Thursday, 21 February 2013

GottaCon 2013: Miniature Painting Contest part 7

Pics and Judge's Thoughts: Single Miniature Catagory part 2

Still no luck finding the high quality pics from this catagory, but it's still time to keep going until this is finished. Only a few more writeups to go before I've covered EVERY entry from this year's competition (maybe I can power through it all in one entry), and then I'll get back to the random ramblings of a painting addict / philosopher.  Hopefully some of the blog entries will be of use to my fellow artists.

A quick thought to keep in mind if you're entering a painting competition: despite their skills, the top artists in the world invest stupid amounts of time in their competition entries.  Rarely does someone win a Golden Demon or Slayer Sword with a model they tossed off in an evening.  Most winning entries that I know of represent 20-40 hours of work, even the smallest of single model projects.  A large diorama is usually something a painter would have been working on for nearly an entire year.  When an award-winning painter talks about their "quickie" tabletop quality paintjob, they are usually referring to something that took between 4 to 10 hours of work at their most frantic pace, and that's not something they would dare take into a competition.  Another thing to consider is that these artists can blend at least 2-3 times as fast as the average painter, so something that takes them 20 hours to complete might take someone like me at least 30 to 40.

It's an intimidating thought, isn't it?  Now, these are the "Olympians" of their art form, so no one is expecting something like that at a local in-store contest, or even at GottaCon (but it would be nice to see at least one entry like that... such models are awe-inspiring to witness in person, and a rare privilege).  However, it's something to keep in mind when you need motivation to put just a few extra hours into your competition entries.  An experienced and talented judge will be able to look at a bunch of entries and quickly calculate how much work went into each one.  Will the model with the most hours invested automatically win?  No, there are a ton of other factors to consider, but it may sway his or her bias towards one entry or another.

In short, if you're entering something you consider is a good solid paintjob, I would take a good look at it a week before the competition, and figure out a way to put just a few more hours into it.  There's almost no such thing as "overdone" in the painting world, as it's usually the extra bit of effort that wins it.

Kim Daynes entered this lovely "Druid Gone Wilder" model, and it was positively recieved by many of the Con-goers.  The colour composition is spot on (green and red contrasting very well, with enough neutral browns and flesh tones to balance it nicely).  However, the base was what blew me away.  I've said it before with some of the previous entries that the base is part of the artist's canvas, and cannot be ignored or rushed.  Kim really went to town on this base, and it really makes the model come alive.  It's got such vibrant colours and luxurious texture to it, that it elevated the entry to a whole new level.  The model's paintjob itself is nice... some great blending, deep contrasts and sharp highlights, but it could have used a bit more definition in the way of some blacklining.  Otherwise, the lighter toned areas look a bit washed out when viewed from a distance.  When a light skin colour meets light coloured gold embroidery, there needs to be some visible border between the two.  I might have carefully applied some dark flesh wash along those lines with a detail brush... that's pretty much all this model really needed (apply a bit of brown wash to the red hair too... it would have given it more definition and depth).  Perhaps bring the highlights up another notch here and there (particularly on the browns), and it would have popped even more.  Those are all minor nitpicks on an otherwise brilliant model, but of course, in any painting competition, it's usually the smallest of details that can make all the difference.

Marshall Reeves entered this Absylonia model, which was a prime example of "Pop!"  It elicited a number of wows from people, and for good reason.  The bright green plating really contrasted well against the bright red of the loincloth, wings, tongue, and of course, the lava.  OSL (object source lighting... the effect of a light source illuminating the immediate surrounding area) is always a crowd-pleaser, and this was done in a very different style to the PP studio paintjob.  The base elevated the model nicely, giving it more presence as well.  However, the shading and highlighting was handled a bit heavy-handed.  Each successive layer was applied rather thick, with very few mid-tones to smooth out the transitions.  While difficult to tell on the highly textured areas such as the scales, it's all too easy to pick out and count the number of paints used in the lava. Some wet blending, feathering, or even a number of extra layers inbetween the black, red, orange, and yellow would have helped this entry out, and made it look more like bubbling liquid.  Still, this model oozes ambition and intent, and the artist has a flair for the visual that can't be denied.  It just needed some more of the tedious hours of detailed drudgery that a painting judge is looking for and appreciates.

This Reclaimer model was painted by Jeremy Fleet, and unfortunately it was overlooked by many (including me).  I mean, have a look at that cross... I rarely get to see such beautifully contrasted metals in person.  Even thought Jeremy put his model up on a pedestal base, it somehow didn't get the attention it deserved.  The blending is top notch (probably the best in the competition), and the face exudes character (the eyes especially).  Perhaps if the highlights went up another notch or two (the grey cloth could have gone all the way up to white at the top edges of the creases, and the reds could have used a touch of orange or white here and there), it would have pulled the eye in more.  I would also have used a bit of blacklining around the tan, gold, and flesh areas... it would have given those areas a more definable border from one area to another.  Nonetheless, I wish I had paid more close attention to this entry at the time of judging... it wasn't until reviewing the pics that I really stopped and admired this entry.  My apologies Jeremy.

Speaking of apologies, sorry for the blurry pic of Steve Hoffman's Ork Hero.  Such a paintjob deserves better.  What I liked about this model was how Steve embraced the character of this sculpt, which probably led him to paint all manner of scratches, rust, verdigris, blood spatter, checker patterns, etc. on it.  He did this pretty well too, with plenty of contrasting highlights and shades.  However, some more colour contrast would have helped, as the different rust colours, browns leathers, and brown furs tend to blur into one another when viewed at any distance other than up really close.  However, when you allow your eye to wander around on this model, you do see that he took the care to paint with different colours of brown for area... the gloves are treated differently than the leather straps, the furs are yet another kind of brown from the leathers, etc etc etc.  The layering of the highlights and shades could have been smoothed out a touch more though (I say that a lot, don't I?), but otherwise this entry made me really happy, as it accurately conveyed a form of mirthful menace that I love to associate with Orks.

Aaron Kehler's Teraph exudes a form of menace that is anything but mirthful (although it's smiling).  Great paintjob... nice brush control, nice deep shades, and excellent work around the face especially (on any model, but particularly beasts like this, you really need to emphasize the face as a focal point somehow).  The skin could have been smoothed out a bit, some more work could have been done with the base, and everything could have gone up a notch or two in terms of highlighting, but otherwise a very nicely painted model.

And the last entry for now (I'll finish up the rest soon, I promise!) is Lee De Kock's Kreoss.  Shading and highlighting are nice and smooth, although deeper shades on the bone coloured areas and brighter highlights on the reds would have been fantastic.  The embossed red crosses on the armour are screaming for some blacklining to border them against the pale white plates.  And the base was looking a bit neglected.  However, it may be that having seen some of Lee's gorgeous entries from a previous GottaCon painting competition, I was expecting more.  The blending was better than most every other entry, but it just didn't go deep enough on the white, and it didn't go high enough on the reds (difficult to do on red without making everything appear either orange or pink, but as long as you restrict any highlight colour higher than red to just the sharpest bare minimum, it'll look good... I promise).  A really well painted entry... it just needed more.

Anyway, only one more blog entry on the GottaCon 2013 painting competition, I hope.  It's been rather exhausting, and I'm also a tad worried that if I start looking at this as a chore, then I may get more critical in my feedback on people's models.  I want to reiterate that I have tons of respect for everyone who entered... it's really hard to work so long and put so much effort into something, only to hear any kind of criticism regarding your baby.  What I'm trying to accomplish is to give constructive and positive feedback to all the artists.  I've entered more competitions than any other painter I know locally, and if there's one thing I really wish I had, it would to hear from the judges their opinions (emphasis on "opinion") on how I could do better next time.  It's great to hear, "Your paintjobs are awesome!" once in awhile to keep your spirits up, reward your efforts, and stoke your ego, but I feel that honest criticism from a qualified peer or someone you admire is what will help get you to the next step of your painting evolution.

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