Step by Step - Pimp a Gladiator bust

by Roman aka jar

posted by roman, jarhead, kong


This could get a confusing article.
oO, i hate it when it starts like this.
Let me explain a bit more around this write up.
You will now find this new category in the article section/Step by Step/

Got Pimped!

where step by step articles of models that recieved a pimping will appear.

I have to start this one with some Kong Fu. As some of you might have seen i had some bad days gone by in the beginning of 2011, no powers left, no energy, no muse, no inspiration, no flow of painting. These moments happen, no one can flee them and sure i was whining and grinding on my teeth as i missed the muse so much while i have walked those dark paths in the valley of shadows. Believe me when i say - accept those moments, you can't avoid them, you can't always be as powerful as you wish for, not when it comes to creativity and creation. Just imagine a race car driver driving a race for 7 months without pause - that won't work. He has to rest and regain powers. So sadly i was walking through the dark valley of shadows but it really hit me again lately, it came from within, kind of out of my soul and it feels like walking out of that valley and pushing those mountains out of the way with my bare hands to see the sun again...

Life, this is what it sometimes feels...

And it brought me to a point where i could see clearer. I told you about my love to miniature painting and my feeling of a personal upgrade or level up here in the Gladiator Kong Fu. Since this has happened to me it seems i lost a lot of weight, unfortunately not at body weight but somehow i have lost weight on my back and in my mind. That weight that shows up someday is also a part of life - it appears due the things you feel, think and experience, good or bad ones - it all summons up, but sometimes you just have to push the bad things away and make same room for new ones :)


I did paint this 1:9 Young Miniature Gladiator bust in Octobre 2009 as a gift to my good friend Peter. Even we struggled in our friendship over the last years it all was meant that way. Guess this is what friendship is about - accepting the other side as he is, getting to know eachother and learn from eachoter. Many thanks for your friendship over the last years. Ok, Gladiator - i named the rework bust PUGNAMUS VICTUM! - that means somehow "We fight for Victory!" and that is what a noble life is about - every life is noble when it comes to fighting its own struggles. Some have more - some have less fights, some are born in fights and some search for fights but in the end we all try to seek Victory. My greatest Victory for myself in personality was losing this weight i have talked about up ahead.
My eyesight went clearer and i saw the bust again at the Painting Class in Munich, it felt very unfinished to me. I have only bad old photos but i guess everyone will get what i am talking about. I now will add some words on what i thought in that moment, when i saw the bust and called in unfinished. Here is the photo:

I now will summ up what my mind was struggling with:

- The skintone could have more contrast, more realistic variety. When i look to the head i see nothing of these aspects. The painted light of the face skin has more than less the same Hue all around and loses detail because of this.

- The metals could have more contrast overall and could get worked out clearer and detailed mainly when it comes to the buckle pieces. The leather is mainly just brown with a little highlight without a realistic leather appearence.

- Don't like the blood anymore as it looks somehow too funky and unrealistic to me, like out of the movie Sin City.

- The rag on his shoulder looks also painted without any real light. The beard could get more detail. The dark lining around the places are way too unsharp, too big and imprecise.

- the colour of the skin when it is hit by light seems way too yellowish too me.

And so on. I guess i could fill a book right now after i did repaint him. I just heard this bust calling me to bring her to light. Some spots of light that wander on this bust, taking the viewers eyes by the hand and give them a kind of walkthrough. I did choose his left side to be the place, where the metal will make "bammaallaam!!", going over the rag, hitting the neck and truely setting his character in motion with his still good eye left for the cherry place. I try to explain how i pimped him up and what i did to the places i choose with seriously some mind fucking sketches for you i guess, buti my words will do the rest i hope. For sure this isn't an article where you only could watch the photos and think "yeah i got it!" - no it isn't reading and patience is the key and i am giving my best to be your travel guide, kindly showing you the depths of my brain jungle.


As i was taken by the skin at first sight i did choose to find my way in the Pimping process due this main area on the bust. I was talking about more depth and skin variety. For depth my plan was easy, just going in a darker colour hue of the skintone. For variety i kept my eyes open all the way, looking at people i have met, checking photos and movies and found some of my quests done. There is a lot more than just a skintone with light and shadow to get skin look realistic. Here are some photo examples, don't get your eye on the motive, just concentrate on the skin and how it changes its colour, gently and geniously...


Here are three extreme examples on what i mean - totally overdressed but showing what i mean - skin can always be painted, it is not the form of your model you have to paint skin on or wrap it in skin, if it shall look realistic bring in some powerful colour action:

These changes in skin hue always depend on facts like where is the light source, how strong is the light source, how shadowy is the area the model stands, will the light hit hard'n'bring strong shadows or will it hit soft with a lot of gentle sorrounding light? Which skin colour has the model you are painting on - for example is it a human or a smurf? What colour has the light hitting it? Is there another light source, like glowing butterflys around anywhere? You can go on like this forever... BUT, hey its a miniature and ma' space is limited so keep i am keeping it simple.

I did choose to use a zenithal lightning situation on the bust like i do most of the time, as it feels i got a feeling for it meanwhile due the experiences i've made during painting and painting. So i am not up for any changes so far, haha. Whatever, i really like this light situation as it gives me a guide where to set light and shadow. How strong the contrast from bright to dark will be this is still my decision and so it began with a light in mind that leaves such intresting places:


At least something like this was planned, i didn't use photos at all, just the eye and its brain connected remembering functions. I try to rebuild my thoughts here, so here we go with a kind of photo i would have used bringing all of my skin and light blabla to an end:


Somehow i had it there, back in my mind talking about so much light and shadow on my latest painting classes that i planned everything in my mind for getting lost in detail lights and shadows on his skin, with no time pressure ahead. Here are two more photos of the bust before the rework started. I will say sorry now for the photos they have been done during the work without having perfect light and so on. Just out of the progress with daylight, nightlight, bad fingers when it comes to fast camera work. Click to enlarge!

So i have started with gentle glazes on the skin. I did bring in some more warm depth with the use of Tallarn flesh mixed with a tip of bestial brown here, a tiny tip of Red Gore in it here, a tip of something greyish greenish i can't remember anymore there and went into the deeper shadows with adding some achromatic blues and greens. That left the overall skin darker as i was searching for my light spots to find. I also have darkened the hair area as i did not want to leave him with no hair as he is full of a facebeard.

After this  step i really took a close look again and now the madness starts. I try to sketch for you what i think, not very good but i try. Red shows areas i am not really happy with, green instead shows areas i do already like and which i think are on a good way. What i was thinking follows under the photo:

- The facial area still has way to less detail, even the shadows i have painted brought out more contrast i still miss those final lights i am wishing for. Everything still needs more depths, contrast in bright and shadow to appear kind of real, but i have planned to do this with glazing later on, after i did set my lights and shadows. It seems i won't went into full lights and shadows yet - as i read my mind i did this during the final process - so this will appear later on.

- The shoulder with the rag is still making me feel nervous, as the metal needs just a little update but the rag won't be easily being brought to light.

- The leather still is only brown with an edge highlight. Gna!

- The darklining has to be get cleaner. Mainly on the leather parts and metal rings.

- The right shoulder is somehow missing some more cheerful colours in its track. Try to think only of this area, only the shoulder, there is mainly one colour on the complete area, it goes a bit darker to the shadows but 70% of the main part has the same colour. There colours are needed, strong skin colours and a strong light on top.

- I also set the good eye completly new with some Ivory mixed with Bleached Bone to give him a different view as before. Painting Eyes?

I now put my attention into working with the lights. I did use a tip of Dwarf Flesh with Model Colours Ivory, a drop of Bleached Bone and some tiny amount of yellow in it to make it pop out more. I now put my glazes carefully in place, always moving the side of my brush to the light spot. Here you find this topic explained better: Working with Glazes and What to look after while glazing! When you hit the glaze at a spot don't you think you will see it at a first go. You can intense the light you are searching for by using one glaze layer over another to intense the amount of colour there and make it stronger. After i was doing this with such a bright tone the bust did lose its yellowish tone in the lights a bit more and went more white in the overall appearance.

I so decided to return to some darker skintone glazes with some additional red, moving it in under his cheekbones, on his dead eye and the throat area - remember you can always change the hue of this colour by just putting in something darker or brighter during this step. I also did start to concentrate a bit more on the beard and did use some pure Ivory out of the pot and a sharp brush to hit single hairs with it. Meanwhile i did also put the rag on his shoulder to a bit more light with the same tone, i can also remember glazing it do a darker tone with Graveyard Earth or something like that. The eye has been painted and the bust itself moved gently to the left to have another front view and make his eyes and the jumping light the focal area. After my lights went on and i saw them on the bust i now saw more and more places i was not really happy with but capable of don't let them hide away. Here comes another sketch of forious explanation with some additional words after it:

I was happy with the overall appearance of the face, but not with the sharpness fo the paintjob. I wasn't fine with the hair so far, the beard offers still so many details, the ear and some minor parts to be worked with total concentration. I felt like: ok, first i go into deep shadows and high lights in the overall look to find out where the small parts will appear and planned to work them as well, but taking only eyesight on those places while working on them as they were a single important part of the miniature, not part of the skin - that describtion shows good what i mean.

I now can show you a sketch of the path i want the light to wander over special focused light points - later on there will be another sketch to the same subject , just follow the green arrows to get directed to the place i want to paint my intense light situation. I hope one of these sketches at least catches it for everyone of you - i guess it does if you did read the whole text so far. Only green this time - means good:

So i've started to hit the beard again with some graveyard earth/grey mix to make the single hair look more seperated. I went to Fortress grey and did paint small lights that shall be hair to the head in places where the upper head is hit by light, also the beard has been painted in the overall concept of zenithal lightning. I've completly finished painting the good eye. Meanwhile as far as i can remember I in between did hit the chest with some fine darker hair. I've also added some thin glazes of more red to the face or was it reddish Dark Flesh, i don't know. The shoulder rag has been glazed in the same colour as the beard, some Graveyeard Earth/Grey mix.

When working with bright colours to paint i have learned to clean my painting water often as it is really hard to paint something bright with grey water. I also did clean my brush from dirt which appeared due my wild colour throwing - no idea what for as i am usually never doing this right, but you see what a cleaning process might bring.

In fact, now at this point i saw several places i was not really happy with again. Some minor abrupt changes in the colours hue at several places. Untidy places you can also call them, a place where the colour transition doesn't look very harmonic. Such things happen. Always. At least to me and my style of painting, but there isn't a problem i can't deal with, it is just about knowing and understanding colour. Why is this abrupt change in the colour hue? It is because two unfamiliar colour hues lay next to eachother. How can i make them go away? It is about mixing them and bringing them on the spot with a glaze of the tone in the middle of this "colour hue edge". I hope you get what i mean - here you find some of these places marked before curing them - green and red again:

Somehow in between i did start to work on the socket. The basic socket was just plain and i missed some action going on there, so i took a gripper and did gentle harm to the sockets main body and painted these places black . I have also glued a socket bottom section to the socket with PVC glue from and did paint it black as soon as everything was dry. Photos of the damged socket will appear later on.

Now i was out on the balcony and other different places to check the model in my hands. Looking for those places of hue changes and thinking about how to bring them away. I like to check my model under different light sources as only lamp light is disturbing the eye. Back on the workbench:

After all the thinking i did prepare myself for the final call. The call ouf cleaning up, intensing shadows and lights, working on details. I don't know when i did it but i did pimp up the leather parts and the true metal parts with more contrast and colour variety. Now to further preparation. I did put the colours in place i want to go into the shadow again and also teh light way. Here you can see them on the photo with their names as the photo is massive big when you click:

I think it is still too small and some colours try to hide from you so here is the list in no order, just listed as i did mix them up for several different places i could need them. As i did work with skin again i also did put some other miniatures to the workbench as i often use the same colours to start skin from and want to do it on them at the same time with my 5 arms of Cthulhu:

Shadow Plan:
- Tallarn Flesh
- Dark Flesh
- Orkhide Shade
- Hawk Tourquise 
- Vermin Brown
Not on the photo but in the plan:
- Tank Brown by Model Air Colour for intensing reddish dark glazes

Light plan:
- Dwarf Flesh
- Sunburst Yellow
- Bleached Bone

Model Colour
- Yvory

So far to the plan here goes the practical insight. I still remember the jumping light on his left shoulder that i have planned - a sketch to the jumping light points you may find here - i want to intense this even more and get into full detail while working at his face, in fact as much as i am capable of at the moment:

I did prepare my colours on my wetpalette. On the left you can see a desurated skin tone made from Tallarn Flesh and a tip of a blueish grey i don't know anymore while writing this, a way i start skin very often. It is meant for Charlie's Angels as a basic skin tone. Guess i got to write a skin tone article someday again. On the right you can see my prepared spots of my highlight colour, all ready to be mixed in different hues to intense the lights, brighter and brighter.

 I did use the desurated skin tone also to clean minor areas from abrupt colour transitions. Now it is getting complicated - you have read the list of colours i have used. It is kind of really hard to tell me what i exactly have used where. I just did open my colour cans and took a little more dark flesh in that pool of colour on my wet palette and another in another pool and highlight here and a light there a more intense light here and even more intensing mixing in other colour hues to bring variety into the skin, to gentle correct too abrupt colour transitions. It is really hard to tell as i am in a completly colour berserker gorilla mode without my brain active and i am such an idiot  - i did forget to take a picture of my wet palette afterwards.

In fact, the only thing i mainly did is stop myself from saying, now this project is ready. I still wanted to go further or improve or find what i might search for without looking at my clock as time is always relative when it comes to passion and berserk mode.

Again - i've checked the model in daylight on the balcony on a sunny/cloudy late afternoon with blueish light:

I hate those moments, writing an article and the article is getting more confused and confused as soon as the painting goes to detail. I can't tell you why this is that way. Maybe i am not on this world when swinging the brushes, i totally dive deep through oceans of colours and lights and shadows, but i am really having a hard time to explain you what i did in the final steps. I try my best but it might not be the best try.

- I did intense the shadows and lights even more due bringing up more layers of glazes for the final spots. The spots i did concentrate at the moment went smaller and smaller, but i've tried to keep my eye sharp on those to improve them even more.

- I did intense the metals, but first i did use a mixture from Oily Steel and a brush tip of Dark Sea blue to cure aprupt colour hue changes. The sideeffect of this procedure was that the metal now has a dark tourquise shimmer in some places and that makes it more intresting. I did hit the final lights on the metal with Silver by Model Colour, followed by a small amout of Model Colours Metal Medium at the final spots of light.

The leater areas were made stronger in their light and shadow appearance and also a bit of a yellow brown was mixed by to give it more variety. Thin brown glazes with Game Colour Sepia, Model Air colour Tank Brown and Citadel Sepia Wash have been applied randomly to give the leater a shiny and alive looking athmosphere. The rag on his shoulder has been done with the same method to get the colour transitions smoother. Also lights again have been hit everywhere with mainly Ivory mixed with Bleached Bone. I still had the old blood splatters from the first painting session on the bust and they somehow included themselve really athmospheric as some glazes of my rework hit them.

I did some tiny beard spots with pure Ivory too and remember correcting the dark lining somewhere in between the next steps. I am really sorry - there is not much more left i remember from this wild painting. It feels i summed it up ok and i hope these thoughts can help the one or the other in the end. Now after everything was clean the time for destruciton came. I wanted to make him look like the winner of a hard gladiator fight, just seconds after the victory. There was more blood neeeded so i googled for a broken nose photo, tried to catch the same effect and then took care of the face and socket to make big bam bam - i did use another tissue for the socket but did not take a photo, urgs:

Now, after the preparation was done i did use some Tamyia Clear Red which i use for blood and did put it in the mix with a small amount of dark brown to make it look more like real blood. I now took the colour on a bigger brush and did use the air power of my airbrush pistol to hit that brush full of blood with air. I did some tests on a tissue to check how fat the splattering would be and when i saw that it is very fine splatter and gory stuff i did hit the bust from different directions. Best of all i did somehow lose the photos i have done of that while cleaning up my memory stick of the camera. It is kind of the same effect explained during this article about blood but with more control due air pressure.

While i did that bloody thing i can remember using also my fingers to blur the blood and sometimes using a toothpick to ripp a little blob open. I took my time and was a fool in losing the photos, gnargl!! I did work the face with some blood too but did use an old brush for it to have better control, for this i have removed the tissu.

After all the gore was dry i did finally work on some minor spots, just repairing or redefining. Next step: I did use my airbrush to hit the bust with some water thinned satin varnish on spots where the skin wanders to the light areas to make it look more shiny. I did use a drop of gloss varnish in the so far mix and hit the bust with a soft gentle gloss at places where the most light is to make him look sweating. I did use a toothpick and some Micro Kristal Clear, which you can find here in another article about creating real lenticulars - for the use of tiny drops of sweat. Real tiny ones that you don't really see on the photos but in real they are there, yeah! There is still some improvement on those needed before there could be an article about it .

So far this is it. Everything i can remember.
I hope it helps the one or the other. Let me know if it does or if there are quesitons about my thoughts. I'll try to answer them the best i can. Here again is a photo of the final model, this time with Raffa's expensive camera that makes way better photos than my little pocket sweety.

The hair btw of this old gladiator gentleman is a homage to the friend this bust was sent to and so the complete bust catches his own warrior soul!! Here you may find teh before and after photo:

I really hope my thoughts could help you - and i am still sorry about my brain fails on a regularly basis. Hip Hey - keep on happy painting!
Best Regards


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