Monday, 14 May 2018

Warhammer Fest and Golden Demon Classic 2018

I had a brilliant day on Sunday! In fact I can safely say this has been my favorite Warhammer Fest to date. As usual the day sped by in no time at all. But I managed to catch up with, and chat to a whole ton of great folk, and see some fantastic painted minis! I spent so much time talking I had a sore throat by the end of the day and had to partake of a little gin purely for medicinal, and celebratory, purposes.

Chatting to Slayer Sword Winner Angelo Di Chello about, among other things, Horticulus Slimux.

Of course the main focus of my day was the Golden Demon Classic but I very nearly didn’t enter it this year! I like to have a bit of structure to my painting year. I can, and very often do, change my plans; but, overall, I’ve a good idea of the projects I’ll be undertaking. However, my painting schedule got away from me last summer and I never really got back on top of it. Put simply I took on too many projects that I hadn’t planned for.

I did harbour the notion of painting a single mini for Golden Demon once Salute was done. But when that time came I realized that I needed to focus my energies elsewhere. Instead of painting another competition entry I turned my attention to my, rapidly approaching, contrast workshop at Element Games. I wanted to familiarize myself with the Poxwalker miniatures as this will be the first time that I use them in one of my workshops.

As I said back in early March ‘I’m going with the flow and enjoying my painting for it's own sake!’ and the Poxwalker proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable little project. I was turning him around in a short time but without deadline pressures or competition expectations. I was able to explore a colour combination/contrast that I’ve been thinking about for the best part of a year and the yellow/purple scheme took me out of my Nurgle colour comfort zone to good effect!


My poxwalker in gloriously grusome closeup!

As Warhammer Fest drew closer I began to regret that I didn’t have an entry for the painting comp. I was looking forward to the day but I also felt like I’d be missing out on the experience by not taking part. The soloution may seem very obvious but I couldn’t realy see it myself! I’ve a habit of being very focused in my thinking and I saw the Poxwalker as a demo model for my workshop. Even though he was finished, and I was extremely pleased with how he had turned out, I didn’t think he was a suitable mini for Golden Demon!



It took my mate Lee to point out the folly in my thinking so on the Thursday before Warhammer Fest I decided to enter my Poxwalker into 40K single mini. I instantly felt better about going but within ten minutes the pre show nerves kicked in, so then it really felt like Golden Demon!

I was hopeful rather than confident that my Poxwalker might do well, but I felt I was pushing my luck with such a ‘simple’ model. The temptation with Golden Demon is to go all out with the fancy basing, conversions and paint effects. I didn’t think that was wise, or appropriate, with this model and I was relying on the quality of my painting to get me through. But when all is said and done that’s really what it’s all supposed to be about.


Posing with my trophy for GW's photographer (it's a glamorous life) while Judge Max Faleij looks on.

My hopes were not to be dashed because the Poxwalker won Silver in a tough category, and I’m more than happy about it! Though physically tired I’m feeling inspired, refreshed and re-enthused for the painting year ahead! All in all the day has served me a valuable reminder that ‘success’ in my chosen hobby isn’t only about golden trophies and Slayer Swords.

There is a lot to be said for just doing your best and taking part!

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Exploring contrast in miniature painting

Since Salute I’ve been painting a Poxwalker in preparation for my next workshop so I’m very happy to be able to announce that tickets are now on sale for the 2018 Sproket's Painting Masterlcass at Element Games


Exploring contrast in miniature painting 

 

The importance of contrast in miniature painting cannot be overstated. I will be teaching my approach to this subject and demonstrate how I have applied it to my miniatures. The workshop will consist of a combination of theory, demonstrations and practical experience.


Timetable:

Friday 1st June 12noon – 11pm
The Element Games Shop, Bar and Gaming Centre will be open for casual painting and gaming. Masterclass participants will be able to collect their Pox Walkers and can assemble and prep the model ready for the morning. If you can’t make the Friday don’t worry as time will be available Saturday morning for assembly.

Saturday 3rd June 10.00am – 5.30pm
The focus for day one will be on the use of colour & tone to create contrast.
  • Introduction with a (very) brief background and history.
  • Establishing global lighting/contrast
  • Discussing colour theory & the colour wheel
  • Creating a colour scheme
Saturday Evening 7pm – 10pm
Painting Seminar. 'My 10 favorite painting materials and techniques'
A presentation showing how and where I have used my favorite materials and techniques on my award winning models. Followed by a Q&A session.

Anyone can join the Seminar but if they’re not part of the Masterclass there will be a fee to pay on entry (TBA)

Sunday 4th June 10.00am – 5.30pm
During day two we will continue to develop our colour schemes and explore other types of contrast using different techniques and materials.
  • Painting texture & freehand detail
  • True metallic/Non metallic metals
  • Surface finish - matt/gloss/satin
  • Finish – highly worked/loosely worked and creating a focal point
  • Adding texture & special effects to a painted miniature
We will round the weekend off by looking at ways to bring together different types of contrast on the same model and achieve a balanced effect that creates overall impact.

Spaces are limited, you can reserve your spot through the Element Games Webstore

https://elementgames.co.uk/Sproket-PM2018




Sunday, 15 April 2018

Salute 2018


It’s been a long busy Easter, but it’s also been a very good one! The two week break started on Easter weekend with my partner Mark breaking up from school (he’s a teacher) and our friend Terry arriving to spend a long weekend. Then, on the Thursday, Mark, myself and our friends Sue and David flew off to Athens for a five day break where, by a quirk of contrasting religious calendars, we had Easter weekend all over again! Athens is a city I’ve long wanted to visit and it didn’t disappoint. We hit the ground running hiking up various rocky outcrops and roaming the streets to visit the monuments. Then on the final weekend of the Easter break there was Salute 2018!


I was already a little weary going into the day and this year Salute seemed bigger, noisier and hotter than ever! But I had a great time and really enjoyed the opportunity to meet up with my fellow painters and hobbyists. Of course from my perspective the main event was the painting competition.

In my last post I wrote about how I revisited my Abyssal Warlord to improve the details on his cloak fixings. I did this specifically because I wanted to enter him in the painting comp at Salute. One of my major personal painting goals since returning to the hobby has been to expand my range to include larger scale models. It’s been quite a learning curve!


I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I’m very pleased with the paint jobs I’ve produced. But this has been a journey to an aspect of the hobby where I had no prior experience and it’s taken me out of my comfort zone. So much the better for my development and growth but it’s had its frustrations!

I’ve had to swallow my pride and learn from my mistakes. I quickly realized that I couldn’t simply apply what I’d do on a 35mm mini to a bust. Over the last four years I’ve tried to introduce a touch of realism into my painting of larger scale models. It’s a subtle shift but I’ve found it can make a huge difference! It’s an approach that’s spilled out into all of my painting and I think the result can be seen in my painting of the Death Guard and Horticulous Slimux.

I was surprised at just how nervous I felt the morning before Salute this year. I’ve had some competition success over the last few years with my larger scale projects winning a couple of bronzes and a silver. Gold, however, has eluded me and Gold is the standard I want to achieve! I had hopes that I might pull it off with the Warlord but the standard was high and there was some stiff competition in the cabinet. So I braced myself for a disappointment.


I finally did it and the Abyssal Warlord won me a Gold in the Large Scale category! I have a huge feeling of achievement and pride to have finally achieved my ambition.

There is, of course, so much more to learn and I’ve still got a long way to go on this particular painting journey. But I feel I’ve reached a significant landmark from which I can continue to develop. I need to step up my game and level up on the neglected, but not forgotten, Akito bust!

Monday, 26 March 2018

A fishy tale!

Last summer I painted the Abyssal Warlord from Scale 75 for my workshop at Element Games. Although he started out as a demo mini I decided to try and finish him to competition standard, and I was pretty pleased with how he turned out. I took the finished model along to the Golden Demon winner’s day, at Games Workshop HQ in Nottingham, to get some feedback from my fellow painters.

Having successfully smuggled a non-GW model in, without setting off the alarm at the gates, I put him out on display. The reaction was very good but there was one bit of very helpful feedback. Put simply, the rings that attached his cloak to his armour were the weak link in the paint job and didn’t match up to the rest of the model.


I believe that we are all our own toughest critics and deep down we always know when something isn’t up to scratch! However, I’m very good at deceiving myself, and it’s all too easy to think that it’s ok and no one will notice. Thank goodness someone did notice and gave me a, much needed, push to sort it out!

The root of the problem was in the casting, which wasn’t great in this area. However it’s my job to spot such issues before I’ve glued the parts together and base coated them – my bad!

This required a little thought so I put the Warlord in the cabinet and took plenty of time to ponder the issue. I decided the solution was to remove the offending rings and replace them so that I could then repaint the area. It would be straight forward enough to replace them and sculpt some new fur and fixings. Straightforward in principle but bloody fiddly to do!

I took a little more time to think through a plan of action and I’m very glad I did. I gradually began to rethink my idea of replacing the rings like for like. This seemed to me to be an opportunity to add something a little extra. My thoughts came together very slowly but, in the end, I decided to work with the fish theme already on this model and put fish head terminals onto the cloak.

At this point I remembered the fish familiar in the Silver Tower box and I had my solution. The fish familiar was the perfect size and, because it’s made from plastic, easy to cut and carve to fit. With Horticulous Slimux done I decided this week was a good time to get the Warlord out and make the changes to him.

The Warlord is a weighty, top-heavy model and this made the whole process much harder than it should have been. To cope with this I had to proceed very (even for me) slowly and carefully.

I began by carving away the old rings and a little of the adjoining fur. It was a horrible job but by proceeding with extreme caution I managed to remove the unwanted parts without causing extra damage to the paintwork. Then I had to cut the fish down to size by removing the head, filing off the back half of it’s face and re-carving this surface to fit onto the Warlord’s shoulders.

I glued the new, pre-painted, fish head terminals onto the Warlord’s shoulders with epoxy glue and, once this had set, sculpted new fur to connect the old and new parts. I finished off by repainting the fur to blend the old and new together.


To say the least it was a tricky change to make, and I hate doing this sort of work on a ‘finished’ mini at the best of times! But I think the effort has paid off and I’m very pleased with the result. The new fish head terminals add to the under-sea theme and I think they also improve the overall composition. They help to bring extra focus to the face by framing it with areas of the cold gold. They also create a subtle triangle of gold within the overall colour composition that I find very satisfying!

Thanks to Ellis Kaye for giving me the feedback that prompted me to make the changes!

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Horticulus Slimux – Part 5

Horticulus Slimux is finished, and it’s been a hard slog because I‘ve pushed myself hard to refine the textures and transitions to the best of my ability! The experience has been quite intense and I found I could only really work on this mini in short bursts, of an hour or two, at a time. But I think the hard work has paid off and I’m very happy with the finished result!


The decision to focus my paint job on Slimux’s identity, as an ancient gardener, has helped me to keep an overall focus while working on the many small details. I feel it’s also helped me to create the feeling of Slimux being a distinct individual among the masses of Nurgle’s demons. And that is exactly what I wanted to achieve! Of course, no matter how happy I am with Slimux, he is just one element of a bigger model and I now have to start thinking about that dirty great snail and the base in more detail!

The Saturday before last I spent the day at Warhammer Salisbury as ‘artist in residence’! Recent events in Salisbury had, understandably, made things in town a little quieter than usual. However, you can’t keep a good hobbyist down and I enjoyed a full day of hobby related chat and demos. The morning in particular evolved into an extended Q & A and I hope I was able to share the benefit of my many years of painting experience.





A major talking point of the day was ‘How to take your painting to the next level’. What emerged from these discussions was the conclusion that attention to detail is crucial! This works on many levels but, for the purposes of this article, I’ll try to provide a simplified version.

By it’s very nature this hobby is all about detail but there is one VERY important thing to remember.

Don’t ever lose track of the overall scheme. Small details, like eyes, fingernails or jewelry, are important but the thing that holds it all together is the overall scheme. Global lighting, contrast, colour and composition are the things that provide a strong foundation for all the small details.

Attention to detail means paying attention to ALL the many factors that come into play in creating a successful paint scheme. You can’t cut any corners and ‘good enough’ is never good enough! Deep down I think we all know when we’ve not quite done our best and it’s important to pay attention to, and trust, those instincts.

You may well think “that’s easier said than done” and I agree. Taking things to the next level, regardless of you current standard of painting, requires you to commit to investing a lot of time and effort.