Improving at all?
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Thread: Improving at all?

  1. #1

    Default Improving at all?

    Hello all, this is my first thread post so I apologize if I haven't put it in the proper category (it might need to go under painting discussion).

    Anyway I'm still quite a beginner, I've only been painting for a bit over a year and have started posting minis these last 6 months or so. I'm having trouble understanding the sort of feedback I've been getting (the ratings on my minis are all I have to go on). For example, back in July I painted up the Khador Widowmaker captain to the best of my ability and she's sitting at a 6.5. This last week I finished another mini, Skarre, Queen of the Broken Coast. While I feel like I've improved my skills in the months between the two Skarre's rating (around a 5.5) reflects the opposite and I'd really appreciate if anybody could help me see what each mini is doing well/poorly and give me some critique. I'd really like to improve but I feel like I'm stuck right now because I don't know what exactly needs work. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this!

    Almost forgot- Here are links to the two mini's I was talking about, I know my photos are kind of crap but again I'm not really sure how to improve them with the limited setup I have (that being a digital point and shoot camera, and a cheap desk lamp)

    Widowmaker- http://www.coolminiornot.com/310212

    Skarre- http://www.coolminiornot.com/314484

  2. #2
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    Default

    Ok Just had a look at the Skarre figure.
    One thing that is obvious to me is that the piece at the end of the sword hilt is in fact casting sprue and should have been cut off leaving the hilt ending much closer to her hand.
    As to the painting, it is neat and I can see no outstanding errors in placement, but it all looks somewhat "Flat" and without great contrast.
    In painting 28mm figures Contrast is the key to making a figure stand out or just look OK. Sometimes this means taking a Shadow to Highlight range from Near Black right up to White.
    This "Rule" applies to all the mini so the base is just as important a consideration as the face.

    Now the difference between the Widow maker and the Skarre is that the Widowmkaer is in a static pose and therefore the light dynamic(*) isn't as critical as in an action pose like the Skarre's.

    (* Light Dynamic is a descriptive term for how light falls on a figure in it's pose and how the figures stance casts its own shadow on parts of itself.
    For example the Skarre will have lots more areas which will need highlighting and shading while the widowmaker has smaller smoother areas requiring definition of shadows)
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  3. #3

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    Thanks Dragonsreach! That's just the sort of feedback I was hoping to get I'll definitely be looking up some articles about light dynamics today, and what you said about the pose makes a lot of sense. I'm working on another mini right now and I'll do what I can to apply your advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonsreach View Post
    One thing that is obvious to me is that the piece at the end of the sword hilt is in fact casting sprue and should have been cut off leaving the hilt ending much closer to her hand.
    Yeah I just thought it might look interesting to leave it on Once it was painted I realized I didn't like it either but I'm lazy and probably won't get around to removing it :/

  4. #4

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    I'll agree with the above and add that the widowmaker is in my opinion much better but they both look somewhat flat. I too struggle with contrast in small scale as I almost exclusivly painted 90mm and larger for a long time until I made the jump to fantasy figures. It goes against my grain to paint with such extreme contrast in a figure but what Dragonsreach said is true. You need that stark contrast to make such a small figure stand out. My suggestion to you is to get out and go to some local or regional shows and see others works in person. Photographs will lie and hide a lot of painting flaws as photography is easily manipulated but seeing a figure in person is really different. I dont know where in Colorado you are but see if there is a Games Workshop nearby and go visit it and sit down for one of the painting seesions most of the GW stores do. Do some research on regional historic and fantasy shows. There is a big show in Southern California every year along with Tulsa, Dallas, Reapercon in Dallas also and numerous others. The best advice for improving your painting skills is pretty simple: paint, paint, and more paint! Push the envelope with your color schemes and dont be afraid to experiment. Never be satisfied with your work because once you do you will never improve. I think your on the right track though. You seem to have a good handle on brush control and placement, you just have to fine tune your techniques. Hope this helps!

  5. #5

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    Again, thank you both for your feedback, I hope I can show some significant improvements on my next few minis (or dozen, however long it takes ;D). It's good to hear that I'm not the only painter who is never completely satisfied with anything I do Sadly there aren't any Games Workshop stores where I'm at, but I may be able to get myself to Denver next time there is a painting lesson or local show going on. In the meantime I've decided to start up a WIP, hopefully that will help me with light placement and getting that contrast at the levels I need it to be. Sorry I've taken so long to get back to this thread, last few weeks have been pretty hectic and I spent most of my free time with a brush in hand

  6. #6

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    Not sure where exactly here in CO you are, but there is a one man GW shop now. On top of that, HobbytownUSA and Colpar Hobbies both have (shudder***) GW models. Haven't made it to the GW one yet, but hit HobbytownUSA and Colpar regularly.

    And if your looking to get some hands on advice, there's a meet up every 2nd Saturday with a bunch of people. I've been once, and they've since moved to a store in Golden. I don't have a link with me, but if you're interested PM me. That's really just to remind myself to post the link and info, BTW. Not trying to keep it a secret.

    ***I kid, I kid!

    EDIT: Just wanted to follow up and list the Colorado Mini Painters website: http://www.cominipainters.com/. Next meetup is in Golden this weekend (10/13). I'm not going to be there, but they're a nice bunch.
    Last edited by PegaZus; 10-09-2012 at 11:24 PM.
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  7. #7

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    Remember as well that the rating is subjective, not objective. As such, something that might be pushing your skills and well executed might be scored lower without any reason.
    For qualitative feedback, which is what you're looking for, post your work in this forum, and ask for comments, suggestions for improvement,etc.

    On the Skarre model, you've not paid the same attention to contrast over over the model
    - the cloak and the water is contrasted
    - the skin shows little contrast (though it's difficult to do)
    - the sword isn't constrasted at all (or, if done, it doesn't show on the picture)
    The skintone makes her look sick, this might come from your lighting ring.

  8. #8

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    There are things that I like about CMON's rating system and then there are some things that I'm not a big fan of. I think a lot of regular people (ie not world class painting superstars) can get discouraged by their ratings. Keep in mind this forum has people from all over the world and the ones getting 9's and 10's really are some of the best in the world. Those 5's and 6's aren't bad scores. If you go to your local game store with model's that are getting 5's and 6's, most people there will be impressed when they see them. And, because the ratings are subjective, there can be some fluctuations depending on who sees what, what they're looking for, quality of the photographs, etc. I've had models I know where better work get lower scores than other things I've done. It can be frustrating. My first response was to think, hey, I know this is better than that rating! The trick is not to convince yourself that that rating is a perfect measure of your skill. Yes, your goal should be to improve with every model. But the ratings are maybe 80% skill and 20% popularity for that given model.

    My advice is keep trying to improve. But you should be able to look at your own figure and know if you did a better job or not. Don't put all your faith in the numerical rating. And most of all, make sure you're having fun. Don't get frustrated! If you want help, starting a WIP thread as you mentioned should be a great source for constructive feedback. If you can get to a game store, show, or painting clinic, go for it.

    Taking a look at the two figures, the widow maker seems to have more shading going on. You've got some nice contrast on the white in the coat and the red is very nice. You've also done a nice job with the brown ammo belt going across the figure. As for Skarre, there are some nice things you've done there as well. I like the eye and eye shadow. I like the highlighting on the hair. But other parts of the model are hurting your score. The skin and metals here don't have much contrast. You've done shading on the cloak, but it looks to me you're doing just dark in recesses and light elsewhere. When shading, think of the light coming from directly above the model. Google zenithal lighting. Massive Voodoo has a nice tutorial on it and you can find plenty more online.

    The rating system here can be a little hard to predict. But, just a rough estimate.... more contrast (and consistently applied) should take you from the 5's to the 6's. Smoother blending between light and dark should take you from the 6's to the 7's. Getting into the 8's and 9's is pretty tough, but there people are looking for improved realism through accurate lighting and representing textures (for example making leather look like worn leather, not just shaded brown). Models in the 8's and 9's also tend to have free hand design work and patterns. Perhaps some lighting effects like object source lighting (OSL). Often you'll see NMM (non-metal metallics). But keep in mind, these are all pretty advanced. Just take it one step at a time. Your goal should be to improve with every model, not have your next figure be Golden Demon quality. Getting there takes time, so don't get frustrated!

  9. #9

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    I'll also add that ratings are subjective as stated above. The last thing you should worry about is CMON's rating system. You really need to see things in person. My figures look like crap in my pictures but when people see them in person they always say how much better they look. Now I dont know what kind of learner you are but I learn better by seeing so I watch a lot of painting videos. It just suits my style of learning. There are some GREAT vids on Youtube on painting step by step. Obsidian Painting has some really good ones. One in particular which helped me understand glazing is his video on painting the wings to a Sanginor. I would also suggest your broaden your horizon and look at some other figure forums. Planet Figure, Botler and Chainsword, The basement, Timelines and thats just to name a few. Now most of them are more for historical figures but they are always very helpful

  10. #10

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    Thanks for that info PegaZus, I might go this Saturday

    rough estimate.... more contrast (and consistently applied) should take you from the 5's to the 6's. Smoother blending between light and dark should take you from the 6's to the 7's. Getting into the 8's and 9's is pretty tough, but there people are looking for improved realism through accurate lighting and representing textures (for example making leather look like worn leather, not just shaded brown)
    This is actually really helpful, I know it's all rough estimation but now I have an ordered set of goals to work towards!

    ratings are subjective
    It's hard not to take them as hard fact sometimes, thanks guys.

    I learn better by seeing so I watch a lot of painting videos
    I'm a pretty visual learner myself, but until recently I've taught myself everything through trial and error. Lately I've been reading through articles and such but a good video seems like it could help a bunch. I'll definitely check out some from Obsidian (I don't have a great grasp on glazing), and browse through a couple of those other forums you mentioned.

  11. #11

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    I should mention that sometimes I've found people vote not just on the paintjob but on the overall aesthetic quality of the model itself. While I don't think that's terribly fair, I do think some of my better paintjobs have lower scores due to perceived weak sculpts. That may be just me making excuses for myself, but I think that does come into play whether the voters consciously realize it or not.

    Also, it's best not to expect consistent improvement in scores with each successive model. I recently had a model in the Top 10 Last 7 Days, then the next model I painted is currently at 7.0 (2.1 points lower!). You're going to see swings of a point or more. The important thing is that you're making progress with a larger sample size, not necessarily on a model-to-model basis. If that makes sense?

    Keep practicing and keep having fun! That's the most important part, and the higher scores will come as a result.

  12. #12

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    jcichon, those videos are awesome, I spent almost an hour watching them and I think I'm even going to try glazing on my next model!

    yeah what you're saying made perfect sense Jabbayoda, and I have definitely been improving overall which is reassuring Looks like I better finish a few more minis using what I've learned and get them up Also just wanted to say that I checked out your gallery and your Trollbloods are inspiring! Makes me want to strip the paint off of a few of mine and try again (they were my first minis... not the best quality it's safe to say)

    On the Skarre model, you've not paid the same attention to contrast over over the model
    - the cloak and the water is contrasted
    - the skin shows little contrast (though it's difficult to do)
    - the sword isn't constrasted at all (or, if done, it doesn't show on the picture)
    The skintone makes her look sick, this might come from your lighting ring
    Hasdrubal, I never thanked you for pointing out these problem areas- thanks! Her skin is a good deal less white in actuality but she does still look ill, hopefully I can correct that in the mini I'm currently working on.

  13. #13

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    [QUOTE=Laffinstock;672778]jcichon, those videos are awesome, I spent almost an hour watching them and I think I'm even going to try glazing on my next model!

    Glad you liked them. He does have some good videos. He recently released a dvd which is pretty good and goes into some color theroy which is really helpful. Miniature has a series of dvd's or downlaods and they are ok. I have the one from Laurent Mas which was pretty good though you can get tons of videos on you tube so I would suggest looking on there for videos. SOme of them are really good and give lots of information on techniques. The effects you can get with glazing can be stunning but be prepared cause it takes a while!!

  14. #14

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    Try the studio mcvey videos on youtube as well. it's a different technique than the glazing and layering vids, but i find it works for me better than hours of layering. It may click for you or not, but it's always worth trying something different. Theres always the plus side of combining glazing with 2 brush blending if you like the style of people like Ben Komets and the Mcvey's.

  15. #15

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    I am a bit too short on funds to be purchasing DVDs so I'll probably be sticking to looking up a lot tutorials and such on youtube for the time being, thanks though. I'm a huge fan of the Mcvey's and even more so now that I've gone and watched all of their stuff on youtube I'm having some fun with the weathering techniques they demonstrate on the drone, and I'll definitely be attempting 2 brush blending once I get another high quality brush (right now I've only got one nice one I use for most things, like I said I'm short on funds and those Raphael Kolinsky sable brushes are a bit expensive)

  16. #16

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    try the series 33 kolinsky from http://www.rosemaryandco.com/ cheap as chips and just as good as windsor newtons or raphael. i'm using them atm, had them for about a year and the points are still sharp as a nail. size 1 will pretty much do you for everthing.

  17. #17

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    Oh heck yes I'm gonna get some of those! I can get 3 for the price of one raphael brush Thanks for that tip Elgazzo!

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