Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Adepticon 2017 (Part 2)


I attended two seminars per day.  Each lasted about 2 hours.  I would have been happy with 90 minutes for most of them, leaving more time to peruse the Crystal Brush entries, but the time was well-spent, regardless.  As much as I appreciate learning new ideas or reinforcing old ones, I also enjoy learning about the personalities of the artists themselves.

Most of the seminars were located in the presentation rooms surrounding the Hobby Lounge, which encouraged a constant, high-energy hub of interaction between painters, pro and amateur alike.
I'll touch on some of my personal takeaways or impressions of each class, but I'll refrain from revealing too many specifics, out of respect for the artists, who are trying to make ends meet by imparting their knowledge in classes!

Francesco Farabi - Skintone

Francesco started the class with some color wheel theory, and I asked a question that I like to pose to professional artists:  what is their view on deciding when and why to use which of the three or so dominant color wheels.  Farabi prefers the traditional color wheel because of its practicality for mixing pigments.  Later, I discussed this topic with Raffaele Picca, and he made a compelling point that the printer's CMY color wheel also mixes pigments, as well as light....

One of Francesco Farabi's entries in the Crystal Brush.

Francesco described some of the qualities of professional artists' acrylic paints.  I've been experimenting with some of these paints for some time, and I learned a valuable lesson in when to favor the professional paints over the miniature paints, and vice versa.  Francesco probably spared me a lot of experimentation time!

Mohamed Mehdi - Non Metallic Metal

I asked Mohamed my usual question with regard to NMM:  where do you decide where to place the lights and shadows -- based on physics, aesthetics, or both?  Interestingly, his answer was the same as Jeremie Bonamant Taboul's.  Maybe because they're both French?

The ultimate in NMM, by Michal Pisarski.

We practiced NMM on a tiny figure from the Eden range.  Mohamed likes to begin with grey and then add the blacks and whites. He also likes to use a dry palette, which was a surprising running theme throughout some of the seminars.  I had the most practice with a dry palette that I've ever had, having never really used one, since I moved from using well palettes to using a wet palette. A dry palette is not as awkward as I imagined it would be.  I'll need to practice with it more, to decide when I should favor it over the other types.

As a bonus, I learned how to pronounce 'Cadwallon' in French.  Cadwallon is a primary city setting in Confrontation.  Mohamed used to work for Rackham, and he's French, so I figured he would be the person to ask!

A classic Rackham figure, expertly painted by Michael Stubbs.


Angel Giraldez - Airbrushing and Painting a Rackham Bust

My primary motivation to sign up for this class was to get the Rackham bust!  As it turns out, I was pretty blown away by the larger-scale work that Angel brought to show the class.  His style is even more impressive in person than in photos.  But that's probably true for any art, in general.

WIP orc bust, by Angel Giraldez.
I was surprised by the sensitivity of the Iwata airbrushes.  They took some getting used to.  They definitely have an entirely different feel than my Harder-Steenbeck workhorse and my Grex fine-points.

Another WIP bust, by Angel Giraldez.
My favorite take-away was learning how Angel efficiently cleans the airbrush -- basically by dunking it in the water-cup and blowing it out while submerged in the water!

This side-by-side comparison will be a helpful reference for me to improve my technique.
My ~90 minutes of work (on the left) next to Angel's (on the right).

By the way, Angel is another dry palette user.

Angel Giraldez and me.


Fabrizio Russo - Color Variations

I didn't really know what Fabrizio's class was going to be about.  About 30 minutes into the class, I still didn't know what it was about!  His English is good, but I think he felt a little self-conscious about it, so he seemed more comfortable demonstrating, as opposed to talking.  But we were painting a Rackham figure, so I was happy!

 I do not enjoy painting over black primer.
Eventually, I realized that our objective was to paint a 3-part, color transition on the figure's cloak.  Fabrizio likes to paint on black primer, so that was another opportunity to force me out of my comfort zone.

But I was surprised to discover that colors can still turn out vibrant and saturated over black primer.


Fabrizio Russo - Textures

The next day was a repeat with the kindly Fabrizio.  Another Rackham figure from the same faction, so I may have the makings of a proper unit!  This time, we used the figure's cloak to practice roughing it up with dirt and scratch textures.  I challenged myself to paint it red (again, over black primer -- a difficult task for me).  Another challenge using red is trying to figure out what colors will show up well on bright red to represent weathering.  I wasn't very pleased with my results, so I'm glad I tried it out on a practice piece!

Me and Fabrizio Russo.


Sergio Calvo &  Jose Manuel Palomares - Masterclass on Black Sailor Miniature

I have admired Sergio's work ever since he hit the scene, painting the new models for Dark Age, what, almost 4 years ago now?  Then I foamed at the mouth for the Black Sailor Kickstarter, and that's when I began to memorize his name and really study his style.  So it was a great opportunity to watch him work and hear his philosophy.

Sergio Calvo Rubio.
His technique is fairly straightforward.  Very low dilution, to maximize pigment concentration and therefore color intensity.  Little to no blending.  Bam.  Basically, return full-circle to opaque layers, a la Kevin Dallimore.  But now add texture and vibrant colors.  Oh, and he's another dry palette user....

Painted in the style of Sergio. 
I kinda overdid it, though.  The colors in Sergio's demo version were actually much less saturated.  I liked his version better....

Mohamed Mehdi- Skin

Another class with "Mo".  This time we worked on painting skin.  We worked "global" volumes first, followed by smaller volumes.  Mid tones, followed by lights, then shadows.

Another Eden figure.  No primer!


Sergio Calvo &  Jose Manuel Palomares - Learn with Crystal Brush Winners

My last seminar was a non-participatory, listen-and-observe class with Sergio and Jose.  I was thankful for the less demanding class to wrap things up on Sunday!

I again posed my question about the multiple color wheels.  Just like everyone else (except Raffa), they were non-committal towards one over the others.  For choosing complements, don't worry about which wheel - choose complements based on atmosphere....

Jose Manuel Palomares.
Jose impressed me as a highly demanding teacher -- kinda like the kung-fu masters in the movies.



With most of my time devoted to seminars, I filled in some of the gaps with game demos.

Blood & Plunder

I backed this historical-pirate game by Firelock Games on Kickstarter.  I knew it would be a long time before I actually played my own copy, so I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to play the game at the convention.  I really liked the flow and mechanics of the game.  And the models very well designed -- just the right amount of detail and very durable as game pieces.  Oh, and their vendor booth was one of the best in the vendor hall -- all "decked" out, like you were on a ship...

Rune Wars

I've had my eye on this game, ever since it was announced by Fantasy Flight Games about 6 months ago.  FFG made quite a splash with the game at Adepticon by giving away a free copy of the game to every premier and VIP badge-holder.  Someone said they gave away 1,800 copies!

I decided the game is not for me.  For a lot of little reasons, which, by themselves, wouldn't be decisive, but, collectively, turn me away.  I'm not crazy about the cartoonish, WoW-style aesthetic, and I don't like the jagged, jigsaw movement trays.  I don't like all the accessories and counters.  The movement doesn't feel realistic; it feels more like board-game movement, with wonky constraints.  I don't like removing casualties as "quads" from the trays, rather than removing the back models.

All that said, I will say that the game design is immensely clever, even elegant in some places.  I can easily see how the designers selected and tuned the mechanics to appropriately fit a mass-combat game.  But, for me, it just didn't come together as a whole.  I guess I'll be looking to the upcoming Song of Fire and Ice game to fill that void for a commercial option (Kings of War being my current commercial option and Mini Mayhem being my non-commercial option).

Dust 1947

Dust Warfare is in my Top 3 rulesets.  With the corporate fiasco surrounding the game and the consequent implosion of the player-base, I had written off any chance of Dust rising from....the dust.

It felt good to play the game again.

Even on the blessed grid.  I never thought I would play on the grid.  But, hey, it made sense to play the grid as a demo game, and I think it's wise to offer both grid and grid-less options.  As the new rule-book states, the grid is a helpful, newb-friendly point-of-entry into the game.  A player has the option to either stay there or move to grid-less.  Fair enough.

And the models were slick as always.  I ended up buying back into the game....  Sigh.

But, hey, I had a surprise "No" to RuneWars and a surprise "Yes" to Dust.  It evens out...


As you may have noticed, I finally learned how to take selfies...

My good pal and brother-in-arms, Josh.

An awkward moment with Lincoln.
Always a bundle of positive energy and source of belly-laughs, Scooter.
A regular on the Hobby Hangout, Derek.
Michael, showing in-force at Crystal Brush. 
Watch out, Derek, your face will freeze that way!
Photo-bomb courtesy of Matt.
Matt demanding his own photo.
Finally met Shoshie in person.
Jesus was there, too.  Oh, wait, that's Dan.
Always good to see Caleb.  Be sure to ask about his wood.
I bought some of Caleb's wood.
Haven't seen Ben since MFCA.  What a swell guy.
David and Bryan. 
David, I will claim your Bludgelt at NOVA Open.
And a pleasure to catch up with my good friend, Raffa.

Next Year!

Next year, I am resolved to drive to Adepticon.  After all of the lines, waits, and layovers, it takes the same amount of time to fly as it does to drive.  And with driving, I can transport as many armies as I want, and I can return with as much merchandise as I want.  And with the expense of airfare, car rental, and airport parking -- well, I can buy a lot of miniatures with that money... 

I'm still not sure if I will enter Crystal Brush next year.  We'll have to see how things pan out.

But speaking of Crystal Brush, if you've made it this far through this blog entry, here's my thank you....

Crystal Brush - The Gallery (continued)


  1. If you bring your Blood & Plunder with you next time you're up here, we can push around some lead. (I'm still trying to find the gumption to assemble and paint my sloop, but I've painted up a butt-ton of English buccaneers.)

    1. Thanks, Richard! I'll have to see what I can do. It's funny, I lamented just last night on the Hobby Hangout about how many projects I need to complete in time for NOVA! I plan to play Lord of the Rings, Mini Mayhem, Dark Age, and Arena Rex. And I need to paint forces from scratch for the last two. And then there's Capital Palette! But, hey, it will be worth it to add B&P to the mix.

  2. Thanks for the nice memories this article brings already :)

    1. Sure thing, Raffa! Glad you enjoyed it. As always, I wish we could have spent more time together. But I'm glad you made it out here this year. I plan to return to Duke of Bavaria one of these years!


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