Developing Your Own Miniature Painting Style Part 1

Over the last 6 months my miniature painting has been turned on it's head by two things.

Thing number one: back in November of 2016 I entered a painting challenge on R/Minipainting (Reddit). The challenge allowed users to enter into either Novice, Intermediate, or Advanced leagues with Advanced offering the largest prize. I wasn't really interested in the prize (some Chibi miniatures), however the glory of first place was too much to resist. Being the big-headed miniature painter that I am I entered the Advanced heat.

Not only did I not land in the top 3 of the advanced heat, but the winner of the Intermediate heat blew me out of the water. Needless to say I was crushed. Sad right?

Thing number two: One night I was laying in bed flipping through September's issue of White Dwarf when I stumbled upon an article entitled Blanchitsu. It feels like a lifetime ago but this particular article featured a small Inquisimunda warband of tech-scavvies led by Tech-Priest Magos Herrode. 

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The painting style immediately reminded me of the person who introduced me to the hobby. We don't keep in touch anymore, but the nostalgia that flooded into my head was intense! After a bit of reminiscing a thought occurred to me: I want to try painting like that!

But how? I started by scouring Pinterest & Twitter for #Blanchitsu. I discovered quite a few blogs in the mean time which featured this painting style (more on this in part two).

It didn't take long for me to start trying my hand at a bit of impressionism.   

My favourite piece of the resulting Blanchitsu

My favourite piece of the resulting Blanchitsu

The euphoric rush that jumping head-first into Blanchitsu afforded me was great, but it seemed like this was just the surface of something much bigger. Why stop at one painting style? Are there any other Canvas Painters out there with styles that can translate over to miniatures?

Why does this John Blanche fellow get to have his own painting style, and not me? (Well actually there is a very good reason) Perhaps there are other interesting ways to put colour onto a miniature that have yet to be explored.. perhaps not. This is every miniature painters journey!  

We must start with the basics; this is part 1 after all. In order to hear a song on the radio, and play it by ear on the guitar you're going to first have to know how to play basic chords. So it is with miniature painting: if you're just starting out make sure that you know the difference between layering, glazing and dry brushing! Feel free to read this guide to painting metal miniatures I guest-posted over at FAEIT212. In order to be remembered as one of the 'greats' you must have all of the tools your peer's are working with in your own wheelhouse. 

Tangent: In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu this is referred to as developing your game. As a white belt you have no game. Your primary goal is to learn and study the basics of position & submission. The transition from white belt to blue belt entails a basic knowledge of every position and nearly every submission. The transition from blue belt to purple belt is where the development of one's game happens. The practitioner knows what their favourite attack and defense is from each position. 

Do you know what your favourite brush technique, colour palette and sealing method is for any miniature by just studying the figure? If so congratulations: You've got a game! I apologize if this makes no sense at all to some of you. 

Keep in mind that just knowing a technique does not make you a master of it. Personally I know that my gradients (arguably the most important miniature painting skill) are pure garbage, which is why I have taken so much delight in trying to emulate Blanchitsu. If you're plateauing in one area of skill, sometimes it can be helpful to focus elsewhere before coming back to it.  

With all of that blathering out of the way here is the focus of Part 2: In order to know what hasn't yet been achieved in the miniature painting world you must already know what has. I'll take you through all of the styles that I have been exposed to, and some of my favourite miniature painters to date. 

Do you feel like there is still room to explore in the world of miniature painting? Or do you think that it has all been traversed, and done to death? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading.