Table Top RPG Creators Corner — Mini Painter Arcana Hex

by Anton Kromoff
Welcome to the table.
I had a chance to sit down with Anna of @arcanahex_minipainting to discuss inspiration, brushes, paints, and tips for those who want to get into painting miniatures.
Anton Kromoff: Hello Anna, first I wanted to take a second to thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Before we dig into painting and process, tell our readers a little bit more about yourself.
Anna:  Hey Anton, it’s my pleasure to be here! I’m originally from Germany but I moved to the UK (south-east England to be precise) in 2018. That’s also when I was first introduced to tabletop RPGs and mini painting. I usually spend most of my free time painting models but I’m also a passionate gamer or I combine both and paint models from video games!

Anton: Do you play any tabletop role-playing games or miniature games?
Anna:  Oh yes definitely! I adore Dungeons & Dragons and I usually play in multiple games a week, one of them being a long-running game that always has me on the edge of my seat. Other than that I haven’t found any other miniature-related games that I like, however, I’m very excited for the official Monster Hunter board game to be released in the future! Even if I won’t be able to play it I get a lot of amazing models out of it! One can never have too many dragons. 

Anton: How long have you been painting miniatures?

Anna: I painted my first model in August 2019 but I really didn’t get into it until March 2020 when I first started to work from home and suddenly had quite a lot of time on my hands. It was certainly quite an unexpected opportunity but I strongly believe that I wouldn’t have improved my painting so quickly if it hadn’t been for the almost daily painting sessions. I actually painted so much that I was forced to take a longer break from painting as I developed nasty tendonitis in my dominant arm haha.
Anton: Where do you pull your inspiration from?
Anna: Inspiration can be drawn from so many places, one of my favorites simply being nature and animals. Just imagine you’re about to sit down to paint a dragon, but you can’t decide on the colors you want to use. Looking at pictures of different reptiles or fish can turn the grey model into a beautiful, vibrant lionfish dragon! 
Apart from that, looking at other people’s paint jobs is also great inspiration as there’s so much you can learn from simply looking at their work. Having an understanding of color theory and how contrast works can also make for great inspiration as you can use them to give models a certain “storytelling’ element.
Anton: What is your favorite size mini or model to paint?

Anna: I usually prefer slightly bigger models, around 75mm as playing around with painting techniques is a lot more forgiving and I feel like I can be more creative with them. My favorite models to paint by far, are creatures, monsters, and dragons, but I really paint anything I like, whether it’s for display purposes or for use in actual DnD games. I have a particular love for models with a Japanese aesthetic though, especially when it comes to Kitsune/fox creatures.

Anton: When you are painting do you prefer to have something on in the background or do you like it to be quiet?

Anna: While I normally appreciate a quiet environment in my everyday life, having something playing in the background is a definite must when I paint because it helps me focus. It depends on the day, most of the time I’ll listen to painting tutorials or true crime podcasts. Sometimes I simply listen to music, especially video game Soundtracks!
I’m also part of a beautiful painting community on discord, sometimes we all hop on the chat there and hang out while we are all painting together.

Anton: Do you have a favorite brand of brush?
Anna: I use Raphael 84/04 sable brushes for detail work. They hold the paint very well and the tips are razor-sharp, especially in the size 1. I also heard fantastic things about Rosemary & Co brushes but I’ve yet to try them myself.
For anything else I mostly use cheap, non-branded brushes as certain paints, for example, contrast/speed paints, inks, metallics, and washes can easily eat through the bristles of brushes and make them unusable.
Anton: Do you have a favorite paint color?

Anna: Hexed Lichen from Vallejo!  Pretty much everything from Vallejo is beautiful and very affordable. I also use a lot of Reaper paints and some contrast paints from Games Workshop. Some paints/colors are better or worse for certain applications, you just got to figure out what works best for yourself.

Anton: What has been your favorite miniature to paint to date?
Anna: I have never actually thought about this before if I’m honest as I have loads that I like for different reasons. If I have to pick one… It would be Renmaeth the Faun goddess from DM Stash. It’s a beautiful model that radiates so much positivity and grace. It’s always such a pleasure to look at.

Anton: Is there a miniature or model you have waiting but just can’t bring yourself to paint yet?

Anna: Like many other painters I have what seems to be an endless sea of grey models. Sometimes it’s really hard to pick up some of the older models as there are always new, even more, beautiful ones that require my attention instead. I currently don’t have a model that I can’t bring myself to paint based on a lack of skill or anything like that, most of the models I paint are actually commissions nowadays so I don’t get to be too picky most of the time.

Anton: What advice would you give someone new to the hobby or trying to find out if the hobby is right for them?
Anna: The first important rule is… if you don’t know if the hobby is for you, don’t go out and buy a crazy amount of supplies. Rather, invest in a little starter kit with some basic paints (Reaper and Vallejo have great ones as they’re affordable and they can be used by beginners and advanced painters alike).
The brushes also don’t have to be expensive sable ones, cheaper craft brushes will do as long as they don’t split like crazy, as this can make painting quite the pain. Once you’re more comfortable, investing in more and better supplies can go a long way in making the painting process more comfortable.
Just have fun with the process and don’t get discouraged. It’s always easy to look at other people’s work and think ” I’ll never be this good”, even some artists I consider to be exceptionally skilled can fall victim to this mindset. Keep the first mini you have painted as it is, and once you have painted more models and you have learned some new things and techniques you can always look at your first model and see the difference. What personally really helped me to improve was constructive criticism.
People in the community are great and they’re always willing to give amazing advice, therefore, if possible, join some painting groups on Facebook and discord or other communities. It’s really fun, helpful and you get to hang out with like-minded people! Honestly, I could talk about this topic forever, but there’s so, so much you can do to learn more about painting.
If you’re unsure where to start I’d highly suggest anyone to watch a ton of YouTube tutorials as there’s so much for beginners and more advanced painters, you never really stop learning no matter the experience level. If you see a painted model that you really like, you can also reach out to the artist and in most cases, they’ll be happy to explain how they’ve done some things and offer advice and tricks!

Anton: I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me. Can you let our readers know where they can follow you and keep up with your work?
Anna: It’s been great and I hope I could encourage some people to get into this wonderful hobby! My work can be found on Instagram under Arcanahex_minipainting. I also recently started a TikTok account under the name ‘Arcanahex’. Don’t be afraid to reach out to me if you need help, advice or if you just want to chat I’m always happy to meet new people!
Until next time, may your brushes never split.

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