Painter Laszlo Jakusovszky, best known for his Hot Lead miniature painting Web site, recently released a three-DVD set of miniature painting tutorials titled, “How to Paint a Better Miniature.” This posting is a review of the second DVD, labeled “Advanced, Volume 2.” The RPG Athenaeum’s review of the first DVD can be found here, and a review of the third disc is here.
One reason for the delay in the posting of this second review is the amount of information supplied in the DVD. Like the first, this second volume contained so much information that I could only watch about a quarter hour at a single sitting; otherwise, I’d be hard-pressed to remember all of what I had seen.
In this DVD, Jakusovszky builds on the basic techniques demonstrated in the first volume, primarily focusing on painting smooth transitions between colors. He shared his techniques for wet blending, wet layering and dry layering as ways to accomplish that effect.
After brief discussions about painting philosophy, suggestions about keeping a “painting notebook” in which to record paint ratios for custom shades, and a tutorial on tinting paint colors, the DVD teaches Jakusovszky’s method for wet blending. I was surprised to see that he uses a relatively thicker paint – comparable to heavy cream – for this sort of work. He also discussed the various acrylic media available to reduce the paint’s drying time; without such media, wet blending is all but impossible.
Fortunately, the DVD also provided a lengthy demonstration of Jakusovszky’s wet blending technique, shot from an angle that allows the viewer to actually see the brush strokes. The demo was particularly useful for me, as the more experienced painters I know don’t blend with paints that thick; they’ll be pleasantly surprised at Jakusovszky’s results.
The teaching then turned to the topic of dry layering, which Jakusovszky succinctly described as painting a “contour map” on the figure, by placing progressively lighter shades in smaller areas on raised portions of the miniature. Essentially, his dry layering technique involves placing very thin layers of paint upon a figure’s base coat, mindful of where light and shadows would naturally fall on the miniature. Increasingly lighter shades are painted on raised areas of the figure, while increasingly dark shades are painted into shadows. Paint- or ink-based glazes are then applied to smooth the transitions between shades.
It is important ot note that Jakusovszky used no feathering or blending in this process; instead, he relied on the thinness of the paint layers and glazes to create the transtions.
The next technique demonstrated was wet layering, something I haven’t seen referenced or described anywhere else. Aptly described by Jakusovszky as “poor man’s blending,” wet layering combines elements of both his wet blending and dry layering techniques, making use of dry time extenders and feathering to achieve very smooth results.
After a brief chapter on fixing blending flaws, the DVD’s attention was turned to painting the human form, with considerable material devoted to painting flesh tones. I was particularly impressed that the DVD provided separate emphasis on painting male and female figures, with separate approaches demonstrated for each gender that made use of the techniques shown earlier in the volume.
Thankfully, the volume also included several chapters on painting faces, which seem to be the first feature anyone looks at on a painted miniature and which can be very difficult to paint well. Exhaustive detail on how and where to convincingly shade and highlight faces was provided, along with useful techniques for painting eyeballs, irises and pupils.
Jakusovszky also devoted considerable time to painting hair; his insruction on how to paint hair in cases where it is sculpted without strands was both inventive and useful.
This disc wasn’t as comprehensive in its approach as the first in the series, instead focusing primarily on Jakusovszky’s personal techniques. While this focus is clearly identified at the start of the DVD, it wasn’t part of the literature promoting the DVD set. In my own case, for example, I was hoping that the set would have information about the use of blending gel, a medium I’ve been experimenting with, but it wasn’t part of the techniques demonstrated.
Apart from some variances in audio quality and background music that I personally thought distracting – both highly subjective criteria - this second disc is a solid value for the investment.