I have to admit that one of the type of miniatures I enjoy the most painting is feminine busts. I guess it makes sense after painting every kind of fantastic creature you can think of, some prettier than others. The Spanish company Draconia has a series of feminine references that I had the opportunity of painting for their boxart version. Today I am talking about Excelsy, the bust version.
Because of the boxart work I did on Excelsy, I was contacted by collectors for alternative paintjobs of that original version. In between the months of December 2016 and January 2017 I have been working on these two new versions. The first one, with a completely different schema to the original Excelsy, and the second with nearly and identical armour and red hair.
I have to say that normally I am free to experiment, which in a way is great and in a way is a problem. It’s great because it gives me margin to decide and do what I prefer doing, unleashing my creativity. But sometimes this is a problem because if I am not inspired it can mean that the work will not end up being as good.
In this case the collector gave me a series of instructions that were very well detailed about what he wanted and how he wanted it, with the addition of very clear reference images. I am very comfortable working like that, especially if the proposal is motivating for me, like in this case.
Once the mold lines were removed, and the miniature was glued together and pinned, I primed black and then white over the top with airbrush just to have a clearer surface to work with.
After this I started painting the bulk of the armour, in green as you can see in the images. I looked for some kind of ‘bottle green’, working more towards the shadow tones than the highlights, where the texture would be visible. The work is rough but also fine at the same time, because I don’t want to end up with thick layers on the surface. The armour is interpreted as a thick and polished leather, or some sort of chromed metallic material.
Next, I highlighted all the edges in yellowish ocres, simulating golden materials. The decorations are an important part in Excelsy and I decided to dedicate some especial attention to them, defining the separations very well. This work helped me distinguish between materials and frames the green areas. As a start, this is a very particular detailing and defining process, reverse to what I normally follow. Afterwards I integrated this decorations with a series of glazes using both brush and airbrush.
Once the armour was sketched out, I started painting Excelsy’s face, just to see how the colours in the skin and the hair worked out. Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of the process in the face. During the painting process I worked non stop and I did not have many chances to take photographs. I hope that I can write an article on feminine face painting in the near future.
In any case, regarding the face, I looked for a reddish skin tone in line with the type of hair that could also be a complement to the armour tone. In the detailed photographs you can see the greenish tone in the jaw and the lower part of the face that gradually shifts to redder skintones.
In the next steps I worked the areas that were in grey such as the arm, the chainmail and the cape. Edge highlighting and defining everything helps to get a clearer idea of the overall colour schema.
As to the rest of the colours, I really did not complicate myself too much and maintained the original plan looking for similar colours. To make them work in this new piece, I used a medium tone (blue green) to connect all the elements mixing with the colours that I used for each part.
Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the piece is the hair. This is one of the areas that I like to work on the most. The complex array of reflections and tone nuances that you can draw contribute greatly to make the miniature stand out. In my opinion this is a very fun work to do because I can sketch with very long and rough brushstrokes and polish the finish in a process that I consider very effective. The first thing to do is to work on the reflection areas looking for aesthetically appealing shines in line with the overall lighting of the piece. As in other occassions, the use of real references is very useful to achieve what I call a ‘Pantene’ hair.
To increase the natural shine of the hair we can apply a series of ‘washes’ with very dilluted ink. This will enhance the natural brilliance.
Contrast and shadow intensity is important so I recommend avoiding dull colours with little intensity. Model Air from Vallejo is a great colour range to work on these tones.
To finish the piece I painted the cape and the sword. In this case I mixed the surrounding colours to simulate reflections in the metallics. It’s very practical to use the airbrush too in these cases to unify elements. In my case this is very useful in the final phase to apply a series of mid tones and shadow ones, before finishing the light spots and shines.
I hope you like this process. May it encourage you to paint this marvellous piece which, apart from beautiful, it’s a true delight to paint.