Thursday, 28 November 2013

Picking a Baratheon king to paint

Next up on my Game of Thrones miniature painting project is House Baratheon. But which brother do I choose? Right off the bat, I have ruled out Robert for now as his colour scheme is too similar to my recent Ser Gregor Clegane piece. So that leaves Renly and Stannis, both of which I plan to work on. To kick-off work on House Baratheon, I will paint Renly Baratheon whose yellow-on-green colours is the most different from what I have done so far i.e. House Lannister and House Clegane.   

Robert, Renly and Stannis Baratheon (from left to right)

A beautiful piece of fan art by 'saracennegative' on devianART pretty much sums up the different colour schemes involved for separate branches of House Baratheon as led by the three siblings.

Colours of House Baratheon for Robert, Renly and Stannis (from left to right) by saracennegative

For this miniature, I did a very minor re-sculpting of the Bretonnian Knight by cutting out the sword hilt so that it looks like only the scabbard is attached to the knight's left leg. This was done because the knight (or in this case, a temporary king in the form Renly) was already holding up a sword. It would have looked odd and unrealistic to still have a sword in the scabbard. So the hilt had to go.

Renly Baratheon - all primed in white and ready for the initial basecoats
Minor miniature re-sculpting to remove sword hilt and show just the scabbard

So far, I have only managed a few thin layers of the basecoat colours. I have kept the initial layers thin because I plan to do some washes on the warhorse before building up the basecoat colours again going on to mid-tones and highlights. The bright greens here won't be too far off from a Space Marine Salamander colour scheme. Meanwhile, the bluish band on the warhorse is based on a photo of Renly (see below) although I haven't quite got the correct hue yet which is teal so I need to add more green and/or turquoise to the bluish mix I painted ... that's what I think will work anyway.

Renly Baratheon's warhorse - early stages with a few thin layers of basecoat
Teal-colour of Renly's gloves will be incorprated into the warhorse

If you recall, I still have another version of Ser Gregor to do, a Nocturna Models miniature painted in Clegane colours. That one is still progressing slowly as I intend to spent a much longer time blending colour transitions so no worthwhile photos yet. Work should progress faster with Renly ... I hope.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

My first Kolinsky paint brush

Thanks to the missus who bought me this as a gift during her work assignment in Singapore, I am now the proud owner of a Kolinsky Sable-hair paint brush or more specifically the Raphael Kolinsky Red Sable Fine Pointed Round Series 8404. Up until now, all my paint brushes have been of the cheap nylon variety which have served me well and will continue doing so for many more projects to come. However, by having the 6/0 Kolinsky brush I hope to finally paint better eyes on the miniatures. The sharp point that such brushes are famed for should be of great help in this regard.

Raphael Kolinsky Red Sable Fine Pointed Round Series 8404

Ever since I started out in this hobby, the workhorses in my painting table have been the cheap Artpac nylon brushes sized 0, 2/0 and 3/0. Although I would love to have an array of Kolinsky Sable-hair as well as airbrushes at my disposal, the sad reality is that only nylon brushes are within my budget. It was awfully nice of the missus to get me the Kolinsky brush considering it cost a whopping US$10 or thereabouts. I am super stoked but would most likely use it very sparingly to make it last longer.

Current workhorses of my painting table

Well it seems truly silly of me to get so excited over a brush but I can't help it. It's a Kolinsky. No more blaming the brush for the horribly painted eyes on my miniatures then. Heh heh ... sigh.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Marvel project begins with an introvert and an extrovert

To add to the considerable pipeline of miniature painting projects on my workstation, I will be starting yet another long-term project in the form of superheros and villains from the Marvel Universe. This new endeavour will take centre stage along with my current Game of Thrones project which I am enjoying immensely due to the myriad of colour schemes and freehand heraldry designs involved. Other stuff in my to-do list are some stand-alone character pieces, possibly board game minis as well as my badly ignored W40K armies. Phew, talk about having your cake and eating it too.

Iron Man and The Hulk

My journey into the Marvel Universe, in particular assembling and painting the Avengers, begins with a contrast of two characters namely an extrovert in playboy Tony Stark aka Iron Man versus an introvert in the mild mannered and soft spoken Bruce Banner aka The Hulk. With the Iron Man movies into their third iteration, it is widely accepted among Marvel fans on how well Downey carries the Stark character. On the other hand, Mark Ruffalo is the third actor to play the movie version of Bruce Banner. And in my honest opinion. Ruffalo is by far the best Banner yet.   

Mark Ruffalo (left) as Bruce Banner and Robert Downey Jr (right) as Tony Stark

So where do I stand in terms of progress in assembling the Avengers? Using miniatures from Knight Models for both The Hulk and Iron Man, the former has yet to be assembled. The Hulk from the Knight Models Marvel Universe range comes with a few assemble options which includes three heads as well as two left and right hands each. It allows for three versions of Hulk - Red Hulk, Grey Hulk and Green Hulk. In line with the movie versions, I am planning to paint a green Hulk.

Knight Models The Hulk - a 1:22 scale resin model kit

At first glance, both Iron Man and Hulk seem like easy projects but the actual size of both miniatures - The Hulk stands at 90 mm from the base to the top of  his head while Iron Man comes in at 75 mm - as well as an intention on my part to paint both Iron Man's armour and Hulk's skin in extreme detail and hopefully with depth means it will be harder than it looks.

Knight Models Iron Man primed with Tamiya Fine Surface Primer

As for Iron Man, I have managed to get a few initial layers of basecoat on the miniature after priming him with Tamiya Fine Surface Primer. My current painting style is fairly fluid with repeated shifts between basecoats, shadows and highlights so even now the basecoat layers are incomplete. My starting point tends to be the mid-tones which will be blended accordingly with the shadows and highlights. Meanwhile, Iron Man will also see me try to paint Non-Metallic Metal for the first time.

Iron Man - Very early work-in-progress with initial basecoats done (front view)
Iron Man - Very early work-in-progress with initial basecoats done (back view)

Constantly shifting from one colour scheme to the next (as well as challenging myself with different miniature types) helps to stave off the monotony that sometimes plagues me in this hobby. Keeping things fresh also helps me to improve my painting skills ... one miniature at a time.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

House Clegane Knight & Warhorse [Completed]

Completing the second knight in my Game of Thrones was a very enjoyable experience. I not only got to practice painting freehand heraldry designs, but also managed to experiment further with getting smoother blends and transitions for the colour yellow. It helped that I have started using a wet palette to paint miniatures. This made the blending of colours so much easier.  

House Clegane knight on a warhorse aka Ser Gregor
Side view (left) of the House Clegane Knight
Banner tied to the lance was intentionally left free of any heraldry designs

Although the bluish grey headband and horse reins which accompanied the predominantly yellow colour scheme are not officially present in House Clegane colours, I added them in because I felt that they made the yellow stand out more (in a complementary colours kind of way). The overall colour scheme for my version of Ser Gregor Clegane is largely inspired by X-Men of the Marvel universe.

Lance was set an a 45 degree angle to add some dynamism to the miniature
Side view (right) of the House Clegane Knight
Boar with a knife in its back was coincidentally rather symbolic of the king's passing
Front and back view of the House Clegane Knight (or Ser Gregor)

House Clegane heraldry revisited
Differing slightly from my freehand heraldry paintings on the warhorse, the House Clegane symbol on the shield was based on a particular scene from the Game of Thrones TV series. This necessitated a more detailed painting of the heraldry in two colours - black and grey - with the latter used to finely paint the eye, eyebrow and muscle definitions of the hound.   

House Clegane heraldry on the shield
Four step process on painting the House Clegane shield heraldry

As shown in the photo montage above, the House Clegane shield heraldry was painted in a simple four-step process detailed below:
1) Rough sketch using a pencil
2) Area blocked out using grey paint
3) Area filled in using black paint
4) Eye, eyebrow and muscle definition done using grey paint

360 view of the House Clegane Knight
For a 360 degree view of the House Clegane Knight, please check out the YouTube video (see below) of the miniature. For other videos, check out my YouTube channel FourEyedMonster Miniatures.

Thanks for checking out the latest work on my Game of Thrones miniature painting project. More miniatures are in the works for this project, including a bigger version of Ser Gregor, so stay tuned!

Friday, 15 November 2013

House Clegane warhorse, complete with heraldry

Barring some final touch ups to the House Clegane warhorse especially on the metal studs and leather reins, Ser Gregor's equine ride is largely finished. Just a year ago if you had told me that I would be painting freehand on a more regular basis I would have called you crazy. But a desire to paint and bring something one has read (or seen) to life can sometimes override the mental block that prevents a painter from trying out new techniques whether due to lack of confidence or pure laziness. 

Painting the House Clegane heraldry, an alternate version in freehand

Although I am not entirely happy with the final results due to an annoying inability on my part to paint the hounds in a consistent manner, there are still some positives that I can take from this experience. For example, I am slowly coming to grips with my paint brush handling skills and learning to mix paints in a way that facilitates freehand painting. It also provides me with a foundation towards painting more complex freehand designs that contain more than just one colour.  

House Clegane warhorse (side view, right)
House Clegane warhorse (side view left)

So the stage is now set for the Clegane knight (there is only one I know of and he is Ser Gergor) to be seated atop the warhorse. All I have to do is paint the knight and arm him with a shield that contains yet another House Clegane heraldry. However, this time the freehand painting design I have in mind is different from what you see on the warhorse. I am planning to paint just one hound but in more detail as depicted in the Game of Thrones TV series. Pulling that off will be easier said than done.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Figuring out how to paint the House Clegane heraldry

One challenge facing me as I attempt to paint Game of Throne's Ser Gregor Clegane is to find a way to paint the House Clegane heraldry in miniature form. With that in mind, I sought inspiration from three main sources - a vector design of the official heraldry, a picture of Ser Gregor on HBO Watch and an actual miniature painting by Jen Haley which was done for Dark Sword Miniatures.

House Clegane heraldry by Thomas Gately of liquidsouldesign

A vector design of the House Clegane heraldry by Thomas Gately of liquidsouldesign gave me some insight on how the official heraldry design looks. While the complicated looking design could be painted on the larger 1/28th scale Nocturna Models Crusader XIII C miniature model, it would be significantly more difficult to do so on the smaller 28-mm scale Bretonnian Knight. Luckily, I managed to find a much simpler design on HBO Watch which meant that the House Clegane heraldry can still be successfully painted on the smaller scale of 12mm by 15mm. 

Ser Gregor Clegane as depicted in HBO Watch

Meanwhile, a painter I have always admired - Jen Haley - had also done a fantastic version of the House Clegane heraldry on a miniature she painted for Dark Sword Miniatures. I noticed that due to the shape of the shield, Jen Haley's painted hounds became gradually smaller towards the bottom. This is something I also experienced when practising to draw and paint the House Clegane heraldry.  

As painted by Jen Haley for Dark Sword Miniatures

So using all three designs as a foundation to work from, I settled upon an amalgamation of sorts of all three designs to come up with what worked best for me based on my style of painting. Below are pictures of  some doodles and test paint jobs of the House Clegane heraldry that I did to instill some muscle memory into my hands before I attempted the real thing on the warhorse.

Repeated drawings and paintings of House Clegane heraldry to instill muscle memory
How to paint the House Clegane heraldry ala FourEyedMonster's noob friendly technique

As for progress on my Game of Thrones project, I have managed to finish painting most of the Clegane warhorse so the canvas is set for the freehand heraldry paintings. Hopefully, I have properly prepared myself to do a good job and not mess up the work I have done on the warhorse until now.

Warhorse awaiting freehand painting of House Clegane's heraldry
Getting practice on blending a smooth transition of colours for the yellow cloth

Up next will be the warhorse complete with freehand heraldry designs. Till then stay well and happy.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Starting work on Ser Gregor Clegane

Although Dark Sword Miniatures already has a beautifully sculpted official Game of Thrones miniature depicting Ser Sandor Clegane, I decided to go rogue and use two unofficial miniatures to depict 'The Mountain' both masked and unmasked. Using a Warhammer Bretonnian Knight for the former and the Nocturna Models Crusader XIII C for the latter, I will be painting both in the colours of House Clegane for a miniature conversion of sorts that is limited to just the paint job.

Game of Thrones - Ser Gregor Clegane aka The Mountain as played by Conan Stevens

Progress on both miniatures is at the initial stage with basecoats in a colour scheme that at first glance looks a lot like costumes worn by the X-Men, mutant superheroes of the Marvel Universe.

Size comparison of the Nocturna Models (left) and Warhammer (right) figures versus a 32-mm paperclip

Not only does the Nocturna Models figure bear an uncanny resemblance to the actor portraying Ser Gregor in the Game of Thrones television series, it will also allow me to practice painting on a larger 1:28 scale and hopefully provide me with the opportunity to create a realistic looking Ser Gregor.

Nocturna Models Crusader XIII C basecoated in the colours of House Clegane

Meanwhile, the roughly smaller 28-mm scale Bretonnian Knight miniature will fit in nicely with my exisiting Lannister Knight in what will be an eight House extravaganza. I went with the helmet containing a boar with a knife on it's back, which I felt was befitting the actual storyline describing the demise of the king in the Game of Thrones books. Although the Cleganes were not directly responsible for the king's death, they do serve masters who were.  

Knight of House Clegane (WIP)

As for Sandor Clegane aka The Hound (Ser Gregor's brother), I am unable to use any existing miniatures to depict him due to the character's unique characteristics chiefly his helmet which is shaped into the likeness of a dog's head as well as his badly burned face. So if I were to eventually paint Sandor, I guess I will use the official miniature from Dark Sword. 

Game of Thrones - Sandor Clegane aka The Hound as played by Rory McCann

As it stands, my work on House Clegane is centered around Ser Gregor. Perhaps in the future there will be room for Sandor. But for now, The Mountain takes precedence over The Hound.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Video game characters I wish were miniature model kits

For me to care enough to want to paint a miniature, I need to first and foremost like the character being depicted as well as be inspired by the lore or story behind the character. In this modern era of PC and console gaming, graphics technology has finally caught up with the visions of video game script writers and rendered many memorable characters in truly engrossing story lines. Certainly a far cry from the days of Pong and Space Invaders, when all the story was in the packaging and instructions while lousy graphics meant the rest was left to the imagination.

PS3's The Last of US is the best video game I have ever played

Now I am very fortunate to have experienced the joy of video games since the early days of console gaming ala ATARI ... a period of close to three decades. After all the many firsts I experienced as a gamer (one that sticks to mind is playing Tomb Raider on the PS1 and experiencing a truly interactive 3D environment for the first time), I say this without any doubt whatsoever ... the PS3 exclusive game "The Last of Us" is the best video game I have ever played. Never had I experienced a game in which one cared so much for the characters as I did for Ellie and Joel in "The Last of Us".  

A 12" premium statue by Project Triforce

Throughout the game, you can see the relationship grow between this pseudo father-daughter duo in the little bits of in-game chatter as well as emotional cut scenes. Naughty Dog, the developer of "The Last of Us", had released a special Post Pandemic Edition of the game which came with a 12" painted statues (by Project Triforce) of both Ellie and Joel. If I knew just how much I was going to love this game I would have scrounged up every last dollar I had to get my hands on the figures. I would love to work on a Ellie and Joel miniature conversion but for now I have no idea which minis to use.

Sarah Louise Kerrigan or the Queen of Blades in Star Craft

Blizzard was, in my mind, the first developer to incorporate story telling successfully into a real time strategy game. And what could be cooler than the Queen of Blades herself. Sideshow Collectibles, a specialty manufacturer of licensed figures, announced in July of 2013 that they were going to release a statue of Kerrigan as part of their announced Blizzard licenses. The picture shown below is of the figure before it is painted but I believe Sideshow Collectibles only sells them painted. Bummer! What I wouldn't give to be a painter in the Californian company.     

Early production picture of Sideshow Collectibles Blizzards license figure of Kerrigan

Yet another video game character that I would love to work on is none other than Lara Croft herself or better known as Tomb Raider. Specifically, I would love to paint the younger version of Lara Croft as depicted in Tomb Raider circa 2013. She looks more natural than the earlier versions of Lara.

Lara Croft when she was younger

Crystal Dynamics had released a 8" Lara Croft action figure in its Collectors Edition which looked rather cool but could have been much better. I have seen some painted garage kits of Lara but all tend to portray her in the usual boob fest galore that has come to epitomise the franchise. I thought the direction Tomb Raider took with the 2013 release was fantastic not only as an origin story but also in that it portrayed Lara as a character that you would genuinely care and root for.

Tomb Raider (circa 2013) Collections Edition figurine

All these wonderful characters make me want to learn sculpting and try my hand at creating garage kit miniatures. Wouldn't it be cool to sculpt what you want to paint ... pretty super awesome I say.
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