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!


  1. That looks like a blast! It must be very different on the teaching end :)

  2. Sounds fascinating - are you planning to run such a workshop in the U.K.?

    1. Hi Steve, Hot off the press it looks like I will be runing my contrast workshop in Cardiff some time in November. I'll post details as soon as they are confirmed.

  3. Looked awesome! Pushing contrast is something I really struggle with. Don't suppose your doing any UK classes this year??

    1. I am indeed! I will be runing my contrast workshop in Cardiff some time in November. I'll post details as soon as they are confirmed.
      Prior to that I've got a workshop in Stockport at Emement Games on the 3rd & 4th June.

      I'm also doing my 'Monster flesh' workshop in Hull on August 5th & 6th with the Weekend Workshop.

  4. It was a great chance for those who participate to this masterclass and i'm happy you were invited for this. Following your job since the creation of your blog, i'm always amazed by your minis.

    It could be fun that one day you write an article about the theories you've aexplain during this week end' because lot's of follwers can't travel to meet you.

    Thanks agan for your wonderfull job !

  5. Aw man, I was so close to attending, but it just didn't work out (with the missus). I've only recently returned to the hobby after a long hiatus and I wasn't aware of the workshop until last minute. I so do hope it was not a one time only thing and that a second chance comes a long... Denmark needs you Dave;-)

    1. I'd be more than happy to return! It was a great venue and a great bunch of painters, consider me a fan of Denmark!

    2. I am soo thrilled to hear that! I remember first encountering your work in the 'Eavy Metal Modelling Guide' from '94 and I stared my eyes out for hours: Mike Mcvey's Teclis on the flipside was good, but your work was just lightyears ahead. Upon returning to the hobby, I'm very glad to see that you too returned and better than ever;)