Friday, March 29, 2013

Young Miniatures Roman Signifer - Update #2

Two more photos of the bust with the sleeves base-coated in the red/black mixture. You can see from the first close-up the true nature of this base tone. Reds can be very transparent so although this will be entirely over-painted in the end, the tones will augment the lighter reds applied over top. This will also work for the deepest shadows around the armor plate.

Last night I began applying the deeper shading to the figure. The following four photos show the arm as it looks at this moment. Burnt Umber is used as a glaze to create these shadow tones, rubbing it in lightly over the effected areas. Burnt Umber is very transparent so it allows the undertones to show through like a filter.

And the head. Much of what you see beyond the front of the face will be obscured by the helmet and pelt, hence the extremely deep tones at this point. In addition to the Burnt Umber I also used Alizarin Crimson on the cheeks and the lips. This color is also transparent and mixes well with the Umber to create the deep crimson tones of cheeks and lips. The next step is the brightest, crisp highlights and painting the eyes. See you next post.

Young Miniatures Roman Signifer - Update #1

In my first post I commented on my thoughts regarding the accuracy of the standard provided in this new kit from Young Miniatures. I have always operated under the belief that there has to be reference for things somewhere for someone to put them in a kit and that I don't know all there is to know. With that in mind I contacted my friend Massimiliano Colombo who is cited as an influence for the bust in question. He kindly forwarded me photos that I have included below. He stated that the Medusa standard is not the Signum (seen to the right in the first photo) but is still a standard of sorts carried by his reenactment unit. He offered to find out more information for me as the opportunity arises. He is a busy, touring author in Italy and it may be a while before I have more info but what I do know is that the Medusa head is supposed to offer "invincibility" in battle for the bearer army. That being said, I am still exploring sculpting my own Aquila or Signum - hence the additional photos.

The first step for me after priming was to paint a base color on the neck scarf and areas inside the pelt, as these would be nearly impossible to complete once the head and top portion of the pelt/helmet are attached. I painted Cadmium Red Extra Deep on the effected area and shaded while still wet with Mars Black to get the deeply shaded tones I required. Much of this area will be obscured by the head and helmet but any areas that should be brighter can be easily touched with a brush after assembly.

The next three pictures are set side by side to show the beginning stages of the painting process. From left to right they are as follows; 1.) Initial coat of Burnt Sienna mixed with a bit of Cadmium Red Medium, Cadmium Yellow Deep and a tiny touch of Yellow Ochre. This was applied and the excess removed with a soft, flat brush. 2.)  First layers of mid-range highlighting applied using Titanium White and Cadmium Yellow Deep. This is slowly built up until the mid-tones are complete. 3.) Indigo added to areas where stubble will be to "Grey" out the flesh tone. Additional highlighting is applied to pop out these areas. The face is then allowed to dry.

The same process is shown completed in the photos below for the arm. Indigo was used to grey out the veins a bit on the back of his hand. This is subtle and doesn't really show up properly in these photos.

The same Cadmium Red Extra Deep - Mars Black tones were applied to the figure's sleeves.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Soldiers Gunther von Schwarzburg - Update 6

I think it has been three months short of a year since the last time I posted progress on this miniature. In my desire to clear old projects off of my bench I decided to start working on this figure again at the same time I am working on the Roman bust. In a few hours time this past Saturday I was able to get the right and left arms started as well as some work on the basic colors for the helm's decorative cloth components.
As explained before, my goal is to complete the entire figure without using any metallic paints. To that end I have been using Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Mars Black and White in various mixes to create the colors necessary to replicate the gold tones of Schwarzburg's armor. Everything seen on the gauntlets and elbow protection (or Cowter). Once dry, crisper highlights and shadows will be applied.

I also painted the base color for the back of the shield. This will be hanging by the strap from the section of fence that will be slightly behind and to the right of the figure. A coat of blue matching that of the figure was painted on the face of the shield in preparation for the beginning stages of heraldry. Stay tuned for more updates. I guarantee that they will come sooner than this one as my enthusiasm has really returned for this little project.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Arthur de Richemont, Companion La Pucelle - Completed

Well, after finalizing the detail highlights on the lions, further shadows on the red (Alizarin Crimson and Black) and white surcoat (Raw Umber and Black) utilizing glazes, painting the leather ties and popping out the mail, this bust is pretty much done. I worked some more highlights into the face as well. These subtleties never seem to show up in the photos but they are evident in real life. Once cured after a week or so, any spots that still have a bit of gloss will get a quick brush coat of flat to smooth out the finish. The base plate as usual was made on my computer and printed on sticker paper prior to applying to the base.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Arthur de Richemont - Update #2

Three hours of painting the basic "ermine" design was a bit much, but getting them in the right location (balanced) and the right size (consistency) was key. I used lamp black for it's pure cold black tone, mixed with a tiny bit of thinner. The secret to keeping it crisp is cleaning the brush every few designs. This keeps the brush from loading up with too much paint, allowing for control and consistency.

Work was begun on the highlights of the fur on his cap using a mix of Titanium White and Burnt Umber. Lighter shades of tan and grey with a final hint of pure white will complete this step. Now on to the lions......

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Arthur de Richemont - Update #1

Once I had completed the last two busts I was able to continue on Arthur. I have done quite a bit of subtle shadow and highlight work on the white and red portions of the bust as well as further shadowing of the fur and cap.

The fur was shaded with varying mixes of Burnt Umber and Mars Black beginning with the darkest mixture on the bottom of the fur and progressively more brown on the upper portions of the fur. I still need to work some more highlights into the grey cloth on the cap prior to various highlight tones on the fur.

The lions began with a coat of Mars Yellow followed by a wash of Burnt Umber and Mars Black. These devices will be picked out in varying tones of Yellow Ochre and Titanium White once dry.

The next steps will include painting of the ermine devices on the white surcoat (see heraldry in first post), completion of the lions, hat and further highlights and shadows to pull it all together.

Roman Signifer - Young Miniatures Out of the Box

I have been a fan of, and purchased many busts from the Young Miniatures line. The quality of both casting and sculpting as well as the wonderful packaging truly set the mark in the industry at all levels. Despite having so many of these kits, this is the first one I have decided to actually tackle. Everyone knows my love for Roman subject matter and this piece has that little "something extra" going for it that made me want to start right in on it.
Packaged in the usual heavy black box, between solid foam were found the components seen above. Having been in the business myself for many years I was impressed by the parts breakdown. Some manufacturers attempt to make their kits "all in one sculpts". This inevitably limits the detail to that which can be removed from the mold. Others over-engineer their kits with far too many parts. Young gets the mix just right in my opinion. The kit consists of the torso, head, arm, helmet, 2 cheek pieces, leather tie, teeth for the pelt, paws, gladius handle and three components to complete the signum (more on this later). My only comment to this point is that I would have liked to have seen some sort of cast pillar support for the bust as I hate simple brass rod supports for busts. These have not been included in Young kits for awhile now.

The torso and head are cast separately to ease painting. Here I have placed the two components together to check fit and appearance. All is good at this point.

Here is the wonderfully sculpted head supplied as a portion of the signum mentioned earlier. Here is where we have problems with this kit. As many of you know there were a number of standard bearers in the Roman army, including the Aquilifer (Eagle Bearer), Imaginifer (Emperor's Likeness), Vexillarius (Flag representing the unit designation), and in later years a Draconarius (Dragon Bearer). Our bust is supposed to represent a Signifer.
Every century or cohort contained a signifer and the first century's signifer was senior. The standard carried was called the signum and was a military emblem that represented the oath every soldier took upon entering the service of the Emperor. This was typically either a large leaf shaped spear blade or more commonly, a large three dimensional hand to represent the upraised hand during that oath. The shaft would be decorated with a number of philarae (medallions, discs). Additionally the hand could be further decorated by a surrounding wreath indicating a military field recognition of sorts.
Although wonderfully sculpted and cast, this head bears no resemblance to any signum I have been able to find in my research. Additionally it doesn't match any Emperor's image I could think of off-hand. My gut tells me that I will have to create my own standard and for a quality figure such as this either the proper signum (hand with wreath) or even an Aquilifer standard will be in order. I find the eagle to be a bit daunting but if I could pull it off it would be an attractive addition to my collection. Only time will tell.

These are the remaining components. No problems here. In an effort to hide the simple brass rod that I will be using to support this bust I have chosen the following angled top, bust base from Ken Thomas. Another of the hidden stash of bases I keep, the colors will go nicely with this beautifully finished piece of wood.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Alfred von Tirpitz - Completed

The second newly completed piece is this portrait bust of Grossadmiral Alfred von Tirpitz in his summer naval uniform, also by Ulrich Puchala. I have to admit that of the two busts this was my favorite. I am sure that some of that is the subject matter but also the character in the face. I can see the thoughtful, soulful gaze of the seafarer in his gaze and the worn, aged look of his skin. I hope you all enjoy the completed piece as much as I do.
The one touch that I missed until posting these pictures is that there should be a gold embroidered crown just above the cuff stripes. This will be added tonight as it is a big missing error. You always discover something once the photos have been done.

I have added the following detail shots of the face and binoculars to assist those interested in painting this piece or any similar subject matter. The binoculars were copied from examples found on the internet and I was surprised to find something other than simple black when I did my research. A touch of olivey green with worn brass details and a brown leather case rather than black leather add a touch of unexpected color to the palette of blue, black, grey and white.