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MSP Open Judging - What you were afraid to ask


Heisler
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I imagine it depends on the project. And how long it would take Kris to knock it off the base :)

 

I was going to say something along the lines of the only detraction I can see being increased fear of damaging the piece. (Or being near Kris when he does it. ;->)

 

 

Right, so a sub-title to the piece "Kris is not allowed to touch" would be in order.  :;):  :devil:

 

 

Really, I just happen to be the first person to find out that the mini is not physically attached to its fancy base. Remember if you put your mini on a wood base judges use that as a handle!

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It's sometimes hard to remember that you're there to get critiqued and complimented really. I think as painters we like being told "You do this well" though personally the "This REALLY needs work" is a tougher, even if accurate statement "Higher highlights, darker shadows, smoother blends" So say we all. I like playin' with freehand myself, its a balance issue of wanting to improve that, and smoother transitions.

One thing to remember is that at home, in our local FLGS, or our quasi-regional painting groups we organize, we (you, not me) tend to be the best painter of that group. Your semi-weekly RPG group for which you paint all the PCs? You're light years ahead of the others. Your FLGS has a painting contest? You win hands down. Every time. And then you get to ReaperCon and all the flaws your FLGS & RPG-mates didn't see are obvious. And your technique that's 80% perfect and so much better than everyone else? Now you're competing alongside 95%ers. So many of us walk away from these challenges disillusioned, because our small sample size we used for comparison turned out to be hindering our growth by not offering us challenges.

 

You, not me, because I have no illusions. The best mini i ever painted didn't even get a bronze, and I'm comfortable knowing that about myself.

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You, not me, because I have no illusions. The best mini i ever painted didn't even get a bronze, and I'm comfortable knowing that about myself.

 

This comment is very important I think.  I am in the same boat as Bryan!  I know I don't have the time (and possibly talent) to paint to the levels that get awards.  People always seem surprised that I don't enter something.  And it is just for this reason.  I am comfortable painting to the level I do and ENJOY doing it.  For some reason I think if I got all tied up in the need for a gold/silver/bronze then it would cease being fun and start being work!  I have enough work to do elsewhere, painting is supposed to be a distraction from that.  Plus ReaperCon gives me the ability to talk to other better painters and get real feedback without entering something.  In fact I find it nice talking to the artists at the tables more casually as well as others of you out there whose painting I really like.  That is my feedback!

Edited by Harrek
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I have never (yet) entered a competition. (Except Sie ForeScale... does that count?)

 

I am currently painting to improve my technique so I feel I can enter with something I can say "This is good." My current project, though daunting, is something like that.

 

I follow enough people on here and Facebook to know my skills are no where close to where I'd like to be. I'm not sure they ever will be. However, I am not letting the talent of others drag me down. Instead, I look to them for inspiration, to say "I'm not that good, but how would I paint this?" or "Neat effect/color combination. I need to remember this."

 

And, as a result, I have improved. ^_^

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I have promised myself that I would try to improve my painting with each new mini I paint.

Classes at Con should help with this, IF I can synthesize all of the things that I learned, with my current style.

I think, that when I get back to doing people instead of vehicles, it will be a question of trying X method with what I already do.

Then adding in Y method etc...

And if X doesn't work out, then try Y, or Z even....

I do have the 15mm tank commanders to try stuff on though....

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Painting Miniatures is not a race.  It is a journey.  When comparing yourself to others, you should only be looking at milestones you want to achieve.  The progress is made in daily segments of variable intensity and duration.  Sometimes there are detours around things, walls to climb or vistas to take a sidepath and see.  In the end though, we are all climbing a mountain together, through forests, valleys and across rivers and lakes. Somedays there are clouds or rain, somedays there is sunshine and the roar of a waterfall or a bear.  I am climbing this mountain because I enjoy it.  I don't expect to find myself alone at the top... in fact, I think I will find stages where there are meadows with butterflies and flowers and friends who have paused along the way to share the stories of their journey.  I only hope I never become too feeble of mind or body or too shortsighted to lose sight of the path. How many steps are there? I don't know.  Perhaps ten thousand, perhaps a hundred thousand.  I don't know that I will recognize the end when I get there as I'm not on the journey to find a destination, I'm on a journey to explore my soul and pass through my imagination and find people to share them with.

Edited by Grayfax
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I have promised myself that I would try to improve my painting with each new mini I paint.

Classes at Con should help with this, IF I can synthesize all of the things that I learned, with my current style.

I think, that when I get back to doing people instead of vehicles, it will be a question of trying X method with what I already do.

Then adding in Y method etc...

And if X doesn't work out, then try Y, or Z even....

I do have the 15mm tank commanders to try stuff on though....

 

You can try it but there is a world of difference between working on a 28mm and 15mm from a competition perspective so don't get frustrated. Most 28mm techniques just don't work well on 15mm (although I have certainly scene some 15mm stuff that would totally blow you away, including some from Jen Haley that I had no idea were 15mm when I first saw them). The biggest issue you will run into is the quality of the sculpting, most of the things that you would try and emphasis just don't exist on most (not all) 15mm sculpts especially those from Battle Front (I'm guessing these are some Team Yankee tank commanders).

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I have promised myself that I would try to improve my painting with each new mini I paint.

Classes at Con should help with this, IF I can synthesize all of the things that I learned, with my current style.

I think, that when I get back to doing people instead of vehicles, it will be a question of trying X method with what I already do.

Then adding in Y method etc...

And if X doesn't work out, then try Y, or Z even....

I do have the 15mm tank commanders to try stuff on though....

You can try it but there is a world of difference between working on a 28mm and 15mm from a competition perspective so don't get frustrated. Most 28mm techniques just don't work well on 15mm (although I have certainly scene some 15mm stuff that would totally blow you away, including some from Jen Haley that I had no idea were 15mm when I first saw them). The biggest issue you will run into is the quality of the sculpting, most of the things that you would try and emphasis just don't exist on most (not all) 15mm sculpts especially those from Battle Front (I'm guessing these are some Team Yankee tank commanders).
That's what they are, but I am going to try more than basescoat, wash, and dry brush, which is what I usually do with 15mm men...

These are also not for competition, but for a friend.

If I can maybe add 1 shade, or 1 highlight to each color, it will be a victory!

Ritterkreig over on the FoW forums does all the bells and whistles...

Sleeve cuffs, medals, 5 o clock shadow etc...

Edited by knarthex
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I have promised myself that I would try to improve my painting with each new mini I paint.

Classes at Con should help with this, IF I can synthesize all of the things that I learned, with my current style.

I think, that when I get back to doing people instead of vehicles, it will be a question of trying X method with what I already do.

Then adding in Y method etc...

And if X doesn't work out, then try Y, or Z even....

I do have the 15mm tank commanders to try stuff on though....

You can try it but there is a world of difference between working on a 28mm and 15mm from a competition perspective so don't get frustrated. Most 28mm techniques just don't work well on 15mm (although I have certainly scene some 15mm stuff that would totally blow you away, including some from Jen Haley that I had no idea were 15mm when I first saw them). The biggest issue you will run into is the quality of the sculpting, most of the things that you would try and emphasis just don't exist on most (not all) 15mm sculpts especially those from Battle Front (I'm guessing these are some Team Yankee tank commanders).
That's what they are, but I am going to try more than basescoat, wash, and dry brush, which is what I usually do with 15mm men...

These are also not for competition, but for a friend.

If I can maybe add 1 shade, or 1 highlight to each color, it will be a victory!

Ritterkreig over on the FoW forums does all the bells and whistles...

Sleeve cuffs, medals, 5 o clock shadow etc...

 

 I have seen his work and like I said some guys do stunning work.  And adding a shade and a highlight is certainly possible, I have done it on my Africa Korps troops. I have even done armbands, the issue is that it won't necessarily translate up well to 28mm, without a lot of extra work. My opinion is that you would going the extra shade and highlight is well worth trying on 15mm. If your plans are to compete in 15mm at Reaper Con (certainly doable) then concentrate solely on that don't switch back and forth. Otherwise I would recommend getting a box of plastic 28mm and working your way through those. At the end you have some really nice 28mm for some skirmish gaming for Bolt Action or Chain of Command or Frontline Command.

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Thanks Heisler!

15mm is for gaming pieces, no real plans to try for out and out competition works there...

I just don't want to forget everything I learned at con, but I need to get these guys done for my friend, and this way I can practice at least some of the techniques I learned...

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On 11/8/2016 at 8:30 AM, Reaperbryan said:

One thing to remember is that at home, in our local FLGS, or our quasi-regional painting groups we organize, we (you, not me) tend to be the best painter of that group. Your semi-weekly RPG group for which you paint all the PCs? You're light years ahead of the others. Your FLGS has a painting contest? You win hands down. Every time. And then you get to ReaperCon and all the flaws your FLGS & RPG-mates didn't see are obvious. And your technique that's 80% perfect and so much better than everyone else? Now you're competing alongside 95%ers. So many of us walk away from these challenges disillusioned, because our small sample size we used for comparison turned out to be hindering our growth by not offering us challenges.

 

You, not me, because I have no illusions. The best mini i ever painted didn't even get a bronze, and I'm comfortable knowing that about myself.

 

 

Yeah, there's a level of painter that I like to refer to as "Best army at the game store."  It means a person paints well, but at a level that doesn't compare to the top painters at Reapercon, Gencon, Adepticon, Salute, etc.  And I think almost all of the top painters spent some time at that level before they were able to step it up.
 

I found the remedy for this in classes.  When I started taking some of the intermediate and advanced classes from the best of the best, I found that I got a lot better.  Especially pay attention to the things they teach that are a bit off topic.  And take every bit of feedback from the judges very seriously and incorporate it into your next set of entries.

For me, my wife learned to criticize miniatures from the feedback I got, and I ended up some extremely high end sounding board for all of my entries.

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On 11/1/2016 at 8:18 PM, Wren said:

I'll add a few thoughts from the judge's side of the experience.

 

I prefer to give higher than lower scores. I don't mean that I score up (I think Kris' stat keeping puts me thoroughly in the Goldilocks range of judges, not too tough, not too soft). What I mean is that I know people have worked hard on their entries, and I'm very conscious while judging that lower scores are likely to be disappointing. I'd prefer to make people as happy as I can. So I take a long look and a hard think to make sure before I write down a lower score. 

 

I am more likely to overcompensate in an effort to be fair to someone I might not like so much as a person. Those are rare cases, I'm not one to take against people, but it happens. Usually when I call for the alternate is when I've given a fair amount of feedback to the artist during the WIP stage, since it's hard to look at something you're pretty familiar with with fresh eyes.

For the people who prefer a more subtle or realistic style who receive comments about contrast... Contrast covers a whole whack of stuff. It's not just deeper shadows and brighter highlights, though that is often an issue in our field of painting. Just as important is where you put those highlights and shadows, and in what amount. It's counter-intuitive, but if you have wide areas of shadow and highlight and a fairly small area of midtone, the piece appears to have lower contrast. If you have a broad area of midtone and the really dark shadows and really bright highlights are kept to very small areas, that's when you start to get the 'pop' people talk about, and it doesn't necessarily look cartoony or extreme. Applying highlights and shadows in a very even fashion over the piece also dampens contrast. (What I mean is, highlighting/shading every cloak peak/depression up to the same level.) If shallower peaks and folds get softer highlights and shadows, the darker shadows and brighter highlights on the more dramatic folds have more effective contrast. To be able to control placement to that degree, plus paint smoothly (or with whatever texture is appropriate to the material), plus have the eye to know how dark/light to go where, is no small feat, and that's why it's the kind of thing that starts bumping you up the medal track when you start to pull it off. 

You can create a different kind of contrast with the colours used in shadows and highlights, as well as what basecoat colours are used in different areas. The Europeans do this a LOT, and it may not be obvious to spot. Contrast can also be created by varying the saturation level of colours, though that's a little trickier. Once I started using more colour variation in my shadows, as well as the placement stuff I talked about above, I found I did not need to use highlight mixes near white and shadow mixes near black to get an effective level of contrast in my piece. 

Another issue is that it's common for beginner and intermediate painters to make all their midtones midtones. ;-> What I mean is, if you painted on all the basecoats and took a black and white picture, the various areas would appear as fairly similar shades of gray. It helps a lot to put a medium value colour next to a darker or lighter one and visually split up the areas of the miniature in that way. Black/darklining helps in a similar way. Our figures are small, anything we can do to help the viewer identify what the figure is and where and what the various portions of it are (clothes vs. weapon vs backpack, etc.) helps. Likewise, the small size means we do need to exaggerate a little on contrast for it to 'read' more easily to the viewer. Remember that when you are painting you are looking at something for hours, usually under bright light, and often with magnification. To catch someone's eye on a contest table/cabinet, forum post, CMON entry, etc., remember that that person's initial look is going to be a few moments. You need to hook them in those moments, and contrast is a very effective worm to bait your hook with. Then they want to look closer and start seeing your subtly of brushwork, the details of the story in your diorama, etc. 

So the comment 'needs more contrast' can actually be covering a lot of ground in terms of what we're doing with paint, and you may need to do some thinking to figure out which of those might best apply to your situation. Everything we're doing can be summed up to trying to recreate the way light behaves on various materials and textures, where it makes things lighter and darker. Doing that is a rest of your life kind of project as a painter. It involves leveling up your eye and your colour sense as well as your painting hand. 

I would also suggest this exercise to people who are nervous about too much contrast or being unrealistic or cartoony - are you really painting in the way you like looking at? Download the pictures from your piece at the show, and then 5-10 pictures of pieces you like from other artists that feel are in the kind of style you paint. Put them in a graphics program (GIMP is a nice free one). There should be a little eyedropper tool. You can put the tip of the eyedropper onto a colour and get a little sample of it, then paint that sample into a blank page document. Now go through the figures by other artists and pick out some of their darkest shadows and brightest highlights, then do the same with the picture(s) of your work. You may find that you are not painting as much contrast in your own work as you are comfortable with seeing on other people's. 

I have been tearing my hair out because “moar contrast” is literally the only advice I’ve been given, but no recommendations other than “use a wash!” Have been offered, and I was already implementing that. Thank you so much for breaking this down. I’m so excited for my next mini. I’m going to work very hard at this. 

Edited by OmenKitten
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