This is a review on the HD download version of "Miniature painting secrets with Natalya", available from CoolMiniOrNot store.
In this article I will review the HD download version of the dvd ‘Miniature painting secrets with Natalya’. Natalya Melnik, aka Alexi Z (golden demon and slayer sword winner), is our host and describes the techniques she uses to create her masterpieces.
I’m a big fan of the miniatures Natalya has painted, but I would like to start by mentioning that this review is not intended to review Natalya’s painting style or her work. In this review I will cover the clarity of instructions, technical aspects to the video and other points.
First some interesting things about Natalya’s techniques, which you may find important if you think about buying this tutorial. Natalya doesn’t use a lot of dilution on her paint. No exact numbers are given but I’m guessing it’s about 50:50 paint to water, or maybe even less dilution. Natalya paints using a wet blending technique, she also doesn’t pre-mix the paints on the palette but rather keeps mixing paints over and over again, almost with every application.
The DVD consists of 4 chapters, each with different sub-parts as described below.
Chapter 1: Introduction
The first part of the tutorial covers the tools used by Alexi Z. Amongst others, she describes the sculpting tools, paint brushes and paints she uses. An interesting note is that Alexi Z uses mostly synthetic brushes (instead of Kolinsky marter which is used by many painters). She claims that brushes wear out too quickly to spend a lot of money on them. With every miniature she paints she uses new brushes.
This parts also shows some basing materials.
Chapter 2: Preparation & Basic painting
Part 1: Preparation
This part covers all steps in preparing the miniature prior to painting. It covers sanding & filing, drilling and gap filling with green stuff.
Part 2: Smoothing surfaces & Basic painting
More sanding & filing. The smoothing is extended by using miliput, both in direct application of the putty as in miliput washes. Next step is priming the mini.
Basic painting is explained by two examples: a dwarf slayer from GW and a female barbarian
Part 3: Basic painting continued
We see the final touches on the skin of the female barbarian. Also the leather and fur is painted. In this section there is also a tutorial on painting hair. It gives great instructions on creating a vivid red hair colour for the female barbarian. Definitely a part to watch!
Chapter 3: Alexi Z techniques
Part 1: Painting faces
In this chapter Natalya shows how she paints faces, of both dwarves and female faces. For me, especially the part on female faces is really interesting. Not only does she paint the basic skin colour, but also paints on the makeup. It’s also quite amazing to see her paint the eyes. She makes it look real easy, as if the eyes have a diameter of 1 cm.
Part 2: Painting NMM
Natalya paints both metal NMM and gold NMM. This demonstration is really helpful if you have difficulties finding the right way to highlight and shade NMM, it shows where to place the right reflection. NB: in chapter 4 there is a LOT more gold NMM to learn from.
Chapter 4: Painting Teclis
Watch Natalya paint the Teclis high elf miniature from start to finish, including the base. Really no parts are skipped. Particularly interesting in this last part of the tutorial is how Natalya paints textures clothing and freehand line patterns.
There is no visual aid to explain the techniques used, or to show what paint colours are used. This is explained by the voice-over, but would be much stronger in visuals. I think this is a big miss.
There is very little talking by the voice-over in this tutorial. Most of the remarks are therefore instructional without blabbering about unnecessary things. It does make the video slightly boring, and sometimes the voice-over repeats the same thing. The background music, that does change once in a while but mostly follows a loop, can get really annoying after a while.
Most parts of the tutorial are shown at 2x normal speed. This means that brush strokes or file handling goes really quickly. It also means that sometimes it is really hard to see what exactly Natalya is doing. One way to circumvent this is to play the video twice as slow, you do get funny talking that way.
At times the angle of the miniature is awkward and you cannot see the area that’s being painted clearly. With some of the tutorial parts the zoom isn’t as great, and a large part of the frame is hands. However this is not the case with most of the detail work.
On DVD quality: the download is very solid (the first version actually wasn’t but the new version you can download now is), no stuttering and very crisp video material. Sometimes there are large green areas in the frame, they do not cover the painted area but can be annoying.
I absolutely enjoyed watching the DVD, though I must say that I fast forwarded some parts because it gets a little boring for me after a while. If you consider buying this tutorial here’s some things to think about:
1) If you are still a beginner I wouldn’t recommend this tutorial. It doesn’t give you basic instructional information. There are better alternatives for this.
2) Question yourself if you like Alexi Z’s painting style? If not, then don’t buy this DVD. It’s all about showing how to paint like her. If you dilute your paints strongly and do not want to think about changing this, this might also not be for you.
3) If you like watching someone paint this is definitely a good deal. A lot of painting, no skipping on parts of the miniature.
I’m really happy that I purchased the download version of this tutorial. It’s making me re-think my technique and also gives great insight on advanced techniques.