So one thing I enjoy doing is building scale models. It was a dream of mine since I was young that I wanted to grow up and build architectural models for a living. I loved seeing those scale models displayed for the public before they would build some new skyscraper or shopping center. They always gave you an exact idea of how something was going to look and you can interact with it in ways that you just couldn't with 2D drawings.
Some of the best models I saw was when I worked at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA and they were showing the concept models before they built California Adventure. I would spend a couple hours after my shift gazing at the huge master planned model for the new park and the various attractions. Some of them actually were working scale models that moved. It's amazing to see these tiny things get built into human scale structures.
Well my dream of getting a job with the Disney Imagineers never came true. I got as far as submitting a resume(numerous times) but never got a call back to interview :(. But I still enjoy building scale models for fun. I recently got contacted by a reader of my blog who wanted a lifeguard house model like the one I built awhile ago to use as a trophy for the winner of their fantasy football league. The model will get passed around every year between winners, so durability is a must. He gave me a few ideas of what he wanted so I got to working on it right away. He really wanted it to resemble the ones in Hermosa Beach, CA which are pretty neat looking as far as lifeguard houses go. They are bright and colorful which in miniature painting could be quite challenging to pull off without careful attention to paint thickness. The biggest of those challenges is making the colors pop while still maintaining opacity and then without making it look like you layered globs of paint on the model. So I had to utilize numerous thinned layers of colors on the house. Very time consuming to say the least. The end result looks great though. The bane of all paint colors has got to be the color yellow. You can paint on 5 layers of this color and it still will look pretty drab. One work around I used was P3 Menoth White Base which is very opaque, and then glaze on layers of P3 Sulfric Yellow. By the way, P3 paints continue to be some of the best paints to use on miniatures. I really wish they would extend the paint line and add more color tones though.
I decided to keep it simple with the lifeguard house so I avoided the overuse of highlights and shadows which I normally incorporate in most of my miniature figures. I wanted the lifeguard house to be the centerpiece and the focal point with only the bright solid colors and shapes being what draws your eyes in.
I added a lot of small details like mini sea shells and a trash can with various sporting equipment thrown in. Sounds weird I know. The idea behind it was an inside joke a friend of mine said once. "When football season starts, every other sport goes in the garbage." I researched what LA County beaches trash cans look like and I even found a sticker / slogan they put on them as well. All the lifeguard houses have an address painted on the side to indicate what street it's on. I went with 15 St. because that is the one my client had fond memories of.
This is actually one of the signs they have at one of the lifeguard houses. I copied and altered its size in Photoshop and printed it to a label, glued to plastic card and varnished the heck out of it. The Lifeguard on Duty sign on the front of the house was made in the same way. You can see that sign better below. I used a bit of artistic license on this just for aesthetics.
I used the Hirst Arts wood plank mold to make the Hermosa Beach sign. Originally it was made from plastic card strips scored with a knife to make it look like wood grain but then it looked too much like a fence than a sign. After painting the wood grain on the platform, I was tired of painting faux wood grain so I made the switch. Hirst Art blocks are great because you can just basecoat and dry brush the pieces and they end up looking like you spent hours on it. Most people usually cast Hirst Art blocks with dental plaster. I cast these in urethane plastic instead because I wanted to have the durability and no risk of it getting shattered with all the handling it will get between fantasy football winners. The letters I bought at Hobby Lobby and are laser cut scrapbook letters.
The surfer girl is lounging on a towel and using a small tablet device. I don't know if people usually lounge around in their wet suits after surfing but I figured she was taking a break before going out on the waves again.
The towel was made from Apoxie Sculpt and hand painted with Hawaiian flowers. The extra surfboard was made from green stuff, and the football was made from Apoxie Sculpt. I know that college regulation footballs are the ones with stripes on the sides, but when your 6 year old asks "Why is there doodie on the beach?" you are forced to make the change so there is no confusion on what it's supposed to be. The surfer/lifeguard is from Reaper Miniatures and the surfer girl is from Hassle Free miniatures.
It was a fun project and took 2 long months from concept to completion. Hopefully my client and his friends will enjoy passing around this trophy for years to come.
I normally don't take commissions( I am too much of a perfectionist) but if it's something I am confident I can do well, I will consider the request.
Till next time,
Keep on Painting!