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How to Organize Your Paints

Patreon supporters receive a PDF copy with high res photos and better formatting! The PDF for this article includes bonus workspace pictures, including pics of cats invading my painting area.

Occasionally I am asked what is the best way to organize paints, and I’ve seen it as a topic of online discussion fairly frequently, as well. In this article I’m going to go over some suggestions for organizing your miniature paints, and then in a followup article I’ll share some racks/shelves/bins you can use to store your well-organized paints. (If you know of a storage system that you’d recommend, please let me know in the comments so I can include it in the next article!)

I don’t think there is one best way to organize paint colours. I recently revamped my organization system because what I had wasn’t working for me. Each of us categorizes and uses colours slightly differently, so the right answer is whatever works for you, and even your best guess at that may not be ideal in every circumstance. However, there are some factors you can consider in deciding what is right for you.

IMG 8561I can, however, confirm that this is a terribly unhelpful organization system.

Your organization system may need to fulfill different functions, and there isn’t a single system that is going to excel at all of them. The organizational needs I think you need to consider include:

* The nature of your storage units/containers and the amount of storage space you have.
* Ease of finding a specific paint colour.
* Ease of putting away your paints after use.
* Ability to look at your colours to make choices or get inspired.

Since there are alternative ways to review your colours for inspiration, I would concentrate on developing a system that handles finding and putting away paints easily within the constraints of your available space/storage container.

Another challenge in organizing colours is that every colour has multiple characteristics, and how you think of these characteristics will affect what makes it easier for you to find and put away paint colours. I think colour family, saturation level, value, and finish are the big ones to consider in your organization system.

Finish

Finish is probably the easiest and most obvious characteristic for organization. We all know how annoying it is to end up with a silver when you wanted a grey! It makes sense to split your metallic/interference colours apart from your standard paints. It’s possible to refine this category even more if you have some shiny finish paints and some matte finish paints, but you can also consider your non-metallic colours one big group and add matting agent to the shiny paints or use gloss varnish over the matte paints when you want to change the finish of a paint.

Colour

Organizing based on colour families also seems pretty obvious – reds together, blues together, etc. You will run into a lot of edge cases, though, and you’ll need to think about which categorization best fits how you think about your colours.

For example, do you decide whether each of the colours in the centre is more green or more blue, or do you make a separate teal category?

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For a long time I grouped my ‘near white’ colours together with my grey paints. Sometimes I might want to use a very light green to highlight a skin tone or a light pink to highlight blue. When reorganizing my paints recently I realized that I rarely looked at the shelf of near whites. Either I already knew what I wanted and just grabbed that one, or I didn’t even think about them. So when I reorganized I shifted all my near whites into their appropriate colour family.

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Saturation

You’ll likely run into challenging decisions related to saturation when you’re trying to organize paints by colour family. Saturation measures how intense a colour is – a cherry red is clearly a red, but is a brick red part of the red family, or is it more of a brown?

For example, in the centre group are some yellow ochre and rust orange/red paints that I have. Do I group them with the pure saturated yellows, oranges, and reds? Or do they fit better into the brown category? For me the answer is that I have an ‘earth tones’ category that encompasses the less saturated yellow ochres and orange/red browns. I pretty much always know whether I want a bright sunny yellow or more of a muted ochre yellow. I generally prefer to shade an ochre yellow or rust orange with some kind of darker brown. So it makes sense in my brain to lump those colours in with brown. But you might look at your colours differently and have a different answer to that question!

IMG 2473While choosing paints for the photo I ended up second guessing the categories for a few of my orange paints. There’s no perfect system!

The paints in the centre below are some colours that look pretty pink or orange when organized with skin colours (and most of those are named as such), but very desaturated and dull if placed next to true pinks and oranges. For a long time I sorted the orangey paints named as skin tones with other skin tones, and the pinks with the more saturated pinks. Now I’ve shifted everything that might be used for a skin tone together. But really when you think about it, a lot of skin tones are just versions of browns and earth tones, so it would make just as much sense to lump all of those together. (Also you should never feel like you need to let the name of the paint colour dictate how you perceive and use that colour!)

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Even grey can be challenging! How much blue or green does a colour need to have in it before you consider it more of a blue or a green or a brown or a purple than a grey? Different people will have different answers to that question. I used the criteria of whether I’d be more likely to use a paint as a desaturated version of its colour family or for what I think of as ‘grey purposes’ (stone, non-metallic steel/silver, fur). To the left are three true neutral greys, and on the right is a selection of greys with some colour in them.

IMG 2475I ended up filing two of the greys on the right under ‘grey’, one under ‘blue’, and one under ‘green’, but other choices might make more sense to you.

Value

Value is a measure of how dark or light a colour is. It’s fairly easy to judge the value of more desaturated colours like greys or skin tones, but it can be trickier to determine the value of more intense colours. Most of us perceive bright reds and greens as lighter in value than they are. 

Awareness of the value of our paints is pretty crucial. We use contrast in value to create compositions over the surface of our figures. It’s a valuable tool to use to create areas of focus. And it’s crucial to creating contrast between shadows and highlights on a surface. You can have successful outcomes when you mix up the colours but maintain the values, because value is that important to how the viewer perceives your figure. (Mixing saturation levels within those values is admittedly a little trickier.)

IMG 2478 editThese highlight-midtone-shadow choices might not be typical or exactly the colour you’re looking for, but they would work fine to create volume and depth on a figure.

I definitely recommend factoring value into your organization system! When I reorganized my paints recently I started with colour family groups, and then sorted the paints from lightest to darkest within those groups.

Function

You may have products that you use for particular functions that you might want to organize in a different way than the rest of your paints. For example, most people use inks and pre-mixed washes for specific functions, so it makes more sense to store them together in groups than to mix them into their colour families. I ran out of space when I did my recent paint reorganization, since I wanted to add my P3 and N-Paints to the shelves. They are both standard acrylic colours that I would use in a typical way. I decided to instead separate my pre-mixed washes to a separate container. Since they’re used in a particular way, they don’t need to be on the shelves for me to find and use them when I do want to. (And I have ended up not using them much, so they make the most sense to separate out from that criteria as well.)

I keep all my brush-on primers, sealers, paint additives, and special effects paints on a shelf together so I can find them easily and I don’t mix up a white paint and white primer.

IMG 2485 editMy shelf of stuff that goes under, in, or on top of paint.

The formula or intended use of the product is less important than how you personally use it. Reaper’s clear paints are the same formula as their regular paints. They’re similar to pure pigment paints in being intense colours that don’t have white/grey/black or similar mixed in to make them more opaque. (Anne Foerster decided to call them Clear so people would understand that they’re more transparent than the typical paint.) I keep these and similar paints from other companies on my desk so they’re easy to hand for glazes or fine-tuning colours, but another painter might prefer to organize them in in with their colour families.

IMG 2484This is the paint area of my current paint desk. It includes a few inks, and pure pigment paints. I also keep brush-on primers and my preferred medium mixes here, as well as black, white, and my other favourite paints to mix darkest shadows and lightest highlights or that I use in common tasks like painting base rims.

You may also have a product or line that you use in multiple ways. You’ll have to decide which way to organize it makes most sense to you. The Reaper Liner paints are formulated to work well for lining, and I do use them for that purpose. I often also use them to mix shadows. I decided it would be easier to find them if I kept them grouped together rather than separating them out into their colour families.

IMG 2486 editMy liner paints. Apart from Blue Liner which lives in my use it all the time desk collection. Sadly a number of these are discontinued.

Product Name, Number, or Similar

Some people might find they’d prefer to organize based on what’s on the bottle rather than what’s in the bottle. If you have swatched out your colours in a notebook or something similar, it is easy to select and return paints based on alphabetical order or product SKU number.

If you use something like the Reaper or Foundry triad systems, you might prefer to keep triad sets of paint grouped together because you prefer to use them that way. 

IMG 2477Example of three triad sets from Reaper Miniatures. Note that not all of their paints are organized into shadow-midtone-highlight triads.

If you have a smaller number of paints from a single company, it is likely that the colour of the paints is organized in some fashion by product number, so you might find it easy to just go with that. The Pathfinder paint set from Reaper is an example. The product numbering starts with pinks and reds, then yellows, then greens, then blues, and so on, ending with the metallic colours. However, if a company later releases additional colours for the line, or if it makes another line that you wish to add to your collection, the colour and numbering sequences may no longer match. For example, if you have both the Scalecolor and the Fantasy & Games paint sets from Scale75, the reds and blues and so on are split between two different product numbering systems.

My Paint Organization Experiences

I’m going to share some of my personal experiences in case they are helpful to anyone. Also I know we all love seeing pictures of people’s workspaces!

My enthusiasm for collecting paints as well as miniatures manifested pretty quickly after I took up the hobby. My initial work area was an old metal desk. The desktop was pretty large, so I chose desk rack options. (I’ll have links to these in the next article.) I started with three Paintier spinning racks. I organized the paints roughly by colour family, but also grouped Reaper triads together. I put colours I used less often (blue and metallics) on the spinner that was hardest to see and reach. There was a system, but it was definitely arbitrary – browns and many skin tones are pretty much interchangeable, but I stored them as two separate categories on two separate spinners.

DSCN2723I took this picture to enter into a local radio contest for worst chair. I did not win. After taking the picture I took the back off the chair and used it as more of a stool for a few years. I recommend having a good comfortable chair you can lean back in. Don’t be me. ;-> You can see the bottom of the Paintier racks to the right of the desk. 

Eventually my paint collection grew to the point where three spinners weren’t enough. I added a tiered shelf, and reorganized my paints. At first I stored a different line of paint on the tiered shelf. Later I mixed brands and lines together, and moved red, yellow, orange, and purple paints to the tiers, grouping them by colour and then value (lightness/darkenss). So none of those colour families were organized by triad anymore. I still organized some of the paints on the spinners by triads, though.

Desk1I also had a functional chair by this point, yay! And a lot more non-paint storage area Oh, and obviously this picture was taken right after a massive cleanup occurred. 

The most notable thing about these crazy mixed up systems is… they worked. I knew where every paint was supposed to be stored. if I put one back incorrectly it messed me up and there was at least one occasion where I bought a replacement before stumbling across the misfiled miscreant.

As the years go by I acquired more paint than it was possible to store on my desktop. I kept my P3 paint set in a box in a drawer. I shifted metallics and inks and other paints I rarely use to an organizer box stored under the desk drawers. When I got the Pathfinder Paint sets, I just kept them in their cases. 

I still knew where paints were, but the collection had clearly outgrown sensible storage options. I needed to either prune down to a number of paints I could store in a reasonable way, or figure out another storage solution. Unless I really pushed myself to pick out other colours, I tended to just use paints I already knew since I couldn’t get a good look at ones I didn’t use as much, which kind of defeated the purpose of having all the colours.

We made some house renovations not long after this time, so I had to pack everything up. I organized the paints by colour families and put them in gallon size plastic bags stored in a big plastic tub. I can confirm that this is a terrible organization system! I would have to dump the bags out onto a table and rifle through them to find colours I might need for a project.

Desk2My paints, brushes, and a few other daily use tools were the last things I packed up before the renovations. In this picture all the shelves and drawers and wall decorations have been packed away and just the daily use desk stuff remains. This old metal desk had been a faithful companion for years, but some months prior to this the small drawer on the left broke and fell out when I tried to open it, and both of the big drawers had issues too. This desk got put out to pasture during the renovations.

After the renovations I moved my studio to another area. My new desk was smaller, so storing paint on the desk wasn’t really feasible. I decided to get a bunch of wall racks instead. I carefully organized the paints by what I felt was a logical system. I broke them up into broad colour families. Within those families I had further divisions – overall purples, violet-reds, and violet blues; saturated greens, natural greens, and olive greens.

IMG 9418 edit

The wall mounted racks made it easier to see different colours I might want to experiment with, but my system wasn’t quite working. I occasionally had trouble finding a specific colour, and often had trouble figuring out where to put paint colours back. My organization system seemed like it should work, but it didn’t.

Recently I decided to try a different tack, as well as adding in some additional paints that I have acquired. I went with broader colour families, and then sorted the paints by value in those categories. Saturation is pretty easy to see, so I could pick out olive greens from rich greens without too much trouble when I wanted one or the other. I haven’t had this system in use for too long, but I think it’s working better. It’s pretty easy to sort by value, so it should be easy to clean up now and then if necessary. I just take a picture on my phone and turn it into greyscale to check the values.

IMG 2404

Below is a picture of the newly organized shelves. And yeah, I’ve run out of space again! I had my P3 and N-Paints stored in separate containers and I wanted to mix them into the colour families. I had to pull some washes I hardly ever use off the shelf and store them separately to make space. But since they are a different type of paint I’d use in a different way, that seemed a more sensible division than by line. I also have some inks and single pigment colours like the Reaper Clears and the Kimera paints in a tiered shelf on my desk. I tend to use those for glazes, or to use just those kinds of paints for a project, so it’s logical (to me) to have them separated out and closer to hand.

One other change I made was based on how easy it is to see the colours across the area of the shelves. The column on the far left is furthest from the light and harder to see. I shifted paints that I don’t need to see as precisely to decide to use to that section – inks, metallics, and neutral greys. Now I can see my yellows, reds, purples, and blues much more clearly

IMG 2427 edit

In case anyone is feeling bad about their workspace being messier than mine, here’s a shot of the larger room area in my old studio space. This is from a while ago, my Sta-Wet palette looks so new! My area wasn’t always this messy, but it was rarely neat and tidy!

Paint room 003

Thoughts on Wheel of Time Episode Eight

Episode One | Episode Two | Episode Three | Episode Four | Episode Five | Episode SixEpisode Seven |

I’ve now seen this thing through to the bitter end, and will share my thoughts on the episode and the season for the vast array of very few people who might be interested. And everyone else can be relieved that I’ll stop subjecting you to these episode summaries for a good while!

Memes if you prefer books to movies Not How It Was

I am curious how other book readers feel about this last episode of the season. It diverges the furthest yet from the books, and yet it is not the one that most irks me. I think I would pick out episode seven as the one that that irritated me most from the POV of diverging from depicting the most characters the least accurately, and also failures of world building that would not have required more money or time to do a better job of. At the same time, episode seven definitely had the best opening scene of the whole season. Action-packed, filmed well, and pertinent to plot, character, and world building.

Pretty much everything that happens in the last episode occurs differently than it does in the books, but I’m not particularly outraged by it, for a few different reasons. This section of the story is a complex thing in the book that goes on a while and there are honestly elements of it that I never completely grasped as a book reader. I don’t think it would work to attempt to portray everything that happens in a TV show, and certainly not in one episode. I think Jordan himself has admitted there are parts of Eye where he was still figuring out how the Power and other things worked, and some of those definitely occur in the climatic scenes. Trying to portray the events as happened in the books would only confuse viewers and take up unnecessary time.

There is one event in the TV show that is WTF and potentially problematic not just for adapting the books, but for maintaining dramatic tension in general, but I’ll discuss that more after the spoiler warning.

I also want to note a few things in fairness to the production. They had to work around some pretty major challenges. They filmed up to episode six or so prior to covid shutdowns. Then the actor playing Mat did not come back. (Salary, working conditions, I don’t think there’s really much info about there.) They hired a new actor for season two, but went ahead with the last two episodes of season one without the character When shooting started again there were a lot of restrictions for numbers of people working on scenes together and I think also loss of access to certain locations. Very likely there were late script changes to accommodate those things, but who knows. I heard they begged for 10 episodes but were only allowed eight. More episodes could only have helped. Amazon could probably have paid for them on my Covid season purchases alone. ;->

Rene ranisch 5wMlE9Nsylc unsplashPhoto by Rene Ranisch on Unsplash.

I think it’s also worth noting I’m not an experienced critic and have very little info for how making TV shows works. That said, in considering the first season as what was possible in the time and circumstances available, I think it still falls short. Most of the stuff I have taken issue with is a question of choices made in writing and visual design that would not have cost a lot more money or time to do a better job on. A reviewer I watched felt the shooting and editing of the last episode in particular was pretty poorly done. I’m not sure I’d have spotted that on my own, but I don’t disagree. 

In the comments of my last post Grumpygnome101 wished the writing had been as good as on The Expanse. I certainly agree with that! Season one of The Expanse is a marvellous thing to me in that it is simultaneously the most faithful and the most creative adaptation I’ve yet seen. The events from the POV of the Canterbury crew and Miller are pretty much exactly what happens in the book. Everything else that happens was created for the show, but in keeping with the spirit of those characters/factions/etc. as depicted in later books. It would be a dream to have writers that talented on the Wheel of Time adaptation.

But the writing is not the only area in which The Expanse excels. I find it visually captivating. The way shots are lit and framed adds so much to the characterization and tension in the show. It’s just fantastic to look at. As I mentioned, I don’t normally notice that kind of thing, but every time I watch the show I’m mesmerized by the visuals. I’ve been compelled to do a few portrait paintings of the characters, and I typically shy away from doing fan stuff to either draw from life or use my own or freely available references.

In all my many years of reading this story and playing in the sandbox of the Wheel of Time world, I never bothered to see if there was any backstory about the writing of the story. Something I saw in an article about the show made me curious enough to do that. In his first imagining Jordan conceived the main character more like Tam al’Thor than Rand al’Thor in terms of age and experiences. Which current me thinks would have been super cool, but I also acknowledge that switching to a younger protagonist was probably a smart move from an attracting readers and sales POV. (I mean, I was a lot closer to that age when I first started reading the series and maybe would not have been as interested in reading about a middle aged man.)

1tfial

If you are curious, you can read more about the Wheel of Time story that wasn’t. (Aliens! Sex! Violence!) I had heard about the fifth Beatle character that was deleted at the last minute and then forgotten about it, but that’s one interesting tidbit you’ll learn about reading that. NOTE: There is a great big whopper of a spoiler on that page. I mean a really big one that isn’t revealed into pretty late into the series. If you’re concerned, stop reading before the last paragraph of the section titled The Evolution of the Eye of the World. I don’t think it would have ruined it for me to know that (it’s not about a main character), but everyone’s tolerance for spoilers varies.

This non-spoilery part was interesting on a personal level:

“One of the more interesting things to emerge from this study was that Jordan’s notes was to learn that the notes were originally much looser and less-detailed until the writing of The Path of Daggers (1998). Between A Crown of Swords and The Path of Daggers Jordan seems to have written the majority of the most detailed notes on the series… and voluminous notes on dress, customs and military matters. These seem to have expanded from the notes that he’d provided Teresa Patterson for the world book and the glossary notes he’d been keeping since the first book in the series.”

I released versions 1.0 and 2.0 of the Wheel of Time Concordance in 1995, so I can’t help but be a bit curious as to whether he cribbed from it a bit to expand his cultural and military notes. ;->

I don’t think my as I watched notes go into extensive detail on how the episode differs from the books, but I might refer to a few things so for the sake of being thorough so I’ve put up a spoiler warning so you can bail now if you haven’t watched the episode or don’t want to know anything from the book version.

Spoiler alert news feature

The visuals of the pre-Breaking world are pretty cool, and seem accurate to what I remember from the glimpses in the books. It essentially is a version of a modern or even sci fi world with magic. 

The discussion with Lews Therin seems like quite a simplification of the events that lead up to the Breaking, but hard to do otherwise on TV. A lot of the information about this time and what happened is parcelled out in dribs and drabs over numerous books. It’s also not super relevant to most of the characters and events in the novels to know much about this in detail. It’s long forgotten legend to almost everyone in the books.

Why can’t more than one thing be going on? Why can’t Egwene (and Nynaeve) be a cause for excitement for Moiraine and the Aes Sedai without one of them having to be the Dragon? Because that’s exactly what happens in the books. I don’t mind that they’re presented as potential Dragons here, but they’re important in their own right for their strength of ability. (And other things as the series progresses.)

The other day I watched a Kickstarter funded movie that visualized a darkened creepy wilderness in a more interesting and evocative way than this show has done with the Blight.

Moiraine’s conversation with Rand about not being able to teach him to channel would have been a great time to point out that the two halves of the Source and how they are accessed are completely different for men than women. The book harps on this a lot. This may be poor writing, but it’s equally likely that the show is toning it down because the books harp on a little too much about divides of gender in general. I mean that emphasis was too much at the time when they were published, never mind now. But the Source does kind of have to be divided for one half of it to be tainted and one half not, so it’s weird to not keep this element and just tone down other areas of the gender divide emphasis.

Moraine’s story is very much an oversimplification of how to break blocks (inability to deliberately channel), but I guess I’ll accept it as another let’s make this short for TV thing.

Moiraine describes a sa’angreal as a reservoir of Power that people poured into it. That is what the Eye of the World is in the books. A clean reservoir of saidin, the male half of the Power. Angreal and sa’angreal are more like amplifiers that allow a person to draw more of the Power than they could otherwise unaided. There are a few super powerful ones. Most of them are plot points. So describing sa’angreal inaccurately now seems like a potential issue for later storylines.

Egor vikhrev TJ0KagkqA2Y unsplash cropPhoto by Egor Vikhrev on Unsplash.

I don’t feel like I’m seeing much of Min’s playful joking side.

The Eye looks pretty darn creepy.

One unfortunate thing about having to condense down this storyline is that viewers are losing some moments of wonder and beauty from the novel. Cutting out the Green Man and his demesne very much makes sense, but would also would have been super cool to see on screen.

The level of unpreparedness for this battle is not very Shienaran. At least the attitude in the face of the situation is.

That is a damn a long sentence for a couple of kids to carve into a tree.

I think Rand’s vision battle is a decent way to condense down the main conflict. It’s not really what happens at the Eye in the books, but it fits in with other battles of will and temptations that Rand and other characters experience later in the story.

That’s a very literal interpretation of burning out…

There is a battle at Tarwin’s Gap simultaneous to the encounter at the Eye in the books. There is channeling used to decisively resolve that battle. Not in that way and not by those characters, however. I’m trying to decide how I feel about that. It’s a dramatic and emotionally affecting scene in the show. It is a moment that highlights the dangerous side of channeling and the power levels of Egwene and Nynaeve. (Though I think this is an area where framing and editing fell down. I don’t know if non-book readers spotted that Eg and Nyn have larger and more threads of Power running into them than the others.)

That said… WTF with the scene where Nynaeve takes the hit for Egwene, and then Egwene heals her. The first bit is in keeping with Nyn’s character, true enough. But are they saying Nynaeve was dead and Egwene Healed her back to life? I really hope they are not saying that, but it’s hard to look at the ruin of Nynaeve’s face and interpret it otherwise. The books are super abundantly clear that the one thing that could not be Healed, even in the Age of Legends, was death. Also Egwene is not a Healer. She’s got plenty of power and plenty of talents, no need to add more. Making Egwene talented at Healing dilutes it as Nynaeve’s super special ability. It’s also problematic from the POV of dramatic tension. If death can be Healed, even if only by a few characters, the stakes in a lot of situations are a lot lowered.

The other problem with that scene is if the women thought they could do anything close to that, why not go to Tarwin’s Gap with the soldiers and do it there in tandem with the warriors? A lot of lives must have been lost at the fortress when the Trollocs broke through. This is not an issue in the books because the channeling that happens in the books is a different character in different circumstances. Since the whole scene is made up couldn’t it have been made up any number of other ways?

Asher legg XIe1b4k9 k0 unsplash cropWhat I played in high school band. Well not this exact one. Photo by Asher Legg on Unsplash.

Meanwhile, back at the literal castle, we have Padan Fain, Perrin, and the Horn of Valere. Of course this happened differently in the books, but is another thing that seems reasonable to trim down. It was probably meant to be Mat in these scenes rather than Perrin, but then the actor of Mat left. The one issue I see is if they introduce the Hunters of the Horn into the series it seems kind of weird that Shienar had it and knew they had it this whole time.

I have two other quibbles with this bit of the story. One is Padan Fain saying that Perrin is choosing the Dark when he picks up an axe to defend the Horn of Valere from the Dark. Enh? What’s the logic there? I mean admittedly an agent of the Dark doesn’t have to be speaking with logic or truth, but it seemed straight up weird to say it’s not reasonable to use violence to try to keep that very powerful artifact out of the hands of Dark agents. 

Issue two is we don’t get to learn more about Padan Fain. I get this, but as with the Green Man, it’s a bit of a shame. Fain is a complex and in some ways sympathetic character, and this is a rare moment in the entire story where the main characters get to learn more about him. (And then sinisterly through him how the Dark has had its eye on these humble Two Rivers folk for some time.)

We see a guy in this episode wearing an eyepatch that I guess is maybe supposed to be Uno, but I hope we get to see Uno trying not to swear (and failing) on screen some time cause he is one of the minor characters that I enjoy a lot and would be easy to mine for humour.

There are a couple of interesting things that happen right at the end, but since the show is just hinting there, I will hold extensive comment until next season. One is the broken cuendillar. I get the impression they’re tying the thing which is broken to a place and will go on doing that with other places, which is an alteration from the books, but I don’t think I particularly object to that take.

Two, those people arriving by the sea. Lots to say about that another day. I did not think they were the ones with much ability (or interest) in using the Power to influence the weather, but it’s not too outside the box.

IMG 1645Picture of the Sophie’s Revenge from ReaperCon 2021. You can relate miniatures to anything if you work at it!

Thoughts on the Wheel of Time Episode Seven

Episode One | Episode Two | Episode Three | Episode Four | Episode Five | Episode Six | Episode Eight |

Duty is heavier than a mountain. And so is the slog of watching episode seven. You should have heard the correct version of this aphorism in the show, in this episode (for the first time at least). But you did not because this episode sucked at conveying Shienaran/Borderlands culture and its impact on character development.

I am also highly disappointed at the continued attempt to go all Gossip Girl or whatever and put outsize emphasis on the romance aspect of interpersonal relationships at the cost of portraying or developing characters or exploring one of the ideas that was at the heart of why Jordan wrote the whole sprawling thing in the first place. (Which is, how would ordinary people would respond to being told they’re super important figures of destiny and why that wouldn’t necessarily go the way it had gone in typical fantasy stories up until the point where he was writing.) Is there romance in the books? Sure. And absolutely there are times when characters have that more on their minds than whatever else they should be thinking about. But there are lots of other elements of interpersonal relationships, and training and experiences that affect later events that the show is completely ignoring. I don’t mind that there’s romance, or more sex than in the books or whatever. I mind that these things crowd out so many other aspects of story/character development.

And there is one romantic event that occurs that did get my blood boiling for being so untrue to character and just outright unnecessary and absurd, but in the event someone reading hasn’t yet watched the episode, I won’t get specific about that until after the spoiler warning.

The catholic geeks babylon52

I was thinking the other day about Babylon 5. I have heard that it will get the reboot treatment soon, and I was excited about that. Except then I thought about what is at the heart of a major issue with this Wheel of Time show, and I got to worrying. Babylon 5 isn’t perfect, but the fact that it exists as it does is probably a freaking miraculous unicorn moment never again to be repeated. The show was created as a continuing narrative like a streaming show, but airing over five years of 22 or so episodes per year, the standard network format at the time. Imagine having 22 hours to tell The Eye of the World! Heck, even to cover the Eye and The Great Hunt together. There’d be time for more characterization, more deep dives into culture and prophecy and so on. Alas I think I’m much more likely to discover what an abbreviated eight episode per season version of Babylon 5 is like than I am to see a Wheel of Time show given the luxury of some time to spin its wheel.

My as I watched comments are spoiler safe for anyone who’s watched this episode of the show. I talk about some details of culture and character portrayal from the books, but nothing that references events and characters past this same story stage in the first book. The spoiler warning that follows is just in case anyone is super worried about spoilers.

Spoiler alert news feature

Hm, that’s a bit more flowy cloth than I pictured for the cadin’sor, and also lighter in colour, but okay.

Geez guys, would you give the woman a break from kicking your butts so she can have her dang baby?

I’d heard some comments that this episode had the best opening yet, and I definitely agree! I love how the action is filmed and what happens is super pertinent to the story.

Yay, Loial haș an opportunity to be very Loial and explain stuff.

Whoa, Nynaeve must really love Lan. He said right to her face that he expected her to pout and she did not look like she even thought about punching him. I’m waffling between considering this out of character or the evidence of the depth of her love.

The depiction of Machin Shin is slightly different from the book in a way that I think is quite successful. Instead of being a mindless hungry force it plays on fear and paranoia of listeners, and that provided a bonus opportunity for plot and characterization!

I hope you have enjoyed these brief moments of my being pleased with the production, because strap on in for the outrage.

I expected the Borderlands to look more northerly in climate. Also there should be farms and towns and stuff around the fortress of Fal Dara. The Borderlands still function as normal agrarian human places, but with fortresses to shelter in during Trolloc attacks and a much higher degree than average of military training and preparedness.

The Borderlands also does not seem the way I expected. What up with the immediate hostile attitude Agelmar? He himself says something about how the Borderlands are more welcoming to Aes Sedai, and there are a couple of other hints of that, but he sure doesn’t show it in his own manner or dialog. Agelmar is supposed to be one of the best generals in the world. This guy is a hothead who does not seem to be doing a very good job of defending his lands and is openly hostile to new information or advice from sources within or without. This is very much not understanding the mission brief of being a Borderlands lord.

Like literally youre 5bfb5c

Note that I don’t really care that much about the portrayal of one briefly met character on the show specifically. Agelmar is not a main character in the books or one of my favourite side characters or anything. The problem is that in the show, he’s a big part of our very brief window into the nation of Shienar and the Borderlands as a whole, and writing him this way works against a lot of that. Lan and Moiraine act super courteous on the meeting, but Agelmar does not, and there’s not enough time to see much courtesy or ceremony from anyone else. Courtesy, chivalry, duty, honour, these are all super important concepts in the Borderlands cultures. This is significant in the books because it informs Lan’s character, but it also informs Rand’s character. A lot of the moral precepts Rand turns to for guidance are established during this visit to Shienar and his conversations with Lan, who is from a similar culture. 

As I expected, they are going with the idea that women who train at the Tower get the gaudy ring, but only Aes Sedai get it set with a gem. We have yet to see if anyone who studies at the Tower gets this thing, or if they’re maintaining the distinction between Novices and Accepted, since that is the kind of thing I could see being condensed for a TV show. This TV gem/empty ring is also more visually apparent than the book approach that Accepted students and full Aes Sedai wear the same ring, but students can only wear it on a particular finger. The TV ring still just a ridiculous ring to wear for everyday life though.

Lan and Moiraine glancingly refer to the events of New Spring!

Ah, so we meet Min in this first season after all.

Who sees Rand holding a baby?? (This does make more sense later.)

They’ve decided to visualize Min’s visions in an interesting way. It works here, but seems like she’s just going to have to say visions in dialog if it’s something or someone not directly attached to the person.

Why does Moiraine think she knows exactly what’ll happen at the Eye? I don’t feel like they established this.

Now PERRIN loves Egwene? WTF?? I had grown to accept Perrin’s imaginary wife. Perrin is a pretty internal dialog character, what happened with his wife plus travel with the Tuatha’an was a way to make evident to viewers his long-running struggle between wanting peace but continually being caught up in moments where violence seems like the only answer. But way to take my acceptance of that imaginary wife and step all over it. Ugh, no. Just no.

Jackie Chan WTF

I mean I guess now I know why Perrin wasn’t that into his imaginary wife. I still don’t know why the reason he had to not be into his imaginary wife is because he secretly pined for his best friend’s girlfriend. What did that even accomplish in the scene? I hate this entire stupid scene because none of these people have had time to develop/reveal the essential aspects of their characters and most of this conversation goes against the characterization from the books. (TV Perrin could just have knocked up imaginary wife and that would have done the job for why he wasn’t super into or kind of resented his wife so he feels doubly guilty about accidentally killing her. He didn’t have to be written as secretly loving Egwene!)

I also hate that we’re spending one whole in story day in Fal Dara. It’s another example of cutting short situations that would establish character and skill development. Rand’s supposed to already know a bit about fighting with the sword after traveling with Lan on the road, which was completely cut from the show story. Then he’s supposed to learn a little more here, as well as some ideas about what being a man/hero/good person/whatever means. We don’t need to take tons of screen time up with stuff like that for it to happen to the characters. We can get some montages or “a few weeks later” here and there. You can fast track the story for viewers but still keep the characters traveling at a period appropriate pace.

It’s also an example of prioritizing the romance in the storyline over everything else. These people are dealing with fate of the world prophecies and stuff. If we’re going to have discussions and character conflicts could we please have some more of them be about that stuff? Do the show makers think they need to throw in a minimum of romance to interest certain viewers? Ugh.

My current level of annoyance is heavier than a mountain.

Il fullxfull 2694584382 cbdz cropMaybe we could buy a copy of this mug and send it to the producers? My search for this phrase also revealed tattoos and inspirational posters. This is a core WoT thing, I doubt I’m the only one peeved about this.

I do like the visuals for the city and keep, the general look of things. I’ll console myself with it looking pretty for a moment.

My initial response to Lan inviting Nynaeve in for dinner was to wonder why the relationship is being fast-tracked so dang hard. But there’s a lot to cover and maybe they just want to have that established as a mostly background thing to focus on going forward. I guess. Trying to give the benefit of the doubt here. (Also see note from editor me below.)

OMG, finally the famed Two Rivers bow in action! I hope Rand is sucking at using it because of all the unnecessary emotional turmoil. I’d sure love to see some turmoil about the whole might be the Dragon, gotta save the world and whatnot thing… (And later I do see some of that, and some less sucky bow skills, but I think my general point still stands.)

TV first season Rand is like early books Mat. This is not a compliment. Ugh.

I am really not loving the Egwene/Rand romance being pushed so dang hard throughout this whole thing, though events in the next episode make that make a little more sense. A little.

I’m pretty disappointed at the portrayal of Lan here. It’s another failure to depict the culture and the character. The first half of the episode had several spots where there were opportunities to reveal something of Lan’s heritage. That happens eventually, but it happens after Lan and Nyn spend the night together. I get why he’s been made less stoic and scowly for a TV show. I sort of get the relationship fast-track. But Lan would not have let Nynaeve get that emotionally vulnerable with him without her knowing what she was getting into. (Which really he didn’t completely reveal here even.)  Where’s the chivalry?

Why is this show creating romantic struggles where none exist, and taking away one of the very interesting ones that does exist? Lan and Nyn’s romantic barriers are a bit different than the usual issues.

Kissingpart 1024x599

Oh wait, is there something about destiny and crap in this story? Are we going to address that? Unexpected!

Editing me: I think I need to walk back some of my comments about the Lan/Nyn romance. I was rereading some chapter summaries to check my memory on the actual Eye of the World book plot line and saw some about this. They do reach the stage of professing their love at roughly this point in the first book, and there is some pining/comforting with Egwene on the topic. So there is time taken to bemoan events on a personal level in the book as well, but I stand by my comment that the show puts too much emphasis on the personal issues and not enough on the mental and emotional struggles of dealing with going from being backwater farmers to figures of destiny and increasingly important agents on the world stage. And I definitely stand by the comment that Lan and the relationship impediments were not portrayed in a similar way to the books, and that that would be the more interesting way IMHO.

Min is supposed to be tomboyish and prefer more male cuts of clothing and hair, but is not completely uninterested in looking feminine and desirable.  The randomness of the general costume design and prevalent use of pants in female costumes makes that challenging to depict. (So like, it’s a reason to have more cultural norms depicted in costumes, I’d say.) I don’t think a super low-cut tank top is an effective way to make her stand out as dressing differently than the average woman, nor to convey Min’s characterization as established in the books.

I’ve been curious to see how they would depict the Blight. This seems a lot more… uniform and samey/bland than I expected. It should be varied and creepy in its unhealthy vigour. We see dead people, but not the myriad of weird ways the Blight came for them. This is pretty low on my list of gripes, but there it is.

Wait, what happened to Loial? Last time we saw him was the throne room and no mention later. Loial is supposed to stand out and be noticed even in places where his people are more familiar, but they keep shoving him into the background.

Dilip parikh DAnwLsKzXjA unsplashMuch blight. Such scary. Photo by Dilip Parikh on Unsplash.

Thoughts on Wheel of Time Episode Six

Episode One | Episode Two | Episode Three | Episode Four | Episode Five | Episode SevenEpisode Eight |

I watched episode six just after episode five, but I didn’t want to post both commentaries at once. A week or so before I watched I saw friends commenting about episode six on Facebook. Some were people who had been more content with the TV version up until now than I have been, but who were dismayed by stuff in this episode. I guess I really am worn out on outrage, because I didn’t feel substantially different about this one than I did about episode five. But do I have some growing feelings of disappointment about the arc of where we are with some character development/relationships at this point in the show.

As ever I attempt to keep my as I watched comments safe to read. I try to allude to events in later books in a way that someone familiar with them will get what I’m talking about without revealing to much to someone who doesn’t. But I am human and I definitely do discuss general world building stuff, so proceed past this point at your own peril. 

Spoiler alert news featureJust as I have given up on being outraged about everything, I have given up on finding new versions of the above graphic.

It’s interesting to see how they’re working to build suspense about things that are not as suspenseful for book readers. Assuming they don’t go radically off-plot. I guess I mean it’s interesting to see a little behind the curtain as it were.

If any of the older characters were to have a flashback to their youth, Siuan is the right one. She makes much of it in the books and does keep it alive in her mind.

A foul mouth and loads of fish sayings! That is core Siuan.

Moiraine in the Hall looks much more as described in the books, wearing the forehead gem jewellery and a fancier dress. I’m not saying she should be done up to the nines for the road trips, but in the book she stands out visually from the others by virtue of her accessories, and finer quality dress. As we learn in this episode, she is of noble birth on top of being an Aes Sedai. (I have just now realized that autocorrect has been removing the first i in Moiraine’s name on me this whole time!)

The Hall looks pretty cool. The Sitters in a circle and the Ajah colours on the floor and the general lofty architecture all work for me visually. 

Wait, what, where’s the Amrylin stole? It would be such an easy visual aid to show who is the Amyrlin (including in crowd scenes) as well as when the Amyrlin is on-duty versus off-duty. (The books do this frequently. When the Amyrlin is speaking informally with friends she’ll often remove the stole to indicate she’s speaking as herself not her role.) Why leave that out? Those weird dress flaps are NOT the stole. (Though the general elaborateness of the dress and hair for the Amyrlin sitting in session looks pretty cool.)

Deia2bThe Amyrlin’s stole as depicted by Richard M. Boye. And a lot closer to as described by Robert Jordan.

The Keeper is also supposed to wear a stole that would be a handy visual aid and perfect for a TV show. In her case it’s the colour of her Ajah. The role is not indicated by the wearing of a weird looking dress. The ringing of the staff is cool though.

I thought the madness the Taint causes for men didn’t increase after gentling since they’re no longer in direct contact with the Source of magic. I guess in this version it does.

Liandrin is finally wearing all of her braids!

“Sis.” “Sis”?!? No.

In the books lots of Aes Sedai travel and spend little time in the Tower, or even are stationed or choose to work outside of it. This is generally done with the agreement of the Amyrlin and their Ajahs, but they’re a pretty independent lot and they don’t all care about politicking in in the Tower.

Siuan is awesome!

Maybe the show is waiting to explain severing for a bit, but since it’s been obliquely referenced a few times it almost seems past time to explain something about getting severed from the Source. (I am half wondering if a few events are going to occur by the end of season one that take place later in the books that would bring up more discussion of these topics.) Skip the rest of this paragraph if you’d rather wait for the show to explain it. Male and female channellers both experience a powerful sense of vitality when they touch the source and channel. That feeling is almost like an addictive drug, and part of learning to use magic is learning to have the self-restraint not to use magic constantly. People can be permanently cut off from the source in two different ways. Other channellers can use magic to disable their ability. This is called gentling for men, and stilling for women. The Amyrlin in this episode is cranky because this was done to Logain in the field instead of after a fair trial as Tower law dictates. The other way people get cut off from the source is burning out, which occurs when someone draws in more of the Power than they can handle. However it happens, the light goes out of the world for a channeler who is severed. Many people fall into a deep enough depression that they just give up and die within a few years. So Logain pretty much is trying for suicide by cop when he taunts the Amyrlin because he’s super depressed and feels life isn’t worth living, not because he’s captive.

There are ways to channel more of the Power than you can normally, through the use of objects called angreal. We’ve seen one onscreen, a little ivory figure that Moiraine grabs (I think in episode one), but they haven’t been explained yet. Basically that’s all they are, amplifiers of magic ability. Though some can amplify it a lot, and IIRC you can combo them.

You should be in Caemlyn Basel Gill. This whole inn should be in Caemlyn. How can you be a good Queen’s man from Tar Valon?

The Healing of Mat was very dramatic scene in the show, but as an event it was kind of abrupt and less significant/challenging by far than in the books where it took a circle of strong Channellers to do it. There’s also an element here that is not addressed on screen but is highly plot significant. Pretty sure they’ll circle back around to that.

I think you’re being overconfident Egwene, Valda didn’t look very dead to me, and you didn’t really have time to check.

I think the Tower would look better if the secondary buildings around it were much shorter.

400px FairviewGoatTower

Is that Siuan’s actual bedchamber or a magic ter’angreal room? Ter’angreal are the other type of “magic item”. Each ter’angreal has a very specific use. Some require that a user channel magic into them to activate, others might work for anyone in the correct circumstance. They range from powerful to frivolous. What I can’t figure out here is if the picture Moiraine uses is a pair and each takes the users to a magically created room, or if the picture transports Moiraine to Siuan’s room. I suspect the former. We see another one in this episode, the Oath Rod Moiraine and Siuan use. That will definitely come up again and probably be explained more clearly in the show.

Oh, now I see why Moraine masked the bond… (The convo was quick in the show. Masking the bond is a way to hide what an Aes Sedai is experiencing/feeling from her Warder, and this scene is one reason that would be done.)

I suspect that this rendezvous is one of the things that upset other book readers. I’m not particularly phased about this relationship in and of itself, but I am left to wonder what happens to the book relationships that occurred with these characters since in both cases involve rather significant plot points and characters.

Things you might have mentioned earlier Moraine!

Still bummed about the excision of Caemlyn. I guess it falls into the category of being too much about characters we would meet only in passing now but much more later, and they didn’t want to risk hiring people who wouldn’t be as committed and might get pulled into other projects and not be available when their roles are more significant.

There’s some properly Jordanian foreshadowing with Moraine and Egwene talking in the Hall.

Nynaeve can say FU with her eyes, that’s some good acting.

This does not fit my mental picture of a Waygate at all. It should look as much like nature as carved stone can. This doesn’t reflect the personality of the Ogier at all.

Perrin’s got you there Mat.

We better see Bela again!

On top of not looking right the Waygate is opened with the Power? So they don’t have anything to do with the Ogier in this version? Then why bring Loial? (Presumably he still knows more about navigating it than anyone else, but why would Moraine know that if they’re not tied to the Ogier?) I am somewhat irked by this whole thing.

Keith hardy UR6DHvW 6eY unsplashPhoto by Keith Hardy on Unsplash. This isn’t quite the book one, but it’s so much better than the show one!

Mat staying behind is probably the other thing that annoyed my fellow book readers. I knew going in that the actor had left the show, though I hadn’t realized until a few weeks ago that he left in the middle of the season. (Which had a protracted shooting due to, you know, so this episode was the end of the first block of shooting.) I also heard he’s been recast, so I don’t think all his plot lines are off the table, but they’re going to have to go even further astray than they already were for the rest of this season.

Now I’m worrying about whether we’re going to see anything of Shienar or if it really is straight to the Eye. They already did some of the stuff that happened in Shienar, but there is other plot, character, and world building stuff that would happen there.

The status of some character relationships and skills is kind of bugging me. A lot of time has been spent on the feelings between Egwene and Rand. (Honestly I feel like more is spent on it in the series than in the books, where they pretty much accept it’s not to be for them soon after leaving the Two Rivers and it’s just slightly sad fond memories or longing for what could have been after that.) A fair amount of time has been spent on Lan and Nynaeve’s attraction. Episode five spent a lot of time on the Warder-Aes Sedai bond, and this one set up Siuan and Moiraine being closer than almost anyone realizes.

But friendship is a big thing in the books, and I feel it has been given short shrift. Lan and Rand haven’t had a chance to build something of a relationship, which relates to Rand starting to learn fighting skills, but talking with Lan also has a lot of effect on his philosophy towards events throughout the whole of the books. We’ve seen Loial on screen, but I didn’t get much sense of he and Rand spending much time together and becoming friends. It’s not as close as the friends since we were kids thing the young people from Two Rivers have going, but there’s a friendship there. A lot of characters have been excised or combined (and would have to be), I’d like to see a bit more time spent on the relationships with the ones that are being featured.

One of the things I think is a bit of a weakness in the books is how there are a half dozen or more fairly young people who end up being super powerful and skilled, and with the wisdom and position to significantly influence world events. (I will have a link to some interesting trivia on this in my thoughts for episode eight.) It strikes me as a little too much even in the books, but Jordan at least takes a lot of effort to set it up as not totally out of the blue. Rand studies the sword and strategy intently, beginning with his travels with Lan at this stage. Egwene gets a lot of training in the use of the Power (and other things), beginning with Moiraine teaching her on the journey. Elayne and Aviendha (currently Sir Not Appearing in Season One characters) have trained from birth for their roles with some highly skilled older and wiser people. Yeah, the Wheel weaves as it will, and yeah some of what happens is prophesied destiny, but the people involved have at least studied and practiced and tried for some time, they’re not just instantly amazing when the moment calls for it. I fear the show is going to go with instantly amazing because destiny since they aren’t doing much to establish that anyone is training.

I guess it falls under not enough time yet, but I’m disappointed that we have had so little information about Ajahs other than the Blue and Red. There’s a reference to the Yellow being for women who specialize in Healing with the Power, but it was brief enough non-book readers might not have caught it. On a personal basis I’m sad we haven’t had any introduction to the Browns, cause I relate to them. I’d love to see Verin, but I doubt that’s going to happen in season one.

2photo pots vT9SSvrAncY unsplash cropPhoto by 2Photo Pots on Unsplash.

New Year, Now What?

It’s been a weird couple of years, huh? Usually I write a New Year’s Day post with suggestions for how to make positive hobby resolutions or improvements. I don’t know how you feel on this first day. I don’t even know how I feel, really.

So this year I’m going to throw out some links to my previous posts and you can choose which of them you would find most helpful.

Stressed, sick, overwhelmed?
Be kind to yourself. If you can pursue your hobby and it helps, go for it! If you need to take stuff off of your plate right now, let go of some of the hobby expectations you have for yourself for a while.

Pexels polina tankilevitch 7690046 cropPhoto by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.

Revved up to resolve?
Make resolutions for your behaviour, not for specific results. Resolve to paint for an hour every other day rather than finish three minis a week, for example.

Resolved, but finding that time, space, or other roadblocks are getting in your way?
I have some tips for dealing with time and space constraints, as well as some other common roadblocks.

Tim mossholder 3I3WVoA Gks unsplash cropPhoto by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.

Want a hot tip for how to be both a better and happier painter this year?
Make friends with failure.

I wish I could have come up with a pithy, helpful post for you today, but I’m okay with the fact that I failed. I am going to keep plugging away on content the rest of the year that I hope my fellow hobbyists will find useful and helpful.

But as I take down last year’s calendar and hang up the new, there is one thing I definitely want to take time to say – thank you! Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting and making suggestions. Thank you for your enthusiasm for our hobby that helps reignite my enthusiasm. And a very special thank you to all of the Patrons who support my Patreon! They make it possible for me to keep putting out in-depth content that I can make freely available to all.

Courtney hedger t48eHCSCnds unsplash cropPhoto by Courtney Hedger on Unsplash.