Saturday, 31 May 2014

Knight Models Spider-Man [WIP - Assembly & Priming]

On account of my other projects stalling due to not yet having the correct acrylic paint colours at hand, I turned to assembling the Knight Models Spider-Man to get my hobby fix. As I haven't done much conversion projects, this miniature was actually one of the very few resin/metal combo kits that I have worked on. Spider-Man is wholly metal while the main body of the taxi is resin with metal trimmings comprising the side-view mirror, door handle and roof signage. All in all a cool model kit.

Dry-fitting Spider-Man on top of a taxi

Use of a taxi as Spider-Man's base was certainly an inspired choice because nothing says New York City like the yellow cab. After all in the Marvel Universe, Spidey is synonymous with the most populous city in the United States. Spidey' dynamic pose atop the taxi helps bring it all together.

Resin and metal parts of the Knight Models Spider-Man

Assembling the taxi can be considered tricky due to the small metal parts involved. But if you use the pure baking soda-super glue combo to help you out, the task then becomes much much easier. I used this very combo technique when gluing the side-view mirror and door handle to the taxi.

Base of the Knight Models Spider-Man miniature is a New York City taxi

Initially, I had some difficulty fitting Spider-Man on top of the taxi. But I then realised that Spidey was a metal miniature and thus his fingers could be bent and positioned so that they made optimal surface contact with the roof of the taxi (see topmost photo of this blog post).

Knight Models Spider-Man, assembled and awaiting a primer coat
A very dynamic pose as should be the case for Spidey
Itsy bitsy spider went up the water sprout ...
Top-back view of the Knight Models Spider-Man, with his costume's classic spider symbol

After patching up some small gaps in between the joints with a bit of Games Workshop green stuff, and a primer coat of black for the taxi and light grey for Spidey himself, I am all set to begin painting this model kit proper. Although priming the taxi black might have seemed counterproductive seeing that I am going to paint it yellow, I had needed the primer coat to be extra smooth to closely approximate the surface of a car's metallic bodywork. In the perennial trade off between smoothness and less work in layering in colours, a light grey primer was then an acceptable next best option for Spider-Man as having a less smooth primer coat was not an issue for Spidey's organic surface.

Filling the gaps (top row) and priming (bottom row)

Most likely I will start painting the taxi first before focusing on Spider-Man himself. Peter Parker was my favourite comic book hero as a child before I slowly gravitated more towards the X-Men as I grew older. But Spidey is still special to me and I plan to enjoy bringing him to life as a miniature.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Super Dungeon Explore Fig.2: Riftling Rogue

Painting the Super Dungeon Explore Riftling Rogue afforded me the chance to get more non-metallic metal practise in although the final results of this demanding technique is still far from satisfactory. I am still struggling to achieve an appropriately stark (as well as smooth) contrast in order to simulate metallic surfaces, especially on such a small surface area. But it's great that these anime chibi-style miniatures is forcing me out of my comfort zone to attempt an advanced painting technique.   

Super Dungeon Explore Riftling Rogue

This particular Super Dungeon Explore board game piece had a really small body that made the head seem even bigger than usual, well it's a chibi figure after all. Still, the Riftling Rogue's body seemed really tiny when compared to the Deeproot Druid which made painting the lower portion difficult.

Not as famous as Drizzit Do'Urden but a tad cuter
Staying true to her original colour scheme meant a very limited colour palette
A pretty earring for a pretty rogue

To stay true to the colour scheme in the board game manual, I used a fairly limited palette when painting the Super Dungeon Explore Riftling Rogue. In hindsight, perhaps I should have painted her leather belt/pouches with brighter colours. That being said, when looking at the Riftling Rogue in the bigger picture ... for example when compared to all the other heroes after they have been painted ... I believe her colour scheme will actually provide a welcome contrast to the rest of the heroes.   

Back view of the Super Dungeon Explore Riftling Rogue
Some shadows on the white hair helped make the figure less monotone
Say I'm cute ... or else

Two cutesy miniatures down and many more to go. Not sure how much 'moe' I can endure but I must admit working on these adorable looking anime miniatures is both extremely fun as well as a means to improve my painting technique. Next up for the Super Dungeon Explore board game pieces will be the Ember Mage. Any elf with the word glimmer in her name cries out to be painted super extra cute! Question is ... can I paint any cuter? Must think cute thoughts ... rainbows, unicorns, sugar and spice ... exterminatus, space marines, war ... oops ... cute thoughts ... errr Richard Watterson?

Richard Watterson, candidate for Best Cartoon Father ... ever

So having left you with an image of a pink bunny burned into your retina ... I bid you adieu for now.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Ax Faction Victorian Darling [WIP - Skin tones & Face]

This little beauty from the Ax Faction miniature line is by far the hardest challenge I have faced in painting eyes to date. Partly due to its small size and mainly due to Murphy's Law, I had to repaint the eyes about five times and everything that could go wrong did. To make matters worse, every time I got the facial skin tones right, I messed up by the eyes and vice versa. Why is this a problem you wonder ... well there were instances when my hand slipped and the paint for the face ended up on the eyes and vice versa. Soon I had spent a hair-pulling three (or more) hours straight on her eyes alone.

Ax Faction Victorian Darling aka Kraken Hunter [WIP on skin tones and face]

Desperate times called for desperate measures and this was such a moment. For the first time ever, I had to use a Kolinsky sable brush to paint the eyes. In addition, it was also the smallest brush I had ever used or a size 6/0 to be exact. It was actually too small because the paint dried up most of the time before reaching the eyes. But it was the only one that could hold a small enough point for me to paint the pupil in the Victorian Darling aka Kraken Hunter's eye. The art supply shop I buy from only has 2/0 in stock and those were in bad condition so I will have to make do with the 6/0 for now.

Victorian Darling's white stockings were largely painted as sheer fabric
Unless an idea for a stocking design hits me, her stockings will remain plain white

In yet another first for me, I finally used a Vallejo Model Color acrylic paint when painting a miniature. If memory serves me correctly, I think it was Anne Foerster of Reaper Miniatures who said that to know how good a paint range is, you have to try its white paint. So if my experience with Vallejo Model Colour white is anything to go by, I am going to enjoy using this acrylic paint brand. For the Ax Faction Victorian Darling aka Kraken Hunter, I used the Vallejo White to get a smooth finish to her white stockings as well as mixed it with flesh colours to hint at sheer fabric.

Vallejo Model Colour - White
Still unsure if I will use the Victorian Darling's bustle to cover her hiney
Back view of the WIP Ax Faction Victorian Darling aka Kraken Hunter

There is a bustle (not shown in the photos) that covers the Victorian Darling's back so as to dial down the sexiness of the figurine. I guess it's a matter of personal taste as to whether her back should be covered up. I am fine with either option and plan to take photos of her with and without the bustle.

It kinda seems wasteful to cover up her nicely sculpted back
Still pondering whether to make the upper portion of her blouse into sheer fabric

While a large part of the Ax Faction Victorian Darling's skin tone has been completed, I will still do some touch ups after I have painted the rest of her. Other than further smoothening of the skin tone at her cleavage, I might need to tweak the highlights/shadows of her skin in response to final colours of the clothing. Past experience has shown that how the skin tones look now will change as the rest of the miniature is painted up because how warm/cool or light/dark a colour seems to one's eye is all relative depending on the colour next to it. So the focus now shifts to her clothes ... do stay tuned!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Stuff on my worktable and the Liebster Award

Just the other day I was taking stock of what I had on my worktable and thought it would be fun to post a group photo of my current miniatures-to-paint list. They comprise miniatures at the top of the list of each individual miniature line/brand that I happen to be working on. So on the back row from left to right you have the Warhammer Bretonnian Knight to be converted to a knight of a noble house in Westeros (Game of Thrones), Ax Faction's Victorian Darling and Nocturna Models Le Petit Chaperon. On the front row, also from left to right is Knight Models Spiderman, Super Dungeon Explore's Riftling Rogue and finally the W40K Ork Boss from the Assault on Black Reach starter set.

Miniatures on my to-paint-list as at mid-May 2014

At this point in time, only the Victorian Darling and Riftling Rogue seem to be progressing well. Le Petit awaits results from a Vallejo Model skin tone test (more on this in future posts) while I am stuck trying to figure out how to paint House Arryn's symbol for the Game of Thrones paint job conversion project . As I believe I still lack the skills to paint a good Hulk skin tone, Spiderman seems to have jumped queue in my Marvel Universe project. So out came the Ork Warboss yet more Hulk skin tone practise.  Now I am sure I will be adding to this group soon though the unwritten rule is still to work on only one specific miniature from a particular line/brand at any given time.

Liebster Award
Despite not being overly keen on chain-letter-thingamajigs, I am nonetheless touched to have been nominated by Morikun of Le Temple de Morikun and Adam of adm's minilog. So here are my answers to their questions (most that I posted earlier at Morikun's blog have changed).

Morikun's Questions (with the help of Google translate):
1. Why do you blog?
Because I love writing and enjoy sharing my experiences in this hobby.
2. What is your dream figurine?
One that I hope to sculpt is Katniss Everdeen twirling about in a red dress that is on fire.
3. Games Workshop proposed changes to their magazines, agree or not?
Haven't bought White Dwarf for some time now so I can't really say.
4. What is the best trip you would do/did?
Any trip is wonderful when you are with your dearest loved ones.
5.  If you follow a low salt diet, would you bathe in the sea?
Lol ... I can't swim so no.
6. What is your favorite food / hated?
Love coffee (it's food for the brain) and hate prawns.
7. Why do you paint miniatures?
Because I love working with colours.
8. What do you hate most in the world?
That there is so much hate in the world. 
9. Why do you come to Temple Morikun?
Because it's a lovely blog why else?

Adam's Questions:
1.  What and how long ago got you into the hobby?
Hmmm ... late 2011 I think so more than two-and-a-half-years ago but less than three.
2. Fantasy, history or sci-fi?
All but fantasy first and foremost.
3. What do you think is your best work and why?
Zombie Girl, Freya and White Speaker - three-way tie. Just like them I guess.
4. What is your greatest hobby ambition?
To not suck so much and paint better with each miniature.
5. Are you more of a analytic and organized or totally chaotic painter?
Analytical and organized when planning colour schemes, chaotic when painting.
6. Which movie/book/comic book/video game franchise would you like to see made into miniature line the most? The Last of Us (PS3 video game)
7. Which is more important to you: painting or gaming? Which takes up more time? Painting
8.  If you could spend a day with a totally fictional character who would it be and why?
Q of Star Trek. Why not?
9. Do you have a favorite miniature manufacturer\line or prefer to try out different stuff?
Any miniature line that has good details and quality is ok in my books.
10. Is fluff and back story an important factor for you when choosing minis, or is it all about the looks? Both are equally important.
11. Lager or ale? Neither ... coffee rules!

Star Trek's best ever character ... Q

In the spirit of the award, which is to promote new blogs, I would like to invite readers to please take the time to visit the many blogs on my blog roll to the right. They are written by people passionate about their art and hobby and thus deserve our support. And as always, thanks for visiting my blog!  

Sunday, 18 May 2014

SDE Riftling Rogue [WIP - Skin and Hair]

On to my second Super Dungeon Explore board game piece and I have hit a roadblock in my attempt to make each chibi-style anime figure cuter than the next. With her red eyes, it will be quite difficult to make the Riftling Rouge look cute and adorable. But I am sure it will be fun to try anyway.

Super Dungeon Explore Riftling Rogue [WIP - Skin and Hair]
Playing card art of the Riftling Rogue on which I am basing the colour scheme

Learning my lesson from an earlier too-clever-by-half effort to incorporate textured fur into a anime colour scheme, I made sure not to repeat the same mistake twice. So for the Riftling Rogue's white hair, I didn't go overboard with hair-like texture but instead just made light paint strokes - not too overpowering, just enough - to denote hair volume and depth. Meanwhile, her skin was painted greyish purple in what I hope is a good approximation of the colours shown in her playing card art.  

Greyish purple was used to depict the Riftling Rogue's skin
Eye socket was painted reddish purple as a basecoat for the eventual pupil

In a reverse of how I usually paint eyes, the Super Dungeon Explore Riftling Rogue's eye socket has been basecoated with the colours of her iris instead of sclera. This means I will need to paint the sclera next i.e. putting in the whites at the either side of the eye socket. Rather than any clever technique, this was a just a simple mistake on my part. I had initially thought her whole eye was red. Still, painting negative space should be an interesting experience in painting the eyes of a miniature.  

Very light shading on the Super Dungeon Explore Rfitling Rogue's white hair

Well, the easy part is over and now come the hard parts such as the Riftling Rogue's eyes, weapons, etc. It will be difficult for me to paint non-metallic metal (NMM) on such small knives so I do not expect much success on that front as I am still a very long way off from mastering NMM. So why do NMM at all? I believe a badly done NMM is still preferable to using pure metallic paint as that would stick out like a sore thumb in an anime colour scheme that comprises largely of flat colours. So then, as Julius Ceasar once said when crossing the Rubicon... jacta alea est. NMM is has to be and NMM it will be. Till my next post, stay healthy and have a pleasant week ahead.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Ax Faction Victorian Darling [WIP - Base & Colour Scheme] aka Kraken Hunter

Whilst looking for inspiration on what colour scheme to use for the 32-mm Ax Faction Victorian Darling aka Kraken Hunter resin miniature, I had consciously limited my search to a limited-palette of colours that also renders the miniature slightly more cartoon-like. To that effect, I realised that my previous anime character reference (i.e. Squid Girl, the protagonist in Shinryaku! Ika Musume) suited my purpose perfectly. Some tweaks to this simple palette that takes into consideration the more detailed sculpting on this Ax Faction miniature should make the colour scheme work. Hmmm, working with bright anime colours seems to have raised my optimism to a ridiculously high level. 

Unpainted Ax Faction Victorian Darling aka Kraken Hunter (sans lamp, gun and bustle) atop the painted base
Using the protagonist in Shinryaku! Ika Musume as a colour scheme reference

With the exception of my work on the Knight Models Zombie Girl, I rarely pay much attention to a miniature's base. One of the main reasons for this particular failing of mine is that I tend to paint the base last and by that stage I am already bereft of any inspiration and enthusiasm for the miniature I am working on. So for my past few projects, I have tried changing the order in which I work so as to paint the base first while I am still highly pumped with positive energy. My reasoning is to work on parts that least interest me when my enthusiasm is at its highest in the hope it will all even out. 

Back view of the Victorian Darling aka Kraken Hunter's highly detailed base
Front view of the Victorian Darling aka Kraken Hunter's base

After failing miserably in my previous attempts to paint realistic wood, I made another go of it with the Victorian Darling's base. My primary goal when painting the wooden planks on the base was to carefully maintain the wood grain effect as well as have each plank show small variations in colour. On both counts, I kinda succeeded ... barely, that or my high level of optimism is clouding my judgement. I tried to increase the highlights on the planks to get better contrast but I didn't pull it off so I decided to leave things alone and be happy with what I managed to achieve in this attempt.

Placing the Victorian Darling/Kraken Hunter base on a test piece water diorama
Ax Faction's Victorian Darling/Kraken Hunter base as seen from another angle

Placing the Victorian Darling's base on top of a test-piece water diorama made it abundantly clear to me that for the whole thing to work, a more dynamic water diorama comprising rough waves will have to be sculpted and painted. Such a diorama would require less usage of realistic water. Instead, more water effects and clay sculpture of waves will be needed. For now, I will worry about painting the miniature itself first as it's pointless to have a a dynamic water diorama without a well-painted centerpiece miniature to tie it all together. Less cart before the horse stuff and all that jazz!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Super Dungeon Explore Fig.1: Deeproot Druid

Slightly more than two-and-a-half years after I first started painting miniatures, I have finally completed an anime character; the very type of figure/model that started me on this journey in the first place. So in a sense I have come full circle and it feels good. Painting bright colours is so much fun and just puts me in a happy place. Life is at its best when you appreciate the small things! 

Up close and personal, the Super Dungeon Explore Deeproot Druid
Shinryaku! Ika Musume - Reference used for painting the druid's eyes

Fellow blogger Zab of Almost Perfetc had given me a very good starting reference for anime eyes but I unfortunately couldn't use it to convey the type of expression I wanted the druid to have. Luckily for me I found a near-perfect example to base my painted anime eyes on, in the form of the protagonist in Shinryaku! Ika Musume which literally translates to Invade! Squid Girl. Despite not having watched a complete episode of this anime television series, I have always liked how the main character is illustrated both in terms of her many expressions as well as her simple yet effective colour scheme. 

Super Dungeon Explore - Deeproot Druid [Completed]

Meanwhile, seeing that I had already blundered in painting a textured white fur, I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice. So that meant I could not paint the druid's armour using metallic paint which would have been out of place with the flat colours of a chibi-stlye illustration. Instead, I tried painting non-metallic metal (NMM) again, in what is only my second attempt at this tough technique (with the first attempt being Marvel's Iron Man). Still very unhappy with my NMM work though.

The druid's golden armour was my second attempt at painting non-metallic metal
Green gems on the armour turned out better than the actual armour itself

While the textured white fur wasn't a complete and utter disaster, it does feel slightly out-of-sync with the rest of the druid's colour scheme. So lesson learnt and textures are out for the next chibi mini.

Look closely at the band-aid to see some texture work
Textured white fur, a case of being too clever for my own good
White highlights and cool light grey shadows on the fur were increased

I can't help but wear this silly grin on my face just thinking of the many bright colours I will need to use in order to bring the rest of Super Dungeon Explore's chibi-style minaiture heroes to life. Thanks for taking the time to check out the druid, the first of many pieces from this beautiful board game.

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