It’s been quite a year so this post is gonna be lengthy, so grab a drink and strap in for this one.
As i’m writing this it hasn’t even been a week since I came home from the Nova Open and participated in the Capital Palette and boy was it a roller coaster of emotions. But before we get to that I would be remiss if I didn’t give a final rundown of everything I did for Joan
The biggest challenge when it came to the armor was the scale I was working with the level of detail present. If you aren’t familiar with Corvus Belli Infinity models, they are 28mm true scale metallic miniatures meaning they have real life proportions for everything. This mean that things like hands, feet, faces, etc. are real tiny compared to Games Workshop minis. Not only that, Corvus Belli is not afraid to jam pack their minis with all kinds of details
Her undersuit is a prime example of what I am talking about when it comes to detail. It’s not a a smooth section of metal, it’s actually full of bumps and ridges. So I based in Scale 75 flat black to get a solid matte finish and very carefully put a dot of white on every bump and ridge. Her shin and calf armor is recessed into her armor but it wasn’t until I started painting them did I realized that the ankle guard isn’t attached her shin and there is a space between them. So, being very careful, I painted those armor sections with VGC Wolf Grey, trying to not get it all over the main armor panels. But even then it was a huge pain to and had to clean up a ton of accidental brush strokes. Luckily I was smart enough to do this before working on the main armor plates.
If you remember my last post I spent the majority of my time on the blue armor. I challenged myself to not use an airbrush and glaze blended the whole armor. So after the initial zenithal highlight, I got an idea of where the highlights went and proceeded to basecoat everything in VMC Dark Prussian Blue which was my shadow. I blocked in the midtone with Scale 75 Mediterranean Blue and the highlights with a 50/50 mix of Mediterranean Blue with white. To blend the colors I made an intermediate mix of the shadow/midtone and the midtone/highlight. I thinned those intermediate mixes with Lahmian medium to a glaze consistency and blended those transitions, cleaning up the blend with the original shadow/midtone/highlight color where appropriate.
So her face and hair were challenging because I had no experience with either things. I was one of those hobbyists who assembled all of his marines with helmets so I wouldn’t have to paint faces. For the hair I went through various recipes I got from different sources, but they were either too yellow or too brown and it wasn’t until I stumbled upon Sam Benson’s tutorial for blond hair did I find what what worked for me.
Painting her hair started with basecoating with VMC Field Drab followed with a wash of VMC German Camouflage Med. Brown (that’s an absurdly long name for paint). I then reapplied Field drab to the hair making sure to leave the recesses and underside dark. The first highlight was done with a 50/50 mix of Field Drab and VMC Sand Yellow, focusing on raised sections of hair and towards the top of the head leaving the recesses dark. I then took my previous mix and added VMC Ivory in equal parts and applied it to the hair in smaller strands as well as focusing towards the top of her head. The final highlight was done with VMC Ivory on the highest points.
Her face was done using all Games Workshop colors because in my testing those were the paints that gave me the smoothest finishes. Since Joan is female I didn’t want the shadows to be too deep so I basecoated with Cadian Fleshtone. After the basecoat was applied I worked on the eyes because it would be easy to clean up any mistakes with Cadian Fleshtone. Using a small brush with a good tip I placed a layer of black where the eyes would be followed by a layer of white, making sure to leave some of the black color around the edges. Then using my brush with the best tip I very carefully place a black dot on each eye, making to sure to offset it a little closer to the nose; if you placed it in the center of the eye she’ll actually end up look a little derpy and cross-eyed. With the eyes done, I cleaned up with the base color and moved one to the first highlight of Kislev Flesh placing it on her forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. Watching makeup tutorials really helped out in understanding where these highlights would go. The final highlight was with Flayed One Flesh, picking out the tip of her nose, the top of her cheeks, ridge above her eyes, and the tip of her chin. I then made a very thin glaze of GW Screamer Pink and applied it to her lips.
The red on her right shoulder-guard and tabard were painted using Andrea’s Red paint set. It has six colors numbered 1 through 5 and one basecoat. I followed the instructions and laid down a basecoat after applying a layer of white using the airbrush. then applied the shadows and highlights in the appropriate order as per instructions making sure to pick out the higher points for the highlights. Honestly, painting the tabard was difficult because I couldn’t wrap my head around how to properly shade or highlight this wavy piece of fabric, so I did my best and left it at that. All the freehand was done using VMC white thinned with Daler Rowney White ink, it’s a trick I learned from Vince Venturella when I took his freehand class at Nova in 2018. It allows it be saturated while still flowing off brush easily.
The leather belt was done using the Vallejo wood and leather set their guide for dark leather. First a solid coat of Chocolate Brown is put down followed by an uneven application of Flat earth leaving some of the Chocolate brown showing in order to give it texture. Next a highlight of Dark Sand was applied along the edges in uneven lines and stipples to further increase the textured look. A wash of VMC Smoke was used to unify everything that was done followed by fine lines of black to give the appearance of cuts and scrapes. A final targeted wash of black was used in the recesses.
The NMM on the sword was done using Scale 75 Anthracite Grey, Graphite, and Nacar. I blocked each color in on the sword, which was a mistake because Scale 75 is a little tough to basecoat with. Then glazed the transitions with intermediate mixes much like how I did the armor. I then glazed white near the end of the highlights and black near the end of the shadow to increase contrast. Then I edge highlighted with white along the sword edge. The rifle was basecoated in black and used the same Anthracite Grey, Graphite, and Nacar to do some NMM on multiple sections along the body.
I originally planned to do gold NMM on the sword hilt and rifle chamber. However, I gave up after 4 or 5 attempts and tried to salvage what I did by painting Scale 75 Necro Gold in abject disappointment.
Lastly, the Shasvastii corpse was painted with Vallejo Gory red and highlighted with Bloody red, and the edge highlights were done using a mix of Bloody Red and Sunny Skin tone The blood was done using Games Workshop Blood for the Blood God which is probably the best for making blood effects, and I applied it after the final varnish in order to preserve the sheen.
The base, which I got from Secret Weapon Miniatures, the dirt was based with Rhinox Hide, washed Agrax Earthshade, drybrushed with VMC Flat Earth followed by a lighter drybrush of Ushabti bone. The stones were based in VMC Basalt Grey and washed black then drybrushed with a neutral grey. I honestly didn’t do too much because time was short and the base did a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of looking good.
After all that, I deemed Joan finished the Sunday before the Nova started on the day I left I used blue tac to stick her to the bottom of a box filled with tissue paper and cradled her all the the way to Washington D.C. Once there I handed her over to Nova for Single mini in the apprentice level and waited with baited breath for Sunday. So how did I do come Sunday?
Going above and beyond anything I could have imagined I got Gold in apprentice level for the single mini category. I was one of two gold medalist for that category and I was barely edged out for best in category. After speaking with the judges for feedback on my piece I discover that there was quite a story with my piece. Apparently, the judges for the apprentice level used my entry as the standard to judge quality for that category, not only that my entry had moved from apprentice level to journeyman and back multiple times. In fact both judges had nominated Joan for best in category, but the other gold medalist was actually an entry from the journeyman level that got bumped down to apprentice so it went to him. Nonetheless, a year in the making and the I achieved what I set out to do and so much more.
Now I gotta prepare for a next year where I have to enter the most cutthroat level, the journeyman level. But before that I was tipped off about a painting competition not too far from me called the Jersey Devil in December….here we go again.