Thursday, February 24, 2011

EMI 54mm Villanovan Warrior Completed

 Well, here he is, completed at last. I hope everyone likes the outcome as much as I do. I'll let him sit a few days and then revisit the completed figure. I'm sure I'll find spots that need a bit more touch-up. In the meantime, onward to the Saxons and Decurion.

Soldier's Roman Decurion - Staging and Groundwork

This Roman Decurion is kit number SR35 in Soldier's Roman Series and represents one of Rome's cavalry elite from the 2nd century AD. I have had a soft spot for this figure for many years and always wanted to add a horse to any scene that I would use the figure in. Once Soldier's made their cavalry horse available as a seperate item from the kit it came from (SR29 from original kit SR19) I snatched one up so that this little grouping could be created. I have cleaned and completed basic assembly of the two kits and started the basic groundwork the other night. I know it seems like I have a lot of irons in the fire now but this is part of my ongoing prep for my seminar that I am giving in Pittsburgh in a few weeks.

One of the problems with staging is that sometimes what looks right in your mind or on paper won't be right when you get the components together. What you see in the next three photos is my process of staging the figures while creating the groundwork. When the putty was still wet on the base I pressed the figures in where I thought they should go. After the putty cured I was able to place the figures on the base again and sit back to think about what I had. At that point I was less than pleased with their placement. Using Blu-tac to temporarily hold the figure I made minor adjustments, first moving the figure closer to the horse, then pivoting him for better visibility. The lesson here is play with the scene before committing yourself to something you can't fix later.

 Here is a picture of the groundwork prior to addition of dirt and grass. The post comes with the Decurion figure and has been pinned to the groundwork. Once I have redrilled the locating holes for the figure and filled in the earlier holes I will continue to work on this piece.

EMI Villanovan Warrior - Final Assembly and Details

 Finally, the figure is attached to the base and the spear is located in the figures right hand. I first primed the spear with a thin coat of acrylic white paint. A glaze stain of Mars Brown was applied to the spear shaft and a gold base coat was applied to the spear tips.

After the first colors had dried (24 hours) I applied a wash of Burnt Umber to the spear tips and a glaze of the same color as a second stain coat on the spear shaft. After this had dried a further wash of Mars Black was applied to the spear points and full strength Burnt Umber and Mars Black applied to deeper shadows on the shaft such as around the hand and joins with the tips.

 One of the difficulties with this figure is the join between the hand and the shield. There is no locating pin on the hand and the shield would be very hard to get a good fitment simply with glue. During prep I drilled two small holes in the hand and inner shield boss. Two brass pins were glued to the hand with a rough surround to better adhere to the 5 minute epoxy I would use to attach the shield.

Here you can see the process of working from base color to finished product when painting bronze using metallic gold printers inks. The first picture is the base mix of gold ink and Burnt Umber. The second picture shows the spear with it's wash of Burnt Umber. The third shows the completed spear point after a wash of Mars Black and final highlights with pure gold inks. You can also see the progress of the spear shaft. Sometimes I use brass rod as with this figure while using actual wooden dowel, sanded to scale thickness, for larger scale figures. In that larger scale you can really see how the oil washes bring out the grain for added realism.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

54mm Villanovan Update #6

A busy day here at the workbench, with the winter weather returning with vengeance. While it snowed and the wind blew outside, I was able to get a lot of detail work completed and there is light at the end of the tunnel for this wonderful little figure. The more I work on the figure, the more I appreciate the sculpting of all the little details. These figures give the painter so much to work with.

I began by working on the boots and belts. Yellow Ochre and Burnt Umber along with a bit of Van Dyke Brown were lightened with Titanium White (separately, not all together) to begin working in "wear" on the boots. The use of these three tones vary the weathering to such an extent to add more realism to the finish. Using only one tone would have simply made the boots monochromatic to the eye. Further use of the Van Dyke Brown/White mix on the straps of the boots added further variation. After these photos were taken I edged the straps with pure Titanium White to make them more crisp. After the boots I edged the straps for the breastplate with Mars Brown and Tit. White followed by light wear cracks of Yellow Ochre and Tit. White. These are too faint and small to appear in the photos but they are there.

Finally I painted the ropes with Yellow Ochre and highlighted, followed by final highlighting of all the bronze armor and the funerary shield which I attached to the completed groundwork. All that remains is to attach the figure to the base after it dries, paint the spear and finish painting the shield. Various details remain but these can be painted once the figure is united with the base. I think it may well be completed by the end of next weekend. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

54mm Villanovan Update - Clothing Details

I have spent the last few evenings working on the hem details of this figure as well as the shadows on the bronze armor. For the edging I started by painting the hem with thinned Cadmium Red Medium. The thinning of the paint gave a faded look to the color.

Once dry I spent yesterday evening painting all those little blue diamonds using W&N Indigo with a touch of Titanium White to lighten the color a tad. I will go in and highlight a bit before going any further as it is all a bit flat tonally at the moment.

I also completed all the shading of the bronze armor. Now I can begin to paint the boots, belting, details, and highlight all the bronze work.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Soldiers Praetorian Guard Update #1

Further progress on this more recent release from Soldiers. I have completed highlights on the trousers, edged the armor, painted the red leather belting and the upper portion of the mantle. At this point I attached the helmeted head. I primed the two mantle halves that will attach in back of the figure and painted the maroon color on the insides. Once dry they can be glued on with epoxy before painting the back. I must paint the hem and sleeve details as well as a round design on the lower half of the tunic that was a frequent element of tunics from this period. Lots more work to do on this figure but it is progressing nicely.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

54mm Villanovan - Update #4

While I am waiting for one of my other figures to dry a bit I thought it would be nice to work on this piece. It has been awhile and I have been hesitating due to my indecisive nature. I need to tackle the bands of color around the hem of the figures tunic. I have seen this figure most often painted with solid color ribbons but I would like to paint a geometric pattern as this appears in many references. The problem with painting figures from this far back in history is frequently a lack of reference on things such as this. Frequently the best way to proceed is to research decorative patterns on those items that do still exist, such as pottery, architecture or any other decorative art from the culture that has survived. If you find common patterns then it is usually a safe bet that they would have been used on clothing as well.

In the meantime I did further shading on the tunic, outlining belts and equipment with thinned Raw Umber. I then applied my bronze undercoat of gold printer inks mixed with Burnt Umber. Once dry this will receive further washes of Burnt Umber and Mars Black as well as specific shading in the darker areas with those same colors applied as a light shadow rub (thinned to a glaze but rubbed into shadows with a soft brush to filter the underlying colors).

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Saxon Warlords Vignette - Groundwork Part 2

This past weekend I completed the basic groundwork for my Saxon Warlord Vignette. Now that the balsa core had been completed I was able to begin creating the rock and dirt of the hillside using A+B Epoxy Putty. The next three pictures show my progress in the first batch of putty. I worked the putty into the rough shape using a large dental spatula and then worked the surface texture in using a broken piece of balsa wood. This has always given a very random texture that works well for me in the initial stages. The toothpicks are inserted in the holes previously created for the pinned figures.

The following photo shows the base once the putty was completed. The groundwork has not been glued to the wooden base. I like to leave it loose to minimize contact with the finished wood. Once the putty had cured I sanded the transition between the plastic shell and the edges of the putty to create a smooth surface. The next steps will be to refine the details with a Dremel tool and small grinding bits. After that is done I will add fine dirt on the flat surfaces, grass in a few spots, some plant life and prepare to paint the base. I have also noted a few areas on the wall that need some more weathering and attention. The woodwork will be stained using oils on the raw wood and the groundwork will be painted with the usual techniques (oils and oil washes).

Prior to going any further however I wanted to once again test fit the figures to check their stance and again review their staging. It was at this point that I realized I wasn't happy with the placement of the figure on the right of the photo. I re-drilled the holes, ground out a bit of area so that he would stand where I wanted and will re-putty the old holes. It always pays to check and recheck your work. Nothing is worse than realizing there is a problem after the thing has been painted.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Saxon Warlords Vignette - Creating the groundwork Part 1

For scenes like this I like to build a solid cored base that will be created separately from the decorative wood base. To that end I created a paper template that would mimic the cylindrical shape of the base and used it to cut layers of balsa that I used for the back of the core. To the front of this I attached pieces of basswood to create the outside face of the hill fort. All of the basswood was distressed using a steel wire brush. this gives an aged rough hewn look to the wood that will weather well under the painting process.

Once the wall face was complete I began to use scrap pieces of balsa to build up the core of the groundwork. This will save me a lot of putty in the long run and help me build up the groundwork to properly stage the figures as I had originally envisioned. I also trimmed the sides of the wall straight and softly rounded the edges to conform to the cylindrical shape I am working with.

I periodically placed the figures on the balsa core to test for the best placement. This is a very important step in keeping the staging under control.

I began to skin the balsa and basswood core at this stage in plastic sheet. I started by using my paper template to cut out a plastic circle that would fit in the hollow of the oak base. This sheet was glued to the bottom of the core with 5-minute epoxy. I then wrapped the core with a sheet of paper and marked out the outline of the core, cutting a template that was used to mark out a sheet of plastic to wrap the back and sides. Once cut and test fit, this sheet was curled around a wooden dowel until it held the cylindrical shape of the core. This wrap was now glued to the core, again with 5-minute epoxy. Once the glue cured, I trimmed the plastic around the outline of the wall. Please note that I left the area around the rocks and earth untrimmed. This will be completed once the groundwork is sculpted.

Now I created a walkway on the back of the base with strips of basswood and sanded the edges to conform to the shape of the plastic cylinder.

In the next post I will begin to create the groundwork on the front of the base using A+B Epoxy Putty. I will also continue to add details to the walls and walkway.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Soldiers SR-50 Praetorian Guard 4th Cent. AD

Two weeks ago I started this new figure from Soldiers. The kit is SR-50 and is a 54mm Praetorian Guard from the reign of Massentius in the early 4th century AD. As with all of their kits, this one is a beauty. I have gotten quite far in a short period of time but as always the devil is in the details and with this kit there will be a lot of detail work on the tunic (hems and sleeves). In an effort to ease my work on the face as well as the details around the collar and mantle I have left the head separate for now. Once the figure is further along and I can attach the two pieces that make up the trailing mantle, basecoat and paint, the head will remain separate.

The face was fun to paint and I have a bit more work to do on the leather edges of the helmet, cheek and neckguards as well as the stitching and the painted frame for the crest. In my second post you will see my progress on the groundwork.