Monday, September 3, 2018

Painting with Banshee

If you are in the Decimus system, you do not go to the planet Septimus unless you are desperate. If you must go to Septimus, avoid the hive of Septimus Prime. But if you do find yourself in that hive, whatever you do, stay away from the red-light district of that Emperor-forsaken cesspit. Should you end up in the red-light district, under no circumstances should you enter one of the many "gentleman's" clubs. And should the circumstances arrive that you find yourself in such a club, do not, under any circumstances, touch the performers for the Ogryn Bouncers are renowned through the system for their ferocity.
-Imperial Infantryman's Guide to Planet-Side Leave

Ruug blinked a little as the red lights on the club's door flashed furiously in  his eye and took a deep drag on his lho-gar. Then he grunted knowing he was about to teach this piss-ant hummie why you don't touch the girls...

So the tens of you that read my blog may have noticed last week that I failed to post. That's because I was getting ready for a couple of painting classes at the NOVA Open with Alfonso Giraldes, a/k/a Banshee. If you are not familiar with his work, he has worked for: Nuts planet, Big Child creatives, Forgeworld, Knightmodels, Andrea Miniatures, Scale 75, Sergeant BlackArt, Ron&Bones, Coolminiornot, Artefaktory, Kabuky models, Tale of War, Ares Mytologic, and Pizarro Miniatures. In other words, the dude can paint. In fact, go check out his Putty and Paint gallery

He's also a pretty cool dude
Now, if you know me, you know that I am not an artist. I have very little creativity in me. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to be an artist. So whenever I get the chance (which is not as often as I would like), I try to take classes from actual artists. So when I saw that Banshee was teaching a Bust Painting class and a Freehand class at the NOVA open, I made sure to be one of the first people registered for each.

I have taken classes with a wide variety of teachers. But, generally, painting classes tend to fall into one of two categories: they are a step by step class to do one particular thing or set of things, or they are less structured and more art-y. The former are more common, but the later are often much more useful for someone like myself--although they are both, imho, important.

I took the Bust class on Friday and it lasted all day. The Freehand class was Saturday in the early afternoon. The Bust class began with a lot of talk about art. It was pretty clear that Banshee is in this to be an artist. We did a lot of comparison between random models from CMON, his own photos, those of Kirill Kanaev, and his favorite painter Sang-Eon Lee. We also compared lots of photographs of people under various lighting. One of the things Banshee stressed was zooming in on all the photos and analyzing how real people do not have smooth blends. As he says "fuck smoothness."

After the class, but before I finished
Once we started painting, we were practicing Grisaille, a method of painting in black and white. This provided the advantage of allowing us to think about where the light was going to go and it allowed him to critique our attempts in a way that was focused on the overall model without the distraction of color. One of the best tips I got at this point was that highlights like to connect as light likes to join with other light.

After we finished with the black and white, we applied the colors. He also stressed the use of artist's heavy body acrylics and acrylic inks to get more vibrant colors that stay live longer on the palette. I won't go through his method here because, well, I can't do it justice. But it definitely provided lots of new insights.

The Freehand class was, in many ways, very similar to the Bust class. We began by discussing theory and what exactly constituted freehand. I found this to be very eye-opening. In the past, I've really only considered it to be these intricate designs on banners or the backs of capes. But it can also include lots of other things, such as painted on texture.

Once we got to the "how-to" part, the class basically became a drawing class. I found this really useful because I don't know how to draw! So things like grid lines and increasing definition over time were all new to me. I, quite erroneously, kind of just assumed people who draw do it right the first time. Oops!

He did this to show us how to add levels of definition
After these lessons, we each pulled out notebooks and began to draw some 40k-esque symbols of our choice. Banshee gave further pointers during this process as well. So after getting home, I attempted a tattoo on the shoulder of the bust. A big shout out to Rochie at Buried Under Lead for helping me pick the tattoo.

Overall, I am fairly happy with how the bust came out. I see a lot of room for improvement and I'm not sure Banshee will want people seeing this in relation to his class...they might get the wrong idea! But even a great teacher can only do so much with a weak student 😂Although I don't know that everything I learned will make it into my painting arsenal, to quote my friend Darkblade quoting the late Bruce Lee, "absorb what is useful." And there was a lot that was useful.

So, if you get the chance, I highly recommend taking one of Banshee's classes. You can check out his tour dates on his Facebook page and Instagram page.


  1. Great write-up, man. Gutted I couldn't be there, TBH. Hoping to make it next time.

  2. I think I'm in the same boat as you Andrew. I don't consider myself a great painter, just managing to pull something out of the bag every so often.

    I'd love to attend one of these classes as I really struggle with knowing where to highlight.

    It looks like the lesson really paid dividends. The bust has some really interesting elements to it and it's far better than I could have achieved with skin.

    Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Thanks, he has 3 busts he uses for this class and they're all pretty interesting.

  3. Very interesting stuff. You are a very good painter, but I understand the feeling of not being, and wanting to be, an artist. I like your explanations of the things you did. Very thought provoking. I need to go back and try different things. It's easy to fall back on what you think you know as a painter.

    1. Yeah, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone was something else we spent a while discussing. It's hard, but important.