Friday, 9 June 2017

Sproket's Painting Masterclass at Element Games

The last few weeks have been a pretty intense time for me hobby wise and I’ve been left feeling a little tired, but very inspired.

I like to sit back and take time to reflect after a painting competition. But as soon as this year’s Golden Demon Classic was over I had to knuckle down and finish preparations for my Painting Masterclass at Element Games in Stockport. Although I’d painted enough of the Abyssal Warlord to serve as a reference model, I wanted to spend a little extra time refining the content and structure of my workshop. In addition to that I had to prepare a presentation for the ‘seminar’ being held on the Saturday Evening.

This was my first trip to the Element Games Gaming Centre and I was thoroughly impressed with it! It’s a great venue for a painting workshop with a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere. There is plenty of space and the facilities are excellent. There were HD screens linked up to a web cam for a close up and personal view of the painting and, later on, to display my slides for the evening seminar. The centre also has a bar and a well-stocked ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of a shop, so all the necessaries are catered for!

I’d realised while working on my Megaboss that the combination of non metallic metals (NMM) and stippling I was using could form the basis of a painting workshop. The Megaboss himself, though a brilliant model to paint, is just a bit too complicated to be a good workshop model. I wanted an armoured fantasy miniature that would be relatively quick to assemble and feature plenty of easily accessible surfaces. The Abyssal Warlord from Scale 75 proved to be perfect for the job!

While the main focus of the workshop was on specific painting techniques, it was important to provide some structure and context. Most of all I think it’s important to demonstrate how they could be used to play their part in an overall paint scheme. To that end, alongside the stippling and NMM, I also incorporated topics such as planning, colour theory and contrast into the weekend.

The practical focus for day one was on painting a NMM steel effect that transitioned from warm shadows to cool highlights. The colour palette we used works very well as it is tried and tested and this enabled everyone to concentrate their efforts on learning the stipple technique of painting. I prefer to get everyone painting at my workshops as quickly as possible. I think the best way to learn is by doing and I wanted everyone to have enough time to get comfortable with the ‘new’ technique they were learning before we went on to explore some potentially trickier colour palettes during day two.

By the end of day one everyone had gained in confidence and experience with stippling. I‘d stressed that speed came with practise and as the afternoon progressed this became very apparent! Many of the attendees found themselves able to do in 15 minuets what had earlier taken them a couple of hours.

Although a part of the whole weekend Masterclass evening seminar also functioned as a stand alone event and this gave me the opportunity to open things up. Titled ’10 Top Tips, Tricks and Techniques’ I presented a selection of my favourite techniques and materials and showed how I had used them in my work. It’s probably no surprise to anyone that microbeads featured!

For day two we turned our attention to painting first a cold gold tone and then black metal. Both of these use simpler colour palettes than the steel we’d painted the day before but, as I mentioned earlier, they can be tricky to get right. It’s necessary to carefully control both the hue and saturation of the colours in these palettes as even subtle variations can alter the finished effect dramatically!

I’d made a point of putting the NMM colours in order of increasing difficulty. I wanted to present a challenge that would push everyone out of their comfort zones, but not traumatise them. It was hugely rewarding to see how everyone got to grips with the challenges, were able to resolve them, then move on and cope with the increasingly difficult colour palettes. I’d expected that by the end of the weekend there would be in a great variety in the results achieved. While it’s true that some painters got more of the model covered than others they all demonstrated a solid grasp of the techniques we had covered over the weekend. Everyone had reached the point where they will be able to take what they had learned over the weekend and apply it appropriately to their own project. I really couldn’t have asked for a better result!

I also have a partially finished Abyssal Warlord to attend to. I’d considered keeping him as a work in progress to use in teaching but after the workshop I’m feeling too inspired to leave him as he is. During the Masterclass we had some very useful discussions about how the Warlord could be completed and I came away with some great ideas for my own take on him.

Things are going to get very ‘Abyssal’, there will be tentacles and microbeads … Watch this space!


  1. Hello David
    Cracking write up on your Painting Masterclass, is this the same format you will be doing up in Hull in August with the Weekend Workshop?. I'm am quite basic in my painting at the minute so I'm wondering if this would be too advanced for me?



    1. Hi Craig,The hull workshop will be on a different subject - Monster Flesh. In brief, we cover prep/creating texture, some colour theory, layered glazes and slime & drip effects.

      I think the trickiest part of it might be getting to grips with painting layered glazes as this is a 'new' way of painting for some people. However I will be demonstrating everything and providing constant support/guidance as needed.

    2. Ah sounds good! Hope to see you in August then :)

  2. Many thanks David for a fascinating and hugely enjoyable weekend. A really great learning experience for me and I hope to get to another workshop again some time. Also, a big thank you to everyone at Element Games as well, it was a great venue and everyone was very helpful and friendly.

    1. Thanks Donal! It was great to meet you and I'm glad you had a great learining experience.