Monday, 11 February 2013

GottaCon 2013: Miniature Painting Contest part 5

Pics and Judge's Thoughts: Large Model Catagory (continued):

Where was I again?  Oh yeah, just a few more entries in this catagory to go, and on to the winners.

Andy McBeer entered this Warhound Titan, and I'm not sure, but it might be over the size limit for the contest, seeing as it took up an entire shelf in the display case by itself.  Yikes!  Really eye-catching.  Great weathering.  Fantastic story base.  The only thing I could nitpick about was that the paintjob was a bit flat... it's hard to tell with all the dry pigments used over top, but it looked like there wasn't enough tonal variation worked into the model.  If you take a closer look at the yellows, you can see what I mean:

I would have liked to see the yellow fade into ocre, then eventually dark brown, for the shades.  As it was, it looked a bit flat (I know, I say that alot regarding large models, but it's one of the most common perils when painting something this size!).  The Rhino and Imperial Fist aren't as weathered, so it's even more evident on them how few tones were put into the base colours.  Again, this is normally a minor complaint... the whole piece was so characterful and wonderfully ancient looking, I really had fun looking this model over... lots of neat details to discover.

Evan Moore entered this gorgeous Ork Fighta Bomba.  Again, fantastic weathering, precise freehand, extra work put into the base, great paintjob on the crew... lots of things I liked.  A tiny bit more contrast would have been nice though.  More shadows would have made the model more defined, and perhaps a hint of edge highlighting would have helped too.  Weathering tends to flatten (or even cover up) a model's contrasts a little bit, so I think you really need to exaggerate your shades and highlights before moving on to that final step.  Still, this entry oozes character, and the artist really went to town on it.  Fantastic.

Speaking of weathering, check out Gerald Moore's Minotaur tank.  This thing looks like it came straight from the pages of one of the Forgeworld books.  The gun barrels are scorched, the tracks are dusty, the rivets have rust streaking down from them, the mufflers are rusted, and even the vehicle markings show weathering.  Everything is supremely well thought out and executed.  And when you think it can't get any better, check out the interior crew compartment:

Wow.  The paint is chipped and worn in all the right places (you can almost imagine all the little stones and rocks that get stuck in your boot tread scratching up the deck plating, the rungs of the ladder, and just about everywhere else you step).  Big guns like this also kick up alot of dust when they fire... and you can see how it collects in all the nooks and crannies.  The crew is reasonably well painted as well, although a bit more subdued in colour than I prefer.  I'm also not sure why the guns are less weathered and dusty than the rest of the piece... it looks deliberate though.  This is NOT a model that might catch your eye at first glance, but once you zoom in and allow your eyes to wander all around it, it really stands out.  I'm not sure if everyone will appreciate how nice this entry was, but I certainly did.

Another fantastic tank was entered by Marshall Reeves from all the way from Kelowna.  All the weathering makes it a bit muddled looking from a distance, but Marshall countered that with a really eye-catching freehand dozer blade.  It looks like a graffiti artist went to town on it while the crew was out having lunch.  Beautifully done, and I regret I don't have a pic of the whole blade... the title of the piece, "Let the City Burn"   was painted on as well, and was cut out of this pic somehow.  As with Gerald's tank, the weathering is extremely well thought out and placed in all the logical places.  However, Marshall uses some older Eavy Metal techniques, and they don't scale as well when viewed up close when compared to some of the techniques used by modern military modellers and the painters from Forgeworld.  They do look fantastic when viewed from the gaming tabletop though.  Lastly, check out the glass pieces, particularly the spotlight!  Gorgeously done, and the super clean shiny look really contrasts well against the grime and beaten look of the rest of the tank.  Just fantastic.

On the other end of the spectrum is Bryce Jensen's Deathjack.  Like all of Bryce's entries, this was a supremely well-executed "clean" paintjob.  There's nothing to hide or distract from his deep, rich contrasts, and razor-sharp precise highlights.  This is how I imagine a model being painted if you could someone use a CAD machine or 3D printer to do it.  It's like an early Pixar animated piece, made real.  Up close or at arm's length, Bryce's models are simply stunning.  No lack of contrast as well, which is difficult when working with larger areas.  Again, I just wish he would feather or blend his tonal transitions though... it's a bit more obvious when viewed up close on the large open areas:

Notice how each layer or step of highlighting is very pronounced looking?  That's because when you place one tone next to another, the area just along the join will be interpreted by your brain as darker or lighter looking when compared to the next tone.  It almost looks like each layer or highlighting is underlapping the next.  I vaguely remember my grade 8 art teacher explaining the phenomenom(sp?) to my barely comprehending teenage mind.  Now that I see Bryce's paintjob, I finally get it though.  This is why miniature painters should try and challenge themselves to blend each layer into the last one... it blurs the definitions away, and gives it a smoother finish.

A tiny amount of weathering would have also been nice too, but not too much.  A few paint chips here and there would have added visual interest, but too much would hide an otherwise stupendous paintjob.

Lastly, we have this monstrously large Trollblood model.  Unfortunately, this piece was entered after I had packed up on saturday night, and I didn't get the name from the volunteer who had accepted the piece.  If this is your model, please comment so that you can get credit for a really nice bit of work.  This artist got quite alot out of a few simple techniques... washes and a nice light touch of drybrushing.  Some of the more intricate places got more attention with the brush though (the inside of the mouth in particular), so it's evident the artist has got some skills.  The purple veining is a nice touch, although the blue skin and the grey rock are otherwise a bit too monochrome... highlighting up to another colour (such as flesh tones) on the skin would have been nice, and the rocks could have used some subtle grime or dirt.  This is the best example I could come up with at a moment's notice:

See how some darker dirt accumilates in the cracks and recesses of the rock?  Also how vegetation clings to the sides?  At the scale of this model, I'd say it would look more like green slime growing along wherever water would run off the rocks.  Otherwise everything looks too fresh, and not outdoorsy enough.  It's a tad unnatural looking for anyone who spends alot of time outdoors.  However, it's otherwise a spectacular entry, and probably impresses the heck out of any gaming opponent.

So, who won?

Third place was a tie between Marshall Reeves' "Watch the City Burn" tank and Jeremy Fleet's Avatar Warjack.  I really had a hard time choosing between the two... Jeremy's warjack demonstrated some amazing blending skills, and Marshall really knows how to work freehand.  Both put lots of care and thought into their models as well.  I almost gave the edge to Jeremy's warjack, but it turned out that I had an extra Third Place ribbon, so I opted to cop out and give them both third place.  Both fantastic works of art for entirely different reasons.  I'd love to see the both of them compete again next year, but with deeper contrasts, and a tiny bit of modern weathering techniques.

Bryce Jensen killed it with this standout Deathjack for second place.  While I like to bitch about Bryce's highlighting style (I want smoother, damnit!), it's still awe-inspiringly precise, and the way he manages to fit so much contrast into such small areas is unreal.  A tiny bit of freehand or weathering would have put this entry over the moon though, and there's something about that head that gets lost in the rest of the model... perhaps doing it up in a contrasting colour or perhaps done much lighter than the rest of the body would have put the focus back where it should have been.  Otherwise, I'm stuck with my eyes magnetically drawn to the harsh stepped effect of the line highlighting on the upper armour plate.  Damn you Bryce.

Still, first place has to go to Gerald Moore's Minotaur tank.  This is the pinnacle of realistic weathering that I've seen so far.  I mean, compare that paintjob to something in real life like this:

And you get the idea that Gerald's going for something that actually looks like a working piece of machinery, and not just something from a late '80s / early '90s sci-fi movie set.  The interior crew compartment was what sealed the deal for me though.  It really scaled extremely well, and was believeable in almost every way (still not sure why the breech area of the guns were so relatively spotless though).  Also plenty of shading, unobscured by the weathering.  Really loved it, and would love to see more.  Congrats to Gerald, you should be very pleased with yourself:

I guess though, in a perfect world, you'd get something like all four top placing paintjobs all on one model.  Bryce's super ramped up contrasts with Jeremy's super smooth transitions, Marshall's kickass freehand skills, and Gerald's hyper-realistic weathering.  That would be something worth witnessing, although I suspect it would be a massively time-consuming undertaking.  Oh well, there's almost a whole year between now and next year's competition...


  1. Really enjoying these posts. Having seen the models in person and hearing your perspective is giving me some great insights. Can't wait until you get to the single model catagory.

    1. Thanks! I wasn't sure how the judge's comments would be received. They are intended as feedback, not criticism. Rarely does a contest judge give any insight to their decisions, and seeing as I've been a competitor way more often than I've judged, I know the frustration of not knowing what I needed to improve on to win. To me, it's not about being defensive about your own style of painting, but about constantly challenging yourself to learn new styles, new techniques, and new ways of thinking. So I don't mean to offend anyone... I just want to get people to look at their models from a fresh perspective, and push themselves on their next paint project.