Thursday, 30 April 2015

Portrait Practice #11 on Shailene Woodley (as Tris)

Getting an accurate likeness takes a lot of work, more so for someone trying to self-teach himself portrait drawing. On that count, I guess I failed miserably. After a long lay off from drawing, I forgot lessons learned and ignored proportion issues early in this practice session as I got caught up in the excitement of putting graphite on paper again. In my hunger to get badly needed practice under my belt, I was also too obsessed with finishing the piece quickly and paid the price. All in all, it took me roughly three days to complete the portrait while a slower approach would have served me better.   

Portrait Practice #11 - Shailene Woodley (as Tris Prior)

One of the key reasons my portrait drawing's proportions tend to be a bit off-kilter is the fact that I'm drawing with my eyes at an angle of roughly 45 degrees to the paper. It would be ideal to have the paper perpendicular to my line of sight, and this is achievable via the use of a mobile drawing board or a table that has multiple viewing angles. Unfortunately, neither are affordable options. But this is an old grip of mine and I probably sound like a broken record. Currently, the only option available to me is to get better at optical indexing (a fancy schmancy way of saying measuring proportions).

A camera shot of my portrait drawing of Tris Prior

On the bright side, any practice is good for a beginner like me. I'll gladly take any improvements I make regardless how inconsistent they may be. Sometimes I seem to take one step forward and two steps back (e.g. draw the hair well but fumble on the nose and mouth) while on good days I make progress without any regression. What keeps me going is the believe it will all come good eventually. I adhere to the school of taught that says if you are passionate and persistent enough about something then you will get better at it. In other words, artists are taught NOT born, well most of 'em anyway.

Proportion issues meant an accurate likeness was not achieved in this practice piece

Divergent Book Trilogy Review
My interest in drawing the portrait of Miss Woodley came about after reading the Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth. In the first two movie adaptations of the series - Divergent and Insurgent, she portrays the role of Beatrice (Tris) Prior who is the story's main protagonist. As I understand it, the use of First Person Present Tense as the narrative voice in Young Adult novels seems to be all the rage at the moment. But for someone who is used to reading in the traditional (and more widespread) Third Person Past Tense narrative voice, the books took a bit of getting used to. Overall, I felt the book had an interesting dystopian take on an old science fiction theme of [spoiler alert] human genetic engineering. And for what it's worth, I didn't expect the ending in the final book Allegiant.   

Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth

That being said, I felt that the trilogy started stronger than it ended. I also didn't really buy into the whole romance between the two main characters. Then again, with me being neither a spring chicken nor the intended target demographic, I shouldn't be surprised to feel this way. I would give the trilogy a three-and-a-half out of five stars on account of fairly strong character development as well as a reasonably unique view on a subject matter that has been tackled before by Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction writers. While not a classic, this series is still worth a read. So go read it!  

Friday, 24 April 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron, Hot Toys 1/6th Scale Collectible Figures Exhibition

Before watching the latest Avengers movie Age of Ultron, I managed to catch the Malaysian leg of the Age of Ultron Hot Toys Exhibition Asia Tour. What with it being the last day of the exhibition and that day falling on a Sunday, the figurines display area was unsurprisingly crowded with jostling onlookers. Combined with rather bad lighting on some of the display cases, the task of taking macro shots of the collectible figures sometimes bordered on the impossible. On occasion I even had some nonchalant bystanders stand in front of my camera lens while I was in the midst of framing my shot. So in the end, I made do with fewer shots on the more detailed figures from the Hot Toys collection.

Hot Toys 1/6th Scale Collectible Figure - Black Widow
Hot Toys figures have a reputation for realistic faces, Black Widow was no exception
Black Widow is one of my favourite Hot Toys figures, superseded only by Babydoll (Sucker Punch)  

For me at least, the two main attractions were the Hot Toys 1/6th scale Avengers collectible figures and the life-sized Iron Man Hulkbuster armour (see last photo on this post). I have always been a huge fan of the figures produced by Hot Toys. Not only is the amount of detail found in each doll .... errr 'action' figure ... amazing, their faces also look very realistic and extremely life-like.      

Hot Toys 1/6th Scale Collectible Figure - Captain America
Clothing details on the Captain America figure were very impressive

My favourite of the lot is the Black Widow but even she is not my all-time favourite from the Hot Toys collection. That honour belongs to their Sucker Punch Baby Doll figure (click here to see her).

Hot Toys 1/6th Scale Collectible Figure - Iron Man Mark XLIII
Tony Stark's 43rd armour suit in all its shining glory
Hot Toys 1/6th Scale Collectible Figure - Warmachine Mark II
Hot Toys 1/6th Scale Collectible Figure - Tony Stark in battle-damaged armour

Equally impressive was the Iron Man Hulkbuster Armour. Built roughly in life-sized scale, it towered nearly two stories high. Slipping into this beast during rush hour traffic would be a dream come true. 

A life-sized Hulkbuster armour ... I need me one of these for sure

I'm looking forward to seeing Age of Ultron soon although I am pretty sure all the good tickets for this weekend would have sold out by now. If that's the case, then hopefully the missus and I can catch a screening of this latest Avengers movie next week. Until next time, enjoy your weekend.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Graphite-free for way too long & WIP Shailene Woodley portrait drawing practice with pencils

My, how time flies. I was caught unawares by how long it has been since I last picked up a pencil and drew - more than nine months to be exact. For someone trying to improve his meager drawing skills, three-quarters of a year is just too long a period to be without any form of practice with graphite on paper. This oversight needs to be rectified if I'm to have any hope of being half decent at drawing.   

Work-in-Progress (WIP) for Portrait Practice #11 - Shailene Woodley

Because it has been a while since my last portrait drawing, I guess it will take sometime for me to get up to speed ... at least to the skill level that I was last at. Hopefully, I can then build some momentum in my attempt to learn figure drawing which is a whole different kettle of fish altogether. For now, both portrait and figure drawing with pencils (and eventually pen) is in my drawing hobby to-do-list.

All my portrait drawings start with basic line art to block in major shapes of the face
To get back into the groove of drawing, I started with some practice
Feeling comfortable with a pencil again, I proceeded to draw the portrait itself 
At this stage of the drawing, the shading on her face as well as around the eyes are still in a state of flux. Moreover, I have yet to pencil in her mouth and nose hence the 'peekaboo' WIP photo. And knowing myself, I will most likely go back to her hair to try and improve it in anyway that I can.

Peekaboo ... a closeup of my WIP drawing from a more 'head-on' angle

It feels good to be drawing again. And there is definitely no shortage of interesting personalities to draw. My current portrait drawing is of Shailene Woodley who plays Tris in the movies Divergent and Insurgent. You may also recognise her from her lead role as Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars. I seem to be drawn to (pun unintended) strong-willed female characters so it comes as no surprise that I also plan to draw Contance Wu who plays super-mom Jessica Huang in the new TV series Fresh Off the Boat. Until my next post, here are some words from Mama Huang which I can relate to ... You know what gives me nightmares. Our bank account. Stephen King should publish my chequebook.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A new title for my blog

After weeks of agonising over what to rename my blog, I finally settled on something simple and straightforward i.e. Art and Musings of a Miniature Hobbyist. It's definitely a mouthful but it will have to do for now as I couldn't for the life of me come up with anything catchy or clever. However, it's more relevant to what I currently blog about. With the passage of time, I have grown in this hobby and now paint miniatures of all sizes from various product lines. Moreover, I've taken more than a passing interest in drawing and plan to slowly develop my skills in both portrait and figure drawing. And if in the future I start learning to sculpt miniatures myself, the new blog title remains applicable. 

URL for this blog remains the same ( with only the title changing. Hopefully, you will still join me as I seek to master the art of drawing as well as miniature painting.

Friday, 10 April 2015

SDE Hexcast Sorceress [WIP - Hair] & Seeking inspiration for a new blog name and banner

Following the rather dark and gloomy miniature piece I completed in my last post, I felt an urge to paint a 'brighter and happier' subject matter. So on cue to satisfy my wish is a Super Dungeon Explore heroine board game piece, my fifth in this anime chibi figure series i.e. the Hexcast Sorceress.    

Super Dungeon Explore Hexcast Sorceress, work-in-progress on her hair
Light violet hair contrasts with orange pony holder and turquoise hair beads
Fine strokes with the brush to give her hair some volume
Hexcast Sorceress have a slightly different colour scheme than the original

This time around, I plan to slightly alter the character's original colour scheme (shown below). What I hope to do is add some peachy pink as well as yellowish orange hues to the predominantly purple, violet, turquoise and gold mix. Although the orange pony holder currently looks too warm and a tad out of place in the Hexcast Sorceress's violet hair accessorized with turquoise beads, I expect it to blend into the overall colour scheme when the golds and light peachy pink colours come into play.  

Hexcast Sorceress, colour scheme as per game cart art
Super Dungeon Explore Hexcast Sorceress, work-in-progress (hair, top view)

Seeking inspiration for a new blog name and banner ...
Back in 2011, I started this blog to document my journey into the world of miniatures, especially those from the Warhammer 40,000 universe with an eye towards tabletop-gaming with my painted pieces. But since then, I have become fascinated solely by the art aspect of this hobby and had started painting miniatures from a wider variety of sources. Also, my renewed fascination with art in general as evidenced by my early attempts at portrait drawing means that my current blog name and banner graphic is no longer representative of what my posts are about. So it's back to the drawing board, awaiting inspiration for a new blog name and banner. Until then, have yourself a great weekend!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Ax Faction Zombie Hunter [Completed ... sort of ]

Ax Faction's Zombie Hunter was one of those pieces in which almost every colour decision I made turned out to be the wrong one. Mistake was compounded by further mistakes to produce an overall colour scheme that seems a bit off to me. On the bright side, I managed to get fairly good results on the hunter's pants and skin tone. But still, I regret not doing this miniature the justice it deserves.

Ax Faction Zombie Hunter [Completed sans freehand designs on cloak]
Zombie corpse on the base was painted in uncharacteristically light pastel colours  
The piece's overall mood resisted being too gloomy because of the corpse's colour scheme
Back view of the Ax Faction Zombie Hunter

Perhaps one of the key reasons that the overall colour scheme is not all what it should be is because of my decision to paint the zombie corpse in bright pastel colours. I did this to bring out the hard to see details on the corpse as a duller and darker colour scheme could have hidden such details. On the flip side, it kind of goes against the convention of what zombies are supposed to look like.

Blood splatter on the axe was painted using Tamiya Clear Red X-27
Not exactly a Marsala coloured cloak as intended but close enough
Zombie Hunter sports dark brown hair in contrast to the blonde zombie

I haven't completely shut the door on this piece yet hence its status of being sort of completed. One possible addition to the Ax Faction Zombie Hunter would be some freehand designs or patterns on the cloak. The overly dynamic and 'flowing' nature of the cloak means doing such freehand painting is way beyond my skill level at the moment but perhaps a possible consideration in the future after I've had much more freehand painting practice on a less dynamic piece of clothing. 

Unfortunately, reflection of the lamp light on the cloak doesn't do the colour transitions justice
Less reflection from the lighting shows of a better view of the cloak
Painted in bright colours to bring out its details, the zombie corpse could've arguably worked better in duller colours

As with all the other Ax Faction resin miniatures, the incredible amount of detail in such a small figure continues to astound me. In fact, I don't think I can get a highlight on the hunter's pupil on his right eye, unless I have an electron microscope and some nano technology tools (OK, perhaps I am exaggerating ... a little bit). But then again, I'm not confident enough to try hence contributing to the almost completed status of this piece. However, another part of me (rightly or wrongly) resisted putting on a highlight on the pupil because the hunter's eye looks like it's encased in shadows.

Looking towards the back of his shoulder, the hunter is aware of a new threat
This is how small the Ax Faction Zombie Hunter miniature really is

Despite the pastel zombie, the overall colour scheme is still sufficiently gloomy for me to seek a more 'bright and happy' miniature to work on. So I guess it's about time I resumed painting pieces from the Super Dungeon Explore board game. Speaking of which, after finishing the rather dark and depressing Murakami novel titled Sputnik Sweetheart, I needed a change of pace in my reading material and picked up the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. I tend to read across all genres (this one being under the Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction genre) as I believe a good book tells a good story regardless of what reader segment it aspires to. So for the rest of the week, it's more reading for me with some painting and drawing thrown in. I hope your week will be just as fun!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...