This diorama was made to move people.
The main motivation was to inspire the community and to make people think about what we do. We’ve seen a rush of change and progress over the last couple of years; the proficiency and refinement of skill is moving ever forward, and that was very clear in the entries at this year’s Monte San Savino Show.
What I find most interesting is the movement that Roman Lappat and Alfonso Giraldes is leading: to challenge the striving towards perfection of previous years, and going in a different direction; a direction focussing on expression, ambience and nerve. This is what I set out to contribute to.
For the 2015 Monte San Savino Show, Alfonso made a large-scale miniature of a warrior in full plate armor. It has a skull hanging from the belt, and Alfonso painted drop shadows from a chain holding the skull directly onto the surface of it. That tiny detail is what inspired me to push further in that direction.We all paint diffuse, soft shadows on miniatures. But that is only realistic if it’s a soft, diffuse light source. I wanted to find out how far you can push hard shadows, regardless of what other light sources is around, and in what way you should paint them.I ended up painting it all with an impossible light source. To explain: if you want to paint on true drop shadows, you need to stick to just one direction; a single imagined light source in front of the diorama. However, doing that would mean that the entire back-facing part of all the miniatures and some of the side facings would be in the dark, and that looking from the front, you wouldn’t see a lot of the shadows, as you would be observing from the same direction the light is coming from. Instead I chose to paint the shadows coming from the front arc so that the shadows would be streaming towards the vanishing point of the backdrop, as to help with the direction of attention.
The idea of this diorama is something that’s been kicking around in my head for over ten years; to try to make use of the techniques that oil and acrylic canvas painters use to direct attention.It’s an idea that started with large scenes, like the works of Rembrandt and John William Waterhouse. These are the ones where you have one highly detailed central character, and details become increasingly sparse as you move the view towards the edge of the painting. I decided though, that the big vista illustrations in watercolour and ink that Games workshop is so famous for, especially the works of John Blanche, Paul Dainton and Alex Boyd, would be a better subject for what I envisioned.Having chosen that subject, it was natural to strive towards using the same techniques and ways of painting, that you would use when working with art board or paper, with watercolour and inks. Everything is built up in the same steps using airbrush, washes, sketching and refining highlights by using a crosshatching technique. Focus is achieved with sharpness of detail and brightness. Drop shadows are painted on directly to give more depth to something that in its base form is very close to illustration.The backdrop and base of the diorama was made of paper to give a clear relation to illustration; a sense that it’s a painting come to life. To underline this feeling I painted the models closer to the background more coarsely, ending by painting the miniature closest to the background in a style as close to the style of the illustration as possible. Even painting the lined texture of the paper onto the model and drawing on the highlights with the same ink quill I used for the backdrop onto the backmost model.