Monday, 17 January 2022

Girl's Rider - Hasegawa 1/12 scale resin figurine [Hair early phase: Painting the tresses in isolation]

 Working my way from the top of the figurine, the painting process for the Hasegawa 1/12 scale resin figurine known as Girl's Rider thus begins with her long brown tresses. It's still considered early phase because the hair was painted in isolation without knowing how the final skin tone is going turn out. As such, I'll most likely need to revisit the hair to see how bright hair highlights need to be in order to complement a fully painted face. For the moment, the brown hues on the figurine's hair are a bit on the dark side so there is room for brighter highlights if need be.


Canon EOS 650D settings: f/16, 1/60sec, ISO-1600; with Tamron 90mm macro lens

Canon EOS 650D settings: f/16, 1/60sec, ISO-1600; with Tamron 90mm macro lens

Canon EOS 650D settings: f/16, 1/60sec, ISO-1600; with Tamron 90mm macro lens

Canon EOS 650D settings: f/16, 1/60sec, ISO-1600; with Tamron 90mm macro lens

Canon EOS 650D settings: f/16, 1/60sec, ISO-1600; with Tamron 90mm macro lens

Canon EOS 650D settings: f/16, 1/60sec, ISO-1600; with Tamron 90mm macro lens

 Vallejo Model Color acrylic paints were used to paint the hair, with the process as follows:

(a) Basecoat: a mix of 70.950 Black and 70.822 German Camouflage Black Brown;

(b) Shadows: a mix of 70.822 German Camouflage Black Brown and 70.941 Burnt Umber;

(c) Midtones: a mix of 70.941 Burnt Umber and 70.873 US Field Drab;

(d) Hightlights: 70.873 US Field Drab. [used sparingly for now] 


Canon EOS 650D settings: f/16, 1/60sec, ISO-1600; with Tamron 90mm macro lens

Canon EOS 650D settings: f/16, 1/60sec, ISO-1600; with Tamron 90mm macro lens

Canon EOS 650D settings: f/16, 1/60sec, ISO-1600; with Tamron 90mm macro lens

Canon EOS 650D settings: f/16, 1/60sec, ISO-1600; with Tamron 90mm macro lens

Canon EOS 650D settings: f/16, 1/60sec, ISO-1600; with Tamron 90mm macro lens

Canon EOS 650D settings: f/16, 1/60sec, ISO-1600; with Tamron 90mm macro lens

 All the photos shown above were taken using the Canon EOS650D camera with a Tamron 90 mm macro lens. They were shot in RAW format so that I had sufficient image data in order to produce the necessary white balance, exposure, and color correction edits. Having the means to do so meant that not all was lost if I happened to have photos that were not properly exposed or were taken under wrong white balance settings. All edits were done in Adobe Lightroom Classic.  


iPhone 13 Pro Max ultra wide lens at f/1.8, 1/100sec, ISO-32

iPhone 13 Pro Max ultra wide lens at f/1.8, 1/100sec, ISO-32

iPhone 13 Pro Max ultra wide lens at f/1.8, 1/100sec, ISO-32

iPhone 13 Pro Max ultra wide lens at f/1.8, 1/100sec, ISO-32

iPhone 13 Pro Max ultra wide lens at f/1.8, 1/100sec, ISO-32

iPhone 13 Pro Max ultra wide lens at f/1.8, 1/100sec, ISO-32

iPhone 13 Pro Max ultra wide lens at f/1.8, 1/100sec, ISO-32

iPhone 13 Pro Max ultra wide lens at f/1.8, 1/100sec, ISO-25

iPhone 13 Pro Max ultra wide lens at f/1.8, 1/100sec, ISO-25

 Meanwhile photos with the white background were taken using the iPhone 13 Pro Max, also in RAW image format using the mobile Lightroom app's camera function. Even with a 10-year-old DSLR technology, the the Canon 650D's image quality still exceeds that of the latest iPhone, especially in macro/product photography. This is to be expected as the Canon 650D has a bigger sensor as well as utilizes a bigger lens, which in this case was the Tamron 90 mm macro lens. That being said, mobile photography has come a long way and image quality is fairly decent as you can see here.   


iPhone 13 Pro Max wide lens at f/1.5, 1/140sec, ISO-32

iPhone 13 Pro Max wide lens at f/1.5, 1/180sec, ISO-32

iPhone 13 Pro Max wide lens at f/1.5, 1/150sec, ISO-32

iPhone 13 Pro Max wide lens at f/1.5, 1/160sec, ISO-32

iPhone 13 Pro Max wide lens at f/1.5, 1/160sec, ISO-32

iPhone 13 Pro Max wide lens at f/1.5, 1/180sec, ISO-32

iPhone 13 Pro Max wide lens at f/1.5, 1/200sec, ISO-32

iPhone 13 Pro Max wide lens at f/1.5, 1/180sec, ISO-32

 Rather than painting the hair in broad swathes of shadows and highlights, I focused on creating pseudo-individual strands of varying hue values. As it stands, the figurine's hair should be able to accommodate  more highlights without being too bright overall. While I am aiming for a black brown or brunette look, brighter highlights may be needed to create contrast and prevent the hair from looking too dull and flat. The nuances of how I'm going to further tackle the hair aside, I'm simply glad I'm actually painting at the start of the year instead of just assembling and priming. For just that reason alone, I'm happy, more so that I still enjoy and haven't yet given up on this hobby yet. Cheers!  


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Monday, 10 January 2022

No looking back, just ahead

 Usually around this time I would be looking back on the year just past, to determine what projects have been completed so as to showcase images of finished artwork. But with 2021 being what it is, I won't be doing anything of the sort. It'll all be about looking ahead aka my hobby resolutions for 2022. With the wise words of a six-year-old boy (see below) ringing in my head, here's then is my 'plan' ...



 Most importantly, my photography workflow needs an urgent revamp. Another wise but much older person once said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Widely attributed to Einstein, this oft quoted witticism applies itself readily to my attempts at capturing good photos of my work-in-progress and finished miniature/scale model kit projects. Long story short, for years I had inadvertently posted photos with white balance as well as color issues - the worse saw images marred with an ugly green tint. While I had somewhat mitigated this over the past two years, photo quality suffered greatly. The use of software that can process RAW image formats (vs just JPEG) should give me greater white balance and color control without sacrificing image quality. 



 So going forward, I plan to shoot future projects as well as retake photos of past projects - both in the RAW format - and rectify white balance/color issues using Adobe Lightroom (Lr) and Photoshop (Ps). I do so in the hope of properly showcasing the projects as close as to how I see them in real life. Couched in a pseudo-hobby resolution, this means future blog content will alternate between new projects and the re-posting of older ones but this time with more color-accurate images. I'll be using Lr and Ps partly because of their ability to properly interpret the Apple iPhone ProRAW format, partly for the cloud ecosystem they both operate in, and partly for Lr's database management system. 



 And then there are movies of projects that I would like to incorporate as additional blog content. This I plan to do using the Corel video editing software (see above) I had gotten in an online charity bundle. While I would love to use Adobe Premiere Pro instead, adding it to my basic Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan increases the monthly subscription fee significantly. As it is, it had taken close to nine years of hesitation before I finally took the plunge into Adobe's subscription-based model. Baby steps is all I'm willing to take for now as I can't quite justify the extra monthly expense, not yet.   



 As mentioned in an earlier post, my go-to video and photography tools are my old-and-trusted Canon EOS650D and the fairly new iPhone 13 Pro Max. The former will mainly be used for photography and the latter for recording video. But both equipment will switch roles if need be. So the die is cast, and the path ahead is clear. My creative mojo is back and I can't wait to resume painting soon. So I hope to start adding creative content soon. Until next time, dear reader, stay safe and be well. 


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Friday, 31 December 2021

With 2021 being a near-complete write off hobby-wise, here's hoping 2022 will be a fresh new start

This year, of which there is a single day remaining, has been a near-total write off in terms of what I have achieved hobby-wise. Most of very little work done this year has comprised assembling, priming, and some basecoating. Personally, it was a miserable year for content creation.



 Will 2022 signal a fresh start for my hobby exploits? I hope so. I really do. And with the new year soon to be upon us, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year. More importantly, may you and yours be blessed with good health in the year to come. Cheers!


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Sunday, 19 December 2021

Reorganizing my Vallejo paint collection, and deciding which colors to use for the Girl's Rider figurine

As the holiday mood slowly sinks its talons into my already snail-paced hobby schedule, it's safe to things are basically at a standstill. With things in the real world similarly in a perpetual pandemic induced semi-lockdown, I guess it's fitting this whole year has been a write off hobby-wise. But a bit of good news on the vaccination front for the missus and me. We finally got our Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots to complement the rapidly ineffectual Sinovac-Coronavac shots we were given earlier. With the Omicron variant already at our shores, it's a timely booster (pun unintended) for the family to grasp at a semblance of 'normal' life or should I say a new normal. But I digress ... this post is about colors.   


Reorganizing my Vallejo paint collection was a task that was a long time coming 

 Previously my entire collection of Vallejo acrylic paints was placed in plastic boxes of varying sizes and located in different sections of the house. So every time I wanted to paint something, a lot of time was needlessly expended on locating the specific colors I needed for a scheme. And at the missus's behest amidst one of her Marie Kondo-like spring cleaning sessions, I had to finally organize my paints. It helped that she took the time to source an appropriately-sized shelf to store my Vallejo paints. The image below shows how the paint bottles are now so much more easily accessible.      


Seeing all the colors organized in one place is a truly heart warming experience 

Finally my paint bottles are readily accessible within the hobby area 

 As for the colors I'll need for the 1/12 scale Girl's Rider figurine, I've so far narrowed it down to about 22 colors with a view to add or subtract from this total as I progress along the project timeline. Having selected acrylic colors for the next stage of the painting process, it means that I have chosen painting-by-hand as opposed to air brushing as my primary technique going forward for the Girl's Rider figurine. Apart from some mild application of oil paints it won't be practical to use more 'aggressive' paint types such lacquer, which is largely applied via air brushing, atop the acrylic paint layers.  


Colors that have been selected for the Girl's Rider figurine project

 After nearly five years of faithful service, it was time to retire my old iPhone 7 Plus. Replacing it, hopefully for the next five years, is the new iPhone 13 Pro Max from Apple. Among the criteria for my new mobile phone was that it has to be future-proofed (the lighting port technology notwithstanding) and it had to have an excellent camera system. With my 10-year-old DSLR camera not being particularly suited for video recording, the new iPhone will function as the de facto video recorder, as well as an occasional go-to photography tool to complement the DSLR camera.     


Macro shots with the iPhone 13 Pro Max is pretty good for a non-DSLR camera system

 How can this new macro function in the 13 Phone Pro Max help in the painting process, you might wonder. Well now I can easily and quickly take macro shots without fumbling with a bulky DSLR and tripod. While the quality might not reach the levels of a DSLR camera with a dedicated macro lens, the images are good enough that I can quickly spot mistakes I had made during the painting process itself and fix the errors without too much disruption to my workflow. What do I mean by this?


Extreme closeup of the Vallejo Model Color paint bottles using the latest iPhone camera system

 Well, the workflow might go something like: paint > notice possible error > take a quick hand-held macro shot > visually isolate and clarify specifics of the error > clean up said error > take another quick macro shot to see result > so on and so forth. This is essential for me because I find it difficult to paint in real-time with the help of any form of artificial magnification such as lenses. In future posts, I'll try to explain why the macro shots taken by the iPhone 13 Pro camera system still cannot rival those taken by a DSLR camera with a dedicated macro lens. But it's good enough as a painting tool and for a mobile phone, the iPhone 13 Pro Max takes a pretty decent macro shot. On that note I'm off to explore the video and photography possibilities of the 13 Pro Max. Cheers, stay safe, and be well.


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Sunday, 28 November 2021

Green and Blue Reversible Backdrop for future Chroma Key Compositing of Images and Videos

 After spending an inordinate amount of time painting our miniatures, most of us are guilty of not putting equal effort into the final photos or videos of the finished project. I am no exception. Though I do try, there is still so much more about photography, video recording, and their post-production processes I should know in order to make the painted miniatures look like they do in real-life to the naked eye. I am also guilty of placing the miniatures against just plain backgrounds. With that playing on my mind, I plan to spice things up once in a while by using a green/blue chroma key backdrop.



 While I have had my eye on a green screen backdrop for quite some time, more so now that I have the requisite post-production editing tools, I could never quite get my hands on one. This was mainly due to the high prices that these chroma key screens usually fetch. Finally though, I managed to find a close to year-end bargain of a Selens green/blue reversible backdrop. Being an on and off again photography enthusiast, I don't really know much about Selens apart from it being a company whose products focus mainly on photography equipment and accessories. So I figured I would be better getting a chroma key screen from such a company rather than any regular green cloth. 

 

Selens green/blue screen reversible backdrop with T-type tripod stand, yet to be unpacked

Backdrop is folded inside the round zippered bag, shown here with the various tripod parts

 Together with the actual chroma key screen, which came in a round protective bag, this particular bargain I got online included a T-type tripod stand and four clips. The latter group of items function to hold up the chroma key screen. The top bar can be lengthened up to around two meters using rod bar extensions (see below). But in practice, I didn't need to do this because the screen I bought was the smaller 1.5 m  by 1.0 m. The stand was intended to hold screens up to 1.5 m by 2.0 m in size. 


Start from left then clockwise: T-type stand being set up to full length

 With the backdrop being reversible, that is one side green and the other blue, I can easily chose which chroma key I want to use as my screen backdrop. Moreover, the quality of the screen is good enough that the colors don not bleed into each other when exposed to bright lighting (see below). 

Reversible Green/Blue Screen under natural sunlight; note the T-type stand did not need to be at full length in order to hold the backdrop (the extension arms were removed)

Reversible Green/Blue Screen under natural sunlight and a source of LED fluorescent light

 For those of you who might be interested in getting such a product for themselves, I have included the technical specifications as provided by the Selens product pages (see below).   





 But hold on a minute. I have been going on and on again about the chroma key green/blue screen that I never stopped to consider that some of you might not know what it's  used for. Sorry about that. In the unlikely event you do not, please refer to this article on https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/blue-screen-vs-green-screen/. Anyway it'll be back to painting in the days to come. Using the chroma key screens will have to wait for now as I strive to get my painting projects up and running. Until next time dear reader, please stay safe and be well.


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