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knarthex

What would YOU like to see taught next year

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I would second SirLarpsAlot's suggestion though.  I would totally take that class, especially taught be someone like Aaron, Jess, or Erin (@Corporea) all of whom have a knack for composing pieces that hit you in the "feels".

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32 minutes ago, TaleSpinner said:

I would second SirLarpsAlot's suggestion though.  I would totally take that class, especially taught be someone like Aaron, Jess, or Erin (@Corporea) all of whom have a knack for composing pieces that hit you in the "feels".

 

Composition and visual storytelling are two separate subjects, IMO, though they work with each other.

 

Composition is about drawing the viewer's eye to the places you want it to go, for which there are some pretty well-known principles: removing clutter, minimizing useless space, leading lines, rule of thirds/golden ratio, foreground/middle-ground/background, dynamic imbalance, .... Storytelling is made more effective by a good composition, but the composition won't tell a story by itself.

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By chance, I ran across this article discussing composition today. The context is still photography, which is a framed two-dimensional art form, so you'll need to consider how to convert the principles into 3d unless you're going to do something like a shadow box, but I've found that the composition principles are still useful even for pieces seen in the round (with some modification).

 

https://digital-photography-school.com/video-tips-composition-dos-and-donts-for-creating-better-images/

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21 hours ago, SirLarpsAlot said:

 

Yes. And/or display base composition. I've gotten dinged on it in some aspect all three years I've gone to ReaperCon so I know i need to improve it, there are just precious few resources out there. I've got a couple of "how to build diorama" type books but they're largely concerned with the how to and not the what and why.

 

Justin McCoy taught a class that was pretty close to this back at ReaperCon 2016. It was not specifically diorama focused, but I found it very interesting. He used a lot of examples from both film and paintings.

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21 hours ago, Doug Sundseth said:

 

Composition and visual storytelling are two separate subjects, IMO, though they work with each other.

 

Composition is about drawing the viewer's eye to the places you want it to go, for which there are some pretty well-known principles: removing clutter, minimizing useless space, leading lines, rule of thirds/golden ratio, foreground/middle-ground/background, dynamic imbalance, .... Storytelling is made more effective by a good composition, but the composition won't tell a story by itself.

Mister Justin's Light, Color and Composition class is really good. I took it at Adepticon, but he taught it at ReaperCon this year too. Highly recommended.

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I taught basing my first year, but I don't think it worked out well. I tend to use a lot of examples from fine art, but it boils down to having an idea of what sort of story you want to tell with each mini.  Pretty much anytime I paint something for competition, I have and idea ahead of time about what I want it to say.  This means I approach the whole thing with the story in mind, rather than just painting.  So, I'll pick colors that make sense for the story, or colors based on their meanings/connotations.  Although I do tend to do a little color theory planning and add some contrast in by using complementaries. I'll plan elements that help tell the story.  For example the Jezebel piece I did, I put a little shelf in with cosmetics, since the story in Kings talks about her painting her face. I needed something to balance the other two elements, and that made sense story-wise.

jezebel1.jpg.c55abc233d8b39077b9ccab09307a3c8.jpg

 

I think the little details do two things- they add to the story, and they provide physical elements that help balance the composition. One of the first things I was taught when it comes to composition is finding a way to direct the viewer's eye where you want it to go first.  When we paint, we do this by making the salient points of the mini lighter or brighter- such as the skin tone of the face being highlighted more, or using a bright/saturated color to draw the eye.  We notice reflective surfaces first- so things that are white will attract our attention. 

A triangle is a powerful element of balance for a composition.  

fond01_01.jpg

I like this Canova- because it does some good things composition-wise.  It is made of triangle, and you have two intersecting lines that draw the eye to the center where the two faces are.  Close your eyes and see where they go first on the sculpture.

We can use something like the above to place minis on a field of space, to create a triangle.  Or draw a line from one to the other with elements of basing.  For example in the Jezebel piece- the cloth on the ground is a line pointing to the main figure.

I also like ignoring the edge of a base and continuing my story outside a set area.  This also creates a line, or a break in the continuity of the base which catches the eye.

But I don't know how to teach this per se, except to show examples.  I think it requires a mini first, because each mini has a different story to tell.  I think it can be frustrating to learn, too.

The biggest things to remember are probably limiting the amount of figures and space.  It doesn't require many figures or elements to tell a story. Also, working up, with minis on different levels allows us to create a more powerful triangle without as much space.  I'm a lazy painter.  I want as little surface area as possible to have to cover so I can cover it better!

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9 minutes ago, Corporea said:

But I don't know how to teach this per se, except to show examples.

 

My thought, too. You can discuss "rules" of composition (which can be contradictory), and they'll help. And you can show examples and discuss how the rules were used or why they were ignored in each case, which also helps. But other than that, it's a hard subject to teach.

 

There are lots of composition resources out there, and they mostly have things that can be stolen for miniatures. Here's one with a focus on page layout, which has similarities with what we do as well:

 

https://www.canva.com/learn/visual-design-composition/

 

ETA: I wonder whether a walking class in the painting competition could work? It would have many disadvantages, but at least there would be variety to the subjects that is much harder to come by when only using your own stuff and a tangibility and three-dimensionality that is hard to convey with pictures.

Edited by Doug Sundseth
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Just a note that a couple of the terms Doug mentioned are items you should be able to search to find resources on - leading lines and rule of thirds. In applying those to miniatures, you pick a couple or few main viewing angles to focus on. You want the piece to work as much as possible in the round, but to at least try to make the composition work for the main angle as much as possible.

One thing I think can lead people astray in composing both colour schemes and elements of a scene is getting too caught up in being 'realistic'. A piece needs to _feel_ real to the viewer, it doesn't need to precisely encapsulate every element of the reality of that scene. Some examples of what I mean by that:

 

Size - I've been to a lot of painting contests where you'll see entries that are large in footprint, but have only a few figures in them. Something like a duel or joust, or a party fighting the big bad in a dungeon or cathedral or something. For the former, the creator is thinking about the kind of ground area that it would realistically take for that kind of fight. For the latter, the creator wants to evoke the sense of awe-inspiring space. I completely get where the impulse to do this comes from. But after the first moment of taking in the scale of the piece, the viewer finds themselves looking at a lot of ground or stone or general scenery, and the much smaller amount of story, figures, and action can easily get lost or weakened. It is much more visually effective to condense your action down to the smallest possible area that you can fit your story into.

Colour scheme - painters concerned with realism will often include a lot of differing browns/grays and such on the figure, particularly for fantasy/pre-Industrial characters, because all of their clothes would have been dyed individually and then wear down differently. Again, makes sense in terms of the thought process, but is not the most visually effective approach for something that is also a piece of artwork. A smaller palette of colours and repeating colours throughout the piece in different places is often much more pleasing to the viewer, and can be used to good advantage to help tell the story. (Lighter and brighter colours in areas of interest and action, darker and duller colours used for areas and elements that aren't important, for example.) It's also not as unrealistic as you might imagine to have a more cohesive colour scheme. The colour cast of light that falls over an entire scene and figure(s) affects everything in it, and using a more unified colour scheme helps evoke that idea to the viewer.

 

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I would love to see a panel, likely with a monitor showing miniatures to the audience, where several judges review miniatures and discuss what makes each mini shown good, what could be improved, what they would have liked to have seen.  Essentially, a panel where attendees can get a look at the judging process to better understand how the judging works.  You could use old minis from past competitions, or ask for volunteers ahead of time (heck, I'd give pictures to be critiqued in this way).

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On 10/23/2017 at 12:15 AM, noodlemancer said:

A critique session would be amazing too on Sunday. I learned a lot just following instructors around listening to them give critique to other painters while waiting for them to look at my pieces. I learned what to watch out for in certain things, what works, what doesn't, what judges like to see, etc. To keep it short and get to everyone though, no excuses allowed. 


i agree with this but would extend it to sculptors too! 

I work digitally and would love to get into the industry but very rarely get a response from freelance enquiries. Some kind of review where you could be told where you mini doesn't work, does work and what could be improved. Moreover though, especially how to get the mini...feel. I wish i had a better way to put that but i'm just not sure yet what it is. 

That would be great!

 

6 hours ago, TaleSpinner said:

I would love to see a panel, likely with a monitor showing miniatures to the audience, where several judges review miniatures and discuss what makes each mini shown good, what could be improved, what they would have liked to have seen.  Essentially, a panel where attendees can get a look at the judging process to better understand how the judging works.  You could use old minis from past competitions, or ask for volunteers ahead of time (heck, I'd give pictures to be critiqued in this way).


Absolutely!

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22 hours ago, GreenBeams said:


i agree with this but would extend it to sculptors too! 

I work digitally and would love to get into the industry but very rarely get a response from freelance enquiries. Some kind of review where you could be told where you mini doesn't work, does work and what could be improved. Moreover though, especially how to get the mini...feel. I wish i had a better way to put that but i'm just not sure yet what it is. 

That would be great!

 


Absolutely!

 

I think that this would have to be a separate class. The focus between critiquing painting and sculpting would be very different.

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On 12/4/2017 at 9:16 AM, TaleSpinner said:

I would love to see a panel, likely with a monitor showing miniatures to the audience, where several judges review miniatures and discuss what makes each mini shown good, what could be improved, what they would have liked to have seen.  Essentially, a panel where attendees can get a look at the judging process to better understand how the judging works.  You could use old minis from past competitions, or ask for volunteers ahead of time (heck, I'd give pictures to be critiqued in this way).

I think that past reapercon dioramas could be used,  the pics are on the website....

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Pictures being publicly available doesn't mean that we'd feel comfortable doing public critiques of the work without the knowledge/permission of the artists. I've faced this same problem coming up with examples for classes sometimes. I'll occasionally pass around pictures of work by other artists in a positive context, but reserve the here's what sucks don't do it kind of information for reviews of my own work only.

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35 minutes ago, Wren said:

Pictures being publicly available doesn't mean that we'd feel comfortable doing public critiques of the work without the knowledge/permission of the artists. I've faced this same problem coming up with examples for classes sometimes. I'll occasionally pass around pictures of work by other artists in a positive context, but reserve the here's what sucks don't do it kind of information for reviews of my own work only.

 

Could a few people/judges deliberately paint to certain standards, for the sake of demonstrating negatives? That way you aren't using pieces that had the goal of "being the best" but came up short. 

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