Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Last Night on Earth: Starfleet Survivor Hikaru Sulu

Based on the previously stated premise that the Starfleet survivors are garbed in 20th century Earth clothes, I proceeded to mix and match the Last Night on Earth (LNoE) survivor miniatures with Star Trek: The Original Series characters that they best portrayed. First up, I used LNoE's Johnny the high-school quarterback to respresent Mr. Hikaru Sulu, helmsman for the starship USS Enterprise.   

Starfleet survivor and USS Enterprise helmsman, Mr. Hikaru Sulu
What does SK stand for? Either Sulu Kato or the fictional Starfleet Kestrels
A combination of flesh and earth colours were used to mimic Japanese skin tone

There were some details on the miniature that made it, for me at least, suitable for use as Sulu. For example, the initials 'SK' on the jacket can actually represent the words Sulu Kato. In some Japanese versions of Star Trek, Sulu's family name was changed to Kato, so in this sense the initials take on a whole new meaning. The initials can also be used to depict a fictional 23rd century baseball team i.e. Starfleet Kestrels (non-canon and totally made up by me). Incidentally, the green-blue colour scheme used here is based on the scout patrol colours of my youth ... Kestrel Patrol. This blast from the past was dredged up from the depths of my memories when gazing upon a fellow hobbyist's Eldar.

Deprived of his fencing foil Sulu grabbed hold of the next best thing, an official Starfleet Kestrels' baseball bat
Back view of Mr. Hikaru Sulu

Moreover, the way his face was sculpted approximated Asian-like facial feature. Building on that, I used a combination of flesh and earth colours from the Vallejo Model Color range in my collection to recreate Japanese skin tone colours. The skin tone was based roughly from a paint recipe I found online but I modified the recipe to incorporate more earth colours to get the ethnic hue I wanted.  

Denim texture on Sulu's pant's turned out to be the most challenging bit
Side view showcasing more detailed work on the denim jeans

Most challenging part of painting this LNoE board game piece/miniature was the denim texture on his pants. Because I had forgotten to record the colours I used when painting the same texture on Knight Models Logan, I literally had to start from scratch when I realised I had actually also forgotten the technique I used (to a certain extent). So that meant a lot of trial and error before I achieved the denim texture results you see in the photos on this post. To accompany the predominately green-blue colour scheme arising of out the jacket and jean colours, I also added orange hues on the jacket buttons as well as stripes on both sports shoes in order to (hopefully) make all the colours 'pop' more.

Orange hues were strategically placed into the overall green-white-blue colour scheme
Mr. Sulu next to a paper clip and the smallest denomination in the Malaysian currency

For a sense of scale, I placed a 31-mm paper clip as well as a five sen coin next to the miniature as you can see in the immediate photo above. At this scale, painting his eyes were next to impossible for someone of my skill level. I spent about 5 to 6 hours straight just working on the eyes alone and I am still unhappy with the results. I tried using a magnifying lamp to help me paint the eyes but it seemed to make things worse so I ditched that and painted it using my naked eye instead. I did, however, have the help of a 6/0 Raphael Kolinsky Sable Brush to paint his eyes so it wasn't all bad I guess. In the end, I am fairly happy with how Sulu turned out, especially when considering his small scale.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Nocturna Models Enchantment [WIP - Soft colours]

In perhaps a bout of overconfidence, I decided to forgo the use of a colour wheel when deciding on the three main soft colours I wanted on the Nocturna Models Enchantment 70-mm scale miniature. All I had in-hand were some reference photos of all the costumes ever worn by Emilia Clark when portraying Daenerys Targayen in the HBO series Game of Thrones, from which I picked and chose several colours that I liked and felt might go well together. Now in all fairness to the series' costume designers, these three colours were never used together in one costume. And it had me worried.

Nocturna Models Enchantment, work-in-progress - deciding the main soft colours
All three colours had to be muted for them to co-exist peacefully and not clash
I'm too sexy for my ... (admit it, that song is in your head now)

Soon after I had finished laying down the main soft colours, I panicked big time and started to second guess my choice of colours. Moreover, I couldn't really find these three combinations in the colour wheel. Then I remembered a book in my collection which I had forgotten about until now - Color Index by Jim Krause. To my relief, I found that the colours I used is indeed a valid combination when used as light tints, which my soft pastel-like colours kinda resemble. But some good did come out of my impetuousness -  if I had referred to the color wheel beforehand I would never have selected the colours I did. Also, I now have a new tool in my miniature painting hobby, the Color Index book.

To my relief, the leftmost 'Light Tints' colour combination on the top row shows my choice does exist  
Adding light pastel green into the mix, made it less Barbiesque

Going forward, there are two important things I need to do with regards to painting the clothes worn by the Nocturna Models Enchantment figure. Firstly, I will have to place more of the three main soft colours at strategic locations on the miniature to ensure they complement each other well. Secondly, I will have to decided on a neutral colour I can use to tie the whole piece together. This colour will also be sourced from the many costumes worn by Emilia Clarke when dressed as Daenerys Targayen.

Next up, the three main soft colours will be strategically placed at other parts of the miniature ...
... and a suitable neutral colour will be added to tie everything together

This has been an unproductive week hobby wise. My son came down with high fever so I dropped everything hobby-related to take care of his illness. He is recovering now so I should be able to get more painting done soon. That is unless I am coming down with the bug he had ... perish the thought!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Ax Faction Zombie Hunter [WIP - Base]

When working on Ax Faction miniatures, I have come to expect highly detailed bases. The Zombie Hunter is no exception with it's cliff-like structure with a dead zombie (hey, an oxymoron) sprawled at the bottom. I love a mini with a well sculpted base as it saves me the trouble of creating my own. 

Ax Faction Zombie Hunter, work-in-progress with just the base completed

While I am pretty sure the Ax Faction Zombie Hunter's base was meant to be painted as a small stone cliff, it also had a texture that reminded me of a gnarled tree bark. So with that in mind, I primarily used dry brushing and washes to replicate the texture as well as colours found on tree bark. 

Base was sculpted in such a way that I felt it could be painted either as a small stony cliff or gnarled tree bark
Back of the base was painted to somewhat resemble wood grain

In keeping with the wood-theme, I also tried painting the back of the base to somewhat resemble wood grain. At this stage, it looks like it will need a fair bit more work before I am happy with it.

Tree bark was painted primarily via a combination of dry brushing and washes
Zombie on the base is highly detailed and will be the part painted next
Good details on the base made painting it fun and easy

Next up for the 32-mm Ax Faction Zombie Hunter will be the zombie at the foot of the base. I have a rough idea of the skin tone I want to achieve but still no clue as to what colour I should use for its cloak. That in turn will determine the colour scheme for the Zombie Hunter himself. Well, that's it for this short update on my miniature project pipeline. Thanks for reading and have a good weekend.

Monday, 10 November 2014

An odd group of Starfleet zombies

Captain's Log, Stardate 7208.37 - We have uncovered yet more Starfleet officers being afflicted by a condition that renders them undead, for a total of seven affected crew. It is interesting to note that so far all those who have turned into zombies were part of a later group of shore leave participants - still in their Starfleet uniforms - from the USS Enterprise. Meanwhile, an earlier group which was attired in 20th century Earth-like clothes to fit in with the locals (refer Appendix 1A) is still unaccounted for.  

Starfleet officers have been seen wandering around aimlessly in zombie form

Latest to fall foul of the mysterious affliction are the O'Brien twins Aiden and Sean, commissioned officer Katrina Gupta and security officer John Norris. Unfortunately the presence of security officers has not prevented more of our crew from turning into zombies. Early progress on my research into the cause of this undead plague suggests the method of transmission is via bites from the afflicted.

Latest additions to the Star Trek zombie horde
Back view of the latest Starfleet undead

At the moment, these poor souls are wandering aimlessly on the planet surface. In another surprising turn of events, the local inhabitants of the M-class planet Dukkha have also completely disappeared. Attempts to contact the first few crew members of the Enterprise to arrive at the planet have also met with failure. But we have not given up hope that perhaps they have escaped the strange plague.

Enterprise computer analysis shows the zombies moving at a slow pace
Majority of the victims are the red-shirt security officers

Chief Medical Officer Leonard McCoy standing in for Captain Kirk. Updates to follow, McCoy out.

Appendix 1A: Captain's Log, Stardate 7201.3

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Knight Models The Hulk [WIP - Skin Tone]

Painting The Hulk's skin tones has been strangely cathartic for me as the simple repetitive act of blending and layering of shadows, midtones, highlights and the many half-tones in between put me in a calm state of mind amidst the troubles of everyday life. There have been times when I have just peacefully sat blending and layering paints and have hours pass by without even realising it. For this Knight Model piece, most of the time I didn't even have any music playing in the background. My mind was empty save for these thoughts ... blend, blend, layer, mix, blend, blend ... you get the idea.

Knight Models The Hulk, work-in-progress on skin tone
Wonderfully sculpted piece made painting the skin tones very easy
Veins were painted using a mixture of purplish blue and dark green

Finding the right hue of green for the 1/28th scale Knight Models The Hulk miniature wasn't easy as there are a lot of versions out there, sourced either from the cartoons, comics or movies. Initially, I had  wanted to use The Hulk in the Avenger movie as reference for the skin tone but that hue was bordering on flesh colours which I felt may not be appropriate for the comic-book feel I was going for (I used a similar comic-book feel for Knight Models Spiderman). In the end, I settled for colours which ranged from a dark purplish green all the way to a bright yellowish green. This was inspired by a comic cover art by Gary Frank for Issue #110 of The Incredible Hulk (see last picture of this post).

Hulk's pants will likely be painted to simulate denim
Back view of the Knight Models The Hulk, work-in-progress skin tone
Muscle tone in The Hulk's legs were equally well sculpted

As my Vallejo Model Color collection is still pitifully small, I mostly used the old Citadel colours to paint The Hulk. Shadows comprised Vallejo Model Color Oxford Blue mixed in with Orkshide Shade and Knarloc Green while the basecoat was just Knarloc Green alone. From mid-tones to highlights, a mixture of Knarloc Green and Gretchin Green was used with an ever increasing ratio of the latter.

The Hulk has a physique any Mr.Universe would kill for
Flow of paint strokes were done to mimic actual human muscle fibre
Looks like Bruce Banner keeps a regular appointment with his manicurist

For The Hulk's nails, I went for an ochre-green look. Sadly, I forgot to record the paints I used but I believe I added some flesh colours to the general skin tone mix to achieve the results you see above. 

Cover art by Gary Frank was my inspiration for The Hulk's skin tone

Next up for The Hulk should be his pants which I plan to paint to resemble a denim texture. Although I had achieved pretty good results with Knight Models Logan when painting his jeans, I had - similar to the case with The Hulk's nails - completely forgotten what colours I had used to achieve the denim texture. So it will be like starting from zero again with the exception that I can at least remember the technique I used to paint Logan's jeans. Or at least I think I do ... I guess we'll find out soon enough.  

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