Disclaimer: This is NOT a photography tutorial. I’ll put some links of tutorials on the bottom of this post in case that’s what you’re looking for. This is merely a write up of my struggles behind the camera.
Artists of all sorts have to wear many hats. Since I’ve started doing commission painting so long ago, I’ve had to learn about website design and maintenance, photography, and photo editing, among many other jobs.
As I improve on my quality of painting, the photography has to improve. There are so many methods and types of equipment. I’ve used everything from my cell phone camera to a point and shoot and more recently, my guy’s DSLR.
I thought that using a DSLR on manual would take better pics, and it does, but it really depends on the operator of the camera. I posted final pictures of the Treeman Ancient a while back. I thought I’d share the numerous outtakes.
This was one of the final pics that I chose. This was done with just window light, during the day, with a mirror placed to bounce light around. I believe the camera was set to a longer shutter time, somewhere around 2.5 seconds. I did minimal in Photoshop. I try to not edit the pictures too much. The colors are true on the model, but the background is a little darker than what is pictured. That happens often with this particular background.
This one was put in the light box, with three lamps.. one on each side and one from the front/side with white paper at the front of the light box to bounce light back. The colors you can see are true, but there are too many shadows.
This next one came out really cool. I used a black background, a dark box, and the flash to the ceiling. While the picture is neat, it makes the colors look like they’re glowing and that’s not what’s going on by eye. It’s a bit misleading.
This one was done with a 6 second exposure in a light box only using natural light. No lamps. The background looks green instead of grey and the colors are a little off.
Here we have a black background in a light box in a darkened room, short exposure time. The lamps were the only light in the room. Still lots of shadows.
I have a few other folders of pictures that I have no idea how they were taken. These pictures are for a charity auction so I needed them to clearly represent what the item up for bid is.
Anyway, those are my adventures in photography, particularly with this large model.
Here are the photography tutorials I followed and experimented with.
James Wappel has a nice, simple tutorial. I didn’t follow this one because I needed help with the DSLR, but I like the idea of getting a point and shoot and simplifying this process.
Massive Voodoo, one of my favorite sites, has a two part tutorial. This is the second one about using a DSLR. The first is a great starter tutorial.
Tale of Painters blog has a bit different info as well. A couple of items there came in handy. They also have a write up on using an iPhone and on photo editing.
If nothing else, I hope this amused you. I go through this dance after every commission: take a ton of photos with all sorts of methods, sift through hundreds of photos to see which ones represent the artwork the best and then push it through Photoshop with minimal adjustments.
I’ve been asked several times to demonstrate how I built up the Winter Skorne bases. I’ve answered the questions, but I thought I’d flood a post with pictures of the process.
I layered thin cork to prop up the feet and create a rocky outcropping type base. Sand fills the gaps nicely. There’s no need to be super neat about the process because it will be mostly covered with snow and ice.
Prime and paint.
I use a sculpting tool to drag the acrylic across the areas that I need ice. The monomer will melt plastics and gum up brushes. Keep your good brushes far away from the stuff. It will also take the paint off of the model, so you need a quick hand at adding the acrylic without completely dragging the paint off of the base. It comes down to practice with it.
If you want, you can keep adding to the acrylic to lengthen the icicles. You can even carve it with a Dremel. I fiddled with it while it was still half cured and let it be.
This stuff dries a bit hazy so the next step is to paint the ice a bit. I’ve used a pearl white mixed with a light blue. I didn’t cover the acrylic with paint completely, it’s more of a highlight, just short of drybrushing. This pic is out of order.. I got ahead of myself and added snow before painting.
Now it’s time to add the snow. I use Woodland Scenics brand snow. I know that white glue is sufficient for adding snow but I wanted to work quickly, so I use Gorilla Super Glue. I add a thick layer, being careful not to breathe too deeply over the base, then submerge the whole base in a container of snow. I leave it until the glue dries, which isn’t that long, and repeat the process as needed. A few thin layers of Dull Cote is then sprayed. The Dull Cote holds the top coat of snow down a bit more without weighing it down.
The last step is to drag Vallejo Water Effects over the acrylic. The water effects come out white and thick, like a heavy shaving cream or toothpaste. After 24 hours it will go clear. The time to cure depends on how thick you leave it. I pile it on, covering the acrylic and then set on a shelf, away from dust, hair, etc…. because everything will want to stick to the clear water effects.
With this model, I went back after the water effects had cured and added more to lengthen and thicken the clear part of the icicle. The finished product:
A while ago I had painted part of a Skorne army in purple and gold-bronze metals. I got the second installment of the Winter Skorne a handful of months ago and have been working on those along with other commissions. It was slow going, but they’re done.
Like the first set, I sculpted furs onto the robes, built up ice bases, and continued with the stylized NMM for the metal bits.
Cyclops Brute with Agonizer
I’m finally catching up on my list of commissions…. now I have to catch up on website stuff.
I was asked to paint Feiya and her familiar, Daji, adhering to the original artwork by Wayne Reynolds as closely as possible. This is a 28mm Pathfinder mini by Reaper Miniatures.
I’m impressed with the intricate sculpt but it posed a challenge to bring out all the details without making it look confusing.
The plinth that I chose for her was made by Monkey Skull Craft Works. Jim has a wonderful selection of hand turned products and I had been working with him to see if he could bang out some wooden bases for me. That will be another post at some point.
I had a really good time with these two.
Last fall, I was invited to participate in the NOVA Open Charitable Foundation’s auction for 2015. I was flattered to be asked to contribute to such an event and joyously poured over kits from my local hobby shop and picked out a Treeman from Games Workshop.
The kit comes with three head and weapon choices. I’ve never gamed and have no knowledge of the characters, so I decided to magnetize the heads and weapons.
I also wanted to offer it as a display piece as well as a gaming piece and the result is a base that pops out of the display plinth.
Photography on this guy was an incredible challenge…. and that may be a whole other post. After numerous photos taken with many different methods, these are the pics I settled on.
The odd color choice came from my indecision but the magical character quickly appeared and I figured out how I wanted him to look. I airbrushed some colors that I liked and did the highlights, glazing, shading, etc, by brush. He was such a different project. I hope he does well at the auction and gets to go home with somebody.
I have to admit that Space Marines are not my favorite thing to paint, but I’ve always wanted to try out some Genestealers so I accepted this commission. I was so impressed with the level of details on the Marines that I had much more fun with them than I did with the aliens.
I airbrushed the main colors, painted in the details and highlights in acrylics and then washed down in oil paints. Once those were dry, I went back with acrylics (after a light coat of matte finish) to bring up the highlights, paint the gems along with other fiddly details, and brighten up the metal colors.
I’ve been quite busy over the last few months, but only some to do with painting. This last commission took some time but it’s finally finished. I was asked to add on some winter furs to Skorne Beast Handlers and create snow and ice bases for the five handlers and a Cyclops.
This project held two firsts for me. This is the first commission that I’ve done a significant amount of NMM and is also the first time I used nail acrylic to make ice. Both were a massive challenge as well a good learning experience.
I found a couple of WIP photos of the added furs.
I used a mix of Milliput and Green Stuff for the fur trim and the one sculpted hood. Woodland Scenics snow was used for the bases over clear nail acrylic that shaped the snow mounds and icicles. I also spread on a thin film of Vallejo Water effects over the ice to give a wet appearance and to create fine tips on the ends of the icicles.
Here are the final pics.
I started this guy for a gift and finally picked him finished. I received this one as an incomplete kit, with just the helmet. I hope that will be good for the surprise recipient. I’ll find out in a few weeks.
I’m not familiar with Tau symbols for the cloak so I winged it.
A fun challenge came up a couple of months ago to paint a grey scale mini. I wasn’t going to join this challenge initially, as I have a ton of projects going on already, until I ran across a small sculpt of Elvira. I have no idea what company. It’s a small, about 30mm, resin cast. Quite a while ago I received a box full of models from a collector that no longer paints in exchange for a helping hand. This mini was in that box.
I’ve never attempted grey scale or any monochromatic scheme yet so it was definitely a learning experience.
I wanted to make a more elaborate base but ran out of time and ideas. I still may do that some day. The base was the only thing that was required to be in color, according to the challenge rules. I made a very quick red marble floor.