Saturday, 9 February 2013

GottaCon 2013: Miniature Painting Contest part 4

Pics and Judge's Thoughts: Large Model Catagory

When we called it the large model catagory, that's exactly what we got.  With only a few exceptions, most of the entries were really pushing the 10" x 10" x 10" size limit that our rules dictated (one might have gone over, in fact).  But was bigger actually better?

Richard Despres entered this very nice Imperial Guard Valkrye.  A very solid entry... nice clean paintjob and precise detailing (including the impressive wing art).  A solid gaming paintjob, in my opinion.  However, for a painting competition piece, I would have liked to see a bit more contrast (I'm starting to sound like a broken record, eh?).  The grey really came out very flat looking, and I had to crank up the contrast when editing this pic so that you could pick out the details.  That shouldn't have been necessary... it's the painter's job to do that, not the photo editor.  With such large, flat areas, a piece like this really NEEDS deeper shading and sharper highlights.  Otherwise the paintjob doesn't scale properly in the viewer's eyes.  Miguel Jimenez's technique of colour modulation would have helped immensely, and a bit more weathering might have put it right at the top.  By adding those extra steps, this model could have had some real visual punch and interest.

Jason Lindholm's Throne of Everblight suffers from the same problems as Richard's Valkrye, but of course, it doesn't show up as readily on this model.  Because the Valkrye had large, flat, fairly featureless areas on it (prior to painting), a flat paintjob was going to compound the last of contrast.  This model has deep sculpted detail, so it still comes across as having some contrast.  The ambient lighting of the venue tends to catch the deep ridges, giving it some "shading" that the artist didn't put in.  Still, without added shading and highlighting, this model won't scale well in the viewer's eyes, and the details don't pop.  Also, the green flesh, purple Hentai bitz, and large metal areas are too monochrome in colour... there's not enough variation in tone or colour... Purply veins, earthen undertones, perhaps some lighter flesh tones mixed into the highlights would have broken up the large single-colour areas a bit more.  At least the metal areas benefitted greatly from a dark wash, making the embossed details stand out a bit.  Lastly, I might have made the base a snow, desert, or urban theme instead.  The colour of the green flock is too close to the colour of the green skin, which makes the model blend into the base a bit much.  Other than the base, it just seems that model was entered half done... it needs several more hours of work put into it in order to thrash it's competition.

Evan Peters' Keeper of Secrets.  This is where things start getting really interesting.  Fantastic conversion work, a story-filled base, and tons of contrast.  I would have liked to see a few more intermediate tones in the skin... it seems like it goes from nearly white to dark purple too quickly... a slightly gentler transition between highlights and shades would have made it more pleasing to the eye.  I'm also a bit torn about the white marble on the base.  On one hand, it contrasts very nicely with the richly coloured gribblies bursting from the side.  On the other hand, colour-composition-wise it blends in with the white skin of the main subject (the Keeper of Secrets).  A centrepiece model like this needs to stand out from the base, not camouflage into it.  Still, Evan took a fairly old model that we've all seen way too many times in competitions, and made it refreshlingly new again.

Will Hellbrand's take on Fateweaver (based on the Belakor model) was even more ambitious.  Heavily converted, standing on an elevated base, and even featuring some nice sculpting, this model is extremely interesting.  It's got contrast, visual punch, and dynamics going for it too.  I might have tried shading the turquoise skin with a slight touch of dark red glaze... anything to make it a bit richer.  Hard to say... it has depth (plenty of shading), but when I look at this model, I understand why canvas artists shade with colour variations, and not just with black.  The highlights could have gone one or even two steps further too, but we're talking about just doing the lightest touch on the tiniest uppermost points.  It's about 95% of the way already.  Some sort of colour shading on the metals would have been a nice touch too... the problem with painting silvery metals with only black as a contrast / shade, is that it can end up looking a bit monochrone... it ends up looking a bit like a black and white picture at best, and just variations of grey at worst.  Anyway, all the above are simply nitpicks... this paintjob reminds me of work I did years ago, and by that I mean it's pretty darn good.  Will's a few colour theory tricks away from being a fantastic artist.

Ah, Jeremy Fleet again, this time with a stunning Avatar warjack.  You really had to look at this model up close and from a few different angles to really appreciate how wonderful his blending is.  Absolutely stunning.  If Bryce Jensen's painting was a colour staircase between the heights of Heaven all the way to the depths of Hell, then Jeremy's blending would be like a slip-n-slide, it's that smooth.  However, the only thing lacking is depth.  I really would have loved to see him stretch his shades a few stages darker... it would have given this model better contrasts, more definition between neighbouring segments, and more visual punch from an arm's length viewing distance.  That also goes for the golds (work a bit more dark brown into the shading and silver into the highlights), and the purple cloth (take the edges all the way up to bone).  Also, the base could have used a bit more of something... it's "gaming" nice, but not "awesome" nice.

Oh, and check out the shield:

There's that blending I was talking about (even smoother than what I could accomplish with an airbrush).  However, that flaming emblem is really something else.  I loved it.  If only there was some darker shades (maybe even some blacklining) on the embossed gold detail and the rivets...

Aaron Kehler's Scythean, I presume?  I'm not super familiar with Hordes models, but I'm think I got that right.  In any case, beautiful tonal transitions.  Good contrast, although if Aaron ramped up the highlights on the bone a bit more, and pushed the shading on the blue-grey skin a bit too, that would have really impressed the heck out of me.  The base also lacked any visual interest for me though, and the fact that it was done in the exact same colours as the skin was a real let-down too.  In a competition, bases are part of the painter's canvas.  They simply can't be ignored... after all, it's 100% certain that the judges won't ignore them.  Otherwise a very nice display of technical skill from an obviously talented artist.

Lee De Kock really had me stumped with this model.  It was somehow familiar to me, yet I couldn't place which range it was from.  Turns out it's a pre-production model of "The Madness", from a really interesting game I was looking at on Indiegogo (like Kickstarter, only more international).  "Drake" didn't make it's funding goal, but I sincerely hope they try again, and I would love to see Lee's paintjob work it's way into the promotional marketing for it somehow (check out the website here).  I love the base, and the colours he's chosen, and how he can blend one colour into another, regardless of their relative positions on the colour wheel.  Again, I'd like to see the highlights brought up a bit more (contrast... it's like cowbell for miniatures.  "I need more cowbell!"), but this was a really nice paintjob regardless.  Take a closer look at this beastie's face, for example:

Fantastic, and the stuff of real fantasy art.  If only the highlights went up another stage or two, this would really have made my day.

Phil Turner's Land Raider was back into more familiar fare.  Again, these models with their large flat areas can really end up looking flat if you don't do something special with them.  Back in the old days, I used to just highlight the sh*t out of anything approaching a hard edge.  Nowadays, I recommend Mig Jiminez's colour modulation theory instead.  However, Phil turned a standard fare gaming paintjob into something a bit nicer when he added some weathering.  There's some streaking going on (who doesn't like streaking?), and some soot and muzzle scorchmarks as well.  All that extra work tells the painting judge that you're going the extra mile to impress.  I only wish Phil had added a bit more tonal variation on those large flat areas and I would have been very very happy.

And here's a really big 'un... a Woldrath by Kim Daynes.  I liked the glowing rune effects, and really liked the interesting and dynamic base (the Woldrath is shoving aside a tree in order to get to grips with the enemy, while a sorceress narrowly escapes being stepped on).  This paintjob just needed a bit more shading to get the amount of contrast it really needed.  Also, a bit of weather streaking and grime would have helped give it that outdoorsy look, instead of looking like it came fresh from the quarry.  A good job overall, and I especially loved the extra work put into the base.

Nick Marshman's Mycetic Spore had some visual impact for sure.  From the colour choices, to the modelled on fleshy hooks, and especially the mirror-shine gloss finish, Nick really seemed to be trying to get the viewer's attention.  I also think there was some kind of irridescent finish going on with the exterior shell too.  Hard to pinpoint exactly what I would have done differently with this model, but I would have toned down the shine (perhaps go with a satin finish instead of full gloss... it looked like a glass finish rather than something organically slimy), added more detail to the base, and tried going for smoother tone transitions in my colours.

Well, that's most of the entries in this catagory covered.  I'll finish up Large Models in my next blog, and rest assured, it won't be a long wait.  Feel free to post your own thoughts and comments... I'm always happy to respond.

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