Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Soldiers Roman Navarca Update #2

As of this evening this is where we are at on this figure. I have completed the face and removed the masking agent from the helmet cheekpieces. The final touches on the face consisted of final shadows with Burnt Umber, touches of Alizarin Crimson added to the shadows under the cheeks for color and onto the lips. This was followed (once dry) with highlights of Titanium White and Cad Yellow Deep applied as a glaze progressively whiter, and finally tiny catchlights in the eyes to add the final bit of life to the figure. You can see the progress combined in a triptych photo below. This same mix was used to highlight and shadow the arms, hands and legs.
I have also completed the shoes with the colors described in my previous post. This does not guarantee that they are 100% as once the figure is attached to the base I may well adjust the coloring further. I have also begun applying color to the greaves with a base tone of gold printers inks and Burnt Umber with a touch of Burnt Sienna added. To this I will apply shadows of Burnt Umber and Mars Black and highlight with the Gold printers inks. I use Grumbacher Oil Painting Medium #1 as a carrier medium for the inks. In addition I have attached the top of the helmet and applied a finish to the natural metal of the kit. In this case I applied a stippled layer of Mars Black oil paint to the polished white metal and allowed it to sit. After about two hours I used a bit of soft lint free cloth wipe off excess paint leaving a stain or patina that I feel appears natural for the helmet. Once dry I will be able to apply further shadows or other tonal values if necessary. I also used the gold ink on my pallet to paint the crest design on the upper front of the helmet. Finally I began painting the under tunic white by applying a mixture of Raw Umber and Titanium White, more Raw Umber in the shadows and Tit. White on the highlights. Once dry I will work the shadows and highlights more before applying the purple stripe to the cloth.

Soldiers Roman Navarca Update #1

As of Christmas this is where I stood with this figure. As before the cloak and head are simply resting on the torso for the picture. I have kept them separate so that I can access the figure for painting. I used Winsor-Newton Indigo and Titanium white for the inside of the cloak as Indigo would be the only blue dye available to the Romans at that time. The face had some Payne's Gray used to indicate shadows in the areas where stubble would appear and Burnt Umber will be used next for the rest of the shadows. My next post will show a triptych of the face showing progress step by step. The shoes began with a mixture of Indian Red and Burnt Sienna as a base coat. I will apply a wash of Van-Dyke Brown and highlight with a dusty Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna and Tit. White mixture to indicate both highlights and wear.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Photobucket Gallery

In an effort to get some of my older miniatures on-line I have created a Photobucket account. I have found that this is useful for posting to other sites as well. The address is:


I hope this will be helpful.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Something Old - Caesar at Alesia (2003)

I've toyed with the idea of posting a few of my old miniatures on the blog for those that haven't seen them before. I think of a blog as a discourse on what we are doing currently so I hesitated doing this but I don't have a web page at the moment so maybe someone out there will enjoy seeing some of the pics from time to time as sort of a sidebar from the progress being made on current projects. After all it is from one's past mistakes or successes that one learns.
This vignette consists of two figure kits from Soldiers in 54mm and depicts Julius Caesar and one of his tribunes at the Battle of Alesia. This was my first foray into the world of non-metallic metals and was a lot of fun. The groundwork was created from A+B putty carved with a Dremel, coated with small sand and gravel and static grass patches. The base was then painted with oil washes to achieve the subtle colors. All of the figures are stock and again painted with oils. Brass/Bronze and Gold were painted using Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Black mixtures while Silvery metallics were painted using Titanium White, Mars Black, Payne's gray and reflected colors. After making sure everything that needed it had a flat finish, a semi-gloss sheen was applied to the metallic areas to give them a bit more "Pop". To this day I am still refining this technique but it is a lot of fun experimenting and learning.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Soldiers Roman Navarca, Battle of Actium 31 BC

For all of the wonderful things about painting with oils, the only drawback is drying time. To battle this I seem to have three or four figures on the bench at any one time. With my recent acquisitions of the latest Roman subjects from Soldiers came this figure (just when I think I'm caught up they come out with more - that new Senator will be a challenge in white no doubt). SR-46 depicts a Roman Navarca or Naval Officer from Marc Anthony's Fleet at the Battle of Actium in 31BC. As with all of Soldier's figures sculpted by Adriano Laruccia this figure is a real beauty. The casting is perfect and the sculpting couldn't be any better. As you can see from the box art this will be a colorful and different addition to my Roman collection.
So far I have primed all of the pieces and have begun the flesh (basic mid-tone highlights and shadows - wet on wet technique. The head and cape are not glued on yet as I want easy access to the details on the torso. The cheek pieces are masked so that I can work with the natural metal of the kit once the face is completed. A hint here for everyone. For a masking agent I simply go to the nearest can of latex house paint in the basement and use a bit to paint on the areas needing to be masked off. Once dry you can then spray your primer. Once the mask has served it's purpose simply remove with tweezers and move on. Everybody that owns a house has some latex house paint around so why spend money on a little bottle of frisket or similar. I replaced the shaft of his lance with brass rod as one can never truly straighten the cast metal shafts included in kits. I used brass as the shaft will be painted blue. Normally for shafts that remain natural wood I will sand down a wooden dowel to scale thickness and use oils to stain the wood.

Pegaso Mayan Priest Bust - Part 6

I have completed a few more steps on this bust at this posting. The most obvious is my work on the Jadeite decorations (Next post on this piece will show step by step completion of the jewelry). In addition I have applied the base color for the straps of the headdress, finished the tan banding and top piece of the headdress and, although not seen in these pictures I assembled the feathers as a unit and completed their paint work. As a side note on the feather assembly, it is heavy and I am concerned about how it will hold up once glued to the top of the headdress. I may well have to add additional pinning to make sure it holds up to movement once attached.

Kharkov Diorama - Figure #1 Part 3

Final shadows have been added in preparation for highlighting using a thick wash on Greenish Umber. This serves two purposes, the first being the deepest shadows and outlines for belting and equipment and lastly to bring the overall color of the parka back to it's proper greenish hue. As this wash is actually a bit thicker than a true wash it also leaves a grubby appearance on the cloth that will show up well as the dirty effect I was looking for after final highlighting. Now I can begin to turn my attention to other areas on this figure. I have also begun working on figure #2. Really when you get down to it my efforts on this figure will better define the techniques used on the other figures.
I have actually looked at figures from other manufacturers supposedly in the same scale as John's and have been really disappointed to see just how different people's visions of 1/16th scale really is. For figure painters scale doesn't always come into play. We think in terms of millimeter size and every sculptor measures that from either top of head, top of headgear or eye-line. However in WWII modeling when so many figures are matched to vehicles, scale is important. In holding up figures from various other manufacturers I see that none of them go well in scale with these figures or the Tiger kit. Do I really want more figures for this scene? Work wise, NO! However if it truly adds to the story or feel of the piece then, yes. In the end my mental exercise seems to have been resolved for me.
However I now have some very cool figures from other manufacturers that will look nice all by themselves on their own base. Currently I am quite excited by the figures that Jeff Shiu has available. He seems to be stuck on two subjects but so far I haven't had any complaint with the subjects chosen. His kits are well cast, affordable and he provides very fast service.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pegaso Mayan Priest Bust - Feathers Continued

The blue feathers were tipped in black and over coated with Daniel Smith iridescent blue. The red feathers are completed with a combination of washes using various cadmium red shades, cadmium maroon, black and over coated with D.S. Ir. red. These photos really don't do the feathers any justice and I may well attempt further photos after I complete the feathers all together. I have also completed work on the woven design at the top of the headdress.

The green feathers were striped with a mixture of Lamp Black and Prussian Green. Winsor & Newton Prussian Green is very transparent, so combined with the black it made just the perfect transparency to allow for subtle transitions in the stripes. I was really happy with these feathers at that point and the addition of the D.S. iridescent green just made it that small bit better. Now I am painting the off-white feathers in the front and will then mount the whole piece to the inside of his headdress.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kharkov Diorama - Figure #1 Part 2

In an earlier post I talked about how much I was going for a certain feel to this piece that I hoped would come across in the paint choices for the figures, tank and the groundwork. Amongst the photos that I have chosen as reference material along the way is the one reproduced above. Along the lines of this photo I hope you will begin to see the effect show in the in-progress pictures below. As the details are eventually worked, the dirty coloration achieved now will show through.

I began painting the jacket using a mixture of raw umber and titanium white. Once painted on the figure and while still wet, I added touches more raw umber in the shadow areas and blended upward. This is done to the overall figure without regard for folds or details. At this point I am thinking of the figure like one big shape with no detail.

Once dry I began applying rough shadows with a mixture of raw umber and Mars black. This mixture is "scrubbed" into shadow areas acting as a glaze over the original color. After reading various descriptions of the coloring for these jackets and looking at photos of the actual jackets, I have found that colors vary and as you could see in the black and white picture at the beginning of this post they quickly became filthy as time in the field took it's toll. The look at this point is still brownish grey (actually appearing more brown in these pics than in real life). This will moderate more as the highlight and detail shadows are accomplished in the next steps. More to come as the week progresses hopefully.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Goodies in the Mail

I don't know how you feel but when I get a package with new figures it's a lot like Christmas morning for me. I've been waiting for three packages and the first arrived two days ago containing four new kits from Soldiers. All but one were sculpted by A. Laruccia, my favorite active sculptor, the other by Marco Lucchetti himself. All are from my favorite era and all are good buys.

The first is SMES-11 a Carthaginian Veteran & War Dog from the 2nd Punic War. This piece is very well designed and quite dramatically posed. I have read various reviews of the figure but prefer to take it as presented for now until I have done a bit more independent research on my own.

The next three include SR-46 the most recent release, being a Navarca at the Battle of Actium, 31 BC from Marc Antony's fleet. Not only is the figure nice but the included "groundwork" is quite useful. The second two figures (SK-01 and 2) are special releases from the Kulmbach show that can be found on Ebay from time to time if you are patient. SK-01 represents a Roman Soldier with the same war dog as found in the Carthaginian kit. Frankly I wanted this one more for the figure than the dog but I will probably do a bit of reposing with the dog so that they look different in the end. SK-2 is entitled "Saving the Eagle of Legio XIX" Teutoburg Forest, AD9 and is a nice little figure that ties into the book in my last posting. Although not a Laruccia figure this one is still nice and will paint up to be a nice companion figure to my eventual Pegaso diorama that I owe Chuck Robinson.

Now I just have to wait for the next two boxes of goodies to round out my fun.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Inspiration - Quest For The Lost Legions

I don't know if you are like me but I read a ton of books (usually one per week). I love reading books that give me insight into the subjects I am modelling as well as a bit of good escapist fun. This book is a really great combination of both as it is written by a gentleman who assisted in the discovery of the site of Varus's loss of three Roman Legions to Arminius in today's Germany. The book combines a telling of his discoveries in the field wrapped arouns his "vision" of the story of this disaster. The book is fairly well written and really drives me toward my ongoing work on the Pegaso group of figures representing the battle of the Teutoburg Vald. I also thought it was cool that the book had Time Machine's 54mm figures painted by Doug Cohen on the cover. Take this as a hint of what is coming On My Workbench.

Pegaso Mayan Priest Bust - Part 4 - Update

I find that the middle stages of painting a figure can be quite frustrating due to the fact that in the beginning it seems I am getting a lot accomplished. The reality is that there is lots to do and this stage can be tedious at times. The real joy comes from completing little areas and seeing your vision coming to reality. I'm certainly not there yet on this one but I know where I'm headed so all is well.

Despite quite a bit of time involved on my part you may not see much different in these pictures. I start here with some work on the inner form of the hat. I am working toward a warm soft felt look and the brown you see is the beginning stages of that. I have also begun the woven crest piece that will be seen in front of the feather crest. This was painted with a wash of yellow ochre as a base and shadowed with Brown Madder Alizarin in the back where the feathers will be against the crest. A very light shadow wash of Burnt Umber was applied to the ring of white feathers on the top of the hat as well.

The feathers have progressed as well. The red feathers are ready for their final detailing and the addition of the iridescent overcoat. The blue feathers have received a wash of black to bring out their details and the tips of each feather have been touched with the black as well. I will now go in and bring out the blue with some Ultramarine blue and Titanium white. Once dry these feathers will also receive the iridescent treatment. I have attached the lower piece of his pendant necklace and given all the jadeite a wash of Raw Umber and Burnt Umber. My next focus here will be the headdress straps and the tattoos and scarification of the skin. Stay tuned because I am on a roll.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pegaso Mayan Priest Bust - Part 3 - Feathers

As stated earlier the feathers on this figure are an interesting challenge to paint as they would have been made from the indiginous birds, many of which are extremely colorful and in some cases iridescent in nature. Throughout this process I will be using oil paints from various manufacturers including the iridescent oils sold as a set on the Daniel Smith Art Supplies site linked on my site. I have used these on a number of figures to achieve effects not possible with standard paints and I highly recommend purchasing a set to play with on silks, feathers and especially fantasy figures.

Over the past few nights I have begun the laborious task of getting the feathers to look the way I want. The photos you see here are only the beginning stages and as such are really the first of three steps that hopefully give me the effect that I am looking for. I am breaking this down to three levels or goals. The first is to achieve the colors desired for the body of the feathers (What you see here). The second goal is to achieve depth through shadow colors and some highlights. The last goal will be to achieve the sparkle of the iridecent feathers and the reflected light one can see from the headress in the movie.

To that end we have the three pictures I have included here. The blue feathers on the body of the headdress appear to be a purple-blue iridescent feather with occasional black tips as seen in the movie and various still photos of the actor. On these I began with a heavy glaze of Rembrandt Ultramarine blue (1), followed by a wash of Dioxazine Purple from Liquitex (2). The red feathers appear to have reddish-brown quality to them so I began with a wash of Liquitex Cadmium Red Extra Deep (1), followed by a glaze of Cadmium Maroon from Holbien (2). The long, tall feathers are started by applying a heavy wash of Prussian Green from Winsor Newton (3).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pegaso Mayan Priest Bust - Part 2 - Shadows

The more I work on this little gem the more I am enjoying it. I have been watching the temple scene over and over and picking out little details on the make-up used in the movie that I will be able to apply to the bust as I go on.
Now that my wet-on-wet flesh work had dried I was able to begin the shadows and highlights using glazing techniques. In these photos you see the shadow work completed. I used Brown Madder Alizarin for my shadows as the reddish tone to this "brown" compliments the basic flesh tones. The dark shadow below the necklace is where the rest of the jewelry will lay, hence the heavy shadow. I have also layed in the whites of the eyes. Now on to the feathers while the shadows dry, then on to the final highlights.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pegaso Mayan Priest Bust

As promised earlier I am starting to paint the Mayan Priest bust from Pegaso. This little jewel represents the movie character from Mel Gibson's movie "Apocalypto". Now I loved this movie and regardless of your opinions on historical accuracy I find this period of history really fascinating and artistically this bust really hits my buttons in what I want to spend my money on. The kit is mostly resin with the feathers being cast in white metal. The quality is what you would expect from Pegaso and I was very happy with the resin bits as that was my business back in the day. The feathers are nice but due to the medium of white metal are a bit thick in my book. This is a trade off as being able to bend them to a natural shape is much easier in this material and they won't ever break the way resin items would. The engineering for the feathers is nice in that they fit together in a sandwich as you paint them so that once complete you can simply glue them on as one unit. In the picture of the separate primed bits you can see the center section of feathers is actually made up of three pieces that I will paint as one and the two other pieces will glue to the tab.

Some of the cool painting challenges here are the feathers that being from South American tropical birds would be iridescent, colorful or in some cases dyed. I use "Daniel Smith" brand iridescent and interference paints that Phil Kessling turned me onto may years ago. I may well write a little blog entry on the use of these next week. The other interesting challenge is the Jadeite/Turquoise jewelry that adorns the figure. This material is found in varying shades of greenish blue and is heavily veined black and brown. Research should be done by the painter to make sure they accurately portray the colors of Jadeite found in South America (not N.A. or Asia, there is a difference). Lastly is the body paint, tattoos and scarification found on this character in the movie.

So last Tuesday night while watching the final table of the World Series of Poker, I started painting the bust. For this figure I started with a base color of Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber mixed straight out of the tube with a Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow Medium mix for my first layer of highlights. What you see here is the flesh as seen at the finish of the wet-on-wet work. Next comes the shadow glazing and spot highlighting that will be done this weekend.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kharkov Tiger Diorama - Figure #1

So let's talk about how the brain works (or in this case maybe how it doesn't). When last we spoke I was starting my Tiger diorama after many years of just thinking about it. This figure is the first of seven and my plans were to use it as a "teaching tool" for our twice monthly Monday night modeling and bulls**t sessions (don't want to offend the kiddies here). So there I was on night one with my primed figure, all my supplies, a great attitude and.....wait for it....... NO OPTI-VISOR. Now for you young ones out there that still have eyes that function properly you probably have no idea what I'm whining about but for most you will recognize my dilemma.

So we started in, and I mixed my paints and talked a great game but when the brush hit the paint I was in deep doo-doo. My friends were all "Ooh, it's really great" and "Don't sweat it" but the reality hit home when I got to my bench that night and put on my magnifying "eyes". So last week was spent fiddling around with glazes and such in the hopes that I could save the face. I never strip figures so fixing it was a requirement. By Monday night and round two I was actually quite happy with my work and by the time I got home and watched the Steelers kick Denver's collective butts, I had what you see in these pictures.

Now let's not talk about the fact that I damn near forgot my brushes Monday before I left the house......Nothing like getting old huh?
As usual everything is done in oils here. The face has the usual mix of Burnt Sienna, Cad Red Medium, Cad Yellow Medium, a touch of Yellow Ochre for the base, Cad Yellow Medium and Titanium white for the highlights. I used Burnt Umber, Brown Madder Aliz. and Aliz. Crimson for the shadows and color, with the original highlight mix used to pick out the final highlight tones. The helmet color is simply a base coat so far. I am doing a worn white washed helmet effect as I go. I'm trying a new technique for the worn helmet, so if it works I'll share as I go, otherwise I'll simply pretend it never happened.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Kharkov Tiger Diorama The Beginning

So here we start with the new projects for this winter. I will be starting a number of projects and will try to divide them up by type/label so they will be easier to track for those interested in specific projects. I actually began acquiring the items for this project many years ago and began forming my design last spring. The idea is to create a scene in 1/16th scale using John Rosengrant's spectacular German figures and the Tamiya Tiger I tank to represent the entry of German troops into the outskirts of Kharkov. The design will be all about the tiring nature of the battle, the cold and the bleak nature of Russia at that time. My color pallet will be very cool and will hopefully translate into the vision I have gotten over the years from reading stories of the battle. I have included a few pics of the pieces in their current state as well as my pattern for the building wall that will stand behind the tank and figures. The cardboard rectangle represents the base size. You can see drawn "footprints" on the base indicating two of the three other figures that will be standing in front of the tank. Ambitious? Yes, to say the least! To be seen soon? No, probably not. I plan on taking my time and doing this right. I begin painting the figures tonight as we begin twice monthly modelling sessions here in Buffalo with a group from the IPMS club and the figures will be used as "training exercises" with at least one other person.
My next posts will start the Pegaso Mayan Priest bust as well as continue the Greek and Roman subjects that have been gathering dust since early summer. I am also working on completing some painted subjects for an old friend that thinks I've forgotten about him. I am even building an HO scale craftsman wooden building kit for a seaside diorama, something new but something I've always been interested in.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cooler weather means more productivity

No I didn't fall back off the face of the earth but where I paint there is no air-conditioning so during the summer there isn't much modelling getting done either. Between work around the house and going out on the H/D I don't find much enthusiasm for the hobby. Now that the weather is soon to turn cold and the motorcycle will soon be in storage for the winter I'm starting to get ideas for figures. I haven't seen much in the way of new releases that inspire me lately. I did buy and prime the Pegaso Aztec bust and I want to buy the recent Roman/Carthaginian releases from Soldiers as well as Art Girona's Historical pieces (David, etc.). I have a few pieces I want to paint this winter to make up to someone for old times and a few that simply have me inspired so stay tuned.