Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Hasbro Princess Leia [WIP - Hair Buns]

Just a quick update on my Hasbro 3.75" Princess Leia action figure repaint project; her famous hair buns are done. For an action figure, Leia's hair was surprisingly well sculpted and that aided me in painting in the necessary details in order to achieve volume and depth to the hair.   

Hasbro Princess Leia action figure repaint work-in-progress: Hair buns

In terms of colour scheme, Leia's hair buns had a tinge of reddish brown in them on top of a black brown base. Laying on streaks of bright highlight on a dark foundation gave the illusion of volume to the hair. Of course, this was aided by the fantastic details found on Hasbro Leia's head of hair.

Leia's hair colour comprised reddish brown highlights ...
... on a black brown base to accentuate volume

Finding an exact screen-accurate colour of Princess Leia's hair was never going to be possible. At times her hair took on a reddish orange tinge while in others it became golden brown. Differences were likely due to studio lighting as well as ambient stage lights. In the end, I saw more of the former in A New Hope so I went with a reddish brown colour scheme. In later movies, especially Empire Strikes Back, Leia's hair looked a more soft golden brown. As for Return of the Jedi, Leia's slave outfit was too garish and loud making her hair less noticeable ... all said tongue in cheek of course. 

Top view of Hasbro Leia's iconic hair buns
Main photographic reference used for the painting of Hasbro Leia's hair buns

As I post this short update on Hasbro Leia's hair buns, I'm actually very near to completing the painting of her general skin tone. After that it will be the most important part of the whole project i.e. the painting of her eyes, cheek blush, faint hint of eyebrows, eyeliner and lips. In short, the part that will either make or break the whole project. But I'm getting ahead of myself. There's the general skin tone to finish first. And I'm nearly there as I said. Until then, be well and be happy!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Hasbro Princess Leia [WIP - Diplomatic Gown]

Nondescript yet elegant in its simplicity. That about sums up Princess Leia Organa's iconic white robes aka diplomatic gown in Star Wars A New Hope. Painting whites can be tricky because using just pure white results in a flat look lacking depth and volume. As the diplomatic gown is a major part of this repaint project - forming almost 80% of the action figure - it's a no-brainer that a considerable amount of time had to be set aside for the task. In the end, I think it took me at least 12 to 15 hours to paint/blend the warm whites of Princess Leia's diplomatic gown that you see below.  

Hasbro Princess Leia action figure repaint - work-in-progress of the white diplomatic gown
Princess Leia's knee-high boots and belt were painted in ivory with silver adornments for the latter 

With Leia's skin tone and hair yet to be painted, the whites of the gown has the potential to look even whiter. Confused? Well, it's like this. The way we perceive a colour tends to change based on what hues are next to it. As the darker hair and skin tones are painted in, the gown will start to look whiter. An optical illusion if you will. This allowed me to concentrate on creating depth and volume using warm white hues without having to worry too much about how white the gown looked at this stage.  

Pure white actually formed only about 55% of the hues painted on Leia's gown
With so many fabric folds on the back, the shadows assume prominence at this angle

Only one reference source was used for the painting of Princess Leia's gown namely Titan Book's Star Wars Costumes. If you want to paint Star Wars characters be they miniatures or action figures then this books is a must-have. The photographs in this book give an excellent view of the costumes used in the original trilogy. Most importantly, they provide an accurate colour reference for painting. 

For something that looks so simple, white sure takes a long time to paint
Whiteness of the gown is relative to hues next to it, so expect the gown to look whiter as skin tone and hair are painted 

Leia's knee-high boots and belt differed from the gown in that they had warmer tones akin to ivory. The belt also had some adornments which were painted in metallic silver and given a black brownish wash. Subtle the boots and belt may be but the differences are there and as screen accurate as I could possible make it. Both too are differences only a Star Wars fan would care about.

Star Wars Costumes (Titan Books) - Princess Leia Diplomatic Gown

To paint the whites of this Hasbro 3.75" action figure, I used the Vallejo Model Color Black & White acrylic set. It's a wonderful set that is a must-have, especially if you want to make your whites (and blacks) pop! The set also comes with an extremely useful step-by-step  painting guide. I would highly recommend it for painters who want to recreate whites with more depth and volume.

Vallejo Model Color Black and White painting set

Now that the whites of Leia's gown is finished, next up will be her famous hair buns. Those should be fun to paint. Thank you dear readers for following my progress on Leia so far. See you again soon.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Hasbro Princess Leia [WIP - Prepping and priming]

My tribute to Carrie Fisher begins with the prepping and priming of Hasbro's Princess Leia 3.75 inch action figure. I'm getting her ready for a complete repaint from head to toe. It's a project that's a long time coming as I slowly summoned up the courage to 'butcher' an action figure of which there are precious few in my collection  They say you have to first destroy before you can create. Destroying is the easy part. That I can do. It's the creating part I'm worried about. Oh well, on with the project ...

Hasbro Princess Leia - Primed with Tamiya Fine Surfrace Primer (Light Grey)

Prepping Hasbro Leia consisted of two simple tasks. Firstly, I glued her legs together as well as the joints in her hip section. Why? To restrict any movement from the waist downwards as well as to give the illusion of a continuously flowing robe. The latter goal was improved upon by the second task which was the addition of green putty to any cracks which showed up after the gluing process. With both tasks completed, Princess Leia the-action-figure-turned-sculpture was now ready for priming.  

Prep work (front): Gluing and adding putty to ensure a less 'action figure-like' look
Prep work (back): Super glue was the adhesive used while Citadel's green putty helped fill up the holes  

Originally, the Hasbro Princess Leia 3.75 inch action figure already looks exceptionally good for an action figure. I'm not really a fan of action figures as they tend to look plasticky and toy-like. But this particular Princess Leia action figure had a very well sculpted robe, hair and facial features. To me, she had tremendous potential as a repainting project. One that I hope to realise in the coming days.

Hasbro Princess Leia 3.75 inch action figure, original condition (front views)
Hasbro Princess Leia 3.75 inch action figure, original condition (back views)

Prior to priming, I didn't remove the existing paint job of Hasbro Leia as I did previously with a Merida repaint project. Weighing the risk of damaging the existing details (by removing the exisitng paint job) versus possibly losing some details (by adding a primer coat and further paint layers), I settled upon the latter. It was less work anyway and I want to get Hasbro Leia painted as fast as I can.

Hasbro Princess Leia 3.75 inch action figure - prepped and primed (Front view)
Hasbro Princess Leia 3.75 inch action figure - prepped and primed (Back view)

There were things I wish I did differently for this stage of the painting process. Chief among them was having the patience to properly smooth out the roughness of the green putty fillings. That mistake was compounded by me laying on a heavier than intended layer of primer coating to compensate. Both were rookie mistakes that I knew were wrong the moment I did them. Yet I couldn't help myself and can only hope these errors don't come back to haunt me. Going forward, there are four main parts to paint - Leia's white robe, hair buns, skin tone and face. Her paint job begins with the white robes and that's up in my very next blog post. See you then!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Star Wars TIE Fighter [Completed, A New Hope's light grey version]

First proper post of the year sees my take on the Bandai 1/72 scale TIE Fighter assume form in the light grey hulls as seen in A New Hope. No part of this model kit was left untouched as I repainted (as well as place decals) the entire kit. It might seem silly to do so seeing that the unassembled plastic pieces were already moulded in light grey hues. But believe you me, the results are worth it.

Bandai 1/72 scale TIE Fighter, A New Hope version

In past posts I've waxed lyrical, ad nauseam, about how much I love TIE Fighters - their design and general awesomeness. So it's no surprise that I enjoyed working on the same model kit for the second time - my first being an Empire Strikes Back blue grey version. It was as enjoyable as the first try, even more so as I knew what to do beforehand with only colour differences to worry about.

Tamiya's AS-16 Light Grey (USAF) was used as the predominant hue 
Astounding details are abound on this Bandai 1/72 scale model, as seen here on the TIE Fighter's wing

From my many reference viewings of the TIE Fighter, the exact light grey hue seems to change either due to creative preference or by the lighting on the hull. In the end, I settled on the Tamiya AS-16 Light Grey (USAF) spray paint as the hue of choice. I based my decision on a reference photograph of a model of Darth Vader's Advance TIE Fighter as seen in a book titled Sculpting A Galaxy: Inside The Star Wars Model Shop. That very model was also the one used in the filming of A New Hope.

One never tires of looking at a TIE Fighter, unless of course you're a pilot in the rebel fleet
With light grey being the predominant hue of the hull, Bandai's dark grey decals made for a welcome contrast
Pew, pew, pew ... I've you in my sights Red Five
A close up of the TIE Fighter with its twin laser discharge attached
At just the right angle, both lasers will catch the light just right and result in a glowing effect

Being my second try at building and painting the Bandai TIE Fighter, things went relatively smoother for the light grey version. In addition, I tackled one of the things that dissatisfied me in the earlier blue grey version namely the intensity of the panel lining on the Death Star base. For the newer version, I decided to go light on the panel lining thus reducing the level of contrast in the base's details. This, in my opinion, dovetailed well with the light greys of the TIEs seen in A New Hope.

What's this? A pilot of the Empire firing on one of his own?
Side-by-side comparison of the TIE Fighter - Empire Strikes Back (left) vs A New Hope (right) version
Panel lining was intentionally lighter in my latest - A New Hope - version (see base on the right)

So 2017 has lift off (pun unintended) hobby-wise with the Episode IV version of Bandai's 1/72 scale TIE Fighter completed. It's the second year in the row that sees a Star Wars model kit kicking off the new year. I think it's going to be an unavoidable trend with Disney scheduling a major Star Wars movie every year end. Well, we'll see I guess. The year has just begun and there's a long way to go yet before Star Wars Episode VIII hits the big screen. Many days ahead for work on both SciFi and Fantasy miniatures alike. So let's get started ...

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

A new year and a look back at 2016

2017 begins with an old photograph I stumbled upon recently. I don't have many photos of my earlier self anymore. Most were lost with time and all that I've left are a precious few that I can more than count with my fingers. Times were simpler then when just a handful of toys provided countless hours of fun. Fast forward to 2017 and I've been fortunate enough to amass enough miniatures and scale model kits to keep me busy for years to come, despite a fairly tight budget. So I guess this has more to do with the snail's pace I work at, rather than any absolute amount of hobby stuff in my possession.

A would-be modeller lost in thought ... more than 40 years ago in the space time continuum

As I was putting up photos of last year's completed projects in the Art Gallery,  I felt somewhat underwhelmed by what I had achieved hobby-wise during the past 12 months. Time sped by so quickly that the year was over before any meaningful dent could be achieved on my trio of personal goals i.e. to write that book I always wanted to write as well as to paint and draw more. Three days into the new year sees me determined not to let another year go by in hobby-related regret. Determined how? Well, in a Frank Sinatra-esque kind of way ... my way ... one day at a time.
Art Gallery has been updated to include my 2016 projects

Inundated with a huge to-do-list, I can only do so much to break tasks into manageable pieces which I can then parcel out to the precious hours, minutes and seconds in a day. As such, I will take heart in what Patton once said ... If a man does his best, what else is there? What else indeed. Happy 2017!

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