Sunday 12 October 2014

Warhammer Fest 2014: impressions before overthinking

2014: the year that Games Day died. Actually, that's not strictly true - it died last year, but this year Games Workshop's annual hobby mega-meet was officially buried; given a new name, and so permanently changing the direction the company wants to point our pasttime.

Warhammer Fest 2014 was everything last year's event wanted to be, but in a more accommodating venue and with a more relaxed atmosphere, and over two days. There wasn't the expectation of a classic Games Day - there were no gaming tables organised (there were a few self-run ad-hoc sessions played by punters), and there was (sadly) no Scrap-Demon contest.

There were, however, free seminars - much like last year, and new drop-in pods where GW and FW staff gave step-by-step tutorials on various hobby techniques.

I only attended the second day, and after turning up late (long story), sat in on demo pods for Zenithal Highlighting, and Painting Faces - and came away with a couple of useful pointers. I also attended a Black Library seminar, which, for me, was hit and miss.

The three authors on the panel had interesting insights into their own writing processes, preferences and practises, but then each read from their own stories, which was offputting. None are trained orators, and only one managed to convey any expression through his speech. All agreed that they loved writing audio books, and that hearing the voice actor during the recording brought their words to a completely new level. Should leave it to the pros, no?

Golden Demon was there - the only one being held in the world this year - and the entries were amazing. Even the worst model was of a high standard. Needless to say, my 3 entries lacked that certain something to get through to the final.

Disappointed, sure, but I used my dejected energy to seek advice from the painting experts in the White Dwarf lounge, and came away with some good advice. I'll share this advice now, because I'm nice, but to be honest, it's so obvious, I'm kicking myself for not thinking of it in the first place.

Here's my main entry. A duel between a flying Tau Battlesuit and Commissar Yarick. I'll update or add a better photo when I've taken one.

My inspirations were from a couple of sources - there's a Tau suit going around the net at the minute with a cool carbon-fibre paint job, and cool expanded shields. The second inspiration was a category winner from GD s few years ago - a Bretonnian shooting the head off a skeleton assailant.

There's nothing that says 'dynamic' like a Tau suit in flight, but you don't want to see the wires. Also, the weaponry can be used for some cool OSL effects.

The Yarrick figure was chosen late on in the project. It was a tossup between him and a dead Ork boy.

Look at the picture again. The line of sight is off. Neither figure is engaging with be other. While I was getting some painting advice today, another staff piped up and said 'look at the figures'. I replied, "they're not looking at each other", and he said 'yep!'

Fair enough. Don't blag at the last minute. Plan ahead, dry-pin figures for composition and then paint them. Glue and tweak paint and you're done. Simple, right?

Here's the advice from the first chap - paraphrased:

1. Golden Demon is a painting contest, judged by painters. Fancy conversions don't necessarily get points, and cotton-wool fire and clear-plastic shields may go against you. Paint the minis well. Don't hide behind effects.

2. Make highlights brighter. Get a better dynamic range for the colours. Whatever you think is too bright isn't bright enough, perhaps. The model needs to stand out in a sea of similar projects.

3. Save fancy effects for the open contest and/or diorama. They may be appreciated there.

And that's it. Less is more. More is less. The ├╝ber-cool stuff on CMON may be fashionable, but it's not GW. It's not 'Eavy Metal, and this is a competitor judged to house standards.

If you do decide to do effects, make sure the paint job is up to the task by itself first. FX are the gravy, and you can't have gravy on its own.

The other main thing I learned today is that a glaze medium, such as Lahmian Medium will always make you paint better faces. Smoother paint; less chalky finish; more control.

So to sum up:

Choose good models
Compose a good pose/shot
Paint well
Use lahmian medium.

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