Pirate Parade: A Tale of Two Kits and Two Pirates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Layer Up Test Pirates Back

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

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

Pirates pair front bw 600

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

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

Pirates pair back bw 600

Figures Shown in this Post

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

Paint Along Video Learn to Paint Kit Classes!

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

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

Cover combo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which Kit First? 

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

Kid Friendly?

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

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

Skeleton combo

Core Skills Learn to Paint Kit Paint Along

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

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

Link to buy a kit or check the contents list.

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

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

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

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

Wizard combo

Layer Up Learn to Paint Kit Paint Along

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

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

Link to buy a kit or check the contents list.

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

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

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

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