+ inload: Getting inspiration +

+ inload: Ave Imperator +

+ 'Kill your darlings', goes the phrase. Not an instruction from a dog named Demolition to climb the nearest tall building with a rifle and a twitch, but rather the suggestion that the best way to push your creative boundaries is to alter, remove or destroy your favourite creations. As a writer, this might literally be in killing off your favourite character – how you resolve their death in the story can be incredibly enjoyable and creative, as you're forced off your steady route. This is a great way to create emotional impact in your work. +

+ How does this relate to miniature painting and modelling? On the physical level, this might be in discarding a successful painting technique. By choosing different colours, or using a range – whether paints, brushes or even water pots – you've never used before, you'll be forced into re-evaluating things. 

+ Secondly, you might kill your darlings by creating a new version of an old favourite:

+ ... or by building something unexpected. 

I'm very lucky to work with fine artists, and pick up lots of little hints and tips. These vary from artist to artist, as you might expect, but one thing that nearly all of them agree upon is the relative importance of tone over hue. I made a step change in painting miniatures when I applied this to my own meagre skills and moved away from my comfort zone of thinking in terms of hues – 'the armour is this colour, and the cloth is that colour' and instead started thinking in terms of light: 'this area is dark, so that area needs to be light to balance it'. 

+ The armour here is yellow; but only a tiny stripe is actually a yellow paint – most of it is either a reddy-brown shade, or a cream tint. The transition from near-black to near-white is what creates the impact, and ultimately, that's what matters in miniature painting. The hue of the colour is largely superfluous, while a miniature without correct tonal balance will always feel slightly wrong.

+ When I finally achieved this (after many false starts, I hasten to add) I really felt something change in my approach to painting, and started having fewer failures.+

+ The importance of failure +

+ Failing is a fantastic motivator, as long as you can sit down, work out why something hasn't worked and – more importantly – try again. However, trying the same approach as before isn't necessarily going to fix things. You may find that you were just having a bad day, and the new version is a success, but it's more enjoyable to just take a wander off the track and try something new. 

+ For this reason, it's important to keep your eye out for new techniques, new ideas and new approaches. Understand that there's no real measure of success beyond your own gut feeling, and have the courage to try something else when your first try hasn't worked. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of miniature painting techniques available on the 'net from painters and modellers with considerably more skill and creativity than me, so there's no excuse :)

A select few noospheric inloadlinks:

+ Those of course are just scratching the surface, so do keep an eye out. Secondly, remember that miniature painting is just a subset of painting; which itself is just a subset of life in general. Keep your eyes open, as absolutely anything, from a diagram of a birds' wing, to a beautiful song, or from the rain on a window, to the rust on an old building machine can be applied to your work. +

+ As a personal – if prosaic – example, I put together this model of a banner bearer in imitation of a statue of Caesar Augustus, with his hand forward. The initial build of the model can be seen below.

+ Even when I'd finished building the model, I had a niggling feeling there was something off.) The original statue has his hand forward, but the piece I'd ended up using wasn't ideal. The intended posture is unsuccessful in execution – particularly so, as the gesture ended up having some rather unfortunate associations.

+ When I get some time to paint, I usually pick something on the desk that catches my eye. I leave a few things I've been working on in the cubby-holes so they're close to hand. Alternatively, if I feel that a model is built well but know I won't be in the frame of mind to paint that sort of model for a while, I'll store them until I get enthused about them. When a model lurks on my painting desk for week after week without any progress, it's a sign he's not good enough to be painted or stored. Such was this chap's fate – good enough that I really liked him, but with something niggling.

+ Eventually, while building some other Ultramarines, I picked him up and with a few quick chops, fixed him.

+ The new hand (taken from a Dark Angels Librarian) was ideal, much closer to the inspiration, and without the fascist undertones. He was painted that very evening, and is just awaiting weathering, some final freehand details that make him stand out as a particularly honoured Ancient, and a proper design on the banner. +

+ So, anything on your desk that just hasn't grabbed you recently? Why not pull it out and have a closer look. How would it look in green? Could you paint the whole thing with a size 1 brush? Let us know your problem, and the solution you found. Good luck! +

1 comment:

slovak said...

What a terrific essay, inspired and forgiving. Thank you for posting this.