Upcoming Online Classes – Fur, Feathers and Scales

I will be teaching two online classes this week as part of CYBËR WÅRS, an online convention! The classes will air on my Twitch channel. They should remain available for viewing for two weeks on Twitch. I will be recording the classes to make the videos available to members of my Patreon in thanks for their generous support of this blog and my general teaching efforts.

Fur class

Painting Fur
Thursday, November 12, 2020 from 8pm to 10:30pm Eastern

Fur is found not only on miniatures of animals and monsters, but also as part of clothing and accessory items on figures. I will demonstrate several different techniques for bringing out the sculpted texture of fur. I will also discuss tips for colour selection and referencing real life to help achieve attractive and realistic results.

(I probably will not talk much about detailed fur patterning. I have two previous articles on that topic though! Article one, and article two.)

You are welcome to paint along during the class! Suggestions for good practice miniatures, paint colours, and other supplies are included below.

NOTE: I will not start the class material until after the Reaper Live Twitch stream concludes to give people an opportunity to attend both. I will take painting questions from the chat for the first 10-20 minutes until we begin the main class subject. So this is a great opportunity to corner me and ask me questions on other painting topics. ;->

Feather class

Painting Feathers and Scales
Saturday, November 14 2020 from 2pm to 4pm Eastern

There are several different techniques you can use the paint the sculpted textures of feathers and scales. Which is best to use depends on the time you can spend on the miniature, and the level of results you’re looking to achieve. I’ll demonstrate various techniques and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each. I’ll also discuss some thoughts on colour choices and research and reference.

(I have a couple of articles available about painting a scaly hydra – article one, and article two.)

You are welcome to paint along during the class! Suggestions for good practice miniatures, paint colours, and other supplies are included below.

Class Materials

My goal is to share general techniques and information you can use to paint a variety of texture types in the colours of your choosing. Please don’t stress out about whether you have the exact same supplies as I do. The following are suggestions for figures and tools to get the most out of the class. 

Class Materials: Miniatures

For both classes, aim for figures with well-defined sculpted texture. Try to choose something at least 28mm humanoid size or larger. You can use some of these techniques with tiny familiar size figures and small areas of texture, but it will be easier to practice on something larger, especially if you want to paint during the class. Here are some photo examples of options that are better and not as good for both topics. These are all Reaper Bones figures, but you’re welcome to use whatever figures you have on hand and would like to use.

For fur I will probably use the large wolf in the centre and the fur cloak figure on the far left.

Fur practice good

Fur practice bad

For scales I will probably use the cobra on the far left, and the angel second from the left at the front. I may switch to the griffon wing if people are having trouble seeing what I’m painting onscreen. 

Feather practice good

Feather practice bad

Class Materials: Paints

My goal is to demonstrate general techniques that should work with just about any colours. To follow along in the class it is much more important to try to match the value of the colours I’m using rather than worrying about whether you have exactly the right colour. Value is how light or dark a colour is. 

I’m going to use a range of grey and brown paints. Aim to have on hand a range of lighter, medium, and darker grey and/or brown paints as well as white and black, and you should have little trouble following along with what I do in the class. 

The following is a scan of some suitable paint colours from Reaper Miniatures with their product code numbers. You do not need to have all of these paints or even any of these exact paints! These are just examples of the colours of paint I will use so you can try to find something similar in your collection.

These are examples of greys and browns of various values. The far left column are true neutral grey examples. True neutral greys do not look as natural as warmer greys, but if you find the chart confusing you might find it easier to just use simple grey paints during the class.

Each row is an example of browns and more natural greys that are similar in value to the example on the left.

The top row includes examples of light colours you could use. Try to have one of these plus white on hand.

The second and third rows are examples of medium value colours. Try to have at least one of these available to use.

The fourth and fifth rows are examples of darker value colours. Try to have one of these available.

The bottom row is an example of very dark colours – black or nearly black. Have one of these on hand to use.

Paints rectangle

Class Materials: Brushes

I will be using a selection of round and flat brushes. The picture is examples of brushes I might use. As with paints, I don’t expect you to have all or even any of these exact brushes to be able to follow along! They’re examples to help you find a few brushes in your collection that should work for the class.

Try to have a medium to larger flat or filbert brush. Also a medium size round brush that forms a smooth end without a lot of stray hairs sticking out to the sides. Have on hand whatever brushes you feel comfortable with for doing base coats and washes.

If you have a brush with a fine tip like a Kolinsky sable, that will be useful for lining on scales and feathers. You don’t need something super tiny like the two second from the bottom in the picture, just brushes that form a nice sharp point. The two second from the bottom in the picture are what I would use to paint faux fur texture on smooth surfaces. There probably won’t be time to demonstrate that, but I’ll have them on hand just in case.

If there is time, I want to experiment with a few different brushes for drybrushing to give you an idea how different ones work. The three brushes at the top are super soft makeup brushes. The green handle one just below it is a similarly soft brush I got from the art store. I have really enjoyed working with these for drybrushing lately.

IMG 0106

I hope that I’ll see some of you on Twitch in a few days!

I am pretty busy right now, so I’m not able to spend the time to round up links to every miniature and product mentioned in this post. If you need to know the name/product code for a particular miniature, let me know in the comments and I’ll find that info for you. 

Let’s Get Together… Separately

I’m a little later than I planned making my next blog post. I’ve got a few topics that I’m working on, but I keep having to put them aside to work on projects for ReaperCon, which is fast approaching! But wait, I hear you think, ReaperCon was cancelled. Gen Con was cancelled. This is 2020, everything is cancelled.*

They were, and it sucks that we can’t get together in person. But the people who work so hard to bring us that in-person fun have switched gears to working on ways for use to get together via technology so we can still game, shop, and share cool hobby tips and tricks.**

Here are some great upcoming events that I’m aware of to help you get back to having some good geek fun, and some of them are happening right now or in the next few months.

Cyberwarsgraphic croppedTechnology gives me ulcers too, sometimes, but Napolean and I still both recommend it over the alternatives. 

You can enjoy a virtual convention this weekend (July 25 to July 26) even! HMGS, which puts on the conventions Cold Wars, Historicon, and Fall In, had to cancel their July in person gathering, but instead offers us the fun of CYBËR WÅRS! It features panel discussions, virtual gaming, and paint class videos. And a paint contest!

Main information page: https://www.hmgs.org/page/CyberWarsSTD01
Links to the round table panels and the virtual gaming events are near the top of that page.

But also check out the Virtual Hobby Room on Facebook! Already posted are links to videos on weathering, painting black, and painting white. 

Or enter something you’ve painted in the Virtual Painting Competition. (Click the discussion tab and look for the pinned post for rules. There are SF/Fantasy categories, never fear!)

Aces 2020Atomic Mass Games has generous donated the figure for the Aces contest.

No need to be sad once Monday rolls around. You can start planning for Gen Con Online, occurring from July 30 to August 2. There are all kinds of events, including games, and even miniature painting, sculpting, and terrain classes!

And put a note on your calendar for July 31 to attend the Ace of Aces Painting event. This event pits a number of pro painters head to head in a speed painting competition. Once the winners are declared, the complete set of figures will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to charity. (Usually Gen Con’s chosen charity of the year, and I assume that will still be the case this year.) There is a lot of heckling and joking between the competitors and from the emcee and audience. I suspect this will be a very unique version of this event since the fact that the painters will be painting individually via camera streams likely means you’ll get a much better view of how they work their magic than if you were viewing in person at Gen Con. I have enjoyed this event tremendously as both an audience member and a competitor, I highly recommend it.

RC2020Events will occur on Twitch, Zoom, and Discord, and probably other online places too!

The virtual fun doesn’t end there. ReaperCon Online takes place September 3 to September 7. Classes, games, and other activities are not yet open for registration, but expect that soon. 

Preorder for a selection of swag boxes is up already. These boxes and the individual contents will also go up for sale on the main Reaper store during ReaperCon. Some items are pre-printed by third party vendors so are only available while supplies last. (So pre-order folks guarantee getting all contents of the box they order and will receive them sooner in the mail.) Note that you do not need any of the contents of the swag boxes to participate in and enjoy activities at ReaperCon live. Any classes with required materials will note that in their descriptions or via another avenue.

I can tell you that the 36 page guide to the pirate city of Brinewind is pretty darn cool, because one of the things that’s been keeping me too busy for blog posts has been working as the editor for that. So I’ve read it and I know. I’ve read it over and over and over again, and I still think it’s pretty darn cool! (Unrelated side note: it was pretty weird to actually use my college degree and do some editing! ;->)

Brinewind bookCover art by the immensely talented Izzy “Talin” Collier, written by the imaginative Joseph Wolf.

*If you are reading this some years from now – Hello visitor from the future! I hope we have once again returned to a life where people safely mix and mingle and attend fun activities like conventions again and this all seems like a bad dream we barely remember. 

**I know people interested in ReaperCon online are frustrated about how long it’s taking for event information to go up, and I’d guess that there are hitches and glitches with all the other online events, too. Please be kind and have some patience with the people working on these. Even the most experienced coordinator of an in-person convention is having to put aside years and decades of established procedure and systems to figure out how to do something new and create an online event instead. There’s no precedent for these things and a lot to figure out. My husband and I run sections of a local convention and our own tiny private convention, and none of us had clue one for how to replace planned in person events with virtual ones, so we just had to cancel those. 

Title image by Lucrezia Carnelos from Unsplash.

Convention Schedule: From 60 to 0

A few weeks back I posted my convention schedule for the year. Since then I have been frantically preparing for those conventions. Developing new painting class subjects or significantly updating older ones is always a time-intensive process. In addition to prepping paints and figures for my classes, I was also getting things ready for the miniature painting activities at my local charity fund raiser con, including organizing volunteers, supplies, and donations. (Please consider helping Second Harvest of East Tennessee or your local food bank. Their mission is more important than ever, and they are deeply affected by isolation measures.)

Phone boothsTraveling to Amish country is kind of like going back in time…

A week ago last Wednesday (March 11, 2020) I got on a plane to go to Cold Wars in Lancaster PA. While much of the world was already in the grip of Covid-19, In the USA awareness of our lack of preparedness for it was just starting to build in early March. My husband and I made some ‘just in case’ preparations so we had that taken care of before I traveled. The night before I left I started to have some misgivings about the trip, but it still seemed a reasonable decision to make, and my travel experience was fairly normal apart from easily finding a parking spot at the airport.

With each passing day, things became less and less normal. A pandemic was declared, and the USA finally started to take action to mitigate the speed of disease spread. Even in the ‘con bubble’ (how I feel when I’m at a convention and separate from not only my workaday life, but the rest of the world in general), changes were felt. I washed hands, sanitized, sprayed my belonging with isopropyl alcohol, and worked hard not to touch my face. IHOP removed condiments from the tables and instead brought them pre-packaged with your order. My flight home included a safety briefing about Covid-19 as well as instructions on how to operate my seatbelt, and the flight attendant wore gloves the entire trip.

IHOP CondimentsBye-bye sticky syrup pourers.

Oh, and everything I had been frantically planning for got canceled. (Except ReaperCon! Edit from the future: also ReaperCon.) I started joking that we were at the #lastconinamerica. Now I’m back home. Since I was traveling and socializing much more than is currently advised, I’m sequestering myself as much as I can for a full 14 days. Which at this point is pretty much following the recommendations for everyone in the country (and most others). I don’t work outside the house, so it’s not a huge change in my day-to-day lifestyle, and yet somehow everything is changed.

A lot of you are probably feeling the same way. It’s hard to do much other than scroll Facebook, new sites, and discuss it with friends (in messaging programs at an appropriate distance). It’s hard not to worry if you’ll be able to get toilet paper, or food, or keep your job. It’s impossible not to fret for the health of our friends and families and ourselves, and I know a lot of people are already affected by many of those those things. But if you’re still healthy, and your job is secure and you’re pretty sure you’ll have food on your plate, I’d like to make a suggestion: don’t let anxiety eat you up.

Michegan Toy Soldier booth at Cold Wars 2020One of the last times I was within 10 feet of humans other than my spouse. The Michigan Toy Soldier booth is always a treat! It won’t be at AdeptiCon because none of us are, but you can also check out their cool wares online.

If you follow this blog you are probably a miniature painter, or a traditional artist, or both. If not, I bet you have some solitary hobby or interest you don’t get to enjoy nearly enough. Stay informed, but also take time to turn off the TV or the computer and make use of this unexpected time to do that thing you love that you don’t normally have enough time for. Artists and teachers are responding to this an amazing way and freely making available resources you’d normally have to pay to enjoy. 

Dirty RatsYesterday I finally got to finish up these rats that I started at the Reaper Kickstarter party!

If you were planning to travel to AdeptiCon, check out the AdeptiCan’t 2020 Facebook group. (Edit: I removed the link as the group no longer exists.) A lot of hobby instructors and teachers are putting together some online together separately activities. There is a stream schedule set up that you can check. Vendors are even giving out swag!

Matt Cexwish is putting a number of his Joy of Basing Patreon videos on YouTube.

There are already a ton of great free miniature painting/sculpting resources available on YouTube that you probably haven’t had time to enjoy. (I know my ‘Watch Later’ list on YouTube is…not short.) And if you are financially secure, now would be a great time to jump into that Patreon or other online class you’ve been eyeing. You could learn a lot and help an artist.

NMM and RMMAaron Lovejoy taught us about real metallics and Elizabeth Beckley about non-metallics at Cold Wars. If you join the Miniature Monthly Patreon, they’ll teach you, too.

We are social animals and we need contact with one another. Yes even the most introverted among us. I don’t have links as readily to hand for how to ‘gather’, but I encourage you to spend some time on social media and figure out methods that might work for you to take care of your social animal needs. That might be phoning a friend/relations, or popping onto a stream chat or Discord. There are programs that allow you to game online with friends, whether you like video games, board games, or role-playing games. There are apps like Zoom that allow you to use your phone or computer to get a group of people together that you can see as well as hear. I’m one of those most introverted among us, so I don’t yet have all the technical intel on how exactly to do all of that stuff to link to, but just hop on your social media of choice and ask friends, and I bet you’ll get plenty of info. And while I am introverted, I am going to be working to figure some of it out to reach out to my more extroverted friends that I think are finding this time much more trying.

If you are a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, phone meetings are an option at this time. If you would prefer a more secular recovery group, there’s a Discord for that – With Out a Prayer. I imagine there are similar resources for other meeting groups sprouting up. Contact other members of your community to see what your options are. Don’t suffer alone in silence, you need your community more than ever at a time like this!

Lizard LampMy friend Liz gave me this little guy. He’s going to be my lamp buddy and remind me of my great friends in the painting community that I will see again.

Here are some other options to enjoy your unexpected free time inside:

Ever wanted to draw your own comic or teach your kids to? How to Think When You Draw released a great PDF.

The Virtual Instructor has made available several traditional art classes that use minimal supplies.

Audit a course at an Ivy League university and tell everyone how you studied at Harvard/Yale/etc.

Watch a Broadway musical. (Not all of these are freely available, but some are.)

Enjoy the best art in the world from dozens of museums. And unlike viewing it live, you can zoom in!

Watch a live concert from the comfort of your own home.

Take a virtual field trip to a zoo, the Louvre, or even Mars!

The list of institutions, zoos, small businesses, and individuals who are working to provide material to educate, amuse, and distract us is almost too much to keep up with. If you’re having trouble finding something to suit you, check with friends who have similar tastes and I’ll be you find something to do.

Here are a few more memories from my trip to #lastconinamerica. I’m looking forward to seeing some of you at whichever event ends up (safely) being #postapocalypticon.

Cold Wars swagMy Cold Wars swag and souvenirs.

IMG 0619In addition to my lizard friend I have this mug from the Atlanta Military Figure Society (which is not military figures only if you’re in the area!) and now my nifty Cold Wars brush rest to remind me that we may often paint in isolation, but we are a community, and we will come together as a community again.

I hope that you will stay well and take care of yourself as best you can!

2020 Convention Schedule

Every year I mean to do something like this fairly early. I’m remembering to do it this year, though not exactly early. ;->

2020 schedule graphic


Cold Wars, March 12-15

Registration is currently open for Cold Wars. Check back occasionally for scheduling of and tickets to classes. Look in the Hobby University section under Games/Events. I am planning to teach the following topics:

Object Source Lighting (OSL)

Blending: Cheat Code Unlocked

Non-Metallic Blades

Fur, Feather, and Scales

The Hobby University classes at Cold Wars are small so you get lots of access to the instructor. Aaron Lovejoy is also a guest this year, and the Hobby University staff offers a great suite of classes. 

AdeptiCon, March 25-29

Registration is open for AdeptiCon, and you can sign up for classes until February 28, 2020. 

Of the classes I am teaching, I still have tickets available for my Critique Clinque class. The aim of this class is to help you better understand critique you receive on your miniatures, and to improve your skills in assessing figures yourself. Both of these should help you discover ways to improve your own figure painting. We will definitely be talking about how ‘needs more contrast’ is a statement a lot more complex (and interesting to solve) than just higher highlights and deeper shadows.

Tickets for my other classes have sold out. However, it is surprisingly common for one or two people to fail to show up to classes. If you are interested in one of these (or a class taught by any of the many, many fine painters who will be attending), you can show up at class time with the fee for the class in cash, and if we have room, we will be happy to add you to the class! If I have an extra mini or two (and I usually do), I will sneak one or two extra people in even if all the registered attendees sign up.

Object Source Lighting (OSL)

Blending: Cheat Code Unlocked (two sessions)

I have written a general overview of AdeptiCon in the past. If you want to learn more about painting miniatures, this is one of your best options in the United States. Dozens of amazing painters teach classes at this convention. Note that the Crystal Brush competition ended as of last year. This year the focus is on manufacturer hosted painting contests, including the United States return of Golden Demon, and Creature Caster’s competition. 

Save versus Hunger

Save vs Hunger is a small convention local to me. It is a fundraiser for one of my favourite charities – Second Harvest of East Tennessee. The focus of the convention is on role-playing game sessions, but there is also a board game library, and a few other activities. I host a paint and take table. People are welcome to bring their own figures (and other supplies) to work on as well. David Cecil has kindly donated his time to run a couple of painting for tabletop classes (times TBD), and he and I will both be available to answer questions, do short demos, and offer critiques.


Registration for ReaperCon opens on February 14, 2020. Class tickets are not yet on sale. 

I have not yet submitted what I will teach at ReaperCon. I am thinking about teaching OSL and Blending: Cheat Code Unlocked. That class features a method for achieving smooth blends that involves starting off with layering, and then using acrylic retarder to refine the blends as you would with oil paint. (Sort of a way to do wet blending where the paint stays workable for a much longer period of time.)

If you are attending ReaperCon and there is a class topic you would be interested to see me teach, please let me know and I’ll see whether it’s feasible for this year!

ReaperCon is an amazing convention for anyone interested in learning more about painting miniatures. There are dozens of instructors teaching hundreds of classes of all levels and topics. When they aren’t in class, the instructors hang out in the artist area at tables with name plates, so you can seek them out to get some feedback, or ask about their tools and techniques, or just say hi and admire their work up close and personal. ReaperCon is not just for painters, either. It offers the largest slate of sculpting classes and access to sculptors that I know of, both digital and traditional.

You do not have to be a Reaper fanboy to attend. Miniatures by any manufacturer (or that you sculpted yourself) are welcomed into the MSP open contest. You can talk about and use other company’s products. Plenty of other companies are on-site in the dealer hall! 

If you or your friend/relative/partner enjoy something other than miniature painting and sculpting (what, why?), there are also sessions of RPG games, miniatures games, a board game library, and a small video game/pinball arcade. Costumes are welcome – this year’s theme is piratey.