Perdition Hill feat. John McAfee

Now that's my first American diorama ever! I don't mean WITH Americans as I did loads, but actually situated in the US of A, probably New Mexico, around 1900. Influences? Desert, Desert Rock, William Fowler Collins, David Lynch, Sternfeld, Lovecraft.. Too many to mention. Anyway here is the workbench and the first outline at the figure.

Ideal to get the right proportions

I currently work in the flat which means I can't either use my new camera or decent lightning which means the pictures can be sometimes a bit fuzzy!
Anyway, I spent some time to work on late XIXth century American costume and found a nice picture of the American Entomologist Association from 1900 which showed some gents dressed this way: shirt, jacket, "upper jacket", which means 3 neckbands on top of each others!
They also wore nice bowlers :)

 

copyright, I can't remember, sorry!

So here are the 2 first layers modelled exclusively with Magic Sculp while the neckbands are made of Duro, the collar of the upper jacket is also done of Duro which is the ideal material for these kind of things as it's quite strong, supple and chewing gum like and therefore can be "elongated".
I will have to sand thoroughly those parts afterwards.

The second fuzzy pictures show my way of applying another Duro coat to make the upper jacket

Here is John's body, I ended up the sculpting of the clothes layers, added Hornet hands. The extended hand had to be replaced later as it fell on the floor and I crushed it with my foot, of dear.
aheh, look at the second picture, that's the GBig Bad Wold himself! That's John! And I am going to sculpt his face!

Since I started Working in the computer world, I have been used for those duller thank life characters like Steve Balmer, Larry page and all.
Then suddenly came John McAfee, founder of the antivirus software company of the same name! I mean, if he was an actor , they wouldn't need to search their villains in Europe at the James Bond inc! Bronson and Coburn would have serious concurrence too. What's even more he is currently in jail for murder! he is the ideal person to stand on Perdition Hill.

Now that was challenge n°1, being able to sculpt that guy. Unfortunately, my camera is not too good but up to you to see if my tiny head captures the best of the features of that serious looking Man.

The work was done over a 2 days period, first the head, then the accessories like hair and ears and eyes.

 

And now for something completely different.
The base is first being made of a plasticard box, it is 15X10cm.
first you may notice the different qualities of plasetr, the first is very good one, extremely strong (and expensive), I use it to do the general shape of the landscape.

The trick is *don't stir well*, I poured the plaster inside the box and arranged it with the knife in the general shape.

so wait.. just wait for the plaster to be 70% set, then pour/ insert the stones (plaster bits) manually, recovering those halfway with nearby semi set plaster, don't hesitate to pour more water on top of the scene which should increase the bond. Then when the plaster is *just* set -say 5 minutes after that last operation, just pour more water on the scene, and pour your bad quality grainy plaster (here a sickening yellow shade) and see all the relief in the making ..

And now back to sculpting while the plaster dries thoroughly. Here is a horse skeleton. Of course that one was made over more than an evening! The bones were made out of Duro covered wire in two steps, one for each of the bones ends. There is at least 4 different steps involved for the head itself, you may see this because of the difference of green hues which are the consequence of not mixing the same amount of yellow with the blue.

the head after 3 more working / drying steps

bones..

I suppose you all noticed that there were essential bones missing from my yesterday's horse skeleton. Indeed where were the ribs? Quietly being done out of Evergreen, bent with fingers and polished using that Tenax sort of glue which dissolves plastic. But now how to attach them to the ground? This is where car repairing mastic comes in.
The stuff is smelly, dries between 5 and 15mn, depending either of the amount of hardener or the ambient heat. But there is nothing better for this kind of work, so here I laid all my bones, more or less glued them with CA and then joined all the bones to the ground with the mastic.
As you can see i sprayed some grey primer on it so that I could uniform the colours a bit. (that's Alclad's grey primer actually)

 

You know guys why I put so much water in my dioramas? okay next time you visit a diorama show, take out your glasses for the ones who wear some and have a look at the tables from -say 15 meters if you can. What can you see? dioramas? no my friends you see some sort of grey/brown lumps. Want it or not, take the RAL numbers of your tanks to paint those or not, the average range of colours used by diorama makers is *pretty thin*. While with my waters, I can add big surfaces of bright greens and blues ;) Think about that for one minute!
Here, no need of water as my vision was pretty clear, a sort of dustcloud would surround the scene and I can see a pale sun from under all that dust that lightens slightly John viewed from the "rear" or the diorama. Which means that the descending slope would be more in shadow.S So that descending slope was painted with Vallejo acrylics as usual, the wet on wet technique.
But now what goes on? yes there was a *fire* going on and John as well as the skeleton are lying on its very edge!
So how to create the rest of a small branches/ grass fire in 1/35? That's it, I apply paint and while the paint is still wet I crush tons of pigments on it in the most random way I can think off, bearing in mind the *direction of the light* when it come to the choice of colours.
So this is the big contest! Fredericus Rex vs Model Scene, grass tufts category.
Indeed those are pretty different. I used some medium sized MSc ones and some very short and very long ones from FR. Both are about the same quality I suppose but one small detail made me opt for Model Scene in this special case. Indeed the way the FR tufts are being done is quite easy: they have a plaque, they put a bit of glue and then put the "grass" over it see? That means that the BASE of the tuft is FLAT, which means that it is often quite problematic to glue them on an uneven surface. Here I had to put some mix of pigments, paint and plaster in places so that I would have the equivalent of a book placed over stones. Whereas the MS stuff is sort of fixed on a bizarre looking sort of net (see picture) and therefore doesn't have any "base" so they're really easier to fix over rocks or in crevices.

ah, but then I didn't want some grass, I think static grass is a lesser evil really, it doesnt' look like the real thing. Looking hundreds of times at my New Mexico like desert reference pictures, I found out that there were mostly a sort of low bush plant, scattered here and there. So I dipped my tufts in CA glue and rubbed it in railway modelling small grade moss, and believe me it did the trick ;)

Those were painted with a brush as it's currently too cold in the garden shed to risk using the airbrush!

 
that one took me a bit less than one month to complete even though I was working on another bigger project at the same time.
the last things I have to post is the way I paint figures. No big deal here as I am far from being a master painter, but really the trick here was to blend John McAfee in the best ways with his surroundings. Indeed if he is out there in the wild he should rather be covered by dust! He doesn't carry any weapon of course, he is strong enough without.
So the oil paints rest on a small cardboard sheet so that the oil in excess can somewhat be absorbed. oils are from Thalens (what I find in the local art shop) and Mig. I am not overly fond of using oils called "Abteilung 503" or something like that, it pours out bad vibrations, but their quality is really good and I didn't pay for them. brushed are from W&N and Rosemary. I prefer the W&N ones.