The figure
For an upcoming project of mine, I will have to really outstretch my sculpting talents, so this time though, I could probably have converted an existing figure, but I preferred to sculpt it almost entirely for training.

The problem is, I am a diorama maker; which means not particularly good at sculpting stuff, nor do I get a lot of training as the figures amount to maybe 1/10 of the building time. But then I took the risk of ending up with a bad figure in a good diorama.

As my diorama was settled in the early 1920’s I had to find the right figure wearing some clothes that would be either Intervention armies, Red or White Russians. That’s a lot of choice, but then as I wanted to use a lot of green in the diorama, I thought it would really be best if I could find a red uniform.

And there I found it, the ideal uniform, the one of Red Hungarian Hussar.
Now I don’t like to model either the Good or the Bad ones. I really like to model the Loosers, the brighter those Loosers are the better they are in my book, and those Hussars where bright Loosers according to my book.

During World War One, a lot of Austro-Hungarian soldiers got imprisoned by the Russians, and got freed during the revolution. Those were offered to fight either for the Red or the White Armies. Most Hungarians choose to fight for the Reds but didn’t have anything to wear. So they broke into an old wardrobe and found those red trousers they choose to wear. At first they didn’t have any horses and paraded carrying their saddles.

After The Communists took power, some special arrangements were made between USSR and Hungary so that those Hussars could come back, but some stayed in their new country.

So here I went. First: bits of paper clips and a Magic Sculp lump for the body. Then I let it dry overnight. I started with the shoes using the tip of some Dragon ones, then the trousers. I added the complicated scheme with Duro as you can stretch it thinner than Magic Sculp. Now as this diorama is my own story and that I had to get some reference, I simply took my own self as a model. After I got 2 weeks worth of evenings spent on this figure, I couldn’t be convinced of sculpting the hands by myself and took those out of a Nemrod set. So in the end my wife agrees that the guy is me, except that I am taller, look less nasty, and especially that she never saw me washing my own shirts.

The first time I ever sculpted a figure on my own was less than a year back and painting it proved horrible. At one point I remember seeing myself not really painting, but pushing the oily pigments in crevices.

For this one I made an effort to sand correctly at least the visible body parts, but that was not really enough, and it proved another nightmare to come through. As usual I painted it first using acrylics and then oils. Of course I tried to get the same light direction effect as the rest of the diorama. So the trousers are of a lighter shade on the top right side of the figure, and the skin is darker on the left side for instance.

To reassure myself, I kept telling myself that after 10 years of feeling the pain of painting my own figures, the day I am given an Alpine figure you can call me Bill Horan. (pic 24)
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About the Author

About Jean-Bernard André (jba)

Here are my 10 rules for better dioramas! 1 -The diorama is everything modelling is about, it's the meeting point of the manufactured object that is the model and the human input, you can –and have to- tell stories with dioramas. 2 -When doing your diorama you should not be influenced by any tr...


Hi Claude -well this expo was at half an hour *walking* from my home so.. I arrived at the opening at 9am on saturday, left 10 mn later and took the dio back 10 mn before the closing on Sunday so you see, I am not very good at public relations It was a fig show called Lugdunum, and no i didn't win anything -not that it was important indeed plenty of pics of the show thanks for asking anyway here
FEB 29, 2008 - 02:44 AM
Simply superb, and forget taking your work to model shows, JBA, you need a studio of your own! Peter F
MAR 26, 2008 - 08:06 PM
Thanks Peter, but honestly i 've always been knowing my own diorama promised land was certainly not paved with gold medals from shows But i would still go for the friends. maybe see you at Telford in one year or 10!
MAR 28, 2008 - 12:54 AM
Jean-Bernard, Your work as always is just spectacular. I hope to someday do a diorama so fully realized. I do follow my interests now and let them inspire me. I am growing very tired of the same old types of subjects. I am starting a figure company with my best friend and our subject matter is inspired by history, but civilian history rather then military history. Every one who has seen our first three figures has really liked them. I only hope that our figures add to the hobby the way your work does. Best Jeff
APR 17, 2008 - 03:24 PM
I just saw this, and JBA, my friend, all I can say is, you are a genius. While most dioramists try to faithfully replicate reality, you go much further, and try to replicate a moment of your self. Fantastic work.
APR 18, 2008 - 08:03 AM
So well, I just caught your comments while in a cybercafe in the "worse" kind of French wild west i could be stucked in and you can imagine those really cheers me up Jeff I can only pray for your new company to be successful! And thanks David as always (very long time, very no see!!) may your inspiration still be there wherever in the world you are right now bye for now my friends JB
APR 22, 2008 - 01:53 AM
JBA I really admire your creative skills,such as using cigarette paper for clothes and such. Taking the time to explain your techniques and the reasons behind them is truly a learning experience for me. It would be a joy to see your projects in person. Keep it up! rR
APR 22, 2008 - 02:56 AM
Wow! Just amazing.
MAR 07, 2010 - 02:20 AM
HI JBA For some reason I never replied/posted first time around ... so I´ll do so this time. Have always loved your models, and its always great to see them brought back again. Even the still water looks great!!
MAR 07, 2010 - 02:39 AM
Thanks Michael for unearthing such an old thing, it still looks okay after 3 years.. Than you Franck, the "reverse water" method is completely crazy to be honest and I wouldn't do this again. but i still like the way i treated the green colours. Someday i might change the guy which is the weak point of the scene
MAR 07, 2010 - 11:30 PM