How to Paint Contrast – Mind Games

If you like the work I do on this blog, please consider supporting it via my Patreon.

I’ve written previously about why we need to paint miniatures with a lot of contrast, and why painting in a more contrasted fashion is not only more artistically interesting (and better for game play use), but also more realistic than you might think. Assuming you were persuaded by my argument, you might now be wondering just how to go about doing that in practical terms. 

When we think about working to learn a new technique or effect, or working on getting to the next level with the techniques we already use, we tend to focus on how to handle the brush and dilute the paint, and other practical matters of that nature. No doubt those are issues that can hold us back or cause frustration. But our mindset and expectations can also hold us back, and we don’t always think about how important the mental aspect of striving to improve is. 

Grey divider edit

Change is Hard

If you’d like to paint with more contrast, begin by thinking of that as a technique or effect. You are going to need to focus on it as an end goal and practice with it just as you would with learning a method of blending or trying non-metallic metal or painting hair or whatever else. It is also helpful when you are learning or aiming to improve to put most of your focus on just one or two areas at a time. Starting to paint a miniature with the expectation that you’ll paint it with a lot of contrast, perfect blending, a fantastic colour scheme, etc. is putting too much pressure yourself. It will be more effective if you keep contrast as your main goal until you feel comfortable painting with a higher level of contrast. Achieving your goal on just one or two figures isn’t really enough, it’ll be easy to slide back into old habits unless you’ve made your new approach into a new habit.

To help you keep the focus on pushing your contrast, I recommend that you choose figures you like and find easy to paint. Pick paint colours you enjoy and find easier to work with. Accept that your blending might look a little worse than usual because you’re painting it over a greater range of contrast than you usually use, which makes it more likely that you’ll see rough spots. Work on getting the contrast for a few minis, then work on the blending, then contrast, and then back to blending, and hopefully you’ll get the two working in harmony before too long.

Dionne front beforeI painted this in 2008. I was aiming for a shiny leather/rubber look. I thought I had painted it with plenty of contrast.

Our minds tend to resist change. You are going to be sitting there painting the figure and your brain will start to scream at you that the contrast looks ridiculous. You should pull it back, glaze it down, do something to make it look like what you’re familiar with seeing when you paint. Resist that urge! Remember that what you’re familiar seeing while you work is a miniature painted with insufficient contrast. You’re trying to paint the opposite of that. If you start feeling uncomfortable, chances are that means you’re doing something right, because if nothing else, you’re trying something new. Never make a sudden decision right after you’ve painted something new like that. Paint until the end of your session then walk away from the miniature. (Or stop right then and walk away if it’s just tempting you too much to ’tone it down’.) Come back the next day and give it a good look (using some tricks I’ll outline below). Think about it for a while. If you still think it’s too much, then go ahead and make some adjustments.  (Though it doesn’t hurt to wait until you get closer to finished and look over the figure as a whole when considering whether certain areas have too much or too little contrast.) This approach gives you time to get used to the new thing that you’re trying and to assess it with fresh eyes. If you ‘fix’ it right after you’ve painted it, you risk covering up a lot of hard work that actually achieved some of the goals you set for yourself.

Dionne before afterI took a second look at it in 2009. Nope, not remotely enough contrast for a shiny leather/rubber suit look. Also not enough contrast on the hair. And note how the deep shadows under the stomach and between the legs make the shapes look like they have more volume and are more rounded. This is what I meant when I said we need to use contrast to make miniature figures look fully three dimensional. If I were to paint this today or touch it up again I would probably add very small even brighter highlights to areas of the suit.

I’m definitely speaking from experience with that one. I’ve been working on painting something like contrast, or an animal pattern or whatever. It’s late, and I’m tired, and it just seems way too exaggerated and ridiculous looking. I’ve given into the impulse and painted over it, and regretted it the next day. I’ve also put the figure down and walked away, and come back the next day to realize that no, it doesn’t look so bad after all. 

Grey divider edit

Real Time

Remember that the viewer approaches your miniature in a much different way than you do. First the viewer gives your figure a quick look. You have a few moments to capture their attention to make them want to look closer. Even when people love a figure and want to study it for a while, I think few people are likely to look at a miniature for more than five, maybe ten minutes. As the painter, you spend a lot longer on it than that. Even a speed painted miniature takes 30-60 minutes to paint. Many of us spend hours looking at a figure. We come to know every fold of the cloth, every curve of the muscle and so on. Because of that, what you do will always look more extreme to you than it does to other viewers. If you want to see what I mean, go back and have a good look at figures that you painted a few months ago, or even better, a few years ago. Do they look as highly contrasted and exaggerated as you felt like they were when you were painting them?

Another thing to remember is that this is art. You want it to feel real, sure. But you want it to feel real in a way that emphasizes the drama and character of the figure/scene. You are like the producer of a play or a movie. You need to try to keep some elements as real as possible, but you also need to take some dramatic license to tell your story to the audience. 

Here’s another way to look at the realism concern – if you aren’t regularly referring to reference (photos, lit maquettes, real scenes), you’re not painting in a truly realistic fashion anyway. You’re trying to match your imagined idea of reality, which is generally a lot more inaccurate than you think it is. And if people keep giving you feedback that your ‘realistic’ painting lacks contrast, your imagined reality isn’t serving you very well. You and your audience will likely be much happier if you either just paint to look cool, or start studying the real world and using reference photos a lot more often for what you paint. If you do that, you’ll find that shadows and highlights look a lot more dramatic than you think they are under a lot of lighting conditions.

Hb front cu beforeI painted this in 2015. I was pretty sure I painted with loads of contrast.

Grey divider edit

Leaps and Bounds not Baby Steps

I think when a lot of us get feedback to do something like paint with more contrast, we go back to our paint table and push a little, then seek out more feedback, get told we need to push more, etc. It can take years to make notable progress that way. At least I’ve gone through periods where that is the case. I would like to suggest considering a different approach. Exaggerate. Go nuts. Push it and then push it some more, way past where you think you can stand it. Keep pushing until you get consistent feedback that it’s too much. (By consistent I mean more than one person saying it, and in response to more than one figure.) I think that might be a quicker and more efficient method than the tiny increments method. It’s worth a shot at any rate!

Harvest before afterI took a second look a few months later. Um, I guess there really wasn’t that much contrast after all! When I went back in to rework the figure, I think I overdid it with the hair. Keeping the overall hair darker and having brighter highlights in small areas would probably look better. But I think it’s safe to say that  the dress and non-metallic metal and even the peppers look much better with more contrast.

Grey divider edit

Everything Old is New Again

If you’re afraid of ‘messing up’ some of your favourite new figures, go back into your archives. Grab a miniature that you didn’t really like how it turned out or something else you don’t have much attachment to, and work on touching it up to push the contrast. This is also a great way to get more comfortable with doing final touch ups and editing a miniature. For a long time I was very reluctant to fiddle with something on a figure once I’d completed that section. But my skills improved a lot once I became more willing to do that. And it wasn’t as difficult to do from a technical standpoint as I had feared. The figures shown earlier in this blog post are a good example of what I mean by touching up a figure once it’s completed and you’ve had a little time and distance to take  a hard second look at it.

If you like all your old miniatures, paint some quick tabletop figures for your role-playing game. Or grab the figures out of a board game and paint those. Because we often play games in less than ideal lighting conditions, gaming figures in particular benefit from high contrast paint jobs. And any paint on a game miniature is cooler than playing with unpainted pieces, so you don’t have to get too stressed out about getting the blending perfect while you work on that high contrast. 

Grey divider edit

Fresh Eyes

The fact that we get so familiar with a figure while painting it is a big part of what makes it hard to see that it needs more contrast. Here are some tips you can use to try to jolt your eyes into seeing it like something less familiar.

When you’re painting and you get up to get a drink and take a break, turn off your painting lights. Take off any magnifiers you might use. Then when you come back from your break, pick up your miniature and study it under the regular room lighting. Try looking at it in different rooms of your house to see what it looks like in different lighting. In between painting sessions, store your miniature in a place in your home with moderate to low lighting. Ideally this is a location where you’ll have an opportunity to see it a few times a day. As you pass by, stop and take a look at your figure. Start by looking at it from a distance of two feet away, and then pick it up and look at it more closely. Ask yourself whether it has nice visual contrast and holds your interest both at arm’s length and closer view. Another way to get a fresh look at a figure is to take a picture of it and then flip the figure to a mirror image orientation. Or hold it up to a mirror and look at the mirror image. 

Dds sorceress mirroredWhoa, it’s a completely new view! (Okay it’s maybe not that dramatic, but this can be a helpful trick to jolt your brain into seeing stuff you might otherwise not notice.)

Grey divider edit

Angle of Attack

When you paint, you turn the figure around to a lot of different angles to be able to reach various spots that need paint. I think these are often moments when we notice a crevice that looks super dark or a highlight spot that looks ridiculously bright and then we feel like we must have painted those badly and need to fix it. Do not judge the contrast (or any other effect) by what it looks like at a weird angle and fix it to look good at that angle! Always stop for a moment and hold the figure in the orientation in which it will be viewed. It needs to look good and correct from that angle only. If you’re painting the shadows and highlights with enough contrast and in the right locations for your viewing angle, it should look weird if you look at it upside down or turned sideways. If you get the opportunity at a convention or similar event, try to look at the figures of skilled painters you admire from odd angles. You will likely find all sorts of super dark shadows and crazy color placement and other elements that feel very awkward to paint, but which can look great on a miniature from the intended viewpoint.

Grey divider edit

Hands-On How to Tips

If you’re hoping for more hands-on practical tips for how to paint with more contrast, I have those, too! I just think it’s important to remember that while some of it is in your hands and your brush, a lot of it is in your mind and your eye.

Do you have any tips for pushing yourself to try new things? Tricks to get a fresh look at something you’ve been working on for a long time? Let’s help each other out and share some ideas!

Grey divider edit

Figures in this Post

Dionne, metal miniature by Hasslefree
Wood Elf Goddess Avatar by Dark Sword
Andriessa, Wizard in Bones plastic by Reaper
Andriessa, Wizard in metal by Reaper

Contrast versus Realism

If you like the work I do on this blog, please consider supporting it via my Patreon.

My previous post about the need to paint miniature figures with more contrast resulted in a fair amount of discussion on Facebook and some forums. (Feel free to make questions and comments right here on the blog so more readers will see them!) 

People seemed to have two main groups of issues related to contrast. One set of could be summarized as HOW issues – technique related questions of how to build up a lot of contrast while still keeping transitions between highlights and shadows looking good, for example. The other set of comments were more WHY type issues. These are people who feel uncomfortable with a lot of contrast. Most often this is expressed as a desire to paint in a fashion that looks as realistic as possible. So I’m delaying my post of some tips on how to push yourself to paint with more contrast since I think it’s important to make the case for WHY it’s important to do so in the first place.

On the topic of realism… absolutely there is a spectrum of contrast, and there are methods of painting that might be too cartoony or extreme for a particular genre or painter. The image I posted previously might be a level of contrast too extreme for some people to enjoy. (Although I will note that 1 – I was trying to make a clear visual point so I exaggerated a little, and 2 – that is a work-in-progress image. The perception of it will change when all parts of the figure are completed, and it’s very likely that I will do glazing that softens the level of contrast slightly.) I’ll include the figure in question below so you can reference it without going back to the previous post.

Vic1 combo faceExample of a figure painted with low contrast and with high contrast.

It’s okay to think that the image on the right is too highly contrasted. There is a spectrum of contrast between the left and the right. But it’s entirely possible to get overly concerned about the idea of keeping things ‘realistic’, and I think that this is something that absolutely holds back the painting of a lot of the people I talk to who are striving their hardest to improve. It is definitely something that holds people back from painting enough contrast. (And can affect their painting in other ways, as well, with colour choices, for example.)

So why DO so many instructors and higher level painters keep telling everyone (including ourselves) to push their contrast? The primary reason is that miniature figures are very small. They are so small, in fact, that when viewed under our normal light sources (ceiling lights, light coming through a window, etc.), they do not actually look completely three dimensional. If you hold a small bright light over a miniature, it will cast the type of shadows and highlights on the figure that a normal light will cast on a normal scale person. Since it’s not very practical to carry a light around with every figure, we instead need to paint in the way shadows and highlights appear under that kind of light in order to make a small figure appear fully three dimensional in normal lighting. So when we paint on shadows and highlights, we ARE in fact attempting to be realistic by mimicking the reality of how light and form interact.

Lighting comboLeft: Bright but distant ceiling room light. (My photo backdrop is attached to my photo cube, so he didn’t get the same background with this lighting.)
Center: Light positioned 13-14 inches above the model, and diffused by a photo cube.
Right: Small LED light positioned 5-6 inches above the model, not diffused.

In the first view you can see a decent amount of shadow. In the other views there is even deeper shadow, and much brighter highlights. It is easier to see the details like what the individual elements of the axe are and that his buckle is a lion’s head in the views with the light source closer (more in scale) to the figure. I think those views are also a lot more interesting to look at, precisely because of the higher level of contrast. The figure is a Bones model painted a mid-tone matte gray. In reality shinier textures like metal and hair would have even stronger contrast between bright light reflections and areas of shadow.

Another way to look at that is to think of miniature figures as something in between a two dimensional and a three dimensional piece of art. The best miniature painters borrow a lot of techniques that artists use on 2D artwork like paintings and drawings to make their depictions look three dimensional. (And perhaps it will console some of us to realize that plenty of student painters and sketchers have a lot of trouble going as dark as they need to do in their work – lots of them need more contrast, too!)

The need to simulate an in-scale light source illuminating our tiny figures is the essential idea behind why we have to add shadows and highlights. But the fans of realism are also correct that a lot of miniature painters push that past the point of how the light you might see in many ‘real’ situations behaves. We are exaggerating the effect. The goal in miniature painting is to bring a character, or even a scene, to life. We’re trying to convey not only factual information about the character (the colours and materials of the surfaces on the figure), but also emotional information about personality and story.

Given that we have the goal of bringing stories and characters to life, it might help to study how other types of art do the same thing – stage plays, movies, even commercials. Most of of the time the makers want their productions to feel as real as possible to the audience. They don’t want to ruin our suspension of disbelief by distracting us with elements that are obviously out of place or unrealistic. But at the same time, you don’t have to analyze even a very gritty and realistic seeming movie or play too deeply to start finding things that aren’t 100% ‘real’. The action of something like a fight scene is often compressed into a much smaller space than it might really take up. (Which as it happens is a pretty good rule of thumb for dioramas and vignettes in miniatures!) Likewise, the colours and designs of the costumes might be rigorously researched to fit an historical time period, but they are also chosen with colours, patterns, and styles in mind that bring out characterization and help tell the story. Which is also a pretty good idea to try to when painting miniatures.

So where does contrast come into that? The lighting and makeup used in stage plays and movies is chosen in a similar way. It is intended to feel as real as possible, but is actually skillfully manipulated and exaggerated in whatever way is necessary to tell the story and convey character. Consider the makeup used in stage plays. The eyes are outlined in large rings of black, and the lips are bold colours. Age and character lines might be drawn quite starkly. It’s actually a lot like how we paint miniature figures! And it happens for the same reason. A play takes place on a stage, and most of the audience is sitting some distance away from the actors. The actors appear much smaller, just like miniature figures. So the production needs to use bright lights, strong colour in costumes, and very exaggerated makeup in order for the audience to be able to distinguish each of the characters and their personalities. Just as the actors have to talk much more loudly and project their voices in order for everyone to hear them, the production has to find a way to make the visual elements ‘louder’ so they can be projected for the audience to clearly see.

If you’d like a more detailed example of what I’m talking about, have a look at this video where the costumer for an historical TV program breaks down the costume choices and how those contributed to defining the characters and the scene. There was even a lot of thought put into what the background extras were or weren’t wearing. For examples related more directly to contrast, you might also do some Google searches for ‘stage makeup’ or ‘theater makeup’.

My final argument is… have you looked at reality lately? I’m not trying to be snarky when I say that. Most of us miniature painters have not really studied reality. While it is commonplace for most traditional artists to look at references when creating art, it is much rarer for miniature painters to have that habit. What I mean is, traditional artists often draw/paint from life or photographs. Over years of doing that, they build extensive ‘visual libraries’ and can more easily draw what a variety of things look like accurately from imagination. But even then most will study a texture like leather or shiny metal or whatever when depicting it. Some even make up maquettes to study scenes and creatures in order to depict them more accurately. The highly respected paleoartist and fantasy realist James Gurney frequently uses maquettes to be able to visualize how extinct animals would move and look, and how light and shadow would appear on them. David Petersen is the author and artist of the Mouse Guard comic series. And he has built scenes and buildings to be able to render them well. In a comic. One of the best miniature painters today is Kirill Kanaev, and he uses reference photos extensively. (I was lucky enough to take a workshop from him, and we worked from photos for every element of the bust that we painted.)

I bring this up because I took some pictures to use as illustrations for my points in this post, and some of them surprised me! My aim was to show you pictures of real people scaled to the size of a gaming scale miniature to demonstrate that things like facial features and other detail are almost absent from a person standing far enough away from you to be the same size as a miniature figurine is. And I think these pictures do demonstrate that. But guess what else I found? Some pretty dramatic shadows and highlights! These include pictures taken outside on a fairly sunny day, and a few pictures taken indoors.

Real 150 comboThese pictures are also instructive about some other kinds of contrast, like how basic colour choices can set items apart from one another (or make things blur together visually) and how patterns can stand out or look murky, but those will have to be topics for another day.

Now here are a selection of miniatures that I’ve painted over the years with pictures scaled to the same size. Some are painted with very little contrast, and others with much more. Note that the painting isn’t the only thing exaggerated. If you compare the proportions of the figures to the real people above, you’ll see that the proportions of the figures aren’t ‘real’. In particular, the heads of the figures are much larger in proportion to the bodies than those of real people, which changes all of the proportions. Real people are above 7.5 heads tall. Gaming scale miniatures are often closer to 5 heads tall. Increasing the size of weapons and thin body points like wrists and ankles is a necessity of casting a miniature figure. The difference in overall proportion is largely an exaggeration for the necessity of conveying character. We like looking at and painting faces, and those faces need to be bigger to be seen at this scale. The miniature painter needs to exaggerate in the same way and for a similar reason as the miniature sculptor.

Minis 150 comboAn in-depth analysis and comparison of the contrast on the two figures to the left is available.

In my article about the power of light, I show another real world example of how light and shadow create different values of shadows and highlights on different objects. I also discuss some of the reasons our brains make it so hard for us to see this. 

So those are the reasons why so many painters and contest judges that you might ask for advice keep hammering on about contrast. If you consider all of those arguments and still disagree, that is absolutely your right to do as an artist and as a viewer of other people’s art! But you also need to accept that the majority of the miniature painting world has agreed on the necessity of contrast and at least a little exaggeration, and that philosophy is going to be reflected in how we judge contest entries and offer feedback. If you’re happy with what you’re doing, why would you feel the need to ask for feedback? If you do feel like you need to ask for feedback, why is it such a common inclination to disregard the most commonly offered piece of advice as ‘unrealistic’? If you disagree with the standard of contrast pretty universally preferred in miniature contests and shows, why are you entering them? I’m not asking these questions to antagonize anyone, but in hopes of jolting people into thinking about this issue a little more thoroughly.

Note that there may be some painters that you might look at and feel they do not use strong contrast that are still fantastic painters and well respected in the miniature painting community. Jennifer Haley is someone that springs to mind as a possible example. In my last post, you might remember that I mentioned that there are a lot of kinds of contrast, not just contrast between darkness of shadows and lightness of highlights. Jen Haley is fairly restrained in her use of that particular kind of contrast compared to many of the display level painters, but she is a master of several other kinds of more subtle and trickier to master types of contrast. Jess Rich is another artist I might place in this group. And both of them might be using stronger shadow/highlight contrast than you might think. More on that later in the HOW post…

Does my argument about contrast and exaggeration make sense, or do you think I’ve gone too far? Let’s discuss how we feel about contrast and realism in the comments!

For additional information on why we need to pay so much attention to contrast in miniature painting, see the article Constraints of Miniature Painting Part I and Part II.

Grey divider edit

Figures in this Post

Victorian woman in metal from Reaper
Brand Oathblood, Barbarian in Reaper Bones plastic 
Beach Babe Libby by Hasslefree in metal
Eriu, Champion with Greatsword in metal 
Tristan, Loremistress in metal from Reaper
Female Shaman in metal from Dark Sword
Barglemore and Camille in metal from Reaper
Tiviel, Hellborn Rogue in metal and in Bones plastic from Reaper

A Kudo-Filled Promenade

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to take the legendary colour theory workshop of Alfonso Giraldes (aka Banshee). He talked a lot about colour theory and use of colour in miniature painting. We worked on applying the principles to a bust in class, but we didn’t have nearly so much time to paint as I would have liked. When I returned home, I wanted to try to practice a little more, and to try to apply the principles to the type and scale of miniatures I most frequently paint. I had this figure conveniently prepped and primed, so I picked her up, and gave it a go. I think I’ll write a second post in a few days with more about the process behind painting the miniature, for now I’ll just focus on the end result.

After I painted the majority of the main figure, she sat around for a few weeks while I got busy with another project. Then it was about time to get ready for my yearly trip to CMON Expo, and thought she would be a perfect figure to take to enter in the painting contest there. I had an idea for the base that I didn’t end up having time to do, and now I’m vexed that I can’t even remember it! Anyway, I finished painting the figure and entered her in the contest. As usual for me, I hadn’t really thought about a good title for the entry before starting to fill out the entry form. I think she’s based on art where she’s meant to be a shaman. But I ended up painting her in less rustic colours and clothing, so I decided she was more of a fashionable minor noble type out on a leisurely walk, and titled the figure Promenade.I was pleased and honoured when she was awarded first place in the contest! Here is a picture of me looking super dorky holding the very cool Crystal Brush Qualifier trophy.

32471957 10155965299380589 7691318964277739520 n

This figure is pretty much the only thing I’ve painted that wasn’t for a commission this year, so of course she also came along with me to ReaperCon to enter into the MSP Open. For me that contest is kind of the end of the miniature painting ‘season’. Some contests, like CMON Expo, require that only new pieces can be entered. The MSP Open allows you to enter works that have been in other contests, they just can’t have been entered in the MSP Open previously. I also entered ReaperCon Sophie I showed in the previous post, but this more experimental figure was my primary entry. It is the figure that the judges chose to assess, and was awarded a gold medal. 

Dark Sword Miniatures is the manufacturer of this figure. The owner of Dark Sword, Jim Ludwig, is also a very generous supporter of the miniature hobby. Every year he supplies miniatures to go into the ReaperCon swag bags, and he sponsors special awards at ReaperCon. This year he went even further by having gorgeous trophies created to award IN ADDITION to the already generous cash and product prize awards. I think he also created additional categories for awards. So there were lots of fantastic Dark Sword entries, and lots of lucky winners of super cool prizes. Since there were so many fine Dark Sword entries, I was surprised when Jim announced that I had won first place in Single Miniature. And another super snazzy trophy! I am a little sad that Michael Proctor beat me out to win the best overall Dark Sword piece since his award was Funko Pop Deadpool Bob Ross! Very jealous!

Prom awards 600

But enough babble, here are pictures of the figure itself. If you saw the pictures I posted on Facebook after CMON Expo, these are slightly different. Based on feedback from Banshee and a few thoughts of my own, I did a few touchups before bringing her to ReaperCon. Though there are lots of other things I could have addressed, and that is some of what I’ll be talking about in the next post. After the pictures I’ll post links to where you can buy your own copy of this miniature and other information mentioned in this post, including lots of links for where to see cool looking miniatures.

Prom face base 700

Prom front base 700

Prom back 700

Prom left base 700

Prom left2 base 700

Links to miniatures and people mentioned in this post:
Buy your own copy of the Shaman figure here: https://www.darkswordminiatures.com/shop/index.php/miniatures/elmore-masterworks/female-shaman.html
ReaperCon 2018 MSP Open awards and pictures of all entries: https://reapercon.com/mspopen/2018
Or you can watch a video of the entire awards ceremony here (jump to time 1:09 for the Dark Sword awards): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pyk3cR6vXU
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
Michael Proctor’s Facebook artist page: https://www.facebook.com/CleverCrowMinis/?fb_dtsg_ag=Adyp3vAe4JREObizhYIGugtO319zaeaCFzugEFxLHHNQNw%3AAdxYwbavi8F-3SpFp6hg7hgTPkobyQmhTDRGi7VFQdImdA
ReaperCon main page – come join us next year: https://reapercon.com/
CMON Expo main page – and/or come here next year: http://cmonexpo.com

My Blog Begins… with Archer

For a while now I’ve had a dream of a fancy website with detailed tutorials for miniature painting and information on related topics. That’s going to stay a dream for the foreseeable future due to lack of time for such an ambitious plan. Then I realized that two of my favourite artists offer up lots of useful information in bite-size bits on their blogs. So I decided to take inspiration from James Gurney and James Wappel and try sharing my thoughts on a blog. I’m hoping that even though my name isn’t James, this might work out okay. :->

I’ve been meaning to start the blog for a few weeks, and just never quite got there. But then Darksword Miniatures came out with a release that I’ve long been waiting for, and it seemed like the perfect thing to start off this new venture. So without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Archer the Grumpy Cat. If you’d like to get at Twice the Attitude pack of your own, you’ll find it here: https://www.darkswordminiatures.com/shop/index.php/featured/archer-the-grumpy-cat.html

Archers b front

These sculpts are based on one of my three cats. Archer is somewhat legendary amongst our friends for his cranky and demanding personality. Jim Ludwig of Darksword Miniatures is a big fan of his regal attitude, and commissioned the very talented Andy Pieper to sculpt not just one, but two versions of our furry majesty. These two versions of Archer are heroically scaled, as you can see from the picture below where they are standing next to some lovely Dark Sword ladies that I’ve painted. So he’s large enough to act as an animal companion for a role-playing character. Provided that character can explain to him that he is the companion and not the other way around…

Archers scale darksword

Here’s a view of the figures from the back. This is a view we see pretty often around our house, as Archer turns his back on us when he just can’t handle our human stupidity anymore.

Archers a back

It was amazing to have the opportunity to work with Andy and Jim to bring our favourite curmudgeon to life. Though I’m not sure I can say the painting process was entirely fun. Maybe you can guess why from a look at the implacable stare on the reference photo I was using. I’m pretty happy with how I captured his markings, but Archer would be quick to point out my many failings on that score, I’m sure.

Arch oversees1 edit

I took some WIP shots of painting some of the tabby stripes, and in a few days I hope to make another post with some tips on how to paint convincing looking animal markings on miniature figures. Until then I will leave you with some more of the reference photos that Andy and I used. Thank you for stopping by to check out my new adventure! It is my intention that many of the future posts will be more informative and less self-indulgent. :-> Oh, on that note, before I get to the photos I’d like to point you to the other blogs I mentioned that have found to be very helpful and inspiring.

James Wappel – http://wappellious.blogspot.com

James Gurney – http://jamesgurney.com/site/

Archer overlord edit

Archer 2 21 edit

Archer profile1 edit

Archer2 edit