Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How to be a better painter: part 2 The brush.

 Having a look through the archives and pages of tutorials I realised that although there are a thousand videos of glazes and layers nothing really explains the process. Once you have it its easy but most people are half way there by the time they stumble onto a video that gives a half way decent explanation of it. So here is my back to basics with lovely drawings.

Layers and glazes:

I'm going to be talking about bits of the brush a lot so excuse the monty python esque drawings but here they are.

I know right. What the hell does Ferrule mean. But the rest is pretty self explanatory.

First off lets talk consistency. I'm sure you have seen the mandatory "WATER YOUR PAINTS" reply s to people just getting into the hobby or a rough finish to their miniatures, and while there is a place for the rough finish I want to talk about smoooooth jazz... blends. Smoooth blends.

The most common saying is "like milk" when people talk about how thin your paint should be for regular painting in layers. And while that's sort of helpful its difficult to understand. So let me put it like this.

It should look like this:

If you dip your brush into your paint and it looks like this...
 Then something has gone wrong. This is either straight from the pot, or just too thick.


So you have your set up. Your paint is the right thickness, you have your kitchen roll (right next to your pallet), your wet pallet and your brush, size 1 ideally. And heres why.

When you dip your brush into the right thinness of paint it should suck it up like a sponge. Have a close look at how a larger brush with a point, breaks the surface tension and sucks super thin ink into the well and see what I mean.

This is where most tutorials jump to painting something. And when you try this at home it will cover your model with thin "milky" paint. Or leave pools of paint that leave coffee like stains on your beautiful base coat and you'll think its something you've done. It's not.


Filling your brushes well/belly is half the battle. Brush it onto a bit of kitchen towel a couple of times gently. (Your beginning to see the benifits of a larger brush. A bigger belly.)

Not only will this get off any excess water and paint, but it will distribute the pigment throughout the brush head evenly. Effectively turning it into a felt tip pen.

Now dragging your stroke, with your brush at an angle to the surface of the model, and towards the edge or target of the heaviest colour. It will leave the perfect layer. Make sure it is dry before going over it again. 100% dry. If its a little wet it will tear holes in your layer. Thankfully if its done right it will not only dry quickly but because your paint is the right thickness you can just leave it on your brush for a few seconds while the layer drys! GENIUS!

Try this first on a white undercoat and red paint to see immediately what's happening. Painting blue on black will take a lot of layers to show up.
I know this may seem like a lot of effort but it takes seconds to do and is well worth it.


And now for how I learned most of my miniature brush work.
A couple of years ago I was desperately searching for books and videos on painting miniatures. And I bought a ton. Historical diorama books using materials that were no longer legal, Cool mini or not dvds that were ... a struggle. etc. etc. And then I got an order that I had nearly forgotten about, the dvd set from painting buddha.

Season 1.1 - Target Identified that is sadly no longer available as it sold the hell out. You can get it as part of the Bundle of love package though. That I also bought. Pretty much anything they touch is solid gold.

And I'm going to tell you why. This is what Painting Buddha do. They just teach people to paint to slayer sword standards. No dry-brushing and calling it done. Or settling for second best. The best artists teach you exactly how its done.

Take their last bunch of free videos:

Solid HD camera actually in focus on the miniture. No hair or hands in the way and properly lit.

Another camera pointed at the artist (so you can see how much he licks his brush. It's a lot.)

But best of all is the pallet cam. Exactly what consistency paint they are using,what colours, how much they put on their brushes, how they mix it.

And if you've been following my OTHER BLOG you'll see the marble technique I stole as best as I could from the Matt Cexwish Painting Buddha horus video, that I now see is also free on youtube.

Watched the same 10mins about 4 times. This way my first attempt using this technique and got this.

Anyway, what I thought was my secret stash is now very much in trouble of not existing anymore. So they've started a great way to fund their videos.

$1 donation gives you acess to all their videos. The wording on the site is horrific. So let me sum it up. No matter what you donate per video you get access to all the videos they make. Once you have picked your pledge amount you can limit it so if they make 10 videos and you donate $1 per video with a $5 cap you will be supporting 5 videos but still have access to all 10.

I've gone with the $14 per video with a $28 cap. That gives me access to the artists lounge hangout where I can bug the artists and accuse them of witchcraft to my hearts desire.

So give what you can. And lets not allow them to vanish.


Longest. Blog post. Ever.
Happy painting!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Selling my old epic sprues and board games!

If anyone is interested im selling a load of old epic stuff and board games! Blood bowl and space marine plus a load of squat sprues!! 

Have a look and take them off my hands.

Thanks for reading!
Happy painting

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Painting with depression!

After my last post on "how to be a better painter" did so well I thought I would talk about the next hurdle many of us face when it comes to creativity.

I'm relatively new to the world of crippling depression, and from what I've read and heard the best thing to do is confront it and talk about it. (It's what blogs were made for surely.)

From social anxiety to bi-polar disorder, the creative community has it all! Probably one of the reasons some of us are doing this in the first place. A community of people who not only share our passions for all things geeky but our issues too.

And being a slightly socially awkward gang we tend not to talk about that bit. Because its embarrassing. Which is stupid. It shouldn't be embarrassing, it should be just accepted in the same way that someone has a stutter or one eye or a bionic hand.

So I've hit the wall a few times this last month. Unable to pick up a brush, getting ready to sell the lot, just watching Thundercats while at the same time beating myself up and freaking out in equal measures. This includes but isn't limited to, convincing myself I'm dieing to being too worried that I will fall over and wet myself if I step outside. It's the worst housemate.

And painting felt insignificant in the face of this.

This was the first thing I realised had to change if I wanted to carry on doing this thing I love, creating isn't insignificant, its fucking vital!

Not seeing it as just a way of passing the time but the medicine my mind needed to get better. Because just picking up that brush and getting a plan in your head is half the battle.

The next step is putting it on the internet or showing it at a hobby store or an exhibition. The rest of the world has selfies to boost their moral, we have our art. Which is a little more revealing than a picture of our faces. The mini communities are incredible groups of people who want to tell you to carry on trying to improve and the hive mind has a billion suggestions on how to do just that and cheer your attempts.

I've always thought I didn't need the pat on the back, but I do. It's not a narcissism thing, it's just a human thing. The amount of times a day that people put "I know its not to the level of the rest of you but here's what I painted..." is quite telling. Everyone's nervous that people are going to scream in your face when you put your work on the internet. They wont. Because if your posting it in an artistic group everyone will understand exactly where you are, because we were all there once.

And my final tip is tough but important. And might seem quite boring.
Clean your workspace. This might seem silly but allow me to give you a scenario.

"I can't find that paint I was using." while this seems quite innocuous in any usual situation, its a barrier to allowing you to easily pick up a brush. Anything that slows you down after you've actually sat at your desk is something you don't need. Make it so easy for yourself that it feels like putting on a coat, not a struggle that you need to fight through.

Well, that was cathartic.

Hope this finds you all happy and motivated. I'm off to tidy my desk.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How to be a better painter.

I'm not a fantastic miniature painter. But I have gone from amateur/mediocre to good in the couple of years I've been back in the hobby. Which is a pretty steep learning curve. So heres some musings on how I reckon that s happened.



I've painted, drawn, and sculpted my entire life, you might think this would give me a massive head start, and in some ways it has. But miniature painting it's a different ball game.. its juggling to zorbing.

As a visual effects artist my job is to observe and recreate. This is the place I feel I may have an edge. Observing and relying on reference. If I want to paint marble my first stop is (free membership), then going out and seeing some marble. It might seem like a simple step but it's one that's forgotten more often than not.

But this is only half the battle. Knowing what your painting is fine if you can transfer that image directly to the model but having the skills behind it to translate the real world to 28mm scale is something that doesn't come easy.

I've spent a lot of money on gimmicky stuff. Fake gold leaf, brushes of every sort, stencils of every shape, convinced that this is what I need to improve. And now three years later I'm sat here with a size 1 brush and my airbrush and maybe a couple of tricks.

So my second bit of advice. Give up the size 0000000 brush. Learn to love a brush you can actually paint with. While the supermini brushes might seem like a good idea you cant "load" a brush that only has 4 bristles. Have you noticed your paint drying between the pot and the target? Want to keep painting but find you've run out of paint before the stroke has finished?

A size 1 Windsor and Newton brush has been my go to brush for the last year and I cant see that changing. From pupils in eyeballs to wet blending It will keep a sharper tip than any small brush as the bristles are angled inwards, and keep enough water and pigment held in its Well that you can complete a few strokes with it before it runs out.

It's dangerous to go alone. 
 Take these!

Thirdly, a community to turn to. Painting isn't a team event. But your not a lone wolf. Having the support of a good painting community is invaluable. My group of choice is John Ashton (from, my dog Alfie (He doesn't have a website), the G+ Warhammer 40k board and the 'eavy metal group on Facebook.
You are never too bad to post. You see so many pictures on groups saying the same thing "I know this doesn't deserve to be beside these beautifully painted figures but..." If your part of the group and are trying to improve your painting, you wont be mocked for it. There's nothing your fellow artists like more than to see people improve based off their advice...

Which brings me to my final point. Tuition. You'll probably notice that my work took quite a jump a couple of years ago, after stumbling onto
This font of knowledge is incredible. Loads of tutorials and quick and dirty tips and tricks.

But for a master-class, except no substitute, I've learned and re-learned how to paint from Painting Buddha. Ben Komets, Mati Zander, and Micheal Bartels. They are clear and concise, with explanations in a rainbow of languages. The split screen video tutorials are second to none and to get to their videos is incredibly cheap. Too cheap. Sign up immediately. If you want to be better go here.

I hope this little wordy geekout has helped some people out!
Happy painting!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Buy Perturabo Already.

Please forgive me but I need some money for my crippling Titan addiction. So why not buy Perturabo from me before it goes on general release!