I started out planning some Malifaux Ten Thunder Archers ( an Asian based faction), then painted my Napoleonic Artillery and decided that they could be eastern based as they were on campaign fighting Greg's evil Austrians, I then finished my Rhino for Arena Rex and since it is based on an Eastern Black Rhino and since I fell in love with the paint job I planned on submitting it. Any of the three would have worked, but then I finally cracked through some roadblocks on a fourth figure that I have been playing with since day one, and decided to use him.
May I present to you Ur-Kek of the Morituri, from Arena Rex.
"A trainer for the Morituri, Ur-Kek never lost his taste for competing in the arena, and regularly joins his charges on the sands. His skills have been tempered by years of experience and refined with the intricate knowledge of combat that comes from having to train others. It seems there is no trick he has not seen in battle -- he has used most of them himself. Unimpressed by the ceremony and fanfare of the munera, Ur-Kek lives only for the opportunity to dominate worthy foes in single combat."- Quoted from the Arena Rex Website.
He started off as a test model for my Morituri faction for Arena Rex to try out getting a sort of olive based middle eastern skin tone. While not a dark skin tone I believe this shows as a light middle eastern tone with some shaded not found in normal Caucasian skin tones, so am happy with it. Ur-Kek is a huge man (both tall and wide), and to help show that I purposefully left really dark shadows in the areas between his rolls of flesh. While not super realistic, at table distance it really looks right.
His skin also had several cuts on it, so I shaded these various reds and browns to look either fresh (the one on his lower left hand side) to old (across his face). I then purposefully left one eye white, and painted in the pupil as a light grey. The idea was to show that it was damaged and he lost sight in it some time ago, not sure it is quite right, but its close.
Once I was happy with the skin tone I made the decision that I should try NMM (Non-Metallic Metallic) on his blade. I have done small pieces of NMM in the past, but always struggled with it and was never quite happy with it, so why not try and do it right this time. DUMB decision! I struggled with that blade alone for over 10 hours on and off over the last month. Trying something, correcting it, sanding it down, re-priming it, trying something different, rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat. It just wouldn't come out quite right. Finally, when I was just about ready to paint it with silver paint and wash my hands of it, I tried one last try, and it started to work. About 4 more hours of glazing later, it was done, and I was happy with it. There is not a single transition line (other than the hard black shadow line and hard white highlight line) on that blade. It was then time to go and wreck all the smooth transitions by adding scratches to it, which I kept to a minimum amount.
Once I was done with the blade, I came to the realization that since I painted that NMM, I had to paint his bronze shoulder guard and bracers as NMM, and all the gold trim on his neckpiece and arm band as NMM. Sigh.... remember me saying it was a dumb decision earlier? Beyond the time it took for the blade, this just made it worse. I now had to learn how to do the NMM bronze and gold, which took at least another 4-5 hours. I also came across two little rings (once is clear on his back holding straps together) that needed to get the NMM treatment.
As I have said, I have done small bits of NMM before, but none of them came out nearly this well. The secret, take your time, and be prepared for many many layers of paint. The bracers were probably 20'ish layers to get it right, and they were easy. The blade due to the huge size of it (it is 30mm top to bottom) took probably 100 layers of thin glaze to get it that smooth.
For anyone thinking of doing NMM, DON'T!!!! Unless you are doing it for a Golden Demon entry, a Crystal Brush entry, or a big Model Soldier show (like the one in Chicago every year), then go for it, the technical skill required to pull it off well, will get you points when competing against top painters and is almost a requirement. If you are painting for a wargame to play with, doing it on every figure is just doing it to stroke your ego. I am happy I learned to get a good result with this technique, but I don't think there is any real reason to do it now, other than for painting competitions. DON'T let anyone make you think you need to do NMM if you are just wargaming. If you want to learn it like I did, then by all means go for it, it will help you learn to blend better than you ever really need to know how to do, but do not let anyone tell you that it "should" be done this way, it's only an ego thing, there is no need for it.
Finally, I was done with all of that, and could move onto the leather straps, which I kept very dark with some strong highlights so that they would show up against his skin. At least that part of him was simple.
Then I moved onto his loincloth, which I wanted to ensure had a rough old woven look. I started with a khaki base and moved up to a light tan. Then had the brilliant idea to put in some weave marks with a darker tan before doing the final while highlights. It took over an hour to put in hundreds of little tiny lines on all the folds. I then started the white highlights as glazes, and while the weave marks show in person "when you look for them" they don't show in pictures almost at all, so it was time completely wasted... sigh.
So he was almost done but I had no idea what colours to use for his neck piece. I have a terrible sense of colour, so always harass the wife or my youngest son to help as they both have good colour sense (even if I don't always chose to follow it). My son suggest turquise and red and it seemed to work when I put the test colours on, so I stuck with it. I then had another brilliant idea to alternate the inner bands segments rather than all being red. UGGG!!! After alternating the colours, it looked better, but too plain, they each needed to be treated as a gemstone. Double UGGG!!!
54 individual sections each getting the 7 colour gemstone treatment (base colour and 3 up, 3 down). And since I wasn't steady I think I ended up painting each one twice!!!
With everything done it was onto the base, which I did the same way as the Arena Rex Beasts I posted the other day (you can find details here: Arena Rex Beasts).
I was then done everything, FINALLY and ready to clear cote and post.
Despite going through a lot on this model, and spending WAY to much time on him, I am supremely thrilled with how he came out! I think he is one of my better figures, which is both good and bad. Good because it means that this old dog can still learn to improve, and REALLY BAD since I have 6 more gladiators in his faction that will now need to be done to at least close to the same standard! WTF did I just do to myself! <sigh>
I hope you guys like him, despite the issues and time, I really do!