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)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Adepticon 2017 (Part 1)

Flying into Chicago
Adepticon was a blast this year.  I was so glad to hang out with friends and acquaintances, both old and new -- gushing over miniature art; busting our guts, either from laughing or eating; learning from the top European talent; discovering (and buying!) new, shiny treasures in the Vendor Hall; and even playing the occasional game.

My first taste of Chicago deep-dish pizza.
My general goal for this year was to schedule a pace that would keep me occupied and entertained, but with enough time to casually see the sights and spend quality time with people.  I scheduled 2 seminars a day; prepared to play my first game of Confrontation; and planned to play demo games.

Watching a beautifully painted Tzaangor army in an Age of Sigmar game.

I decided to not enter a piece in the Crystal Brush, since I didn't want to apply that pressure on myself.  Not the pressure of competition, mind you -- just the time-pressure to paint something to my highest standard.  It's a been an intense year at work, so I didn't want my free time to feel strained.  Instead, I made it a goal to paint a warband for Confrontation.

Inspiring terrain in the Warmachine/Hordes room.
For the most part, I succeeded in my goal to have a casual pace at the convention.  I was surprised to discover that my schedule was still very busy, to the point that I had to rush through each of my three passes at the Crystal Brush.  I didn't have anywhere near the time that I wanted, to study all my favorite pieces.  It was also a challenge to find a time-slot to play Confrontation.  All the effort to paint the models and all the risk to transport them to Adepticon was almost for naught.  Luckily, the Confrontation guys were gracious enough to be flexible and patient and to squeeze me into their busy schedule.

A late-night game of Frostgrave.


I still have a little more work to do on my Orcs of the Behemoth (I hope to post a pic of the finished warband in my next post), but I got them to a good enough level to make a good impression on the tabletop.  I was even torn whether to play with them, as planned, or maybe enter them into Crystal Brush, after all.  Luckily, when I saw the Crystal Brush entries, my decision became an easy one!  My guys are definitely tabletop standard, next to the Crystal Brush entries in the 'Unit' category.

My Orcs of the Behemoth (bottom) face off against the evil Dwarves of Mid-Nor.

The Facebook group, 'American Confrontation EVO Society', organized a proper Confrontation tournament for Friday night.  I swung by the tournament to meet the players and introduce myself, in the hopes of arranging a pick-up game later in the weekend.  Luckily for me, the gents were patient and accommodating, and they squeezed in a game with me on Sunday.

It's always a pleasure to see such well-painted miniatures across the table.
In studying the rules over the last month, in preparation for the game, I suspected that I would not be overfond of the game-play, actually.  As it turns out, the game-play met my skeptical expectations.  I found the game overly-complicated, and the tactics are embedded in the minutia of the individual melees.  The combat mechanics are so heavy-weight, that I don't think the game will flow well at the squad level.  All that said, I surprised myself to discover that I had a very enjoyable time with it, despite its weaknesses in game-play.  I can't put my finger on why it was so enjoyable.

My gracious opponent kindly offered me tactical advice on how to roll up the flank and isolate his command group.
The good news is that there are two movements afoot to streamline the rules.  One avenue is the continued work that the Italian EVO group is doing to modernize the game.  A second avenue is the promise of the French company, Sans Detour, developing an official relaunch of the game later this year.  I'll definitely be keeping my finger on the pulse of Confrontation, and I hope that a community develops around a format that checks a few more squares for a more modern skirmish game.

This Warrior of the Wind weakened the Mid-Nor leader so that my leader, Kolghor, could finish him off.
I'll be posting a formal "family portrait' of my Orcs, when I finish painting the final touches on them.

Crystal Brush

Crystal Brush was astonishing.  What an amazing forum to attract such a bountiful sampling of the best artists in the world for our hobby.  Sure, Monte San Savino and the other European shows have more panache and participation, but they're pure art shows.  One unique aspect of Crystal Brush that sets it apart from the European shows is more general accessibility to the artists by the gamer population -- the opportunity to mix and mingle the professional artists with everyday gamers and hobbyists.

By Raffaele Picca of the Massive Voodoo studio and blog.
 The Hobby Lounge amplified that opportunity by collocating the seminars with a large, general-use painting area, wonderfully supplied with lamps, paint, and water.  This area formed a central, social hub, which provided even more opportunities for casual interaction and impromptu teaching.

The Hobby Lounge.  Where masters and novices could paint side-by-side.

 My two favorite entries

These were my favorite two pieces at Crystal Brush, due to their powerful theme, original concept, expert sculpting, superb composition, brilliant color theme, and masterful technique.

Original sculpture by Michael Kontraros, painted by Francesco Farabi.

"Deus Ex Machina"
Scratchbuilt and painted by Fabrizio Russo.

The gallery

Next Post

  • The Gallery (continued)
  • Seminars
  • Demos
  • Friends
  • Next Year!