Friday, 30 August 2013

100th Post Special: Hayao Miyazaki, master of colours

In my 100th blog post, I wanted to share with you the foremost creative inspiration behind all my miniature paintings. No it's not someone who has won numerous Golden Demons or other sought after miniature painting awards. In fact, the person in question, Hayao Miyazaki (see photo below) delves in a completely different genre namely anime. Why then is he my creative inspiration? 

Hayao Miyazaki, the creative genius behind Studio Ghibli

To touch briefly on his bio, Miyazaki is a Japanese manga artist and animator (among others) whose career has spanned over 50 successful years (and counting). He co-founded the now famous Studio Ghibli which has produced anime films such as Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, etc. If you are unfamiliar with his works then at least know this, it is literally an explosion of colours. To me, Miyazaki is the master of colours in animation.

My Neighbour Totoro, my all-time favourite anime movie
From Up on Poppy Hill - a film directed by Miyazaki's son

When I paint, I always try to keep in mind the importance of colour combinations ala Mr Miyazaki. I am very much in awe of his fantastic use of colours to tell a story. He has a talent for colors that must be seen to be understood so do yourself a favour and catch one of his films. Personally, I have always been fascinated with colours. Growing up in a 'financially challenged' family meant my most treasured possession was a 36-colour pencil set by Staedtler. I loved it to bits. Ahh sweet memories!  

Kiki's Delivery Service - a film Miyazaki wrote, produced and directed
Spirited Away - a film heralding the return of Miyazaki after a temporary retirement

One of my dreams is to visit the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, Japan. Chances of that happening seem unlikely but if there is one thing I have learnt from Miyazaki's films is the importance of one's dreams. As a young boy, I dreamt of painting miniatures in a diorama. Well look at me now, an old guy with a shaky hand holding on for dear life to his paint brush (and dreams). 

Sign pointing towards Ghibli Museum - For me, it's more than 5,000 km away

Well that's it for my 100th post. Short and sweet. A small milestone in what started out as a creative outlet for both my writings and paintings. Here is to a hundred more. Cheers.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

First look at Ax Faction miniatures

Way cool was the thought that immediately entered my head when I first laid eyes on an Ax Faction miniature featured at The Jolly Bodgers blog. That miniature was the Forsaken Princess aka Witch Hunter and I knew there and then I had to try painting her. Details on the Witch Hunter were simply mind boggling and the paint job by Avicenna was truly amazing.

Simple but effective packaging for Ax Faction miniatures

To start off my journey with Ax Faction miniatures, I will be working on Raen of Rannoch (Giant Hunter) and Jotnar's Bane (Troll Hunter). Both of these miniatures seem easier to assemble and paint. Later, I will be working on other Ax Faction miniatures including my favourite - the Witch Hunter.

Unboxing of the Giant Hunter and Troll Hunter

Both Raen and the Troll Hunter came with a double sided art card measuring approximately 15cm by 21cm (A5). One side contained art work while the other side had a brief description of the miniature.

Front (left) and back (right) of the Art Card supplied with Jotnar's Bane
Front (left) and back (right) of the Art Card supplied with Raen of Rannoch

Upon unboxing, my very first impression of Ax Faction was that they reminded me a lot of the Kingdom Death miniatures. Details on the Ax Faction resin miniatures were very impressive and assembly range from easy to intermediate difficulty in view some parts being fairly small.

Jotnar's Bane aka Troll Hunter and her resin parts
Raen of Rannoch aka Giant Hunter and her resin parts

So far, all I have managed to do is assemble both miniatures (combination of super glue and dry fitting). During assembly I couldn't help noticing the amount of details on the miniatures. Mould lines were minimal. While I detected some tiny bubble imperfections (none of which damaged the details), it was nothing some green stuff can't fix. I am so looking forward to painting Raen and Jotnar's Bane.

After assembly - Raen of Rannoch (front view)
After assembly - Raen of Rannoch (back view)

After assembly - Raen of Rannoch (base - giant footprint)

While I was washing the Troll Hunter and preparing her for assembly, I accidentally broke the tip of the small bird's wing. It was an utter noob mistake that resulted from me washing it too hard with a brush. Duh ... face palm. But as they say, a silver lining in every cloud and all that jazz. Because of my error, I had the opportunity to try and glue a very small part (less than 2 mm) back to the wing of the bird ... and I succeeded against all odds. It helped that the small broken piece was still attached to the sprue so that made things a whole lot easier. Certainly a hobby confidence booster! 

After assembly - Jotnar's Bane (front view)
After assembly - Jotnar's Bane (back view)
After assembly - Jotnar's Bane (side views)
After assembly - Jotnar's Bane (base - troll's head)

Actual size-wise, the Ax Faction miniatures are fairly similar to W40K minis although scale-wise the former is bigger at 32 mm versus 28 mm for W40K. That is why Raen's height is similar to that of the Ultramarine. Hypothetically, if both were at the same scale, the space marine would tower over Raen.

Raen shown here next to the very first miniature I ever painted

This concludes my initial look at the Ax Faction miniatures. Thanks for reading and stay safe.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Nocturna Models Freya [Completed]

Woo hoo! Work on Freya of Nocturna Models is done after less than two weeks of consistent painting comprising about 1-3 hour long sessions per day. While not perfect, Freya is by far the best work I have done to date although the Black Legion Forgefiend that I painted a while back could perhaps give Freya a run for her money. Freya is a small step towards more ambitious projects, which hopefully can improve my painting skills along the way. Below are the final pictures of Freya.  

Nocturna Models Freya
Freya's expression shows she means business
Side view (right) of Nocturna Models Freya
Freya's beautifully sculpted cloak never ceases to amaze me
Freya's blond hair went well with her purple / lavender cloak
Another angle showing off how well sculpted the cloak is
Side view (left) of Nocturna Models Freya
Freya's pauldron was dulled by a wash of Citadel Devlan Mud

Freya's base was surprisingly difficult to paint. I struggled in giving the ground some depth. It would have been great if I had some replica moss to place on the base but dead grass was the best I could get a hold of. For the broken axe, I tried to convey a damaged and rusted look.

Base of Nocturna Models Freya

Thanks for following my painting journey with Freya. It has been a real blast painting her and I have enjoyed every single minute of it. Happy, happy, happy!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Nocturna Models Freya [WIP - Armour & Shiny Stuff]

While painting Freya's armour, I realised I had the opportunity to try applying a gloss varnish on some parts of the armour, specifically on the precious stone on her leg armour and the plating on her gauntlet. I chose to paint both in turquoise as it went well with her green clothing and purple cloak. 

Tamiya Gloss Varnish provided a perfect finish to the turquoise gem and plating

With most of Freya's clothing been predominantly green in colour, the most obvious choices for the precious stone in her leg armour were emerald, jade or turquoise. For the most contrast, turquoise seemed to be the best choice among the three, results of which you can see in the pictures below. 

Nocturna Models Freya with about 85% of her paint job completed
Turquoise on Freya's gauntlet went well with her green clothing
Freya's boots have been repainted in a lighter shade (see last picture)

With Freya's cloak on, the advantage of using turquoise is more evident. Much like how mayo binds all the ingredients of a burger together, in Freya's case, the turquoise colour serves to link the purple / lavender-coloured cloak with her green clothes. A dark green cloak could also have worked but it ran the risk of making the overall colour scheme too dull and dreary.     

Nocturna Models Freya with her purple-turquoise-green-brown colour scheme
Turquoise on Freya's gauntlet also combined well with her purple cloak
Freya's pauldron may need a wash to tone things down, but then again ...

As has been the case so far, detailed errors showed up in the macro shots of Freya which I hadn't really noticed while painting her. For example I got a lump of dark paint on her vest and the lining between flesh and clothing is still too reddish. Freya pauldron also seems a tad too shiny and may need a wash to tone things down a bit - something I may or may not do.

Errors in all their glory thanks to a dedicated macro lens

Just as I was in the midst of finishing this blog post, I actually completed Freya's base but didn't have the time to do proper shots so I just took a quick snapshot using a Samsung Galaxy S4 camera phone. Lighting was a bit harsh for the camera phone shot but the photo still came out ok. I should have better closeup pictures of the base in the upcoming Freya post. For me, Freya's base was slightly difficult to get right in terms of colour scheme. It would have been better if I had some replica moss to put on the base but all I had was static dead grass so final results were not ideal.

Nocturna Models Freya - paint job nearly done

So with the base done, only Freya's hair remain to be painted. In view of the existing colour scheme of her cloak, clothes and armour, I am planning to paint her hair blonde as it would go well with purple and green. Might still go for a brunette or redhead but most probably Freya will be a blonde. After painting her hair and the final touch ups, Freya should be completed by the next post.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Nocturna Models Freya [WIP - Clothes]

From the very beginning, I had envisioned Freya clothed in varying shades of green. With her skirt likely to be made from flimsier materials, it made sense to paint that in the lightest shade of green. That left her vest and left arm covering which I painted in a darker shade of green to both stimulate a tougher material as well as to provide some colour contrast vis-à-vis the skirt.

Nocturna Models Freya with most of her clothes painted

Freya's skirt was extremely fun (and easy) to paint due largely to the wonderfully detailed sculpture of the skirt, not unlike her cloak. Freya's vest and arm covering also had enough folds and creases sculpted in to make painting the highlights a rather easy task. 

Right side of Freya's vest did not have much highlights as it will be covered by her arm
Much more highlights on the left side of Freya's vest and arm covering

If you have been following my work-in-progress (WIP) posts on Freya, you would have noticed her cloak was painted in a purple/lavender colour. Although I had considered painting Freya's cloak in yet another shade of green to complement her clothes, I was worried it would turn out to be a boring colour scheme. So to stir things up a bit, I went for the purple/lavender cloak. As mother nature has an abundance of purple/green combos, especially in flora, there isn't much risk of a colour clash.  

Mother nature's purple and green combo
More of nature's purple/green combo

Freya's cloak is of a darker shade which played off her light green skirt well, but not so much against her dark green vest and arm covering.  But all in all, I was still happy with the end result. For want of a better description, her purple/lavender cloak gives her some class while her green clothes provides some 'freshness' to her look ... to me at least.

Freya's purple/lavender and green combo

Work continues on Freya and more WIP shots will be coming soon, so stay tuned. Hope you have a good start to the week and as always stay well and happy!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Nocturna Models Freya [WIP - Skin Tone and Eyes]

After a lot of thought into how I wanted to approach the paint job for Freya's skin tone, I finally settled on keeping things simple and used just four colours namely Reaper Ashen Brown and Citadel Scab Red, Tallarn Flesh and Elf Flesh. I felt it was more important to do the simple things well rather than botch up a complicated paint colour scheme. I might still do some touch up work on the skin tone after I have finished painting the rest of Freya but for now I am happy with how she looks.

Nocturna Models Freya with skin tones and face completed

Because I might have been too 'trigger-happy' when applying the shadows, Freya came out looking a bit older than I expected. So that kinda tags her as a seasoned warrior whose beauty still holds up after many years out in the open fields of battle. A 'Xena Warrior Princess' if you will. 

Lucy Lawless as Xena (left) and Lucretia (right)

Speaking of Lucy Lawless (the actress playing Xena as pictured above), I had thought Lucretia, the character in Spartacus looked very familiar but it took me a whole season before I could remember she was previously Xena. Pardon me but I digress ... back to Freya now.

Shadows for skin tone comprised a cool colour
Highlights were placed selectively for a more subtle effect

For Freya's eyes, I went for the K-Pop star look. It seems many Korean pop stars put on special contacts to make their pupils look bigger. Now I don't know how true this is but perhaps you can gauge the truthfulness of it but checking out the eyes of Girls Generation, a popular K-Pop group.

Eyes of Girls Generation, a popular all-girls K-Pop group
Freya with her K-Pop eyes look

Even at 54-mm scale, Freya's eyes were difficult to paint. For a reason I can't seem to recall, I did not use any form of magnification when painting her eyes and at times I could barely see where my brush point was touching (on the eyes). I placed a hint of green irises on her eyes to balance out her large pupils. But additional work is needed on the lower part of her right eye which needs more shadow.

Macro shot of her eyes helps me to see where touch ups are needed

One cool thing about taking photos using a dedicated macro lens is that it clearly shows up any mistakes which sometimes are hard to detect with the human eye. One might argue as to the point of repainting something the human eye can easily miss out. But if you are planning to post closeup pictures of your miniatures, it doesn't hurt to repaint where needed. Thanks for checking out my progress on Freya. It has been fun painting her so far. Till the next Freya update, stay safe.  

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