Home from Gencon

I’m back from Gencon! Thanks to all of the people who signed up for my painting classes. As always, I had a blast teaching – please feel free to email me if you have any follow-up questions.

Below you’ll see the pieces I brought this year. Tywin and Shae got 1st and second in the main painting contest, and Nemo earned himself an honorable mention in the Privateer contest.

A number of people have asked how Nom is doing. He’s doing quite well, and gradually becoming an adult-ish cat. He’s about twice the size as he was last summer, but the dramatic change is that he has the occasional think. They are very small thinks – just enough to get his tail twitching – but the first time he had one he looked absolutely shocked. Dim cats are quite charming, and I don’t think he’s in any danger of losing his appeal. He still kicks himself vigorously in the head, and if he gets excited while he’s on carpet his claws come out fastening him in place.

My site is gradually being overhauled, and at some point there will be a dramatic shift. For now though, I’ve added Facebook “like” buttons.

Social networking sites are fantastic tools, but they’re also rather intimidating, which is (partly) why I post so infrequently. If I say something silly, it stays around for quite some time, in writing, for everyone to see. A case in point is this video from the Crystal Brush – I say the dardnest things when I’m on the spot. (Around minute 13 I talk about liking jumping stilts and tentacles.)



Wall o’ Pics

I’ve been in rare form this month. I spilled Andrew’s drink down the backside of my pants, learned that limequats shouldn’t be eaten, and rescued my fish from a leaky aquarium.

Just like me, my younger cat, Nom, is still working on wisdom. The cats have a laser toy which automatically wiggles a laser around. This is handy because the cats have more patience with red dots than I do. Unfortunately, I left the toy unattended and when I returned, I found Nom having a staring contest with it. He seems to be okay, but his wisdom score is clearly too low for unmonitored laser toys.

A while back, my cats declared war on my furniture. Two couches were casualties of battle. However, after a prolonged stay in the infirmary, one of my comfy chairs was declared fit for duty. It has been months since I’ve had serviceable furniture. My elder cat is very happy to have a soft spot again and has stapled herself in place.

Work was unusually fun last week. There was suddenly a need for super delicate soldering, so I volunteered. While I didn’t know much about soldering, I am fairly decent at small detail work. The chip which needed soldering had seven little pads along each side on the bottom. Each pad was half a millimeter wide, so it was quite a challenge. However, it turns out that soldering small things is a lot like painting, so my soldering was successful.

I’m getting in gear for Gencon, and hopefully I’ll have a Darksword piece again this year. I’m also starting to prepare for my classes. If you’ve signed up, or are hoping to attend with generic tickets, I’d love to see pictures of your work. I do my best to tailor my classes to the individual skills of my students.

I’ve been having fun with Darksword critters, I love these guys, they really make painting fun.

Wow . . . I won

The Crystal Brush contest was the hardest fought contest I’ve ever seen. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many great minis in one place before. Thanks to all my friends who were supportive, and to Andrew for cooking, cleaning, and removing cat-yuck while I was off painting.

The Kraken Priestess, who won the show, is a kit bash of Al-Vianna from Studio McVey and something with tentacles. I forget who the tentacles came from, although I sculpted two of them. Many thanks to Greg for helping me develop the vision for this piece.

The Giantess by Reaper, (runner up in the big stuff category) has been sitting on my desk for almost three years, in various stages of done. I worked on her whenever the mood struck, or when I messed up scheduling for my commission pieces. I made the decision to take her to the Crystal Brush a month or so beforehand. This was not the cleverest decision I’ve ever made. It turned into a death march, and since she weighs a quarter pound that took quite a toll. There was wrist binding, ibuprofen popping, eye drop dropping, and coating myself with tiger balm. The result is a little rushed, but I’m unusually fond of this piece.

OMW to Crystal Brush

As of 11pm last night, I’m ready to go to the Crystal Brush painting contest. Woo!

This contest is unique in that anyone can vote for their favorite pieces.


Gencon classes were posted last weekend. I would have announced it sooner, but I was nose-to-the-palette busy. If classes have sold out, please stop by anyway, as there is usually space.

Look, a post (with an edit)

The grown-up type job continues to go well, and I am still enjoying it. The Nom saga continues in much the same way. He perseveres in his quest to plug himself up with lethal things. He always manages to pull through on his own or with some assistance from me.

Last weekend, I went snow shoeing up near Granite Mountain and smote my ruin on the mountainside. Well, maybe not quite. But I certainly overdid it though, and said, “Ow ow ow,” a lot over the next couple of days.

I’ve been painting slowly but steadily on weekends and the occasional weekday evening. I’m throwing my hat into the ring for the Crystal Paintbrush competition.

Here are pictures of the warcaster Kraye, who was painted as a commission piece a while back.

@Arjan, your email address kept giving me an error message, so your question is answered below.

I have gotten quite a few emails about Kraye, so I wanted to share my approach with everyone.

Fur Texture:

The first step in painting horse fur is to paint a foundation without worrying about texture. I basecoat with the midtone color, block in the shadows and then blend them in, and then I layer on the highlights. The blending and layering don’t have to be perfect, since they’ll have a texture painted on top of them. To paint the texture, I use my tiny detail brush. (Windsor Newton series 7 miniature, size 0, 4 years old) The brush strokes are very short. They start on a layer of color they match (i.e. midtone texture would start on the midtone layer) and then I extend the line into the shadow. The fur look is achieved by painting lots and lots of little lines, starting from darkest to lightest, following the foundation I put down initially.

Gold NMM:

NMM is quite tricky, I don’t really follow a strict logic for it – I mess around with it until it looks right. One tip that I have is to make sure that you’ve got all your highlights in the right places before you start blending and layering. So go ahead and paint areas quickly, sort of sketching with paint. It will look streaky and/or blocky. However, if it looks shiny when you squint, then you’re on the right track, and can then smooth the color transitions. This prevents the frustration of having a perfectly blended highlight in the wrong spot.

For gold NMM, I usually have a red color in the darker shades, and I often highlight with a little pale blue mixed in with the lighter yellow. (Though, I have to be careful not to let it look green.) The yellow color isn’t straight yellow; I usually use Yellow Ochre, Brown Ochre, or Dark Flesh from the Vallejo Model Color line.

Freehand Patterns:

As with the fur, using a good brush is crucial for freehand.

I always try to figure out the main element of my pattern on paper, and draw it the size that I want to paint it. For Kraye’s freehand, I had to simplify the Cygnar symbol before I could paint it at that size. Once I have the main theme of the pattern, I look for good places to put it. It needs to be in highly visible locations, like smooth portions of armor, or broad expanses of fabric. Regularity of placement is something that can be disregarded at this point. Once there are no longer good places for the pattern to go, I break it into sections and look for places to put those. I.e, “There’s room for the top half of the swan here.” After that, I fill in the empty spaces with dots, swirly bits and curlicues. The extra detail tricks the eyes into thinking that the pattern is more cohesive than it actually is. Plus it’s really fun to paint dots.

To give it more polished look, I usually finish up with a glaze of the midtone over everything, and a glaze of shadow in the darker parts.

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