Matthew Ross kindly offered to make some characters for Mordheim 2019 that could lurk in the dark alleys of Mordheim. His fast and furious style of converting and painting helped create a unified group. Check out more from him on Instagram.
Finding A Way to Your Own Style of Mini Creation
If you’re reading this, I bet you’re invested in painting and converting little tiny creatures. You’ve convinced the person you love to let you take over part of the house. You’ve got a set up, you’ve got paints (so much paint for such tiny figures), you’ve got a box of bits, some greenstuff, and a head full of cool stuff you’ve seen. Or maybe you’ve just got two kits and superglue. Whatever your situation. You’re here, and you have the need to make creatures like no one’s ever seen.
But you can never quite figure out what to do about it. The kits look so cool as is, where should you start? Well, you can’t start at Mordheim 2019, which is what I did, but you could do an event that’s coming up. Not sure where to start, you could try taking parts of my path, which I’ve outlined below.
Make a complementary miniature to something you’ve found that you like. My journey into Mordheim 2019 was by way of Ana Polanscak’s excellent cult of the possessed.
I loved her central demon that was big and strong and blessed by some uncanny power. What struck me about it though was that there must be hundreds of other wretches out in the world who craved that power but were spurned. What would that look like?
Not just miniatures, but a narrative, painting style, or theme. An album. A thought. That one line in that one Cormac McCarthy book. Once you’ve got an idea in mind, you can find things that marry well into it. For me, it was thinking about the “aesthetic of the pathetic.” I get it’s about pathos, as opposed to pitiful creatures–but pitiful creatures have a kind of pathos I quite like.
All of the Mordheim miniatures were based on some other art. The Wretch on an Alex Walker piece: Magda was an interpretation of a Lovis Corinth piece I saw at the Tate.
Make something like that…
I painted all of my Mordheim 2019 characters in a similar fashion to what I’ve seen on the very blogs involved in the event. Many of them have a tutorial or two which I used to paint the things I made. Ana’s Rust tutorial was modified and used for the boxes,
Helge’s flesh tutorial for…all of the flesh, and so on.
If you don’t know what you’re doing and feel anxious about where to go next, borrow someone else’s wisdom. It works for what you like, it’ll work for you too.
Carry that technique into something you’ve built
What’s interesting looking at these today is that I don’t paint like this at all anymore.
The lessons I learned painting I’ve carried over into how I’m working now, but it could very well change a year from now. I really like the cohesion these have, but I’d approach it in a totally different way now, but using many of the same techniques.
Try things that won’t work
Or, perhaps better put, try things that make you unsure! Not everything’s going to be your best work. It’s not all going to be great, either, but working with what you have in front of you and being okay with putting it down even if you could do more (you can always do more) is a valuable skill. So is failing, but that happens way less than you’d imagine.
Get out of your comfort zone
For me it was just painting. I’ve never been a very patient painter, and all the stuff that looks amazing seems to take sooo long. Good news, though. Things that are evocative, which is the better half of a good painting, can be achieved with a loose and sketchy style. Few things require intricate brush work, so don’t worry about it.
Not sure what do about that missing arm? Cover it with a cloak (i.e. a scrap of cloth). Fingerprint in that greenstuff? Sand and superglue to the rescue. Real big gap? More superglue–even while you’re painting. Can’t make that detail really come out? Doesn’t matter, leave it as is. Forget to file off that mold line? Go ahead and do it now.
It goes without saying, but you gotta play to play. Make things that are meaningful to you and the rest will follow. It won’t happen over night, but it will happen over time. As long as you’re consistent in both refining your current techniques and trying out new ones, you’ll find a style all your own.