In the first part of our Masterclass series, we talked about safety, products, and practice blanks. One of the key takeaways was the importance of the combination of design and these practice blanks. As I stated in the first video, I always start with concepts and designs first. For now, I want us all to remove the miniature from the equation and focus purely on design. The simple act of building a practice blank starts to work that hobby muscle and gets the creative juices flowing. Through this initial process, we look to inspire ourselves and set the stage for what’s to come.
As your first assignment, I asked that you make a couple of practice blanks. I gave simple instructions on how to do it but made no mention of what kind of mindset you should be in when sitting down at your hobby desk. I was curious to see how many of you would immediately and with no instruction set a theme or concept for the blanks you were making. Now, of course, the first assignment was just for practice. We are simply practicing making design tools that will help us become better artists. But how many of you sat down with an idea or theme that you based your practice blank on? Did you look for any inspiration or did you take any steps to shape your vision before sitting down? Did you even have a vision or a narrative in mind?
If you can answer “yes” to all those questions, then splendid! You are already in the right mindset for this Masterclass. If the answer was “no” then don’t worry, that’s why you are here.
Personal Growth, Narrative, Vision, Concept, Desgin and Execution.
But we are just painting Warhammer, right? All the concepts, narratives, and designs are already there!? Wrong! The Warhammer Universe is an expansive and wholly unexplored “world” that we can work in. We can venture beyond what is chronicled and create our own worlds and our own narratives. It also doesn’t hurt that we have a supply of badass miniatures and bits to work with either.
As an artist, you will always want to have a long-term personal growth goal to move towards. However, you don’t want to try to tackle a long-term goal all at once but rather break that long-term goal up into smaller more obtainable goals that you can track. A good example of a long-term goal would be something like: “I want to put more focus on the execution of my concepts and designs, taking whatever steps are necessary to ensure that my finished product looks as good as I can make it.” To achieve a goal like this, one might need to work out issues through multiple design stages. Reworking their ideas over and over until the process is economized and the finished work is refined. A goal like this can also take some time so we want to break it down and make smaller, more easily obtainable goals that will help us achieve our long-term goal. For example, we can simply have a short-term goal of “I want to create two preliminary designs for my next project, choose the one I like the most, and then recreate it twice to refine the design.”
As far as my personal goals go: I’ve been making what I consider to be fairly standard tutorials for several years now. “How to paint “X” Chapter or Faction”; right out of the box. This, however, is purely a business decision. The fear is that if I go too far out on a limb, too soon, then I lose appeal in an already niched market. But you know what? I’m ready to move forward and impose my vision into my work. This means kitbashing and custom miniatures and recreating the Grimdark world as I see it in my head. So I’m looking to evolve my style as a long-term goal and my short-term goal will be to make a start towards that goal with my Masterclass project.
As a young nerdling, I grew up on Dungeons and Dragons, DMing for the same group of people for fifteen years so I have a bit of practice coming up with little stories. The narrative for any given project can be as simple as one sentence. For example, my Masterclass project’s narrative goes as follows: Cyber-Gothic Headhunters in a dark industrial world. However, you can be as extensive with your narratives as you like. The key is to have at least some sort of narrative no matter what the project is. This helps shape our vision for what we are working on.
When I sat down with my practice blank today, I wanted to design the look and feel for at least one aspect of my industrial environment. I imagine that the world my characters will live in is inside the inner workings of an unfathomably large machine city. I wanted to design what a wall in this environment would look like, so here is what I came up with.
You are looking at roughly forty-five minutes to an hour of working time for this one three-inch by three-inch blank. The example here is much more complex than what I had asked you to do for your first assignment. The reason for this is that my practice blank is based on narratives, concepts, inspirations and is designed to be more detailed. Also, you have seen many of my simple practice blanks so another one would be redundant. The type of blank that I had you build was a simple blank with maybe a little bit of texture that will be perfect for you to use later to design color schemes. However, as we work through the design phase of the Masterclass, I will expect you guys to come up with something a little more complex and involved, like what I have presented today.
The night before I started this blank, I looked for some inspirations and this is what I found:
This is an assemblage from the Artist Kris Kuksi titled “Slave Auction.” This guy’s work always inspires me and there is a lot of it to look at. You can learn more about the artist and his work here.
I also took the time to gather my inspirations for the characters I’ll be building for my project. That is something I’ll be sharing and discussing in the next part of the Masterclass series.
The build for this blank consists of plasticard, Forgeworld bits, Games Workshops bits, bits from a scale model tank, jewelry chain, copper wire, other random bits and bobs, and thick mud texture. I started by adding one or two of the larger bits and then slowly developed the composition of the blank from there. I added a layer of texture and then a final layer of bits. The key here is to arrange the bits to fit what I imagine a dark industrial wall would look like.
Vision, Concept, Design, and Execution
When an idea strikes you, can you close your eyes and see it clearly in your head? Can you imagine your way into the ideas of your mind and explore them fully? I believe that imagination is what makes the human race the most powerful beings that we are aware of. As Humans, we can imagine and dream and turn those dreams into physicality. Vision comes from the imagination. Turning something that you can visualize into a physical object is a skill that requires a tremendous amount of practice. I call it execution. We have to learn how to conceptualize from our visions and then design from those concepts and then finally execute at the very least a rough draft. Through this practice and if we repeat it, our vision becomes more clear, our concepts become refined, our designs become more solid, and our execution becomes more precise.
This is why I put so much stock into the practice blanks or anything that you can practice and design on. I believe that having a good grasp of design is critical in the growth of any artist. Starting a new project normally poses several questions. What should this look like? What do I want to do here? Designing answers those questions. When you sit down to with a project and you have already established a solid design and you’ve answered all the questions, you are winning and you are having fun.