ReaperCon 2016 Classes

Yesterday, Reaper Miniatures posted their classes on their website for ReaperCon 2016, their annual convention. This is the convention I won't miss– I feel so strongly about it that I'd rather go to ReaperCon rather than Gen Con. Granted, I've never been to Gen Con, so that doesn't say much, but I really do want to go someday!

The best thing about ReaperCon is the people, both attendees and guests alike. The thing that sets ReaperCon apart is the casual, friendly atmosphere and the mind-boggling amount of classes that are taught by knowledgeable artists and sculptors. For a con much smaller than Gen Con, the guest list is incredibly impressive:


  • Rhonda Bender
  • Michelle Blastenbrei
  • John Bonnot
  • Brice Cocanour
  • Doug Cohen
  • Matt Dipietro
  • Rex Grange
  • Jen Greenwald
  • Julie Guthrie
  • Erin Hartwell
  • Bobby Jackson
  • Angela Imrie
  • Aaron Lovejoy
  • Ian Markon
  • Justin Mccoy
  • Joe Orteza
  • Glen Phillips
  • Izzy Collier
  • Shannon Stiltz
  • Andy Pieper
  • Brien Piersol
  • Michael Proctor
  • Marike Reimer
  • Jessica Rich
  • Bob Ridolfi
  • Derek Schubert
  • Katie Sommer
  • Bryan Stiltz
  • Sue Wachowski
  • James Wappel
  • Jason Wiebe
  • Caleb Wissenback
  • Tish Wolter
  • Gene Vanhorne
  • Jake Schneider
  • Chris Lewis
  • Anne Foerster
  • Greg Zuniga

There are a ton of classes to choose from, and while I won't list them all here, I will share a few of the ones I'm most excited about and why:

Rhonda Bender · Level Up Your Painting: Intermediate, Discussion. Good painting is more than brush techniques. Topics include how to interpret critique, colour, tailoring to particular end uses and contest types, scene setting, contrast. Emphasizes display, but also relevant to tabletop painting. 12 page handout includes practice exercises.

  • I always love hearing from an experienced painter about the technical, behind-the-scenes aspects of painting, and I hear Rhonda's handouts are the best! Sometimes the most challenging part can be conceptualizing new projects before starting them, and I welcome new inspiration! 

Marike Reimer · Painting Non-Metallic Metals: This is a tricky technique using color placement to achieve a metallic sheen without metallic paints. In this demonstration class, I'll share my tricks to make this as fast & fun as possible. Students can work along if they wish; they will get the most out of this class if they are already familiar with blending.

  • I've taken NMM classes from Jessica Rich, Aaron Lovejoy, and Derek Schubert– each one was helpful in learning how they approach painting with different color combinations, ways to imagine light sources, and practicing painting different shapes.

Marike Reimer · Tips and Tricks:  In my many years of teaching, this is my favorite painting class, because I can tailor it to my students. Join me as I demonstrate my simple approaches to seemingly complex problems.

  • Sounds super-helpful and flexible to the student's needs. I want to know more about what she considers "seemingly complex problems" and how she solves them. She's an amazing artist and I own her Dark Sword DVD set. Any chance to learn from her wisdom is a great opportunity!

Justin McCoy · Weathering Techniques: During this demo class instructor Justin McCoy from Secret Weapon will execute start-to-(almost)finish work on an armored vehicle. He'll demo pigments, hairspray chipping, salt chipping, sponges, pencils, enamels and/or oils—everything he uses during the process of roughing up a vehicle or wreck. Many techniques can also be of use on urban terrain pieces. Students will get the most out of this class if they are already familiar with using an airbrush, and should bring note-taking devices.

  • "Mister Justin" is a whiz at weathering and as the owner of Secret Weapon, has a great amount of knowledge when it comes to washes, pigments, airbrushing, etc. as well as the varied application techniques. Weathering is a challenge for me and I've been hesitant to incorporate it more into my miniatures. I'm definitely taking this class! 

James Wappel · Basing the Wappel Way: This basic, hands-on class makes it simple to create eye-popping bases for your figures. Students should bring their own brushes (and maybe a figure that needs a base!) and be ready to paint along!

  • James' basing tutorials on his blog have inspired me to go out and collect random twigs, bark, leaves, and combine them all with Oxide Paste. I'm just starting to create my own bases and their construction isn't something that comes naturally to me. I can't wait to learn more from him in person. I have some amazing basing materials that a friend sent me (thanks Loim!) and I'd like to put them to great use!

James Wappel · Using MSP Clear Colors & Liners: This basic, hands-on class explores the many ways to utilize the MSP Clear colors. If you always wondered what was up with these ultra-bright colors, or how to use them, this is the class for you! Students should bring their own brushes; other materials will be supplied.

  • I expect this class will be fairly similar to his glazing class I took last year, . However, his approaches to mixing and applying color blows my mind. It's just so different– wild and beautiful and you just can't argue with the results. Whenever I think I'm over-thinking something, I turn tohis Wappellious blog.

Shannon Stiltz · Making Money with Mini-Painting: Ever wondered if you could make some cash off of your hobby? This lecture/Q&A class will cover everything from the pros and cons of painting armies vs doing higher-level work, to hosting photos, making eBay work for you, contracts for commission work, pricing scales for various levels of work, and managing your time.

  • I took one of Shannon's classes at my very first ReaperCon. Shannon is smart, practical, and dives into the business aspect of miniature painting– something few people cover and many people struggle with when starting out as a commission artist. Shannon's had much success in online sales and knows how to keep her clients happy, (something you don't want to learn through trial and error!). One day I'd like to dive into this, though my career doesn't allow for much time to paint currently. Taking this class may reinvigorate my drive to make time for commission painting and give me some new business goals!

Derek Schubert · Painting Expressive Faces: In this demo class, you'll learn the concepts and techniques for conveying a deliberate and evocative expression on a figure's face, including tips on painting eyes. Bring a note-taking device and any magnification device you need to see very fine details. The class includes a hand-out.

  • Dude. It's Derek Schubert– this is his specialty! Just run a search for his name in the Reaper website and you'll find a bunch of examples of things he's painted and sculpted. Here's a super-close-up of one of his male faces as well as one of my favorites, Lem the Halfling Bard! I've been waiting three ReaperCons to get into this class and it fills up incredibly fast. This year, I'm pleased to announce that I finally made it in :) I can't wait to take my miniatures' faces to the next level.

Derek Schubert · Sculpting Faces: In this demo/hands-on class, you'll learn how to sculpt a face in epoxy putty, including proper proportions, stylistic choices, and conveying expression through the features. Bring your own tools if you want to sculpt along; putty will be provided. The class includes a hand-out.

  • This sounds mean, but sometimes sculpted faces suck– or I should say "need some work". Maybe there was an issue with the mould or something funky that happened in the production process. Or hey, maybe it's just a vintage miniature and you love everything about it, except the face. I've been wanting to modify my miniatures' faces for a long time, especially the eyes. Derek has a unique perspective, since he's both a painter and a sculptor and his sculpts are very "painter friendly". I take at least one sculpting class each ReaperCon, and I'm excited that I snagged the last spot in this class!

Brice Cocanour · Advanced Freehand: Take your freehand to a new level.  The class will cover layout hints, proper paint dilution, detailing, putting light, and dark colors in the correct places. Students should bring good brushes that will hold a point.  You will need a size 1 or 2 brush for the base coats and a size 0 and a size 00 or 000 brushes for the freehand.  Plan on painting--you will learn by practicing! All other supplies will be provided.

  • I've taken a freehand class before and watched both Jessica Rich and Marike Reimer's Dark Sword DVD chapters on the subject. I've taken Brice's Weathering class and I notice he does a good job of combining weathering with freehand. You don't want it to be too clean if the freehand is on a battered shield or helmet. I think Brice's class would be especially insightful!

Caleb Wissenback · Advanced Airbrush – Finishing Techniques: Once you know how to use an airbrush, what effects can you get when you push it? This class is all about using an airbrush for more controlled effects on vehicle models and figures. Learn techniques like Zenithal Highlighting, pre-shading, color modulation, and more. This is a lecture and demonstration based class.

  • Caleb teaches many airbrushing classes and, while I've taken Aaron Lovejoy's "Airbrushing 101" beginner class, I'd like to attend a class where those effects are taken to the next level. I haven't taken Caleb's classes before, though I like his work (as well as his Twisted Wood bases)! I learn best when watching something done, then trying to recreate it in my own time, and I know I'd take away some great tips from this class. It would also be very helpful when combining real-time demo with my "Painting Miniatures A to Z: Volume 1" book by Angel Giraldez. The book has many great tips and step by step photos, though it would help to see advanced airbrush techniques in action!

There's an eight class limit for each attendee, so narrowing it down to your favorites (and leaving time for other events) is a must! There are still some classes left, so if you just bought your tickets, be sure to check them out. I hope to see many friendly faces in October, both in and out of class!