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K9 Hobby Review – Dark Sword Miniatures DVD

5 Minute Read
Aug 2 2014

Recently, I picked up the latest in the Dark Sword DVD sets. This set is led by the multi-award winning painter Jessica Rich.

A little background
I have been painting on and off for over eight years. I consider myself an above average tabletop quality painter. I am working to reach a show model quality.  I don’t paint as often as i would like, life gets in the way, lol.  
To date, I had only watched YouTube videos for painting tips and instruction.  Recently I attended a hands on course and I am going to another one in a few days.  Hands on classes can be expensive for the one day of instruction.  So I decided to give this DVD set a shot. 

What’s in the Box

This set is six DVDs with over 20 hours of instruction. It is well packaged and in includes a list of chapters so you can quickly find a specific topic.  It is all very professionally done. 

Topics on DVDs (with review)

Skin tones – Jessica spends over an hour demonstrating how to get beautiful skin tones.  She masterfully demonstrates the use of thin layers of paint to highlight and shade human skin to a smooth and realistic skin tone.  I was amazed at the level of detail Jessica is able to achieve in her skin tones.  The smooth transitions between highlight and shadow make the miniature come alive.
Faces – In these sections, Jessica touches on faces for both male and female miniatures.  She discusses the difference in how she approaches the different faces, and shows these approaches in real-time.  She achieves a life like skin tone in the faces and maintains the detail and facial structure.  When she is done the emotion of the miniature is clearly visable on their face. 

Sheer fabrics – This is one of the techniques I see from time to time that can make or break a miniature.  If done incorrectly, it looks like a wash over the base coat.  The way Jessica laid out how to achieve this effect is straight forward and something any basic painter can practice until mastered.  It opens up a whole bunch of tricks to try on your miniatures.

Shea with sheer cloth

Non-metalic metal (NMM) – Jessica demonstrates both NMM gold armor and NMM iron swords.  In both cases, she walks you through the steps to achieve the perfect glint of light off your metal surfaces, with out using any metallic paints.  Her process is amazingly basic given the results she achieves. Everyone will want to watch this section twice or more since it applies in so many cases while painting. I have always struggled with this technique.  Jessica’s instructions helped me understand what I was doing wrong and how I can get better results in the future.

Object source lighting (OSL) – One of the easiest effects to take your miniatures to the next level is OSL.  Throwing light from an object onto your miniature, brings the second in time the miniature is capturing to life.  This technique is also very easy to overdo and mess up your miniature.  

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Jessica paint the glowing sword and then adding the light thrown down onto the arm and hair of the miniature.  It looks like a glowing sword, it is not so bright as to wash out of over power the rest of the miniature. 

Arston Whitebeard with OSL

Limited color pallets – This was a very interesting topic in the set.  Since most of my painting has been tabletop variety, high contrast and broad spectrum color pallets have been the name of the game.  Seeing how Jessica took a range of eight colors and utilized them across the entire miniature to pull together a very good looking moment in time was spectacular.  It really challenges me to think about the number of paints I need to put onto a miniature to make it look good.

Freehand designs (amazing) – The freehand sections of the DVD are MIND BLOWING!  Jessica is an amazing artist.  She is well known for her freehand art and design work. She walks you through her method for taking a sketch on paper and moving it to the three dimensional surface of the miniature.  Her abilities are nothing short of inspiring.

Rabbit Ranger with Green Man art

Final thoughts

I know I just gushed on for a full page about how much I enjoyed this DVD set, and I really did enjoy it.  There was so much to take in and build upon.  There are a few items I would have liked to see changed.  First, there are some times the video looks out of focus, or pixelated.  I am not sure if it is my monitor or the video.  Second, I would have liked some really, really close up video of the work at the middle and end of a section.  This would allow you to get a great view of work being done throughout the session.  Not necessarily while Jessica is trying to paint, but have her stop at key points and get us right in on the miniature. Finally, I would suggest some light music in the background.  It can be added in post production, just to help with those moments when no one is speaking.  Very minor things to take amazing to amazing +1. 
If you are a painter looking to up your game I highly recommend this DVD set to you.  I can’t wait to sit down and go back through it to practice and refine my skills. 

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Author: K9 Monkey
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