Friday, December 9, 2011

Custom Figure Color Schemes

<rant>Ok, I gotta say, the "free" wireless HP printer/scanner/potato peeler my wife received when she bought her Apple laptop a few months ago from the Apple Store is NOTHING but a pain in the ass.  You want to set it up to talk to your computers?  BOW DOWN AND BEG, MORTAL!  BOW DOWN AND BEG HP SAYS!  And what is that?  You want it to actually scan and send the images to your computer???  SILLY FOOL!  SACRIFICE UNTO ME YOUR PRECIOUS TIME!  SACRIFICE UNTO ME YOUR BELOVED FREE AFTERNOON! BWAAHAHAHAHAHA! 

I have wasted more time at the HP website reading forums, downloading updated drivers, restarting computers and printers, etc. than I want to admit.  I think I could have redawn the images I wanted to post today in MS PAINT in less time than it has taken to get this stupid scanner to operate correctly.  "Cannot connect to the scanner check to make sure the scanner is on and the network is functioning correctly" my ass.  SCREW YOU, Hewlett-Packard!!</rant>

The colors the colors the colors!
Ok then!  We're back. Thanks for coming by. I've got some cool stuff to cover today.  I made some drawing of potential color schemes for the action figure to try to get an idea of what I like and what I don't before I actually start putting the paint on.  The idea is to have a plan I like before going to the trouble of painting the figure and working through my issues with brushes and ink, only to find out that an idea that I thought would look cool in my head actually would turn out looking like crap in reality.

I used a page of graph paper to come up with the images you see here.  If you are a real art person, (which is not me, as you can tell with the quality of my chick scratches!) you will notice that the characters are not dawn to proportion- a correctly sized adult human male should be 9 heads high, not 8, as seen here.  This is true.  But know what?  It turns out that 1/18th scale action figures don't seem to be correct in the human proportions department. I did a proportion drawing on another piece of paper using an art book image as a guide to where the proportions should be, and then traced an action figure and found out that the figure was only 8 heads high, not 9.  I traced a different figure to see if I got the same effect, and yup, that figure was only 8 heads high too.  Where was the missing head height?

Interesting- in both cases, it was in the shins.  It turns out our action figures seem to be missing some height in the shins, between where their feet should be and their knees.  Everything down to the knees is pretty proportional, both in GI Joe modern era action figures and in The Corps action figures.  Check it out.  You never know what you'll learn by surprise, huh?  Real adult males tend to be taller than the action figures made to represent them.  I'm sure there is a reason for this.  I don't really care to get into it here, because I've already off topic.

Images 1, 2 and 3.
Lets dig in.  The first image (I started on the top left, worked my way right, and then did the bottom row second, again, working left to right) is actually what the action figure looked like out of the package.  We had peach colored skin, black armor, black crotch, white legs, black boots, black gloves and the details (holster, armband) were black.  I think we can do better than that.

The second image doesn't fully represent what I was thinking of.  Basically, I waned to do black/clothing with red on the edges of the armor, to give it a kind of a black with red highlights look.  I decided in the end I didn't actually want to go that way, because I don't think my skills with a brush are there yet to make this work.

The third image starts the trend that I end up going with, which is basically flat colors on different sections of the figure.  When I actually paint, I plan on doing some layering, so the colors won't actually be the sold in each section, but I wanted to get an idea of what it would look like.  Here I have black top armor, red under armor, no sleeves, red legs, silver belt, red arm band, red gloves, black boots and red pockets/holster.  I thought this looked a little too much "Alucard the Ninja"-ish, so I didn't stop looking here.

Images 4 and 5
Images 4 and 5 were inspired by specific ideas.  Image 4 is clearly a batman rip off.  We have black over armor, gray under armor, gray limbs and black accents.  I even threw in the yellow utility belt and yellow for the medal on the guy's left pectoralis.  It isn't a bad look, and I could go with it.  But there is space left on the page, so I continued to experiment.

Image 5 is a rip off of some alternate art for this action figure found on the box art.  The box art was very cartoon-y, and I wanted to see what it would look like here.  We've got the medium blue on the focus areas, gray limbs, black accents.  Also not bad.  As this guy is a warrior in a Solid Snake-esq sneaking suit, I really like the idea of him in darker colors; I think he should look like he could blend in to the shadows, but I also want to do something that is interesting to look at. A full on black figure just seems boring to me.  I know that with enough skill, someone could make mostly black pop, but again, I don't think my skill level is there yet and I think there are more interesting things I could try.

Images 6-8
Images 6-8 is me messing around with gray, plus me seeing what this guy would look like in a Marvel Comic's Sentinel color scheme.  In image 6 we've got light blue focus areas with light/dark purple limbs, and black accents.  The medal looks out of place; maybe it would have looked better in purple.  This guy looks like he could sneak around, but he doesn't look as cool as I thought he might in this color scheme.  I'm really glad I tried it out on paper first.

Next, I tried something similar to image 5, but with the light blue marker instead of the medium blue marker. Its ok.  Not horrible.  It has possibilities. If I was making a few of this guy, I could definitely see trying one in this color scheme.

Trial 8 was a lot of fun.  How about different shades of gray?  THAT'S HARDCORE.  Well, it is in my head. It isn't horrible when I see it on paper, and yeah, what I have on paper isn't exactly what it will look like painted on the figure. I think this one has possibilities, but it isn't the kid in the classroom throwing his hand up in the air saying 'me me me! pick me! pick ME!!!'. 

Images 9 + extra image
Image 9 was the last one I did, and I think it is the one I am going to go with. Gray focus with black limbs. I think I can do this figure.  He looks like he would sneak around well, and I the gray makes him more interesting that plain black does.  I just realized as I was typing this that number 9 is actually just reversing the color scheme from image 4, and I think that shows the benefit of me going through this little exercise; things can be close to what you want, but sometimes they need to be tweaked a little before they speak out to you.

I really like this look. It says Solid Snake to me, it says not too crazy day-glo flashy, and it seems like something I would like in the real world.  When I look at this color scheme, I think "I can do this".  So I think I'm going to use this.  If everything goes to hell and it turns out like crap, I still have another one of these figures to mess around with.  I can try a different color scheme from the ones I made up here or can come up with different ones then.

Ok- I've got a plan.  I am actually going to be out of town for much of next week.  I'll be at a conference in DC, which means I'm not going to have much time for actual work on the project, but I do have a mini update unrelated to this project planned.  In two weeks, you will (hopefully) see some actual pictures of me applying paint.  Jeez I hope I don't screw that up.

Alright folks.  Thanks for checking in.  If you think I'm making a huge mistake on the color scheme, feel free to comment or email me or post in the thread over at

Until next time,

David Draper

1 comment:

  1. HP is crap, since you get what you pay for. I have an HP laptop and I have to keep a part unscrewed so that I can open it up and adjust the internals every week.

    I cracked up hard at the hardcore part (thanks!). As for the colour scheme, I like #9 the best with #4 as my second-place favourite. I think the yellow makes it seem a little too Batmanish, though. Alright, so #9 gets my vote, then.