Coolminiornot.com : A really quick guide
One website that is a must for anyone interested in miniature art is coolminiornot. It is probably the largest online collection of painted / sculpted minis ever, and a driving force in the hobby.
However, it can be a little daunting to some, due to it's massive content. I have to say, most of my visits to CMoN (as it's often abreviated) is a quick check of the top rated submissions of the last 7 days, and perhaps a peek at what's new in the forums / articles / store. However, anyone really passionate about the hobby can really lose track of time here... there's that much stuff to check out.
Of course, you people are probably just as busy as I am these days (taking care of the kid / kids, running errands, working multiple jobs, making time for friends and family, completing every console game ever made, and painting the occasional model), so I'll give you the quick rundown on the highlights of the site:
Browsing the top models:
The "meat" of the site is the premise that users can submit pics of their latest works, and have other users and visitors to the site rate and comment on their submissions. This is what Coolminiornot was all about when it first launched, and this is what really separates it from every other miniature forum and online store out there.
On the menu bar near the top, pick out "Browse Gallery" and pick out whatever option you'd like. I tend to go for "Top Last 7 Days", and start from there. These are the top rated entries going back a week, and they are almost all jaw-droppingly amazing works of art. You can really get inspired within a few minutes of checking these out.
Of course, if you're looking for something specific to guide your latest project, I like to just hit "Browse Gallery". After that, you are shown a number of the most recent entries, and lots of drop down menus and fields where you can enter your search criteria. For example, if I was starting work on a Sisters of Battle army, I might enter "Games Workshop" under Manufacturer, "Science Fiction" under Catagory, and select "Rating (Descending)" under Order By (I like to start with the highest rated entries first, and go down the list from there... the more original concepts tend to be more highly rated).
Oh wow... there's some of my entries from almost a decade ago still in there. Not bad for oldskool, eh?
Of course, if your ego ever needs deflating, and your jaw likes sitting on the floor, check out "Top Artists". The entries featured here are likely to make you want to throw away all your paints and models in despair. The thing to remember is that all these artists started off as beginners, like everyone else. With enough practice and dedication, there's nothing they have done that you can't accomplish yourself one day. At least, that's what I keep telling myself...
Now, those are the features that really set CMoN apart from other web destinations. However, there is also a thriving forum on there as well (go ahead and ask your questions... there are some extremely helpful and accomplished artists on there that will answer them), and a well stocked online store (where you can find all sorts of hard to find models and art supplies).
Overall, CMoN is a worthy site that will consume much too much of your spare time. That being said, none of the new techniques, inspiring pics, helpful advice, etc., are of any use if you don't actually put them into practice. So go paint, and check out CMoN whenever you're feeling painting burnout, and you need a quick "recharge".