A brobningnagian update of astonishing malarkey

The onslaught of inspiration continues, and I’ve managed to knock out a few pieces in relatively short order, most of which have featured here as in-progress works.

First up, the finished whio for commission:

I’m very happy with how this came out in the end – I think it improves upon the original in a number of ways. The client is also happy with the pictures and asked for a couple more pieces, so they’ll be turning up here in the coming weeks.

I also finished off Aeon, who is also now up on Putty and Paint, if you’re inclined to vote.

(Can I also just point out now how much I hate the new WordPress gallery widget? In order to stop the last image being bizarrely inflated – rather than the first one, which is actually a larger image – I have to set these up as two separate galleries, because for some reason I can’t actually instruct it to either make all images the same size or to pick the image that gets embiggened. Bah.)

I’ve also been working on another commission (same person who ordered the ducks), which will feature a wee hound and a fish:

Not to be stopped there, I’ve also started a side project painting up casts of hobo nickels all with the theme of ‘death’ or something. I bought five of them, but we’ll see how many I do before I get sick of them. The first one is basically complete and just needs a little tidying and varnish to finish. The second is one of the hardest pieces to photograph properly that I’ve ever come across. Hopefully it’ll get easier once more of the black gets covered.

Painting these is like training yourself to go blind, but it’s also weirdly enjoyable. The one on the left was painted with La Marianne in mind, hence there are red, white and blue elements; the native American skull’s war bonnet is based on a Cherokee one I found online, which seemed to have the closest match to the design of the bonnet itself.

But wait, there’s more! Adventures with astronauts continue with this piece, which I’m calling ‘THE QUACK SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH’.

Just as I enjoyed playing with scale with the first couple of these, I’ve now gone to the other extreme and depicted a giant astronaut riding a brobdingnagian duck over the ruins of a puny human city in the far future. May none of us live long enough to witness such horrors.

Latest escapades

Since my last post, I finished the wee spaceman scene, and I must say I’m quite pleased with it. It has a nice focus, while also feeling almost like a two-dimensional painting. I normally like the three-dimensionality of figures, and would usually try to create a scene that’s interesting from every angle (which can be difficult, as you can imagine) because they’re pieces that get picked up and turned around, but this one really sort of works for me.

Anyway, here’s the finished scene:

The fur was surprisingly straightforward, if a little repetitive. The spaceman, once again, was a very quick job. I have come to hate that wrinkle over their bellies, though. I find it’s disruptive to the lovely roundness of them, and I keep finding myself trying to accentuate the fold without losing the roundness, and it’s troublesome. The next one has already had the wrinkle shaved off.

I also decided to give the astronaut a digital faceplate as an excuse to give him an expression that enhances the posture. It’s a common problem with helmeted figures – you need to really work the pose to create the emotion otherwise it can fall a bit flat. You can also do things with lighting, etc., but I felt the spaceman has the right look to carry off the emoticon face.

Next on my plate was, of course, the slightly delayed but lovely Fox Jupiter, standing in for Aeon Flux. She’s proving quite paintable – much more so than Trevor, surprisingly – and I’ve made some pretty good progress:

To match Trevor’s shiny plastic armour, Aeon is getting a shiny vinyl jacket. Some parts are considerably less shiny than others because her arms and rifle will obscure things a touch (mostly on her right). I fully expect to discover that almost nothing is visible when they’re in place.

The logo on her jumper is (hopefully obviously) an anarchy symbol. Aeon in the animations was a sort of an anarchist – her role wasn’t to overthrow Trevor or to kill him (she actively went out of her way to save him several times), but to simply be a spanner in the works. She opposes the rigid order of Bregna and exists to disrupt it – without Bregna and Trevor, what would she do?

I also felt the anarchy symbol was a pretty obvious thing to include without having to come up with my own logo. The alternative was to try to suggest ‘No Gods, No Masters’, but I don’t think there’s enough space in there to have fit it in.

I’m mostly looking forward to getting onto the stuff on her back – it looks like a sort of quilted fabric that I’m keen to do in metallics, as if it’s a kind of shimmer field generator or something. That’ll also let me get some more greens and purples in there, hopefully without making it all a bit too monochrome.

I also still have to work on her arms, and I’m thinking tattoos could be interesting. I’ll have to google cyberpunk tattoos to see what sort of inspiration there is.

Finally, I was recently commissioned to do a couple of small animal scenes in the style of the ducks. I don’t normally do commissions because my painting time is really ‘me’ time, but I quite liked the idea of doing more tiny scenes, and they don’t take a lot of time at all in the grand scheme of things.

So, first up is a recreation of the whio scene. I’ve only really done the base so far, but I thought I’d take the opportunity to see if I can improve on the original with some more detail, textures and a touch more saturation – not too much, of course, because the whio itself is a pretty muted duck, and I obviously don’t want it to be drowned out.

The white fluid is the first layer of sculptable water. That’ll get built up a bit to create a stream. I’ll also need to bring out the colour of the rocks again, as the moss has kind of overwhelmed them a bit.

The tragedy of waiting

As you’ve probably seen, Trevor – or, to use his full title, Chairman Trevor Goodchild of Bregna – is finished, and I’m very happy with the result. I even managed to get the plaques made and delivered (more excellent work from Name It Plates – seriously, give them your business), and it does look spiffy.

The plaque itself is shiny on matte aluminium, so it doesn’t photograph terribly well except from specific angles:

This is the logo from the start of Aeon Flux – a fly trapped in Aeon’s eyelashes. It’s a pretty iconic image, and I think the finish ties in well with the model itself.

And here’s the finished Trevor, in all his shininess:

He’s also now up on Putty and Paint, so do go over and give him a vote if you feel like it.

Up next was supposed to be Fox Jupiter from the same range, but she’s sadly proven quite popular and is currently out of stock. Mr Lee’s (hopefully reliably) informs me that a new batch is winging its way to the UK at the moment, so hopefully I won’t have to wait too long.

This brings me to one of my other projects, which ended up on hold while I got engrossed by Trevor. I previously posted a cryptic WIP of the beginnings of the sculpt over on Facebook, but it’s now come along quite a bit and is worth showing off.

Still a bit of refinement to do on the fur, but you should get the gist. This is obviously going to be paired with another of the astronauts, and another scene playing around with scale. In fact, the cat’s face here is about the same size as a kitten, so I could argue that it’s not even a miniature.

This also reminded me of a project I’ve thought about a lot – doing models of remarkable insects, which would technically be larger than real life, albeit still small. That particular idea came up when I first came across an image of this wee blighter: a bagworm moth, which builds twisting pyramids of sticks on its back. Of course, this would, again, be a project that requires me to sculpt (although in this case, granted, most of it could be made from actual sticks)…

Bucket list

As many of you have probably seen, I posted the ducks on Facebook as part of the ‘models for x days’ thing in response to Sascha Herm nominating me. I don’t normally get in on things like that, but the ducks needed a photo shoot so I could put them on Putty and Paint.

I’m quite pleased I did, and have been overwhelmed by the response:

P&P

Editors’ Choice? I’ll tick that one off the bucket list!

In other news, I’ve continued being productive. Firstly, the Kiowa demi-ronde is all finished:
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This was a really interesting exercise on quite a challenging piece. In some places, the sculpting really works against you (the otter-fur braid wrappings are really designed for drybrushing, which is obviously quite a messy process), in others you have to kind of paint around things (his chin, which I assume is uneven as part of the slight angle to his face).

Nearly every part of him got painted three or four times, but I’m pleased I put the effort in. I reckon he’s a decent piece. Still room for improvement in some places, but I’ll note those for future projects.

Secondly, I’ve been working on one of the Operation Knox pieces from Mr Lee’s Minis. Arbiter in particular really reminded me of the old Aeon Flux animations on MTV (Public Health Warning: Do not watch the film version from 2005). I’m not sure whether they were broadcast in the UK, or how widely they were watched, but I enjoyed them greatly. Anyway, I thought I’d do Arbiter as a sort of homage to that. It turns out that my memory of the colours in Aeon Flux is much brighter than reality because I expected to use quite bright colours.

Image of the antagonist, Trevor Goodchild, from the animations:
TrevorGoodchild3-e1557777737404(Note that this is a fairly wholesome image of Trevor. If you look up pictures of him, you’ll see him in lots of less than sanitary, presumably erotic activities involving eyes and spines.)

Anyway, I could’ve gone with an accurate palette, but I wanted to sort of update the image and account for the more cyberpunk details in the sculpt. Hence, as he is in progress:

Ignore the rubbed off primer – that’s just me being a little too hands-on as I paint. I’ve been working my way back from the extremities so that I can avoid touching finished parts, because I usually only need to brace the model against my skin when doing those.

Anyway, other than the undercoated (or bare resin) parts, the armour on his arm isn’t finished – I’m waiting on a paint delivery so I can finish that up and then smooth it out a touch, but the light is generally about right, I think.

What you might be thinking is “Fet, I thought you hated NMM!” and you’d be completely right. I don’t typically like NMM in most uses because it feels strongly like pandering to the camera rather than recognising that the model is, in fact, a three-dimensional object that people want to look at in person. Good NMM, to me, works both in the hand and in photographs. Some NMM is, of course, good on that basis. Other stuff just doesn’t work for me (impressive as the technical skill may be).

Anyway, I’d normally shy away from NMM for these reasons, but for this piece it really felt essential. The cyberpunk influence and the source material (Aeon Flux) kind of demand NMM, and I have a sort of get-out-of-hypocrisy free card in that I can argue that none of these are metal surfaces as we might think of them. They’re plastic, or something. Definitely something like that.

As a result, I thought it was about time I actually did quite a lot of NMM. In the past, I’ve typically relegated it to trims and whatnot. Here it’s very much front and centre. It is, of course, still a pain in the arse.

In order to do penance for this outrage, I’m now thinking about getting another bust from the range and doing it in a really gritty, real metallics style. I think Fox Jupiter would suit that. She can be the Aeon Flux to this Trevor Goodchild.

Trying to be productive

As previously noted, I’ve not been terribly productive on the painting front this year, which is really unforgivable when this year presents a prime opportunity to do very littleĀ except paint. I’m still working, so I’m not completely freed from other obligations, but I don’t have my usual commute, I can’t spend time in the pub and we haven’t travelled since getting back from New Zealand in January.

As I say, I’ve really had no real excuses.

However, I’m now running out of other distractions and I’ve been quite surprisingly productive in the last couple of weeks. Firstly, Putin is finished except for a plaque. I’ll get that sorted out when I have a few more to order at once. It’s not like there’s any particular rush.

Secondly, the dour medieval chap is also done. He was a fun bit of work just playing around with paint and textures and stuff. For those of you not following along on Facebook, here’s how he came out:

When I can be bothered dealing with couriers, he’ll be winging his way off to a friend.

Thirdly, I decided to enter Massive Voodoo’s Beyond Your Imagination competition. I didn’t even realise there was a competition for a while – I just really liked the model Roman had painted up and wanted to give it a go myself, so I headed over to Mr Lee’s to get the set and discovered it was sold out. And then sold out again. And then on the third release, I managed to get them. (They are currently, I’m sure you’ll be astonished to discover, sold out.)

When I finally got them, I already had a few ideas, but so far three of those ideas haven’t been realised but deserve to be, so I think I may need another set. Anyway, working quickly with what I had to hand, I came up with this:

For the record, I have now spent far too much time focusing on rotund astronaut buttocks. They’re quite prominent.

Anyway, there will probably be at least one more of these, if not three more…

Finally, I’ve been working quite steadily on the native American:

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I’m pretty happy to call his face done now, and I’ve made a small start on his scarf. Speaking of which, if you look back at the previous blog, you’ll note that I’ve made a small change to it. The original was all folds, which I guess might be fine, but in my research I found that these scarves were generally quite brightly coloured and patterned, so all those folds would make that more difficult to get across; as such, I’ve smoothed it out quite a lot and made it a bit broader in places.

My research also found that he’s a Kiowa (the fur-wrapped braids was the giveaway), which is a tribe that’s often described as being very much what you expect of ‘stereotypical’ native Americans. They lived semi-nomadically in tipis, rode horses, hunted bison, did the Sun Dance, etc. If you’re particularly interested, the actual sculpt appears to be based on a photograph of Chief Running Deer.

Finally, I beheaded Lady Gaga and replaced it with a much improved head from Hornet. I still have to resculpt the hair, though, so there’s not really much to show for that.