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Reapercon 2019 Class Reviews

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I took 5 classes and am happy to provide reviews and feedback on all. For a little background on my skillset, I have been painted about 3 years, mostly to "tabletop" standard and not very seriously. I have previous experience with watercolor painting (before painting miniatures), and I think that helps me with blending, even though I don't have formal "training" on how to blend. I've done minimal work with milliput, handled green stuff about half a dozen times in my life, and enjoy building terrain sets from foam. 

 

#1 - Skin Deep with Erin Hartwell - Thursday, 10 AM

This was hands down my favorite, best class of the weekend. Erin did a great job teaching. She also provided a multi-page handout and a separate "face map" page to help us visualize. She used deep dark colors to encourage us out of our comfort zone. She asked us to gather around for demonstrations, but also went around individually to offer feedback to each person while we were working on what was discussed. She also walked around with a miniature to demonstrate steps if needed to each person. While the class is dependent on blending, I don't feel like previous blending experience is necessarily required if a painter can pick things like that up quickly. Erin went over two different blending methods (wet-blending and glazing) in the class to help people find what worked best for them. I came out of the class much more confident on blending skin tones and putting more contrast into the skin. I took the information learned in this class to my MSP Open entry, which I painted in 2 hours on Friday getting in just in time. I honestly don't think I could have gotten Bronze without this class. The skin on the face of the chibi model was one of the biggest pieces of praise I got from the judges of my model and I credit Erin's class for nearly all of it. 1000% would recommend to anyone, though some experience in blending or at least an aptitude for learning that sort of thing would probably be helpful. I don't think it's necessarily required to get something out of the class. Basically, I can't say enough about this class or about Erin and I feel that I owe my Bronze in Painters to her this year. I even made the practice mini from her class my profile image!

 

#2 - Sculpting Details in Putty with Bob Ridolfi and Julie Guthrie - Friday, 10 AM

I didn't know what to expect from this class when I joined, but the instruction and atmosphere was pleasant and I came out knowing more than when I entered. We were given two Bones models and some green stuff, along with some tools hand made by Julie for the class. The class started with a discussion of green stuff and its properties. We went over how to add straps to models, adding bags to the straps, how to make pouches, how to build on sword/weapon blanks, creating scale textures, and adding hair to a model. The class was fairly freeform, taking into account the goals of the students and their experience. Julie sculpted examples while talking through it and then Bob walked around with the piece to show to each student, occasionally answering questions, before it made it back around to Julie to go onto the next step. The freeform structure could be a little rough, but it offered us all an opportunity to steer the class and glean the information we were most interested in from these amazing artists. Bob and Julie were extremely open in talking about techniques, tools, and were basically open books for the class. I enjoyed it and hope to expand my sculpting skills in the future. I wish I could have snagged one of those tools after all their classes were over, but I didn't have any cash on hand. Oh well. Maybe next time. Or maybe I can make my own from poultry needles too.

 

#3 - Intermediate Basing for Miniatures and Models with Lyn Stahl - Friday, 9 PM (Night Owl)

This was my most disappointing class. With a name like "Intermediate", I expected to learn something. The class was scheduled for 1 hour, 45 minutes like all the others but it was really 20 minutes of her talking about a "shopping list" of things to use when making bases and their properties, most of which I knew already, and then a simple 5 minute instruction on 3 different types of bases, which we were left to complete on our own. The classroom was starting to empty after 45 minutes and at 1 hour into the class, I was the last one left. I did create 2 bases that I'm happy with, but I don't think that I needed this class to do it. Simply seeing a picture of the base and having a base form, some green stuff, and a tool would have been enough for me to have the same results. After sending us to make our bases, Lyn sat in the corner on her phone, though she was available for questions. She made it clear repeatedly that she had more meetings to attend after this class and that we shouldn't expect it to last the whole time. Honestly, it felt like I was a burden just by being there. Others there, when asked for feedback on the class, stated that they thought the class would be something else or that there would be more to it. I wasn't the only one that didn't learn much and I don't have much experience with basing anyway. This class needs to be renamed. It's misleading as "intermediate". This is a beginner class. I would not recommend this class to anyone hoping to learn anything unique about basing beyond putting a wood plank or stone texture into green stuff. I do not plan to take any other classes by this instructor ever again. Not worth $20.

 

#4 - Bones Mashup! - Saturday, 10 AM

This was the only class my husband and I got to do together and it was probably the most fun. I'm not sure in terms of learning that this class is anything special, but it is completely creative and carefree and fun! There's several large bins of Bones that are placed on a table. You get super glue, snips of various sizes, and a extendable hobby knife. The only rule is "no blood". And that's basically it. You find pieces, cut them apart, glue them together, and are basically a mad plastic scientist for 2 hours. There are lots of great sculptors in this room as well, and their jibes and banter and conversation was just about as fun as smashing together pieces of plastic to create something new and terrifying. We both had a blast and hands down recommend it to anyone. This will be our most sought class for next year. 

 

#5 - Painting Flesh - Pushing Paint with Michael Klieman, Saturday, 1 PM

I enjoyed this class. We each got a barbarian type Bones model and a piece of primed heavy cardstock. Michael went over his glazing technique with everyone, demonstrating his preferred paint to water ratio and letting everyone practice on the primed card before moving on to the mini. He also provided a helpful single-page printout to demonstrate good and bad example photographs on a similar card, with notes on why they were bad (too much water, etc). He went around and gave feedback to each person regarding the amount of water to paint they were using or how they were holding the brush, the speed of their strokes, etc. The individual feedback was nice. We then base coated the mini and started building up layers by glazing to define each muscle. Starting with the darkest colors, we pushed our glaze layers into the cracks between muscles and leaving more paint on the bottom sides of the muscles. We worked up to progressively lighter shades of color. I'm not sure if I have the technique down, but Michael was open in his feedback and offered individual helpful advice. Contrast is clearly a key here, and keeping pieces of the previous layer for smooth blends. I feel like I did get a lot of useful information out of this class, but I'm not sure glazing is my preferred painting technique, so I don't know if I'd take it again. I don't regret taking it and would recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about "pushing paint" around in thin glazing layers. 

 

My husband also has some feedback on his 8 (yes, eight!) classes, but he doesn't want to write them himself. I may come back to share some minimal thoughts on his classes, though our Bones Mashup experience was shared and more or less the same. I hope these reviews help!

Edited by Dicey
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I took 8 (as is typical for me), I won't write much because  it would take more time than I really have. Feel free to ask if you are interested in knowing more about a particular class and I'd be happy to expound on it.

 

Thursday
Layering and Feathering - Markon: A back-to-basics class for me, Ian never disappoints. A good class for newer painters or those looking to refine their basics.
Intro to sculpting - Mason: My first class with Tom, I was quite pleased to sculpt something that wasn't a complete disaster. I'm even planning to try my hand at a full figure soon. Recommend for those who have been dabbling in sculpting and need the next step. 
Painting the Horde - Van Patten [Night]: It was taught by both Christine and Kyle which gave a the class a multifaceted viewpoint. This class was like a beer flight for mini painting; We tried out painting with GW Contrast paints, Inks, miniwax 'dip' and oils. The class was rough around the edges, but understandably so. A good option to try out new products and see how they can help you get through that backlog of figs. 
Mini Photograpy - Sundseth [Night]: Doug is a font of photography knowledge and very willing to answer questions. The class was aimed at taking good 'product' photos of minis. I didn't feel the photography jargon to be too overwhelming, but I've dabbled in it in the past. know some basic camera settings and try your hand at taking photos of minis beforehand and you'll get a lot of questions answered. Handout provided.

 

Friday
Painting Textures - Diamonstone: Another excellent teacher, David is good at balancing a hands on class with demos and practice time. His explanations are clear and relatively easy to follow. Textures is not considered a basics topic (but perhaps should be) but the newer painters in the class did not seem lost or frustrated. Focus was on denim and leather. You need a good brush!
Display Details - Zuniga: This was another try out products type of class. Greg provided vellum, paper and brass etch to work with and based cemetery gate. I feel there could have been more to the class... but I'm not exactly sure what. Perhaps a bit more on when and where to use the embellishments in your work, although this was included.

 

Saturday
Diorama Building - Ridolfi: Prepare to take notes! sooo much information. I agree that a handout would be good. I'm certain I missed stuff. This is a lecture, not demo or hands-on, but Bob gives each student a pack of stuff to play with. I'd recommend taking early in the con, finding time to do the "assignment" and then return to Bob with questions and for feedback. I intend to complete the assignment by ReaperCon 2020 and come armed with questions.
Painting Freehand: Patterns and Symbols - Schubert: More basic than the other classes I've taken with Derek (which tend toward advanced subjects). Still, not a beginner class, perhaps high intermediate. Good balance between demo and practice time and clear explanations. We focused on selecting and breaking down a symbol and then painting it on a shield. Another hour would have benefited this class as I think there was not enough time to work on both symbols and patterns. Derek may also have tailored to the class interests, I believe I was the only one more interested in patterns. Handout provided. Need a good brush!

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22 hours ago, Argentee said:

Edit: I know most people can look at a black and white photo and think 'ok, needs more contrast' I think 'shadows blend up to highlights correctly, I can tell different fabrics and skin apart, figure stands out from background, looks good'. I need that histogram of what judges consider 'good' contrast to compare to my piece, because I just don't think like the judges do. Maybe I'll learn eventually, but the charts and graphs help NOW.

That was what was really great about the class - Jen opened my eyes to the fact that there's so much MORE to contrast than "brighter highlights, darker shadows."  I loved seeing the pictures she posted of the figure that really popped in color, but when she switched to b/w, it was almost exactly the same value across the board.

 

The one suggestion I might offer is in regards to the graph she showed with value contrast along the Y axis and hue contrast along the X.  Quite a few people in our class seemed to struggle grasping the concept of what she was trying to show, so maybe more explanation that the length of the line on the graph represents the amount of contrast you've got.  Longer line = more contrast, and the line can only get so long when you limit yourself to value contrast.  I probably should have said something to that effect during the class, and I feel guilty for not, but I was distracted by the urge to curl up in a fetal position with my migraine.

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10 minutes ago, leolson79 said:

That was what was really great about the class - Jen opened my eyes to the fact that there's so much MORE to contrast than "brighter highlights, darker shadows."  I loved seeing the pictures she posted of the figure that really popped in color, but when she switched to b/w, it was almost exactly the same value across the board.

 

The one suggestion I might offer is in regards to the graph she showed with value contrast along the Y axis and hue contrast along the X.  Quite a few people in our class seemed to struggle grasping the concept of what she was trying to show, so maybe more explanation that the length of the line on the graph represents the amount of contrast you've got.  Longer line = more contrast, and the line can only get so long when you limit yourself to value contrast.  I probably should have said something to that effect during the class, and I feel guilty for not, but I was distracted by the urge to curl up in a fetal position with my migraine.

See, I understood it but my degree is in Physics. I trained my brain in college to read graphs quickly, and it has stuck. I wish MORE classes had charts and graphs, but it's not an 'artistic' way to think and I'm in the minority. And I'm sorry about the migraine, they are AWFUL. :down:

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On ‎9‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 7:12 PM, Argentee said:

Beginner Freehand - Cocanour - Thursday 3pm - This class did not have a handout, and would have benefitted from one. A quick overview of how to paint stripes, block out a repeating pattern, and paint a simple daisy was covered, with emphasis on painting during class time. I struggled to take notes on the techniques and tricks mentioned (and the teacher asked twice why I was writing things down :down:) while also painting my figure fast enough to keep up with the instructor. Not everyone could get close enough to see his demonstrations, and instead of moving the other side of the class to repeat the demonstration, he expected the students who had already seen to make way... and they didn't. I would not recommend this class (from this instructor at least) to anyone who has not mastered blending and painting swiftly.

 

My husband (not on forums) took this class, also at the same time as you. He had a similar impression of it. It was hard to both see and practice and he said that it was frustrating to spend most of the class watching instead of doing. He felt like the class could have really benefitted from a projector screen or from some other type of visual aid to keep the standing and watching while doing nothing to a minimum. He did learn good things, like the technique for lines, but felt like he didn't get as much out of the class as he had hoped. I think he thought the material was promising, but the format/presentation of the class just didn't work well for him. 

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12 minutes ago, Dicey said:

 

My husband (not on forums) took this class, also at the same time as you. He had a similar impression of it. It was hard to both see and practice and he said that it was frustrating to spend most of the class watching instead of doing. He felt like the class could have really benefitted from a projector screen or from some other type of visual aid to keep the standing and watching while doing nothing to a minimum. He did learn good things, like the technique for lines, but felt like he didn't get as much out of the class as he had hoped. I think he thought the material was promising, but the format/presentation of the class just didn't work well for him. 

To be honest, I'm kind of surprised that there weren't more projector set ups in the classes.  Something like what James Wappel had set up in his spot outside the main hall would have been fantastic, and a boon to just about every class that was available.

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It was very obvious to me that some of the teachers were well prepared and some were not at all. Here are my brief reviews:

Dragon's in the Details - Cecil - Material here was good. The class felt like it was over before we could really explore everything, but I definitely learned a few things about making realistic bone. I think maybe the best thing this class could do would be to have an overly large example - take a much larger example and much larger brush to show off the technique, or have a way for us to all watch at the same time. I'd take another class with Cecil. 

 

Paint the Hoard - Van Patten - Unfortunately I didn't learn anything in this class. I though the teachers were good and clearly well intentioned, but preparation wasn't perfect (materials had been left at home) and the two most effective techniques were ones I already knew. I think this class could be focused on fewer types of speed painting and a focus on materials that most would use (eliminating inks and oils). I'd try again with these folks if I had a better idea of what they'd cover. 

 

Bones Mashup - I didn't "learn" much in this class, but I had a blast. I'd definitely do it again. 

 

Giant Zombie/Pumpkin - Wiebe - This felt like a chance to have coffee with Jason Wiebe, if that makes sense. I didn't learn a ton, but it was a neat class. I probably wouldn't take another class with Wiebe, but I don't want to scuplt either. 

 

Intermediate Basing - Stahl - Like the previous reviewer, I was very disappointed in this class, for exactly the same reasons. I honestly wish I'd done ANYTHING else. Not worth any amount. I would never take a class with this teacher again based on this experience. 

 

The Monster Under Your Bed - Grange - Great class with a fantastic painter. I learned a ton and would 100% take more Rex classes. Good mix of hands on practice and instructor assistance. 

 

How to Speed Paint Intense Colors - Rodriguez - I felt like this class was misnamed, to it's own discredit. I though going in it was about speedpainting, but it was so much more. Color theory, blending, a bunch. This was a great class, I learned a ton, and would 100% take more classes with Anthony. Already subscribed to his Patreon.

 

 

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@ironman1231 - I'm glad I'm not alone with my impression of the class with Lyn Stahl. I was so disappointed. I'm sure she's a nice person, but I don't want to take any classes from her again ever. It is never a nice feeling when it's clear the instructor wants you to leave so that she can go on to more important things.

 

My husband also took Dragons in the Details and Monster Under Your Bed. He had good things to say about these, but I can't remember all the specifics. I think that David Cecil ended up being his favorite instructor of the weekend and he wants to take many more classes with him. He said it was clear @LordDave had prepared for the class. My husband focused a lot on "monster" classes and I took more "skin" classes. The Dragons in the Details class was his favorite, I think. 

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I only took one class this year and I wish I'd been able to schedule more when tickets went on sale, but it just didn't work out that way. However, it did end up working out for me in the end as I wasn't feeling well through the whole con (nothing even remotely contagious, so don't try to label me patient zero if you caught the con crud, you didn't get it from me ::P:) so really one class was all I could handle.

 

Sweet Sweet Candy OSL - Vibrant Lighting Effects for Miniatures - Benjamin Kantor - Friday at 3pm - I LOVED this class. I'm a really big fan of his work and I thought that it was well worth the time and cost to sit and listen to his thoughts on OSL and lighting in general. If you are not aware, Benjamin Kantor is not just an amazing Crystal Brush winning painter, he's also a professional Film Colorist that works on movies. Lighting and colour is what he does. So I was super interested in this class to begin with and I wasn't disappointed. 

 

I think the class, however, would've benefited from some better clarification in the class description - first of all, it was listed as an Intermediate class and I disagree, I think this was an Advanced class. It also was called a hands-on class, and yet it was a theory class and it was made very clear that technique was not being taught. I didn't have a problem with that at all, but I could see other people not having realized when they signed up that they wouldn't be receiving direct instruction, considering there were multiple people in the class that indicated that they had no prior knowledge of who Benjamin Kantor was and just signed up for an OSL class. I know that this was a much longer course that was condensed down as much as possible, but condensed as it was I think it would've been much better as a demo class rather than anything hands-on. I would've preferred to watch Benjamin paint for 10 minutes over throwing my own paint around, but that's me and I'm a very slow painter and found that stressful whereas I know for a lot of people, they're more interested in being able to put paint on a miniature in a class and I have heard that lecture/demo classes are a harder sell than hands-on classes.

 

Overall I was happy, I feel like I got out of it what I was hoping to get out of it, and I would definitely take future classes with Benjamin Kantor.

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@Guindyloo - You bring up a good point. We were searching for hands-on classes and I really wish the class descriptions were super clear about this. So often we were searching for clues in the class description on whether or not we would be in a lecture or actually doing things. Not that either way is better or worse than another. For our first ReaperCon we just wanted to be doing a lot. My husband also learns better by doing, though I can go either way. These reviews are great for learning things like that too.

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Pushing Past Problems, Tish Wolter, Friday @ 10am -- Billed as a chance to work through problems that you're already having on an in-progress miniature, it pretty much followed that brief. Tish did help me figure out a thing that had been plaguing me. And she is not just a brilliant painter but a stellar person, so it was enjoyable. Somewhat general handout, but I'm not sure how to make it more specific, given the advertised nature of the class. On an information for time and money basis, I don't know whether I would recommend this class. It felt kind of like what happens at a good paint club meeting, and I have access to a really good paint club. If you don't have regular access to direct suggestions from very strong painters, I suspect the perceived value would be higher. But it was a nice, relaxing couple of hours (which I wanted at the time) and I did learn things, so I feel like I got my value for money.

 

Animal Colors and Patterns, Dave Coulson, Sunday @ 10am -- Mostly a theory class, though I suspect the next time Dave runs it, it will be more hands on. I think I would have gotten more from this class if I didn't have a very similar approach to research and photographic references to that suggested by Dave, so I didn't see all that much that was new, but it was a decent overview of both how to research and some things to look for in animal coloration. There were some pretty good practical examples of how to paint spots and stripes in fur at the end of the class, but we were running out of time by that point. It would have helped had we started painting the base coats on the class model while the early lecture bits were happening (which after-class discussion will probably cause to happen next time). Also, class energy was probably down because of the class's Sunday morning time slot.

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1 hour ago, Doug Sundseth said:

Pushing Past Problems, Tish Wolter, Friday @ 10am -- Billed as a chance to work through problems that you're already having on an in-progress miniature, it pretty much followed that brief. Tish did help me figure out a thing that had been plaguing me. And she is not just a brilliant painter but a stellar person, so it was enjoyable. Somewhat general handout, but I'm not sure how to make it more specific, given the advertised nature of the class. On an information for time and money basis, I don't know whether I would recommend this class. It felt kind of like what happens at a good paint club meeting, and I have access to a really good paint club. If you don't have regular access to direct suggestions from very strong painters, I suspect the perceived value would be higher. But it was a nice, relaxing couple of hours (which I wanted at the time) and I did learn things, so I feel like I got my value for money.

 

Thanks so much for reviewing my class! This was a new one for me, and I honestly didn't have a clue how it would go. I think your comparison to a paint club is spot-on. I do think there are tweaks I can make to this one should I run it again, and your feedback is certainly appreciated (and thank you for the photography tips, too ).  

 

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I took 5 sculpting classes this year, and I really absorbed a lot. Taking a crash course seemed to help reinforce some of the skills and seemed to help me progress. 

 

Intro to Sculpting Miniatures with Tom Mason - This was a fantastic class, Tom was very clear with his instruction, and made sure to make time for everyone to demonstrate the techniques he was teaching. He was also very kind to spend some time after the class explaining the questions I had about sculpting, tools, and other items. A++ for this class. 

 

Sculpting Faces with Derek Schubert - Wonderful class. This was a pure green stuff class, where the previous class used Green stuff and Fimo. It really gave me a different perspective on materials and techniques. Derek was awesome with demonstrating, and our class was only about 6 people, so we had a little more hands on time. I left this class feeling like I could do some practice sculpts and really improve with these techniques. Derek was also very supportive and generous with his time to revisit some of my other projects throughout the con. A++ for this class. 

 

How not to suck: Sculpting Edition with Andy Pieper - This class was very eye opening, and a must take class for anyone who is really looking for an in depth education on making miniatures. This class was very informative, came with a very high quality handout, and Andy was very welcoming of questions and information that you usually cannot get elsewhere. He also gives a crash course on thinking of your hobby as a business if you wish to pursue that path. This was a great class, well worth the money A++. 

 

Sculpting Armor with Julie Guthrie - I was not prepared for this class. When I showed up Julie was very clear it was an advanced sculpting class, and warned anyone who was not advanced would probably not get much out of it. I fumbled my way through it, she provided a prepped miniature, some tools, and showed off some of the techniques that she used to add armor to a figure. I honestly struggled to keep up, since she was very quick with her examples, and would often show the figure after she had finished her portion of it. She was however very nice, and spent time walking around the class offering help where she could. I however did not get much out of this class, other than a little understanding on how some of the techniques are done. I would suggest next year reaper advertises levels for classes, as one of my friends also took a painting class that was a bit more advanced than he was comfortable with. Perhaps a beginner, intermediate, and advanced class level? Either way, I would still give this class a solid A grade. 

 

Sculpting Mini Faces with Tom Mason - This class was awesome. Tom provided some prepped pins with green stuff and Fimo, and we were able to dive right in. Having built upon the other skills I had learned throughout the week, I felt a lot of confidence in working with the tools and putty, and I ended up with a face that didnt look like a lumpy potato. Tom was very gracious once again with his time, and it seemed like every where through out the con I would run into him, and he was sure to spend some time speaking with me and answering my questions. Combined with Derek Schubert's class, and this class it provided me two different methods to come to the same result, and really gave me a solid foundation to build upon. I would highly recommend this class. A++ 

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52 minutes ago, Swil0 said:

 

How not to suck: Sculpting Edition with Andy Pieper - This class was very eye opening, and a must take class for anyone who is really looking for an in depth education on making miniatures. This class was very informative, came with a very high quality handout, and Andy was very welcoming of questions and information that you usually cannot get elsewhere. He also gives a crash course on thinking of your hobby as a business if you wish to pursue that path. This was a great class, well worth the money A++. 

 

Sculpting Armor with Julie Guthrie - I was not prepared for this class. When I showed up Julie was very clear it was an advanced sculpting class, and warned anyone who was not advanced would probably not get much out of it. I fumbled my way through it, she provided a prepped miniature, some tools, and showed off some of the techniques that she used to add armor to a figure. I honestly struggled to keep up, since she was very quick with her examples, and would often show the figure after she had finished her portion of it. She was however very nice, and spent time walking around the class offering help where she could. I however did not get much out of this class, other than a little understanding on how some of the techniques are done. I would suggest next year reaper advertises levels for classes, as one of my friends also took a painting class that was a bit more advanced than he was comfortable with. Perhaps a beginner, intermediate, and advanced class level? Either way, I would still give this class a solid A grade. 

 

 

I also took these two classes, but had a different experience with them.  I've used green putty to fill gaps and do simple modifications and don't consider myself a sculptor AT ALL.  How Not To Suck was very informative, and the handout was great,  but I didn't really learn anything new.  I would still suggest it for absolute beginners, but if you've been playing with putty on figures already, there probably isn't much here for you. 

 

Julie's class, again, I don't have any great skill with putty beyond filling gaps and minor modification, and this was exactly what I came to learn this year.  I do wish we'd had more time and could have gone slower. I was barely keeping up and wanted to have time to refine the techniques she was teaching.  I really wanted a handout with pictures of each step.  I agree that if you do not have any experience with green stuff that this class is beyond you.  I did learn a lot in this class though. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Swil0 said:

I would suggest next year reaper advertises levels for classes, as one of my friends also took a painting class that was a bit more advanced than he was comfortable with. Perhaps a beginner, intermediate, and advanced class level? 

 

Painting classes were divided this way, if you went to Schedule Categories and then sorted by category. But it wasn't always in the class description and Sculpting classes are not divided this way. Standardizing the description text to start with the level in parenthesis would help.

 

 

 

 

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