Hats off to the artists who teach classes at ReaperCon! One of the things I like the most about this convention is the opportunity to interact with the guest painters and sculptors who share their knowledge and take the extra time to give people requested feedback on their work. The Con-goers are encouraged to approach them in between their classes and ask questions or just watch them paint and/or sculpt. Most are only scheduled to teach one class per day so there's plenty of time to meet with them.
I attended a maximum of eight classes at ReaperCon this year. I challenged myself with taking classes on topics that were "out of my comfort zone". I enjoy painting the figure as they're seen ideally-- with perfect smooth blending, beautiful face features (no scars, etc), and squeaky-clean line quality. What I have not applied is weathering techniques, advanced sculpted-from-scratch diorama basing, conversion sculpting of any kind or airbrush techniques. Those were the classes I focused on since I have so much more to learn!
My first class was Aaron Lovejoy's "Airbrush Basics" class. Aaron shared his knowledge about which airbrush models he enjoys using, how using airbrushes can speed up the initial painting process, and most importantly, how to keep your airbrush in good, clean working condition (fight the clog!). He gave a tutorial on a large Bones miniature that we passed around the room in between each step as he explained what he was achieving through layering airbrush colors. Prior to this class, I was not ready to invest in an airbrush (they can be very expensive!), but after Aaron's suggestion of starting with the cheapest model and just trying it out to see if you like it, I think I'll give it a shot! He recommended using an airbrush only in the beginning stages to block out interesting lighting effects before you pick up the paint brush for detailing "cause you still have to paint it. An airbrush is a tool but it shouldn't be the only tool". I definitely recommend this class if you're a beginner to airbrushing!
Weathering Techniques - Brice did a nice job teaching this class. Attempting to cover a myriad of weathering techniques (and fielding on-the-spot requests) is quite a challenge! Although the projector was set up to capture the tutorial details, it wasn't as successful as we'd hoped. While the cameras and TVs were a great idea, it was the first year they were used and were bound to run into a few quirks. We ended up passing around the miniature as Brice demonstrated different techniques-- we made it work! I've avoided weathering until now, and I notice it's significantly limited the variety of miniatures I can paint. For example, an orc wouldn't have a pristine shield with polished, expensive metal, so I avoid painting them. As I struggled to paint my Troll Axer, I realized: there's no such thing as a pretty orc! The idea of taking a sponge or dry pigment and applying paint in random patterns to make a miniature purposely sloppy or messy makes me cringe. However, this is exactly why I wanted to take this class! Brice's competition entries are proof that weathering can be beautiful and add lots of personality and character to your miniatures (and his cloak freehand-- wow!)
Crafting Terrain & Diorama Bases - Bob is awesome. I can't say that enough. He's a nice guy with an endless supply of funny stories and a wealth of knowledge that can only come from decades of industry experience. I took one of his classes at the Reaper Artist Conference back in October and knew going to this class, I'd learn quite a bit about what to use and, sometimes more importantly, what not to use, especially if you're clumsy like me (MEK glue - Methyl Ethyl Ketone. It's super-toxic!). We watched him put together a base and work his magic with styrofoam, styrene, cork and kitty litter (yes you read that right, unused litter of course!). It was really useful for me to see which order he puts things down in and how he applies it with his special mix of watery wood glue paste. And now I have a nice, long list of cheap-and-effective basing supplies to collect! I love the bases he sculpted out of styrene and plastic or metal cogs-- "They're easy!"