Friday 28 April 2017

Bicarbonate of soda - a warning!

Well it looks like my love affair with bicarbonate of soda as a texture medium has come to an abrupt end!

While getting my minis ready for tomorrow’s showcase I noticed a dusty white bloom on some of them! It has affected some minis where I’ve used the bicarb as a texture medium in, for example, rust or corrosion effects but it was quite pronounced. Most alarmingly although it’s been stable and unchanging for at least a year this all happened in the last few days. My best guess is that it is down to a change in humidity.

A dusting off with a clean dry brush retouching of the paint has fixed the issue for the moment but I’ll have to keep a very close eye on these minis.

As I’ve been promoting the use of bicarb and singing it’s praises I thought I’d better put this warning out quickly! I’m going to monitor the situation closely and look into a permanent fix (if needed) and alternatives.

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Review: Element Masterclass Brushes from Element Games

A few months ago I was contacted by Byron Orde from Element Games with regards to holding a painting class at his venue in Stockport on June 2 & 3. While we were arranging the class Byron asked me if I would be interested in trying out his Element Masterclass Brushes.

I’ve tried out several brands of brush over the years and none of them compared well with the Windsor and Newton Series 7 (W&N). However, that is not the case with the Element Masterclass Brushes and I am genuinely impressed with their quality and performance.

I’ve been using the brushes, on both my Orruk Megaboss and the Akito, bust, alongside a W&N. This has enabled me to make a direct comparison and I now feel I’ve been using them for long enough to share my opinion.

Examples of my work done using the Element Masterclass Brushes.

Element Masterclass Brushes come in three sizes Detail, Character and Regiment. The bristles on the Detail brush are a little short for my own taste but both the Character and Regiment sizes have been very useful. The Character brush is equivalent to a size 0 and I used it for a great deal of the texture on the Megaboss. The Regiment brush is equivalent to a size 1 and was particularly useful for the layered glazes on Akito.

The tips of the Element Games brushes come to an excellent crisp point, like a W&N brush. They have maintained their points throughout use and I’d venture to say that the W&N brush is wearing less well over time. Based on my use of them, so far, the Element Masterclass Brushes seem to be more durable than W&N.

The only possible down side I’ve encountered is that Element Masterclass Brushes felt a little stiffer than the W&N ones when in use. However, I wouldn’t describe this as a fault so much as a difference between two brands. It was a ‘problem’ for me simply because the brush felt different to what I had become used to. In fact what this means is that I use the Element Games brushes for different tasks to the W&N brushes. Element Masterclass Brushes are perfect for fine texture work where the W&N ones are just too soft for my taste.

I’m very impressed with the Element Masterclass Brushes, both in terms of quality and value for money, so much so that I’ve made them a permanent addition to my toolkit.

You can buy the Element Masterclass Brushes HERE.

Friday 21 April 2017

Exploring Contrasts in Copenhagen

I’d like to thank Sonny Bundgaard for inviting me to Copenhagen to run a master class workshop exploring contrast in miniature painting over the Easter weekend. It was a great venue and a great bunch of participants!

The Easter Bunny in Copenhagen.
Not the Easter Bunny in Copenhagen.
Always adjust your marketing to reflect changed circumstances!
I’d been looking forward to this workshop for quite some time now! The scope of the class was far wider than I'd covered before, and I am inspired by using contrast in miniature painting. In my view it’s importance simply cannot be overstated. For this two-day workshop I set out to demonstrate my approach to this subject and how I apply it to my miniatures. The workshop consisted of a combination of theory, demonstrations and practical experience.

The focus for day one was on using colour and tone to create contrast, establishing global lighting and contrast, introducing colour theory and using it to create a colour scheme.

During day two we went on to explore other types of contrast using different techniques and materials like painting texture and detail, the use of true metallic versus non-metallic metals, applying matt, gloss and satin surface finishes, creating a focal point and, finally, adding textures and special effects to a painted miniature.

It was important to state right at the start that participants would probably not be going home with a beautiful finished mini. Instead they would acquire some useful theory, techniques and, most importantly, experience to apply to their own projects. Having said that I was impressed with just how much painting everyone managed to achieve!

The workshop ran from 10am to 6pm each day but with painters gathering from 9am, and several of them working on into the evening on Saturday; there was a lot of hard work and dedication put into the weekend.

I like to get everyone working on their miniatures as soon as possible so we began the workshop by looking at ways of adding texture contrasts to a mini during prep. I then discussed the importance of establishing global lighting and contrast and demonstrated some ways of achieving this. Then, to take us through the rest of the morning, I set everyone the task of painting a mini using just black and white. The aim of this quick ‘warm up’ exercise was to focus everyone on establishing tonal contrasts without the added complications of colour.

Colour theory and how to use it in creating contrast was the focus for the rest of day one. Instead of diving right in to painting minis, I set the task of creating two or three different colour schemes on paper. I’d prepared a line drawing of a plague bearer for this exercise and for the next forty minutes or so we enjoyed a little colouring in! The point of this exercise was to encourage everyone to experiment with applying some colour theory to their paint choices and to see how those colours would interact. Trying things out on paper first enabled the painters to take a few risks and try colour combinations they might not normally consider.

I then asked the painters to pick one of the colour schemes they had created and apply it to a miniature. Through the rest of day one and into day two we continued to explore and experiment with our paint schemes, developing contrasts all the time.

During day two I demonstrated techniques and materials that could be used to introduce and enhance other types of contrast. All the time we were maintaining and developing the tonal and colour contrasts that form the backbone of a paint job. As the workshop drew to a close, we examined several of my projects to identify the types of contrast I had created and how they worked within the context of the overall paint scheme.

The colour schemes devised by the group included adventurous combinationd like red/green, red/pink, yellow/purple and grey/purple. In addition to the use of contrasting and/or complementary colour schemes, the painters experimented with saturation and tone to create a strikingly diverse group of minis.

Beyond the colour contrasts the schemes exhibited a range of texture contrasts and surface finishes; and there was, of course, a fair splattering of slime baking soda and microbeads!

The painters in the group were such a great bunch of guys and, of course, had greatly differing levels of experience covering commission painting, hobby painting, army painting and competition painting. What everyone had in common, however, was a willingness to step out of their comfort zones and get stuck into the workshop. It was a pleasure to work with the group and see their paint schemes develop. I was genuinely impressed with the progress all the painters achieved on their plaguebearers!

Wednesday 19 April 2017

‘Alas, poor Gutrot! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.’

The Tragedy of Sproket, Prince of Denmark Act 5, scene 1. 
 I’m something of a nervous traveller, especially so when it come to transporting my miniatures. But with the exception of my Nurgle Predator, which arrived at the 1990 Golden Demons with a broken banner, I’ve been lucky enough to have transported my minis without any mishaps. Until now that is!

I knew there would be an element of risk involved in taking Gutrot Spume with me to Copenhagen last weekend. But Gutrot was the best choice to bring as an example of how I brought together different types of contrast on one mini, so I took a deep breath and packed him up with all the care I could. I’d purchased an ‘Art Bin’ to transport my models in and, although this proved to be an excellent practical choice, I think it was also my undoing!

The damage was done before I even left Heathrow Airport. Going through Airport Security I’d placed my Art Bin on the conveyor to be scanned. There was then the usual business of going through security myself and then having to put my belt and shoes back on. I looked up from this to see my Art Bin being held up and shaken from side to side by one of the security officers! The whole thing happened very quickly but my partner witnessed the tragedy play out. It was turned around, tipped and then turned completely upside down before the shaking was administered. It was then shoved back onto the conveyor belt and scanned where it was, of course, deemed safe and harmless!

I can only think that my Art Bin drew this attention because it was an unusual looking piece of hand luggage, which is fair enough. I appreciate that the security checks are vital and are as much in my own interest as anyone else’s. What I don’t understand is why it was necessary to treat my Art Bin so roughly! Based on the treatment it received it was clearly deemed unusual rather than dangerous. After all why would anyone, let alone a trained security officer, pick up and shake something they considered a potential hazard!

The security staff all have a very important job to do and are far too busy to pander to the concerns of an uptight miniature painter. But I can’t see any good justification for such careless and, quite frankly, aggressive treatment of a person’s property. The staff at Copenhagen airport were no less busy and just as vigilant but they managed to carry out their duties in a way that treated both passengers and their property with respect.

Now I’ve got that off my chest my ranting is over and my priority is getting Gutrot back to his gruesome best.

I decided to wait until I got to my hotel before I opened everything up to see the damage. I suppose things could have been a whole lot worse considering the rough treatment but the sight that awaited me sent my blood pressure through the roof! The prongs on Gutrot’s trident have all been snapped off. Mercifully the breaks are clean and at the base of the prongs where it should be possible to reattach then. I should then be able to reinforce and cover up the join with a little extra corrosion. More problematic is the damage to Gutrot’s helmet, as the tip of it’s crest has been snapped off. I will see if I can rebuild this tiny part but it may be necessary to trim the crest down to a new, shorter point.

On reflection I got off lightly, as the breaks are clean and only affect the extremities. It’s a massive relief that the paintwork has suffered no damage beyond those breaks!

I now understand exactly why some painters bolt their minis into place for transportation and I will be leaving nothing to chance next time. I hope my mistakes serve as a warning to anyone transporting their minis. Leave nothing to chance and make sure your minis are totally secure for transportation! 

Monday 10 April 2017

Busy Times!

The last few weeks have provided an unusual experience with regards to my hobby as although I’m very busy I have little to show for it! As I predicted earlier this year I’m deeply involved in preparing for my Copenhagen workshop over the coming Easter weekend. Demo minis have been prepped and painted, notes have been written, a resourses folder compiled and minis selected for the trip. And jolly good fun it’s all been too but there’s nothing to show for it on this blog!

Apart from my workshop preparations, I’ve found a little more time to work on Akito and develop the flesh tones on her torso. I’ve found it especially challenging to achieve a realistic balance of smooth flesh tones and strong, but subtle, contrasts. Unlike painting monsterous flesh there is no way to hide any imperfections behind textures or special effects! But I feel that I’m getting there and just need to be patient and persistent.

The following weeks are also likely to be a bit of an odd time for me hobby wise. On the weekend after my Copenhagen workshop it’s Salute, at Excell in London, and I’ll finally get the chance to enter my Abalam bust into a painting comp. It will be interesting to see how he does as I feel I’m still something of a novice with regards to painting busts, and there is a lot for me to learn.

After that I’m going to be at Warhammer Southampton, on Saturday 29th April, where I’ll be showcasing my miniatures and running some demonstrations of the techniques I’ve used on my Golden Demon winners. I will also be judging a painting competition!

Looking further ahead still there is the Golden Demon Classic at Warhammer Fest on 28th May. My Megaboss is ready and waiting which is just as well because I don’t think I’m going to have spare time to get anything else painted ready for Golden Demon this year. That’s because I’ve two more painting workshops lined up for this Summer and I’ll be gearing up for the first of those pretty soon.

This will be at Element Games, in Stockport, on the 3rd and 4th June. The subject of the workshop will be aged and distressed non-metallic metal armour, like that painted on my Megaboss. There will be a focus on using Scale colour paints and the workshop model will be the Abyssal Warlord by Scale 75.

And there’s more because on the weekend of August 5th and 6th, I will be in Hull for the Weekend Workshop. I will be breaking out the Plaguebearers again for a weekend of painting monster flesh. Expect microbeads, baking soda and slime effects to feature!