This time last week I thought there would be two more posts before this diorama was complete but it is looking now like this will be the penultimate post.
Before I started on this diorama I knew I wanted to have a bit more drama going on rather than just the tower, some waves and a wizard prancing about. The question of course was what? In keeping with a mystical theme I decided to have the tower under attack from a dragon if I could find the right figure. After a fair bit of research I settled on the Narthrax dragon produced by Reaper. There was only one problem though, the dragon was only available in the Reaper Bones range.
From what I have been able to gather Reaper Bones has very mixed reviews. Now I am no fan of plastic but at the same time I needed to be able to bend this figure about a bit in order to position it how I wanted. I decided I had little choice but to take a punt on it. All I can say is I fully understand the mixed reviews. The figure was well boxed and looked superb but the touch of it was something else. Right from the start I knew this was something I didn’t want to paint and I can say with 100% confidence I will never do another bones figure again. I know some of you like them and have produced great results so I am happy for this to go down as my aversion to plastic and bones models in particular.
First up I needed to assemble the thing and remove the plastic pins which slotted into the base which came with the model as I wouldn’t be using that. Then I had to play around with some hot water to bend various body parts to get the position I required. This took several attempts because the plastic had a life its own and wanted to spring back into its original shape. Perseverance paid off in the end and I finally felt confident that it would remain in shape and I could start painting.
Already in the wrong frame of mind my mood wasn’t helped any when after priming the figure I learnt that you didn’t need to prime this bones figure! Nevertheless I continued to soldier on and for the first time ever I used contrast paints. I didn’t know quite what to expect but I found them to be pretty good and for something like this they were ideal. I’m not sure I will use them that often but I certainly have nothing against them and can see why people would use them if they are looking for very effective and quick results.
Now the store images for the Nathrax dragon show it painted in blue. I discussed with my inner self what colour I should go with and decided blue was probably the way to go. Against the tower it would offer a nice contrast and with the sea and waves it somehow felt like the right habitat for a dragon of this colour. Regrettably I didn’t take that many photo’s of the painting process. I think I feared that if I put it down I wouldn’t want to pick it up again! Despite everything I pretty much managed to get there with it and a few images are below.
The dragon isn’t fully finished and the uncompromising and magnified images show that it is scruffy in places. It clearly needs some tidying up, quite a bit actually, and more dry brushing but I don’t think any of that will make for a lot of work or for an interesting post so next week we will skip straight to the finished diorama. Well that’s the plan anyway.
I have mentioned previously that I had to resolve a couple of problems. Neither were major but they were unplanned.
The first relates to the second turret which you can see in the image below. The turret itself fixes to four wooden resin posts but unfortunately one of them was broken on arrival. It was easy enough to fix but I had been contemplating removing the turret anyway because the wizard figure which I had planned to position there would not have been easily seen. I took this as a sign and set about removing all four wooden posts and after a few minor adjustments you would never know they were meant to be there.
All was fine until I then had the presence of mind to try the wizard figure out in position only to discover that it didn’t work! The problem being that the height of the wall and the angle the wizard would be positioned at didn’t look right for what I had planned. So now I had no turret and the need to determine where the wizard was going to go.
Knowing that the wizard would be positioned elsewhere I decided there needed to be some visual interest given no wizard and no turret. Initially I had know idea what to do but later had the idea of a banner so I set about making one. Using some Japanese writing paper and a couple of pieces of steel rod I got started. The issue of design was also a problem. I wanted something that felt medieval but also wizard like. I settled on the idea of the star sign symbols, Leo, Libra, etc. These only covered part of the banner so I then added a star at the bottom and then added a flag too. Some photos below.
The wizard has now been positioned down below on the rocks. It will make more sense when you see the finished diorama but for now this is the only image you are getting!
The plan this week was also to get the ballistrade added and painted. I also wanted to get some more weathering done. Mission accomplished.
Now where do I go from here?
Time to work on the final figure. Probably a couple of weeks work and then a final post of the completed diorama.
This week my time was entirely spent on painting the second figure for this diorama, images of which appear below.
The figure in question is from the Reaper Pathfinder range and goes by the name “Valeros, Iconic Male Human Fighter” and the composition of the figure is perfect for what I have in mind to do with him. There is very little to say on the paint job itself but some of you following the progress of this diorama my well be asking at this point “so what is going on here then?”. You’re not asking? Well that’s OK then because in any event I have no intention of telling you exactly what is going on for at least another couple of weeks.
Now where do I go from here? Well next week I have four aims. Firstly to explain two minor problems I encountered and how I have hopefully resolved them. Do some more weathering and ground work and add the wooded posts and rope ballistrade which goes up alongside the steps. This last step involves glue and I hate glue so I am not looking forward to that bit very much. If I get all that done I will move on to the final piece of this diorama jigsaw. That should take a couple of weeks I reckon balancing it alongside the fact that it is now spring in the UK and I have loads of jobs to do outside in the garden. If that goes well then I will be ready for the final post which essentially will be images of the end result.
The plan for this last week was to get the waves done and that is what I managed to do.
There are plenty of techniques out there, several of which some of you were kind enough to bring to my attention. In the end I went for a combination. The sea painting that I done last week was almost entirely based on this video. This video then goes on to use the wave technique and materials suggested by Luke over at Luke’ APS.
Here is the link to the Luke’s APS video.
Last week I ended the sea painting at the point of the first image below. The rest of the images show the build up of the waves.
I haven’t gone into to much detail on the technique as it is is explained much better in the video but will add a few comments of my own. Firstly, the waves were done over a few days. Although the Clear Fix and Isoproponal Alcohol 99.9% mix does dry pretty quickly I decided to leave it for an extended period between each layering stage. I saw no need to rush things and having come this far had no desire to cock things up due to impatience. Secondly, I added no ink or colouring to the mix until the very final layer was applied. Here I added some white ink and added the mixture sparingly over the top of the waves until I felt it looked OK.
Personally I’m pleased with how it turned out and a little bit of wadding from She Who Must Be Obeyed’s sewing stuff provided a little sea mist. I’ll let you judge for yourselves how it looks. What I would also add is it is a very clean process which for someone who works in the mess I do at times was a little bonus.
There you have it, the waves are finally done and overall the base it looking pretty good. A little more work to be done in terms of weathering but almost there for sure.
Next week I will start on the second figure and think about how to resolve a little problem I have created for myself.
This week was simply about painting the sea and adding much needed colour to the base rocks. The first picture in the sequence below is where I finished last week.
The green on the rocks will be dry brushed further and toned down a little bit but the sea painting in the final image sequence is as good as there. Just how much of the sea colour will be seen once the waves have been added remains to be seen but the colour cannot be added afterwards so there is no choice but to play safe.
I wasn’t about to use up loads of my Vallejo paints given the reasonably large expanse so I bought some new acrylic paints off of Ebay. The paints were “Artiste” acrylic paints which came in 59ml bottles and at about £2.00 a bottle represented very good value for money. More importantly they turned out to be good paints and I wont hesitate to buy more as and when I feel the need to.
I bought half a dozen colours and starting with black and dark blue I worked my way up to lighter shades of blue and finally on to green. Blending the colours took time and might end up proving an unnecessary step but as previously stated I’ll only know that later.
Next week I aim to tackle the waves. I’ve done a couple of dry runs and am feeling good about what needs to be done and how to do them and it all seems pretty straight forward. I also have a couple of figures which need to be painted and a decision to be made in respect of the tower but that can all wait for now. The waves comes first.
Another week and once again I managed to achieve my aims. In truth I feel I could and perhaps should have done more. My enthusiasm for the project is as high as as it has been from the start but I just don’t seem to be able to shrug off the level of sluggishness that I have developed. I feel sure this has so much to do with lockdown and repetition to my daily life. If it wasn’t for sticking with the blog and trying to hit my self imposed publication days I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell you what day of the week it was.
So, how did I manage to get on?
The first image of the immediate three below is where the base was last week. Once the PVA had dried out a few more stones were added to the front area I then I started to apply filler. On this occasion I went for using DAS clay. It dries quicker, not that I was in any rush, and for what I had in mind was easier to work with and shape.
In the third photo you can see that I have started to shape the waves. A big thank you to those of you who were kind enough to share some tips and YouTube links. I have now worked out what I plan to do and will go into more detail in a future post. The shapes made so far are really only the foundations. The important thing is they are reasonably spaced out and all travelling in the same direction. I went for waves coming in from an angle as I thought it would look better on the eye. Time will tell but of course but by then it will be to late! You will also notice that in addition to the rocks some sand has also been added. Continue reading “Dio-Bolical Monday No: 14 – “The Wizard’s Tower” – Part 5″
Progress this week was slower than anticipated. Looking back I can’t really account for why that was. I didn’t lack for enthusiasm but a few bits and pieces domestically and a few model bits arriving in the post provided a degree of distraction. Still, I’m not working to any sort of deadline so I don’t intend to beat myself up about it. Looking back at the previous post my aim for this week was to start on the base section and the base itself. As I managed both I guess my objective for the week was achieved.
The first image shows the base as it was last week with the stone work largely done but with the rocks still to be painted. In the second photo the rocks have been painted, a little weathering has been done on the tower stone work and I have cut some rough pieces of plaster board to elevate the tower further. You can also see the wooden base the tower will be fixed to as well.
I’m still going for an overall dark look but at the same time needed some contrast between the dark grey stone colour of the tower and the rocks so I settled on various shades of brown.
The reason for elevating the tower further is because I want to have it set on a wider rock base with the sea lapping up against the rocks. Well that’s the theory at least although I’m still not entirely sure how I am going to do the sea but I am more than happy with pressing on with the rock outcrop. As usual I looked to the slate and granite chippings I have on my front garden path as the go to material to use. I needed a few and although I can’t explain my selection process I some how instinctively know what shape and texture I’m looking for. Washed and dried I then set bout trying to put them into position whilst ensuring they blend in with the rocks on the model itself. Far easier said than done and far more time consuming than you might think.
The first image below shows another angle of the base sitting on the roughly cut plaster board pieces which have been stuck together and fixed to the main base using PVA. The second and third photos show the plaster board having been carved out and shaped with the granite and slate chippings being positioned and held in place, again using PVA. The last picture was a brief inspection one of how the base of the model and the base being built will line up.
There are more stones and chippings to be added but for now these need to dry otherwise everything will slip and slide all over the place. From a personal point of view I am happy with how this is coming along. To others, a bit like my Fools Gold diorama, this stage looks like a complete mess but trust me it’s going to look OK in the end! 🤞
Where do we go from here?
Finish adding the stones and chippings and then I need to add filler of some sort to the base while I think about how I am going to do the waves. That’s going to need a lot of thought and there will be some drying time needed as well but if I can get my head around the waves I will be pleased. It might also be a good time to make a start on one of the figures too.
The plan for the last week was to get the turret done and begin work on the top section of the tower. Every section of this model is a painting marathon but so far I am loving every minute of it. Yes I know an airbrush would have quickened things up but I’m a brush guy and am happily losing myself in this project. Although I consider the progress I am making to be very pleasing I’m conscious of the fact that from a blog posting point of view things might be a little dull. Hopefully though the images towards the end of this post will provide some idea of scale and why it is a beast of a model.
The first couple of photos today are of the outside of the turret. There are five turret windows and each one takes a while to do but I love the way they look. Not my idea as I have said before but thanks to the YouTube link I have previously posted. The wooden shingles have all been painted using a combination of various earth coloured oils and most of the weathering has been done too. The grain and texture engraved in the model is simply brilliant. As you can see in the second image their is a top piece still to be painted. I’m leaving that for now so I can pick the top up rather than manhandling the paint work so far done.
With the turret largely out of the way it was time to move on to the stone section. As with the rest of the model it is very highly detailed and getting into the various nooks and crannies to paint everything is time consuming and more than a little repetitive but with YouTube on I was happily zoned out. No real secret to any of the painting here. Just a couple of base colours, washes to get into the dark recessed areas and highlights and dry brushing on edges and where else I felt it was appropriate for weathering. As with the all the tower painting so far done there is much more weathering to be done but that will come later.
In the third image below I have inserted the room which I got painted last week. The fit is perfect and was easily glued into place.
With the room in place I added the turret. Again the fit is perfect although there is only one way the turret can be positioned so I colour marked it for ease as it will not be glued down, that way it will be possible to see inside the room. The colour marks aren’t visible when the turret is on.
With the top section put together it was time for a motivational assembly of the main pieces. It is nice to take time out and see how things are progressing. So far so good and I am very pleased with things as they currently stand. That said there is a long way to go.
Plenty more to paint on the tower. The base hasn’t even been started and there are figures and other bits and bobs to be done. A good many weeks work lay ahead. Next week I will aim to get the rocks done on the base section. Then I might start to think about how to go about getting the base done.
At the end of last week I managed to make a tiny start on the top section of the tower so I thought I would stick with that and see how much more I could get done.
The top piece comprises essentially of a circular room and the turret. As with the rest of the model it is highly detailed both inside and out. Unpainted but assembled the three main parts look like this.
I started on the inner piece last week and managed to get both the inside and outside of it finished this week. As you can see from the two photos below there is a lot of detail, particularly on the windows. The leaded framework on the windows simply took an age to paint on the five windows inside and out and then there was the door to do and the walls as well. It was painted mainly using acrylics and oil washed for the walls. The windows were painted in the same way as referenced in part 1 last week.
In situ this piece looks like this. A lot of work for a piece that as you can see will be pretty concealed. That said I will probably not glue the turret in place. It fits perfectly and doesn’t need any filler of any sort and by leaving it that way it will be possible to then look inside. It will also make transportation easier as well.
I decided my next step would be to start on the turret. So far I have managed to get some paint on the inside. The thing with this model is it is huge and it takes a fair bit of time to paint each piece. I should also mention I am a brush guy. An airbrush would have speeded the process up but I don’t own one and for now at least have no plans to buy and use one.
That’s as much as I got done this week. The aim for the next one is to get the turret finished and then make a start on the lower piece. If I manage to get that done I might assemble the tower and get a rough idea of exactly where I am at that point.
As impressive as this tower is I am hoping the base work when I get to it will be the making of this diorama along with the couple of figures I have planned. Before I get started on them though there is a great deal more to do on the tower.