Thursday, 29 January 2015

Ax Faction Zombie Hunter [WIP - Skin and Lower Torso]

Partly referenced from an online source and partly modified with my own colour mixtures, the skin tone on the Ax Faction Zombie Hunter was painted to simulate a particular Caucasian ethnicity i.e. Celts. By trying out skin tone recipes perfected by other painters as well as experimenting with some hues of my own has made me better appreciate why certain colours are used when painting skin. I am a huge fan of low contrast yet realistic skin tones that I see in the works of a lot of painters based in Japan. In my own journey as a miniature painter, I am hoping to marry that style with the higher contrast skin tones I see used by painters in the West, and eventually come up with my own style.

Ax Faction Zombie Hunter, work-in-progress on skin tone
Contrast was kept light but not too light as males tend to have higher contrasts on their skin tone

Originally I had planned this skin tone with red hair and beard in mind but now I am not too sure what hair colour I should actually use. Any indecisiveness increases ten-fold when you consider that my choice of cloak colour is changing by the minute. For the moment, my combo of choice is a Marsala coloured cloak with either strawberry blonde or dark red hair/beard on the Zombie Hunter.

Still undecided as to what colour to use for the cloak
Subtle interplay between light and shadows used to hint at ribcage and sinewy muscle

Meanwhile, I have more or less finished painting the hunter's lower torso with an eye towards simulating two very different cloth textures i.e. satin/velvet for the belt and cotton for the pants. Together with the boots, the overall colour scheme for his lower torso is fairly understated as befitting the mood of the piece. In my mind was this vision of the Zombie Hunter's prey catching a glimpse of the edges of a strikingly coloured cloak on a dark silhouette rushing through a dark forest.

Ax Faction Zombie Hunter, work-in-progress on lower torso
Satin/velvet-like texture on belt versus cotton-like texture on pants

For a miniature of this scale (32-mm), the detailed creases on the pants were amazing. It also made placement of lights and shadows on the pants that much easier. This was a big help to me seeing that I had used a very light pastel colour scheme for the Zombie Hunter's pants. Getting realistic contrast on lightly coloured clothing is very difficult - it's something I am trying to slowly master with practice.

Boots were painted dark grey to complement the greyish purple pants
Level of detail on the pants was amazing for the scale involved

Painting the Ax Faction resin miniatures continually challenges me to improve my skills. Although they demand a lot from a painter, it's well worth the price if one gets to learn from the obstacles faced when painting such details on a small scale. Speaking of learning new things, I finally - after 40 odd years of existence - learned how to ride a bike. At least this old dog can still learn new tricks.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Last Night on Earth: Starfleet Survivor Pavel Chekov

Fourth in my Star Trek-themed survivors from the Last Night on Earth board game is Pavel Cheko, a young ensign aboard the USS Enterprise who also sometimes on duty at the science officer's station on the bridge. To represent Chekov I used Jake Cartwright the drifter, a board game piece that had on attire akin to Russian winter clothes. Alhough Walter Koenig the actor who plays Chekov had always denied the character's 'Russian origin', I felt his accent was a dead giveaway as to Chekov's roots. 

Starfleet survivor and ensign of the starship USS Enterprise, Pavel Chekov
Chekov was painted with a pale skin tone

For the clothes worn by Chekov, I used a colour scheme based on military attire worn by Russian soldiers in the 18th century. Due to the 'boring' nature of Chekov's clothes, I decided to concentrate more on the face and eyes as that was the most interesting part of the miniature/board game piece. As such, in terms of paint-hours, the most time was spent on the face and eyes, especially the eyes.  

Side views of the Last Night on Earth board game piece painted as Chekov, the Starfleet Survivor

Skin tone was kept pale as befitting the subject matter - a spacefaring ensign of supposedly Russian descent. Meanwhile, constant practice has allowed me to get better results when painting eyes on 28-mm to 32-mm scale miniatures. That and the use of a 6/0 Raphael Kolinsky Sable brush.

Some rust was added to the cleaver on his left hand
Back view of Pavel Chekov, Starfleet survivor
Axe on the right hand was painted in similar colours to the one carried by Uhura

Work on Chekov's weapons were fairly straight forward: The axe on his right hand was painted in a similar colour scheme to the axe wielded by Uhura (one would assume they both got the axes from the same source/location) while the cleaver on his left hand had some rust painted on to give it a little bit of character. The alternative - a shiny new metallic cleaver - seemed out of place somehow.

Walter Koenig, shown here playing Chekov in Star Trek: The Original Series
Painted figure next to a 31-mm paperclip and a five sen coin for scale comparison

At last count, I have finished painting seven zombies and four survivors. Going forward from this half-way point, I am unsure if I want to continue the Star Trek Original Series theme for the rest of the board game pieces or paint something entirely different e.g. Walking Dead. I guess that's a good reason as any to take a temporary step back from my Last Night on Earth project, muse on potential themes and await new inspiration. It also gives me an excuse to start new projects. I love this hobby!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Nocturna Models Enchantment [WIP - Dragon Rhaegal]

At this stage of my Daenerys Targaryen project, it's all about using colors to convey textures. Using different colour combinations as well as variations in the respective hue's values, I wanted to convey a heightened sense of 'softness' on her clothes in contrast to a dragon's tough scale-like exterior. Part of this Game of Thrones character's inherent political power is projected through her three dragons hence I wanted the one perched on her arm to feature prominently in the overall scheme of things. 

Rhaegal, one of three dragons belonging to Daenerys Targaryen

Rhaegal easily chose itself as the dragon of choice to be painted out of the three dragons associated with Daenerys Targaryen - the other two being Drogon (black with red markings) and Viserion (creamy white with gold markings). Described as having largely green scales with bronze markings made Rhaegal as the most suitable, in terms of colour combination, to be placed on top of her light turquoise blue sleeves. To me at least, it made for a more harmonious (yin and yang) pairing.

A green dragon made sense when paired with her clothes overall colour scheme
Orange/bronze markings in the folds of the dragons wings are what defines it as Rhaegal
Greens had an olive and lime vibe to them, if colours were food that is

It's only now that the light pastel colours on Daenerys Targaryen's clothes begin to make sense and starts to take a life of its own. I am hoping that when clothing accessories and skin tones are applied, her clothes will start to look even better as every colour is characterised by the hue(s) next to it.   

Sculpted curves on her body contrasts well against the jagged edges of the dragon wings
Best angle to view the contrast in colours between dragon and clothes
Details on the dragon were well sculpted
Darker green hues on the inside folds of the dragon's wings

Taken as a whole, I am very happy with how the girl and dragon is coming along. It wasn't easy to stick to my own convictions during the initial stages as I was constantly plagued with doubts as to whether I had made the right choice in choosing light pastel colours. The urge to darken and increase contrast was overwhelming and remains so even now. As mentioned earlier, I retain hope that when more work is done on the skin and clothing accessories, my choice will be further justified.   

Work-in-progress, Nocturna Models Enchantment as Daenerys of House Targaryen
Clothing accessories have yet to be painted ... still waiting for inspiration to hit me
Side view gives a snapshot of the main colours used so far
Contrast within the clothes were less stark than on the dragon's skin

Work on both the clothes and dragon is not wholly complete as I am still open to future modifications as and when other parts are painted. Not all outcomes can be fully anticipated which is what makes art so much fun. Sometimes you end up somewhere you never intended to go to in the first place. Everything is still pretty much how I expected it to turn out but I am always wary of the unexpected.  

Work-in-progress, Nocturna Models Enchantment (back view)
Painting of the Nocturna Models Enchantment figure remains a long way from completion
Appreciation of how well sculpted this figurine is grows with each painting session

There is still a long way to go before the paint work for the Nocturna Models Enchantment miniature is finished. Currently, I would place it at around 50% completed. I am going to take my own sweet time with her as the high quality of this sculpture demands it. I hope you will continue to join me as further progress is made on my interpretation of Daenerys Targaryen of the Game of Thrones series.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A hankering for Marsala

Not the wine, the colour. Or more specifically, Pantone Color Institute's Color of the Year for 2015. This year's choice made me sit up and take notice because I have always had a soft spot for this particular shade of colour. Something about it pushes all the right buttons and it oozes class. It's an earthy brownish red colour although in some instances it seemingly borders close to dark burgundy.

Pantone Color Institute's chosen hue for this year
Perhaps best described as an earthy brownish red

With Marsala being the 'in-thing' at least where fashion is concerned, we definitely won't be short of online resources to refer to. Below are some examples of Marsala in fashion and how we as miniature painters can incorporate this colour into our projects, either on clothes, accessories or even lips.

Source: Oh My Jewelry! at

I guess it it goes without saying that I would try to mix this beautiful shade of colour using the paints I have in hand. In my attempts below, you can see that the top- and bottommost rows are too brownish while the second row had what I would call a Marsala burgundy shade. The closest I came was by applying colors used by Moiterei when painting figures in one of his many beautiful projects which you can see on the third row. Looking back on my miniature painting projects so far, the only miniature I have painted with Marsala-like colours is the Super Dungeon Explore Ember Mage.  

Trying to find a mix of colours approximating the Marsala hue
Ember Mage is the only miniature I have painted so far with Marsala-like hues

Excited by the many possible applications of Marsala colour, I can't wait to see what I can achieve with this alluring hue. If you have your own Marsala paint mix, please do share. In fact, my own search for the perfect Marsala hue hasn't stopped. I plan to experiment with some ivory mixed into brownish red for extreme highlights, among others. After all, finding the right colour is half the fun.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Last Night on Earth: Starfleet Survivor Nyota Uhura

Third in my Star Trek-themed survivors from the Last Night on Earth board game is Nyota Uhura, the Communications Officer aboard the starship USS Enterprise. To represent Uhura I used Sally the High School Sweetheart, the board game piece which I felt had a similar hairstyle to the one worn by Nichelle Nichols who played the said character in Star Trek: The Original Series

Starfleet survivor and Communications Officer of the USS Enterprise, Nyota Uhura
Uhura naturally had a darker skin tone
Clothes colour scheme was an interplay between purple, green and yellowish brown

Painting Uhura allowed me to practice blending and layering a dark skin tone. Based on the photo reference I used (see below), her skin approximated a light chocolate hue. In the end, I was pretty happy with how close I came to accurately replicating Uhura's skin tone. Vallejo Model Color acrylic paints were used to paint the skin while Reaper Master Series (RMS) paints were used for the clothes (jacket, blouse and skirt) except for the boots which were painted using Citadel paints.   

Nichelle Nichols portrayed the character of Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series
Side views of Nyota Uhura, the Starfleet survivor

Colour scheme for Uhura's clothes were predominantly purple (jacket), green (skirt) and ochre (boots) with neutral off-white on her blouse and jacket buttons. At times, I still struggle with chalkiness issues when using lighter hues from the RMS acrylic paint line. In this case, more work is needed on my painting technique because I had previously eliminated hard water as a possible cause. Well, sort of anyway as I had tried using distilled water to reduce chalkiness without much success.  

Bright red on the axe was actually painted in the shade of Uhura's original uniform
Back view of Starfleet survivor, Nyota Uhura
To complement her dark skin tone, I used a purple-green-ochre color scheme

Meanwhile, the weapons - specifically the axe - allowed me to add a bright colour into the mix. Red kinda works well with the rest of the colors and is definitely preferable to plain metallic grey.

Shots taken by a DSLR with macro lens can be misleading hence a scale comparison above

Next up for the Starfleet Survivors is a Star Trek character that always speaks in an accent. Actually, there are two - one Scottish and the other Russian - so it will either be Scotty or Chekov as the fourth survivor. Imagining these board game pieces as Star Trek characters is making painting them so much fun. And that's why we are in the hobby after all - to have fun. Otherwise, what's the point?

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