This was my third or fourth Private Coaching with David Higgins as he's taken several private classes with me before and he has been competing in the Crystal Dragon competition I run in Australia so I am very familiar with his work. The feedback we had given him in January at Crystal Dragon was that he really needed to work on creating a link between his model and his base. He had been painting his model in a vacuum and then creating a base later on for it. Which made for disjointed compositions.
Since I was already familiar with his work, we only needed to discuss a few things before the private lesson. The first was we had to decide on a model. He decided on the Random Encounter Dwarf from FeR Miniatures . This is a model I love to use with students because he is well sculpted but very simple. This allows the student to focus on technique and color choices and end up with a beautiful model at the end of the weekend.
Once we had the model chosen I asked him to complete the first step of determining his atmosphere: create a story. If we don't have a narrative to work with prior to painting, we can't nail down the atmosphere to paint in.
He chose a night time tavern scene for his dwarf. His story is that his dwarf is walking into a tavern at night and met by some warm fire glow from torches and fireplaces. As he walks in he draws his kukri because he finds a bar brawl in progress.
Okay! Great story. It is simple and gives us all of the information we need to incorporate atmosphere. I then told him to build a base and come to the coaching with his model and base constructed.
Once David arrived we ran through some quick color theory so I could get a feel for where his understanding was. I found that he has a good foundation for color theory which is really necessary to be able to complete atmosphere.
Then we nailed down his color scheme and started applying colors to his model. We really worked on getting the fireglow sketched in early on.
I encouraged him to keep a simple and limited palette in terms of his color choice. He primarily focused on the tunic, cloak and feet while at the Private Coaching and in a few hours of work this is what he had.
I think David was surprised at how simple the approach to atmosphere is, if you have a strong understanding of color theory. This was my reaction when I learned Atmosphere from Roman Lappat. He simplified it and reduced a whole bunch of explanation to once sentence and it clicked in my mind. I was pleased with David's results after an afternoon of painting. I hope to see more atmosphere in his future works.