You can find stories about the Giants in almost all mythologies of ancient cultures. They are very tall, incredibly strong, very long-lived, guardians of an extended knowledge, but immoral and destructive. For these reasons, often giants symbolize the primordial chaos and so the gods had fought them to restore order in the cosmos.
We find them in the Bible (the Nephilim or "the fallens"): the Genesis, for example, tells us about the giants as the early inhabitants of the earth, and about the famous Goliath, defeated by David. In Greek mythology, the gigantes, immortal creatures, children of Uranus and Gaea, are the protagonists of the Gigantomachia cycle, that tells us about their war against the Olympians, ended thanks to the Hercules’s actions. Some of these giants are buried deep in the earth and they are considered as the creators of earthquakes; others, such as the Cyclops, are considered as the connoisseurs of the iron manufacturing art and as the makers of Zeus’s lightning; in the Odyssey, instead, they are described as pastoralists.
In the Theogony, Hesiod narrated the Titanomachia, which is the story about the battle between the Titans, living on the Othrys Mountain, and the Olympians. This fighting lasted ten years, until Zeus firstly freed the three Centimanes (the Hundred-Handed) and then, after having refreshed them with nectar and ambrosia, involves them in the battle, determining the Titans defeat and their segregation in Tartarus; in this place, enclosed by high walls and bronze gates, specifically built by Poseidon, the Titans are watched over by the Centimanes.
There are many others giants, protagonists of the Greek mythology sagas; in some cases, the Titans are shown as positive figures, such as Cronus, who was also king. Thanks to him, the men passed from savagery to civilization. It was Cronus that taught men to be honest and simple of mind, in past days when they were fair and happy. But in Norse mythology, the giants (jotnar in the ancient Norwegian) are predominant creatures and they were already there before the birth of the world, which was originated from the body of giant Ymir. Every part of its enormous body served to create a component of life on earth; at the same time the larvae of its flesh originated the breed of the Gnomes, progenitors of the Dwarves, and the Elves. And the giants, or their sons, represent the terrible and monstrous creatures that inhabit the earth. In the Norse mythological cycle, in the hour of Ragnarok, the "Twilight of the Gods", the giant will attack Asgard and defeat the gods Asi, led by Odin.
In more recent folklore, this imaginary was partially transformed; the giants of fairy tales, such as the main character of "Jack and the Beanstalk", are, as the Ogres, stupid, violent and they devour human beings (especially children). There are, instead, atypical characterizations, such the one in "Selfish Giant” by Oscar Wilde, in which the giants appear intelligent and friendly.
There are many stories of fights between giants and heroes narrated in the epic cycles of Wales and Ireland, in Breton literature and in the Arthurian romances, as well as in the works of Torquato Tasso (the "Jerusalem Delivered"), Ludovico Ariosto (the "Mad Orlando") and Edmund Spencer ("The Faerie Queene"), although it is often not easy to distinguish between Giants and similar figures like Trolls, Ogres, and other anthropomorphic monsters.
And of course the giants are present in all the major fantasy sagas, from Final Fantasy to Warhammer, from Confrontation to Magic the Gathering until A Song of Ice and Fire. They are generally humanoid and usually live in plain areas or near the mountains, even if you can meet them in caves or underground. They can be distinguished by the colour of the skin that usually denotes a mastery of a particular item. The Ogre slaves giants of WarHammer Fantasy are stupid monsters that move awkwardly always looking for meat and beer. Once, they lived in castles excavated from the vast peaks of the Mountains of Mourn, surrounded by a white clouds sea, hidden from the eyes of the smaller breeds. But when the Ogres were destroyed with the arrival of the Great Maw, the many survivors fled to the mountains, defeating the ancient inhabitants and driving them to the valleys below. The few survivors, gathered in small tribes, terrorized the Old World as mercenaries or brutes.
This Giant is the largest model I have ever worked on. I painted it for the Italian Golden Demon in 2006, where it won Silver in the Monster Category. From a sculpting perspective it does not have major conversions: I just added a belt across his shoulder and chest building it with some brass, and I also included inside the cage a kidnapped goblin, forced to follow the giant everywhere. For me this project had two main challenges. First it was a real exercise in shading and highlighting skin textures, and on the other hand it gave me the opportunity to use artificial water for the first time.
I used airbrush for the skin, which gave the Giant’s flesh an amazingly realistic, dappled look. One of the first things to take into consideration when airbrushing is that the paint must be quite diluted (with the consistency of the milk), otherwise if the mixture is too thick it will block the airbrush and it will spit blobs of paint; and is it is too watered down we will create the so called "spider legs effect" making the paint go everywhere in a quite uncontrollable way and to areas we don't want to paint...
For the basecoat of the skin I used a mixture of English Uniform, Sunny Skintone and Vermillion from Vallejo, shading it with some Scorched Brown (Citadel) and a little bit of Black. For the highlights I used Sunny Skintone, Base Flesh and Light Flesh from Vallejo (in that same order). When I finished this part I realized that the skin was too pale and dull, without life. So I decided to add some midtones to warm the general tonality of it. I started with some thin layers of Orange Brown (Vallejo) and afterwards I added some Red Gore (Citadel). After all this was done with the airbrush it was the time to use the brush for the final details such as deep shades, final highlights (mainly in the face) and some extra midtones
For the scratches in the skin I did the following.
1. Thin line with Red Gore (Citadel) + tiny bit of Black - 2. Volume applied with Light Flesh (Vallejo) - 3. Red Gore (Citadel) glaze around the wound, a bit of Gloss Varnish.... et voilà - Once the skin effect had been achieved, I started on the clothing and other details
One of the nicest things of this figure is that the trousers are done by 15 different pieces of cloth. And this was going to give me a huge opportunity to try different combinations of colors and the possibility to prepare as many freehands as I wanted. I used blacks, browns, blues, reds and whites, keeping always a general cold tone for the highlights (mainly using Space Wolves Grey from Citadel). I also drew different patterns such as diagonal lines, a sun, the twin-tailed comet of Sigmar, the Fleur de Lis or even a tartan!
Painting wood is always fun, as it allows you different combinations of browns and ochres and it is very difficult to have a bad result. For the log in his right arm I used warm vivid colors starting with a Vermin Brown of Citadel followed by a general wash of black, brown and chestnut ink. Once the ink was dry I painted the grains of the wood again with some Vermin Brown and Snakebite Leather. Afterwards I applied some random washes with Chestnut Ink and also with some Catachan Green (Citadel) to give some moss effect.
Painting rust is a very easy and effective technique that can create a fantastic effect in just three steps, and I used these three steps in this figure. Usually rust happens on metallic surfaces, so first of all we have to make sure that the metal underneath the rust is fully painted and finished (with its shades and highlights). The first step is to apply a layer of Scorched Brown (Citadel) in large random areas. Afterwards we will apply some Vermin Brown on top of it. And finally for the "fresher" rust we will use Fiery Orange. The combination of these three colors in the right places can create a very realistic effect, but other color can be used for other kind of rusts (for example turquoise and white for the rust of the copper).
TERRAIN AND WATER
The terrain has a lot of prominence in this project, as such a big figure requires a nice well constructed terrain. Here I tried to do my best... :-) The base itself is conformed by four main elements: the terrain, the trees, the sign and the water.
The Terrain: This was quite easy to do. I used some Milliput to elevate the surface and some very thin beach sand for the gravel. After it was painted in dark browns I added artificial grass an some flowers to give some color.
The Trees: As I already mentioned before, painting wood is always fun. I used some real wood branches that I twisted and glued together to represent broken and rotten vegetation. Afterwards I used some oil paints (mainly dark browns and blacks) very diluted with white spirit to almost automatically create the wood grain effect. This is a very interesting and fast technique.
The Sign: For the sign I used the same painting process as for the tree in the giant's right hand. And considering that the figure was a project for the Italian Golden Demon y wrote "Tilea" (Italy in the Warhammer Fantasy universe) to represent the path the giant needed to follow :-)
The Water: To create the water effect I used some Artificial Water from Andrea Miniatures. It is a very liquid and clear two components element that dries in 24 hours crating a completely transparent surface. I needed to carefully create a little dam with some plasticard around the base to avoid the water to drip down when pouring it. Once the water was dry I removed the plasticard, filed down the sides of the water to align it with the rest of the base and applied some gloss varnish to keep the clear and transparent effect. Afterwards as a final touch I created some water crests applying some Vallejo Water Effects with a clean brush.
Staining a figure is scary and interesting at the same time. It is usually done at the end of the whole painting process, once the painting of the figure is finished but it is too clean to be considered fully finished,
For this figure I used some brown pigments from MIG mixed with gloss varnish to create a fresh and humid effect, especially considering the fact that there is water and mud around... I applied the mix in random places but mainly in the feet, knees and the lower parts of the trousers (the areas that typically would get more dirty).
Some final touches et voilà! The project was over!
As I mentioned at the beginning this was the first large scale figure I painted and it gave me the opportunity to better understand how to use the airbrush in skin areas and how to create water in a realistic way. I hope you like it as much as I enjoyed painting it.