Thursday, 18 December 2014

Ax Faction Zombie Hunter [WIP - Zombie]

Meet Fabio ...  he has had a horrible day. At the break of dawn, Fabio was a dashing knight with flowing blonde locks, a tanned warrior's physique and a flowing green cloak to (in his own words) bring out the highlights in his eyes. But as dusk approached, Fabio was a pale reflection of his former self - his blonde hair was all stringy while his body had become emaciated with a sickly purplish skin tone. At least he no longer had to worry about the highlights in his eyes especially with the now glowing yellow sclera. Zombification would have been bad enough but it got even worse for poor Fabio as his neck and many other body parts met the sharp end of a Zombie Hunter's axe.      

Undead corpse in the Ax Faction Zombie Hunter base
Top down view of the zombie

From the start I had wanted the zombie to stand out rather than blend into the background but in an unorthodox way. Instead of painting lots of gore, I painted the zombie corpse in bright pastel-like colours. The only gore visible on Fabio was a pool of blood accumulating around his neck and rib cage ... that and the hint of innards painted into the cross-section of the zombie's torso and arm.    

Bright colours on a zombie ... eww?
Blood is pooling around his neck courtesy of a slash to the jugular by the Zombie Hunter
Cross-section of the arm and torso was painted to hint at innards

For an idea of how small the zombie itself was, out came the paper clip and coin for a scale shot.

Fabio the zombie next to a paper clip and five sen coin for scale

So there you have it,more progress on the 32-mm Ax Faction Zombie Hunter. The stage is now set for the focal point of the whole piece i.e. the hunter who incidentally looks like a main character from the Walking Dead TV series. That my dear readers, is a story for another day.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

A short break in my hometown of Penang

It has been a while since I have managed a trip to my hometown of Penang, so this has indeed been great week for the family with lots of time spent getting reacquainted with the island's world famous street hawker food. This short holiday was also a welcome break from my daily routine and helped recharge my creative juices. In fact, I haven't been back to Penang since I started painting miniatures more than three years ago so it got me looking at the local sites from a different perspective i.e. the many different colour schemes on old heritage buildings and the surrounding environment. Rather than bore you with some family photos, below are a few of the 'colour scheme' photographs I took.  

At the new bridge heading towards George Town, the capital of Penang Island
George Town World Heritage Inc building ... this old uncle happened to cycle by as I took a shot
What are the odds ... an old heritage shophouse (and random tourist) in a colour scheme similar to my Mother of Dragons 
A row of old heritage Penang shophouses repainted in bright colours
Dark clouds were beginning to gather late one afternoon near Gurney Drive, a main road next to the North Channel
A shot I got late one evening as the sun was setting on the island

Next week will see me resuming my same old same old routine but at least I have some miniature painting to look forward to, and that's never a bad thing. Until then, have a good weekend!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Last Night on Earth: Starfleet Survivor Christine Chapel

Head Nurse Christine Chapel is yet another survivor who escaped the first wave of zombification together with Sulu and two other yet-to-be-named characters. I must admit I am continually and pleasantly being caught by surprise by the level of detail in these Last Night on Earth (LNoE) board game pieces. Granted that 'traditional' miniatures catered to painters are much more detailed and better sculpted, these tiny board game pieces still impressed me e.g. the hair on this Christine Chapel look alike. It was a no-brainer to use LNoE's Becky the nurse to substitute for head nurse Chapel.  

Starfleet survivor and head nurse of the USS Enterprise, Christine Chapel
With most shotguns made out of non-metal composite materials, I didn't have to use any metallic paints (yeaaa)
But Christine Chapel is blonde you scream ...

If you are a Star Trek: The Original Series enthusiast, let's get the proverbial elephant in the room out of the way first. In the 1960's TV show, Christine Chapel sported a blonde hairdo so technically if you are picky I have made a major blunder in her colour scheme. But I broke with canon and went with red hair because I felt it would make the overall colours more vivid. Actually if you observe the same character many years later in the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, you can clearly see that she now spots dark brownish hair. So Chapel would not have been adverse to sporting red hair. 

Christine Chapel was played by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry 
Orange hair made for a better combination with the blue-grey-azure dress and green satchel
Side views of Head Nurse Christine Chapel

Here is a bit of Star Trek trivia for you ... did you know that Majel Barret also portrayed Lwaxana Troi i.e. mother of Deana Troi who is a major character in the Star Trek: The Next Generation. And she is also the voice of most of the onboard computer interfaces heard throughout the TV series. 

Her hair was well sculpted and made painting it very easy
Her skin tone was painted with a rosy undertone
I felt red hair made for a better colour combo with her green satchel and blue/azure dress

For her skin tone, I referred again to online references and found a Vallejo Model Color paint recipe for rosy skin. The rosy flesh colours formed an undertone upon which lighter skin shades were painted on. I might have gone a tad overboard with the lightness of her skin but I am happy the rosy undertones still managed to show through. In such cases, it helps to paint in dilute and thin layers. 

Chapel shown next to a 31-mm paperclip and the smallest coin in the Malaysian currency

Next up in this LNoE-Star Trek project is another major character from the Original Series who speaks Klingon. If you are a fan you know who I am talking about but if you're not please stay tuned!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Last Night on Earth: Starfleet Survivor Hikaru Sulu

Based on the previously stated premise that the Starfleet survivors are garbed in 20th century Earth clothes, I proceeded to mix and match the Last Night on Earth (LNoE) survivor miniatures with Star Trek: The Original Series characters that they best portrayed. First up, I used LNoE's Johnny the high-school quarterback to respresent Mr. Hikaru Sulu, helmsman for the starship USS Enterprise.   

Starfleet survivor and USS Enterprise helmsman, Mr. Hikaru Sulu
What does SK stand for? Either Sulu Kato or the fictional Starfleet Kestrels
A combination of flesh and earth colours were used to mimic Japanese skin tone

There were some details on the miniature that made it, for me at least, suitable for use as Sulu. For example, the initials 'SK' on the jacket can actually represent the words Sulu Kato. In some Japanese versions of Star Trek, Sulu's family name was changed to Kato, so in this sense the initials take on a whole new meaning. The initials can also be used to depict a fictional 23rd century baseball team i.e. Starfleet Kestrels (non-canon and totally made up by me). Incidentally, the green-blue colour scheme used here is based on the scout patrol colours of my youth ... Kestrel Patrol. This blast from the past was dredged up from the depths of my memories when gazing upon a fellow hobbyist's Eldar.

Deprived of his fencing foil Sulu grabbed hold of the next best thing, an official Starfleet Kestrels' baseball bat
Back view of Mr. Hikaru Sulu

Moreover, the way his face was sculpted approximated Asian-like facial feature. Building on that, I used a combination of flesh and earth colours from the Vallejo Model Color range in my collection to recreate Japanese skin tone colours. The skin tone was based roughly from a paint recipe I found online but I modified the recipe to incorporate more earth colours to get the ethnic hue I wanted.  

Denim texture on Sulu's pant's turned out to be the most challenging bit
Side view showcasing more detailed work on the denim jeans

Most challenging part of painting this LNoE board game piece/miniature was the denim texture on his pants. Because I had forgotten to record the colours I used when painting the same texture on Knight Models Logan, I literally had to start from scratch when I realised I had actually also forgotten the technique I used (to a certain extent). So that meant a lot of trial and error before I achieved the denim texture results you see in the photos on this post. To accompany the predominately green-blue colour scheme arising of out the jacket and jean colours, I also added orange hues on the jacket buttons as well as stripes on both sports shoes in order to (hopefully) make all the colours 'pop' more.

Orange hues were strategically placed into the overall green-white-blue colour scheme
Mr. Sulu next to a paper clip and the smallest denomination in the Malaysian currency

For a sense of scale, I placed a 31-mm paper clip as well as a five sen coin next to the miniature as you can see in the immediate photo above. At this scale, painting his eyes were next to impossible for someone of my skill level. I spent about 5 to 6 hours straight just working on the eyes alone and I am still unhappy with the results. I tried using a magnifying lamp to help me paint the eyes but it seemed to make things worse so I ditched that and painted it using my naked eye instead. I did, however, have the help of a 6/0 Raphael Kolinsky Sable Brush to paint his eyes so it wasn't all bad I guess. In the end, I am fairly happy with how Sulu turned out, especially when considering his small scale.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Nocturna Models Enchantment [WIP - Soft colours]

In perhaps a bout of overconfidence, I decided to forgo the use of a colour wheel when deciding on the three main soft colours I wanted on the Nocturna Models Enchantment 70-mm scale miniature. All I had in-hand were some reference photos of all the costumes ever worn by Emilia Clark when portraying Daenerys Targayen in the HBO series Game of Thrones, from which I picked and chose several colours that I liked and felt might go well together. Now in all fairness to the series' costume designers, these three colours were never used together in one costume. And it had me worried.

Nocturna Models Enchantment, work-in-progress - deciding the main soft colours
All three colours had to be muted for them to co-exist peacefully and not clash
I'm too sexy for my ... (admit it, that song is in your head now)

Soon after I had finished laying down the main soft colours, I panicked big time and started to second guess my choice of colours. Moreover, I couldn't really find these three combinations in the colour wheel. Then I remembered a book in my collection which I had forgotten about until now - Color Index by Jim Krause. To my relief, I found that the colours I used is indeed a valid combination when used as light tints, which my soft pastel-like colours kinda resemble. But some good did come out of my impetuousness -  if I had referred to the color wheel beforehand I would never have selected the colours I did. Also, I now have a new tool in my miniature painting hobby, the Color Index book.

To my relief, the leftmost 'Light Tints' colour combination on the top row shows my choice does exist  
Adding light pastel green into the mix, made it less Barbiesque

Going forward, there are two important things I need to do with regards to painting the clothes worn by the Nocturna Models Enchantment figure. Firstly, I will have to place more of the three main soft colours at strategic locations on the miniature to ensure they complement each other well. Secondly, I will have to decided on a neutral colour I can use to tie the whole piece together. This colour will also be sourced from the many costumes worn by Emilia Clarke when dressed as Daenerys Targayen.

Next up, the three main soft colours will be strategically placed at other parts of the miniature ...
... and a suitable neutral colour will be added to tie everything together

This has been an unproductive week hobby wise. My son came down with high fever so I dropped everything hobby-related to take care of his illness. He is recovering now so I should be able to get more painting done soon. That is unless I am coming down with the bug he had ... perish the thought!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Ax Faction Zombie Hunter [WIP - Base]

When working on Ax Faction miniatures, I have come to expect highly detailed bases. The Zombie Hunter is no exception with it's cliff-like structure with a dead zombie (hey, an oxymoron) sprawled at the bottom. I love a mini with a well sculpted base as it saves me the trouble of creating my own. 

Ax Faction Zombie Hunter, work-in-progress with just the base completed

While I am pretty sure the Ax Faction Zombie Hunter's base was meant to be painted as a small stone cliff, it also had a texture that reminded me of a gnarled tree bark. So with that in mind, I primarily used dry brushing and washes to replicate the texture as well as colours found on tree bark. 

Base was sculpted in such a way that I felt it could be painted either as a small stony cliff or gnarled tree bark
Back of the base was painted to somewhat resemble wood grain

In keeping with the wood-theme, I also tried painting the back of the base to somewhat resemble wood grain. At this stage, it looks like it will need a fair bit more work before I am happy with it.

Tree bark was painted primarily via a combination of dry brushing and washes
Zombie on the base is highly detailed and will be the part painted next
Good details on the base made painting it fun and easy

Next up for the 32-mm Ax Faction Zombie Hunter will be the zombie at the foot of the base. I have a rough idea of the skin tone I want to achieve but still no clue as to what colour I should use for its cloak. That in turn will determine the colour scheme for the Zombie Hunter himself. Well, that's it for this short update on my miniature project pipeline. Thanks for reading and have a good weekend.
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