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It Figures: Vuthienne

Because in the end you need to show, not tell.

The third of my so-called “warm-up” pieces in the return to painting showed me some cheering success, and some warning failure. Fitting that it was a female figurine…

WHO:

Vuthienne is Primara of the lost city of Oncario, a significant supporting character in the upcoming novel The Eye of Kog. Her city, hidden in chaos deep in the Percentalion, is home to a thriving post-medieval economy and the gateway to Reghalion, the capital where the destiny of this kingdom will finally be decided. I tease her appearance at first, and it’s some time before Treaman and the party lay eyes on the city’s leader and the lover of their friend Januelus who brings them to her presence.

vuthienne1The door opened behind one side of the throne, and Treaman saw then, what they all had waited for.

His first impression, as he stood with everyone else for the Primara, was one of striking beauty. Vuthienne was tall and long-limbed, with a lustrous shock of red-brown hair spilling around a golden circlet and a slit scarlet gown that left no doubt about the breadth of her curves. A smooth and unhurried pace allowed no choice where everyone should look, for whom everyone should wait to speak.

-The Eye of Kog, Downfall

WHY:

Vuthienne is important to the plot of the tale in ways that don’t make it onto paper. The careful reader can gather hints of her power and policy and the way things have moved because of her presence. I thought it was very important to paint her, because that makes me spend more time thinking about those “background scene” issues. I’ve just received the galley from editing and will be able to read more closely now, with things I’ve learned while contemplating her figurine. Crazy, fine, you don’t have to believe me. But it’s true– I know her better now.

Vuthienne took up the rule of Oncario after her father’s death and wanted to return the city vuth1to its days of glory. Cut off from trade, she decided to take up the Scepter of Law, which in custom is only wielded by the descendants of Areghel the king. The artefact continually sparks and pains her (something Treaman experienced when he briefly held the Sword of Air), but with its abilities Vuthienne was able to expand the physical boundaries of the city-state out into the chaos, and bring increased fertility to the crops, greater efficacy to the key industries practiced within the city. Thus even before the ruin of Oncario, Vuthienne was sacrificing her life for her citizens. This informs the cruel choice she must make at the end of the novel, when the Eye of Kog also falls within her ambit and brings her to heroic ruin. Yet Vuthienne’s unhesitating courage, and the masquerade she conducts to pull off her ruse, are key to any hope for Treaman’s party when they are captured by the undead. Spoiler-alert? The tale will be out soon.

HOW:

Since I’ve restarted my painting hobby, this section deals mainly with the use of the brush, not the camera. Vuthienne proved remarkably difficult to undertake, and I wasn’t fully successful. Let that be a lesson to me when I try for the big-figs next.

First off, I just didn’t have the right colors and my attempts to mix what I needed were comic failures. So I’ve added another half-dozen bottles to my growing palette (you can get them on ridiculous sale at the craft stores if you watch) and in a couple of cases just took the shade straight-up, which simplified matters greatly. Her clothes and adornments are fairly well described in the text so that was a good guide. Vuthienne is shown here before she took up the Scepter of Law or tried to wear the Eye of Kog, so you see the staff traditionally used by the Primara of Oncario in her hand.

vuth3That was my first minor success: you can’t see it in the picture, but the top of the staff shows Solar, Unal and Aral and I was able to put the proper colors on each. The sun disk at the top is gold-on-bronze, nearly invisible to your eye but it’s there. Beneath that the smaller disk of Unal is in silver, and the crescent-slice of Aral is in silversteel. Nice bit of detail work, but my camera skills were not up to the brush: I discovered that I can show more of a portal-view by letting the disk of my magnifying lens show in frame, so I have a few shots like that this time. Just couldn’t get close or bright enough to reveal it, you’ll have to take my word.

The biggest failure, of course, was the face. I aimed to shade her fair, noble skin tone with just a light blush around the lips and cheeks, but failed disastrously. It looks like cake make-up to cover wrinkles, it’s thicker than clown face. Plus, I didn’t realvuth6ize it, but any figure with an open mouth immediately looks undead! Check it out, I was definitely fighting and losing an

Created with Nokia Refocus

uphill battle here. Several attempts did little to improve matters. Also I could not get the white around the pupils to show, the smallest dot I could make still looks like she’s a spice-addict from Dune. Had to cut my losses again.

The typical black wash technique and a little dry-brushing worked well to make the gown and hair look a bit more realistic. I tried for a cloth-of-silver effect with her green strophion, but metallic hues don’t dilute readily and I couldn’t stop it from clumping. I was shading at first, dry-brushing near the end! But it was stubborn; still the effect is there I’d say.vuth4

Another aspect of this figure that made it tough to shoot was her stooping posture. Vuthienne quite literally casts shade at herself, and if that’s not a metaphor for the action of the plot I don’t know what is.

So once again I come away from an encounter with a beautiful woman both edified and embarrassed, which is the story of my life. I hope you’ve enjoyed Vuthienne here and will look her up in The Eye of Kog when it publishes. You don’t see her right away, nor for long enough if you ask me, but she’s worth it. Shevuth-jan1‘s on my display shelf near a werewolf character for some inexplicable reason… and also up there are Final Judgement and the Bell-Ringer, my latest additions to a collection long stalled by the needs of the Alleged Real World. Next up, the Big Three!

It Figures: Final Judgement

Because in the end, you need to show not tell

The second figure in my warm-ups for the Big Boys I mentioned earlier, and things are going pretty well overall. But I’m starting to feel my limits.

WHO:

Final Judgement, Solemn’s father from Judgement’s Tale, is certainly one of the most influential characters never to make it into one of the Tales of Hope. He’s dead, you see, having used his last ounce of strength to get his son to shore and the relative safety of this new world in the very beginning:

At forest’s edge, the Gypsy band huddled and watched a boy on the seashore, burying his father.

-Judgement’s Tale, p.1

Final Judgement1Solemn has no idea what he is supposed to do now. He sets out to follow his father’s example, and draws encouragement from him throughout both stories, particularly when they speak again in the sequel The Eye of Kog. I know, I said dead. You’ll need to pick up the tale to find out.

In the back-story, Final Judgement was some kind of high ranking advisor to the king of a small European-style kingdom, in a place a lot like the past of our Alleged Real World. Widely learned, puissant in combat, and able to cast miracles with holy power, yet Final chose to keep Solemn and his two brothers ignorant of his own religious beliefs, since he was a member of some fiercely pious minority and despite his high position he feared persecution. Forced to flee the king’s madness, Final was only able to save his youngest son, making it to the sea and sailing east into another world. But his son only picked up hints and glimpses of this. On the voyage, he taught Solemn about every subject in the catalog, again excepting religion. It took two years and everything he had left in him.

WHY:

Final Judgement4closeFinal Judgement points to the one idea most people in the Lands of Hope don’t want to talk about: namely, what happens after death. As Judgement puts it “what is its true sequel”: thanks to the liche Wolga Vrule, necromancy is “alive and well” in the Lands once again, and no one likes to think about the power to pull back a person’s spirit or animate their body against their will. But is there a heaven of some kind? Do the Heroes that the Children of Hope reverence have any future beyond the end of their lives? Like Solemn’s father, the Heroes never mentioned one. But as Judgement asks an Elven noble, to whom did the Heroes pray when they taught us to do likewise? Solemn Judgement believes in a life after death, and that his father looks down on all that he does in his adopted world. Hardly anyone he meets wants to talk about such subjects, and the Man in Grey makes few friends as he walks the length and breadth of the northern kingdoms in search of lore and answers.

The figurine is uncannily like Judgement’s father, bearing a sword (as Solemn confesses in Judgement’s Tale, he was never taught the sword, as it was a weapon for adults– Final taught him to use the quarterstaff instead), and also an early pistol (which Solemn shows familiarity with when he discovers one in The Eye of Kog). The overall dress of the figure is very Puritanical, and that certainly fits the story of Final Judgement’s eerily-similar homeland. Think Cotton Mather with the ability to cast holy miracles.

HOW:

Final Judgement3This figure proved the old adage that much like life itself, it has to get worse before it gets better. The coat of grey primer wasn’t too far off from the finished product! But Final Judgement needed some color– on his skin, for example– and he was not as married to shades of grey as his son became. This time I cracked out my smallest paint brush, something I’d been resisting because I know the psychological consequences. Namely, now I have “nowhere to go” when the call for detail increases. But I wanted to try eyes and pupils, among other tiny touches, so out it came and I did fairly well. Lots of mistakes in the mid-game, going back over earlier colors to touch up, whoops, now touch up the other one. This can be a serious pain when you’re mixing virtually every shade and not able to get back to painting for days. Stuff dries out.

I find for most of the finish-work it was useless to keep my glasses on. Once the shade was Final Judgement4mixed I set them down and held the figure approximately five inches from my eyes, where my natural vision can still see clearly. It is an innately sad activity, bringing to mind the same mortality as Final Judgement no doubt experienced.

To take the pictures, I have had the devil’s time getting proper light on the figures down in my basement where the painting happens. I finally resorted to using my magnifier in front of the iPhone camera, with its internal light turned on! That brings the figure closer, retains focus, and puts a little light on the subject without washing it away like the flash does.

Final Judgement5

A very special thanks to the local Days of Knights store for their support as I restart an old vocation in painting figurines.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this excursion to other worlds and states of being. One more “test run” figurine in Vuthienne (another character who appears in The Eye of Kog) and then it’s on to the 32mm figs!