In this series of Interviews with the Artists, we will take an in depth look into what it took to create their winning entry, any struggles or challenges they faced, their concepts and new techniques they wanted to master!
How did your journey into miniature painting start?
My journey began when I was ten, after looking into the window of a Games Workshop store. I was lucky enough to get the Assault on Black Reach Warhammer 40k Starter Set for my next birthday, and that was it. I drifted from the hobby around the time of my GCSEs, but after beginning my life (coincidentally) at the University of Nottingham, I got back into painting in a big, big way.
How did you approach painting your entry? Did you have a concept or initial idea you wanted to work to?
When picking up the models, I knew I wanted their skin to be blue-ish and I knew I wanted them to have metallic armour. That was the extent of my initial concept. As I was preparing and building them, the real plan came together.
Did you take inspiration from any other sources?
Yes, definitely. The natural world was my biggest inspiration, I have folders of photos on my phone and laptop of real-world reference. Other miniature painters were also a massive source of inspiration, for example I probably referenced at least fifteen different painters when painting the non-metallic metal.
Were there any techniques you wanted to try on your entry?
I wanted to use as many appropriate techniques as I could. I’m still very early in my painting career so every model I paint is a huge opportunity to learn. Throughout the process I continued to develop my blending, stippling, and glazing just to name a few techniques. I knew I needed to push myself with them to convincingly execute parts of the models like the non-metallics.
How did you plan your colour choices?
This was quite a long and non-linear process;
I started out by defining the two main colours that I knew I wanted on my models: Blue (skin) and Copper (armour)- being roughly analogous to orange/pink.
Since the blue skin covered the majority of the area over two of the three models, I considered that first.
To make it look similar to natural skin in some sense, I took colours close in value to that of my standard skin recipe, ending up with a mix of Temple Guard Blue and Gauss Blaster Green from the Citadel paint range as one of my midtones.
I then thought about the highlights: they are standing in daylight so the highlights would feature yellow.
With the colours of the skin progressing from blue to green to yellow, it followed naturally that I would make my shade colour purple, and thus my skin had been figured out.
Figuring out the copper/metallic armour was a little easier as I have a go-to recipe. I made sure to use the same yellow in the highlights as seen on the skin to tie them together. A challenge I found was making the heavily armoured model fit in with the two skin-heavy models. This was easily sorted by using the blues found in the skin to paint heavy verdigris. This verdigris not only tied the models together but also introduced a narrative aspect: the more heavy the verdigris, the less the model would be in the thick of battle (as in that case, it would be knocked off).
After the skin and armour was figured out, the other colours fell into place.I made heavy use of neutral tones to leave the emphasis on the previous two aspects, but I found the cloth to be an interesting part of each model that needed a bit of colour. With blue on the skin and yellow glazes/highlights on the armour, I decided to make the cloth red. This could also be desaturated to firstly prevent drawing the eye away from the more important parts, but secondly to show it is worn and old. This, again, adds narrative.
In short: I figured out the biggest areas first, then decided the smaller details, and finally made sure they worked and allowed opportunity to develop a narrative.
How did your colour choices influence your basing ideas?
I had decided on what I would use for the bases almost as soon as I had bought the models- some pre-sculpted City of Sigmar style bases (from Steelheart’s Champions Underwolds Warband) that fit perfectly into the narrative I was constructing. The question was what colour to paint the stone.
My typical colour choice method for basing is to simply see if the model is predominantly cold or warm, and work from the opposite for the base, but two of my models were very cold (with the blue skin) and one almost completely warm (the copper armour). I decided to go for a slightly cold grey, but highlight up with the same warm yellow. Not only would this allow the bases to contrast from the model in some aspect, but it would mean they once again share the same highlight colour. I then glazed various blues, browns and greens over the stones to add visual interest. Some of the details on each of the bases were sculpted to be vines but I painted them in the same blue as the skin as though they were tentacles, in order to bring that colour onto the base and reinforce the narrative of Nurgle inflecting this city.
Did you have any challenges (new techniques, concept, colour) you had to overcome?
I had plenty of challenges to overcome with these models, from figuring out the shape of light reflections on the armour to achieving smooth and consistent blends with paint that had weaker pigment. The biggest challenge I faced was timing- two of the three models were released just a couple of weeks before Ironskull, so keeping myself to a tight schedule was a challenge (but essential).
What is next in your painting journey?
The narrative in which my three Blightkings exist is always expanding and is much deeper than I could describe on three models. Two other entries featured in this world are in the works, including my take on Ylthari’s Guardians.
The plans have already begun for Ironskull 2021, in the hopes that I don’t have to paint two thirds of my entry in a fortnight.
Do you have any miniature artists you really aspire to or look up to?
Far too many to ever comprehensively list, but right at the top is Richard Gray. It was his work that drew me into the world of painting miniatures beyond tabletop standard, and his videos and advice have shaped how I paint. To have him judge and like my models is a dream come true.
Andy and John are also huge inspirations, along with fellow competitors like Neil Hollis, Martin Waller, and obviously David Soper.
I am a huge fan of the ‘Eavy Metal style so the likes of Aidan Daly, Darren Latham, Max Faleij, and countless others have all been seriously influential to my painting.
I could honestly carry on for hours so I will stop there. I could never express just how much appreciation and admiration I have for everyone in the community.
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