Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Star Wars Star Destroyer [Completed]

With the Star Destroyer done, that's another must-do-item ticked off my bucket list. Finally that space ship that filled the entire movie screen much to the wide-eyed wonder of a then 5-year-old is up on my shelf amongst my other collectibles. Granted Bandai's existing version is a tad small at 111-mm in length. But until the day I can get my hand on a bigger-scale Star Destroyer, this one will do nicely.  

Bandai Star Wars Vehicle Model 001 - Star Destroyer [Completed with paints]
Main ion engines are just coming online but the emergency ion engines are still offline

Painting the Star Destroyer's hull saw me use Tamiya Acrylic Paints for the first time. I found the solvent-based paints to be a bit more of a hassle to use especially during the clean up process which involves the use of isopropyl alcohol in place of water. Attuned to working with water-based paints and a wet palette for so long, I guess I've gotten used to the minimal cleaning. Getting smooth coats with either types of paint is essentially based on the same concept i.e. patiently applying numerous very thin coats of paint while making sure each layer is dry before applying the next one. For the hull, I used a mixture of Tamiya Flat White (XF-2) and Sky Grey (XF-19) at a ratio of roughly 9 to 1.  

Vallejo fluorescent yellow mixed with white provided a simulation of the ship's lighting
To mimic the main ion engines in action, a mixture of blue and white paint was used
A very light grey hue covers the Star Destroyer's hull; mixed using Tamiya XF-2 (Flat White) and XF-19 (Sky Grey)

To simulate lights emitting from the Star Destroyer, I reverted to my good old water-based paints or more specifically the Vallejo Model Color Fluorescent Yellow mixed with White. While the final effects will never be as good as actual emitted light, it still looks acceptable enough at this scale. Meanwhile I used Citadel Regal Blue mixed with white to simulate the ion engines with their hyperdrive engaged.

Bandai Star Destroyer [Side view, leftt]
Bandai Star Destroyer [Side view, right]
Bandai Star Destroyer [Top and bottom views]

Admittedly I got bored pretty quickly with the Star Destroyer's monotone colour scheme.This plastic model kit is all about the iconic triangular design with the paint job a secondary concern if at all.

To bring out details, a mix of Tamiya Panel Line Accent Color Black plus Grey was applied
Based on looks alone, I would say it's an Imperial II-Class Star Destroyer
At certain angles the light catches the display stand thus breaking the illusion of a vehicle in space
Primary docking bay would have benefited greatly from some LED lighting
With such a monotone colour scheme, the 'sexiness' factor lies mainly in the ship's hull design

Based on close scrutiny of movie screenshots, I'm aware random grey panels can be found scattered all over the ship's main hull. However, I felt it was impossible to accurately depict the grey panels at such a small scale without causing the Star Destroyer to take on a darker hue. So I made do with washes and panel lining (Tamiya Panel Line Accent Color - Black/Grey) to bring out the details.

Lets put all our senior officers on a bridge that sticks out like a sore thumb ... what could go wrong?
Hyperdrives engaged, course locked in ... the rebels are doomed

This mini Star Wars project was ever only going to be a short diversion to keep me busy while I was trying to figure out some colour schemes for other projects. In a way it was the perfect in-between-project due to its simplicity. Sometimes it's good to keep busy while allowing ideas to gestate on the back of your mind. Also in the midst of this busywork I was inspired to add two new figurines (70 mm and 80 mm) into my project pipeline. Details to follow but suffice to say for now that it involves a long-standing universe that I have yet to sink my teeth into, miniature painting-wise that is.


Friday, 19 August 2016

Star Wars Star Destroyer [Assembled; unpainted]

Assembling this Star Destroyer is so simple that if you aren't a perfectionist the whole process can be completed in under two hours or even within one. Of course if you're like me, then assembly can take considerably longer what with the careful removal of the runner/gate from the actual parts; the tedious cleanup work after; the gluing together of certain sections for better adherence despite parts being of the snap-fit variety; and last but not least the constant dropping of small parts by clumsy fingers followed by expletive-filled-rants while looking for said parts while they just under your nose.

Bandai Star Wars Star Destroyer - assembled but unpainted
Unpainted, this Star Destroyer could almost pass off as a brand new vehicle fresh off the space dock ... almost

Even unpainted the Bandai Star Destroyer already looks very impressive indeed. They could almost pass off as those new whitish Star Destroyers you see in the Rogue One movie trailers. But almost doesn't quite cut it and something feels incomplete about them. With good LED lighting, one could perhaps get away with not having to paint this model kit. Unfortunately microelectronics is a skill set I do not posses hence I'll have to rely on old fashioned acrylics paints to breath some life into it.

Bandai Star Destroyer [Front view, assembled but unpainted]
Bandai Star Destroyer [Back view, assembled but unpainted]

Without any panel lining or washes, it's a bit hard to make out the fantastic details on this plastic model kit especially those on the Star Destroyer's main hull. However, at certain angles (see photo above) you can clearly see the potential this model kit has even at this small scale (see last photo). 

Bandai Star Destroyer [Top and bottom view, assembled but unpainted]

The fact that in addition to a black wash I only have whites, greys, yellows and blues to work with on the colour scheme - it's going to be tough to paint/create a realistic looking Star Destroyer especially one that's in full flight in space. If there was ever a model for which LED lighting was better suited than solely paints then the Star Destroyer is it. Best I can hope for is to give it an illusion of reality.  

Shadowed exterior of the Star Destroyer's lower hull 
Course calculated, hyperdrive ready to engage ... but sir she's still unpainted

Measuring about 111 mm in length, the Star Destroyer just about fits into the palm of my hand. I hope Bandai eventually produces one at a bigger scale but for now she'll have to do.

Measurement of the Bandai Star Destroyer plastic model kit - about 111 mm in length

She - Star Destroyers are always a she aren't they? - will be painted by the next post but there will be a couple of firsts involved. For one, I'll be using Tamiya Acrylic Paints for the first time and with a brush rather than the recommended air brush. Also I'll be mixing a Vallejo fluorescent colour into its regular paints to hopefully create some oomph in the Star Destroyer lights in lieu of actual lighting. If things don't turn out all bad I'll put up the results in the next post. If things go very badly though, I can always smash it in two with a hammer, sprinkle lots of sand on it and ... voila ... a Jakku diorama. Let's just pray it doesn't come to that as I'm not very dexterous with a hammer. 


Monday, 15 August 2016

Star Wars Star Destroyer [Unboxing]

Three days ago, the latest Star Wars Rogue One trailer was released and it was glorious. Vehicle-wise the second official trailer showcased the Galactic Empire's old school trinity of the Imperial Star Destroyer, TIE Fighter and AT-AT Walker albeit in conditions/versions we've never seen before. I'll explain further at the end of the post. But first, let's get to the unboxing of Bandai's first miniature in its new line of Star Wars 'mini' plastic model kits - the Star Destroyer. Why 'mini'? Well, it's a range of Star Wars miniatures that are smaller than Bandai's usual 1/12, 1/72 and 1/144 scale model kits. They don't offer an official scale measurement other than to state the length of the kit in question, which is 111 mm for the Star Destroyer. It's small enough to fit into the palm of my hand.

Bandai Plastic Model Kit - Star Wars Star Destroyer [Vehicle Model 001] packaging
Assembly instructions were printed directly on the inside on the box cover
Colour guide was based on GSI Creos Mr Color solvent based paints

As per Bandai's usual top-notch quality and design, the details on this plastic model kit's parts - even at such a small scale - were simply astounding. Iconic sections of the Star Destroyer were readily spotted on the sprue such as the ion engines, primary docking bay, deflector-shield generator domes, and of course the triangular upper and lower hulls. Assembly looks so simple that instructions could fit/were printed directly onto the inside of the cardboard box packaging. And it was there that they also provided a colour guide for this original trilogy version of the Star Destroyer. Paints referenced were the Mr. Color solvent-based model paints. I plan to use Tamiya acylic paint equivalents instead.

Sprue A1: Rear hull with emergency ion engines, primary docking bay, and parts of the bridge
Sprue A2: Lower hull, parts of the bridge and communications tower
Sprue A3: Side hull, ion engines and central crewed section of upper hull
Sprue A4: Lower hull with solar ionisation reactor, part of the bridge and deflector-shield generator domes
Sprue BM1: Base with display stand

With all this glorious detail at such a small scale, there exists the possibility of creating (read assembling and painting) a beautiful looking model even without the help LED lighting. This is exactly what I'll be trying to do with the Bandai Star Wars Star Destroyer plastic model kit.  

Relatively small size of the Star Destroyer meant that it fit into the palm of my hand

Do I wish the Star Destroyer model was bigger? Definitely. Does it mean I don't like this model kit? Hell no. An Imperial Star Destroyer retains a cool factor regardless of scale and size. Below are three beautiful glimpses of the Star Destroyer from the second Rogue One trailer in the unlikely off-chance you haven't caught the trailer yet. I screen-captured them from a HD resolution version of the trailer. 

Close-up of the Star Destroyer ... it's a little bit whiter than I remembered
Part of the Death Star forms the backdrop for a wide shot of the Star Destroyer
A Star Destroyer in low atmospheric orbit ... how cool is that

Returning to the topic of the latest Rogue One trailer, all three iconic Galactic Empire vehicles look different and/or are operating in conditions different to their counterparts in the original trilogy. Firstly, the Star Destroyer looks much whiter. My theory: the Rogue One versions are newer hence less exposed to space debris and atmospheric reentry heat. Not unlike what happens to a new white car after a year or so. Secondly, the new walker is supposedly called the Imperial AT-ACT Cargo Walker so it's essentially a different model of a same class. And thirdly, the TIE Fighter is allegedly a TIE Striker namely a variant designed for atmospheric controls. There you have it - trivia galore and an unboxing to boot. With that I'm signing off until I get that destroyer assembled. So see you then!


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Female Mage on Stairs - Dark Sword Miniatures [Completed]; a proxy for Princess Myrcella Baratheon

My absolute worst fear came true while putting the finishing touches to the Dark Sword Miniatures Female Mage on Stairs figurine. I messed up so bad that I had, in my infinite impatience, gouged out a small hole in her right eye dislodging even the primer coat. I was trying to correct some mistakes and ended up making things much worse. If you think I'm exaggerating, take a look at the third last photo in this blog to see how bad she looked prior to my desperate attempts to fix the mess. What you see below is the best I could do to patch things up. Here then are photos of a completed Myrcella.

Dark Sword Miniatures Female Mage on Stairs [Completed]
Female Mage on Stairs was painted as a proxy for Princess Myrcella Baratheon
Colour scheme sought to convey this Game of Thrones character's sweet demeanour

Because her eyes gave me so much trouble, I subsequently lost all appetite for my initial ambitious plans for her eyes. I had intended to paint in some greens as well as highlights on her eyes to make them 'pop'. Although my miniature painting skills were a bit rusty after a rather long period of not working on 'organic subjects', it didn't excuse the horrendous hack job I did on Myrcella's left eye. I suppose I had best leave the painting of colours and highlights of eyes in larger scale miniatures such as 54 mm, 70 mm or even 80 mm figurines until I have more experience under my belt.  

Myrcella's clothes are a combination of sweet pastel colours like peach, pink, light orange, and mint green 
Myrcella's blonde hair has a yellower hue compared to the sandy stone base

If you haven't been following the frequent work-in-progress posts on Myrcella, the latest bits that got painted were her wrist band (on her left wrist), hair and eyes. I also had to retouch the skin tone in and around her right eye socket due to the paint chipping from the said area.

Back view of the Dark Sword Miniatures Female Mage on Stairs
Minty greens aren't visible here, and shows how an alternate colour scheme would've looked like

Her hair colour was a bit to close in hue to the sand stone base with the former being yellower. In fact, if I wasn't trying to paint her as Princess Myrcella Baratheon I would most likely have painted the base in a light greyish colour for greater contrast. But based on the Game of Thrones books/series Myrcella was residing in Dorne hence the sandy colours for the stony steps architecture.

Side view (left) of the Dark Sword Miniatures Female Mage on Stairs
'She had all of her mother's beauty, and none of her nature.' - Tyrion Lannister

360 view of the Dark Sword Miniatures Female Mage on Stairs
For a 360 degree view of the Female Mage on Stairs, please check out the YouTube video below. For videos of other miniatures I have painted, kindly visit my YouTube channel at FourEyedMonster Miniatures. Please choose high definition (HD) for the best video viewing option.

Bittersweet literally sums up how I feel about the paint job I've done for Princess Myrcella. Bitter on how I let impatience get the better of me and result in a hair pulling experience trying to correct a very bad rookie error. And sweet in that I loved how she turned out, especially the way the colour scheme manages to convey a sense of sweet innocence that is Myrcella's demeanour.    

This was how Myrcella looked like prior to the damage limitation I performed on her right eye

While the 28-mm heroic scale Dark Sword Miniatures figurine is pretty small, it is well sculpted. The Female Mage on Stairs ticks off almost every item in a fantasy miniature painter's wishlist: gorgeous hair, prominent facial features, beautiful clothing, well proportioned figure, simple yet effective base, no assembly required apart from putting the figure onto the base, etc. It's no wonder Patrick Keith is one of my favourite miniature sculptors. This figurines is an example of his sculpting skills. 

Female Mage on Stairs compared to a 32-mm paperclip
Female Mage on Stairs compared to a five sens coin

One of the reasons why the characters in George RR Martin's fantasy universe inspire so much of my miniature painting is the colour diversity involved. It's a nice counterbalance to projects from the Star Wars universe - the Galactic Empire can be monotonous with its black, grey, white and occasional browns and reds. Speaking of which I will likely start working on a short Star Wars project while I carefully plan the colour scheme for my next Game of Thrones character. I also want to draw again after a year of 'graphite-deprivation'. The usual case of so much to do but so little time - our most precious commodity. Oops, there goes another second! Thanks for spending it checking out my blog.

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