ReaperCon 2018 Photos – Miniatures, People, and More

I think the thing that finally gave me the push to start this blog was my frustration at trying to share painting tips in photo captions on Facebook. But on the flip side of that, I think a blog is a terrible venue for a massive photo dump. So this entry is primarily some links to the photos I have posted over on Facebook.

First up, some photos of the contest entries. Sadly this is only some of the entries. My window of time to take pictures of the entries was briefer than I would have liked by far! ReaperCon is always a super busy show for me between teaching classes and serving as captain of one of the judging teams. I had another complication this year in that I had an episode of bursitis in my hip start up a couple of days before traveling to Texas, and that slowed me down a fair bit a the show. (In related news – I’m old!) So if you do not see your entry here, please trust that it was just a failing of time to get through the whole room with my camera, not a judgement of your work! When I take photos of minis I just work my way down a table taking pics of everything as I come to it, but occasionally having to move to another table as I attempt to avoid being in other people’s way.

After the miniature photos are a series of badly composed and occasionally blurry photos. These were taken at the awards ceremony. I was sitting near the front, but my position wasn’t optimal, and people move fast! Nonetheless, I thought I’d post what I had of people’s moments of glory!

https://www.facebook.com/pg/wrenthebard/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1587853734674471

If you would like to check out photos of all of the entries, go to this page. The show photos are terrific!

https://reapercon.com/mspopen/2018

My other photo directory is filled with pictures I took of a few of the activities at ReaperCon, and many of the people who help make the show what it is.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/wrenthebard/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1711390415654135

I think that wraps up my Reaper coverage for this year. I’ve been painting away on something that I’m excited to post about soon, I hope it’ll be a nice visual example that might help people in their painting.

A Critique-Filled Promenade

(Links to posts, events, figures, etc. mentioned in this post are provided at the end of the post.)

In my last post I showed off my figure Promenade, and talked about how well she’s done at the shows I’ve entered her into this year. I’m pretty happy about that, but that doesn’t mean that the figure perfect, or that I have achieved the pinnacle of painting skill. I know there are people who look at my work and wonder if they will ever be able to paint that way, or if they should ‘break their brushes’.  The thing you might not realize is – I sometimes look at the work of other painters and feel a similar way!

In fact, the better at something you become, the more effort it takes to make ever smaller increments of improvement. I think this is true of just about any skill. Think about learning a second language. It’s not too hard to learn a few words. It’s a bit more effort to learn how to put those in sentences and communicate basic information. And a lot of effort to be fluent. But there are different levels of fluency. At a certain point you only run into unfamiliar words to learn every now and then, or you work to grasp a grammatical detail a little better. The progress you make is a lot less dramatic than knowing nothing and being able to ask ‘ou est la biblioteque?’  a few weeks later. But that tiny bit of progress can take as more or more work as going from nothing to sentences.

So how do I work to improve now that I’m pretty fluent at miniature painting? One way is to occasionally push myself to try something new, or to experiment with refining/shifting the way I do something. Another way is to see my work through a critical eye – both my own, and trying to view it through the eyes of another. This piece turned into an opportunity to explore those two methods. (Which are not the only roads to improvement, by any means!)

Trying Something New

I started painting this figure not with the idea of it being a contest entry, but to practice concepts from a weekend workshop with Alfonso ‘Banshee” Giraldes. One thing he does is use a fairly small selection of paints, and mix all the colours he needs from those. So he’ll have a couple of varieties of blue, red, and yellow, and then if he needs a green, he’ll mix a blue and yellow together to create it. You can mix browns and grays this way, also. With acrylic paints like we use for miniature painting, you also need white. While you can mix dark colours that can function as blacks from the basic colours, it’s fairly common to also have a black to darken mixes. Alfonso often adds a few very brightly saturated paints to his palette to add pop to his mixes. When I sat down to paint I added a skin tone and a purple to not have to mix those completely from scratch and save a little time.

 

Promenade palette 800I didn’t remember until I dug up this picture, but I started working on this figure at a convention paint & take table during some down time. This might not have been the exact palette I’d have selected if I were at home, but it’s not that far off. Basically a warm and cool version of each of the primary colours. So a red that shifts a bit more to orange, and another that shifts a bit more to purple. This is known as a split primary palette. I’ll try to get into a bit more detail about it in another post some time. Basically the purpose behind doing this is to be able to mix a range of more saturated, truer colours, and also more muted colours. If you’ve chosen good primary colours, with practice you can mix just about any colour you could think of with a set like this, and then mix shades and highlights for them.

I almost always customize and shift the colours I use one way or another, but I have an enormous number of paint bottles, and I like it that way. I start with colours as close as possible to what I want for my main colours and tweak as necessary from there. I’ll use other premixed colours for shade and highlight mixes, with additional mixing between the mid-tone colour and darkest and lightest colours. I have occasionally painted with a super limited colour scheme. Once a four colour scheme with white, black, blue, and brown, and once a three colour scheme with a very dark wine colour and very dark blue colour as well as white. Those were both valuable learning exercises and I recommend them to other painters. But I won’t lie, I find colour mixing this way tedious. Even after spending a couple of years learning to paint with watercolours and doing a lot of mixes with those, I still had moments of frustration and tedium while painting Promenade. There are other people who love colour mixing, and painting with a small set of colours like this absolutely a great way to learn more about colour and paint mixing. (It’s economical in the sense of not needing to buy a lot of bottles, but I find I use a larger quantity of paint mixing this way. It’s easy to add a dab of a potent colour to a mix and need to add a whole bunch more of others to get it back where you wanted it. Or you put out a drop of each of the colours and end up not using half of them in your mixes and throwing them out. But it’s probably still cheaper to churn through a bit of paint than to buy 300+ separate colours…)

In addition to working on improving my colour mixing and complexity of colour use, I focused on another element in painting this figure, which is something I’ve been working on for the past year and a half or so. I’m trying to develop a much stronger effect of lighting on my figures, and to use a direction to the lighting rather than just painting standard zenithal style light. (That is a diffuse light coming from directly above, as with the sun or a ceiling light, and tends to be the default lighting of miniature painting.) This is one of the things I see the painters I admire do, and which I’ve been struggling with for some time. I’ve been inspired to really push on this idea after taking classes with Sergio Calvo Rubio and Raffaele Picca at AdeptiCon in 2017. I think this approach worked well with this figure and this colour scheme, and I did capture a nice sense of light.

The final element I was pushing a bit more was to keep my light warm and my shadows cool, as this is a property of light, and is generally attractive and effective in artistic works. (The reverse also works – cool light and warm shadow.) So there’s yellow and orange mixed into the areas lit by the light, and cool blues and purples in the more shadowed sections. 

Meet the Critics

This is probably the figure I’ve had the most critical feedback on in a long time. Good critique is invaluable. It is the only real way we have to try to see our work through other people’s eyes. But before we get to other people, we always have ourselves available as a critic. The trouble is that it’s difficult to look at something you’ve painted and really see it. We’re just so familiar with it after spending so long working on it. It’s hard to separate out the work, and the intention and the planning of what you were aiming to do and just see the figure as it is. And even if you could do that, it takes time and effort to build a critical eye. That time and effort is worth putting in, but that’s for another post and hopefully another project that is cooking…

Anyway, I was my first critic on this piece, and I critiqued and futzed several times. There were a few spots that got painted one colour and shifted to another. There was a repeated push to bump up the contrast, in particular the highlights. Even after she’d already won the contest at CMON Expo, I bumped up the main highlights again before bringing her to ReaperCon. I had originally planned to show four stages of the figure in this post, but after editing up all the pictures and looking through them, I realized the ‘spot the differences’ puzzle was a little too subtle. So I’m just going to show two different views. The differences are most notable on the hair above her forehead, the fir trim, highlights on the hand near her neck, and the feathers on the back of her head. I’ve got another miniature that I’ll post some time that makes for a much better game of ‘spot the differences’ between original and revised versions.

Herbalist face 566

Prom face 600The lighting of the photograph looks a little different in this shot, I didn’t really mess with the overall warmth of the skin tone when I was revising, it’s just this picture. If you look at the front shot in the previous post, you’ll see it doesn’t have the cool look of the light in this photo.

Prom back 625

Prom back 625

After ReaperCon I was fortunate enough to get a very thorough critique from two artists I respect both as artists, and for how keen their eye is in assessing and critiquing figures. Both had a lot of things to say that gave me food for thought. (I am mostly noting the comments that were made on weaker areas, but like good critics, they both also pointed out the strengths of the figure so I know what to keep on trying to do in that manner.)

The first question one critic asked me was what kind of material I had been intending to convey on the dress and coat. And my answer was something like… clothish…I guess? I went over what I was focusing on while painting this above, and a realistic depiction of various materials didn’t even enter my head, even though that is another thing I have been working on these past few years.  The one material other than fur (the coat trim and the hide at her waist) that I had thought about was the cup being metal. And the other critic pointed out some ways I could have done a lot better at that had I been more specific about the type of metal and thought more about possible environmental reflections. Both of those comments were spot on. The dress and coat are prettily painted, but they aren’t as interesting or real as they could have been had I put more thought into making them specific materials and looked at reference photos and so on. 

I have certainly done that in the past few years working on materials. I figured out how to paint something to look crushed velvet, and I’m working on a figure with a satin dress at the moment. But sometimes when I work on those things, I don’t have the same kind of more complex colour use as I have on this figure, or the light and shadow isn’t as dramatic. Because trying to think about ALL of the things all of the time is hard, even when you kind of know what you’re doing! 

Other valuable critiques were that I didn’t get the light effect or the warm/cool split completely correct across the whole figure. I have on occasion used photo reference for my light source, positioning a small lamp in the area of the light and taking pictures of the grey-primed figure to reference while painting. I didn’t do that here, and my nascent knowledge of forms and how light interacts with them led me astray in areas. (As an example, look at the back view above. The skin of the lowered hand is quite cool and dark in colour as it’s in shadow here. But the folds of the coat don’t display that cool/warm shift nor the shift in value as dramatically as the skin. The folds to the left (the direction of the light) are warmer and brighter, but the ones on the right should be much cooler and darker than they are.

There were a few critiques that I’m not sure I understood, and that happens. It is often recommended to repeat colours in a composition to help tie things together. I did that here with the slate blue colour, which repeated in the feathers in her hair, fabric swatches at her waist, and on the base. One critic felt that this use and placement created a distracting horizontal band effect. That is something I will work on understanding. Hopefully my use of colour like this will become more skillful as I study composition and continue to practice. Or perhaps as my understanding grows I will come to disagree with the critique. Either way, it gives me a direction to go in moving forward, and that is the most valuable thing about critique. 

A note for those of you seeking critique. A good critic doesn’t have to be someone who is way better at miniature painting than you are. I have gotten some very useful thoughts from people who don’t paint at all, although generally speaking I think you will get the most insight from other people who paint miniatures or some other form of visual art. But they don’t have to be instructors, or experts. I made the most improvement in my painting after getting into a critique circle with a couple of friends around the same level. It is very helpful for it to be a circle. You will learn just as much by working to look at their figures with a critical eye to spot what was done well and what is weaker as you will by what they spot in your figures. The more you develop your eye and your ability to pinpoint and verbalize issues and strengths in a figure, the better you will get at being able to assess and improve your own work. As well as being a good friend. :->

Links to miniatures and people mentioned in this post:
Previous blog post on Promenade: https://birdwithabrush.com/2018/09/10/a-kudo-filled-promenade/
Buy your own copy of the Shaman figure here: https://www.darkswordminiatures.com/shop/index.php/miniatures/elmore-masterworks/female-shaman.html
Alfonso Giraldes’ gallery on Putty & Paint: https://www.puttyandpaint.com/BansheeArtStudio
Alfonso Giraldes’ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/alfonso.giraldes?fb_dtsg_ag=Adyp3vAe4JREObizhYIGugtO319zaeaCFzugEFxLHHNQNw%3AAdxYwbavi8F-3SpFp6hg7hgTPkobyQmhTDRGi7VFQdImdA
Sergio Calvo Rubio’s gallery on Putty & Paint: https://www.puttyandpaint.com/sergiocalvo
Raffaele Picca’s website: http://www.raffaelepicca.com
A brief overview of the split primary palette: https://crafts.stackexchange.com/questions/2464/what-is-a-split-primary-palette

ReaperCon 2018: MSP Open Contest – Diversity!

One of the things I love about an open show like the MSP Open at ReaperCon is the diversity of entries I get to see. Garage kits, tanks and armour, a scratch built ship – with  dozens of crew!, book ends, gumboil prizes, fan statues, snow globes… I can’t even remember all of the cool creative things I’ve seen over the years that I could never have imagined seeing in a standard miniature contest. 

I hope to be able to post a lot more pictures of contest entries once I get home and have more internet access, but in the meantime, here is an overview of some of the variety we enjoyed looking at this year!

(Also here’s a link to the official contest photo page with photos of all of the terrific entries and winners: https://reapercon.com/mspopen/2018)

IMG 3695

IMG 3701

IMG 3708IMG 3746

IMG 3747IMG 3763IMG 3766IMG 3763IMG 3766IMG 3786IMG 3787

IMG 3792

 

 

 

 

IMG 3839IMG 3840

IMG 3864

IMG 3869IMG 3919

Hopefully I’ll be back blogging soon with more insights into ReaperCon 2018 fun!

 

 

ReaperCon – Not Just for Reapers

If you’re not a big fan of Reaper or manufacturer specific events, I have good news for you: miniatures from any manufacturer are welcome in the figure show/contest, and there are vendors selling other brands of figures in the vending hall. And now I hope you will keep reading for more details on why this is such a great convention for miniature painting and sculpting enthusiasts of all kinds!

ReaperCon is Labor Day Weekend – August 29 to September 2, 2018

[Edit to add: ReaperCon is booked into the same location on Labour Day weekend through 2023! Start planning now for 2018!)

ReaperCon is two weeks away. (Ack, ack, ack!) It’s not too late to come to the show!. If you’re someone who needs more time to plan (which honestly I am most of the time), then consider this a discussion of why you should start planning now to attend ReaperCon 2019, which should be around the same time of year. :->

Disclaimer: I do freelance work for Reaper Miniatures, and have been one of the artists brought into ReaperCon to teach for many years. They didn’t ask me to write this, and I’m not getting any benefit or consideration for doing so. I started going to ReaperCon long before I did any work in the industry, and I credit the classes I’ve taken there (and at other conventions) for being a big part of how I got good enough to become a freelancer and painting teacher. I’ve only missed two ReaperCons, the first and the third, and I’ve twice made the long trip by car to get myself there. (I hate driving more than an hour!)

Painting and Sculpting Classes

ReaperCon has grown to the point where it has one of the biggest (if not the biggest) schedule of painting classes of any convention. I’m not sure there’s another convention that has anywhere near so many sculpting and conversion classes. There are dozens of instructors, each teaching multiple class sessions. Many of the classes are hands-on, though there are also topics that are best served by more of a demo or lecture format. There are topics of interest to any level, and even for children. If I had the time, I would love to be able to take classes here myself!

But there’s something Reaper does that I think is unique among conventions. Each of the sculptors and painters is assigned a spot at a long row of tables. They have name tags in front of them. When they aren’t teaching classes or judging, they hang out here. You can watch them work, which I always find very instructive. If you’ve taken a class and then practice what you learned for a while, you can bring your practice work over to the instructor for feedback. Or maybe you couldn’t get into a class, or just had a few questions on a topic – the instructors are there for that too.

WappelThe instructors also bring some of their work for you to look at and enjoy, though most of us do not manage to have such an extensive display as James Wappel has put on here!

Since it’s so close to the date of the show a lot of classes are already sold out, but there are also still lots of openings in many classes. And they hold back two tickets for day-of sales, so there’s still a chance to get into a sold-out class or two You can see the class slate here. You need to buy a pass before you’re able to buy class seats, however. https://register.growtix.com/schedules/frontend/reapercon_2018

MSP Open Figure Painting and Sculpting Show

The ReaperCon contest/show is open to entries from any and all manufacturers. Or even pieces which aren’t traditional minis. In the past entries have included garage kits, a repainted gumball machine bust, a scratch built sailing ship, and many more creative things. There are some special awards that are specific to Reaper miniatures, and there are some other manufacturer special awards. (This year includes Bombshell Miniatures and Dark Sword Miniatures.) Entries must be pieces that you have never before entered into a ReaperCon show, but that’s about it – they don’t need to be brand new work, and can have been entered in or won at other contests. One of the things I most love about this kind of show is that the entries are placed onto raised tables. So you can really get a good look at them and enjoy them in a more three dimensional way than you can in contests where they are closed away in cases. (There is someone to monitor the room, which is closed up at night.)

ReaperCon uses an open show style for its painting contest, with some additional special awards. In an open show, you can enter anything from one to a handful of figures into each category. The judges pick which of these they feel is the best piece that you entered into that category, and judge you against a standard. Each piece is assessed by a team of three judges. Their scores are averaged, and the entrant is awarded a certificate of merit, or bronze, silver, or gold medal depending on the result. So in essence, you are competing against yourself, and you strive to outdo yourself each year. (Though note that each level is progressively more difficult! It takes a lot more work to move from silver to gold than it does to move from certificate to bronze, for example.)

Msp open comboOn the left is an example of some entries into the 2017 MSP Open. One entrant has created an attractive display of his pieces at the back of the picture, but as you can see from the front of the picture, simpler displays are fine too. The picture on the right shows the trophies and medals waiting to be awarded to the entrants.

The judging standard takes a several elements into accounts and can differ by category. So in the Painters category, painting technique and painting effects are 70% of what is considered, but basing is just 5%, and conversions are considered only in terms of how they might contribute to the overall aesthetic of the piece. Whereas in Open, painting is worth only 30% of the score, and extensive basing and/or conversion or outright scratch sculpting are weighted much more heavily. 

In the event that a judge has advised an entrant on their piece or in some other way feels that they may be biased for OR against the entrant, there are alternate judges available to step in. The judging is not conducted in an adversarial way. We want to encourage people to enter, to keep on striving for their best results and to push the hobby ever onwards towards new cool things! As part of that, judges are available after the show results are announced to give feedback.

The Best in Show figure is decided not by the judges, but by the votes of everyone who enters the contest. Non-Reaper figures are eligible and have won this in the past. There are also two runners up awards for the Reaper and non-Reaper figure that got the next most votes. Reaper figure entries are eligible for consideration for the Sophie trophies for each category, with additional awards for best Reaper large monster type piece, and best Reaper mousling piece.

Get Your Game On!

Hobby activities are a big focus at ReaperCon, but there is also a lot of gaming. Which can be good news if you’re super excited about the painting/sculpting stuff but you have a family member or friend who needs to be convinced to come along with you. ;-> There are role-playing games, miniature games, and a board game library. You can ‘take out’ board games from the library, and the board game volunteer is available to teach you how to play. This year there is even a gaming-only pass. So if you do have a friend or family member who only wants to come out to game, they can purchase a less expensive pass. And they’re even still eligible to enter the MPS Open contest! (But not to take painting classes.)

Games comboOn the left is a great table of miniature gaming terrain. The right shows a portion of the board game library.

Other Activities

What else can you do at ReaperCon? You can take a tour of the Reaper facility and find out how miniatures are made! The picture on the left shows the metal miniature casting area. The picture on the right is the Reaper miniature gallery that you can tour at the facility. It is filled with literally hundreds of miniatures painted by some pretty terrific painters! (And some stuff that I have painted, as well. ;->)

Factory tour combo

Try your luck at the melt table. What is the melt table, you might wonder? During ReaperCon, you can exchange old metal miniatures from numerous manufacturers that you no longer want for credit to purchase new metal Reaper miniatures. The figures that are traded in are placed on the melt table, and attendees are welcome to scour it for wondrous treasures that they can purchase with trade-in credit or cash. It is not at all uncommon to spot classic figures that fetch a pretty penny on eBay or other long out of print minis. For more information on the figure brands accepted for trade-in or to ask questions about the trade-in program, see this thread on the Reaper forums. http://forum.reapermini.com/index.php?/topic/39734-metal-trade-in-approved-company-list/

The auction is another fun activity. The auction takes place on Sunday, and the only currency accepted is Reaper Bucks. These are earned by taking classes, playing games, wearing costumes, and other convention activities. Auction items include Reaper products, but also other games and hobby related items. The auction is presided over by an experienced auctioneer, and is fun to watch as well as participate in. 

Other acts combo

The pictures below show another couple of great ReaperCon features. Pinball and classic arcade games are a great way to take a break from painting and classes! And the artists aren’t the only people who get to sit down to paint. Tables are available attendees to hang out and hobby at, too. So you have a place where you can practice what you’ve been learning in classes to really try to cement it in your mind, as well as the opportunity to swap tips and tricks with fellow attendees. You will need to bring your own paint and supplies, and a battery operated lamp if you’re concerned about lighting. (Though people are often pretty friendly about sharing supplies, especially since some drive and can bring lots of stuff, and others come via plane with limited supplies.)

Friends are a big part of the fun of every convention. Even if you don’t know anyone there when you arrive, chances are you’ll have made some friends before you leave! (I was extra introverty during my first ReaperCon so it took me two gos, but don’t be me. If it helps, you can start getting to know people beforehand on the Reaper forums – http://forum.reapermini.com/index.php?/forum/23-reapercon/

Friends combo

And lastly… vendors! You can of course buy a large selection of Reaper products at their booth, but you’ll also find the booths of other miniature companies – Arena Rex, Scale75, Black Heart Miniatures, Bombshell Miniatures, and others were present at 2017. Other vendors sell terrain, gaming products, basing materials, and general cool geek stuff.

Vendors combo

So, that’s where I’m going to be in two weeks. I hope you’ll come out and join us! And if not this year, start planning now for next year…

Some Prose on Cons (Conventions and Shows)

For the past few days, my social media feeds have been awash with updates from friends at Gen Con. And now many of us in the miniature painting/sculpting hobby are headed into the crunch time of preparations for ReaperCon (or Nova Open, or DragonCon). The convention and show season for the year is starting to wind down, but at the same time we’re already starting to get ready for next year’s con season, what with room bookings for AdeptiCon having opened a few weeks ago. In today’s blog post, I want to discuss what the deal is with all of these conventions, and what value they offer to a miniature enthusiast. In a couple of days I plan to make a post about ReaperCon specifically (it’s not too late to plan to go!) But at the end of this post I link to some of the main conventions with miniature painting and sculpting related activities.

Meet the Miniatures

Conventions and shows* with a contest offer the rare opportunity to see the work of a lot of different artists and hobbyists in person. Miniatures are three dimensional objects, so it’s difficult to capture the nuances of sculpting and paint with two dimensional photographs. I remember being very struck by the differences in what the figures painted by the artists I admired looked like in person compared to photographs. Many were less perfectly smooth than they had appeared in photos, but they were also much more lively and interesting to look at in person. This was not just a curiosity – the belief that people achieved perfect smoothness drove my study of miniature painting and very likely distracted me from other valuable techniques and effects. Having the opportunity to view a number of well-painted miniatures in a large contest will show you a myriad of styles and approaches to our hobby and can be very inspiring.

*Look for more information on what a show is as compared to a convention, and for some show dates and locations at the bottom of this blog post.

Make the Miniatures

Do you have trouble finishing your miniature projects? Do you hesitate to push yourself to try unfamiliar effects and techniques?  Entering contests and shows is an excellent way to push yourself to meet deadlines and try new things. Painting for contests is not for everyone, and I have largely taken a break from it myself in recent years, but for many years I found working on entries to be very motivating in several different ways. (Luckily there are online contests, too, so even if you can’t get out to a convention you can still take part in those if you need a little push.)

Classroom 600Michael Proctor, Brice Cocanur, and Aaron Lovejoy – Instructors setting up a classroom for ReaperCon 2017. 

Shop the Miniatures (and accessories)

Most conventions and shows have a vendor area. Shopping at conventions is a great way to expose yourself to new product lines, try out miniature games, and save the cost and wait time of shipping. Again, as miniatures are three dimensional objects it’s not at all unusual to find a miniature that you thought looked pretty meh in an online photo is actually much cooler than you thought when you get to look at it in person.

Improve Your Skills

Most conventions that are focused enough on miniatures to include a contest/show also feature classes and/or seminars related to painting, sculpting, and other hobby topics. These are a fantastic opportunity to learn from the talented artists you admire. I can categorically state that I would not be where I am today as a painter without the dozens of classes that I have taken at conventions over the years. Miniature hobbyists today have some terrific resources online with both free and pay videos, documents, podcasts, etc., but there is still no substitute for an in person class where you can observe more directly, ask questions about what’s confusing you, and get feedback on your own work. 

Adepticon boothBooths at conventions are often as fun to visit as they are to shop.


Meet the Makers

Another opportunity conventions and shows offer is the opportunity to meet the people who create the products you love. This includes both company representatives, sculptors, and painters of your favourite studio miniatures. At ReaperCon you can even get a tour of the factory to see how miniatures are made from start to finish! It is a lot of fun to meet the personalities behind the products. And to have the opportunity to give them your feedback to hopefully see more of what you love in the future.

Be Part of the Family

I think this is the thing that really keeps people coming back to conventions and shows. It is also the thing that doesn’t seem at all compelling to consider if you haven’t yet been to your first one. It is an almost magical feeling to be surrounded by people who share your enthusiasm for the miniature hobby. ReaperCon and AdeptiCon are probably the two places on earth where I don’t feel awkward wandering around wearing my painting visor. :-> And although a convention may not seem like the ideal activity for the more introverted among us, keep in mind that a lot of the other attendees are also introverts. And geeks and nerds. Chances are very high that if you’re a little awkward, or you need to take some time to yourself, or you have some mobility issues or other things like that, there are other people there who will understand that, and you.

A Partial List of Conventions for Miniature Enthusiasts

Chances are good that I’m missing some great conventions! This really only covers what is available in the United States. There are many events in other parts of the world, and I hope that those of you with information on these will share in the comments.

ReaperCon, Dallas TX: August 30 – September 2, 2018 – https://reapercon.com
Nova Open, Arlington VA: August 30 – September 2, 2018 – http://www.novaopen.com
Las Vegas Open, Las Vegas NV: February 8 – 10, 2019 – https://www.lasvegasopen.net
Cold Wars, Lancaster PA: March 14 – 17, 2019 – https://www.hmgs.org/page/CWHome
AdeptiCon, Chicago IL: March 27 – 31, 2019 – http://www.adepticon.org
CMON Expo, Atlanta GA: May? 2019 – http://cmonexpo.com
KublaCon, San Francisco CA: May 23 – 27, 2019 – http://www.kublacon.com
Historicon, Lancaster PA: July 10 – 14, 2019: https://www.hmgs.org/page/HconHome
Gen Con, Indianapolis IN: August 1 – 4, 2019: https://www.gencon.com

A Partial List of Shows for Miniature Enthusiasts

I have referenced shows as distinct from conventions, and you might be wondering about that. Conventions tend to be part of the gaming side of things, and usually include game events as well as painting classes and contests (and panels and media and all kinds of things). Shows are more of a part of the historical miniatures side of things. These days the majority of shows actively include science fiction, fantasy, and horror themed miniatures as well as historical ones, and at some shows the non-historical miniatures may even dominate. There are a number of big shows in Europe, and I think this format may be more popular than the convention style events there. 

The contest at many shows is one where entered figures are judged against a standard and awarded a rank based on that. Some conventions are switching over to this format, others continue to use the top three in a category win an award approach. I’ll talk more about types of contests in a future post, I’m sure. The other thing that is really cool about a show contest is that the miniatures are placed out on raised tables. So you really have an opportunity to look at them up close and from a variety of angles. (This is how we do it at ReaperCon, too!)

Shows sometimes have an intensive workshop you can sign up for that takes place the day or two preceding the actual show date, but very rarely have hands-on type classes during the show. Free seminars with slide shows are common, however. 

Many of the vendors at a show sell products that are unfamiliar to or difficult to access for gaming miniature hobbyists, like cool diorama bits, wood plinths, busts and historical figures, books and magazines related to the hobby, etc. Many of them also have no or poor online presence, so you’ll see things for sale at a show you might not easily see otherwise.

I attend the Atlanta Military Figure Society Show and have been to the recent World Expo that was held in Chicago, but I am sure that my knowledge of the military figure shows is incomplete, and I hope that people will add others they know of to the comments.

The Military Miniature Society of Illinois, Chicago IL: October 19 – 21, 2018 – http://www.military-miniature-society-of-illinois.com/2018-chicago-show
Long Island Miniature Collectors Society Show, Freeport NY: November 16 – 17 2018 – http://www.longislandmodelsoldiers.com/
Atlanta Military Figure Society Show, Atlanta GA: February 15 – 17, 2019 – https://atlantafigures.org/amfs-show-2019/
Military Figure Collectors of America Show, Trevose PA: May? 2019 – http://www.mfcashow.com/upcoming.html
The Historical and Fantasy Miniatures Society of Southeast Oklahoma, Tulsa OK: June? 2019 – http://www.hmsneo.org
Euro Miniature Expo (Euro Militaire) Folkestone United Kingdom: September 22 – 23 – https://www.facebook.com/EuroMiniatureExpo/

Show display 1000Example of an entrant’s display area at the World Expo 2017 show in Chicago. The figures in the center of this photo were painted by Erin Hartwell.