Friday 31 July 2009

Assembling and painting The Raven Priest pt. 4

Just a quick update this time - Ali painted the inside of the cloak, and since it's a pretty straightforward area, it won't take long to describe -

1 - The Base coat was Red Gore with just a dot of blue ink and dark green paint added . That gives a nice rich dark red. As usual, this was applied with a couple of thin coats to ensure it went on smoothly.

2 - Shaded in the creases adding more blue ink to the original base colour. Shaded darkest at the top of the cloth and faded down as the creases widened, and also behind his legs which is deep in shadow.

3 - Highlighted the tops of the creases with straight Red Gore

4&5 - Further highlights were mixed by adding Blood Red to Red Gore - then a final highlight with yellow added to the mix.

Ali didn't glaze over the finished cloth but there is the option of glazing the whole thing down with red ink - if you decide to do this, take the highlights a shade higher than if you weren't glazing.

6 - Gave the whole thing a mist of dullcote to photograph.

You'll also notice the feather attached to the arms have been altered. A little buff colour was added to the tops of the feathers and blended in. This helps to create to definition between the layers, and also makes the effect warmer to tie in with the rest of the miniature.


Tuesday 28 July 2009

Assembling and painting The Raven Priest pt. 3

Next up on painting The Raven Priest is the feathers - and it's my turn. Feathers are obviously quite a feature of this model - and while they can sometimes be quite time consuming to paint, in this case the sculpting is so neat - they're pretty quick and easy.

For this version, we wanted to pick a different colour scheme from the others we had painted - so I decided to go with eagle feathers as the main theme. They give a nice warm feel and really give the miniature a distinctive look. I always think it's best to make life as easy as possible - so I tried to take advantage of the crisp detail to help with the highlighting and shading. I starting with a light base coat and added shading in thin, controlled washes. I only used a limited palette of colour for all the feathers - four main ones in fact. A deep umber brown, a rich mid brown (GW Bestial Brown), a light buff and a parchment off-white. The only other colours I used were a little touch of black, a warm grey and brown ink for deep shading.

Photos 1-8 show the progression of the feathers on the cape. 1 shows the flat buff base coat - this was two thin coats to avoid filling any of the detail. 2 shows the whole area washed down with thinned Bestial Brown mixed with a little matte medium. 3-4 show deeper shading added as the feathers go up the back of the miniature - these are applied as thin washes with matte medium added (the matte medium makes the thinned colour adhere to the surface a little better - so it doesn't all run off the miniature). 3 shows the first level of shading applied from the third row from the base upwards, and on 4 there are three successively deeper shades, each applied to a higher row. Bestial Brown is deepened for the successive shades - first with deep umber, them with brown ink. I didn't blend anything - it's really not necessary as the whole effect will be tied together when the highlights go on.

Photos 5-7 show the highlights being applied. The first level is just with the buff coloured base coat - I decreased the size of the highlights as I went further up the cape. The highlight colour was lightened with off-white and the colour applied to smaller areas each time - picking out only the top edges of the feathers. You can see that by the time the highlights are finished on photo 7 - the fade from light to deep feathers is quite smooth.

At that point I decided it was all looking a little samey - so I added a little interest by painting some of the feathers dark with light tips, and giving others deep bands. I also mixed a deep shade colour and defined the edges of the feathers a little more strongly.

Photos 9-12 show the large feathers on the arms being picked out. I decided to go for something a little more striking here, so painted them white with black tips. The base coat was off-white, washed down with warm grey and then re-highlighted with off-white. The dark tips are umber with just a spot of black added.

13-16 show the 'rough' of feathers covering the right shoulder. I used pretty much exactly the same palette of colours as I used on the cloak - except a little lighter where they would catch the light.

Looking at the whole miniature in the photographs now (there is nothing quite like seeing a mini in photos to highlight the flaws...) - I think I need to do a little more work on the arm feathers, they don't look quite right. At the moment they stand out too much from the other, warmer colours and aren't quite neat enough. I can fix that when the miniature comes back to me after Ali's turn!

Not quite sure what Ali is going to paint next - but I would hazard a guess that it will be some of the fabric areas - like the loin cloth and inside the cloak.

I'll post pictures as soon as I know!


Friday 24 July 2009

Raven Priest assembly and painting - pt. 2

Ali's turn with the Raven Priest first - and she has started with the skin. The only thing that has changed since part 1 of this article, is that the body was temporarily attached to a base for painting (I cut the tab away, added a pin, and lightly glued it in place), as I knew it has to come off again. I was careful not to over-spray the primer - I really didn't want to cover any of the detail. I used a grey primer and just dusted it lightly until the surface was covered. I have taken to using grey primer lately - it may seem like an obvious thing to say, but it does give a good compromise between white and black undercoats. It gives a little more solidity than white, and doesn't require too much paint to cover as black can.

Here's the process that Ali went through - I'm not going to be specific about the colours as different people like different paint ranges.

1 - Solid base coat of a tanned flesh colour. Best to give two or three coats of a thinned down mix, rather than one thick coat - just make sure the thin paint goes on evenly and doesn't pool in the details. You are aiming for a smooth, flat coat.

2 - Shade under the muscles with a mix of the base colour with a camo-green added. A darker olive green is best here - one with plenty of brown in it. The best way to figure out where the shadows fall, is to hold the miniature under a single overhead light source and see where the darker parts are. Places like in the eye sockets, under the cheekbones, nose and bottom lip on the face.

3 and 3.1 - Add deep blue (royal blue colour like GW Regal Blue) to the shade mix and add to deeply recessed areas. Tops of the eye sockets, under the pectoral muscles, backs of the arms, back of the neck, under the chin, the hair line and the sides of the feet. With the muscles, concentrate on following the striations with the shade colour.

4 - Add white to the base colour, and use this for the first level of highlighting. The highlights are added in the opposite areas to the shade colours - remember that the light is coming from above - so the more a surface is facing straight upwards, the lighter it will be. As opposed to the shade areas - the more over-hanging the area, the darker it will be. So the areas that get the most highlighting are the brow, the bridge of the nose, the prominent cheek bones, the top of the chest and the tops of the shoulders. With the first highlight you may find that you cover some of the first level of shading - that's okay, it's quite normal to go back and forth with the highlight and shade colours until you achieve a natural look.

5 - Continue adding white to the highlight mix - covering less of the muscle area with each successive stage.

6 - Top highlight is off-white (a warm off-white colour) and is added to the sharpest and most prominent areas - forehead, bridge of nose, tops of sharper defined muscles - places like that. It may look a little scrappy at this stage, but once you frame round the flesh with deeper colours it will really tidy everything up.

7 - Here Ali has lined round the edge of half of the skin, to show how much difference it makes from the area without deep lining.

Just a couple of general tips when painting flesh -

- Try and keep the shade colours cool and the highlight tones warm for a natural look.
- Follow the line of the muscles with shade and highlight layers - that's also true if you are blending, follow the striations.
- Don't be afraid to go back and re-shade or highlight if something isn't looking right.

I haven't talked about blending at all - that's mainly because most people have a different way of doing it. We apply the highlight (or shade) with one brush, and then use a second damp brush to blend it in the direction the muscle is layered. Also a good tip is to mix the paint a little thicker as it will dry slower than a very watery mix thus allowing you more time to blend the edge with a damp brush. We do plan to do some more detailed blending tutorials in future.

That's it! Next up I will be tackling the feathers, and I plan to give him a different look to the versions we have painted so far...!


Thursday 23 July 2009

Space Adventurer for sale!

I have just added Ali's painted Hasslefree Adventurer to the Studio Store on the main website. I think we will be selling all our painted miniatures in this way in future - not that we have painted miniatures available very often...

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Hasslefree Adventurer

Ali just finished painting this Hasslefree miniature - and I'm sure you'll agree, it came out really well. That sort of under-lighting is so hard to pull off well. One thing that just doesn't come across from the pictures is the size of the miniature, Hasslefree minis are all quite petite - she's just 28mm to the top of her head.

She's currently working on the skin on the Raven Priest for our collaborative project, so expect a blog update on that before the end of the the week.


Monday 20 July 2009

Raven Priest assembly and painting - pt. 1

This is the first part of a collaborative project that Ali are going to do - we're going to assemble and paint the Raven Priest, and post each step here on the blog. While it's going to be specific to this miniature, the techniques can obviously be applied to any miniature.

The initial process is cleaning and assembly. The casting I used was just the first one I pulled out of the box - so it should be pretty typical of this miniature. The first thing to do it clean off any marks left from the casting process - on this miniature that mainly consists of the injection marks and vents, and I have marked those in red on photo 1. I just carefully cut them off with a sharp craft knife - the only place that you have to show a little care and attention is on the end of his hair - if you were too heavy handed there, it might be possible to loose the end of the curl.

Photo 2 shows where the only mould line I could find on the miniature runs - just down the left hand side of the feather cloak on the back. It was just a ghost of a line though (this picture was taken before I removed it...) - and is really easy to remove with the edge of a sharp blade.

We decided to add the birds/spell-effect to this miniature - it's really designed to be an optional piece, but I do think it really adds to the atmosphere. There's a fitting already there - a piece of resin that neatly fits into the mouth, but it is pretty thin and would certainly be a weak point on the miniature. To make it a little more sturdy, I decided to replace it with a small brass pin. Photo 3 shows the birds with the end of the piece cut away and replaced with a pin - I just cut it completely flat, making sure that there was enough surface area to drill in for the hole. Photo 4 shows how I have cut the pin down a little and trimmed away the harsh edges, so it fits the mouth better. Photo 6 shows the completed bird piece in place.

I also decided to pin the sword in place. There are two square locating lugs on the sword piece, so it fits neatly onto the arms, but I always add pins if I can - just to be sure of a strong join. I only replaced one of the lugs with a pin.

Photo 7 shows the miniature assembled and ready to undercoat. At this point the birds and sword are not glued in place - it's just easier to get access to some areas with a brush if you leave those parts off. That was one of the reasons I decided to add pins - it makes it far easier to assemble at the end. One thing that I haven't shown here is since I know it's going to go onto a scenic base - I removed the tab that fits into the base, and replaced it with a large pin. Then I lightly glued the miniature to a base for painting.

That's it for the first stage - next up, Ali is going to paint the skin



Saturday 18 July 2009

Raven Priest concept art

I thought I would just write a quick blog post to cover some of the questions we have been asked since we launched the miniatures line - and take the opportunity to share the concept art for The Raven Priest - which is by Christophe Madura.

Several people have asked if there is going to be any theme to the Studio McVey miniatures line - and the simple answer is "no, not really". The only theme we are going to have is keeping the quality of everything we do as high as possible. Our aim when we started doing this, was to produce a line miniatures that we would really want to paint - and do it as well as possible. That's why we chose resin to produce them in - I was sick of seeing miniatures I liked the look of, then being really disappointed when I saw the castings. I have been working with metal miniatures for well over 20 years, and I know what happens to a sculpt in the production process - squeezing, shrinking, loss of detail and surface texture are all considered the norm for metal miniatures. When I compare a metal casting to the resins we have of the Raven Priest - well, there really is no comparison, they are as close to the original sculpt as it's possible to get...

There are drawbacks with resin of course - they are more fragile than metal miniatures, but we are primarily aiming these miniatures at collectors and painters. Good quality resin is also more expensive to produce (we pay around three times as much for a casting, than if it was in metal) - but the quality more than makes up for it.

We don't have a firm schedule for the expansion of the range - but we plan to be adding new miniatures on a pretty regular basis from now on. I'll be posting new concept art, and sneak peaks at future releases here - so keep checking back.

Ali and I also plan to write some articles about painting and modelling Studio McVey miniatures - in fact the first one will be up on the blog early next week. We are going to do a complete walk through of assembling and painting the Raven Priest - but with Ali and I talking it in turns to work on different aspects of the miniature.



Thursday 16 July 2009

Win this Mini (or Ali's, you choose)!

When it came to who was going to paint the Studio McVey version of the Raven Priest, Ali and I couldn't decide - we both really wanted to give it a go. So consequently, we have two painted studio versions. As we only really need one - we have decided to give the other away in a random draw!

This is how it's going to work - once the Limited Edition Raven Priest has sold out, we are are randomly going to draw a number between 1 and 750, and who ever holds that certificate will get to choose which miniature they want - mine or Ali's. The more certificates you hold the better the chance of winning.

Good luck!


Wednesday 15 July 2009

Studio McVey Miniatures!

We have been working on this for quite a while, and are finally ready to launch the Studio McVey miniatures line. The first miniature available is on the website now, just click on the 'Studio Store' link in the left hand menu on the main site, and that will take you to the sales gallery. The first miniature is The Raven Priest, sculpted by one of the very best in the industry - Jacques-Alexandre Gillois and we think it's pretty amazing... The detail and sharpness in the sculpting have to be seen to be believed.

We decided the best way to capture all the amazing detail was to produce in resin, and I have to say the miniatures our production vendor casts are the very best I have even seen - there is practically no difference from the original sculpt. We chose the highest quality resin they had, and each miniature is cast in a short run production mould to ensure the highest quality possible. The Raven Priest is fantastic to paint - I can honestly say that I have never painted a better casting - even metal master castings don't compare... We are only producing Studio McVey miniatures as strict limited editions - and including a signed and numbered certificate with each one.

Sorry, that's enough sales talk! Ali and I are really excited to be launching the Raven Priest, and it will hopefully be the first of many - we plan to be releasing new miniatures on a fairly regular basis from this point on (as long as they prove popular!), and every one will be of the same quality as the first.

The painted version above is Ali's, and I think she did a great job of capturing the character and drama of the sculpt. I have been working on one too (we have been having a little personal competition...), and will be showing it here in the next couple of days, along with some other bits and pieces, like the original concept art.

We hope you like the first miniature!


Wednesday 8 July 2009

Final Skaven Pictures

Here are the last pictures I took while building the Snitch Diorama.

The street surface was entirely sculpted from Fimo - which was a bit of an experiment as I had never used it before... I made a little press shape to make the cobbles and drain section - a piece of aluminium tube that I sharpened and shaped to give the oval shape I wanted. The shape of the flag stones were defined with a sharp sculpting tool - I found fimo pretty good for this sort of work - it doesn't have the surface tension that greenstuff has - so it's pretty easy to get sharp edges. The sewer hatch was salvaged from a Land Raider kit, with all the detail sanded flat and a couple of rivets added. I scratched and scraped the surface to give it a worn look.

The wall of the building was constructed from plasticard and balsa wood, with the window from from an old train-scale building.

The painting was fun - I wanted there to be a contrast between the colour palette of the street level and the sewer tunnel. I painted everything below street level in dark and dank colours - everything shaded down with brown and green tones with lots of stains and dark, damp patches on the walls. I also used a gloss varnish to add areas of wet shine to the walls. At street level I tried to keep everything a brighter and cleaner, so used less muddy colours for shading. I painted the shutters green to tie the two level together.

I always think there is a fine line to walk when painting dioramas - you need the scene itself to be interesting enough to give character - but not so bright as to clash with the miniatures who are on it.

Lots going on in the Studio right now, but more of that soon...


Friday 3 July 2009

Construction pictures

Just thought I would add some pictures I took while constructing the Snitch diorama. The basic frame was made from plasticard and square section plastic rod, and the sewer and access hole were constructed from pieces of ABS pipe I found in a local DIY store. They were all joined together with plastic solvent - you need the sort that works with ABS though. The hardest thing was joining the two tubes together - that required a little careful accuracy in the cutting and gluing, and even then there were some small gaps to fill.

I wanted the outside box itself to be as smooth as possible - so I filled and sanded all the joins, the aim was to make it look like a solid plinth.

I clad the inside of the pipes with brick textured plasticard - and cut out some of the bricks to make the surface look a little uneven and worn. The rungs were made from brass wire, and the platform he's standing on from plasticard and copper wire mesh.

I filled the whole box with plaster of paris - I wanted it to have some weight, and stability. The tricky bit with that was to ensure there were no holes in the construction...

I'll post some pictures of the street level, and the painted scene soon