Q and A with David Powell

Today we are very Happy to be able to bring you the first in what we all hope will be a long line of Q and A's with painters who we all wish we could paint like.

David Powell

About Yourself  (I wasn't sure if this was a question, but here's a brief bio)
I am a figure painter (and mechanical engineer) in the Los Angeles area.  I enjoy working on a wide range of subjects, but I'd say a little more than half of what I paint are historical figures.

How long have you been painting and what made you get into the hobby.
About 20 years ago my dad picked up a box of Ral Partha figures at a garage sale and brought them home for me.  Not too long after that I stumbled upon GW and was really hooked.  I painted on and off for a long time, just basic table top quality work.  Then, around 2010, I decided to try a 120mm historical figure and it reignited my passion for painting.  I got involved with the online painting forums and saw what was possible.  I started to focus on display level, improving my skills, and larger figures where I had more room to blend and paint details.  So while I've technically been painting for 20 years, I say I've only been painting seriously for 6.

Have you ever won any comps 
Yes, I've attended a number of competitions and done pretty well.  I won best in show at the NOVA Open in 2013 and Bay Area Open in 2014, along with numerous medals.

There are a quite a few pure painting competitions around the US (as opposed to those tied to gaming tournaments) that work on the open judging system.  So instead of a single 1st, 2nd, 3rd, everyone's work is judged against a set standard.  If 10 people deserve gold, then they hand out 10 gold medals (and so on for silver and bronze).  It's a nice way to recognize everyone's contribution and not just 3 people's.  These shows tend to be better know among historical figure painters, but they have fantasy and sci-fi categories too.  There are shows in LA (SCAHMS), Philadelphia (MFCA), Long Island (LIHMCS), Atlanta (AMFS), DC (NCMSS), Chicago (MMSI), Tulsa (HMSNEO), and Dallas (LSMMS).  If you're near any of these groups, I highly recommend checking them out.  It's a great way to get into competition painting and see some great work in person.

What brushes do you use.
Usually it's Winsor Newton Series 7, though lately they've been tougher to get in the US so I've switched to Scharff Series 3000.  Good brushes cost a bit more, but they last a lot longer and are definitely worth it.

What are the three things at your workstation, you could not live without.
My wet palette, glasses, and jeweler's clamp (great hand held tool for holding 54mm and larger figures while I paint).

Is there anything you know now that you wish someone told you at the start.
Get involved in online forums and post your work for advice and feedback.  There are a lot of gaming forums, which are great.  But if you want to do display level work and take part in painting competitions, get on the forums that are just focused on painting (Cool Mini or Not, Wamp, PlanetFigure, etc).  Those are the places that will help the most if your goal is to move from table top level to display and competition level.

What is the last Modal you finished painting for your own collection?
The last 100% completed figure was a 75mm Napoleonic figure (Officer of the Guide in Egypt) from Pegaso Models.  I'm in the process of wrapping up a 54mm mounted crusader and I've got a 75mm dark elf that just needs a base.

Would you choose True Metallics or NMM?
I really admire painters that can do great NMM, but for me it's mostly TMM, especially on historical figures.  I've done a few small experiments with NMM and hope to play around with it a bit more in the future.

What is your favorite scale to paint in?
I like to work in a variety of scales, from 28mm up to 200mm.  If you feel like you're plateauing with your painting, try switching to a different scale.  Moving up to larger scales gives you more room to work in details and practice smooth transitions.  If I had to pick a favorite, I'd say 54mm (1/35 scale).  I've got enough room to do some nice details, especially on the faces.  But after about two years of doing mostly 54's, I'm starting to take on some more 75mm and 90mm projects.  So check back in a years time and that answer may have changed!

Do you use an airbrush and if so, what for?
I've been dabbling with my airbrush, but I don't have a good handle on it yet.  I've used it for some early stages of base painting.  Hopefully with some more practice I'll feel confident enough to actually try using it on a figure.

What do you feel you need to improve and why?
Oh plenty.  I already mentioned the airbrush, that would really help me speed up my painting process.  I'd also love to learn how to use oils on figures.  Those would be ideal for larger scale figures, great for horses too.  OSL for figures with multiple light sources.  Groundwork is another side of the hobby I'm still trying to improve.  I love when the base works with the figure to tell a story.  I'm making a conscious effort to do that with more of my projects.  Sculpting is another area (I'm attending a few classes on this at Adepticon), this would be really helpful for creating neat scenes and converting figures.  This list could go on and on, but those are some of the big ones.

Do you or have you ever felt like a Noob with Just his paint brush?
Of course.  Obviously back when I was just starting out.  But even now, when I try something new like airbrushing or NMM I feel like I have no clue when I'm doing.

What three things would you have stranded on an Island?
You mean aside from fresh water, food, and a satellite phone?  I'd have a lot of free time, so my art supplies (drawing and painting stuff).  I could use some company so I'd bring along my dog.  And, I guess it's a bit cliche, but my books.  If I couldn't bring them all, I'd settle for just my copy of the Lord of the Rings.

And finally is there anything that you would like to pass on to aspiring miniature painters?
Keep in mind what your goals are.  Are you painting for table top gaming or for display and competition?  If it's the latter, explore different styles and scales to see what works best for you.  And don't limit yourself to just painting gaming figures, there are lots of companies producing high quality figures for display.  You get what you pay for and a nice sculpt is a lot easier to work with.

Whatever your reason for painting, take advantage of all the wisdom that's posted on the various online forums and blogs.  And, if possible, attend a show/competition.  I've found most painters to be very friendly and happy to talk about their work and how they did it (and it's so neat to see top quality work in person).  Most of all, just have fun and keep painting!

Work by David.

here is a link to his Blog

And we would like to thank him for taking the time to impart his wisdom.

If there is anything else people would like to ask him, please comment below I know I have some.


  1. Oh David, When will you finally admit that you are in fact, a robot or a witch and not human at all, because no mortal can paint like that? Come clean, me and the mob here with sculpting tools and burning sable haired torches won't judge -_- much.

    1. I'm actually a robot witch. Buckets of water are especially dangerous for me

    2. Okay everyone put away the flaming paint brushes and grab your rinse cups and wet palettes ;)

  2. Thanks for taking the time to do the interview David, some really interesting stuff in there :)

    Not to mention the lovely pictures :)