This past weekend I held a 2 day private coaching with a very lovely painting couple: Nathan and Katie! Nathan has been painting for a couple of years, primarily with a focus of painting to play. He has wanted to get his dudemans painted up for the various games he plays. Katie, his partner, was introduced to toy soldiers through Nathan and has recently taken up miniature painting as a hobby. Both of them are focusing on learning more advanced techniques in order to elevate the quality of their painting so they can enter into painting competitions.
With that in mind, they arrived at 8:40am on Saturday morning after driving in from Canberra. I advised them to get to the studio a few minutes early so they could meet the dogs, who must be friends with everyone, and have a cup of tea and relax a bit before diving right in.
Once tea was consumed and puppy cuddles were had, we went into the studio and prepped the Random Encounter Dwarf from FeR Miniatures. We went over some basics for cleaning plastic and resin models as well as the appropriate safety gear to wear during prep. Once all of our models were cleaned and glued together we went over priming basics including how to not over prime and what zenithal priming is.
At this point I asked them to think of the setting they want to paint their model in as that will help determine their lighting. They both chose campfire light coming from in front of the model's right foot. So they sprayed their white primer from that angle. I primed mine with the idea that the sun would be at a 2 o'clock angle really highlighting the face.
When everyone was finished priming, I did a quick run down of color theory, contrast and value with them. Since both Nathan and Katie have been exposed to other forms of art, they both nailed the color theory pretty quickly. We did stop a couple of times for some exercises in color mixing.
We started by discussing contrast and value (the relative lightness and darkness of colors) and I had them create value scales on paper with Jo Sonja and Schminke paints.
Once they played around with their value scales, we jumped back into color theory and specifically concentrated on how you can mix neutrals and skintones using complementary colors on the color wheel. I then had them do some mixing using only the basics with Jo Sonja and Schminke colors. Both of them had a great time with the mixing exercises and enjoyed the limited palette so much, they continued with only 8 colors when they moved onto their dwarf. This meant they had to mix every color they wanted to use. I was so impressed with their enthusiasm!
Once they played around with mixing it was time to start on the model. I explained and demonstrated glazing techniques and explained how to apply your basecoat to zenithal primer so you can still get the benefit of the light and dark primers roughing in your lighting.
Once they did the basecoating the rest of the day was spent on getting the shading done. Both of them chose the same story for their dwarf:
He has been walking all day on his adventure and night has fallen. He was starting to set up camp and lighting a fire, when he hears a noise and draws his kukri.
That means night has fallen with moonlight shining while he faces the fire. So not only did we have to go really dark to simulate the night but then we had to think about the two different light sources. This is a TOUGH atmosphere to paint for more advanced painters, so for those more on the beginner's end of the spectrum this is super tricky. Again, totally impressed with their drive and enthusiasm. When I told them it was a tough scheme, they said, "Well, we might as well make the most of this lesson!"
The photo above is where we ended on Day 1. They had roughed all of their shadows in and were very tired at the end of the day. Most people don't realize how much stamina it takes to be able to paint all day. Most people who paint for a hobby, only get a couple of hours every few days as opposed to people like myself who will sit down and paint for 6 hours at a time. Or more.
We started the second day with some discussion in the morning first. We talked a little bit about how to look at skintone and break down the colors present in the skin. This is something most people struggle with as it is very complex. They also asked me about transporting models after seeing my Laser Shark Design's Hobby Transporter. I never leave it behind when I travel with models.
Then it was on to painting! I went over glazing again and then painted in some darker shadows on both of their models so they could see how to achieve the the right level of contrast. Most people are a bit timid with how dark and light to go. I find that if they see me smash a dark shadow or bright highlight on their model, the light bulb tends to go off.
They worked on smoothing out some of their transitions between base color and shadow and then we started sketching in the firelight and the moonlight. It took most of the day to get the highlights in before Nathan and Katie hit their exhaustion wall. Once the end of the day rolled around, we closed up palettes and discussed their progress they made over the weekend. They seemed to really enjoy themselves and they said they were really inspired to paint their future projects.
I couldn't be more pleased with them! They were excellent students, not being afraid to ask for help when they needed it. And they were very cute together as they were painting. They were excellent company in the studio as well and were very inquisitive. We discussed everything from painting and how I got into it, why I recommend people not trying to turn their hobby into commissions, and how I came to be in Australia. We also discussed painting competitions and how Mark and I have been involved in CanCon with Crystal Dragon.
I think they also fell in love with my dogs as Katie kept asking if they could get a Westie. It was a solid weekend all around. I look forward to helping them in the future when they are ready to level up again!