Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Tree Bauble Sculpt...

.....well, kind of.

My brother and his fiancee celebrate ther first Christmas together. And Younger brother has his first Christmas tree in a few decades also.

So to help mark the occasion, I did a fast (very fast!) sculpt of the two in a wreath. About 1/72 scale.

First time working with Procreate two part putty (learning the quirks of the stuff) and first time ever doing a 'speed sculpt'.

not entirely pleased with the results, I can see massive flaws and crude finishes.....lacks a degree of much in the way of a good finish......

I think, all up, I had about 8 - 10 hours, from start to final paint coat.......just managed to get the paint dry in time ready for posting - EEEKK!

The basic circle was a twisted wire base, then given layers of Sculpey, until I was happy that it would stand up to a few years indifferent handling as a tree decoration.

the figures are based around a twist of wire, and done by eyeball...dimensionally, way off.

So next time, I'll either not use new materials and tools in a rush period to get everything done, or I'll buy something to send earlier, and not do such a rush job!!

Anyway, best wishes to all you out there, hope you get to enjoy some time with loved ones, some how!!

cheers for now

Monday, November 16, 2009

A new project begins..

.....while a stored project gets restarted!!

Two projects, both for people whom I adore...

The first is to be a gift, with a couple riding a motorbike, a side car attached, with a kid and a dog riding in same. Has to be done by April no pressure.Only 140 days...not even six months....

remember, I only get to do hobby bench time for a few hours per week, at best! So better make every moment count.

The second project is a much smaller, "keep my sanity" project....designed to keep my hand in, and a fun easy project, called Walk in Spring time, about 1/32 scale, perhaps a bit smaller.....

Hopefully, I'll get some hobby bench back too!

Cheers for now


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Groundwork demo test piece pt 4

Done! As an experiment, turned out rather well. Peeling the tape off left neat, clean edges. The piece has multiple textures, from the 'log', to the grass, to the bits of stones. (Yes, I did paint the 'stones' as the colour they had didn't look right, after airbrushing.) So I feel more confident about doing groundwork for my figures. I have skipped over a lot of details, if you want to learn more, I would thoroughly recommend adding these series of DVDs to your library. Will speed up acquiring the skills you wish to acquire very quickly, and give you ideas on how to tackle future projects.



PS, compendium can be found below, or ask at your local hobby store, or other hobby stockists.

Groundwork demo test piece pt 3

Adding vegetation; here is some etched brass reeds, clipped from the sprue, and just polished at low speed with a brass bristle brush. The gets rids of any chemicals from etching, fingerprint oils from handling, and are now mounted in a clothes peg holder. Like all etched brass, this is two dimensional, and I wouldn't recommend using it for a scale above 1/35 or close to that. It would look thin, particularly on the reed stem and seed head. Adding a fine wire to the stem, and bulking up the seed head with a mixture of super glue and fine silt would work to fix that, though.
After I had polished it, I airbrushed a primer coat, then cleaned out the airbrush while waiting for the primer to dry.

Once that was done, I airbrushed a dark green to the 'plant', the brushed on some different shades of green for visual interest. Set aside to dry, while finishing the base.

Before adding the reed, and the log (which I hadn't glued down yet) I airbrushed the ground with various shades of brown, slightly lighter in some places, bit darker in others.

I then added 'flocking', a type of synthetic grass, to the base after brushing on some ground work glue ( type of water based glue, that doesn't dry "shiny"). , glued the 'log' down (just needed a touch of superglue) and the reed as well.

Please note, the masking tape is still on at this point, to protect the base from over spray, glue, handling and general work bench bumping.

Groundwork demo test piece pt 2

Adding some visual interest (or eye candy). This was always going to be just a test piece, for practice and fun.

Here, I have added some larger size bits of rock, and a bit of a twig, that looks like some part of a log. I have only pressed the twig into the damp (not wet) groundwork, to leave a hollow for it to settle into.

By settling the 'log' into the ground, we can see that the 'log' has been there for some time, and has had dust, dirt etc build up around it. Which does reflect what happens in nature too.

More progress, next entry.

Groundwork demo test piece pt 1

After watching Richard Windrows demonstrations on how to do groundwork, one of the best things in life is to "Learn and Do'. practice of what I just learnt helps lock in the learning.

First step was to prepare a base. I selected an off cut of wood, scored the surface with my trusty Swiss Army Knife, and covered over the edges with electrical tape to create neat edges. Next time I'll do some groundwork, I'll lay done modelling masking tape, then the electrical tape. Why? The masking tape has low tack, so it wont peel of any varnish, while the the electrical tape has a shiny plastic finish, so the ground work wont stick to it. Plus, with both used, a clean removal of tape is assured. Just a thought to keep in mind.

Then I got some wall putty, as a dry powder, added some some small stones to it, added water, stirred till I had a slurry I was happy with. Then I added some paint to it. Adding the paint at this stage (and mixing it in well) means that if any bits are missed at later stages, then we don't have to worry about there being a bright patch being visible after we declare the figure (and the ground work) 'finished!'. Been there, done that, annoying when that happens.

tips; add a darker shade of paint to the groundwork if the medium is very pale. Unless you are going for snow/ ice. Using fine dust adds a visual texture to the groundwork.

tools; plain old artists spatulas, you could also use old spoons and butter knives, if you so desired.

More next post.

Groundwork, & Airbrush techniques

Groundwork is one of the major pieces of any figure. A finished figure, done to the highest possible standards, looks like a figure as is, when displayed on a polished wooden base. (or any other base, come to think of it)

Add groundwork for the figure, and suddenly, we have a snapshot of life!! If we see a sentry all rugged up, then we see him placed amongst ice and snow, well then, we appreciate the miniature story behind the figure. Likewise, a figure looking at an empty bottle doesn't say much. again, place the figure in a desert type scene, we have a whole new dimension to the figure.

To that end, some months ago (before moving) I ordered 2 DVDs, one one groundwork, one on airbrushing.

In this entry, I'll share the groundwork review. (I did a similar review on Planet Figure months ago, so this may be familiar to some readers)

Terrain Modelling, with Richard Windrow, goes through some of the basic steps required to make realistic groundwork. From basic groundwork, making rock features, colours of ground, weather effects (dusty ground or muddy) plus vegetation, from moss to shrubs and trees. He also covers urban terrain, including weathering, building, destruction of buildings, rubble (too many dioramas don't have enough), snow and ice, and most importantly, research.

Also covered is materials used, as scaling terrain to figures is key. What looks like gravel to a figure of 1/16th size (about 200mm tall) is very rocky ground to a figure in 1/35th scale (about 54mm tall). Herbs from the supermarket, walks in the countryside and suburbia, and keep your eyes open, and you will find an abundance of stuff that can be used.

Lets have a step by step, to show you what I mean. Next post.

The airbrush review I'll leave for a future post.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Roll Call of Gratitude

For those who encouraged me early on in this hobby.
- Rudi, of Taroks Tales, top guy.
- Chas, a young man who should go far in life; keep an eye on this fellow, he'll suddenly emerge doing something, one day.

On Planet Figure,
- Tony Dawe, who said that there are no dumb arse questions, and gave excellent feedback for my first efforts at figures. Still one of the leading flag wavers for the hobby in Western Australia.
- Ian Harries, and the lovely Kim, great people with big hearts. Also doing their bit to support a niche market in Australia.
- Ken Farrar, decent bloke, very good sculptor, helps with feedback.
- Einion, walking colour genius. Lives in Ireland, and is very generous with the sharing of his knowledge.
- Ray Farrugia, another fellow, sculpting interesting stuff of his own, and a dab hand at the brush also.
- Willem Plaisier, another fellow who does great work, from concept, to sculpting, to painting, to base.
- Mark, aka Stiff, who is a good one for spotting details. It was he who advised me that the nipple colour of my "China Lady" was about right. Not his only claim to fame, interesting guy all the same.
- Joe Hudson, another talented fellow, who happily shares his experience and thoughts
- Ray Lantz, a very generous individual, an absolute gentleman from Colorado.

I will have to add to this on an ongoing way. If I haven't mentioned you yet, I will be!

Edging forward to a new hobby bench, so I can pick up the tools again.

And looking forward to it!



Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lack of time on the hobby bench continues......

....due to various factors.

Most of all my goods (the few there are) are still in transit, so not expecting them for a few weeks. All is not lost though, here on the parents hobby farm, here is one of the new projects that took up some time.

Above is me with one of the six (yep, 6!) new Kids (baby goats) born on the farm. So I lend a hand where and when I can, as well as sort out a few loose ends from winding up life in Tasmania.

No, they aren't being grown for meat, that is definately a no go area on their futre life plan.

Above, is me with 'Moby', whom I helped deliver. Above, he is about 2 days old, I think. he has a sister and a brother, and a few cousins.

Didn't faint at the sight of the birthing process, so pleased with that too.

None of which has much (if anything) to do with modelling, but for those of you that check in, I haven't forgoten about you, its just that time is still been juggled.

Thanks for continuing to check in,


PS; A roll call of gratitude is now overdue, which (goats, dogs, chickens, trees, any other event as yet unforseen) time permitting, will be started this Sunday morning before work.

Friday, July 3, 2009

We would like to apologise......

......for the slow down in updates.

I am moving interstate, changing careers, and tackling all the challenges that goes along with such a move.

Hopefully I will be updating my blog just after two weeks, and be returning to the workbench by 16th August, with updates on here.

I would like to squeeze in one more roll call of gratitude, hopefully this upcoming sunday evening.

Till then


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why is the Centurion headless?

I definitely goofed big time on this...... in trying to give this fellow some 5'o'clock shadows, went way overboard..... Now he looks like he has eaten a few shovelfuls of licorice.

So stripped the paint off, and redid it all over again.

Lessons learned
1 - Do the hard bit first (like faces)
2 - Don't delay on hard bits till forced to pull an all nighter
3 - Good work always takes longer to do right
4- If no good, go back and rework it!

So this is the before shot, of a face about the size of a grape. Good sculpting, just not good painting.
Also, this photo is at the limit of what I can achieve on the quick with a digital point and shoot. I took this picture long before upgrading both photo skills and photo area.

So it has been sprayed with oven cleaner, and is awaiting some loving attention on the workbench.

This 'before' shot I decided to post, so I can go back in the future at some point in time, and remind myself that I was not as fantastic as I though I was.....

Mind you, this is all amongst packing up to move house too!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A thank you to my support network......

..of friends and family.

The upper photo is Liz, happy little miniature Dachshund of Kanae, in Japan. Kanae deserves a big thank you for her ongoing friendship over the past years, plus agreeing to be the inspiration for a future project. Liz is also a groovy little Dog! Both have very big hearts in small bodies

The next photo is of Tenzing, my Pomeranian. A muse, source of unconditional love, and someone I can talk to about anything and keeps it absolutely discreet! His ongoing role in keeping me (relatively) sane and getting me out for walks is appreciated. Not much of a conversationalist, a very good listener though!

Thanks to Ben, for getting me used to technology, even if I do resist the swift uptake rate he adopts, plus his feedback on my projects, as well as putting up with my odd sense of humour.....

Steph (Mum) & Dave, for the encouragement to keep going, and also for putting up with my sense of humour.

Gary, friend for more years then either of us care to count. That list is long and deserves at least a few beers to discuss....

The Rowneys, an ongoing example of clear and critical thinking, as well as sound advice, plus a few other traits I find admirable

Bryan (Dad) & Vicki, for my ongoing thirst for knowledge, plus their efforts at trying to fathom the nearly unfathomable Jamie

Lynn in America, who offers wry observations about my quirky hobby.....

So a big Thanks to all of you,

Ko-chan, Domo Arigato, watashi no ichiban tomadachi! (Kawaii desu!!)

And a side note, Gary picked up the sign above Tenzings head in the photo; just a coincednce, nice though!


PS; I'll do a roll call of "Thanks" for my fellow modelers in the near future, I just want to get names and details right first

The tale of the Headless Centurion, pt 2

These photos were taken several months ago, but you can see the shading and highlights on the figure. The transitions aren't quite as smooth as I wish, and being metal, this can be a fiddly piece to manipulate around the paint bench. (needs a good solid handle to be mounted to)

I have done as much work as possible in pre-painting in sub assemblies. Why? Because some of the stance will not allow paint brush access later, but will still show up when 'finished'.
I did check, and recheck fit of the figure before I even went anywhere near priming the figure, so assembly should go ok (fingers crossed)

More up dates later, I have moved this figure back to the workbench for painting, I want it finished, as it was supposed to be a Christmas gift back in 2008!

Just goes to show, what we plan to do, the time we allot for it, and our capacity to do the work in the time allowed, are three different things!

Or simply put, "Quick, Quality, Cost - Choose any two"

The tale of the Headless Centurion

Pegasos 75mm Praetorian Centurion Figure. Got so far with the figure, then put it onto the "Work in Progress" shelf, sometimes also called "Tomb of the abandoned figure".

Above is the work so far; I had really pushed myself on learning this, but a few things first.
- Not historically accurate. The type of armour is a combination of two different styles, the wrist band is unknown, and overall, this kind of array of clothing is more stereotype then accurate.

Still, a wonderful sculpt, and easily recognisable for the figure it portrays.

Lots of techniques (that are new to me) to be learnt, most of which, once I have finished the figure, I will look back at and say "I can do better, next time"

Monday, June 8, 2009

Far Side Catapult work, calling it 'Done'

Well, calling this done. Oh, I could keep fiddling with it, sand this, more putty that, really go overboard on the painted details.....nope.

One, it is a cartoon piece, two, it was a 'quickie' project, just something to keep momentum going, three, too much fuss will kill the fun!

If you click on the picture, an expanded version of the photo will appear. You can see where I painted texture effects onto the catapult, stone wall, and planked walkway.

With a bit of closer examination, you will pick up some shading on the figures; creases in trousers, shadows in the lower sides of the figures (like under arms and at the sides of torsos), as well as some of the highlights

Mounted to a block (painted to resemble marble) from the local trophy shop, looks rather presentable.

Have had one request from my brother for an idea, plus lots of encouraging feedback from the Guys at Planet Figure. So thanks to all those who gave feedback and encouraged me along the way.

It's amazing what a little bit of positive and constructive feedback can do!

Will be looking at doing more of these 'flat' type sculpts, with inspiration from Japanese art, some of the classics, as well as some glamour shots too!


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Paint applied to the Far Side plaque sculpt

Well, the under layers so far. I airbrushed the sky portion of it; first a base coat of white, then a light eggshell blue, then a slightly darker mix of eggshell blue and oxford blue. Airbrushing allowed me to gain a smooth graduation quickly that I couldn't have achieved as quickly or as smoothly in the same amount of time (less then 15 minutes to airbrush the sky to that degree)

The soldiers have their tunics done in white, later I will add red crosses for a splash of colour.
I'll also redo the pants and helmets on all figures, plus some implied texture through paint effects

A lot more work is required, with special attention to shading and texture effects.

One thing I am very aware of is the 'wavy' effect, due to an uneven thickness. Still, it is a practice piece, and I am having fun!
And I think that I have an answer to the waviness worked out anyway.

Thanks for looking, comments welcome


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The original Cartoon

The cartoon that inspired it. Cut this out of a newspaper or something, and stuck it to the top of my work box from a past career. In that work place, the big thing was to have a small tool box, and customise it. Some guys just wrote their names, one guy pasted pretty girls all over his, I just pasted a series of cartoons to mine. Wanted to be different, and not give the political Correct police an excuse

Catch ya later.

Far Side Humourous "Flat" sculpt

"I told you guys to slow down and take it easy, or something like this would happen"

One of my more favourite "Far Side" cartoons, where castle defenders, manning a catapult, are receiving a telling off because they have just accidentally launched one of their own guys from the catapult.

The edges aren't squared off yet, the 'lumps' you can see are beads of water from where I was trying to smooth the surface down. It looks a bit bowed because it is; I balanced this on my hand under the work light so the shadows could make the figures stand out.

This could be labeled a plaque, a flat figure or a demi round, given it is mounted to a background plate, it would be a plaque.
(Oh, quick legal bit; All rights reserved of original artist; intended as a study piece for personal use only. Not intended for commercial reproduction)

Similar in style to the Greek and Roman friezes, partly rounded figures carved into or onto walls.
So there is a long history of this kind of sculpting taking place.

This is also a practice piece, to get me used to working with putty, smoothing it, and gain confidence with handling of it.

I have several projects still in the pipeline, so this practice of handling the putty is good practice, and a bit of fun!

Thinking about it, this may be the first post that is a "miniature moment" and tackles humour.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Basic miniature photography

Photographing miniatures.......seem some great photos, seen a lot of photos that were the best that people could manage, and seen some others that made me wonder....

A few key items of equipment
- A camera (even a point and shoot can give good results)
- A tripod for the camera, or a stable stand for it
- A soft, diffused light source. Daylight standard flouro tubes are better, incandescent globes masked with a plain white sheet of paper give good results, bare bulbs create colour shifting in the photo
- A neutral background drop cloth.

In the photos above, you can see a simple tripod, a light blue cloth for the backdrop, and a light that has a daylight standard globe (It's an Ott-Lite, if you're wondering about the brand name).

I hang the cloth from my two workbench lights by use of bulldog clips, arrange the tripod and camera, switch on the light, and arrange the mini I am going to photograph.

In the second photo, you can see two reflectors I used to soften the shadows on the figures 'dark' side, one form the non- lit side, and the other from underneath, to help fill in the underside of figures (avoids long dark shadows under chins, noses, that kind of thing)

The use of a tripod is to keep the photos consistent, and one easy thing to do, once you have finished mucking about with set up, is start the self timer on the camera. press the button, camera counts down, click, photo. By linking the camera to tripod and self timer, there is nil risk of having a camera wobble at the last moment.

Like everything else, if the time is taken to prepare properly, then the results are that much more pleasing, and that little bit better.
The challenge is in finding the knowledge.

Colour Swatches

Previously, I mentioned noting colours.
With my style of painting figures, there can be some time (sometimes months) before I can return to the workbench.

Then I look at a figure, and realise that I need to touch up this area, or do the part on the other side of the figure that I couldn't get to while I waited for the paint to dry, whatever.... next question, what exact colours were used, in what ratios...?

Noting the colours used and the ratios for mixing is a good practice, however I am a big fan of simple, fast and easy when it comes to records. So this is my solution, which is nothing new.

This type of recording has been used in industrial printing for years (and many many years at that), and I think this had a few advantages.
- You can spot which colours you used
- You have a way of checking your colours, so they are of a consistent shade across the figure
- You save time by having a ready mix formula and a ready comparison piece.

All that you need is a something to write with, and some blank index type cards. (Best would be a high quality white card, rather then a lined, slightly yellow grey index card. I use the blank business cards or invite cards used for weddings; a small $2.00 pack will last me about a year to two years, depending on experimentation use)

Just a thought.....

Monday, May 11, 2009

Third figure finished

..but about the second in the production line. From Pegaso Miniatures, this is the "Chinese Lady", known to friends as the "China Lady". Its interesting to see the evolution of painting skills over the space of one figure. The jacket is not so great, flowers better, and skin tones better still.
Poor thing got sprayed with oven cleaner a few times as I sorted out paint schemes, looked at the results the next day, and went "Well, that didn't work...." and started again.
Which means, if something isn't right, don't be afraid to rework it.
Vallejo acrylics were used for the paint, and this is where I discovered the importance of keeping colour swatches. Because I had to focus on other tasks, when I first returned to the bench, I couldn't remember the exact ratios of colours mixed; PANIC! So after some trial and error (and a small amount of cursing) I now note and paint on a small blank business card what paints, in what ratios and a colour sample provided. Saves a lot of fuss and bother, particularly if you have to revisit a figure some time later. (I'll provide some examples later)
Oh, while it may seem I have been incredibly productive in a short amount of time, really, these have been done over the space of of about months, maybe a bit longer. Just adding them in this fashion gives the impression of "All of a sudden....."
In the pipeline is Pegasos Centurion Praetorian (75mm), which I have been advised is not strictly accurate, but 'looks good' (or appeals to easily recognisable stereotypes).
Still mucking around with the fur texture, hope to post that within a week.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Other sites I visit...

...added two other sites to the links gallery.

Mig Productions have a reference gallery with a lot of links to other areas. Handy to visit if you are going to do some ground work for a diorama, or do some part of a building for a figure setting.

It also has some links to doing various textures, such as brick work, steel in various stages of rust/ non rust. I Added it as a quick link in the link section, so if you want, you can reference it if you want either references or ideas.

Browse the forums there too, it is amazing to see what those people do in the way of weathered vehicles of all kinds. And they share how they do it too. Recommended to visit if seeing vehicles in something other then brand spanking new condition.

**Edit to the above; I modified the link so it goes to the main site. Move into forums from there. Earlier links lead to a 'no such page' result.

The other is CG textures, shots of various textures of the world. Fur, flowers, paving, skin, so on.While it may help Computer Graphic designers, it is also a handy idea if you want to depict the difference between a coarse cloth like a potato sack or sand bag, as opposed to a fine fabric like satin or cotton ( a ladies dress or flag respectively)

I am planning on doing some more fur experiments this weekend. I'll post the results later.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

First figures ever finished, pt 2

And this is the second figure ever done. Well, its another MiG Productions, this time a Russian Pilot, operation Barbarossa, 1941. Piloting a Polikarpov I-16. The base I made up, it seemed a shame to have an aircraft just sitting on the ground/ desk top. So I sanded off the base till the wings. fuselage were level, mounted it to a brass rod, then inverted a small can to use as a base.
Worked okay, for a weekender project. The biggest challenge was marking out the Star on the base, that took me a few goes.......
The paint scheme on the can was supposed to simulate the pattern painted on the fighter model itself, but darker, so as to make a distinction between the two.
Pleased with it overall, nice break from brain straining flesh tones, as a newbie painter.

First figures ever finished, pt 1

Above is a 40 mm Napoleonic Soldier, by MiG Productions. (Stands about an inch tall)
While I had started two other pieces, they were of a different size, finish and detail level. So I did these as quick little jobs, just to get some sense of accomplishment.
With the other figures (to be revealed), there was a higher level of detail and finesse involved.

Plus the fact that often I messed up, so had to strip paint off and start again.

So it was nice to paint this little fellow up, straight through!

Monday, May 4, 2009

And the purpose of this blog is......?

That is a good question.
Gave it some thought off and on over the past few days......

Realising that I enjoy being able to rewind the process of creating a figure, I examined the other websites that I participate in, and realised that sometimes, some digital digging has to be done (No, not with you fingers, but through a digital archive)

So I thought it prudent to have one spot for my own work, much easier to search through.

Another reason is that hopefully when I look back, I can see how I have evolved over time, at least one facet of my personality will have.

The third reason is that I hope to sneak some philosophy through every now and then.

The other sites I post my work in progress on, I will continue there, as there is some great feedback and community there.

Some sites, however, require off site images, so that's another reason for the creation of this blog. Save the hosts bandwidth issues, makes life a bit easier, shunts responsibility back to the person posting the images.

That will do for now.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tools of the Trade...

Basically a start point. Once we finish rough shaping with fingers, some basic tools are used make the figure.
So before I even comment on any figure, a quick word about those objects that appear on the edges of the "Work in Progress" shots. Left photo is a series of putty pushing tools, a hollow piece of brass cylinder (polished), some needles and a fine rod with pointed tip, then two long rods with pointed tips (pencil size saves the hand from cramping). Then some putty shaping tools. Two dental style picks, great for tight areas. Then some El cheapo wooden tools, a shaper of some kind, and a wire gouge. The last tool is a rod with a shaped needle, great for very fine work. In the right photo is the two scalpels. The red handled one is for rough cutting, and has a not so sharp blade. The right one has the sharp blade, and is used for fine trimming and some detail work.

There are more tools, these are the primaries for shaping of putty.