Ranger in our D&D campaign, so it was a pretty natural next choice.

So far I've managed to block out colours with a basecoat, so it'll be on to washes next. Here's the colour palette so far:
Cloak: VGA Goblin Green
Trim: VGC Mutation Green
Skin: 1 VGC Tan : 1 VMC Basic Skintone (3T)
Boot Guards: VGC Scurvy Green
Pouches & Pants: VMA Camo L. Brown
Rope & Axe Grip: VGA Dead Flesh
Gloves, Crossbow & Bracer: VMC Chocolate Brown
Beard, Belt, Boots & Axe Haft: VGA Charred Brown
Wrist Band: VMA Mahogony
Gold Trim: VGA Glorious Gold
Metal: VGA Chainmail Silver

As you can see from the photos below, lots of natural colours and quite a complex palette. Beyond blending the cape up to quite a light yellow-green, I'm planning to integrate most of the palette via a brown wash, but we'll have to see if it works.

Anyway, it's coming together and I'm quite pleased with the colour scheme. Will post again once he's had a thorough shading via washes. Until then, Happy Hobbying!

Friday, 6 January 2017

WIP: Lady Eliza Farrow

Back again with an update, this time of Lady Eliza Farrow. She's been sitting on my work desk for almost a year with nothing but a primer coat on so I thought it was high time she got some paint on her.

There's not much to her, apart from a pretty bad sculpt - one hand is basically just a blob at the end of her sleeve, the other grasping the cup looks like her fingers are way too long, her nose melds with the cup where they meet, and where her hair falls on her neckline separating her dress from her face from behind, it's a solid wall of what looks like a mould line from the front.

Oh well, she still deserves a solid paint job. As you can see below, it's a work in progress, but I've focused all of my attention on her dress to start with. In the box art she's wearing what looks like a steel skirt, ranging from neutral grey shadows to white highlights. I looked around the internet for inspiration, and decided to go with a blue-shaded white dress instead as it looks prettier and presents a more pronounced contrast to the fact that she's drinking blood from a cup!

I wanted a very smooth blend from VMC Sky Blue to White, so I started with an airbrushed basecoat of VMC Sky Blue:

The skirt was then blended using lots and lots of very thin layers, as follows:
1) 2 VMC Sky Blue:1 VGA Deadwhite:3 Thinner
2) 1SB:1W:2T
3) 1SB:2W:3T
4) 1SB:4W:5T
5) 1SB:6W:7T
6) 1SB:12W:13T

Each colour was painted in between 4 to 7 layers, and whilst it took a while to see any real difference, the 4 hours of patience paid off. The ruffles were simply painted with the mix from step 6 above, minus the thinner to ensure it didn't flood the crevices.

Here's the final skirt:

Then I moved on to the skin. I found this significantly harder to blend well due to the cramped location and my lack of skill. My colour process was as follows:
Base) 2 VMC Basic Skintone:1 Thinner
Shade 1) 1 BS: 1 VMC Beige Red: 3 Thinner
Shade 2) 1 BR: 2 Thinner
Shade 3) 1 BR: 1 VMA Gold Brown: 3 Thinner
Shade 4) 1 Med. Camo Brown: 3 Thinner

At this point, I just couldn't get the shadows to work the way I wanted them to - the cleavage looked fine, but I really wanted to define a cheekbone line without being heavy handed. Anyway.

Highlight 1) 1 BS: 2 Thinner
Highlight 2) 1 BS: 1 VMC Light Flesh: 3 Thinner

I didn't really want to keep shading further as it just wasn't working for me, but I did want to add more of a pinkish tone to her skin, so I mixed up 2 Beige Red with 1 Scarlet Red (and 3 Thinner) and applied it almost as a shadow to her cheeks. Whaddayaknow, it did a much better job of defining the cheekbone and shading than my previous 4 layers! Still not perfect, but much better.

I added some VMA Ferrari Red to represent blood, and moved on to the hair.

So far, I've started with a VGA Bronze Fleshtone all over, then I mixed 1 VGA Gold Yellow with 2 Bad Moon Yellow and 2 Thinner and gave it a solid coat (the basecoat was really to get rid of the blue overspray from the air-brush). I've also now darkened it slightly with Citadel Gryphonne Sepia wash.

Finally, I've covered the cup in black followed by a dark base of VGA Gunmetal. Here's how she looks right now:

I'm really happy with how she's turned out so far, particularly the blend on the skirt. Next up I plan to blend from a mid-golden brown to a very light blond for the hair (hopefully blending individual strands to maintain definition between them), and finish the cup obviously.

Until then, Happy Hobbying!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

The Queen is dead! Long live the Queen!

So, while I've been chipping away at Long, I've had Queen Ariad in her human form (so, technically just Ariad) staring at me in a sad, half-painted state. I had such grandiose plans for her!

The box art seems to intimate that her bodice is quite a red/brown at the top and fades to a darker purple as it progresses downwards. So, a long time ago when I had my airbrush out for something else, I smoothly transitioned from a 50:50 mix of Scarlett Red and Mahogony at the top through Hexed Lichen and finally Imperial Blue at the bottom. The blend was hellishly smooth (that's why I love the airbrush) and the top part looked fantastically warm and red and the bottom cold and blue/purple, but the middle colours always bothered me - they just looked...muddy.

Anyway, I continued regardless. To tie the bandages back into the rest of the mini, I basecoated them in a Hexed Lichen and Wolf Grey mix that produced a nice rich lavender colour (1:4 from memory), then drybrushed over it with Wolf Grey, and then Wolf Grey with a touch of white.

Then on to the gold - there's an extremely fine spiderweb pattern modelled into her bodice, so I set to carefully painting all of this pattern in Glorious Gold, along with her head and the backpiece. Except the modelled spiderweb was either moulded so delicately, or my airbrush painted over it too thick, so as to make it impossible for me to get a smooth gold line on most of the pattern that I could see. Or perhaps it was just a lack of skill.

Finally, I set to highlighting her dress/cloak. Unfortunately, as I had blended using the airbrush, trying to highlight an extremely fine series of folds required me to continuously blend a highlight colour. It just didn't work.

By this stage I was seriously unhappy with how it all looked, and I could feel it sucking my painting motivation out of me. I set the miniature down, took a photo, and walked away from it to clear my head. Sitting outside with a coffee, I looked at the photo (below), and saw this:

1) The bandages looked horrible (I hate how drybrushing looks most of the time, but this was worse than I've seen in a while)
2) The highlighting on the dress/cloak looked horrible. There was a bright blue streak on one section, but you could hardy tell the rest was even highlighted
3) The gold spiderweb was horrible! Nuff said
4) There were obvious mould lines everywhere; on her arms and legs especially. On finely detailed elements like the bandages I think this is inevitable to an extent, but the drybrushing really brought all this out and made it more obvious.
5) Perhaps worst of all, I hadn't really noticed how chunky the paint looked in sections. The gold backpiece and parts of her skirt had visible lumps on them, and the holes in the backpiece were irregular and poorly cut out.

I knew immediately there was no saving it. I've considered it a couple of times, but for the first time in 20-odd years of painting, I ordered another copy of the miniature. I could have repainted her, but my crappy prep and blobby paint just couldn't be fixed to a point I'd be satisfied. Better to start with a fresh copy and make brand new mistakes with that one.

I'm not quite up to binning the old copy yet - because I don't care anyway, I experimented with something I should have just done but didn't want to risk it; I cut the backpiece off. This confirms that when the new copy comes I can do the same and have a much easier time painting both it and her back. I'm also going to try painting the bandages in pure Wolf Grey, then washing with purple to see if I get a cleaner effect than drybrushing.

So, Queen Ariad is dead. But a new copy is on its way, and I'll move on to something fresh and new in the meantime.

I've got both Lady Eliza Farrow and two Merriods sitting on my desk ready to go - I plan to work on them in parallel, but I'll post progress separately soon. Until then, happy hobbying!

Monday, 2 January 2017

It's been too Long!

So, it's been a couple of months since I last posted. For a nice change, that's not because I haven't been painting, though I did slow down due to the excruciating heat of Australian summer until I bought a portable air-con unit. It's made an absolutely huge difference, and I'm hoping that means painting won't have to be a winter-only hobby anymore as a result.

I haven't posted because I've been working on a secret project for one of my best friends to use in our D&D campaign.

After starting with a Dragonborn Barbarian, Big Dan decided his chosen personality wasn't quite washing well with the rest of the group, and since he'd been talking about inventing a Witcher class since we first started, we both decided it would be a perfect time to roll one up. Then we hatched a devious plan...we wouldn't tell the group what was going on until it unfolded in-game, so it'd be a complete surprise when his old character announced (at the grant old age of 4th level) that he was retiring from adventuring and staying in town. Needless to say, it was a shock to everyone, as was the poor NPC they'd been rescuing turning into Big Dan's new character. Loads of fun!

We wanted a miniature to represent the new Witcher character, and Big Dan wanted something pretty close to the characters from the novels and video games with the same names and preferably with a reference to wolves. Nothing from the Descent range suited, so we started searching online for something that would, and we quickly came across this:

Imperial Wolfbane Commandos from a science fiction game called Warzone Resurrection. Without making any promises of success, I quickly ordered them and set to converting the mini that most closely represented what we were looking for. It didn't take much - I simply cut off the designs on the chest and shoulders.

Now for some paint. Here's what I used:
Pants: 1 CG:1 B:2T, highlighted with CH
Chestplate and tunic: 1YO:1T, highlighted with successive additions of VMA BW
Cloak & Gloves: VMA BU, followed by 3BU:2CLB:3T, and finally CLB for extreme highlights
Belt & Boots: VMA CB followed by a drybrush of VMA BB
Face: VMC BR, then I kept added VMC BS until it was pure for highlight layers
Eyes: GY, edged with BMY
Wolf Pelt: For the wolf pelt, I wet blended bands of VGA DW, SWG, SG and B, from white where the wolf's underbelly would be through to black along its spine. I then highlighted with a light drybrush of SWG
Shoulders and Knee-guards: I started with a base coat of VMA DM, then lightly highlighted with VGA S.
Sword: Starting with a VGA CM base, I made two glazes to darken and highlight on opposite sides of the sword according to where I thought the light would fall, as follows:
- Shade: 1 VMA DM:2B:12 Glaze Medium
- Highlight: 1 VGA S:12 Glaze Medium
I then used these in about 10 coats each to slowly blend in the shadow and light.

Here's the final miniature, which I actually found the time to properly photograph for a change:

All in all I'm really happy with how he turned out. There's a few things that still bother me, which I may fix up at some point - his sword didn't come out the way I would have liked, and it's bent to boot (more on how to fix that in a future post). Looking at the photos, I need to check the wolf's eyes too - I don't remember it looking wrong on the mini, but the photo above makes it look like his upper eyelids and brow are yellow! I had also planned to paint his cloak using a VMA Mahogany base instead of Burnt Umber, but I mixed up the paint pots in one of many thin base coat layers and it was impossible to fix it without repriming the cloak. Oh well.

Anyhoo, was an interesting miniature to paint. I particularly liked how the wet-blend on the wolf pelt came out, along with the two-brush blend on the cloak and gloves.

Well that's it for now - I've got 4 more miniatures on my workbench right now, plus two more custom minis for my D&D crew, so expect more updates soon. Until then, happy hobbying!

Note: Unless otherwise specified, all paint is Vallejo Game Colour.
Paint codes used:
VGA - Vallejo Game Air
VGC - Vallejo Game Colour
VMA - Vallejo Model Air
VMC - Vallejo Model Colour
CG - Cold Grey
B - Black
YO - Yellow Olive
BW - Bonewhite
BU - Burnt Umber
CLB - Camo Light Brown
CB - Charred Brown
BB - Beasty Brown
BR - Beige Red
BS - Basic Skintone
GY - Golden Yellow
BMY - Bad Moon Yellow
DW - Dead White
SWG - Stonewall Grey
SG - Sombre Grey
CM - Chainmail
DM - Dark Metal
S - Silver
T - Thinner (10 Water : 1 Flow-Aid)

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Trenloe Complete

Finally complete! It's been several weeks since my last update, but I haven't stopped painting in that time - unfortunately the advice I've read is to leave oil-based washes for 24-48 hours to dry before either re-washing or varnishing and moving on to the next stage. Because I've been super-busy with work, I usually only get time to paint on weekends, so that's meant I only get to paint one wash layer before packing up for the weekend. Very frustrating slowness, but the results are more than worth it.

So, from where we were at the last update, I washed the silver armour with Windsor & Newton black oil paint (heavily thinned with odorless methylated spirits), and the gold with Burnt Umber. This provided a fantastic effect on the brown but I struggled quite a lot with the black - the goal of using oil-based washes is it provided a much lower surface tension compared to water-based acrylics, so it flows much better over the miniature and tends not to leave tide-lines.

The problem is that is has a much lower surface tension and flows much better over the miniature, so I ended up getting it literally everywhere!  Luckily, removing oil-based wash from a miniature once dry is as simple as wetting a clean brush with thinner and carefully brushing over areas you want to remove - it comes right off without leaving any staining at all on the layer beneath. This is why it's taken so long for me to finalise the miniature - I washed, touched up, washed, and re-touched up. So that's 4 x 48hours...

Anyway, once that was finished I edge-highlighted the silver and gold with the original Liquid Gold colours, and I spent a fair bit of time glazing the face as I really wasn't happy with how it was looking. To be honest, I'm still not happy with how it turned out, and it's likely the last time I'll be using the Vallejo Game Air range for flesh-tones again - Bronze Flesh is way too yellow and very difficult to bring warmth back to the overall tone. Probably just my lack of skill, but I think I'll stick to Vallejo Game Colour moving forward as they have a much nicer general Fleshtone colour to use as a base tone.

In the background, I've also spent some time mixing up my own acrylic washes. I frequently have issues using Vallejo's Game Colour Washes (I find them way too thick, and difficult to thin properly), and to be honest I really, really miss the old hex-pot based Citadel washes. Anyway, I've followed advice from Lester Bursley Miniatures and mixed Water (10 parts water : 1 part Liquitex Flow-Aid) and Matte Medium - 50:50, and then added various Daler Rowney acrylic-based inks to create a range of colours. My early tests with the final product are pretty promising but more on that as time progresses.

Here's my final pictures - still a bit messy, but very much keen to move on! Next up will be a bit of deviation from my normal Descent miniature painting, more on that in my next post. Until then, happy hobbying!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Trenloe the...shiny?

I'll get the hobbying in just a mo, but I wanted to take a second on something else first, so please bear with me...

The reason I had some hobby time tonight is because my wife went out with her sister. They don't go out much together outside of pretty regular coffee catch ups, so that's pretty rare itself, but tonight they had the special honour of being asked to attend the opening night of My Fair Lady at the Opera House in Sydney. They were invited because their mother, Paddy Roberts, was a dancer in the original Australian production of My Fair Lady back in the 60's and toured the world with the show. Pretty amazing stuff. Unfortunately Paddy passed away a few years back after a pretty inspiring battle with cancer, but the revival production company (directed by none other than Julie Andrews herself) weren't aware so they sent Paddy tickets for herself + 1 in respect for her original performance, and then allowed my wife and her sister to attend on her behalf. My wife's on her way home so I'm sure she's full of stories and a blend of emotions, but just wanted to share this story with whoevers reading this as its a pretty amazing story; to us anyway. 

So, as they say, on with the show! Back to Trenloe and my Frankensteinian experiments :)

Tonight I started by masking off the miniature so I could safely airbrush the shield. Now, I would advise way more patience than I displayed (I reckon I was lucky nothing went horribly wrong), but in short succession the shield received an airbrushing of Satin Varnish, then Chipping Medium, then Scarlett Red. After each coat I'd simply use the airbrush to spray pure air on the model for 10 minutes until it was dry to the touch. Like I said, I'm surprised I got away with it. 

Here's the shield masked off and ready for chipping:

I then used a damp brush (a standard Kolinsky, which is surprising given I'd read I should use a stiff brush) to wet sections of the shield and slowly brush away the Scarlett paint, revealing the woodgrain underneath. I worked slowly and cautiously until I realised how hard it was to judge whether I'd removed enough red with all the masking, so I set to removing both the tape and the masking fluid. This brings me to the only minor issue I experienced all night - the masking fluid was an absolute fucking nightmare to remove! Now, granted I used a bottle that has been sitting on a shelf for a little over a year, so maybe it was way thicker than it should have been. I also wasn't masking a nice flat surface, it was detailed and curvey and quite complex. But I easily sat there with my toothpick and at a few stages a scalpel too, pulling away what had both the consistency and visual appeal of dirty snot! Sorry for the visual, but it's a direct correlation to my experience with this stuff. Painful. Slow. It probably took me longer than the 3 airbrush coats and chipping...oh well, lesson learned. 

In the end I decided to leave the chipping where it was - it looks great and did exactly what I'd hoped, it really does look like the front of his shield was originally painted red, but years of battle has worn away the paint until only a hint remains on an otherwise bare wooden shield. I'm very pleased, and impressed with Vallejo's chipping medium (the newer, smaller bottle. No idea if it's the same as the old rebadged AK formula Vallejo still sell in the larger bottle). I'll go back in and hit the larger areas of Scarlett with a highlight in Blood Red, but other than that, the jobs' a goodun. 

To finish off the night, I painted the shield and shoulder pad detail and his belt buckle in Vallejo's amazing Liquid Gold, this time in Old Gold. I also touched up some red overspray with Silver while I was at it. I really can't speak too highly of this paint - beyond feeling a little high from the fumes, it really does give an authentic "metal" look that I've never seen in a miniature-targeted paint. I had also planned to create some small highlights in Liquid Gold's "gold" colour, but alas I've been sent a bad bottle and it had coagulated in the bottom of the pot. I ran it in my Paint Shaker (brilliant little machine, that) for a full 10 minutes, and while I've found 30 seconds to be sufficient to properly mix a bottle of acrylic paint no matter how badly separated, this stuff was just way past saving. Oh well, I don't think it'll matter in the long run.

So, next up I'll seal the whole miniature in Satin Varnish, then I get to play with oil washes for the first time :) I've got to say, while I think I did a horrible job on his face, this miniature really does feel like it's coming together nicely - the colours all work well together and it certainly provides a strong contrast to Shiver who I painted before him. The experiments are also teaching me a great deal about new techniques too, so that's invaluable. 

Anyway, I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of where he's at for now. Hopefully I can get back to him this weekend because the oil washes really will make a huge difference in terms of detailing. Until then, Happy Hobbying!


Sunday, 4 September 2016

Descent: I'm back baby!!! (again)

Wow, just over a year has passed since my last blogpost, and it feels horrible!

I've always been a sporadic painter, I'll hit it hard for 5 or 6 weeks and then can't seem to find the time. It's frustrating because it's absolutely the worst way to learn a skill - every time I take a break I come back rusty and have to relearn everything again. It's actually why I started this blog - it at least lets me document things like colour schemes and techniques I've tried and their success or failure. Unfortunately, I also live in a house where the study I paint in is closer to the sun than Mercury during summer, so I actually only have about 12 weeks of painting time left before it's not going to be possible due to the heat. 

Anyway, enough waffle. Trenloe...I started him alongside Shiver and then shelved him to focus on more necromantic pursuits. So, time to get back to the shiny knight (and boy is he shiny!)

1) I started with the skirt:
     a) 2 DY : 2 BB : 3T to shade and tone down the yellow tones 
     b) 2 DY : 2 ES : 1T for a first highlight
     c) 2 DY : 6 ES : 2T for the final highlight
     d) I edged the skirt with some thinned down VGC Brown Ink

2) The face was a bit of a nightmare. I'm still not all that pleased with it, but after two repaints I'm worried I'll start getting chalky build-up. Here's what I ended up with:
     a) Pure ES base
     b) Custom purple wash (see below) to shade
     c) Re-base coat in pure ES
     d) Highlight in 1:1 ES and PF
     e) For the stubble, I used the ES/PF mix and added just a touch of CG. I thinned this heavily and slowly built up the hairline. I didn't think it was dark enough but I was scared if I went any darker it'd be way too dark so I've left it. 

3) Belt, bags, red sash on skirt, weapon - all the little bits that needed to be done were pretty basic. BB on the bags and belt, CB on the weapon haft, SR on the skirt hem, and BW with a wash of VGC Brown Ink. 

4) Silver, silver, everywhere! So, this was one of the two experiments I wanted to run on Trenloe - Vallejo's Liquid Gold paint range. This paint really is something else, and went way beyond my expectations - as you can see from the pics it's basically chrome in a can! The only downside to this amazing stuff is that it's thinned in alcohol instead of water, so I grabbed some 100% isopropyl alcohol from the local HW store and set to work. It has amazing coverage, it's easy to work with, and the results were fantastic. The only thing left to do on the armour is to wash it with black/brown, but that's for the next update. 

5) The I wanted to do something a little different for Trenloe's shield. In the box art it looks like he has a wooden shield either covered in blood smears or red paint that has flaked off in battle. I've assumed the latter because a blood soaked shield just didn't make sense to me for this model. To that end I've decided to try using Vallejo's Chipping Medium to recreate the effect. This medium is supposed to be airbrushed onto a sealed colour coat, after which you paint on a different colour and then use a damp brush to "activate" the medium and remove sections of the second colour, exposing the original underneath. My idea is to paint a wooden shield, then airbrush it Scarlett and use the medium to remove most of the Scarlett coat in as natural a worn and chipped look as I can. 

I've started with the wood (on both faces of the shield). I wanted something akin to ash wood, so I used a mix of 2 CG : 6 LB : 1T, and then carefully painted hair-thin squiggly lines in VGC Brown Ink to represent wood grain.

Not knowing if airbrushing the Chipping Medium onto the decorations on the shield would layer cause me issues with Liquid Gold (isopropyl is a pretty strong solvent after all), I thought it would be wise to also paint on some Vallejo masking fluid. Big mistake! This shit is horrible! It's very likely it's because I've had it sitting on the shelf for over a year but it was like adding a cup of water to playdough and trying to brush it onto the model! No idea if it will protect the model, or even come off later when I want it to, but there's not much I can do about it now /shrug

That's it for now. Here's some pics of where I've left it:

From here the plan is to finish the shield (varnish, Chipping Medium, Scarlett, then weather it back to the wood grain), remove the masking fluid on the shield and paint his belt buckle, shoulder pad, shield decoration and the two circles on his breastplate in Vallejo Liquid Gold, varnish the model and finally wash with oil-based washes. 

Hopefully I'll get all that done without another 14 month break! Anyway, until them, Happy Hobbying!