Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Feed Me! - Kingdom Death Lonely Tree

The Lonely Tree is both the last expansion I've painted for a client or myself, and the last I personally bought. It's... a difficult model, but I'm pretty happy with how this one came out, even though it took way longer than I intended.
Assembling the model, it has bizarrely flat branch structures for a model with so many pieces. I don't know if this was a digital sculpting issue, a matter of manufacture, or someone thought it was necessary for structure. Either way, I ended up re-posing a tree, which is honestly not a project I ever imagined I'd be doing.
I took painting the tree as something of a challenge, for a few reasons. First, I decided that I wanted to do full-color lighting: having done my client's monochrome one, I'd proven to myself that it was actually possible to light the tree and its fruit in a way that looked cohesive, even when the fruit were (as mechanically necessary) removable. The effect above, I think, makes it look pretty easy, but you need to go through some mental gymnastics and keep a lot in mind, in order to source light multiple separate and modular objects that can fit in a number of configurations. (For the record: no, I'm pretty sure no one could ever pay me enough to try this with multiple colors of lanterns.)

Second, the model's detail is really soft. Again, I don't know why, though I suspect that someone decided the tree needed to be bigger (to be more impressive, or tougher), so it's scaled up at a lower resolution (which would be consistent with the giant skulls and lanterns). Either way, it took a lot of freehand-derived techniques to get it right, and I'm still not entirely satisfied by how the upper foliage looks. I'm still not positive if the leaves on the base are supposed to be a different kind of parasitic or symbiotic vine, some other sentient part of the tree, suckers, or what. Either way, I chose to paint the leaves the same color, so the model didn't get an even busier palate.

What I am quite happy with, though, is how the light interacts with the bark, and the clearly Egg of the King-based fruit, and with some of my creative interpretations of the model. The Lonely Lady is very far from my favorite Kingdom Death model, but I think that giving her a kind of birch skin to make her a mimic, dryad, etc., gave her a lot more narrative interest than one more mostly naked KD woman. I also spent more time than I should have, making three degrees of ripeness in the fruit, and giving their weird eyes multiple colors, mostly because after all the work I put into this thing, I didn't want six identical fruit hanging on it. And, that kind of sums up how I feel about this piece: it took a lot of effort to get it feeling pretty good, and I don't think I would do it again, because I think I could have in the same time instead made a great model look outstanding. Here's hoping that the Campaigns of Death rules similarly salvage the monster design, nailing it so it makes me feel justified in the work.

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