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.




Jim Johnston said...

Bravo, color recipes simply make every figure look the same. Experimentation, bravery and chance combined with knowledge of medium and color theory are what make our efforts gain new life. People can learn alot from reading your words, looking at your pictures and using their heads.

Matt Springer said...


Great to see you back to painting. Children demand lots of time and love. Glad to see you still finding time to get some work done, too. I look forward to seeing this one develop. I really like your approach and interpretation of classic theory to figure studies. Eager to see more...


Andreas said...

great!I'm painting this figure right now,It's a great one!.

cant wait to see more:)


CALVIN TAN said...

Hi Jim,

it's great to have you back in the hobby again! Your works were highly missed.
I'm most eager to see how your 1/16 Kharkov dio turns out.

P.S. I added your blog to my list :)

Hi Matt,

no denying that even a single child is time consuming enough let alone children!
Nonetheless I'm working towards making some original sculpts once the painting bug subsides.

Hi Andreas,

this is indeed a nice figure to paint. Hope you have fun.


Jim Johnston said...

Thank you Calvin, I am honored by what you said about my work. I can't hold a candle to you but I'll try not to disappoint with this group of figures.

Anonymous said...

Calvin what is that soldier wearing on the outside of his greatcoat? The camouflage?

Is that a smock or the field jacket?

Anonymous said...

Hi Calvin,
my name is Marco and i'm writing from Sicily (Italy)...
I think that i'm the first fan from sicily island, and i'm very impressed for your creation especially because the german uniform are the favorite for me, both as camouflage and as insigna on the same.
I like especially the contrast of colours and the finally result of each figure created so far.
I hope to meet you in some event here in Italy, for the moment I will always follow from your site.
Greetings from Sicily

Antonio Ramirez said...

Hi Calvin,
My name is Antonio Ramirez and I am fan of your work.
My works are in the mood I like to teach this figure modeled by a server and painted by Jaume Ortiz great, I hope you like!


Antonio Ramirez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.