Monday, April 25, 2011

RtC: Never Satisfied

Countdown to KublaCon painting competition: 34 days

So I've made some significant progress on the War Hog over the last couple days, but I still have a long ways to go. At this point almost everything is base coated to some degree, with a few small exceptions like the rope, teeth, and any brass metals. This is helping me get a better feel for how the whole model is shaping up tone/contrast wise. I can already tell I may need to make some significant alteration as I go along. The good news is that I'm getting much happier about how the skin is working out.

Over the weekend, while painting, I was thinking about how much I've learned on this specific project by taking a lot longer...

First, thinning paints really does help. I've been forcing myself to thin the paints a little more than I normally do, and I've found it to be really helpful. I'm doing a lot more layering instead of 2BB, but the results are still pretty good. Forcing myself to do this has been challenging, but definitely valuable.

Next is that I've found I really need a completely separate set of brushes and rinses for metalics. I'd moved to a separate rinse for metals a few months ago, but while I was working on this project, I definitely started to notice little bits of metal lingering in the brush despite a thorough rinsing. Being very disciplined about this is actually pretty easy. I marked my metallic brushes with some tape on the handles to make it easier to keep them straight.

Working on just one project drives me crazy. I normally have a primary focus, but I've set aside everything else to focus on just the War Hog for the last 3 weeks now and I'm getting a little frustrated. I'll probably try to wrap up my SPQR Gun Mages this week just to have a sense of accomplishment. I'm also really antsy to get back to painting Legion models.

The last thing is that I'm never satisfied. I'll call a model done, but I'm never 100% satisfied with it. This is sometimes frustrating, but I feel this attribute is what helps drive me to be a better painter.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

RtC: Change is Good

Countdown to KublaCon painting competition: 39 days

My painting process is getting thrown sideways in a number of ways on this project. First it was having to put the model on a base before painting it. Now I've found myself in the position of having to get most of my base coating done before doing highlight and shading work. This is a departure from my normal process where I tend to work a single area to completion and then move on to another area. On the one hand, I feel it's a good thing to change up my process to see if something different works better. On the other hand, I'm worried that changing my process on what is meant to be a competition piece. I guess only time will tell.

This photo shows the current state of the flesh, but I've only done base coating and highlighting. There's a lot of shading to do now and to bring the tone back in line with the rest of the piece. However I'm likely going to start working on another area before doing the shading. I think this will help me with my overall composition which is where my biggest skill growth area is now I feel.

Ugh! 39 days to go! I'll never make it at this rate. I need to sleep less and paint more.

Friday, April 15, 2011

RtC: How many days left?

Countdown to KublaCon painting competition: 44 days

I really need to get cracking if I'm going to have this thing done in time for the competition. Tonight's progress is small, but important. I did the black base coating for the major sections that will be metal. Also I got the loincloth to a point that is nearly done. It needs a glaze or two to smooth out the colors still, but it's close. It's pretty late though, and I desperately need sleep. Hopefully this weekend will produce some results as well.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

RtC: Hog the Base

Countdown to KublaCon painting competition: 49 days

I'm actually writing this post during the course of mounting the War Hog model to the base I'd prepped. Why? Well, it's a little nerve wracking so writing the post at the same time is both cathartic and gives me time to pause and think through my next step. I apologize in advance for the odd wording/tense of phrases in this post.

The first thing I need to do is drill a first hole. Something to note here is that the two pieces of metal I used on the base were some random scraps of metal I found in a parking lot that I just happened to like the look of. There's one pictured here. They have convenient holes in them so I just need to make sure my pin holes go through there to avoid any really unpleasant drilling. So after using a spare one as a guide, I've picked out a spot for the left foot pin to go through and will drill that hole.

Ok, with that hole now drilled, I need to do something really terrifying. I decided to leave the round tab on the bottom of the hoof for added stability and drill out a larger space for that tab. So I got out my 1/8" drill bit and *shudder* my power drill. I don't have a smaller drill handy that can hold such a bit so I'll just have to be very careful. I've done similar stuff before, just not on a base that I'd already put multiple hours of work into. Anyway, here goes...

Success! No cracking of the basing material or anything. The weight of the drill did most of the work for me so that I could focus on keeping a steady hand. I did a test fit and it's perfect. Now the next step is tricky, but one I've done a number of times: Drilling the second hole. My process here is pretty straight forward. First I measure out the distance between the pins in the feet (1 3/32"), then measure and mark the second hole on the base. This is a little more complicated since I have to either aim for the hole in the metal piece, or avoid the metal entirely. Ok, I totally got lucky here. It just barely slips into the corner of where that plate was. Time to drill!

Ok, not as smoothly as I was hoping. I had to adjust my drilling angle just a bit, but it got sorted out. After an initial dry fit, I just applied some glue and there it is! Miniature and base are now one. There's some clean up to do once all the glue dries, but now I feel like I can proceed with confidence on painting the hog itself. I'll explain the current state of the hog himself next time, but it's getting late and I'm still recovering from the flu.

Finally, a comment to my readers who posted feedback on the base: Thanks! I got a lot of consistent feedback from here and other sources as well. At this point I definitely think dirtying up the hoses more will be necessary, but I'm going to wait until I get further along in the project before I make those changes.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

RtC: Lots of Painting While Sick

Countdown to KublaCon painting competition: 52 days

Well, being home sick has the advantage that I got some painting done. It's all work on the base, which I'm calling mostly done at this point, although I may go back and make some adjustments after I've started making progress on the War Hog itself.

I should note at this point that I'm inviting critiques from my readers. Obviously constructive criticism is what I'm looking for. Obviously I'm just looking for feedback about the base itself, since the War Hog is still absent.

I used a bunch of different techniques in working on this, most notably though is using dry pigments. I'm still sort of building up my comfort and familiarity with them, but this base was an obvious target for using them. For this work I actually tried out pigments from Vallejo, Secret Weapon, and MIG. For the most part they preformed pretty equivalently, although the Vallejo ones seemed to require less work to break down some of the chunks of pigment.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

From the Desk: (De)Motivational Material

Quick update for folks out there. In case you hadn't heard of the Crystal Brush painting competition this year at Adepticon, here's a couple links to check out. Fair warning, the stuff entered here is absolutely amazing. The Crystal Brush is attempting to set itself as the premier painting competition here in the states. Salute being the big one in the UK.

Here's the winners.

And here's a link to all the entrants.

I always enjoy looking at these high-end painting competitions even though I don't have a chance of placing in one of them. Although it's easy to find such amazing works to be de-motivational, I tend to look at them for inspiration and ideas. Anyway, just some eye candy for folks out there that might not have heard of this competition. With a $10,000 grand prize, it's hard to simply gloss over this as "just another painting competition".

Saturday, April 02, 2011

RtC: Base Progress

Countdown to KublaCon painting competition: 56 days

As I should have expected this. My motivation and free time have both dwindled dramatically. Business trips, getting sick, and more house guests have erupted during the last 3 weeks. Nevertheless, I'm trying to make some progress.

So I started doing some work on the base. Pictured here is a bunch of the components for it. The main reason for working on the base this early is (as I mentioned before) the weakness of the legs. This was a significant problem given my normal painting process. I typically attach models to an empty spray can in order to hold them better while painting. However since this guy is so massive and with such a thin right leg, I quickly realized I needed to better secure him somehow. Attaching him to the base is my only logical recourse. Normally I wouldn't do this unless absolutely necessary, but for some specific models (like the Carnivean and his cousins) I've changed this process. When I do, I typically leave long pins sticking out the bottom of the base to attach it to the spray can.

So anyway, here's the base at about 75% assembled. I wanted to create a sort of mechanical laboratory feel to the base. The biggest chunk of work here was in casting out the metal plating. I searched high and low for textured plasticard that matched what I was looking for but found nothing. However while scouring my LGS, I came across a very large base (70mm) that had the right pattern and some InstantMold product. That evening I cast out the mold which was a piece of cake. Then I pressed in a bunch of black Milliput and I had exactly the patterned steel plating I wanted. Then it was just an arduous task of shaping it to a circle and carving out a square space in the middle. Once that was done I added the metal grill and additional metal pieces.

Here's the fully assembled base. It's now sitting in my garage as the primer dries. Today I'm hoping to get started painting it and drill out the necessary pin holes to mount the War Hog to it. With only 8 weeks left, I'm starting to feel the pressure to really get rolling on this project. Time to carve out some serious time and really paint like I have a pair!