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Wren last won the day on December 15 2016

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About Wren

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  • Birthday 07/13/1967

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    Knoxville, TN (formerly Toronto, Canada)

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  1. Wren

    Reapercon Figures for Non-Con goers?

    This is not an official response, just my best guess based on previous years. In the past, and I would suspect this year, if you purchase a pass in order to obtain a swag bag, you need to be present to pick up the swag bag. Reaper does not ship swag bags to people who do not attend the con. I do not recall if it is possible to have a friend who is attending pick up the bag in your stead, or if you need to show ID to pick up a bag. It is possible to ask friends who are attending to purchase additional Reaper convention swag items for you in the Reaper store that will be onsite. If there are swag bags left after the convention they put those in the online store to sell. I do not think there is any guarantee that post-con swag bags will contain every item available at the convention. (Typically this is more likely to refer to third part vendor swag rather that Reaper figures/paint, but it is information worth noting.)
  2. I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty sure that it's okay to do oils over acrylics, but not vice versa. The golden rule in oil paint is 'fat over lean'. Lean is a water thinned paint like acrylic, or the oil thinned with turps/OMS or similar solvent. Then oil paint from the tube on top of that, then oil paint thinned with oil (for oil painting style glazes) as the top layers. The reason for that is partly the cure times, and partly that the method of curing is completely different. Acrylics cure through evaporation of water. Oil paints cure through oxidation of the oil through contact with air. While they may be touch dry in days, oil paints are not considered to be mostly cured for upwards of months. (Apparently the process never completely stops.) It is recommended to not varnish paintings until six months after painting. There are water miscable oil paints on the market that allow you to use water rather than turps to thin the paints and clean brushes. These are made with a modified oil, and is a rare case in art supplies where there really are notable differences between brands because they each do it differently. From what I've read, you'd consider WSO (water soluble oils) to cure in both ways - first the water evaporates, then the oil in the paint oxidizes. So I think the fat over lean rule would still apply - you'd do watery applications first, then full strength and oil thinned ones over. There is one brand, Holbein Aqua Duo, that claims you can intermix acrylic mediums, paint, and even watercolour paint with their WSO paint. I have some, but I haven't played around with them much in that fashion, and not at all with miniatures. There are painters who use both in the historical miniature painting community. My understanding is they paint skin with oils and other materials with acrylics, so they're not mixing them on the same part of the miniature. It's also fairly common to use some oil washes and such over acrylics for weathering on tanks and things. The painter James Wappel has been experimenting a lot with using oils on miniature gaming figures lately. He has a Patreon page, and also posts videos and blog posts related to many of his painting and base making adventures. This is his blog, and you can find a number of links here to the videos of oil painting on figures he's posted on FB: http://wappellious.blogspot.com/
  3. I think you most likely want a medium product. Matte medium and glazing medium are general art terms that you might find products for. Medium is mostly the clear acrylic binder part of paint. So adding it to paint will dilute the pigment but not the integrity of the paint film. If you look for art/craft store products, you want something that is fairly thin, definitely avoid terms like gel and heavy body. Those are meant to dilute pigment but create impasto effects on canvas paintings. Also if it doesn't say matte, it's as likely as not to be gloss or semi-gloss since most fine art products are not designed to be flat matte unless they say they are. Reaper's Brush-On Sealer is, I suspect, largely medium with some matting agents added. Enough people were using it off-label that Reaper's paint maven saw fit to create the Wash Medium, which is specifically intended for the purpose you seek - to make paint more transparent without making it as watery. Many people use the sealer/medium in combination with water. Used alone it has a more viscous feel like paint straight from the bottle. If you want a little more flow for a wash, use water as well. I often use it to make a glaze that is less watery in consistency and so a bit easier to control. It is definitely very nice for thinning metallics as it keeps the pigments in suspension much better than water. Flow improver pretty much does what it says on the box. ;-> If you have moments where the paint feels a little 'sticky' and like it's reluctant to come off of the brush? That's a moment to add a touch of flow improver. I find that most likely when painting details like freehand or eyes, though back in the day I used some flow improver for most general painting. Using it in quantities that might be necessary to create the level of transparency you seek might have unintended and undesirable side effects. Reaper paints are formulated with a small amount of flow improver in the mix, so you might not find you need any at all with this brand. I have been repeatedly told (by representatives of fine art acrylics) that it is unwise to thin paint with more than 20-25% of water since it might damage the integrity of the acrylic film. And the explanations and arguments for that make sense, as do the warnings of a canvas painter who thinned tube paints down to our kinds of washes and eventually found her paint wiping off when she dusted her canvases. At the same time, I very often use no dilutant other than water and have mixed many a glaze at a ratio of one part paint to five or six parts water and have not noticed any ill effect from that. Though it is probably worth noting that my glazes generally sit on top of layers of much less diluted paint. While my figures do get handled (and I often don't seal them), they are display figures not game figures subjected to extensive handling. So my personal conclusion is that it's best to do extensive thinning like for washes and glazes with at least some medium to be on the safe side, but adding a drop of water to a couple of drops of paint is probably fine both in terms of keeping paint in suspension (at least for Reaper paints) and the integrity of the paint film. Reaper's paint mixer has repeatedly said that the paints are designed to be thinned with water alone, and further are designed to thin down well into layer and glaze consistencies. While there are a few colours that may separate after a time on the palette when mixed with water, the vast majority don't. So if you don't use washes much, you may need nothing at all. She has also repeatedly said that her paint is not formulated to work with floor wax, so I'd advise against the use of Future. ;-> It's been used successfully with Reaper paints, but there are also instances of people finding it to not work well with Reaper paints. I advise an approach of using products in paint that are designed to be used in paint.
  4. I had myself all convinced that I didn't need more dice, and then an hour before the end of the campaign, failed my save!
  5. Wren

    ReaperCon 2017 pictures

    I think we need to have a name that old mini showdown between Bedlam and Angela Imrie...
  6. Wren

    NMM failure

    I literally cried the first time I tried large scale NMM. (Larger than jewelry and the like, small items like that do not require particularly smooth transitions to work well, and in fact need sharper contrast to be visible.) Eventually I found a tutorial where someone started near white and worked the shadows down with glaze consistency mixes. Took quite a while (like 2 hours for my first sword), but I was happier with the results, and eventually I got more control over my blending and didn't need to use super thin paint. I'm not suggesting that's the best method for everyone, just to keep trying things. Try going up from nearly black or down from nearly white. Try different people's techniques. It sounds like you're struggling with the brush/painting as much as the specific technique? Make sure you have good light - some people use two lamps. And magnification if you need it. That would be binocular magnification. Drugstore reading glasses if you don't wear glasses, or some kind of magnifying visor like an OptiVisor or MagEyes if you do. And a good brush (as in the Kolinsky sable watercolour brushes mentioned in numerous other threads) is also more helpful than many people believe it might be until they try one. There is an alternative to smooth. Well, at least one. I've been using this method in my newly-developed NMM class so that people in the class can focus on principles of where to place the lights and shadows without getting too caught up in the blending during class. http://www.necrotales.com/necroTutorials/tut_streak_painting_01.php This is a good video to understand the light aspect of things a bit more.
  7. Wren

    How? Just How? Realistic Face on Bust

    Some of the replies got me wanting to expand on my initial post in this thread. I feel like my initial post sorted started in the middle of an idea. Going back to the beginning of the idea moves beyond the scope of the original question, so I thought about starting a new thread, but this thread has already expanded in scope and I"m lazy. Maybe one day I'll get smart and collect some of these thoughts into a blog or webpage or something. Anyway, on with the thought. I talked about really 'seeing' in my initial post. There's an idea of the hand and the eye as a short form for the main elements of being an artist. The 'hand' represents the tangible, physical elements of the art making process - what tools you use, what mediums, and what techniques - how you use those tools and mediums. Beginner and intermediate artists tend to laser focus on stuff related to the 'hand' side of the equation. You can see that on this very forum - how many discussions about types or brands of brushes, of paint, which technique is the 'best' for getting a smooth blend, etc. And as I enter year three of my learning 2D art adventure, trust me, it's the same there, too. Though I think it may even be amplified in miniature painting for a couple of reasons. One is that not everyone starts here with the idea that they're doing art. A lot of us start painting because we want to play games. And even many of those who get into painting for its own sake are happier thinking of it as a craft than an art for a variety of reasons. Perhaps because of that, we have a lot of more 'left brain' thinkers than you are likely to find in a lot of other artistic areas - we have a lot of computer programmers, engineers, and others in similarly technical fields. They are used to looking at things concretely, using formulae and steps, etc. So they are even more likely to look at painting issues as purely a tools and process situation. The hand stuff matters, but it is really only half of the process. So what is the 'eye' stuff? A lot of it is related to what I talked about in my initial reply - being able to really see something - what colour is this part? Is it lighter or darker here or there? Is the transition between where it's light and it's dark sharp or soft? For drawing, it includes things like how much does this line curve, or what is the angle of this line. So that's how I talked about it in my initial post, but there's more to really look at than a reference photo. The near-universal struggle of the miniature painter with contrast might be a good example. You are painting a figure, and you feel like you've gone super dark in the shadows and light on the highlights, then you post it or bring it to the ReaperCon show or something, and people tell you that you need more contrast. And you might think to yourself that's as much contrast as you like to see on a mini, thank you very much. Meanwhile you are looking at and admiring miniatures by other artists that really do have much darker shadows and/or lighter highlights than what you painted. This issue is not a function of the 'hand' side of things. This is your eye not really being able to 'see' the differences. (And it really is much more difficult to really 'see' something when it's something you've done that you've spent a ton of time looking at.) Now, in this particular example it can be related to 'hand' issues because I think sometimes what happens when people try to add more contrast is that they haven't yet fully mastered blending, so they get more visible harsh transitions and they don't like the look of that and associate it with the greater contrast. If you think that could be happening to you, try squinting when you look at the mini, or take a picture with soft focus, or shrink the picture down to the size of the mini or half of that. If the shadows and lights seem pretty natural and attractive at that level, the contrast is good, you just need a bit more practice with making nice transitions or better placement of exactly where you put the darks and lights so the transition looks more natural. This might go back to the earlier question about trying to do super dark shadows on a face. Those are going to look more noticeably off if they aren't placed where the shapes and structure of the face would dictate based on the light. For an example, go back and look at the last photo that NecroMancer posted on page two. Half of the woman's face is in shadow. But really it's not half in a line down the middle. In the area of her nose and mouth, the shadow is almost a straight line down the middle. But the shadow line makes a half moon curve around her chin. And the straight-ish line of shadow across her forehead is much further over to the right. If you paint the right darkness of that shadow but you put it in a straight line down the forehead, nose, mouth, then chin, it's not going to look right. You as a viewer and everyone else who has ever looked at faces in different lighting conditions is going to see that doesn't look right. The annoying thing about the 'eye' side of the equation is that being able to see that doesn't look right doesn't mean that you can easily figure out exactly about it is wrong. Instead you are likely to seize on the thing you do know that you did differently than your miniatures that you think look fine - you made the shadows way darker than normal. Clearly that level of contrast doesn't work. Why do people keep telling you you need more contrast? This is so frustrating!!! Or maybe like NecroMancer you try using black for the shadow and you put it in the right place. But as previously discussed, the colour in shadows is more nuanced in colour than it can appear, particularly compared to photographs which tend to darken and dull shadows. But that is not necessarily an easy thing to be able to see/puzzle out on your own. So you seize on the one thing you know you did differently - super dark shadows. Clearly that level of contrast doesn't work on miniatures, this is so frustrating!!! It can be very challenging to analyse something and figure that kind of stuff out. But that's how you start developing your eye. The untrained eye sees shadows as black. It sees a face in half shadow and thinks of that as a literal half. It sees blond hair as bright yellow. You have to train your eye, just like you train your hand. Think about the first few miniatures you painted. How difficult it seemed to be to get the paint where you wanted it just for a basecoat. Nevermind painting eyes! Or painting fine lines of shadow for lining or stripes on pirate pants or whatever. Whatever level you're at with your hand, if you've been painting for more than a few figures you have developed your hand to the point where you can do more than you could at first, or you can do what you did initially but faster and with way more ease than on those first few figures. Developing your eye isn't as straightforward, and there aren't as many step by step tips and concrete tricks and so on, but it's even more important if you want to do this at something more than a casual craft level. The books I mentioned originally are a place to start. You can also try just being more conscious about painting in general. Both your own, and assessing other people's. Look at miniatures you like. What do you like about them? Look at figures in styles you wish you could paint. Where are they darker, lighter. How much darker and lighter? For you techy types, use computer aids! Grab a reference photo of a blond and use an eyedropper tool to isolate what colours are really in that hair. Print it out so you can test paints against it to match those colours. Find out if you really are using less contrast than you think you are by making the same kinds of tests with the shadows and highlights of your figure versus one that you admire and think has a nice level of contrast. What colours are in shadows? Bump up the saturation on a reference photo to find out! People talk about inborn talent and such. I think a lot of the people we think of as gifted artists are people who come to a better/quicker understanding about the eye side of things on their own. They may not even do this consciously. A lot of artists are 'right brain' thinkers. They may not be as conscious of their process and less talented at being able to put what they're doing and how they're seeing into words to explain it to other people. The people who are frustrated with all of this seeming artsy-fartsy and intangible are often more left-brain thinkers who will do better if someone can more clearly articulate things and give concrete examples that they can study. Artists you admire aren't necessarily keeping all their best tricks secret, they may just be unable to consciously articulate what you want to know. Great artists are not always great teachers. I happen to be a fairly left brain learner, so I absolutely get the frustration that many experience with this. You aren't going to find a ton of articles and forum posts and so on related to this. You'll get more information if you delve into the fine art side of things, though even there if you're just going by YouTube videos and so on you'll find a lot of people who can't break things down as well as you might like, and spending years learning to draw so you can learn to see so you can paint a better miniature might not be a great time trade-off to everyone. ;-> But keep the idea in the back of your mind that you need to train your eye as much as your hand. Even if you are a left brain thinker and aren't thinking about training your eye at all, if you paint for a period of time, it is likely going to happen to some degree. And your eye and your hand are not going to progress to the same level at the same time. If you start having a period where it feels like everything you paint kind of sucks and you are frustrated and don't understand why - often that is because your eye has leveled up. How you paint hasn't changed. What has changed is that you are looking at what you paint more critically. You're seeing more of the issues that were likely always there. That is a time when you might need to analyse your use of colours (are you just using stock recipes over and over, maybe you've started to see that the yellow isn't working for blond). Maybe you need to analyse your shadow placement. Maybe you're seeing that your blends aren't as smooth as they could be. Go get some of the figures you painted just before you got frustrated and take a really good look at them. Are they truly as good as you remembered them being? If you're now seeing flaws in them, that's a good indication that your eye has leveled up. On the flip side, if you go through a period of thinking that everything you paint is pretty amazing and you've really cracked the code on this miniatures painting thing, there's a good possibility that your hand is currently higher level than your eye. If you vascillate between this looks pretty good and ugh the whole time you're painting a figure, probably your hand and eye are in balance. ;-> I'll give an example of my own experience in case that is helpful. Some years back I painted a miniature for Dark Sword. Jen Haley painted the same miniature. They got posted up to the Dark Sword site at the same time. Jen Haley's figure was obviously better than mine. For years I'd been working on my blending, since I thought that was the main difference between my painting and the painting of the high level painters I admired. But as compared the two miniatures, I did not see a big difference in the level of blending. Mine was maybe 10-15% less nicely blended, but that is not a super significant difference. I even kind of liked the approach I used in painting the hair better than what Jen did. So what _WERE_ the differences? I puzzled on that for a while. I don't think I saw all of the differences for quite a while. But it pushed me in a direction of looking at something other than just the blending, of thinking about elements other than just the 'hand' stuff, and following those paths did eventually lead me to improving my painting. If you'd like to try to give your eye a little workout comparing my figure and Jen's, I'm including the link with the photos below. This is to a commercial site, but my linking is for non-commercial purposes. If it needs to get moderated away, look for the figure called Lady in Waiting #2 in the George RR Martin Masterworks section, or I'll try to come back and post the photos here. (Edit by OneBoot: I did need to remove the link, but the example is very valuable to the discussion, so I put the pictures themselves into Wren's post ) Here is Jen's version: Here is Wren's version: /edit I think Corporea's experience in the Kirill class may have been a similar kind of moment. Kirill uses a LOT of reference material, and he aims to use the tools of a mini painter to replicate textures as exactly as possible on figures. That class was an eye opener in how miniature painters really don't emphasize seeing the way most art forms do. Corporea didn't forget how to paint and suddenly start to suck during the workshop. Her 'hand' skill didn't change at all. More likely her eye was opened up to a whole new world of possibility, and it wanted her hand to apply paint in new ways that felt uncomfortable or that she hadn't quite figured out how to do yet. (I was in that same class, and it was another aha moment like the one I described in the paragraph above for me too!) One final example of what I mean about hand versus eye. I briefly mentioned in my original reply. that you could practice this kind of seeing by trying to replicate someone else's work. So you could grab a photo off of the Reaper store examples or the Show-Off Forum and try to paint the same figure as closely to match as you can. In the fine art world, this is called doing a 'master study', and it's something a lot great artists do. (I mean like the historical greats as well as modern day artists.) A lot of people think of doing a copy as something lame. If you do it as a study, it's a learning experience in a long line of artistic tradition. Think of all the other skills you learned by copying what someone else showed you or did! So how does this demonstrate the hand versus the eye? Someone might make a copy using completely different paint colour bottles (and brands), different brushes, and different brush use techniques than the original artist and still end up with a pretty similar looking result. Or someone might have the exact same tools and techniques and end up with a result that isn't very similar at all. The hand side of things is only one half of the equation! (If you do master studies and post pictures, please note the original artist and that it's a copy for the sake of study when you post.)
  8. Wren

    How? Just How? Realistic Face on Bust

    Sister Mary - Your situation sounds very frustrating and upsetting, and you have every right to feel that way about it! But it also seems like you might putting a lot of pressure on yourself about your inability to do what you want to be able to do right now that I suspect that might not be helping. My statement encompassed a couple of different situations, and is based on many conversations with a lot of painters over the years. I also didn't mean to imply that trying to be good at something is different than having fun with it. What I mean is that different people find fun in different approaches, and sometimes need to stop and check in with themselves to see if what they're doing (or able to do) and their goals match up to be something they're having fun at. I also mean fun as an overall thing. No matter what the hobby or activity that we love and have a ton of fun doing, there are always going to be at least moments of frustration, and sometimes more than moments. One group of people I was talking about includes people who were on a treadmill of feeling like they needed to enter contests and constantly strive to a particular artistic level who one day realized that that was not the type of painting they enjoyed. They get far more fulfillment painting characters for friends, or to fill up a game table, or just spend a pressure free afternoon slapping some paint around. It doesn't mean they don't ever get better or strive to improve, just that constantly chasing a certain standard and going to classes isn't what they enjoy about painting, so why do that? This doesn't sound like your situation, however. Another group includes people who very much do want to continually strive for higher artistic levels and enter contests and so on and who in ideal circumstances find their fun doing so, but for reasons of physical or mental difficulties, or just plain lack of time, are currently unable to put in the kind of work that is required to be able to do that. Those people aren't doing what they _want_ for right now, that's absolutely true. But if they're torturing themselves about not achieving those standards they also aren't really doing anything they _need_ for right now, either. If they aren't able to change the circumstances holding them back from what they want, it might be worth considering changing the goal or their attitude about their goals to be more in line with what they need. For right now. Cyradis has an interesting idea about how taking breaks can be beneficial. It's like the concept that thinking about something all the time isn't necessarily when we'll have the great idea, it'll be in the bath or chopping vegetables or something when your unconscious mind is working in the background putting pieces together. Maybe it would help to step back a little from the things you've studied but you feel are eluding you right now. Try focusing on something you haven't really spent a lot of effort on. Maybe try doing speed painting, or working on sculpting and assembling bases or painting a mini using only four paint colours or other challenges like that. Things that are still in the area of working with miniatures, but not directly related to the things you're trying to do and are feeling frustrated by. I'm a display painter, but I ended up doing some speed painting a couple of years ago for two separate projects. The results of the painting itself are no great shakes, and there are lots of people who could have done as well or better in less time. But I learned a lot from the experiences that has informed and improved my overall painting. I can say the same thing of other exercises and activities that weren't directly related to my larger painting goals, but ended up being tremendous learning experiences.
  9. Wren

    How? Just How? Realistic Face on Bust

    Don't think of it as giving up, think of it as doing what you want to do for right now. One of the class topics I teach is called Level Up. And one of the first thing I discuss is to think about whether you really want to Level Up. And by 'really want' I mean to put the hard, frustrating work it takes to do so in. And that it's perfectly a-okay if the answer to that question is no! Whether that no is no right now, or no not in general. It's okay for painting to be a hobby and something that you do for fun, and to decide only to do it in a way that is fun for you. The fact that other people are being tortured artist about it does not in any way negate the okayness of someone deciding to stick to the fun! What I think is less okay and I try to encourage people to avoid is to longingly want to be artsy about it but unwilling or unable to put in the time and effort that is required to do that. (After all, a lot of people have jobs and families and other commitments that preclude being able to spend a ton of time on mini painting practice and study.) That's just torturing yourself to no purpose.
  10. Wren

    Travelling with minis

    I regularly do some of the things people have mentioned having trouble with, so I thought I'd chime in. I travel by air to at least two and occasionally three or more conventions a year. If I can, my preferred method of travel is to wrap figures in bubble wrap and put them in hard sided pencil cases at the bottom of my carryon backpack. Painted Bones I'll just fit into the gaps around the bubble wrap since they only need to be immobilized to travel safely. Once or twice I've had it scan as something odd and have to be checked. (There was one occasion where the wrapped figures plus a couple of loose unpainted metal figures and some other things in my backpack gathered together in such a way as to appear like an arrowhead on the scanner.) On that occasion they unpacked the bag enough to scan and see not an arrowhead. I've had them open up the plastic container to look, and I think maybe once I was asked to unroll the bubblewrap on a figure, but the majority of the time no one even looks in my backpack. If there are resin figures, fragile basework, or too many/too large of figures for that solution, my second best preferred method is the clear plexiglass fronted Tablewar case. I fly out of a city only served by small regional jets, so the smallest size of this case is what fits easily under a seat or in the overhead compartment. I think it's possible the next size up would also fit in the overhead, but I'd measure and check with the airline before I bought one. The TSA agents look in the case and can plainly see this was something that took some effort to do. I've had my case (inside and out) swabbed, but it was done with care. Prior to that I had a wooden case with no transparent elements. It was less obvious what the contents were, so more likely to be opened inappropriately. I didn't end up having any problems personally, but I do have friends who've had things opened in such a way that minis fell out. There's no 100% solution unfortunately. I also at least once traveled with a briefcase that had divider sections, and I placed the minis wrapped in bubblewrap with those. I think that may have been the time I was asked to unwrap a figure. Every solution I've used I've regularly been swabbed for drugs or explosives or whatever they're swabbing for, but I've been getting my stuff swabbed when I fly since before 9/11, so there's just something about me that says rampant drug use I guess! ;-> I only put things I would not miss very much into my checked luggage. That is too much trust for me. I try to not even put unpainted resin or metal masters in there.
  11. Wren

    Fixing "Fishhooking" on brush

    You don't have to boil them directly. I pour boiling water into a glass dish, dip the brush in and roll it against the side and then pull it out. But I second the recommendation to buy a quality brush. No synthetic currently on the market can get (or keep) that pinpoint fine tip of a good Kolinsky. You don't need it for everything in painting, but there's a lot of things that are easier with it, and some you likely can't do at all without it.
  12. Wren

    How? Just How? Realistic Face on Bust

    For the deep shadows on human skin. Part of it is just being brave and doing it, which it sounds like you've already been trying so good on you, you're ahead of lots of the rest of us who chicken out! Dontfear has given excellent advice. While photos can be a great reference for where to put shadows and highlights, you might benefit from studying other kinds of reference for figuring out the colour. Look at real people for a start. Maybe your wife would be willing to sit for you while you move a lamp around and study how the shadows look on her skin. You might also study how other artists have addressed the issue, both in paintings and on miniatures. Banshee works with very dramatic and colourful lighting and has dozens of versions of a bust he's painted that are an interesting look at different ways to approach shadows and highlights on a face. http://www.puttyandpaint.com/BansheeArtStudio The simple method would be to use whatever you normally do to shadow skin, just keep going with much darker versions of those colours. So if you're using Reaper paints and you normally would shadow a midtone skin with Tanned Shadow, say, keep going down to Dark Skin or even Dark Skin Shadow. Or take your darkest skin colour and start mixing in Brown Liner or Blue liner, or a purply dark like Dark Elf Shadow or Dusky Skin Shadow. As you start getting comfortable with the different look of the very dark shadows on a figure, keep studying your reference. You'll hopefully be starting to see that shadows have a lot more colour in them than you think at first glance - colours from nearby objects, often. You could also try taking photographs and bumping the saturation way up to see some of these 'hidden' colours. Or just add colour even if you don't see it. Art is a way of filtering what you see in the world through your eyes. And if you see, or want to see, more colour, you'll be in company with a lot of fine artists! I love mixing colour into the shadows of my skintones when painting. Purples usually work very well (Imperial Purple is a favourite), but I've also used greens like Military Green, and even Burgandy Wine.
  13. Wren

    How? Just How? Realistic Face on Bust

    The thing about looking at the real thing is that it encompasses so much more than just that statement. Being able to really _see_ something is at the heart of what sets apart the great artists. We always get caught up in the materials and techniques, and sure you need knowledge and practice on that side of things, but half or more of the stuff that blows you away is someone really _seeing_. So to try to expand on what that simple statement of looking at the real thing is. You have to look, and you have to analyse. Where is the skin (or whatever object) darker or lighter? Where is it the same value but a different colour? What exactly is that colour? Is the transition from one value or colour to another sharp or gradual or in between? Then pick out a few of those elements and think how might I replicate that with brush and paint on a bust? So then try that on a figure, and then analyse your result. What is and isn't like your reference? What is wrong about the areas that aren't like your reference? Then start over and try that again, whether with the same reference or something new. You do that a while, and then likely one day you wake up and you look at some reference and you find you SEE even more than you ever saw before. It's like there are elements you literally didn't see existing previously So then you analyse what you see now, and try to replicate it, and analyse how well you did replicating it and where you went on, and so on in a cycle that is very likely infinite. (You can also do this analysing and copying works of art by other artists. So you could try to copy this exact bust from the reference photos of it.) At least so far this has been my experience in attempting to do 2D art, and in wishing I had one much more along those lines when learning to paint miniatures. Now all of that may sound easy and obvious. The problem is there's a part of our brains that wants to turn everything into short cuts and symbols and which gets bored with the whole process. That part is kind of like your computer desktop or phone screen. If you say mail, it pops a picture of a generic envelope in your head like the icon for a mail program. If you say tree, it's a straight stick with a round ball on top of it, or slight variation thereof. If you say I wanna paint blond hair on this mini it makes you pull out the yellow paint, even though if you stop and really look at blond hair you'll discover there's practically no true yellow in it. That part of your brain wants to categorize and file away so it can move on to the next problem. It's terrible at really seeing, but it's the part usually in charge, and it can be really hard to get that part of your brain out of the way so you can start looking. I can think of two books that are geared towards helping artists see better that you could look into if you really want to try to start seeing better in an attempt to start painting more realistically. One is the classic Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. It's full of exercises that distract the part of your brain that wants to deal with quick symbols so that you can start to really look at and see things. I haven't spent as much time with it yet, but I am also inclined to recommend Your Artist's Brain by Carl Purcell. One reason is that he spends time on rendering as well as drawing. (Rendering is doing the shading and so on. As mini painters we already have the 'drawing', we just want to colour it in better. I think it's worth learning to draw for the learning to see aspect if nothing else, but a book that includes more about rendering might have more appeal to mini painters. Also it can help to have different people explaining the same concepts.)
  14. I prime my base rims, so applying directly to plastic wouldn't have contributed to the issue I had in the past, but that was definitely a good thing to mention for general info!
  15. Wren

    Paint brushes

    Hm, trying to think of a reliable way to tell! Some of the companies who make synthetic brushes take the effort to make the bristles to look a lot like real hair bristles. If the bristles are (or were) white/orange/yellow, that's synthetic. (There are white natural hog bristles and probably other natural hairs that may be other colours, but people are unlikely to buy those for painting minis.) Sable brushes generally look golden tan to brown, and a little lighter near the ferrule than at the tip. That colour variation won't be as uniform as on one of the synthetics made to look like real hair brushes. (Though some of them are made cunningly well.) If they form a hook, that's synthetic. If the bristle head gets super bushy when it's dry but then smooths down to a nice clean point when it's wet, that's probably a natural hair brush. Real sables are less likely to permanently change bristle colour due to dying from paint, whereas synthetic bristles often discolour pretty quickly when you use staining paint colours. Those are usually blues and greens. Note that that isn't necessarily paint left in the bristles, there are just some pigments that are very staining. Just ask my carpet from that one time I was adding water to a thickened paint and had an incident...