Building a Twitch Community

They say the best way to start livestreaming is just to jump in and learn as you go. They’re right, I’m learning a lot in a very short amount of time, mostly out of pure necessity, and doing as much research online as I can. While it’s intimidating at first, there are a myriad of YouTube tutorials out there that will walk you through the most current Streamlabs and OBS setups. However, plenty will still go wrong. During my first few livestreams, lights have flickered out and/or fallen over, my audio has cut out randomly, programs have crashed and my slow internet would drop frames until I disconnected from Twitch… the list goes on. I’m definitely learning by trial-and-error and I’ve been lucky to have met a few nice folks who have shared tips and advice on improving my setup.

Since November 2018, I’ve been focused on building a community on Twitch. I’ve been surprised that the Twitch creative hobby community has been so positive, especially when the idea of putting yourself out there as “a woman on the internet” has its inherent challenges. I’ve created a channel that I hope to keep as clean as possible— no swearing, no “warning: mature content”, and free from discussions on race, religion, politics, etc. Knowing some folks tune in online during work and/or many watch Twitch while working on their own projects (possibly with their children), I like to keep things as classy & positive as possible. This may be off-putting to folks that get timed out by the automated mod for using profanity in chat. However, the community expectations are clearly posted on my “Chat Rules” section of my channel and viewers that are more comfortable in a mature content setting have plenty of options available on Twitch. At the end of the day, keeping things as clean as possible (both in conversation and painting styles) is a my personal choice :)

I often look forward to my streams, but sometimes I’m plagued with “stage fright” and I find myself becoming super self-conscious (especially when all my randomly-generated thumbnails look like I’m spazzing out, which, in hindsight, is probably more accurate than I’d like to admit). Even when I’m not having a great day, the viewers that show up and join the chat buoy me. Often they give me ideas on what we should paint, whether it be a model, a technique, certain paints, or joining me in painting a Liam Neeson-inspired Santa Claus dwarf around Christmastime, which was one of my favorite chat-directed projects. (pictures below)

In other news, I’ve been painting more Kingdom Death miniatures. This one won an honorable mention in the last Miniature Monthly miniature painting contest. While a “mature version”, this Kingdom Death pinup is inspired by Korra, from Legend of Korra, the sequel to the beloved “Avatar: The Last Airbender”— the animated version– not the M. NightShyamalan movie debacle based on that series (don’t ask, I have very strong opinions about that failure). I’ll be honest, it’s not my best work, but the deadline for the contest was a few days after ReaperCon and I didn’t make the best use of my time (including leaving my TableWar case with all my favorite minis in another state until after the contest deadline).

I’ve made myself a promise: no buying new Kingdom Death miniatures until I’ve painted one in my hoard of KD minis. Now I may have bended this rule during a surprise sale, in which case I promised I’d paint a miniature that week, which I honored. I’m not sure if I’m desensitized to all the curves, but I often forget they are quite scantily clad since I’m focused on proper shading, highlighting and blending skin on the lovely female form to the best of my ability. Oh well.

If you get a chance, I hope you’ll join me on Twitch! We encourage folks to hang out with us, whether you’re working on your own personal projects and want some company or getting into the miniature painting/gaming hobby for the first time and would like to ask questions, everyone is welcome! See you around :)

Stream On!

I’ve started streaming on Twitch again after being absent from the platform since 2015— it’s changed a LOT since I last streamed. Nowadays, there’s the ubiquitous ChatBot, Cheers/Bits, different tiers of subscribers, complete with custom emoticons/emotes. I feel old. LOL But hey, I’m excited about catching up!. I can’t believe it’s been over 8 months since I’ve left the corporate grinder. I don’t have much to complain about, except that things can get pretty lonely, having moved across the country, far away from the majority of friends and family. Otherwise, it’s pretty awesome, since I’m no longer bound by the constraints of a stressful job and declining health. Woot! I’m working out 3x per week to get back to a healthy weight, doing my best to make new friends in the community, and spending my free time painting freelance commission projects.

To catch you up, the last couple of months have been pretty hard on me emotionally, since our dog Kuma was not-so-slowly deteriorating from a combination of ailments. We found out this summer that he was showing early signs of kidney failure and the vet was convinced an inoperable tumor/growth was putting pressure on his spine and causing coordination problems (we had a separate tumor on his neck removed in June). If that wasn’t enough, somewhere along the way, he suffered a stroke (possibly as a result of the tumor removal surgery) and wasn’t entirely himself. Most days, he’d know who we were and had control of his bodily functions… others not so much. We rescued him from an abuse, sarcoptic mange, and heartworm 10 years ago and I can still remember it so clearly, it seems like yesterday. Saying goodbye tore me apart. He was the best dog. I’m tearing up just writing about this, so I’ll leave it at that.

Before he passed, we opened our hearts to a puppy! In an oddly-timed turn of events, we were the proud owners of both an elderly dog and a 10 week old Leonberger puppy the very next day after I returned from ReaperCon. My husband loves Leonbergers, a large dog breed, and has wanted one for many, many years. I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle adopting another dog for a long while after Kuma passed, so I agreed to accept a new furry member of the family before we said goodbye, knowing that a companion could help our elderly dog as he fought to stay active. While we’ve always rescued dogs from shelters, Leonbergers aren’t very common in the United States. However, as luck would have it, we happened to live in the same city as a extremely reputable breeder that shows Leonbergers (who is evidently kind of a big deal). We went through several rounds of interviews and, while the waiting list is usually 2-3+ years, we made the cut and thanked our lucky stars it worked out the way it did. So without further ado, here’s a picture of “Remy”, our new little chunk, at 6 weeks, 14 weeks, and 5 months. As you can see, she’s grown quite a bit! (Those are my feet, not children’s feet, in the third picture below) LOL

~6 weeks

~6 weeks

~14 weeks

~14 weeks

5 months

5 months

Now back to painting! I’m officially open for commissions and I’m currently working on 4 projects for my good friends in California and New York— more Work-in-Progress photos on my Twitter feed!

  • Kiri, Female Ninja - Reaper Miniatures

  • Geiravor - Bronze Age Miniatures

  • Gold Smoke Knight - Kingdom Death (1st run collector’s edition)

  • Tara the Silent - Reaper Miniatures (25th anniversary edition)

This past Monday, I completed my prerequisites for Twitch Affiliate status, and as of this week, I’m now able to accept subscriptions! Soon, I’ll be doing raffles for subscribers and providing more value in addition to the entertainment and content I provide on Twitch. We’ve had quite a few goofy moments as I’ve jumped back into streaming after so long, including lights running out of batteries and falling over on my desk, Cherry Coke Zero floods & electronic damage control, me bumping the webcam so often so I sang an embarrassing song as a penalty. I’ve met some great folks and it’s been good times :) I know not everyone can afford to travel to different conventions, and Twitch is a great way to connect with more folks in the hobby!

I also updated my website! I noticed I hadn’t posted any completed miniatures since 2016/2017 and I went ahead and posted 3 more, though it’s still in need of a serious refresh. Again, I really need to get painting again after taking so much time off. Part of me was really discouraged since taking time off meant I stagnated regarding creative skill development. When I re-entered the scene, the great painters out there painted even more awesome stuff and the folks first starting out were now great painters… I was both proud and happy for them, but at the same time discouraged for myself. If only I’d kept painting… if only I’d kept streaming… what could I have accomplished?

Now I’m in a place where I can take the time to truly consider what I want to do with my life. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. Not too long ago, I fantasized about working from home and thought, “I could learn a new language, read at least 3 books a month, volunteer at an animal shelter, travel more…” and 8 months later, I’ve stayed busy but have accomplished absolutely none of those things. But hey, there are a lot worse things than feeling lost with all the freedom you now have. My biggest complaint is the weather— not being able to wet blend (even with a wet palette) since I run a small space heater in order to not freeze in my own home. LOL Good-natured complaints aside, I truly like it here and I hope to find you on Twitch very soon!

ReaperCon 2018 Winning Entries

Gold in Painters & First Place in Bombshell Manufacturer Awards

Huzzah! I finally have pictures of my winning entries from ReaperCon. First up is my Dark Sword “Hunting in Mosswood” entry. You may have recognized her as the featured mini from the Miniature Monthly contest they had not too long ago. While I didn’t finish her before the end of the contest, I finally finished her for ReaperCon.

Her outfit was loosely-inspired by Rey’s outfit from The Force Awakens. I liked the idea of a beige tunic with brown leathers for her belts straps, boots, and arm braces. I entered her in the Reaper MSP Open “Painters” division and she won gold :)

I do regret that I didn’t paint the vegetation with more interesting colors. I’d also like to add some ferns and/or resin water effects, though I didn’t want to risk a brand new technique that could compromise the base.

“Hunting in Mosswood” - Dark Sword Miniatures

I’m pleased that she won a Gold in the Painter’s Division. Unfortunately, this one didn’t win one of the Dark Sword manufacturer award, though the winning entries for those who did win were spectacular!

Darksword Freehand MochaMinis

Cloak Freehand

This was one of my first attempts at freehand on a cloak. While the scale of the pattern is still quite large, it allowed me to practice painting gold embroidery out the outside of her cloak. I imagined gold threads that would reflect differently as the cloak folds billowed behind her.

I used Reaper’s Gold NMM Triad to paint this, along with some extra-bright titanium white to really make it pop.

In addition to the freehand pattern, I took the liberty of giving her a bowstring (one of my personal pet peeves since wooden bows look incomplete without them) I shredded some dental floss until the proportion looked right.

In the final pictures on the right, her bow has been accidentally bent a bit and the bowstring is touching her arm. It shouldn’t be like that— the string should be pulled away from her arm brace just a bit to look more natural. I’m only noticing it now that I’m writing this blog post :)

I have to say, the freehand took FOREVER. Ugh.

“Blending In” · Bombshell Miniatures
First Place Golden Maelee Manufacturer Awards

Bombshell Mini Freehand Mocha Minis

Graffiti Freehand

I had a lot of fun with this! I researched different “graffiti alphabets” and chose a style I thought would translate well on a miniature scale. I cut a smaller piece from a Reaper “Jersey Barrier”, to mimic a concrete traffic barrier you often see in the cities, dividing opposing highway lanes without grassy medians.

I penciled it in first, outlined it in liner, and then filled in the letters. I used the purples and pinks to really emphasize her camouflage-patterned gun holster and rollerblades. One thing I’d do differently next time is to give it some more weathering— chips, paint scratches, dirt– to make it grungier. Otherwise, I’m happy with how it turned out!

Honestly, I’m very lucky I placed at all in the Bombshell manufacturer awards. There was a bit of confusion as far as the deadline for the painting contest entries at ReaperCon. Long story short, I knew I had to enter these pieces before teaching a 3-5pm class. A little after 1pm, as I was about to glue my Bombshell entry to her base and turn her in, someone approached me at Artists Alley and wanted to chat. I apologized that I was just leaving to turn in my entries since I had class close to the deadline. “Oh don’t worry, the deadline isn’t until 6pm. It says so in the program.” Oh! Well in that case, I do have some time to spare :) One discussion led to another, and I found myself planning to turn my minis right after my class ended at 5pm.

Fast forward to me gathering up my class supplies at 5pm, when I find 5+ missed texts from a friend asking why my entries are still on my table and that I’d missed the deadline. All I could think about was how much time and effort I’d put into these miniatures and how it was all going to be wasted. I can’t even remember who the person was who told me the deadline was 6pm, but I swear I remember seeing it printed that way. Yes, the deadline in past years was 5pm, but I assumed it had been changed this year. NOPE! Supposedly, someone came by Artists Alley to remind everyone that the deadline was 5pm, but I honestly don’t remember hearing that (maybe I was in a class?). In a panic, I slapped some glue on the miniature base and half-ran my entries to the entry table at 5:07pm. I was certain they were going to turn me away! [Begin the circus music]…

One of my friends asked if they could help carry anything, and I handed them the Bombshell mini while I entered my other two miniatures. However, I failed to mention that I didn’t pin her arm and as they held her tightly and pushed her down into the slowly-drying glue, her arm came off. Hoo boy. So now I have a miniature that isn’t attached to her base AND her arm/gun has detached at the elbow AND a pissed off person behind the contest entry table, as I babble about hearing about/seeing a 6pm deadline printed somewhere. More friends came to the rescue with a bottle of glue and I held back tears of embarrassment as she was patched back together. I couldn’t believe it: I was THAT person who waited until the last minute and inconvenienced others due to their poor planning. And I was so ashamed since this was my first year of being a full-time instructor— to me, that was absolutely unacceptable. I’m incredibly grateful to my friends who helped save the day, and I vow never to be that person ever again.

Important Note: Now before anyone thinks someone gave me bad information, intentionally or otherwise, the person WAS correct— the deadline was listed as 6pm in one of Reaper’s printed handouts and 5pm in another.

Luckily, my entries were accepted! Having worked 8+ years proofing printed material for retail companies, you’d be remiss not to honor a big misprint like that. I used to work with sale flyers proofreading products and prices— people get really pissed off if their $6.99 lb Animal Welfare Rated, Grass-Fed Beef Short Ribs are actually $8.99 lb. Trust me. Part of me wanted to offer my content/proof-reading services to Reaper, but I figured that would come across as insulting. However, I genuinely would love to help correct typos and inconsistencies, especially if it can save folks a headache or two (me and the entry table reps). Also, funny story— my name card at Artists Alley had my last name misspelled. Not a big deal, as I was able to correct it with some subtle Sharpie/paper patchwork). While there’s so much that goes into a convention, you really can’t catch 100% of errors, but it never hurts to have an extra pair of eyes on the important printed information materials :)

Lessons learned:

  1. Pin your damn contest minis, even if you assume you’re the only one who will be handling them directly.

  2. Double-check the deadline. Always. Never take someone’s word for it.

  3. Never wait until the last moment to turn your contest entries in. Even if you’re 99% done like I was, finish it and turn it in early, especially if you’re an instructor. You’re expected to be available to the con-goers, not hiding in your hotel room panic painting (I didn’t do that, I promise!)


In other news, I entered a Reaper miniature in the MSP Open— one of the 25th Anniversary miniatures– that wasn’t chosen as my strongest entry in the Painters division to be judged. I’ll write about that finished miniature in a separate post, since I want to add a few more elements to her base before I take the final photos.

I’m very happy with the outcome of the contest, and I intend to continue incorporating freehand into the next few miniatures that I paint :)