Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Upsizing my painting projects with Nocturna Models

Having painted miniatures for more than two years now, I have come to better appreciate the many well crafted miniatures that have been brought from concept to production by individuals who are passionate about the hobby. For someone who tends to gravitate towards painting and collecting miniatures, I am constantly seeking out highly detailed and dynamic miniatures to test my skills on. That inevitably drew me to Madrid-based Nocturna Models whose miniatures range from 30 mm to 80 mm. Seeing such stunning work has also spurred me on to start a small venture dedicated to bringing in quality miniatures to painters and collectors in Malaysia (but more on this later).

Nocturna Models' 54, 70 and 80 mm range, painted by Jesus Martin and sculpted by Alfonzo Gozalo

While still very much in love with 28 mm to 32 mm scale miniatures, I had felt the urge to expand my horizons. This lead me to upsize part of my painting projects by attempting to paint 54 mm to 80 mm scale models. With so much to choose from, I finally settled on Nocturna Models minis as they "spoke" to me most and were stuff that I wanted to work on as a painter. While I have seen hobbyists work on larger scale models using an air brush, I will attempt to paint the Nocturna miniatures I got for my personal projects - Freya, Crusader XIII C and Le Petit Chaperon - using standard brushes.      

Freya (54 mm) comes in a rigid blister plastic packaging
Crusader XIII C (70 mm) comes in a tin box with the resin kit sandwiched between two sponges
Le Petit Chaperon (80 mm) comes in similar packaging to the Crusader XIII C model
Both the 70 mm and 80 mm miniatures came with a numbered mini certificate

Being resin model kits, the Nocturna miniatures were very highly detailed as I had expected. I was also very very happy that mould lines, broken parts (due to the relatively higher brittleness of resin compared to metal and plastic), warping, trapped bubbles and other characteristics associated with resin model kits were either non-existent or kept to the absolute minimum. This meant less time spent on preparing the miniatures and getting them ready for priming. We hobbyists are a very forgiving bunch but it's still a great feeling when less prep work is needed. 

Unboxed, Freya comprised six separate parts
Crusader XIII C comes with a huge fairly high base with not much assembly needed save for the hands and weapons
Le Petit Chaperon comprised 12 separate parts and looks to be the most complicated of the lot

Thus far, I have only had time to assemble Freya (partly glued and partly dry fitted) to try and show some size comparison versus the smaller scale miniatures. I have a lot of hobby hours ahead of me if I am to complete work on all three Nocturna Models miniatures but I am looking forward to it.

Freya placed next to a Chaos Space Marine

Coming back to my earlier mention of a small venture I am starting - over the coming months I will be bringing in miniatures from a select number of companies for sale to painters and collectors in Malaysia. What the companies will have in common are beautifully crafted miniatures. If you are interested, please do check out my other blog at shireworks.blogspot.com in which you can see some of the miniatures on offer. Until my next post, stay well and happy!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Kingdom Death Pinup Savior [sans cloak]

Excluding the Pinup Savior's peacock feathered cloak, painting on my second Kingdom Death miniature is essentially complete. It was a joy to paint the Pinup Savior's hair because it was wonderfully sculpted to the extent that individual strands were visible. I went with a dirty blond hair look as I felt it was better suited to the overall colour scheme of the miniature. Additionally, her sword scabbard was painted up to match her vest while the staff had a very simple object source lighting (OSL) effect from the lamp attached to it. Other work comprised her "scarf" and necklace.     

Kingdom Death Pinup Savior sans cloak
OSL effect of the lamp on her staff was kept to an absolute minimum
Sword scabbard was painted in a similar colour to the Pinup Savior's clothes
Staff was painted grey as I felt it was a better fit to the overall colour scheme
Where possible, I painted each individual strand of the Pinup Savior's hair
Hair on the Pinup Savior was beautifully sculpted, in my opinion
From the side, you can see she is leaning slightly backwards, likely due to the absent cloak's weight
A nice angle that accentuates the Pinup Savior's curves

Painting the two Kingdom Death miniatures has given me the confidence to tackle more miniatures of a similar nature. While I am generally pleased with the Pinup Savior's final paint job, there is definitely room for improvement especially on the skin tone transition from shadows to highlights as well as on the eyes. With more minis in the pipeline, there will be ample opportunities to practise.

And then there were two - Pinup White Speaker (left), Pinup Savior (right)

One reason for not painting the Pinup Savior's cloak was the time and effort that it would have required. With the amount of detail in the cloak (see below), it would have taken me a very long time to finish painting. When my brush control improves to a higher level, I might consider painting the cloak. But for now I am happy with the Pinup Savior without her cloak.

Very detailed cloak showing peacock feathers

Originally, the Kingdom Death Pinup Savior was depicted as a redhead in brown-red garments. Although I do like the original colour scheme, I decided to mix it up a little by going blonde/blue.

Pinup Savior in her original brown-red colour scheme; notice her peacock feathered cloak on her back

Without a doubt, I need loads more practice before I can paint better skin tones and eyes. One thing I could try is to strike better balance between thinning a paint versus the resulting chalkiness that arises from being diluted with too much water. Some added flow improver/enhancer could be the solution. Certainly wouldn't hurt for me to try it out in my next miniature. Till the next post, thanks for reading!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Kingdom Death Pinup Savior [WIP - Clothes and Shoes]

For the Kingdom Death Pinup Savior's clothes, I decided to paint a blueish-grey colour scheme with a checkered pattern for her skirt. Initially, I wanted to go with a red colour scheme but after painting so many Word Bearers, I felt I needed to mix it up a little. It was a toss up between green and the colours you see below. I did, however, manage to incorporate some green into the checkered design.

Checkered skirt design for the Pinup Savior was actually inspired by Scottish kilt designs
Natural flare of the skirt helps accentuate the skirt's design
For the checkered skirt design, the vertical lines were not as pronounced as the horizontal lines
Bird eye's view of the front of the Pinup Savior's skirt
Bird eye's view of the back of the Pinup Savior's skirt
Some concept work prior to actual painting of the Pinup Savior's clothes

Final results of the checkered skirt were not as detailed as I initially envisioned. Painting the design was more difficult than I had anticipated which meant less lines were painted on the Pinup Savior's skirt. Ideally, the final results should have mimicked my concept art (see above) but I decided to quit while I was ahead before the whole skirt became a jumbled mess of paint splatter. But with every miniature that I attempt to paint comes a better grasp of what is needed to improve for future minis.   

Can you spot her big toe sticking out of a leather shoe?

Meanwhile, the Pinup Savior's boots were given brownish-ochre colours to stimulate treated leather. Having her big toe pushing out of one of the leather shoes was a nice sculpting touch. I tried my best to do justice to that little bit of detail. Below are some other shots of the work-in-progress Pinup Savior. Her sword (not shown in the photos), staff, hair and base remains unpainted.

Normal front view of the work-in-progress Kingdom Death Pinp Savior
Existing clothes colour scheme is screaming for a blonde hairdo
Metallic designs on her belt hints at a gothic attire
Her unpainted hair reminds me of the silver hair of Daenerys, a Game of Thrones character

Next up for the Kingdom Death Pinup Savior will be her hair. I am currently leaning towards her having a blonde look as gold/yellow goes well with blue. More progress pictures soon ... hopefully!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Kingdom Death Pinup Savior [WIP - Skin Tone]

Long neglected, the Kingdom Death Pinup Savior finally got the attention she deserved as I started work on the miniature by painting her face, skin and stockings. Thus far, she has been a pleasure to paint as the sculpture is fairly detailed which makes a painter's job that much easier.

Kingdom Death Pinup Savior with completed flesh colours

To paint her skin, I used a paint recipe developed by a painter whose work I admire, Jen Haley. It involved the use of Reaper Master Series Paints comprising colours such as Fair Skin, Golden Skin, Tanned Skin, Ashen Brown, Fair Skin Highlight. For her eyes, I used Citadel colours such as Skull White and Chaos Black as well as the Reaper Brown Liner, which I also used to paint her garters. I plan to do a more in depth review of the Reaper Master Series Paints at a later date. 

Holes in her stockings was a nice touch to the resin sculpture

Painting the Pinup Savior's eyes was a tough challenge for me because I wanted to try painting in the light reflections on her pupils. While the overall result was not all that I wanted it to be, I hope to improve over the coming months as I have a lot of miniatures in the project pipeline that will require the painting of eyes as well as flesh/skin tones. This is one skill I am determined to master.   

On her left thigh is a small hole which is meant for the assembly of her sword

For the Pinup Savior's stockings, I wanted to achieve a see-through white nylon stocking effect. I was happy with the final result, and the sculpted holes in her stockings helped provide some depth and contrast to the overall paint job. Kudos to the sculptor for adding the stocking holes.   

Garters make the stockings stand out even more

Initially, I had used the Reaper Brown Liner on her garters as a means to block out the area before painting a more dark and opaque colour. However, I really liked the translucent effect the Brown Liner had on the flesh, not unlike what you would see on some real-life stockings, so I left it as it is.

Small of her back had been damaged slightly from a previous incident

Although the paint job on the small of her back was quite rough, I had expected this because of a certain incident with this miniature. This particular area had the worse of it when I tried to remove the initial primer with a hobby knife, resulting in her back being damaged by knife marks.

Long legged beauty
Even looking at her sideways, you can tell that the miniature has been wonderfully sculpted
From this angle, the shading on her abs is more visible

Well, I can't wait to continue painting the Kingdom Death Pinup Savior. Currently finding a suitable checkered design for her skirt. I am also trying to decide between painting her as a blond, red/auburn or black haired beauty. It will have to match the colour of her skirt which will be predominantly blue. Stay tuned for further progress reports on the Pinup Savior! 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Using Chaos Cultists for cloth painting practice

Despite finishing my first ten Word Bearers Cultists a long time ago, it was tough for me to get motivated to finish painting the other ten cultists in the Dark Vengeance set. As I get deeper into the hobby, I find myself happiest when dedicating time and effort into painting a single miniature from start-to-finish to the highest quality that I can. That makes painting armies a real pain-in-the-arse, more so when painting stuff I have tackled before. To keep things interesting, I decided to use the cultists as practice for painting cloth, following two simple rules - 1. Use complementary colours (not black) for shadows, and 2. Use layering/glazes to smooth out transitions from shadows to highlights.  

My attempt at painting a realistic looking cloak

My best result was achieved on the cloak of the Chaos Cultist Champion (with shotgun) as pictured above. It was the first mini I had used for the cloth painting practice, so I still had the patience to slowly paint on many thin layers of paint to build up a smooth texture. The cloak was painted using various mixtures of Scab Red, Red Gore and Blazing Orange for the mid-tone and highlights, while Devlan Mud and Regal Blue was used for the shadows. Sadly, the shadow/highlight transitions were not as smooth as they should be as I didn't put in the required hours (more on this later in the post).

Long flowing coats and hoods made good practice subjects
Lack of patience meant the blue hood (right) was just a simple midtone-wash-highlight
Another two cultists which was covered with coats and scarfs for ample cloth painting practice
Layering and glazing for all cloth parts except for brown scarf (right) which had the simple midtone-wash-highlight
Yet another two cultists with significant cloth parts
Can you guess which part was not painted with the layering/glazing technique?

When painting the above six cultists, my patience was starting to wear thin. This resulted in some laziness in which I substituted the layering/glazing technique for a simple midtone, followed by a wash and finished with a highlight colour. By the time I reached the two cultists below, I was sick of the sight of them and the paint quality quickly went downhill from there. I didn't even bother to paint the final cultist in the squad i.e. the one with the heavy stubber. 

Sloppy work at its best
Things don't improve that much from the front view

Results from my mini projects shows that I have a lot of practice ahead of me in order to achieve smoother transitions between the shadows and highlights that would make for realistic looking cloth. Some award winning painters have stated that they sometimes spent up to 15 hours out of a 20-hour project just painting smooth transitions for cloth. Seeing that I am nowhere close that number, I guess I shouldn't expect similar fantastic results from my efforts. What I lack and need is ...

Even a future Golden Daemon winner has to start somewhere

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Going medieval on my future painting projects

No, I am not going to turn violent on my future projects. Unlike the urban definition of "going medieval", I am literally going to paint more miniatures based on medieval times or fantasy settings of such a period, and maybe even some ancient history pieces e.g. Roman empire. Thus far, the only non-W40K figure I have painted is the Kingdom Death Pinup White Speaker. Going forward, I plan to push myself to face tougher painting challenges such as realistic portrayals of faces, skin tones, cloth and the like. So why the Middle Ages? Well, that's all thanks to the House of Plantagenet.

Unauthenticated portrait of Eleanor of Aquitaine, a prominent figure in the House of Plantagenet
Tomb effigy of Eleanor of Aquitaine (there are no authenticated portraits in existence)

House of Plantagenet
In the turbulent period that is the Middle Ages, I have always been fascinated with the House of Plantagenet. For the uninitiated, this royal house produced famous historical figures such as Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lionheart. My preoccupation with them was cemented when I discovered the historical fiction of that period written by Sharon Kay Penman. While technically, the Welsh Princes trilogy - 'Here Be Dragons', 'The Reckoning' and 'Falls the Shadow' - dealt mainly with the medieval princes of Gwynedd i.e. the Welsh princes, the books did touch upon events of that era.  
Sharon Kay Penman's Welsh Princes Trilogy, her War of the Roses book and her take on Richard the Lionheart

Chronologically, Ms Sharon's Plantagenet series comprising 'When Christ and his Saints Slept' (rather than any religious connotations, I believe the title was referring to the period which was deemed as a time of great wretchedness), 'Time and Chance', 'Devil's Brood' and 'Lionheart' continued from events of the first trilogy. The final book in the timeline is "The Sunne in Splendour", which deals with the end of the War of the Roses and King Richard III (whose bones were discovered a few months ago). To me, her books are real page turners but for some reason or other, I never got to finish the Plantagenet series. With some time on my hands now, I hope to embark on a massive reading binge to re-read all her books from the beginning and finally complete those I had not read. 

Sharon Kay Penman's original Plantagenet trilogy which later became a four-book-series with "Lionheart"

Although the period when the House of Plantagenet reigned supreme is the one that most fascinates me, there are also other royal houses that pique my interest, most notably the House of Tudor which gave rise to characters such as King Henry VIII (and his many wives) as well as Elizabeth I.

Books touching on the House of Tudor

Then there is the realm of fantasy, especially those that use the Middle Ages as a setting. Warhammer has a couple of books of that nature, most notably the ones on Bretonnia by Anthony Reynolds, which incidentally wrote the W40K Word Bearers trilogy which I enjoyed. I haven't even begun reading both the Warhammer books which I got on sale many moons ago.

But perhaps most famous of all is the Game of Thrones books written by George R.R. Martin. It has been said the War of the Roses had a hand in inspiring his writing. Currently, I am only at the second book of the series and loving every page. Unfortunately for me, it sucked to accidentally find out about two major characters' death before I even started but I guess I was asking for it by Googling for some background info prior to reading the books. For example, 'The King Can Do As He Likes' promo poster was a real spoiler. I have yet to see the TV series as I do not want any further spoilers.

All in all, these books have gotten me excited about working on medieval/fantasy painting projects. So I guess I will be looking at some Warhammer and Dark Sword miniatures to feed my addiction. That and perhaps some other finely detailed miniatures which I will cover in a future blog.

I leave you with this quote from the Game of Thrones's Cersei Lannister (pictured above): "Tears are not a woman's only weapon". As for what the other weapon is ... go read the books already.

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