Friday, 9 June 2017

Sproket's Painting Masterclass at Element Games

The last few weeks have been a pretty intense time for me hobby wise and I’ve been left feeling a little tired, but very inspired.

I like to sit back and take time to reflect after a painting competition. But as soon as this year’s Golden Demon Classic was over I had to knuckle down and finish preparations for my Painting Masterclass at Element Games in Stockport. Although I’d painted enough of the Abyssal Warlord to serve as a reference model, I wanted to spend a little extra time refining the content and structure of my workshop. In addition to that I had to prepare a presentation for the ‘seminar’ being held on the Saturday Evening.

This was my first trip to the Element Games Gaming Centre and I was thoroughly impressed with it! It’s a great venue for a painting workshop with a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere. There is plenty of space and the facilities are excellent. There were HD screens linked up to a web cam for a close up and personal view of the painting and, later on, to display my slides for the evening seminar. The centre also has a bar and a well-stocked ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of a shop, so all the necessaries are catered for!

I’d realised while working on my Megaboss that the combination of non metallic metals (NMM) and stippling I was using could form the basis of a painting workshop. The Megaboss himself, though a brilliant model to paint, is just a bit too complicated to be a good workshop model. I wanted an armoured fantasy miniature that would be relatively quick to assemble and feature plenty of easily accessible surfaces. The Abyssal Warlord from Scale 75 proved to be perfect for the job!

While the main focus of the workshop was on specific painting techniques, it was important to provide some structure and context. Most of all I think it’s important to demonstrate how they could be used to play their part in an overall paint scheme. To that end, alongside the stippling and NMM, I also incorporated topics such as planning, colour theory and contrast into the weekend.

The practical focus for day one was on painting a NMM steel effect that transitioned from warm shadows to cool highlights. The colour palette we used works very well as it is tried and tested and this enabled everyone to concentrate their efforts on learning the stipple technique of painting. I prefer to get everyone painting at my workshops as quickly as possible. I think the best way to learn is by doing and I wanted everyone to have enough time to get comfortable with the ‘new’ technique they were learning before we went on to explore some potentially trickier colour palettes during day two.

By the end of day one everyone had gained in confidence and experience with stippling. I‘d stressed that speed came with practise and as the afternoon progressed this became very apparent! Many of the attendees found themselves able to do in 15 minuets what had earlier taken them a couple of hours.

Although a part of the whole weekend Masterclass evening seminar also functioned as a stand alone event and this gave me the opportunity to open things up. Titled ’10 Top Tips, Tricks and Techniques’ I presented a selection of my favourite techniques and materials and showed how I had used them in my work. It’s probably no surprise to anyone that microbeads featured!

For day two we turned our attention to painting first a cold gold tone and then black metal. Both of these use simpler colour palettes than the steel we’d painted the day before but, as I mentioned earlier, they can be tricky to get right. It’s necessary to carefully control both the hue and saturation of the colours in these palettes as even subtle variations can alter the finished effect dramatically!

I’d made a point of putting the NMM colours in order of increasing difficulty. I wanted to present a challenge that would push everyone out of their comfort zones, but not traumatise them. It was hugely rewarding to see how everyone got to grips with the challenges, were able to resolve them, then move on and cope with the increasingly difficult colour palettes. I’d expected that by the end of the weekend there would be in a great variety in the results achieved. While it’s true that some painters got more of the model covered than others they all demonstrated a solid grasp of the techniques we had covered over the weekend. Everyone had reached the point where they will be able to take what they had learned over the weekend and apply it appropriately to their own project. I really couldn’t have asked for a better result!

I also have a partially finished Abyssal Warlord to attend to. I’d considered keeping him as a work in progress to use in teaching but after the workshop I’m feeling too inspired to leave him as he is. During the Masterclass we had some very useful discussions about how the Warlord could be completed and I came away with some great ideas for my own take on him.

Things are going to get very ‘Abyssal’, there will be tentacles and microbeads … Watch this space!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Golden Demon: Classic 2017

For some weeks I’ve had a gut feeling that Golden Demon 2017 was going to be a tough competition. There have been hints, subtle and otherwise, that quite a few well-known and highly accomplished painters were planning to attend. Each year I seem to say that the standard was higher than before but that was never truer than this year. The standard went through the roof and much of the work on display was so good it was scary!

With all my hopes pinned on just one model the tension of waiting to find out who the winners were was pretty high! When my Megaboss was placed among the winners on the top shelf I was greatly relieved. Having taken note of the fact that my model was the last one to go onto the top shelf in it’s category, and what that might possibly imply, my hopes were riding high.

I wasn’t to be disappointed; my Megaboss took Gold in the Warhammer Age of Sigmar Single Miniature category! A fantastic result, even more so considering the standard of the competion this year. I can ask no more from my hobby than to find myself and my work in such talented company.

I’ve always felt that, no matter how good they think their work is, no painter should assume they are going to win something, not least the Slayer Sword. However, MichaƂ Pisarski (Lan Studio) must have been feeling a fair degree of justifiable confidence with regards to his Enthroned Nagash. It’s a stunning piece of work and it was no great shock when it won the, well deserved, Slayer Sword!

With the addition of the Gaming Tournaments Warhammer Fest was bigger and livelier than ever. The event feels like it’s going from strength to strength and The Golden Demons are a big part of that. It was a bigger, busier, tougher and more exciting competition than it has been for many a year and long may it continue!

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Busy Times! – Part 2

2017 continues, as expected, to keep me very, very busy! But that was the whole idea behind becoming a full time hobbyist anyway. The only down side is that I’ve had to put Akito on the back burner for the time being. But it won’t be too long before I can give her my full concentration.

Carefully does it!

I’m very happy to report that Gutrot Spume has been repaired. I used plastic glue to 'weld' the broken parts together in a strong bond and, thankfully, it all went like a dream! I also remembered that I had some parts, including a helmet, from a spare Gutrot. So I've been able to replace the broken tip from the crest on his helmet. Once the parts were reattached a retouch to the paint on the affected areas completed the job. Gutrot is as good as new - I'm glad that's over!

The Bicarbonate of Soda crisis – an update.

I've decided not to freak out over the white frosting that appeared on some of my minis where I'd used bicarbonate of soda mixed in with the paint. Instead I'm going to calmly monitor the situation and look into alternatives for future projects and fix for the minis.

I've already experimented with a couple of Games Workshop products, Stirland Battlemire and Typhus corrosion, and was able to replicate the texture effects I get with bicarb. I'm going to try sealing the affected bicarb with a spirit based varnish and hope that will protect it from changes in humidity.

The following pictures might be of interest. Picture 1 shows the worst of the white 'frosting' that appeared on my minis. Now this is where it gets a bit weird because the white 'frosting' has vanished! Picture 2 is more recent but there is no apparent damage to the painted surface and no trace of the white. Not even a hint of it having flaked off and left loose particles on the base!

I'm very happy that my minis now look OK (for the moment at least) but I'm still not going to use bicarb again!

Salute 2017

I’ve been waiting a whole year to enter Abalam into the painting comp at Salute and was rewarded with Bronze in the large scale category! A very satisfying result for what was a relatively speedy project. Although it means my quest to win Gold for a bust is still unfulfilled. But there is always next year and I have great hopes for Akitio.

I didn’t quite enjoy Salute as much as previous years, which is no reflection on the show! I started off the day feeling fine and frisky but I’ve had a busy few weeks, and in the afternoon, it all caught up with me – big time!

My energy levels plummeted, which was a shame, but thankfully it didn’t ruin the day. I got to spend some quality time with my mates and met a whole bunch of painting friends, old and new, which is always the best thing about these events. The fact that I didn’t take in as much of the show as usual meant that I wasn’t tempted to spend my money, so there is a silver lining to be found there too.

Warhammer Southampton Showcase 


It's been 27 years since I last had my models in the cabinet at Warhammer Southampton so when I spent the day at Warhammer Southampton, on Saturday 29th April, I made up for lost time! I showcased my miniatures and ran some demonstrations of the techniques I’ve used on my Golden Demon winners. I also got to judge a painting competition! It was great to meet everyone and I’d like to say a big “thank you” to Rod and his team for making me so welcome!

Sproket's Painting Masterclass at Element Games 3rd and 4th June.

I’ve had my eye on the Abyssal Warlord for some time and I think he is going to be a great workshop model! The model has several options for its weapons, head and costume, giving a degree of flexibility in it’s construction. It’s a well-designed model with plenty of detail and texture but, overall, it’s clear and uncluttered. This provides plenty of opportunity for creativity when painting it.

I wanted an armoured figure for the workshop as I’ve decided to focus on the materials, techniques and theory that I use when painting non-metallic metals. This is something I first explored on my Scourge miniatures but I’ve continued to develop my approach, most recently on my Megaboss.

The Abyssal Warlord is proving to be, as I hoped, a joy to paint.

Tickets are now available for my painting masterclass at Element Games HERE but they are selling out fast!

Friday, 28 April 2017

Bicarbonate of soda - a warning!

Well it looks like my love affair with bicarbonate of soda as a texture medium has come to an abrupt end!

While getting my minis ready for tomorrow’s showcase I noticed a dusty white bloom on some of them! It has affected some minis where I’ve used the bicarb as a texture medium in, for example, rust or corrosion effects but it was quite pronounced. Most alarmingly although it’s been stable and unchanging for at least a year this all happened in the last few days. My best guess is that it is down to a change in humidity.

A dusting off with a clean dry brush retouching of the paint has fixed the issue for the moment but I’ll have to keep a very close eye on these minis.

As I’ve been promoting the use of bicarb and singing it’s praises I thought I’d better put this warning out quickly! I’m going to monitor the situation closely and look into a permanent fix (if needed) and alternatives.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Review: Element Masterclass Brushes from Element Games

A few months ago I was contacted by Byron Orde from Element Games with regards to holding a painting class at his venue in Stockport on June 2 & 3. While we were arranging the class Byron asked me if I would be interested in trying out his Element Masterclass Brushes.

I’ve tried out several brands of brush over the years and none of them compared well with the Windsor and Newton Series 7 (W&N). However, that is not the case with the Element Masterclass Brushes and I am genuinely impressed with their quality and performance.

I’ve been using the brushes, on both my Orruk Megaboss and the Akito, bust, alongside a W&N. This has enabled me to make a direct comparison and I now feel I’ve been using them for long enough to share my opinion.

Examples of my work done using the Element Masterclass Brushes.

Element Masterclass Brushes come in three sizes Detail, Character and Regiment. The bristles on the Detail brush are a little short for my own taste but both the Character and Regiment sizes have been very useful. The Character brush is equivalent to a size 0 and I used it for a great deal of the texture on the Megaboss. The Regiment brush is equivalent to a size 1 and was particularly useful for the layered glazes on Akito.

The tips of the Element Games brushes come to an excellent crisp point, like a W&N brush. They have maintained their points throughout use and I’d venture to say that the W&N brush is wearing less well over time. Based on my use of them, so far, the Element Masterclass Brushes seem to be more durable than W&N.

The only possible down side I’ve encountered is that Element Masterclass Brushes felt a little stiffer than the W&N ones when in use. However, I wouldn’t describe this as a fault so much as a difference between two brands. It was a ‘problem’ for me simply because the brush felt different to what I had become used to. In fact what this means is that I use the Element Games brushes for different tasks to the W&N brushes. Element Masterclass Brushes are perfect for fine texture work where the W&N ones are just too soft for my taste.

I’m very impressed with the Element Masterclass Brushes, both in terms of quality and value for money, so much so that I’ve made them a permanent addition to my toolkit.

You can buy the Element Masterclass Brushes HERE.