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I'll take a page out of hammer570's book and post a little introduction thread here and show off a few of my preliminary efforts. The very first mini I ever painted was about a year ago, at the very first PAX South. Reaper was there, and I had so much fun I kept going back. I had been wanting to paint a mini ever since Reaper started going to the various PAX shows and had some friends who did it, but it never really seemed to work out with so much else to see and do at PAX. On the last two days of PAX South 2015, I felt like I finally had some time to try it out and pretty much got hooked right away. Since then, I've painted at PAX Prime 2015 and PAX South 2016 which ended just last week. I am really looking forward to Reaper being at PAX East 2016 in a couple months, because I will finally buy some paints and start doing this hobby at home instead of just at PAX. In the meantime I've been getting paintbrushes and other supplies, and planning what sorts of paints I want to start my home collection with. For those not familiar with Reaper's set-up at PAX, basically you get an hour to paint something with a sampling of their paints, and like any good addiction your first mini is free. Understandably, they are very popular, especially later on at the convention when people's feet are tired and they're overstimulated from all the crowds and video games. Sitting down to paint a mini in a fairly quiet area for an hour is very relaxing, and the communal atmosphere is very fun. The time restraint is at times stressful, and the paintbrushes they give you are pretty messed up by the third day, but it's a great challenge and I always enjoy chatting with people around me at the tables and picking up ideas or tips. Honestly, I hope Reaper goes to every PAX forever, because it's become a major part of my PAX experience I look forward to a lot. Anyway, I'm a D&D/Pathfinder kind of guy. I got into this hobby because I want to amass a collection of minis for tabletop RPG, since I'm very often a DM. I don't currently have a group and the last few games I ran were done online using a software table and Skype, but I've recently moved and think I might be able to get a group together again in person. All of these are 60 minute paint jobs. I might've snuck in a little extra time here and there (shhh, don't tell Reaper), but I don't think any of them took more than 80 minutes from sitting down with a blank mini to standing up and walking away, as done as they'll ever be. Would I have liked extra time? Heck yeah, for most of them anyway, especially in the beginning when I was pretty new to all of this. One of the reasons I'm really looking forward to painting at home is that I'll be able to spend more time thinking and working on details. Most of all it'd be great to really let the mini completely dry between painting stuff. I'm not really complaining, though, the 1 hour time limit is really just part of the fun painting at PAX. That said, you can pretty much consider all of these unfinished, and I may revisit most of them in a few months when I've got my own paints. The images are all thumbnails. Click on them and they'll take you to a larger picture. Photographing these was an experience in its own right, but hopefully these pictures turned out alright. So, my very first mini was this guy: 89010 Damiel, Iconic Alchemist He was one of the free minis they were offering at PAX South 2015. I really didn't know what I was doing, and the whole thing ended up pretty paint-by-numbers, as I'd describe it. No blending, just paint colors straight from the bottle. No real technique or anything. I was pleased at the level of detail I was able to do, like the silver buttons, but obviously this is super amateur and mostly the experience was just trying to figure out the mechanics of putting paint on such a tiny little figure. But hey, every journey has to start somewhere, and I was quickly back to paint two more minis I paid for. I'm sure I don't need to tell any of you how addictive this is. This was my next mini: 77059 Orc Berserker (Greatsword) Oh man. This one was a learning experience. The end result I'm actually quite happy with, even if I spent the whole time super stressed out with no idea what colors to use for most of it. If I remember right, I started out with a green skinned orc, but I wasn't really happy with the color, plus I knew the guy was a berserker and berserkers make me think of the color red, or at least reddish. So I switched to making him a sort of reddish brown. You'll note there's no real shading or highlighting on the skin, it's just a mess of painting and re-painting, layer after layer until I got something I could live with, a bit of a nice splotchy effect maybe, but definitely not an advanced technique. The armor plates were also a bit difficult to get right. I didn't want a real shiny pristine armor, that doesn't look right for orcs, but color selections were really quite limited. The only shinies were true silver and gold. I needed to blend. What I settled on, was a sort of shiny purple, a kind of evil-looking fel-forged steel. I accomplished this after I'd already painted it with true silver, by basically layering on every watered-down color I could think of until I thought it looked okay. Every mini I've painted has been a learning experience in some way or another, and the big lesson I learned with this guy was that if you're painting chainmail, true silver is going to look really bad. However, if you water down some black paint and slop it around all over, it'll darken the holes and the chain mail will actually look like chain mail! Go figure. This was also the first mini where I actually tried blending some paints before applying it, to make the dark gray-brown leather gloves and skirt. I also really enjoyed thinking about how this orc might've used his leg spikes and arm spikes to smash in people's faces, and how blood might splash all over his armor on the front and back if he was just wailing on people with that greatsword in an all-out melee. I wanted him to be an orc that even other orcs were afraid of. It was just fun imagining this guy as a living being in a fantasy setting and how he'd fight. I'm really a storyteller at heart (in fact, that's my profession), and the idea that I could paint minis and tell a story with how I painted them was just really cool to experience. If I wasn't hooked before, I was definitely hooked with this guy. Last mini painted of PAX South 2015: 77021 Elf Archer Lindir I was really excited to paint this elf archer. Kudos to Werner Klocke. This thing has tons of little details that really inspired me. As a storyteller, I immediately jumped on the Tolkein-esque idea that elves spend a great deal of time and effort on everything they craft since they live such long lives and are very meditative, from their cities in the trees to the clothing they wear, and even the scabbards for their swords, it's an expression of their cultural values and their way of life to have all these great little details the model provided. So, I immediately thought in terms of layers. On every item this elf is wearing or using, there's a sort of base layer, and then there's this embossed detailed outer pattern. I didn't see anything to make me think this guy was elf nobility, or particularly a hero, he was just a typical elf living in the woods, but elves just do everything nicer than humans so he looks upscale by comparison. This was really a mini about blending paints, and I feel I learned a lot in doing so. In fact I think only his skin, his hair, and the red of his arrow fletching were straight out of the paint bottle. Every brown or green on the guy was a conscious choice I made to create my own blend of paint in just the right shade or tint. I wanted him to look like he'd blend in quite naturally in a forest, either to hunt dinner or hunt invaders in his land. The other thing I wanted to do was make him seem a bit magical. He's an elf, after all. The best way I know to create the impression of magic is to make something shiny. Immediately, I knew I had to make his bow be a blend of gold paint and brown to make it an enchanted bow conferring exceptional aim. The resulting paint was a revelation to me, the idea that I could add shininess to things other than metal was a big deal. If you look closely at the bow I actually did the an extra layer of gold on top for the detail work, so the wood is golden brown and the tips andâ€”I don't know all that much about bowsâ€”rope thingies are even shinier. I added the same gold over-coat to the details on his scabbard and quiver after painting them their own shades of brown. For the cloak and boots (though it's hard to see on the boots) I blended green and dark brown respectively with gold to provide additional highlight to the pattern and take his clothes up a notch, making them fancier than your typical human fantasy wear. There are things I'm not happy with, mostly the face and hair, and had I more time I'd have corrected more of my mistakes and spills, but of the three different figures of my first weekend painting minis, I was definitely the proudest of Lindir. It was the first one I felt, when I was done, that I had fully expressed my vision, at least as well as I could with only an hour to paint. He was a challenge, but it felt awesome when my time was up. PAX Prime 2015 Minis: I spent a lot of time in the Reaper Room at PAX Prime this past year. A lot of time. I don't remember the order in which I did them, but PAX Prime is 4 days long, and I painted minis every single day. I'll just kind of list them in somewhat random order. 89026 Eando Kline This guy immediately struck me as regal in some way. Perhaps the confident way he stood, perhaps the amulet around his neck, perhaps the great deal of plate armor he wore making me think he's at the very least quite wealthy. I decided pretty quickly that I was going to add gold accents to his armor and give him gold buckles on his back pack. I tried to vary the color of his leathers. The biggest problem I have with this guy is the head, obviously it's a mess. I really need to learn how to do hair and faces. Looking at it now under good light, I see a lot of little details I messed up or simply didn't see at the time. I'd paint him pretty much the same color scheme if I was doing him again, I have no regrets on that score, but I'd want to take more time, use better paint brushes, and make sure I got all the details right. 77068 Anirion, Wood Elf Wizard This ended up being one of my favorites. Kudos to Bobby Jackson for such a wonderful design. It's relatively simple, but in a very elegant sort of way. I'm sure I could have shaded it better (or at all) but the folds in the cloak shade the figure for real under normal light. I mainly focused on making the lower half of the cloak look well-traveled-in. I added splotches of mud matching what little of the base there is, giving it almost a camouflage pattern, and kept the color scheme pretty simple from top to bottom. He's named a wizard, but I really thought of him more as a druid of some sort, very in touch with nature, sort of a Radagast type. He's still an elf, so I wanted that flowing blonde hair, and a green color scheme, but this is a guy who's used to trudging through the forest talking with animals and defending it from intruders. I gave him just the barest hint of golden green around the trimmings of the upper part of his cloak, and some gold around the top of his staff, but otherwise he'd be easy to mistake for a simple traveler using a walking stick. This is one I'd love to paint again, several times, in various different color schemes. Perhaps a blue, perhaps a red, perhaps even a gray or silver. This mini seems like it'd be really versatile for a D&D campaign with different paint jobs and I plan on picking up a couple more of these at least. Since the ears are tucked away in that hood, he could easily be a human, too. 77210 Sarah the Seeress Of all the ones I did at PAX Prime 2015, this is probably the one I'm most disappointed in. Between the ridiculous color scheme, and the paint-by-numbers, complete lack of blending or any technique, it's kind of embarrassing to even show this one off. The problem really was time. When I sat down and pulled her out of the blister pack and looked at her, I had no idea what to do with her. Then my mind sort of went to Wonder Woman, and then suddenly I'm painting her red white and blue. I might have pulled this off if I knew how to do hair, and shadowing, but I really don't know how to do that yet. She was also so wet the whole time, it was hard to hold her and find places I could paint without making a mess, and I ended up layering a lot more paint on her than I ever wanted to, just correcting bleed. The only good things I have to say about this one is that I managed to get some of the tiny tiny beads painted red, and I'm happy with how her eyes turned out (I made then pure white, as if some kind of magic is going on and she's seeing the future or something like that). Looking at her now, though, I missed a ton of details and even misinterpreted some of her dress. I would like another go at her someday, with an actual plan and some more experience behind me. 77033 Callie, Female Rogue This one may not photograph too well, but I think it's really cool how she turned out in person. I thought of her as a sort of assassin, attacking in the dead of night, using her very dark cloak and dark leather to sneak up on people and take them out from a rooftop with her signature blue-fletched arrows before vanishing again in the night. Really cool mini, I have to give Gene Van Horne credit here. 77022 Human Ranger, Michelle This is a really awesome mini by Jeff Grace. It's so dynamic and expressive. I immediately thought of a bull fighter dodging a bull, which necessitated me using the bright red cloak lining. Rangers are hunters, and as I painted I told myself a story of this very competent, very experienced female ranger who hunted exotic beasts in far-off lands, as a means of testing herself. Naturally I had to make her hair gray, she's been at this for a very long time, which is why she feels so comfortable on any continent in any environment up against any sort of animal or monster. I also imagined her spending long periods of time studying her prey, developing a strategy, and so for the outside of her cloak I wanted to paint it almost the same as the ground and mottled it subtly. I imagined she would sneak up on a wild beast, using her cloak as camouflage, and then only when she was ready she'd spring up, using the red liner to taunt the beast into charging. At that point she'd expertly strike just the right spot and earn herself another trophy. I didn't want the colors to be too boring, though, so I mixed up the shades of brown used in her leather armor. I thought about how real-world snipers will paint their faces, with lighter colors in the shadows around the eyes, and darker colors on the cheeks and nose, which makes their faces less recognizable as a face, thus making them harder to spot. If you can tell, I made the outer parts of her armor darker and the inner parts lighter, the opposite of what you'd expect, using that same sort of philosophy to trick the viewer and add another subtle bit of camouflage to her outfit. It adds I think just enough texture, while looking plausible for an experienced hunter to wear. 77205 Alistrilee Again kudos to Werner Klocke for another great elf archer. I don't normally think of elves decked out in plate mail, or much armor at all, really. So it was a matter of thinking about the sort of situation in which elves would really gear up and go to war. There'd have to be something pretty serious going on for an army of elf archers in full armor to go off and fight. That made me think about The Lord of the Rings, and the opening scene of The Fellowship of the Ring, when the elves were still in the spring of their society in Middle Earth. I did not want to paint this elf in silver or bronze armor while I was thinking of spring, so I went and used a light green that reminded me of new leaves and then washed it with gold to make it shine. I think it's a pretty surprising choice that stands out, since we don't normally think of armor as being green. For elves, and their magic forges, in some kind of fantasy setting, it does sort of make sense though, right? And with that bold, new-leaf green and gold armor, it needed contrast. Again, I had Lord of the Rings on my mind, specifically the cloaks the Fellowship receives from the elves that make them very stealthy. I made Alistrilee's cloak darker, for more contrast, but I did add some shine to it with some silver paint mixed in to make it seem a bit magical and no doubt they would serve an elf army well in any environment. Lastly, I used orange for the fletching to add a bit more color. I felt it went with the green well and contrasted against the dark gray. 77008 Garrick The Bold I think it looks alright, now, but I really messed this guy up a lot to get to this point. The paint is layered on so thick, quite a bit of detail is lost (look at the helmet), because I just couldn't get it right. Garrick really seemed to me like a paladin. With the tabard and the symbol on his shield, I felt like these were symbols of his deity, and decided his boldness comes from the absolute certainty of his faith. I decided that his armor should reflect the purity of his spirit, and so I set out to achieve a lighter silver. At the same time, and I had a lot of drying issues in the limited time I had to paint him, I needed to darken up the chain mail in various places, and also paint a bold tabard. I ended up changing my mind several times about the tabard, I ended up screwing up the plate every time I tried to get the chain mail right. It was just a disaster at every step of the way. In the end I managed to get the tabard kind of okay, and after the fifth or sixth coat I got the plate silver but a lighter silver, but it's also kind of dulled from the white I added. In the end I had to scramble to get the gold details done but this guy was just a mess. One of these days I'm going to have to redo him with a new mini with a good plan from the start. Okay, well, this post is already crazy long. I'll come back later and show off the last few I did at PAX South 2016. I would like to get feedback on what I've already posted though, and especially advice. Don't worry about hurting my feelings, I really do want you to be merciless so I can learn something here. So far I just have done a bunch of trial-and-error, and while I'm for the most part happy, I know I have a long way to go. I also hope these photographs aren't too bad. I had a little bit of trouble lighting them and I'm not really sure the auto white balance worked especially well. In particular, I'd really like advice on hair and faces. Any tutorials you can point me to would be much appreciated.