Thursday 31 December 2009

Alpine Miniatures - III/SS-PzGren-Rgt 2, Ardennes, 1944

2009 is finally coming to an end and I cannot say that it has been a dull year with my ascension to fatherhood status. I was also very fortunate to be granted some time off by The Wife to attend the Lier Convention late last November to meet old friends and acquaint new ones. Modeling wise in retrospect, I did quite a lot of painting and did not recall sculpting much; which reminds me to resume work on an overdue commission I promised a long while back right after this assignment from Alpine Miniatures.

No prizes for guessing which genius sculpted this pair (not myself for sure) which serves as a companion set to Alpine Miniature's KG Peiper released almost a year ago. The sculpting does accurately portray SS-Hauptsturmführer Josef Diefenthal during the Ardennes Offensive and I do hope that the painting at this point helps reveal some semblance.

I also took some in-progress shots to document how I actually work (when not giving demos or making step by step articles); broad and looses strokes to establish overall harmony of colors, shades and tones, and refining the transitions and details as I go along. Though the process is very much arbitrary, the basic principals of light and shade, color harmony and craft very much apply.

That is the last time I check in for this year folks. See you on the other side of 2010.

Here's wishing everyone and all a Happy New Year!!!


Wednesday 16 December 2009

Sturmmann, SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 9, Hungary 1945


I'm so glad to find some time this week to do some painting again. Only recently, I prepared a 1/16 figure (through the kind courtesy of Taesung Harmms of Alpine Miniatures) for my demonstration on painting camouflage patterns at the recently concluded Lier Convention (you can see the faint trace of the result from the demonstration at the bottom right of the Zeltbahn). So as not to repeat the languishing process of painting the Splinter pattern, I decided to represent my subject as a late-war Waffen-SS grenadier and take on the autumn version of the Oak-leaf camouflage pattern.

The outlook was achieved by changing the belt buckle(also generously provided from the private stores of Taesung Harmms)and outfitting it with the ubiquitous camouflage cover sculpted from epoxy putty.

Over the black undercoat, I randomly airbrushed a light hazy coat of Prussian Blue and Dark Red prior to the application of local colors to rein in the stark value of the black. As the local colors come on, the saturation of these foreign colors are subdued and in place subtle nuances of blues, reds and greens within the tonal spectrum of the local color are revealed. It is through such means that variations in color values and color tones are introduced, greatly enhancing the depth within the color space.

Apart from the Impressionists, I also cannot deny the influence of the Expressionist artists on this endeavour. The Expressionism movement spanned through from both World Wars and had been most successful in articulating the human condition thorough bold and daring applications of exaggerated colors, forms and compositions. This also means a deviation from our current trend which entails the realistic representation of colors to one of symbolic interpretation.

All great artists hold reverence to lighting for which leverages the appearance of form, space and more importantly the properties of color (value, hue and saturation/intensity). It is impossible to discuss color without the implication of light and its relation to color perception and how our brain subsequently responds to it. Colors exist because of light which also in tandem creates moods by triggering the emotion centers of our brain. It is by such means that we distinguish a happy image from a sad one by means of colors alone. Though, important as it may be, colors account to a fraction of this experience. Artists have both consciously and unconsciously manipulated natural elements such as lighting to yield more tonal and value color contrast; not only reveal certain details than what natural lighting could possible but to also exact a greater emotional response from the viewer. A good example would be to check out how film-makers like Ridley Scott exploit such principals in his film The Gladiator.

Deciding to depict the human condition of a fatigued and frightened soldier struggling amidst a cold and unforgiving environment, I took some ques from the German Expressionists and employed several tones of cool greens and violets in the shadows to create an eerie and ghastly portrayal. Apart from some refinements in tonal transitions, I'm quite satisfied with the current result. That however leaves me with another challenge of the Oak Leaf camouflage on the Zeltbahn.

On a final note, please do not write in for color mixes as this endeavour follows an arbitrary and experimental process for which I foresee the color palette evolving from time to time. Thus my sincere advice to all would be to first understand the basic concepts of color theory and find the time to practice it like a language to improve the proficiency.



Monday 7 December 2009

Lier Convention 2009 - Belgium

After a three month hiatus, I've finally found the time juggling between fatherhood and a new full-time job to furnish some updates.
First up is show report of a recently concluded invitation as a special guest to the Lier Convention in Belgium organized by the Modelbouwclub Lier over the weekend of 28-29 November.

Traveling to Belgium is convenient as there are direct flights from Singapore to Amsterdam. From Schiphol airport itself there are direct train services to Antwerp for which Lier is only a 20 minute drive away. I was fortunate though to have Mario Eens and Wim Van Hool from the club to greet my arrival at Antwerp Central station and ferry me to the convention venue.

Vol au vent,my first meal in Belgium.

I must admit that my initially impression was that of a small local model show, but in all respects of what I've witnesses and experienced over that weekend had proved otherwise.

This year was the first time Modelbouwclub Lier have conducted the event over a two day period so that the show could be enjoyed at a more leisurely pace. Still the large convention hall was rapidly set-up in under two hours by the club members on the day before to accommodate vendors, exhibitors and contestants the next day.

Exceeding my expectations, the convention was extremely well attended not only by the local modelers but modelers from various parts of Europe(the Germans especially came in large numbers through the Ardennes ;P). It showcased a number of well stocked trade vendors and several stellar award-winning displays from modeling clubs like AMSS (Antwerp Model Soldier Society), KMK (Kempense Modelbouw Klub) and Scale Model Factory(TWENOT). As for the contest, there was an enthusiastic turn-out of high quality contest entries not only from Europe but also from far flung Malaysia as well!

Here are some of my excerpts from the displays at the show:

All the way from Italy is Giuliano Chigorno's T-55. Molto Bello!!!
Staf Sneyers

Sven Frisch

Kristof Pulinckx

Mario Eens

Bernhard Lustig

Pascal Tognon

Roy Schurgers

Christian Gerard

Each of this year's special guests including old friends Marijn van Gils, Adam Wilder and myself were tasked to present two demonstrations each. Marijn covered a two-part demonstration on figure sculpting whereas Adam delved into the art of soldering photo-etched parts and weathering techniques for armored vehicles. I covered topics on painting faces and camouflage patterns with acrylic paints.

Marijn's demonstration on figure sculpting.

Adam's exclusive demonstration on soldering techniques at the Modelbouwclub Lier club house.

For more pictorial coverage of the contest entries and event, do check out the link on Modelbouwclub Lier

Following the show on Monday, the tourist in me made a visit to Brussels with Marijn as my hospitable host and guide.

Brussels Central decked out for Christmas.

These macaroons are probably the best I've had.

The next day, I made a day trip to the Ardennes with Modelbouwclub Lier members Wim, Mario and Frank Eyckmans. A local himself with a keen enthusiasm on the history of the Ardennes Offensive, one could not ask for a better guide than Frank to visit the historical sites of Bastogne, Houffalize, Poteau and La Glazie. Though the weather proved unfavorable for sight-seeing with heavy overcasts, it did however reflected the conditions experienced by the soldiers who fought there 65 years ago.

Mardasson Memorial at Bastogne

At Bastogne with Mario in front of a Sherman tank.

At Houffalize with the legendary Panther tank. Getta load of this Dinesh!!!!

The site of the Poteau ambush by Kampfgruppe Hansen.

The bad gloomy weather and thoughts of being away from my daughter and wife are eclipsed by the hospitality of my Belgian hosts Marijn and Pinar, members of Modelbouwclub Lier and KMK Blue Shirts. Thank you guys from making me feel welcome and Wim for generously providing me the dependable support for my demonstrations. Here's looking forward to meeting up with all of you again in the near future.


Wednesday 26 August 2009

IT IS A GIRL !!!!!!!


For quite sometime my wife Gwen and I were praying for a child and by the grace of God this prayer was finally answered late last year. Now, after many months of anticipation Gwen and I are most pleased to announce the arrival of our newest family member, Abigail, on Monday evening, 24 August, 2009.

After two days of being a father, I can only say that she gets very loud and cranky to signal her meal time from mummy. But when seeing her after so snugly laid to sleep in my arms makes that all so insignificant; a feeling that has often been described to me by others but not personally experienced til this moment.

As you can probably imagine, spare time for modelling will be curtailed by baby bathing time, diaper changing detail as with all the other last minute surprises that every parent will experience. Nonetheless, I will try my best to share some material that I promised to post and will do so when my routine life stabilizes. On behalf of us two excited first-time parents, Gwen and I would love thank you all for your well wishes and blessings to our new found joy Abigail.


Sunday 2 August 2009

More German Tankers from Alpine Miniatures.


I'm so glad that the hectic month of July was over. With no respite from painting the bust of the Fallujah US Marine from Young Miniatures, I've made the final push over the weekend to complete another urgent box art assignment for two Alpine Miniatures 1/35 scale tank crew figures sculpted by Taesung Harmms.
Posed cradling a young pup, this half of a two figure set is proposed to sit snugly on the barrel of the Panther tank. I've taken the liberty instead to place it on a Stug III built by resident M Workshop artist, KG "Chef" Lim and photographed it against a scenic setting. Hope you guys enjoy it.

Here's a piece of good news for Allied Modellers, Hiroyuki Ishii-Sensei has sent me some pictures of his latest sculpts of not two but four 1/35 scale British SAS LRDG figures. The color of the material does suggest that Ishii-Sensei carves with polyester putty, an approach which is prevalent amongst most Japanese sculptors.
Now, the good news I'm told is that this four figure team will be commercially available under the Japanese brand name Swash Design, known widely for their highly detailed motorcycle kits. It is not known from this time of writing if the figures will be available loosely or as a set. But nonetheless it will be one on the shopping list when it comes out!

That is all the update for now while I prepare to "air" the MARPAT for the next blog post.


Sunday 19 July 2009

US Marine, Fallujah, Iraq 2004

Once again I'm very privileged to provide a sneak preview of Young Miniature's upcoming 1/9 scale bust. Not an easy assignment I must admit but nonetheless very rewarding due to the quality of the sculpt by Young Bok.
I did felt that the colors for the desert MARPAT pixel camouflage were quite elusive due to the varied lighting conditions from my photographic references. They seem to be either appear grayish or yellowish brown in tones. After some color trials, I decided to cut a tone somewhere in between the Grey and yellow/brown zones. For those keen folks out there, within the next coming weeks or so I'll try to provide an illustrated painting chart to assist those with similar projects.

Finally, thank you for your enthusiastic support and inquiring emails. Please understand that this is a particularly busy time for me and I do have another two more future Alpine Miniatures releases that need my immediate attention ( more of that to follow). Hence, your patience with me is greatly appreciated.



Tuesday 30 June 2009

Alpine Miniatures - Grenadier, 558. Volksgrenadier-Division, East Prussia 1945

Well finally after some anticipation, here are some previews of Alpine Miniature's latest 1/16 scale offering before it officially goes "live".

Now with regards to painting, I've always employed a method employed by legendary American illustrator Andrew Loomis called “toning” the palette. One of my favorite artist James Gurney summarizes this clearly HERE; which may I add contains a ton of other valuable knowledge which could prove extremely relevant for future projects.

As mentioned previously in my earlier post, I opted to employ a palette of cool colors to reinforce the portrayal of cold and darkness of twilight. Hence, the colors of the figure were not mixed to match the actual artifacts but instead to sync with the atmosphere. That is why it might not be a good idea to use my color notes to paint a paratrooper at Monte Cassino which might be sunny, hot and dry.

Again, with reference to the Impressionists, colors are no longer the intrinsic property of the object but rather by of the illumination of light making the appearance of its color a highly extrinsic one.
It might sound complicated from this point but I believe that this can have both intrinsic and extrinsic implications to the subject. Intrinsic meaning that the subject is illuminated with its own light rather than on an external source (the light which we rely for painting). Fantasy miniature artists have long understood this and have since exploited it to great extent in their works to depict atmosphere. David Rodriguez's excellent example greatly exemplifies this with his rendering of Gandalf.
For historical subjects, one work that comes to mind was the rendition of the bust from Benito of U-Boot commander Eric Topp, in which Spanish miniature artist Jose Caballero Delso brilliantly captured the illumination of the red light within the confines of the submarine vessel without it awkwardly looking like red paint being smeared. There is of course a principal to this method pioneered by Cezanne more than a century ago. I think I'll save the explanation for another painting project in the future.