Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Alice Tutorial.. Part 1: Basing

Or at least as much as I can muster considering I did not take that many WIP shots throughout the project.

Main reason for that is that I am still working on my skills for showcase painting, and thus most of the things I am doing these days are a first for me :) So a LOT of trial and error is put into these pieces, and sometimes they work, and sometimes not so much..

So again, here is the finished works.. with a black background.. another thing that I was playing around with on this model as I had a really difficult time trying to get the model to be in the right level of focus. Due in part to the levels put on the diorama, and the distance between the figures standing on it.

But anyways, that is jumping ahead of myself here.. right? Poor old Tom ( thanks for pushing for this! ) asked for a tutorial on this piece, and by George that is what he is going to get.. or something that may or may not resemble it.. will see..

The Beginning!

So with every project we have a starting point, and this one comes from winning Mastermini's 300th follower contest almost a year ago. Though it would take a server crash and a few FB messages to get it sent out, I was the lucky recipient of this OOP Resin Guild of Harmony Alice figure, accompanied by her faithful rabbit.

It was also luck that Brushbrothers Forums would be holding their first contest, with the theme of Fairy Tales! And coincidentally that contest voting time starts now.. but you would have to be a registered member of the forum in order to vote. So basically only people that want to improve their painting, get honest and sometimes blunt feedback, would want to register for that forum.. and then vote.. just saying..

But the beginning really came with the base/socket. My idea was that it had to hold a fantasy styling to it, but with a sorta steampunk vibe running through it. So steampunk cries stonework, and fantasy calls for magical. So floating bricks came to mind! This was something that I saw done in the basing video from Ben Komets over in Miniature Mentor and how he used Super Glue accelerator to glue pieces together to make them look floating. So I had a start with that!

My first socket on this was unfortunately a complete disaster! I tried to use a cork base, yellow/grey milliput, and then bricks to make the effect. It started off well enough, but then when I began to look at how to make some other stone work on the walls it really fell apart. But the floating bricks section was working as I had hoped! And so at least that aspect of the socket was a go!

With that in mind, I tossed this one into the "later" pile, and began anew!

Here you can see that instead of trying to show the road moving up, I just removed it and went for 2 levels from the beginning! The bottom layer having a typical cris-cross pattern found around Turkey here. Then I put in a pipe near the back corner, and began to add more on top! I had a small piece of plasticard to give the starting bricks something to grab hold of in the beginning and then worked out from there.

The idea of the falling bricks came with the Story of Alice in Wonderland and when she met the Rabbit. How she fell down the rabbit hole and everything kind of tumbles around her. So I tried to give the base some movement like that here.. like she is on the road and it is dissolving or falling apart as she walks along it.

Adding in some more steampunk aspects were watch gear pieces that I picked up from PK-PRO in an earlier order ( and had no idea when I would use it but hey, this is a good time as any! ). These were probably not really needed as much as I put them on ( and I did not put many on ) but I think for the pillar/pipe piece it really helped a lot. Gave it a bit more of a conversational piece here.

The dirt sections were actually just sand and pebbles super glued on. I had not yet found a good source of dirt around the house ( living in Turkey, between houses so no real plants ) and so sand it was. I think it would have been better with real dirt as it would have been more organic on it, but oh well whats done is done.

From here it was priming and painting time! In the beginning I had searched for some photos of Alice in Wonderland that had brickwork to help me give it a theme or setting.. I went with the latest movie adaption from Tim Burton here for inspiration..

Heavy in the de-saturated blues. Which, when compared to how I wanted to paint Alice should make her pop out on the base. Or at least that was the hope.

Before this however, many on the Brushbrothers forums suggested some really wild colors like pinks, and yellows, and such.. I did try this, but quickly found it too overpowering on the base and it would pull focus from Alice too much.

So with this in mind, I primed it with 2K priming via airbrush, and then covered it in Shadow Grey from the Vallejo Game Color range. Many will criticize this range for the fact that it does not play nicely with other colors for blending. They are right for this, but it was the color that I thought best fit the scene above and to give me the background I was hoping for.

With this as the base, it was then the arduous task of blending the bricks from a white to a darker blue/black. My goal was actually to make it look like there was a spot light on the front corner section. So I painted all the bricks light source to point that way. Using mostly wet-on-wet blending for this to work, and then some feathering of the paint near the end.

The blends are not the best here, but again I am OK with that. As it gives the base a different character and I was going for theme more than technical painting for the base work. I also tried to paint all the edges in pure white to make them pop out a bit more.

You can see int he photo above the blending is a bit off, but the direction of light is what I was focusing on the most.

The sandy sections were painted up with mostly washes of different browns and creams. With brown/black ink thinned down near the end.

Mushrooms were painted in shades of red, and having the shadows done the same as the bricks with Dark Sea Blue. They are a bit shiny though, but this is due in part to the red ink I painted on them near the end.

Only thing left in the end was to add some foliage. As my inspirational photo had a lot I was hoping to add a lot here also. Flowers, and some bigger leafs, and grass, etc... however all those supplies were in an order that has traveled more than I have recently. So I had to settle with what I had in hand which was mostly the MiniNatur stick it grass, and some spongy greenery.

Both were inked, washed, let to dry, and then slight tinted lighter green and yellow. Again trying to aim for the direction light came from. Not the best effect in the end, but I am OK with it at this point..

End result is what we have here below.. the final product with the miniatures attached and all put together. Does it work? Sure.. I think it does what it needed to. Could it be better.. definitely. But that goes for pretty much all pieces. Will I update it or fix it in the future? Probably not.. it is a milestone for me and if I continue to work on it, I will not know where I came from or where I went to in my progress.

Expect a similar article up tomorrow or so on how I went about painting Alice and her Rabbit.. not sure how I will split those up or keep them together.. depends on how bad the wall of text is..

Hope you enjoyed this, please let me know in the comments if this was helpful, or not, and where I could have done better!


  1. Fantastic Mr Lee . Congratulation !
    I love the tutorial too , greg work .

    1. Thanks Capt LoL.. I am in the process of creating the Alice painting one.. another long article but with as many WIP shots as I can fit into it.. Glad you liked it!

  2. I can see that there is something supporting the upper level, yet it still gives the illusion of floating. One of the things I liked best about the bricks was how you kept the light source moving correctly. When I saw your first pics of this I had no idea how you were going to make this work, but you did and it looks great.

    Thank you for the tutorial!

    1. Thanks Anne. Am really happy that both the illusion of floating, and the light source piece came out on it. Especially considering that it was a full on experiment on how to do things :)

      Also glad you like the kinda sorta tutorial walkthrough thingy that this turned into :) Alice is up tomorrow..

  3. At last ! :D IMO the tutorial is good. Now I understand why you went for the "blue bricks" and it was a good decision. And the same as Anna, I have to say that the source light is moving correctly and it looks great. The illusion of floating is very nice, a very good effect.
    In the next part I hope to find a specific paint names that you have used for painting. IMO it gives some knowledge about your way of painting and a simple "How To" paint the blue in some cases.

    Once again, Congrats ! And Thanks ! Looking forward for the next part :)

    1. Heh... glad you liked it Tom.. moved it up into the queue a bit cause you asked so nicely for it :)

      I did put a few paints used here, but I will look into adding more tomorrow with Alice. Can't say that I will be able to give the recipes completely though as it was a very experimental process on this diorama :)

      Cheers and enjoy!

    2. I know that sometimes I can be a pain in the ass but it was in good faith ;)

      So, I will start reading the Alice tutorial :)

      Cheers !


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