Friday, 23 January 2015

The Emperor's Justice

Ahoy shipmates, me again with the first completed commission model of PVP's second wind! He's pretty too:

Yep, amongst the first batch of figures is the relatively shiny new Imperial Guard (just can't get on with the copyright friendly Adeptus Militarum) Commissar. Like all the new plastics he's a nice clean model, crisp casting, nice details. But something has always been "off" about this one for me, now I've had him in my hands I know what it is. His proportions are crazily off. Let me explain:

If anyone knows the source of this let me know so I can properly accredit.
Humans generally follow a really, really predictable set of proportions, it's why the Vitruvian Man is such an enduring image, it shows us how we are constructed. Our reach is usually roughly equal to our height and most importantly for sculpting, we are about 7 1/2 "heads" tall (the "ideal" is 8, heroic characters like superman often drawn 9 tall). By which I mean the height of our head from top to bottom is roughly 1/7th of our overall height. Babies have much larger heads, frequently being only 2-3 heads tall. People with dwarfism also have a different head ratio. Anyway, don't get distracted, stay on target! When proportions are "off" we notice. We know something is "wrong" but often can't say what. Miniatures often look a little unreal as the demands of casting and painting tend to mean the heads and hands are a little larger than they should be. Sometimes a lot larger (*cough*GaryMorley*cough*)... and it's this that is wrong with our friend the commissar, let me demonstrate next to a better proportioned one:

Estimating the head within the cap, I got the discs and stacked them to get the overall height. The Forgeworld commissar is 6 heads tall. A little off, but just enough to make it look "miniature" not "weird". The plastic commissar? 4 1/2 heads. Seriously, we could get to almost 5 heads if we were being generous. He has a massive head emphasised further by a massive hat. It just throws the proportions of the whole model. His arms and legs look tiny despite being in scale. Now I don't want my grumbling to make it seem like I hate the thing, I don't and really enjoyed painting it. I just thought it was a really clear and useful demonstration of a common proportion flaw. So without further ado... that chain's a bit massive too... WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, painting!

I was serious above, this was a nice model to paint, clean, crisp casting, little spaces to play with some freehand, the works. Quick rundown of the basics. Model was painted using my usual black-on-black method of distinguishing areas of the model by basecoat. In this case German Camo Black-Brown for the coat and German Grey for the uniform and cap. The metalwork got basecoated and then a heavy black wash got all those colours to black-with-a-brown/grey-tint. Highlighting began with the original colours and then Rakarth Flesh was added to the coat highlights (for worn leather) and some Administratum Grey for the cloth. The client's army has used green rather than red for all the spot colours so Caliban Green started that off. All the braid and edging got my pseudo NMM gold - getting better at this, might have to re-do the tutorial. I'm not a big fan of NMM on a whole model, but on things that are "Goldey Looking" not gold it works great. Face and details picked out (weirdly easy to paint the face, odd that...) and some basing and he was all but done.

But the edge of the coat cried out for that little bit extra. I've been a little gunshy about freehand lately. It was the thing that made my tendons hurt the most during the RSI recovery and afterwards my hand was just too stiff to get the loose flowing lines you need for good freehand. But I thought, "what the hell, I can just repaint the green if I need to" and went for it. Val Green Grey picked out the dodgey latin (sorry High Gothic) and then a couple of glazes of Warpstone Glow made it look like brighter versions of the green below. Very happy with the result and indeed the pseudo NMM on those edges. The trick with any freehand like this is don't do it all in one go. Paint the simple lines, go over again to thicken and define them. Fix any wobbly bits with the base colour and then in this case add seriphs to make your lettering look more professional. Done! What's a serif? This:

No, seriously, it's the twiddly bits on fonts like Times New Roman that are missing on Arial and it's ilk. Worth doing when painting as it stops your freehand lettering looking like handwriting as almost no-one seriphs their handwriting. That's all for today folks, more next week :) As always, questions and comments welcome. Happy painting.



  1. This is really awesome. I had completely forgotten yee old basic proportion systems. Thanks for showing the difference between the two sculpts, and illustrating why the one felt "off". Makes perfect logical sense now!

    1. thanks fella! Yeah, living with an artist has it's perks although I do now see triangles *everywhere* (stoopid standard triangular composition mutter mutter fade to black) :)

    2. Totally forgot to compliment you on the paintjob. Model looks great. Excellent job on the face, and that cloak edge is very lovely with the gold and lettering done so nicely.

  2. Excellent job on the stunted lil' mutie, Jeff. Esp the freehand, your client should be chuffed.