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Friday, September 19, 2014

Teachable Moments: Climbing The Painting Pyramid

Not everything we try in life is a success. Above is my first attempt at trying out a new technique. It didn't end well. I kept at it though and things got better with each try. Let's explore a brief review of James Wappel's Painting Pyramid DVDs and my adventures with the shaded basecoat technique...


The DVDs are of a high quality and broken into chapters that are easy to watch and follow. I highly recommend them just for the NMM tutorials alone. God, he makes it looks easy, but the lady above puts paid to that lie doesn't she? Barf. So bad.

I say this: I have decent skills at painting and yet, in this particular case that was the problem. Jim's technique would be a great thing for someone completely new or even with limited exposure to mini painting to learn. Hell, it's a lot of fun for a veteran too, but don't think you can watch the videos and crank out minis like Jim in 90min!!! The style he uses requires painters like me to let go of a lot of the careful and controlled techniques we've developed which can be terrifying and freeing. You should all give it a shot for sure. Here are some tips to help you out from my perspective. I thought I'd pick up a couple of cheap Bones minis to try it out on. Don't do that. The soft cast and unfamiliarity will work against you when you are trying to learn a new technique. That is the last thing you need. Pick a mini you know and love and try it out on that, a few times. It will all click faster. Above is Astrid the bard from Reaper's Bones line (One of my favorite Reaper sculpt ever). My first thoughts "Yay, I'm gonna paint Astrid the Bard!" I got the Bones mini and was like "Boo! I'm gonna try to paint Astrid the blob." She died a messy death under The Hammer Of Frustration before she was done. Pick a mini you know well to learn this technique. Below are 2 more Bones minis I was able to complete. Not fast or that great, but good enough for learning.

First up a dark elf.
I did the normal basecoat but mixed the color of my pallet together the get color unity. I didn't do the shaded basecoat because of my lack of familiarity with the sculpt, but I 'll get there.
Mids and highs...
I also broke up tints and glazes in two steps to slow things down and learn.
Glazes and shades...
Back to mids and highs and details...
And with a matte spray...
Total painting time: 2hrs. Not bad. Want to see nicer display pics of her? Yeah, me too...
 Eeesh. Look at those mold lines. Bones: You get what you pay for. To quote a guy on the interwebz I know: I'm just gonna make this face -_-

I don't give up easy though and tried again on this lady who looks like kinda like The Lady Inquisitor with that raised eyebrow and big gun. "Oh really?"  That's her catch phrase.
The Lady Inquisitor is named =][= REDACTED BY ORDER OF THE HOLY INQUISITION =][= so sometimes people call her Rosie - and then die slowly pleading for mercy. Better them than me!
Basecoat. Again, not familiar with the mini but mixed my colors to get some color unity.
Mids and highs...
Shaded and Glazed...
Details, mids and highs...
Flat spray...
"Oh really?"  Naaaaailed it!
Better and faster: 1.3 hrs this time. Display pics? Sure, why not. We all like mold lines, right?
Hey hun, I painted a mini that looks just like you... "OH REALLY?"    o_O ~gulp~ 
 Not my best work, but I have picked up a few new tricks to add to my painting and I highly recommend the DVDs and trying out the techniques Jim uses. It's a great way to break out of your painting comfort zone and have some fun learning a new way to paint and look at colors.

Next Post: I'll show you the Shaded Bascoat Technique in all it's glory on a mini that is really familiar to me - a Space Marine! Thanks for scrolling through that one, let me know what you think and remember; you can't spell paint without a little pain ;)

12 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience. I am curious though ... in what way does painting a 'bones' mini differ from say a metal or resin one? Is is the way primer reacts to the material and therefore affecting the subsequent paint layers?

    By the way, seeing that you use a lot of weathering powders, are there any specific brand you would recommend?

    Phew, I seem to be Mr.One Hundred and One Questions today. ;)

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    1. It's cool, we do this to share so ask away! Bone minis don't need to be primed. They are made from a soft polyurethane plastic. That makes them cheap to produce and purchase, but also makes their details soft and almost impossible to clean and prep properly. Given their cost that's a fair trade off, but they are definitely not something I would use for serious painting. They are great for introducing children to the hobby though since you can just grab them and slap paint on with little to no prep :)

      As to the powders there are many companies like MIG, AK interactive, Secret Weapon, Forgeworld and Tamiya. To get the most bang for my buck though I went with earthpigments.com The have the best selection of colors and sell much larger quantities than other companies for far less. I am not exaggerating when I say I will never need to order pigments again as long as I live. Wear a dust mask and gloves when using them as some can be toxic (like reds which have cadmium in them)

      Hope that helps :)

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  2. Good read! You actually inspired me to take a long forgotten mini from my shoe box of shame and do some experiments :)

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, it's great to try fun little exercises and show how they don't always work out. Of course our failures are how we learn so keep the simple green nearby and carry on!

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  3. This is great Zab. I'm just about to embark on the same journey with James lessons! Good to know I won't be alone in the experimentation stage. :)

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    1. Enjoy it! Try to be patient and don't panic in those initial steps where the minis looks like a terrible mess. I almost had a nervous breakdown with that first mini like "Ahh! I'm an accomplished painter! Why is this looking like a 5 year old did it?!" It's terrifying and fun - terrfun?

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  4. Quick progress across three minis. Kudos. Really like the overalls.

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  5. Thanks, I used cross hatching with my highlights to get a nice denim texture :)

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    1. Nice! Love cross hatching when painting. Good call.

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  7. Awesome stuff, man - I really love seeing the step-by-step breakdowns like that. Super instructive, and really makes me realize how and where the shortcuts I'm taking in my 'speed painting style' (heh) are letting me down. The 4-5 gradients of highlight and shade makes over the 2-3 I usually do makes such a massive difference. It's becoming increasingly evident I really need to take the time to incorporate at least one more shade/tone up and/or down in my process. Great work!

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    1. Thanks! Glad you like it. Really you can skip whole colors stages with higher contrast and some wet on wet blending :) It gets pretty fast too after some practice!

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