What can you say about Jen Haley that hasn't been said already? She is a world renowned painter, whom has won every large scale award offered in our little hobby. Her trophy rack includes trinkets such as the Games Workshop Golden Deamon and Slayer Sword, Privateer Press Grand Master and the Cool Mini or Not Crystal Brush…just to name a few. I have been following her career for years and had been searching for tutorials from her for many years. My prayers were finally answered when she released her DVD; Miniature Painting Secrets with Jennifer Haley, published by Cool Mini or Not. Today I’ll give this DVD a good “once over” and leave you guys with my final thoughts.
This is a 2 DVD set, with 6 hours of content. Subject matter ranges from tools and basic color theory, to advanced topics like dark skin tones, NMM, and blending. I’ve seen this DVD set offered for as cheap as $25.00 and as expensive as $40.00. Shop around and you can find it at a price your comfortable with. The “sets” are well done, with Jen waxing poetic on various topics and close cam pics while she is painting the miniatures.
She speaks about the awards mentioned above, as they are all displayed on the table in front of her. She also speaks briefly about her interest in painting as well as her work history in the industry. She also takes a moment to make it clear: This DVD covers how she likes to paint, and encourages you to experiment yourself and try things outside of your comfort zone. With that, we move right into chapter 2.
Chapter 1 - Intro Standard intro stuff here
Chapter 2 – Tools and Prep
Jen breaks right into what tools she uses, spending quite a bit of time talking about brushes. She gives her thoughts on brushes, which style of brush is the best, and her personal favorite manufactures of brushes. She also covers uses, sizes, and care. She moves on from brushes to talk about paint. Nothing too profound here, just her personal preference of manufacturer and why she uses them. We go from here to files, knives, putty, and sculpting tools. Again, just basic information here. I think the most interesting part of this chapter was that she waits 24 hours from priming to begin painting (Wow….that is dedication!)
Chapter 3 – Basic Color Theory
Nothing overly dramatic here. She covers basic color theory discussion using a Pocket Color Wheel (shown here). She does mention (and rightly so) that Color Theory is its own full blown discussion topic however, so don’t expect an invasive look into it.
Chapter 4 – Paint additives
Discussion about Flow extender, matting agent, drying retarder, etc. Nothing too monumental here that most don’t already know. At this point we begin to see Jen work on a miniature by using tools she spoke about in chapter 2. We get to the priming process at about the 10 minute mark, here is where it starts to buckle down and get to the meat of the DVD. Jen starts work on base coat, discusses and provides examples of consistency, feathering, and layering technique. She describes what she is doing while she works the mini.
Chapter 5 – Layers, Glazes, and BlendsJen explores these three techniques while painting 3 different types of skin tones: an anglo flesh tone, an African American flesh tone, and a pale tone used on a demon. She finishes this section by painting the horns on the demon piece. Be prepared to dedicate some time as just this section is over an hour and a half! Jen does a good job to continue to keep viewers engaged as she continues to provide a lot of information while she works.
Chapter 6 – DetailsJen works the details of the demonette here, starting with the face, moving on to some other skin work. Detail work consists of eyes, makeup, irritated skin, and detailing feminine features. I’ll take a sec here and mention that there are some bits that are hard to follow around the 20 minute mark because the angle of the mini isn’t in line with the camera, or her hair gets in the way of the footage. Jen makes mention of this and admits to making a mistake or two on the miniature during this process because of the camera and fixes the mini off camera. She then continues to finish the flesh detail work on the other two minis. This section is also over an hour long but does contain some valuable information. This chapter concludes disk one, and were off to disk 2!
Chapter 7 – Surface TreatmentsThis chapter covers sheer clothing, non metallic metal in gold and silver, standard colored cloth and leather, glossy leather detail, basing and basic weathering.
Chapter 8 – ConclusionBrief discussion on sealing your mini and Jen’s final thoughts. She spends some time discussing the hobby and giving a bit of a pep talk and breaking “painter’s rut”, etc. After watching this series, I’ll throw a couple of things I noticed here. First, let’s talk music. There is a background track that plays here. It’s a kind of smooth jazz with some acoustic thrown in for good measure. The issue I had with it is it’s the same 4 tracks over and over again….for 6 hours. With long bouts of just music playing while Jen paints, it’s going to wrack your brain after a while. Second, there seems to be a bit during the beginning where Jen seems to be reading from a script that is up and to the left of the camera. Her eyes don’t waiver and though at first it was a little off, since you would expect to have eye contact made, you quickly get past it and focus on the information. Finally, and this is more a personal nitpick vs. anything else; I would have liked to see one of the minis be a male. It would have been nice to get both perspectives on shading and highlighting the male and female form. Overall I think it’s a great look into how a professional miniature painter works, her workflow, and it’s a nice way to glean insight on some advanced subject matter. Would I call it a “must have”? Quick answer, probably not. Having said that, I think it would be a great addition to your library should you have the means to acquire it. Final verdict: 8/10 – A great addition do your library
Miniature Painting Secrets with Jennifer Haley Aceldamor Miniature Painting Secrets
8 / 10