Friday, 24 April 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron, Hot Toys 1/6th Scale Collectible Figures Exhibition

Before watching the latest Avengers movie Age of Ultron, I managed to catch the Malaysian leg of the Age of Ultron Hot Toys Exhibition Asia Tour. What with it being the last day of the exhibition and that day falling on a Sunday, the figurines display area was unsurprisingly crowded with jostling onlookers. Combined with rather bad lighting on some of the display cases, the task of taking macro shots of the collectible figures sometimes bordered on the impossible. On occasion I even had some nonchalant bystanders stand in front of my camera lens while I was in the midst of framing my shot. So in the end, I made do with fewer shots on the more detailed figures from the Hot Toys collection.

Hot Toys 1/6th Scale Collectible Figure - Black Widow
Hot Toys figures have a reputation for realistic faces, Black Widow was no exception
Black Widow is one of my favourite Hot Toys figures, superseded only by Babydoll (Sucker Punch)  

For me at least, the two main attractions were the Hot Toys 1/6th scale Avengers collectible figures and the life-sized Iron Man Hulkbuster armour (see last photo on this post). I have always been a huge fan of the figures produced by Hot Toys. Not only is the amount of detail found in each doll .... errr 'action' figure ... amazing, their faces also look very realistic and extremely life-like.      

Hot Toys 1/6th Scale Collectible Figure - Captain America
Clothing details on the Captain America figure were very impressive

My favourite of the lot is the Black Widow but even she is not my all-time favourite from the Hot Toys collection. That honour belongs to their Sucker Punch Baby Doll figure (click here to see her).

Hot Toys 1/6th Scale Collectible Figure - Iron Man Mark XLIII
Tony Stark's 43rd armour suit in all its shining glory
Hot Toys 1/6th Scale Collectible Figure - Warmachine Mark II
Hot Toys 1/6th Scale Collectible Figure - Tony Stark in battle-damaged armour

Equally impressive was the Iron Man Hulkbuster Armour. Built roughly in life-sized scale, it towered nearly two stories high. Slipping into this beast during rush hour traffic would be a dream come true. 

A life-sized Hulkbuster armour ... I need me one of these for sure

I'm looking forward to seeing Age of Ultron soon although I am pretty sure all the good tickets for this weekend would have sold out by now. If that's the case, then hopefully the missus and I can catch a screening of this latest Avengers movie next week. Until next time, enjoy your weekend.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Graphite-free for way too long & WIP Shailene Woodley portrait drawing practice with pencils

My, how time flies. I was caught unawares by how long it has been since I last picked up a pencil and drew - more than nine months to be exact. For someone trying to improve his meager drawing skills, three-quarters of a year is just too long a period to be without any form of practice with graphite on paper. This oversight needs to be rectified if I'm to have any hope of being half decent at drawing.   

Work-in-Progress (WIP) for Portrait Practice #11 - Shailene Woodley

Because it has been a while since my last portrait drawing, I guess it will take sometime for me to get up to speed ... at least to the skill level that I was last at. Hopefully, I can then build some momentum in my attempt to learn figure drawing which is a whole different kettle of fish altogether. For now, both portrait and figure drawing with pencils (and eventually pen) is in my drawing hobby to-do-list.

All my portrait drawings start with basic line art to block in major shapes of the face
To get back into the groove of drawing, I started with some practice
Feeling comfortable with a pencil again, I proceeded to draw the portrait itself 
At this stage of the drawing, the shading on her face as well as around the eyes are still in a state of flux. Moreover, I have yet to pencil in her mouth and nose hence the 'peekaboo' WIP photo. And knowing myself, I will most likely go back to her hair to try and improve it in anyway that I can.

Peekaboo ... a closeup of my WIP drawing from a more 'head-on' angle

It feels good to be drawing again. And there is definitely no shortage of interesting personalities to draw. My current portrait drawing is of Shailene Woodley who plays Tris in the movies Divergent and Insurgent. You may also recognise her from her lead role as Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars. I seem to be drawn to (pun unintended) strong-willed female characters so it comes as no surprise that I also plan to draw Contance Wu who plays super-mom Jessica Huang in the new TV series Fresh Off the Boat. Until my next post, here are some words from Mama Huang which I can relate to ... You know what gives me nightmares. Our bank account. Stephen King should publish my chequebook.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A new title for my blog

After weeks of agonising over what to rename my blog, I finally settled on something simple and straightforward i.e. Art and Musings of a Miniature Hobbyist. It's definitely a mouthful but it will have to do for now as I couldn't for the life of me come up with anything catchy or clever. However, it's more relevant to what I currently blog about. With the passage of time, I have grown in this hobby and now paint miniatures of all sizes from various product lines. Moreover, I've taken more than a passing interest in drawing and plan to slowly develop my skills in both portrait and figure drawing. And if in the future I start learning to sculpt miniatures myself, the new blog title remains applicable. 

URL for this blog remains the same ( with only the title changing. Hopefully, you will still join me as I seek to master the art of drawing as well as miniature painting.

Friday, 10 April 2015

SDE Hexcast Sorceress [WIP - Hair] & Seeking inspiration for a new blog name and banner

Following the rather dark and gloomy miniature piece I completed in my last post, I felt an urge to paint a 'brighter and happier' subject matter. So on cue to satisfy my wish is a Super Dungeon Explore heroine board game piece, my fifth in this anime chibi figure series i.e. the Hexcast Sorceress.    

Super Dungeon Explore Hexcast Sorceress, work-in-progress on her hair
Light violet hair contrasts with orange pony holder and turquoise hair beads
Fine strokes with the brush to give her hair some volume
Hexcast Sorceress have a slightly different colour scheme than the original

This time around, I plan to slightly alter the character's original colour scheme (shown below). What I hope to do is add some peachy pink as well as yellowish orange hues to the predominantly purple, violet, turquoise and gold mix. Although the orange pony holder currently looks too warm and a tad out of place in the Hexcast Sorceress's violet hair accessorized with turquoise beads, I expect it to blend into the overall colour scheme when the golds and light peachy pink colours come into play.  

Hexcast Sorceress, colour scheme as per game cart art
Super Dungeon Explore Hexcast Sorceress, work-in-progress (hair, top view)

Seeking inspiration for a new blog name and banner ...
Back in 2011, I started this blog to document my journey into the world of miniatures, especially those from the Warhammer 40,000 universe with an eye towards tabletop-gaming with my painted pieces. But since then, I have become fascinated solely by the art aspect of this hobby and had started painting miniatures from a wider variety of sources. Also, my renewed fascination with art in general as evidenced by my early attempts at portrait drawing means that my current blog name and banner graphic is no longer representative of what my posts are about. So it's back to the drawing board, awaiting inspiration for a new blog name and banner. Until then, have yourself a great weekend!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Ax Faction Zombie Hunter [Completed ... sort of ]

Ax Faction's Zombie Hunter was one of those pieces in which almost every colour decision I made turned out to be the wrong one. Mistake was compounded by further mistakes to produce an overall colour scheme that seems a bit off to me. On the bright side, I managed to get fairly good results on the hunter's pants and skin tone. But still, I regret not doing this miniature the justice it deserves.

Ax Faction Zombie Hunter [Completed sans freehand designs on cloak]
Zombie corpse on the base was painted in uncharacteristically light pastel colours  
The piece's overall mood resisted being too gloomy because of the corpse's colour scheme
Back view of the Ax Faction Zombie Hunter

Perhaps one of the key reasons that the overall colour scheme is not all what it should be is because of my decision to paint the zombie corpse in bright pastel colours. I did this to bring out the hard to see details on the corpse as a duller and darker colour scheme could have hidden such details. On the flip side, it kind of goes against the convention of what zombies are supposed to look like.

Blood splatter on the axe was painted using Tamiya Clear Red X-27
Not exactly a Marsala coloured cloak as intended but close enough
Zombie Hunter sports dark brown hair in contrast to the blonde zombie

I haven't completely shut the door on this piece yet hence its status of being sort of completed. One possible addition to the Ax Faction Zombie Hunter would be some freehand designs or patterns on the cloak. The overly dynamic and 'flowing' nature of the cloak means doing such freehand painting is way beyond my skill level at the moment but perhaps a possible consideration in the future after I've had much more freehand painting practice on a less dynamic piece of clothing. 

Unfortunately, reflection of the lamp light on the cloak doesn't do the colour transitions justice
Less reflection from the lighting shows of a better view of the cloak
Painted in bright colours to bring out its details, the zombie corpse could've arguably worked better in duller colours

As with all the other Ax Faction resin miniatures, the incredible amount of detail in such a small figure continues to astound me. In fact, I don't think I can get a highlight on the hunter's pupil on his right eye, unless I have an electron microscope and some nano technology tools (OK, perhaps I am exaggerating ... a little bit). But then again, I'm not confident enough to try hence contributing to the almost completed status of this piece. However, another part of me (rightly or wrongly) resisted putting on a highlight on the pupil because the hunter's eye looks like it's encased in shadows.

Looking towards the back of his shoulder, the hunter is aware of a new threat
This is how small the Ax Faction Zombie Hunter miniature really is

Despite the pastel zombie, the overall colour scheme is still sufficiently gloomy for me to seek a more 'bright and happy' miniature to work on. So I guess it's about time I resumed painting pieces from the Super Dungeon Explore board game. Speaking of which, after finishing the rather dark and depressing Murakami novel titled Sputnik Sweetheart, I needed a change of pace in my reading material and picked up the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. I tend to read across all genres (this one being under the Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction genre) as I believe a good book tells a good story regardless of what reader segment it aspires to. So for the rest of the week, it's more reading for me with some painting and drawing thrown in. I hope your week will be just as fun!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Knight Models The Hulk [Completed]

With two main parts of the Knight Models The Hulk 1/28th scale miniature already completed earlier - namely his skin tone and denim jeans - finishing this green superhero's overall paint job was pretty easy. The base was done up with dry brushing and washes while The Hulk's face required more detailed brush work, especially to help define the pupils as well as each individual tooth (of which the lower row was better defined than the upper one due to my own missteps but I was too darn lazy to rectify seeing that they were not truly visible to the naked eye - only a macro lens can show this up).  

Closeup of the Knight Models The Hulk 1/28th scale miniature

Working on this Knight Model figure primarily allowed me to improve my skin tone wet blending and layering skills as well as try to perfect my take on painted denim texture. As The Hulk was practically all skin and pants, I could fully concentrate on both techniques without worrying too much about keeping neat lines amongst many small details as is the case for most of my other miniatures.  

Knight Models The Hulk [Completed]
Nicely sculpted musculature made it easier to define shadows and highlights on The Hulk's skin
An exposed rusty pipes added some variety to an otherwise humdrum base

All in all I found Hulk an easy miniature to paint with the main challenges arising from trying to get smooth transitions on his skin tone and a realistic denim texture on his jeans. Easy to paint but doing it well is another matter entirely, something I do not lay claim to in my finished piece you see here.  

Base comprises three different layers of asphalt which didn't show up clearly in the photo  
Back view of the Knight Models The Hulk [Completed]
Hulk's pants were painted to resemble denim texture

Hulk's base was dry brushed with varying shades of grey before brown hues were added to show the different layers present in a cracked asphalt road. An exposed pipe below Hulk's right leg was painted to resemble a rusted bronze pipe. Finally some black and brown washes were applied to tie the whole thing together. All of it was pretty humdrum stuff as bases is my Achilles heel in miniature painting. 

The Hulk didn't require a lot of head scratching to determine its colour scheme

360 view of Knight Models The Hulk
To view The Hulk in 360 degrees, please check out the YouTube video below. For videos of other selected miniatures I have painted, please visit my YouTube channel FourEyedMonster Miniatures. Please remember to choose high definition (HD) for the best video viewing option.

Thus far, all the figures in my Marvel Universe miniature painting project have been superheroes namely Iron Man, Logan, Spider-Man and The Hulk. I suppose it's about time I started work on a supervillain instead. To kick off the darker half of this project, I plan to prep Loki (infamous step brother of Thor) as soon as I finish painting some other miniatures that are in their final stages.

Meanwhile, in keeping with my continuing reading binge I picked up a more serious novel this time by Haruki Murakami titled Sputnik Sweetheart, a dark novel with loneliness as its main theme. While not everyone's cup of tea, Murakami's works are enjoyable for the characters that he brings to life via words. Thus far, this being his second book I have read after Norwegian Wood, I have found myself eagerly turning the pages of his work, driven by curiosity as to what is going to happen next to his characters. Only negative to all this reading is less time for my miniatures. Oh well ... c'est la vie!

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