Monday, December 20, 2010

Soldier's SR-01 Republican Legionary - Update #3

This early figure from Soldier's is nearing completion. I have now attached the completed shield and have applied some dirt, mud and filth to the overall campaign appearance of the piece. Next will be more detail painting, painting and attaching the pilum as well as further work on the base and groundwork.

Soldier's SR-25 Roman Centurian Update

I have been kind of busy with this figure, working on the leather and laying down some of the colors on the tunic. I started the leather with a mixture of Mars Brown and Burnt Umber. Once dry I applied a wash of Burnt Umber to tone down the reddish tone and accent the creases and stitching. My next step will be to work the deepest shadows with Mars Black and Burnt Umber. This will also shadow the red tunic. I also spent some time reworking the face to get the angry stark look that I felt was missing when I first painted the flesh. There is quite a ways to go yet on this figure but I'm happy with what I have at this point.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Figure Photography - A Brief Tutorial

One of the best ways to be inspired by and learn from other people's work is by reading articles in magazines and following people's work on the Internet. Being able to see great photographs has always inspired me to tackle subjects or improve my skills. Nothing aggravates me more than poor quality photos, especially as I have learned from other how really easy it is to take near studio quality photos on a shoe-string budget. As you can see below I use a simple setup that utilizes two goose neck lamps with 65watt "daylight" bulbs for lighting. An additional light has been built in a homemade wooden box using a lamp repair kit that can be found in any home-improvement store (Go to Home-Depot not Lowe's - I'm partial as I work there). This third light creates a "hot spot" on the bottom of the colored backdrop that gives you a nice reverse lit effect behind the figure. I'll explain that more in a moment. All of this sits on a table with the various sheets of colored paper clipped approx. 10" or 150mm behind the box light. Another example of a tabletop photo setup that is very nice can be found on my friends site at Massive-Voodoo. Roman uses a very cool diffuser for his lighting that is made out of a translucent white garbage can. Ingenuity folks, that is where it's at!

One of the first things we learn from experience is the effect that color has on the camera lens, specifically backdrops. The interplay between the colors of your figure and the color of the backdrop will appear in photos. Your eyes can filter this and make adjustments in real life but the camera cannot. It simply captures the light that it is exposed too, where our brain works it's magic and "auto-adjusts". When I finish a figure I will take my photos in front of all of the various color papers I have and then select the one that best depicts what I see in real life. I prefer not to tweak my photos with software but I will from time to time by using a software photo filter that acts the same as putting colored filters over the lens of the camera. For this I choose to use Adobe Photoshop Elements. Below you will see my recently completed Marcus Aurelius figure shot in front of four different backdrops. If you look at each picture in detail you will see how the colors are effected by that background. Some figures are effected more than others but all figures require a particular background to appear normal.

In addition you can change the appearance of your photographs by how you adjust the goose neck lights, forwards/backwards, closer/further, side to side, etc. Obviously your camera plays a role in this as well. Everybody has their favorite. For years I used a high quality reflex camera and scanned my images from the photographs. This was done because 15 years ago when I was writing articles we didn't have the benefit of today's technology. Now with a simple, inexpensive digital camera set on macro, a simple tripod and about $30 worth of lights, paper, wood and clips you can take really great quality pictures of your work to show everyone as well. I thank Phil Kessling and Bill Horan 15 years ago for showing me how simple it really is.

Soldier's SR-02 and SR-25 Update

Work has begun on these two little Romans from Soldiers. I have started on the flesh with both figures. These photos are over a week old with SR-02 showing only the base flesh with starting highlights. The yellowish tone is always played down with the addition of shadows and further highlights. The shadows have been applied to SR-25. I am not happy with the face and may well repaint it. I would prefer that these figures be sculpted with the cheekpieces cast seperately as they frequently make painting facial features very difficult. The head was painted seperately and attached only after the scarf was painted. Doing them together would have been impossible. Both of these figures are further along now and I hope that after this weekend's painting sessions I will have newer photos to show.

54mm Villanovan Etruscan - Update #3

Work has begun on the tunic. These items could have been made of wool or other natural cloth and typically undyed. I have chosen to build the white up from a base of Raw Umber mixed with Titanium white with the hems being purer white. The hem bands will be painted with geometric designs.
At this point my greatest frustration lies with the decorative canteen that should hang on the figures right hip. I seem to have misplaced it and no amount of looking has turned it up. I have a vague fear of where it may be and that means that I will have to wait for a thaw in the weather (possibly springtime). When I primed the figure and it's components, I did so out doors. The parts were on a big sheet of card stock and as I went to bring them in a gust of wind blew the sheet off the table and the parts went flying on the cement patio. At the time I was sure that I had gotten everything but obviously not. This being Buffalo, I now have a ton of snow and ice that must melt before I get on my hands and knees to search. If all else fails I will have to buy another kit to finish the figure as the detail on that piece is far too elaborate to duplicate. Oh well, the joys of our hobby......and usually it's the tiny bits lost in carpet.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Marcus Aurelius Completed - Photo Project

So as you can see, I have completed Marcus Aurelius. These images will give an idea how the piece looks. All of the shadows on the stonework were painted using a glaze/rub of Mars Black, heaviest by the feet, and thinning as it goes away from the figure.

Now I am challenged to get photos that help show the vision I have of the figure. Photographing miniatures is an interesting sideline to what we do. Getting a photo to look like the actual miniature can sometimes be daunting. I use a variety of backgrounds and frequently shoot a figure in front of them all in order to see how the color affects the image. After awhile you develop an understanding of how a selected backdrop will effect an image. Similarly, as you would expect, lighting position will also effect the outcome of your final image. In addition, what I see on my monitor is most probably NOT what you see on your own. Monitors have different color color settings, so what I see is adjusted to match what I think the miniature looks like and may well look all wrong on your own.

I will continue to play with the pics and if I get a definitive image I will post it. ~Jim