View Full Version : Member Review: Miniature Mentor: Monochrome Techniques with Jennifer Haley.

31-03-2011, 05:35 AM

Seeing as how I just got a new subscription to Miniature Mentor I figured I would review each DVD as I watched it. The first in this series will be Monochrome Techniques taught by Jennifer Haley.

To say I was excited to watch this DVD is an understatement. I was not so much excited for the actual subject matter being taught as I was by who it was being taught by. Most of you might not know this, but I am a HUGE Jen Haley fan. I would go as far as calling her my favorite painter. So I immediately downloaded this one as soon as I could.

The DVD starts off with an interview in which the narrator (I am guessing he is Canadian from all the aboots I heard in there) interviewing Jen about how she approached painting the mini, how her workspace was set up, how long and for whom she has painted, and ending with her showing how she mixes up the paint she uses for the miniature. This last part fascinated me the most, as I discovered that Jen Haley uses much less dillute paint than most painters I know. 1 part water to 1 part paint for layering and almost no dillution at all for he basecoats. It is interesting to watch someone you admire really get into the theory of their painting and I really enjoyed listening to what Jen had to say. (She is also incredibly attractive, so that didn't hurt the interview any in my books).

After the interview is over the DVD jumps right into the action. Beginning with the cape and working into the rest of the model. I am not going to go super in-depth, because really I would just bore you to death. I will say that Jen's painting technique is drastically different from what I am used to. Her paint, as I said before, is much less dillute than I personally use, so it was very interesting to see how she made this technique work for her.

Starting with a basecoat Jen began by blocking in her shadows and then going back over with her basecoat. She then deepened her shadows ad moved on to highlights, all the while going back with her previous layers and cleaning up any rough areas. This is the exact opposite of how I tend to work, where I start with my shadow and work my way up to my highlight, trying to perfect each layer before I move on to the next one. This theory is used throughout the entire miniature and is really fascinating to watch. I also enjoyed that Jen made a few mistakes throughout the DVD and she showed how she fixed them and explained that mistakes are a part of painting. In the beginning interview she even sais she stripped the mini twice because she didn't get the paint to look the way she wanted it to look. Hearing someone I admire say these things give me hope for my own painting.

Okay so, so far this blurb has really just been the "Jen Haley fan boy club", so the DVD is all about Monochrome painting, so how well does it explain the technique. The asnwer is, relatively well. Of course, as with any tutorial taught by a painter, this is not the only way to work this technique, but the DVD does a great job of explaining the theory behind monochrome and how the effect can be used to your benefit and how it can hurt you. The most fascinating part was the layers she used. Her deep shadow was walnit brown and her highest highlight was a creamy Ivory. Between these two extremes she mixed only 6-7 layers, which to me seems like a very low number to get the results she achieved, but that is why she is considered a master painter afterall.

I had heard from others that the narrator was incredibly annoying, but I did not find him bad at all, although he did tell Jen "good job" after every completed step, which did grate on my nerves a bit. The narrator did a good job of asking pertinent questions and Jen did an excellent job of answering them and explaining exactly what she was doing an why. I will say again that the theory behind the painting was my favorite part of the DVD for sure.

The finished miniature is a sight to behold and is right up there with all of Jen's amazing body of work, seriously if you do not know who she is, do yourself a HUGE favor and look her up. Overall this tutorial was great and I would recommend it to anyone who either wants to learn some monochrome secrets or who is just interested in watching how a true painting master works. My scores are below on a scale of 1 to 10.

Quality of Recording: 8/10 - The DVD is pretty clear, although there are a few areas that are rough, a few blurry spots and a few spots that the sound is a little out of whack. These areas are few and far between and are not really distracting at all.

Quality of Information 9/10 - The technique is explained in great detail through the interview process and also through the tutorial itself. Jen does a great job of explaining what she is doing and why and explaining her technique. Although my painting is not the same style as Jen's I still learned a good deal from watching this DVD.

Value 10/10 - While I bought the $70.00 Subscription and have access to lots of videos for that price, I feel that at $25.00 that this video is a great deal for the amount of information presented. I learned more than enough to have coughed up the entire amount for this DVD.

Overall 9/10 - A great tutorial from a great painter. If monochrome interests you do yourself a favor and get this video, you will not be sorry.

(This review is, of course my opinion only).

31-03-2011, 05:52 AM
And see... I actually didn't care for it. I can not say Jen isn't an extremely talented painter but I just didn't jive on the technique. I didn't think the blends looked all thast sharp in the video, and compared to say the Laurent Exposito Mas or a large number of the other videos by Todd Swanson, Allan C. etc I found this video lacking. But it was a great review Mercius! I think I am going to pick up the newest one by Bohun right now.

31-03-2011, 06:03 AM
To each his own Scott...it certainly is not the way I paint or intend to for sure...I could never make that style work. I did learn ALOT from the video as far as how the technique works though and the thought behind the color theory. I think the blends looked a bit rough on the video because of the filming and whatnot, they did say a few times that she fixed the blends off camera, I would imagine it would be hard to paint with someone filming you. You are right though the blends where a bit rougher than I thought they should be from Jen Haley.

31-03-2011, 08:50 PM
I think a lot of what you see in the videos is due to the fact that it's really hard to paint when there's a camera in the way. So blending may or may not be off, depending on the techniques people use. I know that if anyone watched me try to blend stuff, it would be something like this:
0-10% done -- ok, it's basecoated
10-95% done -- that looks like crap!
95-99% done -- ok, I can actually see some blending now
100% done -- I guess that's ok.

Others may be different.

31-03-2011, 08:57 PM
Excellent review

Captain Sprout
31-03-2011, 08:59 PM
Really great review Mercius, it wasn't my very favourite tutorial but you have summed it up really well, nice work indeed. I found I learned to think about cream more than black and white when I watched it but I enjoyed watching her work..she is amazing.

31-03-2011, 09:36 PM
Nice review thank you very much . :smile:

31-03-2011, 09:54 PM
Ive always been tempted to get some of these tutorials, but the region code put me off, did you use them on a laptop and if so do you have a high end pc. !!

Captain Sprout
31-03-2011, 10:52 PM
They don't have a region code on the downloads so you can play them as you like. I burnt some to DVD and played them on the TV, now I run the HD ones through my media player to the TV, works nicely. Obviously also ok on a PC.

They work on a pretty low end machine, I've had a couple playing in the background on my netbook when working overnight.

31-03-2011, 11:40 PM
@ Shaps - Capt is correct, no region code on the downloads. I played them through the VLC Player they mention on their site as the player of choice and they worked fine. I do have a decent laptop however, not the best, but not outdated. I have watched 3 of the videos so far, this one, the complete solution, and the speed painting one. I think that for the quality of the production and info given it is more than worth it to buy the $70.00 subscription, even if all you do is download all the existing videos and then cancel. From the list of upcoming titles I am pretty sure I will keep my sub going though.

01-04-2011, 03:00 AM
I put mine on a little USB drive and watch them on my PS3 in HD.

01-04-2011, 11:28 AM
Nice review, and without watching it, it sounds a bit like how I paint a lot of the time, so I guess I'm not completely weird...

01-04-2011, 04:03 PM
Can't argue with those kinds of results Iacton.

01-04-2011, 07:29 PM
Great review, I have yet to download this one, but probably not for long after this. Nice tip for watching the downloads on the PS3, ScottRadom - thanks.

01-04-2011, 07:35 PM
Great review Mercius :)

I have watched this tutorial a while back, and I indeed found it very educative. The paint dilution is very interesting, I agree, and for me it really helped getting out of that 'have to dilute immensly' thought.
Might watch it again though, you've got me inspired!

02-04-2011, 06:34 AM
I am glad everyone like the review.

02-04-2011, 05:49 PM
thanks great review, I really love that paintjob and may have to check this out.

05-04-2011, 09:27 PM
Thanks for the review! It's so useful to see what people think about these things.

It's really interesting too about the paint thickness. It's something I saw last year at Figostock, and I thought it was a very unusual way of blending at the time, but I've noticed a few people have now mentioned it when they talk about techniques of some of the top painters. I have to admit that since seeing some of the top painters do it, I've had a go at thinning my paint less (~1 part paint to 1.5-2 parts water) and have found that (as long as you put very little on your brush) it does seem to work very well- and is a lot quicker!

14-10-2011, 07:17 PM
I really enjoyed this review, partially because I'm a huge Jen Hailey fan as well and because I'd seen this video a while ago and was pleased to see the reviewer had much the same reactions and conclusions as I did. I didn't mind the interviewer and honestly tuned him out most of the time. I'm looking forward to watching the Darksword dvds with her on them!

Spectral Dragon
14-10-2011, 07:42 PM
interesting, 1:1 is usually how I dilute my water. I make up for it by putting thinner amounts of paint on the brush. I wonder if this artist would be closer to my style of painting.

Excellent review, I was trying to figure out if I should bother getting this but I think i will now.