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:

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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 little 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.

Now I blame Borderlands

It’s been quite a while since my last post because I haven’t done a huge amount of painting, despite nearly everyone else using their lockdown time productively. I blame Borderlands 3 this time.

Anyway, I haven’t been completely inactive, and have now basically finished Putin:

I’m really happy with how he’s come out, and with the addition of a ‘CENSORED’ plaque, he’ll be all finished up.

Those of you following along on Facebook will remember that I had some issues with his background not being suitably erect, which I resolved with a bit of 0.8mm brass strip (thanks for the idea, Bob!), which should be sturdy enough to keep the very thin plasticard in place. It’s not a pretty solution (I will, of course, improve matters by repainting the back), but it is effective:

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Meanwhile, the lack of shows to give me a deadline has sort of pushed me into just doing some fun pieces to try things out. First up is a bust I’ve been playing around with to test some things:

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Of particular note is the helmet, which didn’t actually start out intending to be NMM. I was actually trying to do a matte metal, like a lot of worn iron you see around. Of course, one thing led to another, and now it looks like (dodgy) NMM. I suppose it’s good practice.

I’m quite happy with half of the helmet, but the other half needs a bit more light in a few spots. What’s really interesting, is that the two halves actually work quite well independently of each other, they just don’t quite work as a whole. Viz:

The next project I’ve started is a demi-ronde I picked up from Bash Models for the bargain sum of £4 (well, £20, but only because I bought 5 of them). As you might expect for that price, there are a few issues with the casting – lots of bubble holes, uneven back, etc., but nothing beyond an hour or so filling and fixing.

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What I’m also doing is changing his shoulder to make it a little more interesting. Originally, it was all tassels, but I think it’s reasonable to have some of the suede/leather of the jacket visible there. There are a few other spots I’ll do a bit more with, too, like evening out his hair on the left.

Finally, you might be wondering what’s up with Lady Gaga. Well, she’s not in my good books at the moment. Aside from repainting the stockings on her legs about five times, I decided to have a poke at her face to give me a break from that. This is when I realised that the original face is basically non-existent. There’s nothing to work with. There’s a gesture at eyes and lips, and other than that, it’s just a swathe of smooth surface, and not really in the right scale.

As a result, I’m now looking for 54mm female heads. I’ve seen a Hornet set that might be useful, and I had also wondered if 32mm heroic heads might work (which would open up a huge range of options), but if you know of anything that could be suitable, do let me know.

Three dilemmas

With the latest flat complete (and up on Putty and Paint over here), I don’t really have much of an excuse to not work on Lady Gaga – or do I?

The problem with my Good Ideas, is that nowadays I have one Grand Idea, which gives rise to several Good Ideas. The Grand Idea I’m working on is to recreate artworks as models, which doesn’t seem all that Grand, and certainly not original – I mean, I’m sure we’ve all seen at least two or three versions of Napoleon Crossing the Alps, and at least a couple more of Bonaparte Crossing the Alps, not to mention various Last Suppers, and so on.

However, of late, I’ve been interested in seeing how far away from ‘traditional’ historical entries I can go while still being indisputably historical. The ducks are a good example of this, simply because model shows are awash with military pieces, and civilians and wildlife make up a vanishingly small minority. So, this Grand Idea is to take some less traditional art topics and turn them into models. Lady Gaga is the first of these – the meat dress is a prime example of performance art. Some of the other pieces I’ll be working on are marginally less approachable, I suspect.

So, here’s the lineup so far:

From the left we have: a bull (obviously), Lady Gaga and Vladimir Putin. I’ve already explained Lady Gaga, so on to the others:

The bull will be one of a pair working as a sort of shorthand version of Picasso’s Bull, which depicts a bull in various stages of abstraction. This bull was one of a pair I picked up at SMC last year, and I’ll have to make the second one from scratch. More sculpting, alas, but at least an abstract bull doesn’t need to be particularly refined.

Putin will be a recreation of the apparently banned painting of Putin in drag (I say ‘apparently’ because the legal declaration taken as a ban doesn’t specifically identify the image). I’ll make a few changes to the original simply because some elements won’t really work on a model – tinting all the skin pink would probably just look awful, for instance.

I’d originally intended to do this simply as a greyscale piece with the tints supplied on clear acrylic sheets to make more of a point about censorship (when does the picture become objectionable? If any change at all is objectionable, does the artist have any real freedom?), but the more I thought about it, the more it felt like a gimmick (well, more of a gimmick than making the piece in the first place).

(Note: If anyone hears about a novichok attack in Cambridgeshire, it’s been nice knowing all of you.)

I bought Putin as a 3D print from Shapeways, and the quality is generally excellent. If you look at the full-size image, you should be able to see the printing lines, but they’re pretty minor. I did clean up a few of the more notable ones, but I’m happy to leave the rest and rely on the paint gradually sorting them out. I do have one issue, however: a porous section on top of his head:

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That darker area is rougher than the rest of the print and soaks up the paint, so I’ll need to fix that, probably with a thin layer of magicsculpt or milliput.

And finally, Lady Gaga has, in fact, progressed. She now has her booties and jewellery, and the start of her hair:

The hair is currently strips of pewter sheet, which has two advantage for me:

  1. It’s very thin, so I’m less concerned about the hair ending up too bulky.
  2. It’s rigid, so I can add the crimping now.

I’ll sculpt over this as thin as I can to build out the rest, fill in the gaps and add a little motion to it. This, of course, means that Lady Gaga is very nearly ready for paint – huzzah!