Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Project walkthrough - Valhalla

This post is the first in a series of posts that will backfill the blog entries that I would have written over the course of the summer.  These are the projects that I wanted to keep hidden until I could reveal them at the Capital Palette competition at the NOVA Open convention.  My intention was to prevent contaminating the judges' opinions, either yay or nay.  At the Capital Palette, the entries are anonymous, so I wanted to avoid having the judges associate the entries with me, just in case they read the blog!

So this gentleman is the "The Great Gaul", by Yedharo Models.  For display figures, I feel more motivated to paint a figure the less known a figure is.  Some figures have a lot more exposure than others in the hobby press and at the shows.  I want to show something different and more obscure.  Of course, if I wait 3 years or so to start a project, like I did for all of my projects this year for the Capital Palette, I risk having my choices be painted and shown by other artists, long before I can present my own interpretation!

Another thing I wanted to achieve with this project was to distort what is presumably a historical piece and warp it into a fantasy piece.  Technically, this bust is my first historical project.  But I couldn't resist giving it a twist and slapping it with the fantasy palette.

I imagined the character looking up into the sky, beholding golden sunlight.  An omen before battle?  The sorrowful aftermath?  Valhalla?  I'll let you decide.

I had a difficult time deciding whether to paint the metals with the true metallic metal (TMM) technique or the non-metallic metal (NMM) technique.  For larger figures, especially busts, it's much safer and much more common to use TMM, using metallic paints.  I was torn, however, because I was curious if I could pull off NMM.  I decided I would try it on for size, for the challenge of it, and then just paint over it with TMM, if I wasn't pleased with it.

The bust was packaged with the top-piece of the helmet broken off and missing.

So I had to build one from scratch.  I started with a pin.
I tried out "brown stuff".  It's supposed to lend itself better towards sharper edges.
Not perfect -- but convincing.
Starting with some off-angle, zenithal priming and thin color-sketching.
I'm eager to test the key concept.
I start color-sketching the skin, general contrast, and the cloak.
Continue to exaggerate the contrast.  I start to think about the overall color composition.
It's hard to imagine the total effect, when the uncolored hair makes the guy look so middle-aged.  I had a younger guy in mind.  I color the hair, and I do my first pass on the eyes.  There's progress, but I'm unsure of my direction from here.
I try a warm color for the cloak.  I hate it.
This feels a lot better.
I work the helmet.  And work it.
The eyes are slightly off.  And I want the irises to be more apparent, and I want to add catchlights.
The skin was too yellow, so I enrich it with more reds, blues, and greens.
I attempt a second pass at the eyes.  I succeed in painting the catchlights where I want them, but they still look wrong.  I paint over them again.  "I'll try again later," I say.
Along the way I tried a tartan pattern on the cloak, but the colors weren't working.  "I'll come back to it," I say...

This is where I left off, before my job hit me with a surprise proposal.  I still had to do the feathers, the clasps, the torq,  the necklace, the leather, the tartan, the eye details, and some refinements. 
I finished most of the loose ends in one day, three days before leaving for NOVA!
I wasn't able to refine the eyes or paint the tartan.  Might have made the difference between Silver and Gold, but I'm very satisfied with the result.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for taking the time to read the post, Roman! And thank you and Raffa for once again making the journey to D.C. to be judges at Capital Palette. We can thank your participation for pushing the quality level of the contestants for the last two years. Everybody is painting to a higher standard in order to impress our professional, German judges!

    2. Well, I guess you have your answer about whether or not the judges read your blog!

      Great looking figure. I'm glad you found a middle ground between historical and fantasy that fit your style and interests.

    3. Now I just need to paint a tank in that color scheme.


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