Can you pass on a tip or technique that you think a new painter would find helpful, or that you would have found useful when you were first starting out?
Drybrushing and ink washing are the two fundamental things which instantly improved the way I painted. People love to joke about drybrushing (I do too), but there’s nothing else out there which will give beginners an instant view of where highlights go on a figure. Conversely, use of washes to create effective shadowing on figures was an eye-opener too. Too many people want to ignore these things because they are slightly out of date and not one of the more trendier techniques, but I guarantee the first time people use them they will feel pretty damn chuffed about what they achieved.
What does your workspace look like?
It’s a bookcase, but it serves the purpose well!
Do you use a wet palette or ceramic tile/plastic welled palette?
I’ve used them all, and I’ve always gone back to a good old white tile. Nothing beats it, and because they’re so cheap, I tend to use one per model I paint! I realise that the photo of my workspace shows one of those P3 wet palettes – this is mainly because I have been too lazy to walk to my garage and pick up the box of tiles that is there. I like wet-palettes too though. Aside from the baking paper curling up on occasion!
What paints do you use?
I’m a bit of a magpie when it comes to paint. If the colour looks nice, I’ll most likely pick it up. I don’t really subscribe to anyone who says one brand is better than the other. That said, there are definitely colours which I do prefer. So, something like Silvergrey (Vallejo Model Colour) is one of the very best colours out there, and I much prefer that as my ‘white’ equivalent. GW’s Baneblade Brown is another colour I wouldn’t be without as it can form a base for almost any old thing going – especially bone and as a mixer for flesh tones. I’ve got drawers full of bottles from GW, Vallejo, P3, Coat D’arms and others too – you’ve got to try ‘em all!
When thinning paint, do you have a particular method or recipe that you follow?
I work with very thin paint most of the time, but I tend to thin with blending medium more than water. Windsor and Newton’s blending medium is my preferred tipple. It things, but keeps the pigment from weakening as much as water might, so works well for me.
Is there a particular scale or genre of miniature you prefer to work on over others?
Nope – I love anything and everything, although I think I’d struggle with overly realistic things. My previous attempts to paint historicals has never been pleasant!
Is there a particular miniature you’d love to paint from another company that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
You know what? Nope! There are figures I’d like to have in my collection but they’re usually so detailed I’ll never get around to painting them! To be terribly non-PC about it, I’m usually mostly taken with Forgeworld and Horus Heresy figures…obviously, there’s far too many to ever afford (hell, it’s a rare day I spend money on the hobby if it isn’t directly involved in Odyssey!), but I love ‘em!
How long do you generally spend painting a miniature from start to completion?
I’ve become fairly speedy over the years, but whenever I get asked this question I always find it difficult to answer, as I don’t sit in front of the desk for long sessions. I’m a very sporadic painter, and tend to paint a lot but in very short spells…15 minutes here, 30 minutes there. It averages out at around 3 hours for a standard 28-32mm figure I guess.
Do you have a preference for resin, metal or plastic?
Resin – but that’s only because it’s so much easier to clean and prepare than the others. Once they cleaned up, I really don’t mind what the material is!
How do you know that you have “finished” a miniature? Are you ever tempted to go back and tweak things?
I’ve been painting for so long, I tend to have a pretty good idea when I think it’s time to set down the brush. Really, the only times I’ll go back is when a client moans at me for not painting something correctly…it doesn’t happen too often (thankfully!), but when it does it takes a short while of mental adjustment to get going again!
Where did the inspiration for Odyssey come from – where did it all start?
Odyssey came out of watching the classic western ‘Magnificent Seven’. I rather liked the idea of having heroes with different abilities all on the same side being hired by a town to save them from a hoard of nasty bandits. I thought it could be fun to set it in a sci-fi setting.
For those without the lovely scrap book from the recent Argonauts Kickstarter, can you explain the process behind how an Odyssey miniature goes from initial concept to reality?
It’s not a complicated process really. I’ll come up with a basic idea. Sometimes this will have come about simply by reading about a greek hero/god and thinking how it could work suitably Odyssey’d up. A number of times I’ll do a doodle or a sketch when the mood arises. I’ll then have a chat with my writing partner Fet, and we’ll get down to some specific bullet points and details about the character. This all then gets shoved over to long suffering concept artist Roberto Cirillo who has the unenviable task of creating the art itself. This goes through a number of different passes before hitting on the final idea. The great thing is that Roberto is the consummate professional, and it’s a very rare day that he doesn’t pretty much hit it spot on with the first few images! This then goes off to a sculptor who I want to work with and after a while a figure is born! I wish I could say more, but honestly it’s pretty much as straightforward as that. It’s expensive and it can take a long time to get the final piece but it’s always worth the effort.
Well…almost always ;)
Are there any differences and challenges in coming up a with a model that has to fit into a specific universe such as Odyssey against standalone miniatures, like your Dragon Huntress or Papa Demon?
Most of the original ‘one-off’ line up of JoeK Minis were based on ideas from other people. Usually it was a case that I liked the artwork and wanted to see if it would work as a miniature. Other times I saw a sculpt by someone that was up for sale and decided to pick it up. Now that’s quite fun in itself as you’re effectively buying a one-off figure for yourself, but feeling good enough about it to share it out (and pray to the gods that you get enough interest to get the money back somehow!). However, there was a point when it became apparent that that just wasn’t enough for me. I really had a desire to get more involved in some aspect of the design, so making Odyssey (with help of course!) has been a fantastic way of getting some of my ideas up and running. It’s a far more fulfilling way of doing things from my perspective. I think about Odyssey all the time…
Have you noticed a difference at all between painting one of your own miniatures as opposed to painting a model from another company?
Not especially in the techniques used really. I’m fairly confident about my processes to know that it usually works fine for most things. It’s not the prettiest or the most technically astonishing thing, but it gets the job done (and at a cost effective price for all customers ;) ).
Finally, can you tell us what it feels like to have released miniatures and to see people enjoying painting them, and seeing how different people’s takes on the characters are as they finish them?
Y’know what? When I do see someone paint up one of my figures it’s absolutely brilliant. But…well…I don’t see that many painted really :( . I think that’s just part and parcel of the hobby outside of GW to be honest. So much good stuff out there that you want to buy, but when it’s bought you just don’t have the time to paint them! Which is kind of why I’m running the painting competition! At the end of the day, I’m very happy that people like the things enough to spent their hard earned cash on them! Seeing them painted is the cherry on the top!
Speaking of Joe's painting contest, here's all you need to know about it!
To give you a taste of the Odyssey, here are some of Joe's own interpretations.
Many thanks to Joe for taking the time to answer our questions!