Tutorial corner I

Every now and then people ask me for instructions. I've made quite a few and I've usually asked 30-70 € per model (or made them free when selling the model itself). I used to do them by photographing, but that is not ideal and destroys my poor back; fortunatelt Bricklink's Studio CAD is quite good actually and merely overheats my computer. It has also neat built-it instructions maker, so... here are some tutorials. They are not full instructions, though - if you happen to need a sheet for a whole model, please contact me on Flickr (Eero Okkonen) or Instagram (@eerookkonen). Or similar.

This first batch concerns some body parts of two recent builds, Valerie Orion and Augur of the Last Peak. I chose these two models as they have two most common female head designs I use and Valerie's limbs are quite sturdy and univerally adaptable.

 First up, Valerie's head. This is quite usual basic design, fine-tuned for a bit larger-scale figures. Note that there is a half-plate gap between the space connector piece and the black 1x2 plate on step 6. This Stud.io model also emits the Clickits bracelet halo as it's not available in the software. The main hair block's connection (2x2 plate with two studs to top stud of the travis) is not very sturdy and may fall off. 

This uses Slope 45 2 x 1 Double (with inside bar, 3044b). Similar design can be made in reddish brown and dark brown by using Slope 45 2 x 1 Triple with Inside Bar (3048c) or Slope 45 2 x 1 Double / Inverted with Bottom Stud Holder (3049c) as the chin. The neck joint has to be furter back if 3049c is used (in dark brown). Different eye colours can be experimented on.

 Valerie's boot. An inside-out turned Tire 24 x 14 Shallow Tread, Band Around Center of Tread (89201) works as the mouth of the boot. the dark purple ribbon connects to the inside of the holder bar on 1x2 plate. This is a relatively sturdy design. The other boot is, naturally, mirrored.

Valerie's arm. This is a new, unique design without T-bar (not available in tan and rare in reddish brown). It is sturdy, but some 2x2 round bricks might not have enough clutch for the elbow. If it falls of, try another piece! The combination of step 1 was actually upside-down at first, but this version proved more stabile. The round-plate-with-bar piece as the shoulder joint is not perfect, as it has the little ridge on the side; I used a connection to headlight brick's antistud side, but the connection looses somewhat easily. Looks good, though. A pin hole with hollow stud on the other side might also work; and yes, the tiles and curved slopes can be replaced with printed or stickered ones for tattoos.

Augur's head. Stud.io's medium nougat looks very orange, but medium nougat it is. This design is intented for colours without 1x2 double slopes (medium nougat and dark tan), or if a rounder chin shape is desired. It's relatively sturdy, even though the double cheese slopes tend to "live" a bit. IMPORTANT: The old grey piece on step 2 is the old, obsolate version: Plate, Modified 1 x 1 with Light Attachment - Thin Ring (4081a). The regular version with a plate-thick ring won't work. The neck joint is further back than on the head variant above and should be taken into account when designing the torso.

The tutorial corner will return!


Valerie Orion

I tend to keep my models built for a long time. Often older models start to feel outdated with time, and are eventually modified, stripped for some pieces I've ran out, or disassembled completely. But sometimes they grow on me. One of them is Zinnia Superfuzz, a bass player figure I built in 2019. She was on window display for a year or two (I have some triple-glazed windows with nice display space inside). I did make some tweaks, sure - I made the legs a bit shorter for more natural proportions - but in all Zinnia is one of my best works (by the way, she also made a special gig on my review of the new Ideas Fender Statocaster on New Elementary). She was built in slightly larger scale than usual (and required a big hair to make the usual-scale face look natural!) and that scale felt interesting for further experienting, so I built two other original characters, fiddler Doreen Inverardi and drummer Virva Staccato to accompany her on a band. And here's the fourth member, Valerie Orion, who plays a guitar. 

I aimed for similar overall feel than on Zinnia. Doreen was more "out there" - her starting point was a very heavy and brightly coloured skirt that prevented lot of mobility, and pretty much everything on her turned out somehow bizzare or hipster-like. Virva was a drummer from the beginning, which meant ability to sit and therefore trousers. So with this new guitarist I wanted to pursue elegant dress design with enough poseability and some cool boots. I was also excited by the big amount of brightly-coloured curved slopes I had recently bought, and they guided the process. I began with the dress, which originally had black and bright yellowish green; the green was dropped as the feel was too much like "poison-themed villainess" and I lacked anything else than those curved slopes and 1x2 bricks. Bright light yellow replaced it. The another main colour ended up being dark purple, a colour that has also recently grown on me. Forming the neck strap with those small Elves banners defined the attire.

The flanks use similar technique to Tam the Enchanter, but with some extra movement; the large cockpit parts are connected via 1x2 plates with clip on ends. They're somewhat fragile, but hollow enough to allow enough movement to the upper legs. This meant I was able to build full legs with realistic waist lenght - on comparison Zinnia's legs start half way up the thigh, just above the hemline! The front flap is very simple or even "crude" but the studded surface allowed me to add ornaments with round tiles; tiling the the whole flap would have looked too heavy and zigzaggy on the edges. The gaps on the skirt are conscious choice for poseability, and I though that line between the stocking and skin would be nice detail.
The previous figures of the series had all black hair so I chose to continue this motif. They also all had rubber hair - Zinnia's used Hero Factory ammo belts and others' tire pieces. I tried some tires on Valerie too, but they didn't fly. Instead I made an asymmetrical curved slopes and bow pieces type of hair - mostly to give some wildness to contrast the bound and symmetrical hairs of the others. Doreen and Zinnia had these wild hair ornaments, so Valerie got some too - a small serpent-themed hair clip, a big star with trans-purple innard (hence the name Orion - Zinnia's name derives from a flower, appearing on her dress) and a big trans-neon-green Clickits wrist band that shines brilliantly!

From the beginning I new I wanted to make a transparent "acrylic" guitar. I saw Jussi Lehtisalo playing one in Rättö & Lehtisalo few years ago (before the pandemic) and the idea came back to me - I was sure it would look great in brick form. This is not a remake of that specific instrument (I didn't find any photos) but just a random, made-up guitar; the body is somewhat close to Stratocaster, but with symmtrical headstock. Light reflects nicely in different innards of the pieces in it.
The whole band is not here yet - I have several ideas more. Maybe it'll end up being a big band? Time will tell. Until next time!

PS. The boat stud on the right hand is black on some photos and tan in some. It should be black. There was a small accident during the shoot (there usually is) and I lost the original black one. No wonder I didn't find it as I was looking for tan one instead of black! But that's not a huge problem - she just has different bracers on some shots.



Augur of the Last Peak

 I recently bought a bunch of parts from BL. This is not exactly common; while I've been a bit more active BL user during the pandemic (due to loss of first-hand used brick vat browsing on events and such), my prevous order was half a year ago to complete Grand Hotel Kudelma. The new order had lot of cheap curved slopes on pleasant colours, and they inspired me into sort of "free building" without any specific idea. From such ground emerged Augur of the Last Peak.

The seed part, aside the curved slopes, was oil slick -esque cape piece from Friends funfair theme; more about it on my review on New Elementary, from May. I didn't build any creations for that article, but I knew I would use that interesting cloth piece sooner or later. It was here, making the mantle of the robe along with pearl gold and medium lavender pieces. I wanted to keep the robe very simple and elegant; I think it turner out pretty good, except for the back, which has bit too severe blocky steps. That was due to lack of arches or tall slope pieces (except ones on the upper arms) available.

The character ended up being smaller than usual. I first tried six-wide upper torso, but that looked too muscular. I settled on this overall four-wide torso. It also sort of solved the hand problem of not having needed pieces for basic hands in medium nougat (gloves didn't feel fitting for the character) as those hands would have looked huge in the scale; instead I built long sleeved with a tips of fingers (simplified as 1x1 round tiles) peeking from them. The head is usual scale, but does not look out of place. This is new design for double cheese slope chin variant that debuted on Dedofiktion Rocketsuit in January. This new version doesn't need old 3651 Technic Axle And Pin Connector with its loose and weirdly logoless side studs; instead it uses another long gone part, 4081a Plate, Modified 1 x 1 with Light Attachment - Thin Ring. Plates connected to each side of the thin ring line up with the 1x1 plate, so the width of the head is not disturbed. I should probably post a break-up of this and the usual head version. 

But back to the character. She ended up looking like a monk (nun?), or an oracle, or an augur. Some sort of mystic. And she was a rather stiff model with not much poseability, so I wanted to compleate it with some scenery. One alternative would have been a body of water, like a still lakeside or a stream (like on old Red Lady of the Stream). But I wanted to make something airier. The process was influenced by my recent re-reading of Tolkien's books, and I though of Varda, or Elbereth, one of the valar and the creator of stars who lives on the holy mountain Taniquetil in Valinor across the Sea. From the prehistory of Arda arose this mountain-side with its white snows. I first experimented of some more expressive clouds, using balloon panels and dinosaur tails, but they didn't fly; more two-dimensional silhouette clouds were better, with petrified movement and sense of altitude. The cliff has boat weigh pieces inside to give the composition unreal feel - I'm rather happy with it - while keeping the model in good balance. My new blue background sheets helped with the airy feel. I bough them and new black ones today, as the old ones were too crumbles and messy; but they will appear on the next post, as its model was photographed some days earlier.