Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Back From GottaCon! Contest Pics and Thoughts ( Part 1 )

So, back from GottaCon in Victoria.  If you're not familiar with GottaCon, it's an annual gaming / pop culture convention (miniature gaming, board gaming, role-playing games, and also video gaming) that's been going strong for 5 years, and attendance is good (the 24,000 square foot venue is packed).  In years previous, I've done the judging for the painting scores of the Warhammer 40K and Fantasy tournaments, ran drop-in painting clinics, and for the first time this year, judged the miniature painting competition.

There's alot to say, and alot to show, so I'll post up my GottaCon thoughts and pics over a few separate blog entries.

First impressions?:

This is a pic of just one half of the miniature gaming tournaments.  Double this, and you get an idea of how many miniature gaming enthusiasts were here.  Sure, it's no GenCon, but considering the cost of the ferry ride to get to Victoria, it's pretty decent.  That, and this pic was taken at about 9:15am on saturday morning... most of the gamers hadn't even gotten here yet.

We had three Ikea display cases for the miniature painting competition.  Again, this pic was taken very early in the day, and entries continued to pour in.  Eventually, we had filled up most of the shelves with some very nice looking models.  They drew in interested con-goers all weekend long, and garnered quite a bit of attention, along with many many "water-cooler" debates and conversations as to who should win.  I also heard quite a few "Oh My Gawd... take a look at THAT model!" from obviously impressed people.

I also managed to drop by the Gamers Silent Auction area before things really started going on Saturday.  This was a fantastic idea... drop off your excess gaming stuff (models, books, video games, comics, etc), bundle them up into saleable lots, do up a quick write-up on them and give them starting bids, and let the Con volunteers take bids on them all day long.  As a buyer, you can find some amazing out-of-print and used items, and place bids on them.  Check back once in awhile to see if you've been outbid and need to consider upping your bid, and at the end of the day (I checked with the volunteers early the next day), you may end up with some great bargains.  I managed to unload two boxes of used gaming stuff, picked up a used model for less than half retail, and still made out with enough money left over to cover the cost of my ferry ride to the island and back.  In the end, I was very happy, and I suspect my wife is too (two less boxes of "crap" cluttering up our teeny tiny condo?  I bet she's thrilled!).

I was very busy helping to run the competition, taking in entries, organizing notes, and running a drop-in painting clinic at the same time.  I did manage to step outside for a breath of fresh air (ventilation in the arena is awesome, but there's still just so many people packed into the place), and found two amazing food trucks (one serving Mexican and another serving pulled pork dishes... it was heaven!).  I got myself a pulled pork sandwich, and sat down to watch a show put on by the local SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism... medieval recreationists):

Impressive stuff, and way better than sitting in the nearby mall food court, listening to elevator music.  I've got a few friends who are heavily into medieval recreation, and while I love the history (and would love to collect a few choice pieces of arms and armour one day), I just can't see myself joining the SCA at the moment.

Still, this doesn't top last year... they had some of the 501st ("Vader's Fist", an international club of Star Wars fans who dress up in costume) hanging out by the food trucks.  I nearly laughed my head off when Darth Vader and Boba Fett posed with one of the chefs while a Jawa raised his fists in the air and yelled, "Poutini!".  :)

After a great sandwich and some cold liquid caffeine (I like to alternate my caffeine intake through the day... hot, then cold, then hot, and maybe some more cold... it keeps my body on it's toes), it was back to the Con, and my painting clinic, where I demonstrated various painting techniques and tools to anyone who was interested:

I dragged along a ton of stuff to the Con for this clinic.  Miniatures (both finished and work-in-progress), small display cases (purchased at Magic Box Hobbies in Vancouver), brushes, tools, paints, lamps, extension cords, blow dryer (for drying paint in a hurry), wet palattes, water containers, and even all my airbrush stuff (never again... the compressor, airbrush, and airbrush accessories took up a ton of room in my rolling luggage, weighed a ton, and people barely asked about airbrushing at all).

Lots of great questions were asked, techniques and tools explained and demonstrated, and I hope that people came away with a sense of "I can do this", and a plan for getting to the next stage of their painting prowess.  People seemed appreciative enough, and I think I'd like to continue running painting clinics in the future.

That's about it for my first blog entry regarding GottaCon 2013.  Next, I'll put up some pics of the various contest entries, along with some thoughts of what I liked about each one, what I didn't like, and where I think they could have been improved to get them to the next level.  For the most part, every entry was fantastic, and could easily have won a trophy or ribbon, but there were just some that managed to do some things so amazingly well that they deserved the win.

If you're one of the painters from the competition, or someone even thinking of entering painting competitions in the future, I advise you to check back and read the comments while checking out the pics.  It'll give you a great idea of what judges are typically looking for in a winning entry.


  1. It was really great to see your painted miniatures in person. Thank you for all the great tips/advise concerning blending and working with paints.

    1. It was my pleasure. I tend to rant on when discussing one of my favourite topics... I'm glad you managed to get a few useable tips from all my verbal diarhea. I was also happy to be able to demonstrate wet blending... it's a hard concept to envision with just a description, and is much better conveyed (and mentally processed) when shown in person.