29 January 2014

Judge Dredd - Painting: Intermezzo

Save for the right pauldron, Dredd is now completely assembled! 

Movin' right along. . .

Essential Oils

As most of you know, I am not a "paint horse"-- I tend to buy particular pigments and formula- tions, as opposed to colours. That being said, in the last few years I have added three "colours" that I believe would be indispensable to virtually any palette. These are:

  • Winsor & Newton Raw Umber Light. This has largely replaced Raw Sienna in my palette. While Raw Sienna is still essential for particular applications, Raw Umber Light is a much more versatile and diversified colour.
  • Gamblin Transparent Earth Red. What an incredibly versatile colour! This is Burnt Sienna on steroids and a strong, rich, manageable tinting agent.
  • Grumbacher Pre-Tested Nickel Titanate Yellow. This is probably more of a spe- cialty item, being a bright, light chartreuse yellow that is completely opaque. It is a pleasure to work, and you'll find yourself going out of your way to try to find applica- tions for it.


Judge Dredd - Painting (VA): The Metallics, pt. 1

While a relatively small element of a Judge's uniform, the metallic components absolutely define the tone and presence--to say nothing of the character!--of the figure and subject.

I began with the left pauldron. This was undercoated in Polly-S Bugbear Fur (cf., the right paul- dron was undercoated with Vallejo Gold Brown). I then "scrubbed" Gunze-Sangyo Mr. Metal Gold lacquer until I achieved the depth and tone I was looking for: the pauldron was then permanently attached to the torso. This is but Step 1. Once the lacquer is cured, I will go back and create deeper tones with oils in situ; and finish it off by selectively punching-up the highlights with lacquers and printers' inks. 

More to follow. . . 

FOLLOW-UP. . . Left pauldron done! Right pauldron has been "under-stained" (read: grisaille) with a mix of Raw Umber and black.

28 January 2014

Judge Dredd - Painting (IV): The Face/Head

The face and Phase 1 of the helmet visor are now done! Assuming that all is as envisioned, I will be able to permanently attach the head to the torso tomorrow, Thursday latest. 

More to follow. . . 

NEXT: Assembly. . . and the Green Gear, pt. 2. 

UPDATE 29.01.2014. . . As a result of a most egregious dereliction of duty by local govern- ment/s, the metro Atlanta area is now effectively shut down due to what can only be described as a minor snow event. Time to break out the lemonade! After some minor touch-up work, the head is now permanently attached to the torso. If circumstances permit, I will begin glazing the visor later today. . .

FOLLOW-UP. . . Phase 1 of the glazing has been completed! So far so good. . . 

26 January 2014

Judge Dredd - Painting (IIB): The Jumpsuit, pt. 2

The torso was painted late last night and it is now complete(!)--save for the metallics (badge and chain), of course. . . 

A productive but exhausting weekend that will probably mark the end of my brush work through  midweek. I am going to try to begin work on the face/head tomorrow if possible, but I ain't holding my breath. . . 

Finally, the base/groundwork is primed and undercoated. Having that available to paint should provide the filler activity needed to see this project through to completion.

Stay tuned!

25 January 2014

Judge Dredd - Painting (IIIA): The Green Gear, pt. 1

Phase 1 of the cartridge belt, the elbow pads, and the gauntlets is done! So far so good. . . 

The base colours for all the green gear will be formulated around Grumbacher's Pre-Tested Chrome Oxide Green (Opaque): IMHO, the best COG on the market. 

The cartridge belt is one of the more trying items that I have painted in a v-e-r-y long time. For starters, there is the scale. Then, there are the TEN (!) individual pouches. Finally, the fact that, 
in the absence of the torso, there is no value context. I know that I will have to revisit these once the torso is permanently attached; but, for now, I am delighted!

The gauntlets and the elbow pads were a very pleasant surprise: they simply "took" to the paint! These will definitely be revisited once the oils settle a bit to get the most out of the sculptural foundation.

NEXT: The Torso. . .

24 January 2014

Notable Acquisitions January 2014

Since my disposable time in the fortnight to come has been dramatically reduced due to the demands of work, might as well post the acquisitions for January. . . 

Romeo Models "Calico Jack" Rackham, 1720 (75mm, Maurizio Bruno)
Verlinden Productions Caesar (200mm bust, ???) [2x]
Young Miniatures Blackbeard (1/10th scale bust, Young B. Song ) 
Young Miniatures Zaporozhian Cossack, 1676 (1/10th scale bust, Greeny Ahn)

23 January 2014

Judge Dredd - Painting (IIA): The Jumpsuit, pt. 1

In spite of a brutal day at work, with but three weeks left to go, it was definitely not the time to wait for a more opportune moment. . . so the legs of the jumpsuit are now done! As is my wont of late, I paint fully intending to revisit once everything is done to deepen shadows, punch-up highlights, and, in general, do a wet outline with variable blending. 

The question now is what to do next? Do I proceed with the upper half of the jumpsuit? Or do I block-in the inside of the cartridge belt and buckle first and set aside to dry, so that when the torso is done, I can then assemble the body halves the next day. . . hmmm. . . 

Stay tuned!

FOLLOW-UP 25.01.2014. . . Recent developments at work have forced a re-consideration of what lies before me. Firstly, there is now a very strong possibility that Dredd will not be complet- ed by the Show. If I am to avoid that, my painting strategy must be a model of precision and timeliness; thus, I have decided that my next step will be to paint the cartridge belt and the gauntlets in their entirety. Next I will paint the torso of the jumpsuit, and set aside to dry. I will then begin work on the flesh and the underside of the helmet; and hopefully, I will be able to assemble the three principal subassemblies the following day. We'll see how this pans out. . . 


21 January 2014

Judge Dredd - Painting (I): U/Cing

The painting of Dredd has FINALLY begun!!! 

While I didn't get far, the foundation piece--his jumpsuit--is now done. I am very pleased with how it turned out: I used a roughly 60-40 mix of Vallejo Black and Reaper Midnight Blue, and the achieved undertone is perfect for what lies ahead!

NEXT: the boots and gear!

UPDATE 22.01.2014. . . Dredd is now undercoated (nb: The "white" metals are still in primer, as is the helmet.)! I used Andrea's American Uniform/Olive Green from their first series of paints for the boots, gauntlets and gear--an ideal green with just a hint of blue bias. 

To be continued. . . 

Blackbeard -- Prepwork: Intermezzo (2)

With the enhancement of the beard rapidly coming to a conclusion--I figure one or two more sessions should wrap it up--the time has come to shift my focus to the pistol.

I have not yet decided what to do with this somewhat iconic accessory. These are my options as of this writing:
  1. Keep as is? 
  2. Lengthen the barrel?
  3. Eliminate the barrel?
  4. Replace with a scratchbuilt turn-off (Queen Anne) pistol?
  5. Eliminate the gun altogether?
The last was seriously under consideration until this morning. But as I mentioned above, the bandolier of charged pistols is iconic for the subject--and given the design of the bust, an aesthetically integral component. 

The first option is still under consideration, but the research has not yielded the evidence I seek to confirm the use of a short-barreled dragon pistol in the first qtr. of the 18th c. Most barrels of this time period were over 12" in length (pistol overall length: 18-20").

Right now, option #3 is the most viable. . . 

Stay tuned!

FOLLOW-UP. . . The extension of the beard has been completed, and all 7 tassels have been attached. While there will be the invariable tweaks and touch-ups right up to priming, all that  remains to be done is completing the "filling out" of the right side of the face. . . Movin' right along. . .

20 January 2014

The Rhino - Painting (V): Wrapping-up

The Rhino is now effectively done! Done, yes. . . but his vacating of the bench is still days--if not weeks!--away. I fear there will be many a tweak and touch-up to be done before Aleksei can officially be retired to the cabinet--or transferred to the display table!

But for now, I can at least shift my focus exclusively to Dredd! I will hopefully be able to start with the oils this weekend.

Back to the bench!

UPDATE 09.02.2014. . . THE RHINO IS DONE!!! Images to follow by next week. . .

Blackbeard -- Prepwork III

The beard "amplification" is in full-swing and the difference in quite telling--I am delighted!

The left side of the face is just about done, and I have begun doing some "fill-in" work on the right. The trick is to proceed slowly and in layers, anticipating where the next enhancement is to take place and how it will meld with what already has been done and the ultimate flow of the bust. 

Insofar as the aforementioned tassel is concerned, it has been removed and reattached, with the underlying section of beard completed. 

Finally, the knot of the kerchief has been enhanced/amplified.

FOLLOW-UP. . . 6 of the seven individual braid ties/tassels are now attached!

Looking ahead in 2014. . .

2013 was somewhat of a unique year modelling-wise in that there were two additional contests on my calendar. That led to an early break-out of the paints, and two completed projects before I would even begin to think about sorting out the brushes, etc. I don't know to what extent I will be competing/displaying in 2014, but I do hope that I can keep the paint flowing throughout the year.

As to what is on the slate for 2014 post-Atlanta, it is probably grossly optimistic, but at least it will provide a foundation upon which to plan--and hopefully build. . .

As always, subject--and very likely!--to change.

Blackbeard -- Prepwork: Intermezzo (1)

The cocked hat is now fitted and the join finished. As a brief aside, the reworking of the crown is about half-way done.

While I was cleaning up the hat, I discovered the second unforgivable faux-pas on this sculpture: there is a tiny skull on the bow of the cockade! Really??? Again, the fix is easy and quick; but the question remains: WHY???!!!

Given the quality of the kit as a whole, I suppose these are little more than assumed-market-dri- ven indulgences, a venial infraction. But it does make one wonder what the perception of history might be at either end of the marketplace?

Back to the bench!

19 January 2014

Blackbeard -- Prepwork II

With the face fitted to the head, I came upon the first--but probably not the last--fork in the road with this project: how historically accurate did I want to make this rendition?

My options were:
  1. Enhance and correct where absolutely necessary, but not deviate from the provided design of  the kit. Or. . .
  2. Do justice to the subject, regardless. . . 
I think most, if not all, of you know my choice. . . 

I have decided to render Blackbeard as described by contemporaries. Insofar as this bust is concerned, most of the work will now focus on the beard: filling it out and extending it. This will, at the very least, require a repositioning of the pistol (not a bad thing as, IMO, it was too high on the baldric); at most, eliminating it altogether!
To this end, I have permanently attached the face to the head. The beard--and face!--will now be reworked in situ.

As of this writing, I have fitted the hat (sausage of MS as a shim), and have begun to extend the beard, which will probably be executed in 2-3 layers. 

Moving right along, m'hearties!

UPDATE 20.01.2014. . . 4 of the seven individual braid ties/tassels are now attached. This is a relatively simple process: one simply carefully snaps the tassel off the sprue, and then grinds/ drills a divot in the flat-edged end that will accommodate the terminal end of the braid. I do not recommend a flat-on-flat attachment unless you are prepared to lose the piece/s! 

I will probably have to remove one of the 4 tassels to fill out the underlying beard extension. . . not a problem! 

Blackbeard -- Prepwork I

As much as I've tried to resist, this figure simply demands attention!

The first thing that needs to be done is fine-tune the fit of the face to the head. This entirely depends on how "anal" the miniaturist might be about these things. . . and as most of you know, I am unapologetically off-the-scale when it comes to matters such as this. 

The issue to be addressed is the discontinuity of the beard with the hair and the underlying flesh: to me this is glaring. So Step 1 is to apply a thin sausage of MS around the perimeter of the contact surface of the face, brush on a layer of vaseline to both contact surfaces, and gently press into position, making any adjustments that might be necessary. Set aside to cure. Once cured, I will need to fill the void between beard and hair on the right side of the face (the gap on the left side was self-corrected in Step 1). 

This process also preps the face for the enhancement of the beard. I will definitely add facial hair and make the beard fuller, much as I did with the Ft. Duq offering. How much I will lengthen the beard--and hair!--is yet to be determined.

More to follow!

16 January 2014

Young Miniatures' Blackbeard (1/10th scale bust)

What can I say. . .? "Yo ho, yo ho. . . a pirate's life for me. . . "

And if 'freebooter fever' is what prompted me to get this little gem, then I need to succumb more often!

I never liked this offering from the very talented Young B. Song; but as it turns out, this is no fault of the sculptor, whether in design or execution! In fact, I can unequivocally say that I have yet to see a painted build-up of this piece that does justice to the bare casting--yet another example of why box-art is not only grossly over-rated, but potentially a detriment to market performance!

[For an excellent graphic review see here.]

The bust is comprised of 17(!) superbly cast pieces + the pedestal. As with most Young pieces, there are some potentially nasty pouring blocks to contend with, but these are dealt with in short order.

As you can see the design is incontrovertibly brilliant! Some might argue that it is over-engi- neered, but this is one instance where I would emphatically disagree! You will thank his foresight when negotiating and painting the tassels and the ribbons, to say nothing of the matches!

I have but four problems with the bust as executed:
  • This a a rather gaunt Blackbeard. While Blackbeard has been described as "tall and spare", he also had broad shoulders and a robust physique. 
  • The source of his cognomen is given somewhat short-shrift in this rendition. On the other hand, esthetically it is quite convincing--and no sculpture of Blackbeard has yet to capture the extraordinary length of his beard!
  • The cocked hat. My issue with this piece is the height and shape of the crown. It will require reworking.
  • The pistol. This is where Young went too far--and not far enough!  With regard to the former: a skull and crossbones on the buttcap. . . really?! Mr. Young could just as easily have sculpted a 'grotesque face', which would have been historically correct, and would have been arguably more thematic. Instead, it nearly cheapens the entire work! Fortunately an easy fix. Regarding the latter: my initial impression is that the lines of the pistol are not right. While this will require additional investigation, it also begs the question whether a heavy pistol such as this would have been a likely candidate for the bandolier? 
    The first two items are non-starters--I will leave as is and attempt to manipulate the impression of the bust with paint. Thus, most of my re-work will focus on the hat, and the accessory piece that is the pistol. . . I may even decide to sculpt a new one! (FOLLOW-UP -- Depending on the out- come of my research, I may just have to rework the front half of the pistol.)

    All in all, an excellent piece! And one of Young's better historical offerings--the best I have seen!! Given that Nick Dransfield's tour-de-force is no longer available, this is THE piece if you want a Blackbeard in your collection! (FOLLOW-UP 19.01.2014 -- I have "played" with this piece for the last couple of days, and I can say in all honesty, this is every bit as good as the Ft. Duquesne offering--and in some ways, better!)

    FOLLOW-UP. . . Phase 1 of prep/clean is now all-but-done. Kudos again to Young for the quality of the casting! All the more so as the face (front half of the head) essentially snaps into place! Be very careful lest you damage the respective braids: it is a rather precision fit! 

    12 January 2014

    "JUSTICE": Judge Joseph Dredd--Priming

    Dredd is now primed! At least I was able to check-off one of the things on the to-do list in what has turned-out to be pretty much a wash-out of a weekend. . .

    There is a remote possibility of being able to get the UC'ing underway before calling it a day, but I am pretty much resigned to not breaking out the acrylics until tomorrow. In the meantime, I will continue working on the display pedestal. . . 

    A little under five weeks to go. . . !

    FOLLOW-UP. . . The display pedestal is finished! I am going to hold-off priming until next week- end (the long one!) to ensure that I didn't miss anything, but the workbench is pretty much in the rear-view mirror of Dredd's Lawmaster. . . FINALLY!!

    I'm not the only one who believes. . .

    Death issss awesssome!!!

    Kudos and heartfelt congrats to Rin, David, and the team at DWC for being a finalist in the WAMP Awards 2013 - Best Sci-Fi Sculpt category. Voting will be open through 0800 EST (1300 GMT), Friday the 17th, so if you'd like to show your support--and enjoy a great site!--by all means drop by WAMP. Note. . . you will have to register to vote, but it is quick and painless! And while you're at it, vote in the other categories as well! Make your voice heard!!

    Thanks to all. . . and thanks to DWC. Much continued success!!!

    09 January 2014

    Why is the rum always gone. . . ?. . .


    Some of you are thinking (and quite correctly, I might add), "Uh-oh. . . Augie is attempting to escape the freezing cold by reminiscing about the warm, crystal clear waters of the Caribbean. And when Augie starts thinking about the Caribbean, invariably a pirate or two find their way onto the workbench. . . "

    Yes, it has been numbingly cold, but save for the extreme of Monday morning, it has been quite enjoyable. BUT, what has prompted this tack into the historical winds is the fact that we are but a little over a fortnight away from the premiere of STARZ' original series, Black Sails !

    I could have unburied any number of in-progress works of a piratical theme, but I decided to pick- up Verlinden's bust of Caesar. It is marketed as a 1/9th scale (200mm) bust, but it is actually more at 1/8th (250mm). It is beautifully cast (I found but one small air bubble) in 5 pieces: head, torso, knots (x2), and the pedestal. A length of copper wire for the ear rings is also included. Clean-up is pretty much a cinch (read: minimal), and the bust simply falls together effortlessly! Unless there is some VERY rude surprise lying in wait for me, this is probably the best US$20 I have spent in a LONG time!

    As to its historicity, I would say acceptable. While the costume is minimal, generic, and some- what stereotypical, it is hardly incorrect. And of course there were pirates of African descent in the Americas: most notably a Black Caesar, who served as a lieutenant under Blackbeard on the Queen Anne's Revenge.

    So . . . if I were inclined to pursue a historical tack, this offering would certainly fit the bill! But as of this writing, my intention is in the arena of the quasi-historical. And you will soon see what I am talking about. . .

    Fair winds!

    05 January 2014

    The Rhino - Painting (IV): Groundwork

    I am delighted to say that the groundwork is now effectively done! Rest assured that there will be countless of tweaks and touch-ups right-up to the eve of the Show in six weeks, but for the purposes of the workflow, the groundwork can now be deemed completed.

    And with that, so can the figure! Yes, the "headpiece" of the Rhino suit is still but undercoated, but how is that any different from any other type of headgear? 

    The figure should be done and off the bench by this time next week. . . 

    Back to the bench!

    04 January 2014

    The Rhino - Painting: Intermezzo & Groundwork

    Year end and the New Year festivities (hunh?!) are now behind me, so that means the countdown to February has begun and it's time to get back to work!

    I decided to get the ball rolling in earnest, and permanently mount Aleksei to his display base. This is admittedly premature on my part, but given the amount of integration--both visual and physical-- demanded by the setting, it is worth the additional effort negotiating around an in-situ figure.

    Once the epoxy has cured, I will begin to add the remainder of the rubble around--and over!--     the feet. Hopefully, I will have enough time today to stain the added groundwork, and begin to weather the lower extremities of the Rhino. If I can get that far, then the project can be deemed effectively concluded.

    Almost there!

    FOLLOW-UP. . . The rubble field is finished! I may enhance it here and there as necessary once the addenda has been stained and painted, but this will be, by and large, wrap-up tweaking.

    The figure is now under the lamp to set the white glue. I expect to be able to commence staining and "washing" before dinner-time.

    FOLLOW-UP (2). . . Phase I of painting has been completed! This amounted to an overall stain/ wash of dark earth tones + black as a basecoat to the drybrushing and "weathering" that will follow. So far so great. . . and yes, attaching the figure to the display base indeed was the right call!

    01 January 2014

    Size Matters: The demographics of scale--and the hobby

    While this is hardly earth-shattering news, I am by nature an observer of the human experience, and thus I think it might be worth running-up the flag-pole and see if anybody else feels com- pelled to comment.

    When I first started in this hobby, THE default scale was 54mm. Few, if any, concessions were made to those who fell victim to the afflictions of aging, and a sure sign of an old codger in your midst was an Opti-visor on the bench.

    Fast forward 35 years, and things are certainly different. For starters, "54mm" is now--and has been for a number of years--a "label' denoting the smaller end of the size spectrum. There are very few true 54's being produced anymore--most figures labelled as such are actually 60-65mm in height. While this transitional phase was not a pre-requisite in the evolution of figure size, it was a portent of things to come: the position of the default scale has been usurped by the 70- 75mm offering, largely as a concession to the consumer base.

    Now, let's take a look at our associates in the GK-Fantasy genre. Here, 1/8 (250mm) was the time-honoured tradition. Now it has been displaced by the 1/6 and 1/4 scale (300 and 450mm, respectively) offerings.

    The preferred medium of execution for the overwhelming majority (i.e., acrylics) has certainly been a factor in both camps. Most miniaturists feel uncomfortable brushing acrylics on anything larger than a petite 90; GKers, who have always used an airbrush as their delivery-system of choice, appreciate the greater expanse of "canvas" now before them.

    And while my primary focus is the miniature figurine, other genres have experienced similar "inflation". Back in the day, a 1/32nd scale aircraft was not only an exception, but somewhat of a novelty. Nowadays, you can buy a 1/32nd Viermot--if you can afford it and you have the space to display it once done!

    The most stable aspect of the hobby has remained the land-based military sector, where 1/35 scale still reigns supreme. BUT. . . times they are a-changin' there as well. 1/48th scale has established a firm toehold in the sphere once occupied unchallenged by the 1/72nd-76th scale "wargaming" miniatures-- and it has begun, perhaps uncharacteristically, to encroach on the supremacy of the 1/35th. On the flip side, 1/16th scale has definitely made inroads into the sacrosanct realm of the 1/35th.

    What can we conclude from all of this? Size does indeed matter, and this must be attributed to diminishing visual capacity. Obviously, the base modelling community is incontrovertibly getting older, if only because that group is the only one that can afford the prices being charged nowa- days; and/or have the disposable time to indulge such past-times. There is now a very real "generation gap" within the hobby: the younger--and probably relatively less affluent (vis-à-vis perceived bang-for-the-buck)--are driven to the smaller scales, and the increased social inter- action of the wargaming communities. Traditional scale modellers continue to dismiss-ignore!- the challenge posed by the social dynamics of gamers, and hence we have, in relative terms, effectively ceased to grow.

    Some might argue that things really haven't changed all that much in the last 20 or so years, and I could not disagree as much as I would like. However, the fact remains that we have squandered the last 20-25 years, failing to secure our succession. Henceforth, we will have to hope for 30+- something (if we're lucky!) converts to fill-out our ranks, as the erstwhile "farm system" is long broken.