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 third DVD, labeled “Advanced, Volume 3.” The RPG Athenaeum’s review of the first DVD can be found here, and a review of the second is here.
The third volume in the series builds upon the advanced painting techniques presented in the second, primarily describing the use of blending and layering when painting “non-metallic metal” (NMM) and painting translucent-looking effects on opaque models, such as gemstones. The DVD concludes with a very brief segment on advanced basing, related to how basing methods can compliment a well-done paint job.
Most of this DVD’s instruction is geared toward painting NMM, which is the skillful blending of matte paints to simulate a reflective, metallic effect. Jakusovszky begins by explaining that, while this technique emerged in the miniature painting hobby only recently, it has been employed by oil painters on canvas works for the past five centuries.
Jakusovszky cites three advantages to using NMM effects: (1) it gives the painter complete control over the location of highlights (metallic paints will reflect any light source from any angle when the figure is rotated or flipped), (2) NMM doesn’t create pigmentation issues that can arise with metallic paints, such as flaking or uneven reflection, and (3) using the technique forces the painter to master blending and layering techniques, which raises the quality of the painter’s work to a new level. He also discussed the related technique of “sky-earth non-metallic metal” (SENMM), which produces an effect similar to airbrush rendering of chrome.
After describing the difficulties inherent to applying a two-dimensional painting technique to a three-dimensional figure, the discussion turns to the manner in which light behaves when striking an object, how to identify and place primary and secondary light sources and their attendant shadows, and the relative differences between the subtle shades of the “Rackham school” of NMM (popularized by the miniature company of the same name) and the harsher contrast of more reflective/realistic NMM.
A particularly useful segment of the video involves viewing samples of different metals and finishes, lighted from a single source. Chrome, steel, copper, brass, bronze, pewter and gold metals were shown, and the viewer can see how light reflects off objects that are flat, cylindrical, beveled or curved in shape. These samples provide a clearer understanding of what realistic metallic colors and reflections look like.
After sharing some tips about using real light sources to ensure consistent NMM effects, using reference photos while painting and reviewing common errors in NMM painting, Jakusovszky provides separate segments of palette ranges for and demonstrations of NMM painting for steel, gold and chrome (SENMM).
The extensive treatment of NMM is followed by a brief segment on painting gemstones, a task many find difficult, as it requires a painter to make portions of an opaque model appear translucent. Jakusovszky addresses the topic by first explaining how light reflects within translucent objects, then describing how a painter may employ brightly-colored paints, clever use of inks, selective highlighting and judicious use of gloss varnish to create the illusion of translucence, using either ink glaze-based or layering-based techniques.
This DVD, and the training series, concludes with a very short discussion on using basing techniques to compliment a completed paint job. Jakusovsky correctly noted that a complete treatise on the various sculpting and fabrication techniques used for basing is properly the topic of a different video series, but wanted to show how creative basing could add to the effect of a completed figure. One of his examples included a “winter mage” colored in shades of white and blue, complimented with a base that featured gray rock, snow effects and a white ermine in the foreground.
On the whole, this DVD and the series to which it belongs is an outstanding value for the investment. All the discs are well-bookmarked for ease of reference, and the cinematography provides an excellent view of Jakusovszky’s techniques. The RPG Athenaeum wholeheartedly recommends this product.