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Wren last won the day on December 15 2016

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    Knoxville, TN (formerly Toronto, Canada)

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  1. I like using a fun foam background. It's very matte and has no texture. You can get sheets in the craft store. (This is the same stuff you can buy cut-outs of animals and stuff, then kids use the flat sheets as a background to make little scenes. I think, I don't have kids.) Grey is harder to find, I've only gotten it from Hobby Lobby. I also have black. Any pic on a grey or black background that you've seen from me has been a fun foam sheet.
  2. If HD Solid Black is one of the ones you're having problems with, something may be up with your paint. It covers well in a couple of coats at most. Try popping the dropper tips off a few of the poor coverage bottles and stirring (I use long plastic toothpicks). You'll likely be able to feel if there's a thicker portion at the bottom that is not mixing in with brief hand shaking. (It's good to do this with paints you own once or twice a year, too, especially colours you don't use often. And also take the opportunity to add a bit of water to any that are thickening up.) Paint doesn't have to be old to get gummy. Reaper's paint sales are such that I doubt few Amazon sellers have old paints, though brick and mortar locations might. Miniature paints can also be damaged by cold weather. More than once I've had or heard issues with paint purchased in stores or from Amazon that likely was exposed to cold for an extended period of time in transit or storage from a distributor or seller. At this point I prefer to buy paints directly from Reaper to ensure that they're fresh and have been stored properly.
  3. Hiya, I'm the author of the learn to paint kit guide. Apologies that it's taken me a while to see this query, I was out of town for a fair while on a trip and am only now catching up on forum convos and such. Brushes: Reaper occasionally has to substitute brushes or figures due to stock levels. Both of those things are produced out of the Reaper factory, so they can't just make more on demand as with the paint. I painted and tested the kit with the stated size synthetic brushes that Reaper normally stocks, but unfortunately there can be some variance in the brushes. Colour matching: I try to take and edit my photos to depict colours as accurately as possible, but I'm not a professional photographer, and despite years of attempts and regularly updating my camera, that's an on-going project. In the case of the kits, there's an added layer of the printing process potentially altering some colours. What I would look for more is trying to matching the value (how dark/light) and level of contrast in the examples. I wouldn't call the mixes of Brilliant Red and Marigold peach, but then I've been trying in vain to figure out how to mix peaches I like for years. ;-> It's definitely is not a super vivid orange. I'm looking at one of my test figures against the pictures in the guide, and the guide pics are showing a little more orange than my test figure, but roughly the same value differences. A lot of times people find that highlighting red looks too orange or too pink, so I was aiming for something that was a bit of a middle ground - brighter, but not a big shift in the colour itself. Your pictures look a little less orange and less contrasted than my test figure, but reds are notoriously difficult to photograph, and I'm looking at your photo as translated by my monitor, so there are more layers of translation errors between what's in your hand and what I'm seeing. Number of Coats: Red paints tend to be at least somewhat transparent, so will often need less thinning and/or more coats than many other colours. (This same property can make them a little easier to get a nicely blended result on, so that's one reason I picked red for the starting figure.) 12 coats is too many, though, that's definitely not the expected result! What I suspect is happening is that you're not matching the size of water droplets to the size of paint droplets, so you're ending up with a much higher ratio of water than what I painted with. Paint is more viscous, so it'll dispense from the dropper bottles in smaller drops than water will. You might try putting the drop of water down first and then squeezing out paint drops to try to match it in size. (As you become more comfortable with layering and use the guide under tips and tricks, you'll find it easier and easier to judge whether your paint is the correct dilution by how it behaves on your palette and in test strokes rather than using ratios.) Number of Layers: I generally paint 3-4 shadow layers, and 4-5 highlight layers. Novice painters often find those numbers alarming. ;-> Novice painters also often find high levels of contrast on a figure a little unnatural looking. So when I developed this kit, I worked to find a way to get the idea of layering across in the fewest possible steps on the first figure. You probably noticed that Hajad used more steps for several of his colours. There are also notes under the intro to Hajad and the Tips and Tricks section that you'll often need more layers or more water to make things look smoother, or more steps to create a higher level of contrast. Had the text of the guide not been aimed to be accessible to complete novices to the hobby, I would likely have added an additional final highlight step of straight Marigold to Anirion. (And in fact I did do that in the step by steps for the red areas on Hajad. ;->) Ebony Flesh: It is a potent colour and can be overpowering in mixes. :-< This is another one where matching the size of drops as closely as possible is likely the difference between results. Wash Rings: I did all my painting with straight tap water, and had everyone who tested the instructions for me use straight tap water. None of us had noticeable problems with the washes. :-< However, it may be important to note that the majority of those people tested in my same physical location. So it's possible that differences in local water could be a reason why some people suffer so much more with rings when they do washes than other people do? You came up with a great solution, though. Adding brush-on sealer, flow improver, or Reaper's new Wash Medium will generally solve the problem. (50/50 with water is a good guideline, but sometimes even less than that will help.) Dilution Differences: Maybe it would be helpful for me to outline my process for the kits. After picking figures, my first step is to pick 11 colours I think would work and fit various parameters. Then I take those colours and paint the three figures, making notes of my paint steps and water mixes as I go. I write those up into the step-by-step instructions. Then I reverse the process. I take the step-by-step instructions and paint the three figures again, following the instructions as I've written them, and correcting if something does not seem to work as intended. This is to ensure that I paint through at least once using the dilutions and mixes that I've written out, not my usual painting methods. So as much as I possibly can, I aim to paint the way someone using the kit will. I use the same brushes, and I use a foam plate for a palette instead of my usual porcelain or wet palettes. Once I've got the step-by-steps finished, the next stage is testing. I give my testers the supplies they would get in the kit, a holder for the mini, a water cup, and some paper towels, and load my instructions on an iPad for them to reference. I sit with them while they paint, but I do not talk to them about the instructions, and refuse to answer any questions about the painting process. My goal is to see whether they feel like they understand the instructions and if their results end up looking in the ballpark of mine. For this kit I had a few testers who had some painting experience, and a few who were complete novices. Some had figures that looked a little rougher, but overall they were indeed in the ballpark. Once they've finished painting, they also give me any feedback on areas they felt were confusing or badly worded or whatever and I consider that when making my final edits to the text of the kit instructions. Your Figures: I think your paint jobs look great! The placement of highlights and shadows on the various areas is really well done, and you've clearly got a handle on the concept. Now it's just the on-going challenge of balancing smoothness and contrast, and fine-tuning the technique to what works for you. Some people prefer fewer layer steps and more manipulation with the brush (feathering out the edges, kind of like two brush blending but with one brush), some prefer more steps, people differ on preferences for levels of dilution, etc. Hopefully I've addressed your questions and concerns. If I missed something, just let me know.
  4. Sometimes you need to pop off the dropper, add some water, and stir with something like a long plastic toothpick to get things moving. Then once you get it started the rest is much easier via vortex mixer than by hand! If you can poke into the sludge and it's slightly oozy it's probably possible to safe. A chunk that only gives slightly is a goner. I will note that as I've checked my paints, including super old paints, I have taken to prying off the dropper if the paint comes out at all thick. Sometimes it seems like you get a glob of paint that'll stick up in the neck of the bottle. Even if the bottle feels like the paint shakes up well to the hand, that glob stays up there and dries out faster than the rest. If you check bottles every year or two and mix that glob back into the main mass with a little water, you can prolong the life of your paints. I'm currently experimenting with a theory of making sure that the dropper hole is clear before I recap a bottle of paint after use, to see if that means there's no glob in the neck. Not exactly sure how to test my theory, but there it is. :->
  5. I don't know from the Reaper end why the decision was made to stop doing the one on ones, but my recollection is they did not actually sell out. Sure, the slots with Jen Haley and Derek Schubert were pretty certain to fill, but lots didn't. I found the prospect pretty anxiety inducing, I will confess. The first year I was able to contact the person who purchased my one on one in advance so I had good information about what she was interested in talking about and was able to prepare, so I was okay. The second year my slot didn't sell in advance, and I was stressed out waiting to see if it sold at the door or not, and heaved a big sigh of relief when it didn't. The environment for them wasn't really optimal. That was back at the factory when space was running out, and we did them tucked away in someone's office with a tiny corner of a desk and minimal materials at hand.
  6. I'd probably start by adding a drop of Flow Improver and a drop of Wash Medium (or brush-on sealer) and checking if the transparency and consistency were to my liking. Add another drop of Wash Medium for more transparency, or another drop of Flow Improver for a more watery consistency.
  7. I hope you show us what you come up with!
  8. But at least the colour still exists so you can make a home version of a liner to use it.
  9. There are different sizes of files. I have a few teeny tiny that I bought online once during a file hunt, but they're so small as to be kind of flimsy so I only use them for the tiniest of things if at all. The most versatile files are diamond files. They don't clog up with metal as fast as the hatched metal files. The most useful shapes are half round, round, and crossing (kind of like two shallow half rounds stuck together. Either side is slightly rounded, but there's an edge on each side where the two halves meet.) The crossing file would work well on the plates you're showing, or the end of the half round. That is how I cleaned up the copy I painted for the website. The crossing is also great for filing off lines in between fingers or strands of hair without losing the sculpted depression. I do almost all of my metal cleaning with just files, I'm not super comfortable with knives. (I do like a scalpel better for paring the mould lines off of Bones, and a hobby knife for scraping mould lines off of resin.) Do a Google or eBay search for 2mm diameter diamond files, and that should get you the useful size. Usually they'll come in a 10 pack with other shapes, sometimes you'll find a three pack. You usually need to get the larger pack to get a crossing file. If they're cheap enough, you might buy 2-3 different sets from different manufacturers. Quality and size can differ even with those guidelines, and it's hard to tell what you're getting online sometimes. My best set of files was purchased from the jeweler supplier Rio Grande, but I have decent ones from my online file hunt. I have a larger standard flat file that I use for filing the bottoms of metal bases smooth, that'd take a longer time with a 2mm diamond file! I'd actually like to buy a larger still than what I have for that purpose, but never remember to bother to do that.
  10. And there was much rejoicing!
  11. Usually I prime one or a few things at a time. I'm slow, and the priorities of what I need to paint next can suddenly change. ;->
  12. I should clarify that my priming attempt was made with Reaper brush-on, but I'm leery of trying with the Stynlyrez based on that experience.
  13. Just a note on artist's row - the point of us being there is to be accessible to answer questions. Like Kuro, I don't really have any great expectation of getting much done on personal projects during the show. My work during the show is to teach, judge, and interact with attendees and other artists. We often paint/sculpt in between doing those things, but that's as much to keep busy as anything else. It is unfortunate that the head down work posture (often with bonus face obscured by visual aids) is one that mirrors body language 'go away and leave me' signals. So I think people are often subconsciously reluctant to approach us because of that. :-< In fact I would go so far to say that if you have an encounter with an artist sitting at artist row who seems like they do not want to interact with you in favour of concentrating on their own work, that is something to give a Reaper person feedback on during or after the show. Note that we might have to ask someone to come back later if we're at a tricky part of sculpting/painting/assembling something, or just about to dash off to a class or something. And since we don't have a ton of other places to hang out during the show, someone might need to take some time to make personal calls, or eat lunch or something. And we can't recreate two hour classes for individuals or spend hours and hours with person. So I'm not exactly saying we're completely at the disposal of attendees the whole time and every artist should immediately drop whatever they're doing to talk to someone that minute and for as long as the person wants, but the point of us being there is to be available to people, not to do a ton of painting/sculpting. That doesn't address all the points of the proposal, and I'm not trying to. But the point that introverted attendees are reluctant to talk to artists on artist's row when that's what the artists are there for is an issue that may need to be addressed on the attendee level more than the event/artist level. ;->
  14. My attempt to prime with my GREX required so much cleaning of the airbrush that I went back to brush priming. I have debated buying a cheap Harbor Freight airbrush for priming...
  15. Back in the day when RC was at the shop and artist row was in a separate room (due to space issues), we did used to take shifts sitting and painting at a demo table to have an artist more accessible. This did not seem to notably overcome the introvert reluctance to approach us, at least not on my shifts. ;-> This is not exactly the same thing as what Dixon's proposed, just sharing the experience.