Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Surf Fink, possibly one of the whackiest of the Ed Roth Fink series, is my task this month. Admittedly, I am hesitant about even starting the kit since it has been nearly a YEAR since my last build up. Wassup widdat????? Somehow, I fell outta' the saddle and just haven't been able to get my skinny behind back to the bench. Here's the view down the desk to my modeling area, see how it haunts me! Constantly reminding me that I'm not havin' that kind of crazy fun that only comes with lots of glue fumes and putty dust in the air! I think my "continuing to deteriorate" eyesite might be driving some of my reluctance to approach the act of kit building, or maybe I'm just plain busy. Who knows? Who cares? Let's build a kit and see just how happy it makes us!!

1. Boring, Repetitive, but COMPLETELY Necessary Initial Steps
You been readin' the ol' Cal Logs, so at this point you know where we begin this trip to Styrene Heaven. The basics, the fundamentals, the blocking and tackling of the modeling practice. Prime, putty, sand. At this stage we are basically laying out the job ahead. This stage allows me to assess the imperfections of the kit, like if the mold is out of line and the parts don't fit perfectly, that sort of thing. This is where I take care of those matters to make the remainder of the job easier. So I take all the darn lil' parts, shave 'em with my X-Acto straight blade, lay 'em out nice and pretty like on my used, and reused, priming board, and give those lil' guys a liberal coat of Krylon Grey Primer. Let 'em set for an hour or ten, then bring back down into my lair for preassembly. That's the part where I take the individual parts that make up arms, legs, bodies, etc., and match them WITHOUT glue, to see how there going to fit. Believe me, Super Glue is unforgiving as hell, so ya' better be sure how things are gonna' fit before ya' go slathering the glue all over it. Once satisfied that I know what I'm up against, I go ahead and commence to gluin' the sections together. And as I've said before, size up twice, glue once. These Ed Roth Kits have a nasty habit of havin' "hidden" parts that have to be glued into place BEFORE you glue other parts together. Case in point, this kit has an interior mouth section that I need to paint red and glue inside the front body half BEFORE I glue the two halves together. Likewise, the right arm has to be placed between the body halves BEFORE gluin' or we're never gonna' get that rascal in there. Now that we've blown through the matchin' up and gluin' together phase, we start sealing up unwanted seems, cracks, and other less than satisfactory features of the kit. Like with this one, the parts didn't match up to clean, the molding was not real tight, so I had to build up alot of seam areas with my ol' Testor's Contour Putty, to make for that Pro Look the the Cal-Meister lives for. So, I check out all over and putty up the seams around the body, head, legs and arms BUT I leave the right arm seam free, so the figure can be posed somewhat. Ya'know, you may have an "up" arm day, or you may be in more of a "down" arm mood. So, bein' the sensitive, forward thinking builder that I am, Iconsider that my client on this kit may want the option to move the arm. Ditto all of this action on the Wave Base of the kit, prime, putty, and fit. Now, we're gonna' spend some hours sanding, and finishing, all the putty work so that ya' can't even tell it was there! Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooh, Magic!

2. Foundations of Greatness - Warmin' Up!
Alright, if you follow my work (and ya' better if ya' know what's good for ya'!), than you know the Calster likes to slide on into his kit building by working out the bugs on the lesser parts of each kit. In this case, the base elements: the Wave, the Surfboard, and the Hair piece. Startin' out on these simple and basic items helps me to get my "kit paintin'" groove back, so that by the time I get to the main attraction, I'm ready and rarin' to go. So, to get me goin', I start with the wave base piece. I lay down a base coat of Design Master Deep Blue acrylic spray paint. Next, I tackle the first round of paint up on the surf board. Because I need this to eventually be a two tone board, I lay down the first coat of Liquitex Cadmium Yellow (medium viscosity, them's science words fer thick but not too thick!). Now, if you've ever used yellow paint, of any kind, than you know that it is NOT a one coat proposition. Somethin' about the make up of yellow makes it damn near transparent when you apply it over grey primer. I have literally struggled with this phenomenon on many a Batman kit (chest emblems, utility belts, etc.) and as yet, have no easy answer. Ya' just gotta' apply several coats to get a nice, dense, yellow finish. We'll get back to that surfboard later, 'cause it's gonna' take some real trickery and you'll wanna' pay attention. Next up, the Ol' Finkster's hair piece. I've done alot of these Roth and Silly Surfer kits by now so I have a go to system for paintin' up beach, bleached blonde hair and it starts simply enough with a nice coat of Liquitex Burnt Sienna. As you can see by the pictures, just paintin' these simple lil' things really makes a guy feel like he's makin' some progress!! I can literally feel the ol' kit buildin' excitement startin' to build!!

3.) Body Buildin'- Gettin' to the meat of the matter!
Now that we're cookin', and since I've already got out the Liquitex Burnt Sienna, I'm gonna' march right on into paintin' up the main character section of this kit. Geez, I thought I'd wait a bit longer but doggonit, I'm gettin' into it! Takin' the aforementioned Burnt Sienna, I make up a mixture of Caucasion Skin Tone by adding Liquitex Raw Sienna and Liquitex Titanium White. This is an "artistic expression" mixture, so I don't really have measurements,

I just keep adding a bit of each until I reach the skin tone that I'm lookin' for. Somehow, miraculously, I almost always come out with the same color each time. Go figger? We mix this into a smooth, seamless blend, and with a wide flat straight edge brush (in this case a Royal Gold #12 size) and than start applying it to the kit in smooth, thin layers. What ya' don't want to do is lay on the first coat too heavy, where ya' might fill up the details that you want to bring out later. So the rule here is: a nice even coat that covers, but isn't too thick. Occasionally as I'm paintin', I'll dip my brush in a cup of water just so I can smooth out some of the rought spots, and because acrylic paints tend to start dryin' out and thickening up pretty quick. Well, now as you can see, we're startin' to look all groovy and stuff. Oh, yeah, and just to add emphasis to the earlier passage on puttying and sanding, take a look at this fella's side! "Look, Ma!! NO SEAMS!!"

4.) Early Details - Them Devils!
Never too early to begin thinkin' about those lil' things that'll separate your kit from the ranks of the average and propel it into the realm of perfection, or, uh, something like that. In my case, now that I've got my base coat on the body, I need to address all the wrinkle, hair, and dimple details that these Roth kits always have. So I grab my trusty Le Plume Dark Brown art marker and painstakingly fill in all the lil' nooks and crannies on the Fink. Now, we don't have to be too steady handed here, ya' don't want to go sloppin' it all over the place, but ya' also don't have to sweat stayin' totally inside the lines. I'll explain why a bit later. Now, as you can see, this thing is beginning to take shape, and this is where we begin really bringin' the details into pro form. It's gonna' require some drybrush work, followed by some wash action, and repeat these steps as many times as it takes to get the look we're goin' for, which of course is...........GREAT!!!

5.) Mo' Details, Mo' Details, Mo Details!!
Remember those colors I used for mixin' up my fine lookin' skin tone? Well, it's a good thing, Sparky, 'cause they also comprise much of my system for creatin' bleach, blonde hair. I've already base coated with the Liquitex Burnt Sienna, so now I follow a dry brush layering process that begins with a light brush over of Liquitex Raw Sienna, than a light brush of Delta Ceramcoat Butter Yellow, than Liquitex Cadmium Yellow, and finally Liquitex Titanium White. As I work through each of these, I don't clean the dry brush or my painting platform. That way my color transistions appear more natural, blended, and even. Dig? And check out that do!! This guy is beginin' to be stylin' beyond belief. Remember earlier I told you that we didn't have to be too careful with the gel pen work on the Finks wrinkles and hair markings? Here's why: I take my earlier left over mix of skin tone and lighten it just a tad with Liquitex Titanium White, and begin to dry brush over ALL the areas of the skin, concentrating on the portions that have the gel pen details. This action smooths out the pen work, softens the transition color between the hair, wrinkles, and skin and adds texture and depth to the skin tone itself. (Does this guy sound like he knows what he's doin', or what?!?) After a few passes at this, I grab the Le Plume Marker again, only this time I use the Fine point side. Oh, what? Didn't I mention that these Le Plume Markers come with 2 tips? Well, boy Howdy, they sure do and that makes 'em a real versatile tool for this sort of work. I take the Fine point end and just do some touch up on the hairs and wrinkles, in case some got too washed out by the drybrushing. While I'm at it, I use the Fine marker to draw in detail to the feet and hands, you know, the knuckle wrinkles, and toe creases, and all them lil' type things. Sheeeeeeeesh! Would ya' look at that! This Hodaddy is really takin' shape.

6.) Stretchin' towards the Finish.............
I just realized that in my haste to build up and paint this fine kit while documenting the momentous occassion for you, the little people, I forgot that I needed to attach the feet to the legs and address the seam issue. There's quite a sizeable gap on this kit, so I just back up a few lessons, glue on this boys dogs, using Insta-Cure Gap Filling Cyanacrylate, uh, that's super glue for most of us, and apply a thin line of Testor's Contour Putty around them there gaps, and Oila!! Gaps no more! Now it's time to start flyin' through a lot of the finish up areas on this kit. I once again get my Delta-Ceramcoat Butter Yellow and give our boy's swim trunks multiple layers (damn that yellow paint!!! It never covers in one, or two, or even THREE coats!!). Grab up the little stowaway crab and using a small mix of Butter Yellow and Bright Red, both Delta Ceramcoat colors, and get a nice, crabby orange color goin' and lay a couple of coats on. Can't forget about the toungue, that's gonna' come in handy later, so I hit it with a base coat of Liquitex Burgundy. Later I'll dry brush some lighter shades on it to bring out the texture an detail. Can you hear the dominoes startin' to fall yet?? Now, I'm not quite totally satisfied with our boys overall torso look yet, I'm thinkin' he needs some shadowing effects to bring out his might pectorals and to pro up the appearance a bit. Some guys would opt for some airbrush action here, but me? I'm takin' the road less frustrating and using chalk pastels instead. I use a set of Loew Cornell Soft Pastels, and for this instance the brown pigment is what I'm after. Using a stiff bristle small paint brush, I'm gonna' use it to brush along the chalk stick then, just like I'm painting, apply the brown pigment to the areas of the chest and stomach that I want to highlight. I also hit a line down the center of his back just to really bring out some depth. It's a simple technique that really adds the pop to kits if you use it judiciously. Next up, bringin' some life to that deep, blue wave base. Easy to fix this up with a

session of progressive dry brushing. Taking the Liquitex Basics Ultramarine Blue color, I lighten it up with Liquitex Basics Titanium White. Using a well weathered artists brush, like the one pictured here, I dab it lightly in the paint mixture, then paint off most of it on the palette, than lightly brush over the raised areas of the waves. I repeat this again with yet another lighter shade of blue, then finish it off with by drybrushing pure white over the extremities of the waves and wave caps. You can see how it goes from blah to GA-GA with this technique. Don't want to forget the least items in this build up like Surf Dude's tongue. I've got a system for these things too. Start with a base of Liquitex Burgandy and then dry brush the ridges with Liquitex Cadmium Red. Ahhhhh, beauty!! Got just a few last minute details to adhere to before we go full bore and half crazy into the last dizzying moments of this tremendous modeling session!! Let's give some life to our Surfer Boy here by dazzling up his eyeballs. No Ed Roth kit is complete without the prerequisite veining, staining, and pupilizing of the magnificent bulging orbs. Lets start simple, first move, grab my Staples Opti-Flow Black Gel Pen and carefully outline the pupils. Next, color those boys in with the Le Plume Black Marker. Staying with the pen idea, grab the Le Plume Red Marker and use the Fine side to detail in the veins of the eyes. But to really drive home that blood shot look I have to make a dab of red wash using Liquitex Cadmium Red and just plain ol' tap water. With a micro-fine brush I apply this wash solution to the wells of the eyes, and even let some come into the white part of the eyes around the sockets. Now, that's a look that even Christopher Lee would be proud of!!

7.) It's been fun, but we got to run, let's get this thing done!!
I don't know why, but everytime I do a build up it always seems like it ends too quickly. I know that alot of hours went into this thing but here at the end, when we just put in the final few touches, it seems like I just started. So let's wrap this thing up. Had to put some finishing moves on the surfboard, and this is pretty tedious work, but I start with a Le Plume Red Marker and using the fine tip I draw in the flame and stripe details on the board. Next I flip around to the brush end of the marker and carefully, I mean carefully, color in the flames and the stripes to give me a bitchin' board that Frankie Avalon would be envious of. Lastly, a soft coat of Testor's Dullcote over the entire kit to seal in all that perfection. (am I braggin'?). All that's left to do now is to assemble this wonderful Ed Roth creation and ship 'er out to my client. He's gonna' be one happy camper when he gets this one and I'm sure it'll make a fine addition to his growing collection of Finks. So there you have it, Seeker. It was a long time comin', remember I started this kit in June, got as far as the prime and putty, then nothin' til just last week, Jan. 3 when I really decided to get back to work. Not bad for a weeks work, huh? Thanks for playin' along and tune in next when we tackle the Horizon Catwoman kit. Whole different style needed for that one so it promises to be an interesting journey. See ya' next time!!