As I promise I will post here the most interesting stages from the work at the samurai general.
Pegasso Models are selling the figure under the name of Kato Kiomasa. The story goes that this ambitious general under the command of Hideyoshi was passionate by hunting...Especially hunting tigers which in Japan were most remarkable by a total absence.
The war with Korea, started as strategist by general Oda Nobunaga and carried on mostly by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, gave the opportunity to general Kiomasa to reach new hunting grounds toward the diluted border with China.
It is also said that the kind of Yari (Japanese for spear) that is carried by the model, was accidentally invented by the general. There was at some moment a fight with a ferocious tiger that didn’t surrender so easily and somehow break one of the lateral blades of a Magari Yari. Amazed by the fighting spirit of the tiger that fight till the last breath, the general claim the death tool as a new model.
With this story (or legend) in mind I set out for a second attempt, this time aiming for a bamboo forest environment. Getting too individually, or trying to do exactly Kato Kiomasa was not among my plans this time. But I entitled the work – “Toranosuke” which was a nickname of the general, meaning Tiger boy when he joined the suite of Hideyoshi being only 14 years old (!).
In my imagination, the somewhat spiral movement of the figure should be perfectly surrounded by elastic bamboo stalks, oriented also in a slight spiral.
Garment colors: for the suit of armor I opted for a reddish purple (plum color for the japanese); for Hakama trousers I chose a deep marine blue decorated with golden dragonflies – symbol of courage.
To balance the extended purple surface I split it by means of a spring green sashimono. Watching many Japanese costumes and artisanal objects, I get to the conclusion that Japanese have a different set of aesthetic rules regarding the combination of colors and models. What to an European (in theory) could sound as an impossible joining of colors, in practice, say on a traditional kimono, doesn’t look strange at all .
I thought a lot about what colors a Japanese will pick for the Jimbaori (the ceremonial dress worn over the armor). I didn’t get to any conclusion because I failed to became a Japanese in the mean time, but the color should help me in the plan that was growing in my head. Namely, to simulate a silk painted tiger on the back of the vest. For this painting to be visible through the bamboo stalks, the background should be black. And what color to use for the lining, other than a deep yellow.
The Kabuto on its head is a “Naga Eboshi No Kabuto” which imitates the stile of noble head covers wear at the shogun court. It looks metal but in fact it’s a hardened paper ornament, painted and lacquered to look like metal. Underneath is a normal kabuto for protection.
You probably read a thousand times about the acrylic base and the shadows and lights made with oil colors so I will not insist with this part.
I have to say that the effect of light being reflected by the black silk might not be so convincing. Or at least is not what I had in mind at the time. But this showed me that there are certain limitations between what’s commanded by the brain and what the hand can execute.
I will write a little about the bamboo plants. I guess my idea is viable and can be used by others when modeling far eastern subjects.
For the stalks themselves, I stretched some plastic sprue, by heating it on a flame and spread it by the two ends. The procedure is frequently used by modelers to do threads for different uses. Here I just heated the plastic rod on a longer segment and then pulled with slow speed to allow the plastic to develop uniformly.
Then I divided the long of the sticks into almost equal portions making signs with a soft pencil. Then I filed ditches around the rods. I then filed those ditches with some thin stretched sprue (I guess that a simple cotton thread will do the same) and then added some putty over and try to give it a texture to resemble what I saw in pictures of real plants. The intermediary result looks like this:
I had to finish them somehow because I was after all limited by the height of the shelves. So I cut them obliquely and then hollowed them at the upper end.
The next step was to make the branches and I was a bit frightened by the fact that those branches where splinted in several twigs. I found a natural growth in feathers filaments. So I clean some feathers I had and left only the middle filament. More difficult was to make the ramifications to look natural enough, but with some superglue and thinner parts of filaments I guess I almost did it.
The leaves where photocopied after a wallpaper model from somewhere and then cutted out with manicure scissors.
Making some tryouts with color on those leaves made me to look for another metarial, more transparent to obtain this effect
So I got somehow a few pieces of hand made paper...That’s after I tried to impregnate ordinary paper with sicative oil. Then the color must be a transparent one. I tried indian ink, vitrail color, transparent acrilic paint and even a green food colorant disolved in alcohol, water, glicerine.
Interestingly I used more than one solution and I think that this gave the impression of natural randomness. (more or less).
I painted the stalks and branches in a light almost transparent yellow-green ochre. I don’t have a recipe for that. I just used some of my painting acrylics.
I left a few leaves at the tips unpainted, or slightly colored them with an ochre / white wash to simulate dried leaves. I also kept a considerable quantity of dried leaves to scatter them on the forest floor (it turned out to be insufficient). A week or two I used to cut leaves whenever I had a break from other more serious activities.
For the base itself I used DAS terracotta modeling paste to make the soil. After drying I brushed some diluted white glue onto which I scattered dust clay (for human consumption – from the pharmacy). In some predrilled holes I fixed with the same glue some moss to represent some kind of ferns. The moss was prepared at an early stage by emerging the plants in liquid cyanoacrilat glue and then sprayed with green color.
Well this figure completes now the samurai shelf in my showcase display and I think is enough with this line.
More pictures of this subject you can see here