Thursday, 28 July 2016

Female Mage on Stairs [WIP - Skin Tone]; used as proxy for Princess Myrcella of House Baratheon

Personally, painting skin is the most enjoyable part of working on a miniature. To me at least, the skin tone is one of the key things that determines whether a miniature looks 'alive' or not. That and the eyes which ironically is my least favourite part of painting a miniature, which is why Princess Myrcella's eyes remain unpainted and put off until the very last. Here she is then with one of the two main ingredients of what would eventually make her into a Victor Frankenstein she's alive moment.   

Dark Sword Miniatures Female Mage on Stairs: latest work-in-progress on her skin tone
The Female Mage on Stairs is being used as proxy for Princess Myrcella Baratheon

In terms of the skin tone colour scheme - I decided on a fair skin with a hint of tan starting to show. After all Myrcella has been soaking up the sun in Dorne for a while now. It was a case of using a lighter hand on the highlights as opposed to adding any particular 'tanned hue' into the mix.

Skin tone highlights on Myrcella's left arm focussed on the upper arm and elbow
Myrcella's hair remains undone and will be the next part to be painted
Skin tone has more shadow hues towards the back of the arms

In a way, the addition of skin tone hues has brought all the colours even closer together in harmony. Seeing colours in isolation can give an erroneous view of how the final scheme will eventually turn out. This is something I continue to struggle with as the urge to tinker with a hue without first seeing how it will look next to another colour is always there, like an itch you can't scratch. Sometimes the only way around this is to trust in your original vision. If all else fails, you can always adjust the errant hues accordingly. But your original vision still has to be there as a target to aim for. 

Side view (right) of the Female Mage on Stairs work-in-progress
Addition of skin colours has, in my opinion, further improved the overall colour scheme

Vallejo Model Color acrylic paints were the only paints I used in painting Myrcella's skin tone. It's based on a Marike Reimer recipe, I used colours like Oxford Blue, Pale Violet Brown, Beige Red, Basic Skin Tone and Pale Sand but in differing ratios than stated in the original recipe. I've found this mix of colours to be very versatile and they are one of my favourite go-to skin colour recipes.

Princess Myrcella holding on to a book, coloured here in the orange hues of Dorne

So that's it for my progress update on the Dark Sword Miniatures Female Mage on Stairs which I'm using as a proxy for my Game of Thrones miniature painting project. While not entirely costume-accurate, the mini does have potential as a Princess Myrcella proxy especially if the colours conform to what one would expect of the character when she was in Dorne. I must admit this mini is turning out better than I expected. Mind you that doesn't mean I believe I did a brilliant job with her but it does give a sense of satisfaction that I'm not as bad as I think. That I'll gladly take ... for now.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Star Wars Darth Vader - Bandai 1/12 Scale Model Kit [Completed]

Darth Vader is finally finished. This model kit from Bandai has been a real joy to put together but not so much to paint. He's only the second 1/12 scale figure I've completed from Bandai's Star Wars line, the other being an original trilogy Stormtrooper. So now trooper TK-421 has none other than the Dark Lord of the Sith himself for company. Two welcome pieces in my small Star Wars collection.

If you only knew the power of the dark side
TK-421's joy at defeating Darth Vader in rock, paper and scissors was short lived

As a 1/12 scale plastic model kit, Darth Vader has two distinct shortcomings when compared to the Stormtrooper. Firstly, breaks in the appendages' joints look more natural on the latter. Secondly, the rigid plastic cloak on Vader's back not only looks unrealistic but it also makes posing more difficult. 

Come with me, it's the only way ...
Darth Vader's cloak has just one coat of paint on it i.e. matte black

But in focusing on the kit's "failures" I'm in essence actually comparing the Bandai version, rather unfairly, to more realistic (and way more expensive) versions from Hot Toys and Sideshow Collectibles. Not really a like-for-like comparison. Priced at just ¥2,592 Bandai's version is very good value for money, and in my opinion an excellent addition to any Star Wars fan's personal collection.

Various posing options for Vader's right and left hand
Weapon handles were painted to resemble Darth Vader's personal lightsabre
Details on the handle accurately depicted Vader's lightsabre

One thing that really impressed me about this kit is the high level of accuracy in the detail. Take for example, the vertical ridges on Vader's glove which is similar to the costume in Return of the Jedi as opposed to the horizontal ridges found in A New Hope. Another example is the weapon handle which is not generic but specifically detailed to resemble Vader's personal lightsabre. It's little things like this which convinced me that a lot of care and attention went into the making of this model kit.   

Join me and together we will rule the galaxy as father and son ... words all fathers long to say
Darth Vader against a dark background ... it kinda works too

With the Bandai Star Wars 1/12 scale model kit of Darth Vader completed, I can resume painting my work-in-progress Dark Sword Miniatures Female Mage on Stairs figurine. At the very least, working on my proxy for Game of Throne's Princess Myrcella Baratheon will inject some bright and cheerful colours back into the blog as my previous post can attest to. Up next is her skin tone and laying on flesh colours will further consolidate the overall colour scheme. I can't wait. See you in my next post!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Female Mage on Stairs [WIP - Boot, Pants and Base]

There was only so much black I could take. As fun as the Bandai Darth Vader model kit is, I had to take a temporary step back from all the gloomy hues in order to work on my Game of Thrones project. I'm using a Dark Sword Miniatures figurine namely the Female Mage on Stairs from their Elmore Masterworks line as a proxy for Princess Myrcella Baratheon. The miniature's clothing colour scheme was inspired by the various dresses Princess Myrcella wore while she was in Dorne and betrothed to Trystane Martell. It comprises pastel-like hues of green, orange, peach and pink. 

Dark Sword Miniatures Female Mage on Stairs, work-in-progress proxy for Princess Myrcella Baratheon
Crack on the base was actually quite difficult to bring out through a combination of paint and wash

Using minty green hues on Myrcella's pants and boots was a bit of a risk on my part as I wasn't sure if it would work. To be honest, I'm still not sure. Part of me loves the resulting contrast and part of me feels that maybe I went too far. A clearer picture should surface once her hair and skin is painted.

Oops ... the primer coat is starting to come off her hair
Back view of the Dark Sword Miniatures Female Mage on Stairs, work-in-progress
Her hair and skin tones has yet to be painted

As befitting Dornish architecture, the base was painted in sandy desert-like colours. Some 'grass' was added to the front of the base to help liven up rather dull colours of the base. At this stage, the overall colour scheme is fairly muted. Hopefully this will make what comes next 'pop' even more.

Side view showing the contrast between the pink/peach/orange hues versus the minty greens
Some grass was added to the base for to 'liven' things up

What's next are Princess Myrcella's hair, skin tone and facial features. These next bits will make or break her. All I have done so far will be for nought if I don't get them right. 

Game of Thrones Princess Myrcella Baratheon, work-in-progress 

As for Vader, never fear for he should be completed by the next post. I plan to finish him first before resuming work on Princess Myrcella. I had desperately needed this infusion of bright pastel colours. All that black was starting to get to me. Fully invigorated, I'm now ready to complete Vader. And start working on other new stuff as well. But first Vader then more of Myrcella. Till then, it's bye for now.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Star Wars Darth Vader [Lower torso, belt, codpiece, appendages, feet & base]

Coming along nicely, the rest of Vader is. Well that's enough Yoda-ish grammar for one day. He is progressing well though and if all goes to plan he's then just a few days away from completion. 

Bandai 1/12 scale Darth Vader, work-in-progress on lower torso, etc

At this stage of the project, the only real challenge painting-wise was Vader's codpiece. Even then the issue was not in a complicated colour scheme but in getting clean painted lines on smallish details. Being used to working on a much smaller scale, I found the latter surprisingly easy to do. All that practice on 28-mm miniatures is paying off ... 1/12 scale is like a walk in the park in comparison.   

Every super villain must have his codpiece
Back of Vader's codpiece was painted a simple flat black

For Vader's appendages and feet, I've kept things simple either by applying just a flat black coat on the undergarments and feet, or by leaving the gloss plastic as it is on the shin armour. That leaves his inner cloak as the last black pieces with a non-black colour added to its highlights. I felt the other pieces were large enough to reflect natural highlights when shone with light from my IKEA lamps.

Vader's arms, legs and feet ... replacements for the Mustafar debacle
Vader's inner cloak (left) will be last black pieces with highlights painted on them while the base (right) is left as is

Below is a shot of Vader's back which will eventually be covered up by his main back cloak. Makes you wonder why I even bothered with the inner cloak highlights in the first place. Oh well, nothing is really wasted in our hobby. You can always tick that off as a much needed to do practice list. 

Back of the work-in-progress Bandai 1/12 scale Darth Vader model kit

There's nothing much left for me to do for Vader except his hands, light sabre handle and main cloak. Soon Vader will rise again and good old TK-421 will have some company at last. Soon.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Resuming work on my Game of Thrones project with plans for Bronn, Myrcella, House Mormont and Martell

After a 30-episode Game of Thrones marathon viewing session spanning Seasons Four through Six with the missus (she's a huge fan), it's hard not to get inspired again with ideas for new painting projects as well as a fresh take on existing ones. First up is the Nocturna Models 54-mm Crusader resin miniature which I, one time or another, had toyed with the idea of painting as either Prince Oberyn Martell, Daario Naharis or Ser Jamie Lannister. None of them seem right until it suddenly hit me. Why not Ser Bronn, a skilled and dangerous lowborn sellsword. Granted the miniature's facial features aren't an exact match to Bronn but it still comes pretty darn close all things considered.   

Knight Models 54-mm The Crusader resin miniature has a face that looks a lot like Bronn
While not a doppelganger for Bronn, The Crusader does look very similar to the sellsword
Back of The Crusader's head doesn't have Bronn's semi-long locks but it'll do

Clothing while true to the medieval period, isn't remotely close to what Bronn wore in the series. However, that's not going to be an issue for me so long as I can recreate the colour scheme of one of Bronn's many in-show costumes. As to which one, I've no idea at the present moment. I guess it would partly depend on what acrylic colours I have in hand as my paint collection is still incomplete.

Nocturna Models 54-mm The Crusader resin miniature primed for paint (front view)
Nocturna Models 54-mm The Crusader resin miniature primed for paint (back view)

Meanwhile for my Knights of Westeros project, I'm contemplating another completely new faction to add to the series. Currently I've already completed knights/warhorses from the noble/vassal houses Lannister, Clegane, Arryn, Baratheon (Renly). Why House Mormont? For one reason and one reason alone - Lady Lyanna Mormont. She was hand's down my favourite character of Season Six. Played by 12-year-old Bella Ramsey, Lady Lyanna stole every scene she was in (Episodes 7 and 10). Her character is an example of how daughters should be raised: strong willed, confident and brave.

Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, whose name is Stark
House Mormont remembers. The North remembers

Speaking of knights, I'm still stuck with House Martell's Knight of Dorne. I was initially going to paint House Martell's symbol on the warhorse's caparison, having already done that to the knight's shield. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that House Martell's symbol was just too boring to be placed on the warhorse's caparison. In my opinion, one dull House Martell symbol was about all that the miniature could take. To retain the warhorse's dynamism, I intend to paint silhouette designs of snakes to represent the Sand Snakes of Dorne instead. Like Bronn's costume, I haven't a clue as to which design I should use. In the end, it will likely boil down to the one I can paint freehand.

House Martell warhorse minus the Knight of Dorne
Some of the shortlisted snake designs for the House Martell warhorse

Then there is an existing half-finished Dark Sword Miniatures's Female Mage on Stairs which I have been trying get inspiration to continue painting. She came in the form of Princess Myrcella as she was depicted in Game of Thrones Season Six. So going forward, I hope to incorporate some bluish greens and light golden yellows to the miniature's overall colour scheme. Of all the Game of Thrones projects on my worktable, Myrcella is perhaps the one most likely to see progress in the coming weeks followed hopefully by the Knight of Dorne and Bronn with House Mormont still a ways to go.

Dark Sword Miniatures Female Mage on the Stairs who will be a proxy for Myrcella Baratheon
Princess Myrcella in a pink dress
Princess Myrcella in her last ever gown (left) and in House Martell colours (right)

It feels like the gloomy clouds have parted and a ray of sunshine has broken through to lift the melancholy that has shrouded my creative figure painting process. Without a doubt my Bandai Star Wars projects will still continue to grow but at least now I have equal enthusiasm for my Game of Thrones proxy miniature figurines. Fantasy is indeed the perfect foil for Science Fiction. As Lady Lyanna would say, I think we've had enough small talk. Onward we go towards the latest painting progress photos. But that's in the next post. Valar Morghulis! So get cracking on your own projects.

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