Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Lady In Green

I've basically given up on the idea of ever having the time to invest in playing 40K properly. I haven't played since well before sixth edition came out, and it only seems to get harder to find time to devote to the hobby. The thing is, I've already sick of painting Space Marines. I'm not a fast painter, so painting large numbers of identical figures feels boring and pointless, even if I do occasionally like the look of small unit of matched models. I much prefer each model I paint to be unique and different. So now that I've given up on playing the game, I no longer feel the need to paint a matched army, meaning that I can finally start painting all the other minis I've picked up over time.

GW seems to have very few decent-looking female minis, in fact as far as I can tell not all that many miniature companies normally do, so when I saw this one it caught my eye. I really liked the relaxed pose and the fact that she's wearing actual practical clothes, plus it has a nice balance of detail and decoration - enough to make it interesting, not so much that it looks crowded or overdone.
Sharyn, Female Wizard by Julie Guthrie, from
So here it is, my first painted female miniature (the Seraphim doesn't count, I only helped with that one):

She didn't quite turn out the way I had planned. I wanted her to have a "forest" colour scheme, so I tried to stick with greens, yellows and browns, but they all came out a lot brighter than I had originally intended, I guess it came out less "forest" and more "rainforest". Incidentally, this is the first time I've looked up the miniature on the reaper website, and I've just realised that my colour scheme is surprisingly similar to one of the painted versions on the website. Pure coincidence I assure you; perhaps the nature of the mini just suggests certain colours?
From; painted by Leopardpixie

I decided to paint the feathers in a bright blue so they would stand out; I was hoping it would help the mini to "pop", although I was afraid they would look out of place and ruin the colour scheme. However, the other colours came out so bright that the feathers blend in a lot more than I expected them to; I have mixed feelings about that, but it's certainly better than if they stood out too much.

Her face isn't great, but I was lucky it came out as well as it did; I don't have particularly steady or precise hands, those eyes are more a result of divine intervention than skill, and I didn't have the courage to experiment much with the lips so once they looked passable I moved on.

I'm not a huge fan of opaque "crystals" at the best of times, and while I could have tried to replace the stone in her staff with something clear, I decided I wanted the piece to look more organic, so I cut it off and tried to re-sculpt the top of the staff with greenstuff. The results were not amazing, but I think it came out OK.

I tried to use a milliput wash to smooth the mini a little (mainly the coat), it worked out OK but I've since discovered that liquid greenstuff is much easier to use. There's just one thing to remember: while liquid greenstuff dries very quickly, just because it's dry doesn't mean it's set. If you try to sandpaper liquid greenstuff before it's properly set you'll end up pulling bits off the surface instead of sanding it down. Leave it a few hours at least and it should be fine. Also, it shrinks a bit when it dries, so I often apply a second coat before I start sanding.

There were a couple of other fixes involved: while moving her to the GW base I accidentally broke her foot off. Luckily it was an easy fix. Looking at it now, I've realised that she's not centred properly on the base, I think this was because I was pinning her to a base that already had a magnet installed in the center, so I couldn't put her feet as centrally as I would have liked. I also used a few drops of superglue to fill a gap in a strand of hair; for something small like that superglue is actually probably the easiest option.

You can see the re-sculpted staff and the break in her hair (lower right of the face).

I was experimenting with skill-free ways of shading cloth and skin. I've noticed in the past that Army Painter quickshade can work very well to shade organic surfaces like flesh and bone, the main problem being the colour. I tried using 'Ardcoat (gloss varnish) mixed with GW washes to replicate the effect, and found it actually works quite well (for a skill-free method that is).

I believe the coat was basecoated in Warpstone Glow, then drybrushed in camo green (I think) then white. After that I shaded her coat with about a 1:1 ratio of 'Ardcoat to Thraka Green wash. The results were decent, but not really dark enough; mixing in the varnish obviously lightens the mixture somewhat. I might need to experiment with a regular wash on top to further shade the recesses, or possibly allowing washes to dry a bit to intensify the colour before mixing in the varnish. In this case as I had initially drybrushed up to pure white and the shade didn't colour it enough, so I added a green glaze on top just to help bring that back down.

For the skin I worked up a solid coat of elf flesh then shaded it with a 1:1 mix of Gryphone Sepia to 'Ardcoat. The effects are quite subtle since her skin is quite flat and smooth; I find the mixure works better for defining musculature on male models I tested it with. Still, it seemed to work as she did seem to look flatter before I applied it. I might need to experiment with letting washes dry out a little before I add the varnish, in order to strengthen the colour.
Before the face was shaded.

Her tabbard took more work than I expected; I started off painting it camo green but a single green wash darkened it so much it blended in too much with the coat. So I worked it up to yellow - which took a lot more work than I expected, Sunburst Yellow does not have good coverage - then washed it again, the result isn't as smooth as I would have liked but I basically got sick of it and decided to leave well enough alone.

I started by painting the lips in Blood Red, but she looked like a clown, so I painted over them with Scab Red. Next time I'll try to mix red and flesh tones to get something that looks more natural. I had a lot of trouble finding a nice shade for her hair; I wanted a sort of reddish chestnut colour but couldn't seem to find it, so I settled for what I think is a carroty orange. I washed it with Baal Red, but in retrospect that wasn't dark enough and the results are too flat; I should have used something darker like Ogryn Flesh or maybe even Devlan Mud.

I have decided to call her Gwennyth. It's just the first thing that came to my head when I was searching for a name, and as it sounded somewhat "Arthurian" I decide to go for it. I can't say that I'm completely happy with the final piece, but I guess she looks OK and I am glad just to have actually finished a model for the first time in a while. Plus; we learn from our mistakes, and I made so many mistakes with her that I must have learned something, right?

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