Sunday, August 22, 2010

Soldiers 54mm Roman Senator - Figure Prep

As I have begun to paint the base, my prep work turned to the figure. I normally wouldn't dedicate a post entirely to figure prep when so little effort was required on my part, however this figure really shows the quality of work that Mr. Laruccia is capable of creating. As stated earlier in my posts, this kit comes complete with four heads to choose from. They are believed to represent Caesar, Vespasian, Trajan and lastly Marcus Aurelius (the head that I chose). Each face is brilliant and each choice gives the modeler a variety of artistic visions for painting. The depth and crispness of the folds are extremely realistic and will be a challenge to paint no doubt. Besides the torso and head, the only other component is the left hand and document. Clean-up and assembly were very straight forward. I simply thought everyone would enjoy seeing the raw casting before I began to "mess it up" with paint.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

EMI 5th Macedonian Legion Update #2

After a nice Summer slowdown I am beginning to find more time to get back to work on many of the projects that have been ongoing. As an update on this little one figure vignette from EMI of a 5th Macedonian Legionary in Egypt, I have posted these pics as it stands to this point. I have also been working on the groundwork and the shield/spear combo which I will show in the next posted update of this piece. This figure has been a lot of fun to paint. Below you will see a little photo montage showing the step-by-step for the leather on the figure.

For the leather on this figure I began with a layer of burnt Umber mixed with Mars Brown. After this had dried I gave the leather a wash with Mars Black. This brings out the stitching detail, folds and creases and the shadow areas where the leather pieces overlap. The next steps were highlighting with Mars Brown followed by Mars Orange and Yellow Ochre with a touch of Titanium White to "pop" the worn edges. I plan to do a bit more shadowing and some final "hot" highlighting once the rest of the figure is completed.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Soldiers 54mm Roman Senator - Base Prep

The focus of this post will be on the prep work for the base on this figure as it is such an integral part of the entire piece. This is really always the case on any miniature but especially here as it will set the tone for the lighting and mood of the final piece. I began by cutting a thick piece of styrene plastic to the same size as the wooden base that I will be using. This was then trimmed diagonally along the back to replicate a portion of the steps up into the Roman senate building. The Bayardi column was then attached with Cyano and lines for the marble sections scribed into the plastic along with the locating holes for the figure. A pin is drilled into the column for mounting strength as well as to attach the groundwork to a balsa working base/block. This gives me something to hold onto while painting other than the final base. The final base is lacquered black ash and I have no desire to mar that surface.

This drawing shows the desired effect I wish to achieve. I like doing these little drawings when I am fleshing out a project so that I can better form my ideas prior to starting. In it you can see that I have worked out placement angles and the lighting sources. You will also note that my original drawing had the steps parallel to the base but in an effort to create a stronger artistic presence I always try to avoid squaring off my scene with the base as this just appears too formulaic when completed. Sometimes it is unavoidable, but not here.

Once assembled the groundwork can be primed for painting. I usually use pure white automotive spray primer (Dupli-color) but sometimes in an effort to better play with the transparency of oil paints I will use grey, black or even rust colored primer. In this case I will use all four primers to better indicate my highlight, shadow and reflected light sources on the base. The photo grouping below shows how I basecoated the groundwork, step-by-step.
My first step was to spray the full shadow side of the column with black primer, especially up under the top of the column. The second step is to apply Rust Red primer to the lower shadow area and marble floor where the reflected light will be prevalent. Grey primer was then applied to the sides of column, as seen in the the third, fourth and fifth photos of the series. Finally white primer is sprayed to the side that is in full sunlight. All of this spray overlaps the previous coats, playing off the flutes and other details of the column giving me visual clues as to how to apply my colors and additionally effecting the tonal qualities of the oils that will applied over the surface. I won't use this technique on the figure however, allowing the completely painted base to guide my brush while painting the Senator. Next step: prepping the figure and then on to the painting.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Soldiers 54mm Roman Senator - An Experiment With Lighting

I recently acquired this fantastic figure from Soldiers of a Roman Senator in 54mm. Let's face it, I buy everything that A. Laruccia does for this and other manufacturers (Art Girona Historical Series, older EMI etc.) as his sculpting is absolutely the best you can get in this or any scale. This kit is no exception and as can be seen in the photo, comes complete with a choice of four portrait heads giving the painter some ability to separate their work from others with little effort. My desire to always expand my skills by creating new challenges and to display my work in a way that sets it apart from others was really challenged by this figure. Let's face it the subject can be boring to some despite the challenge of all that cloth. So how do you present this figure in a way that others haven't seen before? Well I have an idea that is based on the effect of non-standard lighting on a figure and it's surroundings. The painting shown below, "Ecce Homo" by Antonio Cesari, gives me a lot of ideas and is a great reference for how my chosen lighting should appear.

The type of lighting I will be attempting to duplicate is "halo" lighting which simply means that the light source will be from behind the figure. In addition there will be "reflected" light from an unseen marble wall directly in front of the figure. Examples of this lighting can be singled out above, in the figure of Pontius Pilate and the others. The reflected light can be seen well in the female figures to the right side of the painting, as well as on Jesus' back.

This photo of Roman ruins in late afternoon golden sunlight helps to show my color pallet for the reflected light source.

I have chosen a tall column made by Armand Bayardi for true scale effect as can be seen in the photo below. On the surface this might seem to be a poor choice as the size would seem to overpower the figure. However my vision of painting the piece will highlight the figure and draw the eye away from the top and bottom of the unit. The top of the column will be in shadow and as can be seen, I have chosen a black base. Only the figure and a portion of the column will be well lit. This will draw the eye always back to the figure.

In this picture I staged the miniature on the base with the column in front of a window full of sunlight for the back lighting. In addition I placed a piece of red paper to the front right to replicate reflected color from our mythical wall to show the effect of the soft colored light. This will give you and idea of the direction I am planning to go on this figure. My next post will be centered on the creation and priming of the base, with a few interesting tricks for priming with shadow and highlight tones.