'EM style painting — to embrace or change?
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Thread: 'EM style painting — to embrace or change?

  1. #1

    Default 'EM style painting — to embrace or change?

    Hello, all.

    Been posting here a little bit, as well as on the WAMP and other miniatures forums.

    I have been painting off and on about 25 years, and as I was most active in the 90s, my style is very reminiscent of the 90s-era 'Eavy Metal team. That's what I basically created my style around — or perhaps I should say, my style evolved from thinking that this particular style of painting was the norm.

    I have won several small-time painting contests, and indeed, did workshops in my FLGS back in the early 90s. I have confidence, can perform most techniques that are asked about often here, but still, I never feel like I can get things to change.

    I'd like to move into more of a sepia-ish, realistic paint style, but still, everything winds up being in eye-popping colors.

    I wonder sometimes if I should embrace this and create a 'EM painters group, or move along. My wish is to move along, but I can't seem to force evolution or change. Any tips? I'm in a bit of a slump.

    Some samples in the sig, as normal.



  2. #2


    Honestly? I'm not sure why you'd want to change. Having your own style is good. It helps make your stuff stand out from the next guy.
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  3. #3


    Quote Originally Posted by TrystanGST View Post
    Honestly? I'm not sure why you'd want to change. Having your own style is good. It helps make your stuff stand out from the next guy.
    That's one of the issues, though — is this really my style, or something that has just implanted itself in my painting consciousness, surplanted from a late-teens/early-twenties Mike McVey?

    I do paint mainly for fun, and for the enjoyment of the hobby. However, I'd like to do some commissions again (tabletop quality) and just don't feel that this is what people are after these days.

  4. #4


    change your paints. move away from gw and use some reaper master series. they have far less saturated (super bright) colors, so a more muted, subtle, palate is much easier. also, try limiting your color palate as well - pick 6 paints, and use only those on a mini - itll force you to think about composition differently (and is, incidentally, great practice for contrast and blending). lastly, even though you are clearly an experienced painter, you should try out some *step by step* tutorials done by others, mimicing their style as much as possible. this stepping stone will help inject some different ideas in to your normal painting routine. dont completely abandon your current aesthetic, let it grow in to something new by incorporating different approaches to composition in to your existing style.
    maybe try painting something you wouldnt normally paint? could get you out of the routine.

  5. #5


    Thank for the feedback.

    I pointed it out in another thread, but not here (sorry about that): I exclusively use RMS, with the exception of some GW metallics.

    I will try limiting my palette in the meantime, and reading some more tutorials.

  6. #6


    I was thinking about a reply and funnymouth has said a lot of what I was going to say, but I'll write it anyway.

    I'm in the same boat as you, I wrote as much in this thread http://www.coolminiornot.com/forums/...530#post618530 . I Learned most of my stuff from McVey's excellent tutorials in the mid 90s and haven't really moved on much, if at all, generally through apathy and laziness. I've decided that I'm going to actually paint some minis this year though, and try to make some progress. I'll start by embracing the style I've learned, trying to make it as good as I can - the GW guides will be good for this I think, written by Razza, Brokenblade, a few others (Keith Robertson maybe), they're very much in the traditional WD style made familiar to us over the years by the likes of McVey, JRN, Tammy haye, Durham Red http://www.coolminiornot.com/239555 Taipan http://www.coolminiornot.com/166992 etc etc. I think it's a good place to aim. I won't be complacent or afraid, I'll do stuff that used to scare me (weathering a miniature after spending X number of hours painting, the thought of that used to make my stomach turn a bit butnot any more, must take risks to progress).

    Maybe then I'll branch out into some of the other styles that have been developed since then, there are some good tutorials out there I'm sure of it. They probably won't all work out for me, some of my hours spent trying new techniques might yield better results than others (hence the feeling of time "wasted") but c'est la vie, it's all for a good cause. I think it's important to keep pushing and trying new stuff even if it's a bit risky. Look at aliengod3 http://www.coolminiornot.com/forums/...n-paint-styles , personally I like his style but he's always looking for ways to improve and always trying new stuff (seriously, check out the number of threads he's started to ask for advice, and he's already pretty accomplished by most peoples standards).

    Finally, you're not the first person to think of breaking away from the McVey style in favour of the type of stuff we see from the likes of Automaton. I once read a blog post by a guy called, ah, Mike McVey I think he was called (rivethead blog, don't think it's still around) where he wrote that he wanted to break out of the style, citing the work of Automaton as an inspiration. I believe he rounded off the post by saying that after a bit of thought he embraced his own style and is happy with it, not a bad sentiment in my opinion.

  7. #7


    Pick a brown or other neutral color and mix it into every color you use on a figure. It will make a really cool atmosphere and keep all the colors related (this is a technique I use a lot in my oil paintings)

    Though I would say to stick with EM style. But I am biased when it comes to that!

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  8. #8


    Bright colours don't necessarily ≠ realistic results, but obviously if you specifically want not to use them then a really simple start is to dull all your base mixes down - mix grey or brown into everything, and highlight by mixing in light grey, a light sand mix or a light flesh colour instead of white.

    Like anything it'll take a bit of time to change since your habits for what colour to reach for, how to mix this or that etc., will tend to produce the colouring you're trying to move away from, but you'll get it with time.

    Some tips on how you might force the change a little faster:
    first off, paint a historical figure in a larger scale - the realistic sculpting style and larger areas might help unconsciously to aim for a different effect;
    if you currently shade using washes, stop (layering instead);
    mix more instead of relying on existing colour from the pot;
    learn not to drybrush most of the time;
    add weathering.

    If anything does turn out too bright despite your best intentions don't sweat it, that's not the end of the day - a glaze of grey or browns, a bit of texturing or weathering, will tone down even solid red or green straight from the pot.


  9. #9


    Just glanced at the first page on your blog and personally agree with the comments here that you don't *have* to change. Clearly though you would like a challenge and to expand your existing range of skills. Einion's list of tips are spot on and as Matt says if you pick a neutral colour to mix into all of your paints you will naturally create a tone which will draw together all of elements, regardless of what that colour is.

    And likewise, I still like the traditional 90's EM style

  10. #10


    Great advice, everyone. I'll try adding neutral tones when highlighting instead of white (I have been using "White Leather" RMS) but will try something a little duller.

  11. #11

    Thumbs up

    Les from awesomepaintjob has a video that talks about breaking out of your comfort zone. Such as painting things you normally wouldn't or using techniques that are new/more difficult for you. Pushing the weak points in your skillset basically.

  12. #12
    Consummate Brushlicker Jericho's Avatar
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    Do what makes you happy. Have fun. Experiment. Try something new but always go back to whatever you enjoy the most.

    I've done this hobby for years. In the beginning I just copied the (mid-90's) box art, then after I started winning contests I got caught up in trying things that I figured had the best chance of winning instead of just doing whatever I thought would be the coolest/most fun/most appropriate for the mini. That's not a fun road to go down...

    While my productivity fluctuates madly these days I try to work exclusively on projects that inspire me, which is great. I rarely feel like I'm grinding away at something when I should be enjoying it.

    Painting Nazgrub was one of the most fun projects of my life, and also represents the highest achievement I've earned: a gold Demon in an extremely competitive category (40k Single). Some of the other models in the category had the classic over-sized scenic bases, unnecessary conversions and freehand, etc. but my relatively simple figure was chosen because I really had fun trying to bring out the real character in the model. I wasn't trying to make him into something he wasn't meant to be. Talking to judges that day really helped validate a lot of what I believe in when it comes to mini painting... and ironically it was probably the last time I painted a model for competition. I don't feel like I have anything to prove anymore, so I can just do whatever I feel like

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