Blog

Show Off! Have Fun! Win Prizes!

(Hello! I just started a Patreon to support the blog and expand my teaching options! Right now it’s in ‘early access mode’, but I’ll be focusing on it a lot more after ReaperCon.) 

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Pirate Parade with this important message from our sponsor, ReaperCon 2020

Would you like to show off some miniatures that you’ve painted? Would you like to try your hand at an interesting colour challenge? This is a great opportunity to do one or both of those things AND win prizes!

To join in the ReaperCon Showcase, post your work to any or all of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or the ReaperCon Discord using the appropriate hashtag. You can find the complete instructions here. Note that you can post work by any manufacturer. We want to enjoy all your cool figures and scenes! A number of Reaper reviewers will be picking their favourites as Reaper Choice selections. The painter of every piece selected as a Reaper Choice will receive a $20 US gift certificate to be used on the Reaper store. Entries must be posted by Sunday, September 6, 2020 at noon Central time to be considered.

Pg gob bottles 1000

The other painting event is the Quad Color Clash. For this one you must use Reaper paints and Reaper miniatures to be considered for prizes. There are also some steps to follow with the photographs, so please read the complete instructions here. (Note there is a typo in the hashtag on the page currently, use #quadcolorclash.)  You can post entries on any or all of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or the ReaperCon Discord. And as with the showcase, Reaper reviewers will be selecting QCC Favorites that will win $20 US gift certificates to the Reaper Store. The deadline for this is also Sunday, September 6, 2020 by noon Central time.

Pg gob front 300

Even if you don’t care at all about gift certificates or ReaperCon, I hope you’ll consider trying out the idea of selecting four paint colours and painting a figure using only those. Art challenges and exercises that limit our options can spur new creativity. You might find this helps you learn a lot about how to use your colours for more than you imagined. Or some elements you absolutely need to include to successfully paint a miniature, and others that might be less necessary than you thought. 

Pg gob back 300

As soon as I finished this I thought had some thoughts about slightly different colours I could have used that might have given a bit of a different effect. Not to mention some other ideas entirely. I’m itching to try this some more. I’m hoping I’ll get to try a few more schemes in the next week or two so I can write a blog post and we can have a discussion about this exercise and why it’s worth doing. I encourage you to mess around with it over the next week or two so I can hear your thoughts as well!

Pg gob face 300

This figure is one of three sculpts in a Goblin Skirmishers pack. There’s a pack of similarly sculpted Goblin Warriors, as well. Bobby Jackson sculpted these, and I think he packed quite a lot of personality in these small packages. I’ve been planning to get back to doing some speed paint practice, and I think these will be great vict… subjects for that exercise. I painted this guy in about 65 minutes while I was trying to practice working with my new video set up. And they won’t be too tough to fight the next time we get together for in-person role-playing. Whenever that might be…

I think I might try something a little larger for future quad colour attempts, if only so it’s easier to see on video and in photographs. 

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

Pirate Parade: A Motley Crew

ReaperCon 2020 has begun! You can sign up for classes, enjoy the Twitch streams, come hang out and chat in the Discord, or start painting things to enter in the Showcase or Quad Color Clash to try to win some gift certificates.

I am getting into the pirate theme spirit by sharing some of the pirate figures I’ve painted over the years. There ended up being more than I thought!

Mousling pirate front 400

This adorable rascal is out to steal your heart and your gold!

Mousling pirate back 400

The base was made by layering a sandy texture paste over the integral base he comes on.

Dwarf pirate front 400

Some years ago I was asked to participate in the Ace of Aces charity event. Prominent painters come together for a frantic hour of speed painting, and the collection of figures is auctioned off to support the Gen Con charity of the year. The only trouble was… I hardly ever speed paint. I am a sllloooowwwwww painter. Even more so back then. Since this was for charity, I didn’t want to make too poor a showing. So I started to practice speed painting. Took me a while to get something decent in less than an hour, but I finally managed it. This dwarven pirate was one of my practice pieces. And then did double duty in our role-playing game sessions.

Dwarf pirate back 400

I’ve been working on getting more conversant with making videos to prepare for ReaperCon classes, and I was thinking that it might be interesting if I do a few videos where I take speed painted figures or older figures that I have lying around and demonstrate how I would touch them up to improve them and address issues with the paint jobs. Let me know if you think that sounds interesting!

Skeleton pirate face 600

Last up is the skeleton pirate manning a cannon. Those of you conversant with cannons probably noticed that something is a little off here…

Skeleton pirate left 600

Yep, the cannon is assembled backwards. I’d like to blame it on his being a literally brainless skeleton, but it’s the painter who is brainless. :-> This was painted for an old contest that used to run in the Wyrd Games forums, Iron Painter. 

Skeleton pirate right 600

This figure looks like another candidate for some repainting to me. The painting on the cannon is solid (it’s based on pictures of real cannons that I found), but surely there’s a way to add some interest to this super boring base, and make the skeleton look more weathered and worn. And maybe spruce up the light from the flame a little bit! (That cannon is pinned and glued, so that mistake I have to live with. :->)

ReaperCon Badge

If you have questions about any of my ReaperCon events, feel free to contact me here, or through my artist chat channel on Discord. I hope you have a great weekend!

Figures in this Post

The Mousling pirate is available as part of a three pack of metal figures.
Gruff Grimcleaver is available with a pistol in plastic, or as a pirate cook in metal
The Soulcannon is available in metal.

Pirate Parade: A Tale of Two Kits and Two Pirates

The theme for ReaperCon Online 2020 is pirates. As we start running up to the date of the festivities, I thought it might be fun if I shared pictures of the pirate figures I’ve painted over the years. There turned out to be more than I remember, so I’m breaking it up into a few different posts. Pirates ahoy, matey!

The ReaperCon Discord is already open and many of the artists are wandering by and available to answer questions in their chat channels. There’s a page with information on how to find and use the Discord.

Layer Up Pirates Front ViewWait, why two pirates? Why do they have different colour skin tones? Keep reading…

With this first post I’m starting with the pirate from the Layer Up learn to paint kit that I designed for Reaper Miniatures. This kit introduces painters to the techniques of layer and glazing, which tend to look better on smoother surfaces like cloth and skin. (The techniques covered in the Core Skills kit look great on textured surfaces like fur, chainmail, and many others.) I’m doing paint along classes for each of the Learn to Paint kits at ReaperCon 2020 online.

When I designed the learn to paint kits for Reaper, I was given some general guidelines for the quantity of products in the kits and the general approach, but I had pretty free reign. I chose to pick a set of paint colours that would work well to introduce and practice the techniques introduced in each kit, and then three figures to practice on. I painted each figure at least twice, and most of them at least three times. 

The first set of figures I painted for each kit was to test out my proposed colour schemes. I also made notes of colour mixes, water dilution, and painting tips so I could create the instructions for painting the figures in the kit. The two figures pictured in this post are some of my paint scheme test figures. Next I painted the ones for the kit itself, taking step by step pictures as appropriate. Those miniatures are in the Reaper collection. Finally I painted (or at least partially painted) each of the figures once more, this time following the instructions I wrote to test if they worked as I expected or if I’d made a miscalculation or a typo. (The instructions were also tested by several novice painters and non-painting friends of my acquaintance.)

The Core Skills paint kit did not include any red or normal human skin tone paints, so I wanted to be sure to include some of those in the Layer Up kit. The layering paint technique is well suited to painting flesh. Each of the paint kits stands alone, and you aren’t expected to use them in any particular order. But they also work together. The two kits are designed to pair together to make one mega kit with a selection of different brushes, paint colours, and techniques you can use to paint a wide array of figures after you finish the ones in the kit. 

Layer Up Test Pirates Back

So why are there two of this pirate and his booty? You can probably tell that the only significant difference between them is their skin colour. When I did the initial colour scheme test painting, I painted all three of the characters with variations on caucasian skin tones. Happily it soon occurred to me that I should include information for painting a wider range of natural human skin tones in the kit. The Bones HD paint line released around the same time as I was finishing up working on the Layer Up kit, and I was asked to include some of those paint colours in the kit. The Ebony Skin paint was close in value to the dark brown I originally tested and worked just as well in mixing, and even better for the pirate’s skin.

This incident is a pretty good example of unconscious racism. I try hard not to do or say racist things, but as a white person, and as a member of the majority group where I live, if I think of a generic person, by default I tend to them of them as being white, unless something prompts me to do otherwise. I’m not trying to exclude anyone, but if I don’t make some effort, I can end up excluding people by failing to ever include them. I don’t think that makes me a bad person, but it is something I need to work to be aware of so I can try to make better choices.

Pirates pair front bw 600

From a visual arts point of view, paint schemes like this are an interesting way to see how a colour can affect and be affected by your perception of the surrounding colours. There isn’t a huge difference between these figures since their skin tones are different values of a similar colour rather than being very different colours, but the different values in the skin colours still have some influence on how the rest of the colours appear and how the piece comes together as a whole. I think the vest and the clothing items stand out more on the figure with the darker skin. There is a greater range of values (how light or dark a colour is) in adjacent areas, which makes a figure easier to read and more visually effective. 

I previously wrote a post with a bit more detail about the importance of using different values across your figure, and it includes a few comparison examples. I’ve converted the pirate pictures to black and white so you can more easily see the value differences between the two paint schemes.

Pirates pair back bw 600

Figures Shown in this Post

Hajad the Pirate is available in plastic, and also in metal.
He is also included in the Layer Up learn to paint kit.

Bones FAQs Live Video Classes and Other Events

ReaperCon 2020 is fast approaching! Two of my classes are live paint alongs for the learn to paint kits. I am also hosting two seminars about working with Bones miniatures, as well as participating in some other fun events, and I wanted to let you know a bit more about those. Or you can just hop over to the schedule and browse through all the fun ReaperCon 2020 events  and find something to your taste.

Bones FAQs Live Video Classes

When Bones miniatures first released, there were a lot of questions about how to work with them. What glue to use? How to get rid of the mould lines? If they didn’t need primer, why did the paint sometimes bead up and fail to cover areas when painting directly on the material? I decided to do some testing and find out what might work well or not with this flexible plastic material. After conducting my tests and studying the results, I wrote a series of unofficial FAQ documents for the Reaper forums.

Short FAQs – no pictures or testing information

Preparation: Glues, Putties, Mould Lines – includes photos and summaries of all relevant tests

The First Coat is the Difference – Primer or not, doing washes directly on Bones, paint durability tests

Bones painted 1000Some of the Bones I’ve painted for gaming and to practice speed painting and airbrushing.

The Reaper forums are no longer the only gathering place for Reaper fans, and there are a lot of people who prefer information via video format. So I’m going to run two online seminars for the Bones FAQs. I’ll demonstrate the products and methods I find most effective for working with the Bones material, including a few tools that I’ve added to my arsenal since writing the original FAQs.

Zoom: Thursday, September 3, 2020 from 19:00 to 21:00 Central time
Twitch: Sunday, September 6, 202 from 14:00 to 1600 Central time

The Twitch stream will appear on the Reaper channel, so I’m pretty sure they will record and archive it on both their Twitch channel and YouTube channel. It will also likely be a little shorter since I’ll have to finish up a little early so that the Reaper stream team and the next instructor can get set up and running.

You can register for classes (and will need to for the Zoom one to receive the link information).

Bones demo 1000I love Bones to test colours and for lightweight and sturdy demo pieces to hand around at convention classes.

Reaper Errant D&D Game Presented by Knightheart Gaming

I get together with several of the Reaper artists to play in a Dungeons and Dragons game on Twitch every other Friday. The game is hosted by Frank and Ann at Knightheart Gaming. The game plays out on an epic tabletop display of terrain and painted miniatures, with camera angles that reveal what’s going on only as our party discovers it.  We had just stepped into hell in the last episode, so it should be pretty interesting!

I finally painted my character, Fathom, and shipped her off to Frank. Hopefully arrive in time to make her debut at the ReaperCon session. We’ve had hints we should expect to see a pretty special table for this game, so I thought I’d better get off my butt and get my character mini painted finally! I will have a blog up about that after ReaperCon with some tips on choosing colours.

We normally play from 7pm to 10pm or so Central time, but our time slot for the ReaperCon session is a little different to accommodate special convention events. Frank does a great job of making each episode work both as a stand-alone story and as part of a larger campaign, so don’t feel you need to watch any of the previous episodes to be able to hop in and laugh at my bad dice rolling in this one. You can also read a very fun summary of the past few episodes from the perspective of the character Kay Nimblewit (played by Jen Greenwald.)

Twitch: Friday September 4 2020, from 17:30 to 20:00 Central time

The other Reaper artists who play in this game are:

Bobby Jackson: Pujol, the fortunate gnome bard with the unfortunate name
Gene Van Horne: Gooseneck, the barbarian lizard-man who bites back
Jason Wiebe: Corncob Thunderbludgeon, the cleric trying to keep us all alive
Jen Greenwald: Kay Nimblewit the rogue –  “It beats being a door”
Michael Proctor: Abran, the elf rager/ranger and keeper of the abs
Rhonda Bender: Fathom, the tiefling “magic user” whose patron just told us all to go to hell

Screen Shot 2020 08 26 at 5 01 50 PMScreenshot from the inside a witch’s hut, featured in last month’s Better Lairs and Dungeons.

You can also watch a stream of Reaper peeps playing in a special convention game set in the pirate city of Brinewind. The dungeon master is Joseph Wolf, and scheduled players include Ed and Dave Pugh (Reaper founders and owners), Ron Hawkins (art director), Jon Overton (social media relations, casting, and more), Michael Collins (man about Reaper). It will stream on Twitch Saturday, September 5 starting at 5pm Central.

If you’d rather play than watch, check out the Games page on the ReaperCon 2020 site.

Crow’s Nest Panel and Sculptors’ Panel

People have requested panels for years at previous ReaperCons. They’re difficult to manage in that environment because the demand for classes is so high that the schedules of painters and sculptors are already pretty demanding, and space is an issue as well. While we’re losing some of what we love in this online no contact ReaperCon, we are also gaining new opportunities, like being able to have some panels!

I will be participating in the Crow’s Nest panel hosted by Michael Proctor. The other scheduled guests are Jen Greenwald and Derek Schubert. We’re going to talk about what makes a quality paint job.

Crow’s Nest is a show that Michael hosts on Twitch. Each week he paints, but he also talks to a guest in the miniatures industry. He’s interviewed painters, sculptors, art directors, and Frank from Knightheart Gaming so far. I can say from experience that listening to his show is a little snippet of what it’s like to sit around and paint/sculpt in a room with these fine folks. A lot of us lurk in the audience when it isn’t our turn in the hotseat. You can catch Crow’s Nest on Twitch Tuesdays at 4pm Central, and an archive of the previous streams is available on YouTube.

Painters’ Panel
Twitch: Saturday, September 5, 2020 from 10:00 to 11:30 Central time

The sculptors also have a panel, hosted by Reaper’s art director, Ron Hawkins. 

Sculptors’ Panel
Twitch: Sunday, September 6, 2020 from 18:30 to 20:30 Central time

As these are twitch events I imagine they will be archived on to Reaper’s YouTube channel.

Paint Along Video Learn to Paint Kit Classes!

Dear mini painting friends – I need you! I need you to help us discover new mini painting friends!

ReaperCon Online is a fun event for miniature enthusiasts. It’s also a unique opportunity to reach out to future miniature enthusiasts – people I couldn’t easily connect with at a traditional convention. To take advantage of that opportunity, I will be teaching free live paint along classes for both of the Reaper learn to paint kits – Core Skills and Layer Up. This is a great opportunity to get started with miniature painting for those who might prefer video instruction, or who are nervous to paint for the first time on their own.

Cover combo

The problem is, how do I reach these new potential miniature painters when my audience is established miniature painters? My answer is to ask all of you for help! I’ve noticed a lot of people mentioning giving the learn to paint kits to others as gifts. If you gifted someone a kit or know someone who purchased one for themselves but hasn’t started painting yet, please send them the link to this page in case they’re interested in attending an event.

If you’d prefer to share on Facebook, here’s a Facebook event for Core Skills, and another for Layer Up.

If you or your friend have already used the kit, you are still very welcome to attend! You can just watch to get extra tips,  work along with us to touch up your original figure, or get a second copy from Reaper to paint along using your other kit supplies. Link to buy a Skeleton Archer (or a Warrior Skeleton Archer), link to buy Anirion the Wizard.

If you or your friend haven’t bought a kit because you already own all or most of the contents, you are still welcome to join us to paint along! A contents list for each kit is available, so you can check if you’re missing anything. The only item you cannot purchase separately is the instruction booklet. (Reaper has said they will not make that available for separate purchase, sorry.) Check the class descriptions below for a short list of common household items you also need to paint along in the class.

NOTE: The Skeleton Archer that is normally included in the Core Skills kit is temporarily out of stock. When this happens Reaper fulfills the kits with this Skeleton Warrior Archer. I will demonstrate with copies of both figures in the online class.

NOTE: The synthetic brushes included in both of the kits are also temporarily out of stock. Feel free to use your preferred brushes. For Core Skills you’d need a general painting brush and a smaller flat for drybrushing. For Layer Up you’d need a general painting brush and any brush you like to use for more detailed painting.

Which Kit First? 

The two kits are designed to work individually, but also work together as one large master kit with no duplication of tools, colours, or figures. You do not need to finish the Core Skills kit or class to attend the Layer Up class (or use that kit), but if you are completely new to painting and can choose only one, I recommend Core Skills first.

Kid Friendly?

The classes are probably a little too structured for younger or more energetic children to really enjoy, and even some older ones might find it a bit dull. I will be doing my best to make the paint along classes as easy to follow as possible, but I’m not a parent or particularly practiced at working with children, and most of the audience that I’ll be working with will be teens and adults. If you do want to try one of the classes with your your child, I recommend Core Skills. I also recommend that you sit with your child and be available to help them if they have trouble with any of the steps during the class.

Tish Wolter is a parent and has had experience teaching children. She is teaching two classes for younger painters during ReaperCon Online, one for beginners and one for kids who’ve had some experience painting. Go to the registration page and select the name Tish Wolter in the drop down menu on the right to easily find these classes. They’re also free!

Skeleton combo

Core Skills Learn to Paint Kit Paint Along

Saturday, September 5, 2020
14:00 – 16:00 Central time

Registration link – it’s free!
(Use the drop down menus on the right and select the name Rhonda Bender to find the class more quickly.)

Link to buy a kit or check the contents list.

If you’ve got a copy of the Core Skills learn to paint kit but you’ve never gotten around to using it because you’d prefer video rather than text instructions, now’s your chance! Rhonda Bender, the author of the kit, is hosting a paint along class. She will take you through the process of painting the skeleton figure, and demonstrate the techniques of painting base coats, washes, and drybrushing.

If you want to paint along during the class, you will need the paints and brushes provided with your kit, and the skeleton miniature. (If you already painted that one you can swap in another skeleton figure you might have lying around or order another copy of 77018 Skeleton Archer.) If you can, prior to the class scrub your skeleton with some dish soap and rinse well, or dip it in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to clean it off and help the paint adhere better.

You also need:
* An old mug or plastic cup filled with water to rinse out your brushes.
* Some paper towels.
* A plastic or foam plate, clean plastic lid, or piece of sturdy parchment/baking paper to use as a palette.

These items are not required but you’ll find them helpful:
* An empty paint bottle (item 8702 Master Series Squeeze Bottles on the store.)
* A holder for your figure. (See page 6 of the booklet for ideas.)
* A hairdryer in case your paint is drying too slowly to keep up with the class.
* If you can, an extra lamp or two to make sure you can see well.
* A piece of printer paper with text on it, or paper junk mail. (Plain not shiny paper.)

Wizard combo

Layer Up Learn to Paint Kit Paint Along

Sunday, September 6, 2020
18:00 – 20:00 Central time

Registration link – it’s free!
(Use the drop down menus on the right and select the name Rhonda Bender to find the class more quickly.)

Link to buy a kit or check the contents list.

If you’ve got a copy of the Layer Up! learn to paint kit but you’ve never gotten around to using it because you’d prefer video rather than text instructions, now’s your chance! Rhonda Bender, the author of the kit, is hosting a Layer Up! paint along class. She will take you through the process of painting the wizard figure, and demonstrate the techniques of painting base coats, layering, lining, and glazes.

If you want to paint along during the class, you will need the paints and brushes provided with your kit, and the wizard miniature. (If you already painted that one you can swap in another figure you might have lying around that is wearing a cloth robe or cloak with rounded folds like in the picture above, or order another copy of 77068 Anirion the Elf Wizard.) If you can, prior to the class scrub your wizard with some dish soap and rinse well, or dip it in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to clean it off and help the paint adhere better.

You also need:
* An old mug or plastic cup filled with water to rinse out your brushes.
* Some paper towels.
* A plastic or foam plate or clean plastic lid to use as a palette.

These items are not required but you’ll find them helpful:
* A holder for your figure. (See page 6 of the booklet for ideas.)
* A hairdryer in case your paint is drying too slowly to keep up with the class.
* If you can, an extra lamp or two to make sure you can see well.
* A piece of printer paper with text on it, or paper junk mail. (Plain not shiny paper.)