No history this time, I promise

As several of you have probably seen, I finished up the Autopsy this week. There are pics over on Putty and Paint here. If you can’t be bothered going over there, here’s a picture of the finished piece:

I’m not totally happy with the plaque because my freehand is barely tolerable, but it frames the bust nicely, I think.

In other news, I was really productive and worked on two other pieces: Frank and the halberdier.

Frank is now extremely close to being finished and really just needs a bit of extra detritus and some dirt, which is a matter of an hour or two. The head of Abe got a bit of battering and a quick paintjob to fit in. He doesn’t need to be perfectly blended because a) he’s a bit of stone, and b) he’s the base.

As people who know me will attest, I have strong opinions on basing. I’m not the best at it, but I know a good base when I see one, and I have two key rules for my own basing, which boil down to narrative and composition.

  1. Narrative
    The base should provide the context for the model. You don’t need a lot, as you can see with Frank: just some steps and a head. Given the model already clearly belongs in a specific historical context, all you really need in this instance is something to provide geography. Because it’s WWII(ish), the story builds itself from there: he’s some sort of Nazi monster, and he’s in Washington DC. Things are bad for the Allies.
    You should never need to write the narrative down to explain it. It should be self-evident. (Hopefully, I didn’t actually need to write this explanation for Frank.)
  2. Composition
    There’s a lot that can be said about composition – definitely more than I can be bothered writing about now. For a really good, visual demonstration, go read Jarhead’s fantastic introduction to composition. The main thing I keep telling people about is a tip I picked up from (if memory serves) Conrad/Prawnpower and Seb Archer: ‘break the square’.
    In brief, it’s very easy to build a base that’s quite contrived. If you put tiles on the base, for instance, it’s tempting to have them line up with the edges of the base. A wall might sit perfectly aligned with one of the sides. That sort of thing – it’s obviously more of an issue with architectural bases than organic ones, but the principle remains.
    Anyway, the problem with this is two-fold: it looks contrived, and any error in lining things up will be incredibly obvious. The contrivance problem is really the biggest one because it makes the model look like it’s posed rather than being a snapshot of a scene. The easiest solution is, of course, to just turn everything a few degrees. You get a more natural scene, and small mistakes aren’t as obvious.

That’s a pretty brief description of my thoughts when I’m basing. You should be able to see how I broke the square on Frank’s base by simply not lining the steps up with the squareness of the plinth.

So here’s Frank, in all his glory, standing over the defeated remains of the statue of Abraham Lincoln. He’s truly a badass.

I also sorted out the sleeves on the halberdier, which are now a much better colour and texture. As I mentioned last time, one of the problems I had was that I wasn’t painting the material. You should see here that there’s a much softer general finish more fitting of a fabric. It still has some sharp edge highlights, of course, because you need those to provide definition, but the key is to make sure the combination of shade and highlight, along with the way they’re blended, work together to create a good facsimile of the actual material.

So, not too much longer for this chap, either – as long as I don’t cock everything else up.

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