Sunday, 22 January 2017

Hasbro Princess Leia [WIP - Diplomatic Gown]

Nondescript yet elegant in its simplicity. That about sums up Princess Leia Organa's iconic white robes aka diplomatic gown in Star Wars A New Hope. Painting whites can be tricky because using just pure white results in a flat look lacking depth and volume. As the diplomatic gown is a major part of this repaint project - forming almost 80% of the action figure - it's a no-brainer that a considerable amount of time had to be set aside for the task. In the end, I think it took me at least 12 to 15 hours to paint/blend the warm whites of Princess Leia's diplomatic gown that you see below.  

Hasbro Princess Leia action figure repaint - work-in-progress of the white diplomatic gown
Princess Leia's knee-high boots and belt were painted in ivory with silver adornments for the latter 

With Leia's skin tone and hair yet to be painted, the whites of the gown has the potential to look even whiter. Confused? Well, it's like this. The way we perceive a colour tends to change based on what hues are next to it. As the darker hair and skin tones are painted in, the gown will start to look whiter. An optical illusion if you will. This allowed me to concentrate on creating depth and volume using warm white hues without having to worry too much about how white the gown looked at this stage.  

Pure white actually formed only about 55% of the hues painted on Leia's gown
With so many fabric folds on the back, the shadows assume prominence at this angle

Only one reference source was used for the painting of Princess Leia's gown namely Titan Book's Star Wars Costumes. If you want to paint Star Wars characters be they miniatures or action figures then this books is a must-have. The photographs in this book give an excellent view of the costumes used in the original trilogy. Most importantly, they provide an accurate colour reference for painting. 

For something that looks so simple, white sure takes a long time to paint
Whiteness of the gown is relative to hues next to it, so expect the gown to look whiter as skin tone and hair are painted 

Leia's knee-high boots and belt differed from the gown in that they had warmer tones akin to ivory. The belt also had some adornments which were painted in metallic silver and given a black brownish wash. Subtle the boots and belt may be but the differences are there and as screen accurate as I could possible make it. Both too are differences only a Star Wars fan would care about.

Star Wars Costumes (Titan Books) - Princess Leia Diplomatic Gown

To paint the whites of this Hasbro 3.75" action figure, I used the Vallejo Model Color Black & White acrylic set. It's a wonderful set that is a must-have, especially if you want to make your whites (and blacks) pop! The set also comes with an extremely useful step-by-step  painting guide. I would highly recommend it for painters who want to recreate whites with more depth and volume.

Vallejo Model Color Black and White painting set

Now that the whites of Leia's gown is finished, next up will be her famous hair buns. Those should be fun to paint. Thank you dear readers for following my progress on Leia so far. See you again soon.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Hasbro Princess Leia [WIP - Prepping and priming]

My tribute to Carrie Fisher begins with the prepping and priming of Hasbro's Princess Leia 3.75 inch action figure. I'm getting her ready for a complete repaint from head to toe. It's a project that's a long time coming as I slowly summoned up the courage to 'butcher' an action figure of which there are precious few in my collection  They say you have to first destroy before you can create. Destroying is the easy part. That I can do. It's the creating part I'm worried about. Oh well, on with the project ...

Hasbro Princess Leia - Primed with Tamiya Fine Surfrace Primer (Light Grey)

Prepping Hasbro Leia consisted of two simple tasks. Firstly, I glued her legs together as well as the joints in her hip section. Why? To restrict any movement from the waist downwards as well as to give the illusion of a continuously flowing robe. The latter goal was improved upon by the second task which was the addition of green putty to any cracks which showed up after the gluing process. With both tasks completed, Princess Leia the-action-figure-turned-sculpture was now ready for priming.  

Prep work (front): Gluing and adding putty to ensure a less 'action figure-like' look
Prep work (back): Super glue was the adhesive used while Citadel's green putty helped fill up the holes  

Originally, the Hasbro Princess Leia 3.75 inch action figure already looks exceptionally good for an action figure. I'm not really a fan of action figures as they tend to look plasticky and toy-like. But this particular Princess Leia action figure had a very well sculpted robe, hair and facial features. To me, she had tremendous potential as a repainting project. One that I hope to realise in the coming days.

Hasbro Princess Leia 3.75 inch action figure, original condition (front views)
Hasbro Princess Leia 3.75 inch action figure, original condition (back views)

Prior to priming, I didn't remove the existing paint job of Hasbro Leia as I did previously with a Merida repaint project. Weighing the risk of damaging the existing details (by removing the exisitng paint job) versus possibly losing some details (by adding a primer coat and further paint layers), I settled upon the latter. It was less work anyway and I want to get Hasbro Leia painted as fast as I can.

Hasbro Princess Leia 3.75 inch action figure - prepped and primed (Front view)
Hasbro Princess Leia 3.75 inch action figure - prepped and primed (Back view)

There were things I wish I did differently for this stage of the painting process. Chief among them was having the patience to properly smooth out the roughness of the green putty fillings. That mistake was compounded by me laying on a heavier than intended layer of primer coating to compensate. Both were rookie mistakes that I knew were wrong the moment I did them. Yet I couldn't help myself and can only hope these errors don't come back to haunt me. Going forward, there are four main parts to paint - Leia's white robe, hair buns, skin tone and face. Her paint job begins with the white robes and that's up in my very next blog post. See you then!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Star Wars TIE Fighter [Completed, A New Hope's light grey version]

First proper post of the year sees my take on the Bandai 1/72 scale TIE Fighter assume form in the light grey hulls as seen in A New Hope. No part of this model kit was left untouched as I repainted (as well as place decals) the entire kit. It might seem silly to do so seeing that the unassembled plastic pieces were already moulded in light grey hues. But believe you me, the results are worth it.

Bandai 1/72 scale TIE Fighter, A New Hope version

In past posts I've waxed lyrical, ad nauseam, about how much I love TIE Fighters - their design and general awesomeness. So it's no surprise that I enjoyed working on the same model kit for the second time - my first being an Empire Strikes Back blue grey version. It was as enjoyable as the first try, even more so as I knew what to do beforehand with only colour differences to worry about.

Tamiya's AS-16 Light Grey (USAF) was used as the predominant hue 
Astounding details are abound on this Bandai 1/72 scale model, as seen here on the TIE Fighter's wing

From my many reference viewings of the TIE Fighter, the exact light grey hue seems to change either due to creative preference or by the lighting on the hull. In the end, I settled on the Tamiya AS-16 Light Grey (USAF) spray paint as the hue of choice. I based my decision on a reference photograph of a model of Darth Vader's Advance TIE Fighter as seen in a book titled Sculpting A Galaxy: Inside The Star Wars Model Shop. That very model was also the one used in the filming of A New Hope.

One never tires of looking at a TIE Fighter, unless of course you're a pilot in the rebel fleet
With light grey being the predominant hue of the hull, Bandai's dark grey decals made for a welcome contrast
Pew, pew, pew ... I've you in my sights Red Five
A close up of the TIE Fighter with its twin laser discharge attached
At just the right angle, both lasers will catch the light just right and result in a glowing effect

Being my second try at building and painting the Bandai TIE Fighter, things went relatively smoother for the light grey version. In addition, I tackled one of the things that dissatisfied me in the earlier blue grey version namely the intensity of the panel lining on the Death Star base. For the newer version, I decided to go light on the panel lining thus reducing the level of contrast in the base's details. This, in my opinion, dovetailed well with the light greys of the TIEs seen in A New Hope.

What's this? A pilot of the Empire firing on one of his own?
Side-by-side comparison of the TIE Fighter - Empire Strikes Back (left) vs A New Hope (right) version
Panel lining was intentionally lighter in my latest - A New Hope - version (see base on the right)

So 2017 has lift off (pun unintended) hobby-wise with the Episode IV version of Bandai's 1/72 scale TIE Fighter completed. It's the second year in the row that sees a Star Wars model kit kicking off the new year. I think it's going to be an unavoidable trend with Disney scheduling a major Star Wars movie every year end. Well, we'll see I guess. The year has just begun and there's a long way to go yet before Star Wars Episode VIII hits the big screen. Many days ahead for work on both SciFi and Fantasy miniatures alike. So let's get started ...

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

A new year and a look back at 2016

2017 begins with an old photograph I stumbled upon recently. I don't have many photos of my earlier self anymore. Most were lost with time and all that I've left are a precious few that I can more than count with my fingers. Times were simpler then when just a handful of toys provided countless hours of fun. Fast forward to 2017 and I've been fortunate enough to amass enough miniatures and scale model kits to keep me busy for years to come, despite a fairly tight budget. So I guess this has more to do with the snail's pace I work at, rather than any absolute amount of hobby stuff in my possession.

A would-be modeller lost in thought ... more than 40 years ago in the space time continuum

As I was putting up photos of last year's completed projects in the Art Gallery,  I felt somewhat underwhelmed by what I had achieved hobby-wise during the past 12 months. Time sped by so quickly that the year was over before any meaningful dent could be achieved on my trio of personal goals i.e. to write that book I always wanted to write as well as to paint and draw more. Three days into the new year sees me determined not to let another year go by in hobby-related regret. Determined how? Well, in a Frank Sinatra-esque kind of way ... my way ... one day at a time.
Art Gallery has been updated to include my 2016 projects

Inundated with a huge to-do-list, I can only do so much to break tasks into manageable pieces which I can then parcel out to the precious hours, minutes and seconds in a day. As such, I will take heart in what Patton once said ... If a man does his best, what else is there? What else indeed. Happy 2017!

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Amidst a sad end to the year ... a new beginning

Just as I was about to upload photos of a recently completed Star Wars project in the wee hours of the morning, news hit of the passing of Carrie Fisher. A sad end to the year indeed. And although most of us cannot claim to know her, we feel a sense of loss nonetheless. A loss entwined with what we've come to associate with her most famous portrayal - a royal princess in a galaxy far, far away.  

In Memoriam - Carrie Fisher 1956 - 2016

Coincidentally, I'm embarking on a new journey in action figure repainting and have earmarked a Hasbro Han Solo/Princess Leia set as the first guinea pigs of this new endeavour. As a result of Fisher's passing, the thought of shelving this repaint attempt did momentarily cross my mind. But in the end, I felt painting a figurine of Leia would be my form of tribute to Fisher, especially to all that her character had come to represent for me - independence, strong-will and determination.

At my age, the passing of the icons of our youth tends to fog up our rose-tinted view of the-good-old-days as well as remind us of our own impending mortality. We are temporarily shocked out of the myth of the character and perhaps reminded that all this is just make-believe. I for one choose to remember the realness of the strengths which she portrayed via Leia and hope to recapture that essence both in the form of miniature painting as well as portrait drawing in the days to come.   

Hasbro Star Wars A New Hope 3.75 inch figure 2-pack: Han Solo and Princess Leia
Both Han and Leia make perfect first subjects for my foray into action figure repainting

Plans for both 3.75 inch action figures comprise a total repaint. They'll both be re-posed with putty and glue before being primed (without removing any existing paint) and then repainted using Vallejo Model Color acrylics. All this for pre-painted action figures ... I have a bad feeling about this

Hasbro action figures of Han and Leia with their assortment of weapons on display
Leia and Han in A New Hope
BEFORE photos: Closeup view of Hasbro action figure, Han Solo
BEFORE photos: Closeup view of Hasbro action figure, Princess Leia

Even as I end this post, news of Debbie Reynolds' death is slowly filtering in. Mum and daughter are together again albeit under the saddest of circumstances. Amidst a sad end to the year, let's take heart in the year to come. On what basis should we to look forward to 2017? What Leia said ... Hope.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Star Wars TIE FIghter [WIP - A New Hope, light grey version]

To prevent witnessing any Star Wars Rogue One spoilers, I had been on an self imposed online hiatus of sorts. As such I haven't been posting updates nor visiting/commenting on my fellow blogger's posts as I usually do. But that's gonna change as I finally caught the movie ... although sadly my first viewing of Rogue One was ruined by a part of it being projected out-of-focus. It's inevitable my comeback post is about Star Wars. And since I haven't gotten my hands on any Rogue One model kits from Bandai, I did the next best thing ... A New Hope version of the TIE Fighter.  

Comparing colour scheme of ANH Tie Fighter against a photo in Sculpting A Galaxy

Working on my second TIE Fighter model kit meant things went a lot smoother. Naturally, things got done a lot faster and better than the first time around. As this version references the TIE Fighters found in A New Hope, it had a light grey colour scheme. Depending on the lighting, the light greys of the hull tends to look either cool or warm. I went with the latter in line with how Darth Vader's TIE Advanced Fighter looks like as shown in an art reference book titled Sculpting A Galaxy (see above). 

TIE Fighter pilot with helmet decals and a simple armour paint job
TIE Fighter pilot, seated before being sealed in his cockpit
Most, if not all of the pilot's flight armour is no longer visible after he's enclosed in the cockpit
After the cockpit is sealed, the most visible part of the pilot is his helmet decals

As a testament to how fun Bandai's model kits are, I was never bored even at the second time of asking. A different colour scheme helped keep things fresh but it would've been enjoyable regardless.

TIE Fighter in the light grey colours of A New Hope, a close approximation anyway
Detailed bits of the Bandai TIE Fighter model kit

For the Death Star base/stand, I made a more subtle approach in that the panel lining applications were visibly softer and less vivid. I did this in order for the base to blend into the background more thus allowing the focus to remain largely on the TIE Fighter model that it supports. 

Bandai TIE Fighter's Death Star base ... this time with more subtlety in the panel lining

To truly appreciate the difference between this version of the TIE Fighter and an earlier blue-grey Return of the Jedi version that I did, it's best to display both of them side-by-side. That I'll do once I have fully completed the assembly and paint job of this New Hope version. Until then, here's wishing a very Merry Christmas to you, dear readers, who are celebrating the festive season.

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