Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pretty Boy Floyd gets away

Just finishing this project. Pretty Boy Floyd makes a getaway after knocking off a small town bank. The figure is a radical conversion from some old Warriors bits I bought. I used a Hornet head and DML Thompson. I've always wanted to do a gangster using one of the Thompsons with a drum magazine. I like the way this one turned out, especially the blue suit. I struggled with the sign for the bank. I went back and forth on a couple of different design options. I found a source for some plastic letters and this solved the problem for me. I had initially intended to have the sign lay flat against the building, but I could tell that the scene needed some element up high to help frame the figure. I didn't want to create a diorama, so creating the illusion of a downtown bank without modelling the entire building or block was a bit of a challenge. These kinds of things are intended to appear as snap shots in my opinion. I've become interested in depression era history lately, and this little project allowed me explore the clothing style of that time.

Workbench Report;

I've been working on my other two projects that I set out to finish before Atlanta; a mule skinner, and a Confederate sharpshooter. I think both are going to look pretty good when they're finished. After they're done, I've got to get back after a commission that I agreed to do. My next goal will be to finish the paratrooper vignette I started last year. I intend to do an article about the construction of it as well. I've tried to photograph as many steps and as I can break stride to take.


I've written about this before I believe. I've heard it said, "There is nothing more boring than someone else's hobby." I don't give two shits about fishing or hunting, but I find myself listening to lots of stories about both because that's what most of the folks I work with like to do with their spare time. I listen politely and sometimes I'm genuinely interested depending on the story, or storyteller. Just because I don't share their interest doesn't mean that they don't have something interesting to say. To think that what someone else likes to do to relax is a waste of time is pretty judgmental in my opinion. That's why going to shows and participating on discussion boards is so popular. They are places where like minded individuals can meet and discuss their common interest without worrying about whether or not the person you're talking to thinks it's weird that you like to paint miniature figures ("play with toys"). I find this is true regardless of the hobby. Whether it's motorcycles, hunting, fishing, or mumbly pegs, there is an interest group (real, or virtual) somewhere. All that said, don't hate on someone else's game, get one of your own.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

On the bench

The photos are of a couple of projects that are currently on the bench. One is a Confederate sharpshooter, and the other is the bank being robbed by my Pretty Boy Floyd figure. The building is pretty much finished. I need letters for the sign and I'm thinking PE or something raised. I also need to add door hardware, but I'm on the bubble about which way I want Floyd to be running. The door swing will be key in getting it to look right.

Today and last night were spent getting the flesh areas painted on the three pieces I plan to have at Atlanta; A Muleskinner, the Reb Sharpshooter, and Floyd. I had to relearn my technique a bit and even had to strip the face after one failed attempt on the Reb. I think I've got it figured out now. I had to get my Danni Cartacci book out again to get my head around the process.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Scenic Backdrops

Here are a couple of buildings that will be included in some projects I have coming up. One is the scene of a bank robbery that will include a figure of a fleeing Pretty Boy Floyd. The other is a project to be named later. I need to get the figures worked out and finalize the setting before I commit to more than that. Both buildings are made with a substantial amount of plastic. In the case of the barracks, it's all plastic stock. The bank uses some donor parts from a Min-Art kit. The brick to be specific. I'm really amazed at the flexibility of plastic stock for creating these items. I came across this site a while back; . It's Ben Jakobsen's Fotki account with a wealth of information about detailing and scratch-building. I learned a lot about working with plastic.

I'll post soon with some sculpting work. I've been busy at the bench, but haven't been very good about taking IP photos.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fighting Top done, MMSI &Creating a Neatness

I saved the photos of the finished USS Constitution Fighting Top until after the MMSI show, because I wanted the collector to be the first to see the completed work. It turned into quite an impressive model. The buyer was sure to suggest that I show it as there aren't likely to be many of these on display. I was happy to show the fruits of nine months of work. Happier still to have won a silver medal for the piece (so I'm told, I sat out the awards ceremony because I thought I had entered "Exhibit Only"). I got lots of positive comments on my work, but none more than the Top. I showed more than one person the instruction booklet. It was a difficult build, but nothing any builder with a few skills, time and patience can't handle.

I did the Saturday seminar for the club this year. I'm always happy to share techniques and I was flattered when the club invited me to do so. The subject was doing groundwork with an emphasis on outdoor scenery. I discussed some of my techniques with a slideshow SBS. It seemed to be very well received. At least no one fell asleep long enough to fall out of their chair.

There was a lot of nice work on the tables. I'm not going to name names, afraid I'll leave someone out. Suffice to say, the standard was very high and the most of the tables were full. I know I walked away inspired. As always, food and drink were taken in abundance. Over time it really does come around to meeting up with old friends, meeting new ones and sharing stories.

I'm amazed at how empty my studio seems with the Top out of the way. The model itself was big, as was the box it came in. The instruction manual was impressive in its own right, and was always open on my bench. Now I need to give all my brushes a thorough cleaning, change out my thinner, and straighten up. I'm going to need a new light sometime soon too, as I burned one out last week. There's still a lot of junk to clean up and then a good wipe down. I'll probably do some general re-arranging and then think about getting on the next project.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Manning the Top II; Send in the Marines

This project is starting to really come to completion. The figures aren't really anything challenging or new in their construction. I didn't really do anything groundbreaking to complete them. I did however do the last three in an assembly line fashion. If I had blue on the palette, I painted all the blue I could find on all three figures, same for red, white etc.. It's pretty efficient, but doesn't exactly feed the muse so to speak. I'm pleased with the results. Look for the completed project at the MMSI show if I don't get photos up before then.

What's up next; A commission of Pretty Boy Floyd, and back at my "Surrounded!" diorama. I'm anxious to sculpt something too, just don't know what it will be.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Manning the Top

I have a couple of the sailors painted. The photo shows the one firing the Cohorn mortar. So far they paint up fairly well. I've struggled with some of the seam lines and molding on these guys. I'll be on a painting marathon until all these figures are painted. I plan to create an assembly line of sorts as I finish the Marines. At this point I have their faces painted. Tomorrow I plan to do all the trousers. Later this week I'll paint all the jackets. So on and so forth. I'm saving the Midshipman for last. There's still a bit of sculpting on this one. I'll be happy to get this one behind me. A large diorama is an endurance event. You have to learn how to appreciate the little successes that add up to a great finished product. Crossing my fingers for a Chicago finish.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Fighting top complete

Just knocked out the Fighting Top to the USS Constitution. What a project. My hat is off to the designers. I was in way over my head on this thing. If it hadn't been for such a well designed kit and well written instructions, I would have been lost. I'm happy with the final result and I'm ready to move on the the figure portion. I already have one figure painted and the rest undercoated. I'm considering re-sculpting the commander. I already posed him, but I'm thinking it needs a few changes. So, between now and the MMSI show, I'll be painting, painting, painting...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Rigging

After I got done sculpting the muleskinner I had to get back to business. This model is over the hump and approaching the clubhouse turn. It's possible that it could be done late July/early August. Then I can get back to painting the figures. I foresee a marathon flesh painting session. Learning to rig a ship has been a real experience. I can see what captivates the ship modeller. It can be tedious at times, but very rewarding when it goes well.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A quick sculpt and WB report

This is a late 19th century Muleskinner. I'm doing it as a surprise for a friend that has helped me out with several projects over the years. From woodworking to bicycle maintenance he has been a ton of help. He owns a couple of mules that he and his wife ride and enjoy. It's 1/32 with a Wolf head, Verlinden hands and Airfix boots. I'm not thrilled with the boots, but I'm sure they'll look good painted up. I did reshape them some and also added bootstraps.

Workbench Update; Still rigging "Old Ironsides". I painted the pants on one of the figures the other day too. I'm past the halfway point and just about at the avalanche stage. That's where your progress reaches it's apex and you're just knocking out details as you come down the stretch to completion. I just hammer and hammer and things seem to get done. I was reading ahead in the instruction manual and I believe (cross fingers) that I've served my last morope. This is a tedious endeavor and I've done more than a few and thought I was going to go cross-eyed in the process. I'm working on the ground work for my "Surrounded!" diorama. I've been photographing the process too. If it goes well, I'll try to make an article out of it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Finishing up a side project

The photo is the continuation of the John Basilone figure I've been working on. I'll be sending it out to it's new owner soon. There are still a few details to add and quick polish and cleaning. It's been a fun and rather quick project. Getting the anatomy right on a mannequin makes for quick sculpting when it comes time to clothe it.

Still hammering away at the USS Constitution. Photos soon. I'm almost to that next step in assembly. I've been giving my airbrush a workout. I don't airbrush often, but this project has kind of demanded it. The patron has asked for light weathering. I've weathered it just enough to give it some dimension. The rigging has been a tedious at times, but I've missed the challenge of it as I work on these other elements.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Post Tulsa bench time

The Tulsa show is always over too quickly. I had a great time catching up with friends, talking shop and swapping stories. My good friend Anders was voted the new Tulsa Medalist. Well deserved I'd say. Anders is knocking out some excellent work in the last few years. His latest sculpting seminar has set the bar pretty high for any seminars to be shown in the future. Jason Green won BOS with his bust of Cornwallis. Another neat feature this year was a display of collections. Mike Meehan had several busts by Sang Eon Lee, and Anders had several figures by a handful of well recognized artists.

Workbench Update; The photo shows an in progress figure that I'm doing for another painter. It's intended to be John Basilone performing the deed that was key in winning him the CMH. I hope to be finished sculpting by the end of June.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Just in time for Tulsa

I just got this fellow done for the Tulsa show. I'm calling it "Henry Kept a Journal". When my wife was in Europe last spring, she picked up a graphic novel for me that chronicled a British soldiers experiences during WWI. I thought it was a neat story with an unexpected twist toward the end. I don't know if it's true or not, but it reads true. I used a spare head from JMD and scratchbuilt the book.

Workbench report; I'm still hammering away at the fighting top for the USS Constitution. Nothing terrific to show there. Mostly just rigging that you could barely notice. I'll take some photos soon after another leap has been taken. After Tulsa, that will be my central focus. I also started a John Basilone figure for someone else to paint. I'm pleased with what I have so far.

Monday, April 25, 2011

More rigging and another project

I've been working on this thing quite a bit. This rigging business is t e d i o u s. It's also a pretty rewarding endeavor. Sometimes that's the way it is with learning a new skill. This thing has definitely handed me a steep learning curve. I'm less enthusiastic about the figures I have to admit. The more I work with them, the more frustrate I become. I know in the end they'll paint up just fine. My good friend and Master cabinet maker Mike made me a very nice oak base for this model. I got the mast and rigging fastened down this evening and I've been lightly weathering the mast.

I've been working JMD Models English soldier too. It's the Painter's Figure for the Tulsa show this year. I really liked the look of this figure, but I've found many things about it lacking. The sculpting is excellent,as is the detail. But the casting is not great. Not poor, but I think breaking it down into more pieces would have yielded a better casting. I decided to convert mine a bit. My wife bought me a really neat graphic novel while she was in Belgium. The character in the book fought at Ypres, and kept a journal. I've decided to model mine with a journal on his knee with a pencil in his hand. I discarded the kit head and used another from JMD. I should have photos of the figure soon.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Workbench update

Workbench update; I continue on the USS Constitution, but that has stalled a little while I wait for a base to be made. I'll work on the next one or two Marines in the coming days. I knocked out a 1/24 scale Martini/Henry mk.I in plastic for a future Thunderbird Miniatures release. I love building with plastic. In the photo is my "Surrounded!" diorama. I was going to finish the fellow with the m1 to display singly while I finished the rest. I've decided against this and instead I'll forge ahead with finishing it all before I display any of it. As I pointed out on TimeLines, a lot of thought has gone into the composition. Hopefully the viewer will sense the desperate straits these soldiers have found themselves in. The only question I have left regarding setting the scene is whether or not to go ahead with a dead enemy soldier that would be buried in the rubble.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rigging a ship's mast AMFS show thoughts

Workbench update; In the photos are a Marine from the War of 1812 period and a portion of the Fighting Top of the USS Constitution. The top is a challenging kit, I have to say. I guess I expected to get a kit that was all resin. I was a little intimidated when I saw all the bags of rope, thread and string. As I progress on this thing I find that I've learned a few new skills along the way. The instructions for the kit are excellent and that puts a beginning ship rigger at ease. It's going together slowly, but it's going well. Since I'm out of my comfort zone and the kit is off the market, caution is the order of the day. A broken part could be a disaster. I did opt to replace some of the kit parts with my own home-made versions as it seemed easier to do that than to suffer trying to manipulate the kit parts. The result is the same. Not photographed, but still on the bench is my paratrooper vignette. I was going to display just one as a single figure while I finished the others. I decided against that and have forged ahead with sculpting the other two. MAYBE I'll have it for Atlanta next year.

The 2011 Atlanta show was last weekend. It was a great time. The AMFS organizes a very fine show. The new venue was very nice. The exhibit room was a little lacking in the lighting department, and the vendor's area was tight with vendors. Not a bad thing really. Lots of vendors is an indication of an excellent show. I knew I didn't have my strongest stuff this year. I considered entering this show as "Exhibit Only". In the end I thought what the heck and entered anyway. I was fortunate to win Best American Civil War with my wading Confederate. I won a silver in Painters and a silver in Open. I was a little disappointed about this. It was a step back for me, as at the last AMFS show I was fortunate to get a couple of golds. It's not a bad thing to under-perform. So, it's time to review techniques and finishes try to figure out how to keep up with the constant rising quality in what I see in the exhibit rooms.

OPINION: Atlanta added a Fantasy category this year. I know some shows have done this recently. I can understand why. If you're going to attract youngsters that are in to figures, this is what they're painting. But outside of marketing the show to this group, I have to ask, what need is there for this category? In my opinion, a figure's a figure. I've seen these types of figures at shows for years. They've been judged along side their more historical cousins until recent years. I think all judges and spectators can spot an excellent or poorly painted/sculpted piece regardless of period or genre. I don't want to sound critical of any clubs decision to add a Fantasy category. I'd hate to see the field get cluttered with too many categories. I think the sparsity of categories is one of the beauties of the system Shep Paine designed. With regard to figures, to me there's no difference in a Grenadier Guard or a Space Ork. I know roughly the same amount about either. But I'm confident I would be able to tell if one or the other was painted/sculpted well. Just my two cents.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Prepping for Atlanta

Workbench report; This little fellow is a commission that I was able to get done a little bit ahead of time. I did an Airfix conversion of a WWII Australian in the same pose a few years ago. I like the idea that the figure is wading through a nasty backwater. I tried to pick a head that had a facial expression that conveyed a bit of miserable determination. I tried something a little different to simulate the algae. I think this adds to the effect pretty well. I'm still hammering away at the USS Constitution Fighting Top. The focus lately has been on figures. I am at full stop on the top itself until my custom base is completed. I'll be honest and try to be delicate at the same time about these figures. It would seem that the caster is not used to sprueing up figure kits. There are some odd and heavy mold seams on many of the figures. A couple had such significant mold shift that if the company were still in business, I might consider asking for replacements. Luckily, I have enough redundancy in kit pieces that enough good figures can be assembled to complete the top with crew.

A while back on the forums I lamented that I had gotten fed up with trying to use acrylics as undercoats. I decided to give Humbrol enamels another go. I had gotten pretty disgusted with their formula switch to "Super Enamel". I had noticed lately that Humbrol no longer labeled their paint in such a manner. I was hoping this meant that a return to the older formula had also occurred. On a trip to St. Louis I stopped by CRM and grabbed a handful of colors I thought I might use. One of these was still labeled "Super Enamel". I opened it and one of the others and stirred the respective contents. The newer label seemed to have significantly more sludge at the bottom. This could only mean more pigment. I used some of this new paint to undercoat a couple of figures in the queue. I flowed off the brush like a dream and covered in one coat. It dried dead matte. What more could an oil painter ask for? Call me a throwback, but I'm back on enamels.

I'm planning on going to the Atlanta show this year. Last year I skipped in lieu of going to the MFCA show. Perhaps this is how I'll manage the show circuit going forward. The Atlanta show has such a homey atmosphere though. The draw MFCA has for me is an opportunity to see lots of European work and a huge vendor's area.

I'm still recovering from my surgery. I still have some weakness in the right shoulder. PT is helping, but mostly I just have to wait for the nerves to heal. At first it hampered my ability to sculpt and paint. I had rearranged some items in my studio to accommodate. Now I have enough strength that it's become unnecessary.