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  • Miniature Mentor Tutorial- Ben Komets’ Creating and Painting Unique Bases Review


    This is the latest release from the Miniature Mentor group. I have been a subscriber to the site for over a year now, and having downloaded a number of these, this has been the most practical and achievable one to follow along so far. I don’t think it’s fair to Miniature Mentor to go into the major details, tips and advice in this review, but what should follow is a rough breakdown of what’s in it and a general feel of my experience as a viewer.

    The basics

    The video download costs $25, or is ‘free’ to subscribers (you pay a nominal $0.01 to make the transaction through paypal). It comes to around 8gb of data, so takes a while to download depending on your broadband connection. The DVD is currently available. The download consists of seven parts, each one lasting between 25 and 45 minutes (most around 40). There are roughly four parts dedicated to the building of bases, and 3 to the painting, with a final round up and ‘finishing details’ in the last ten minutes of the last file. The sound quality and picture quality are as good as your monitor/speakers will let them be!

    Is it any good?

    As mentioned at the beginning, I have tried out a lot of Miniature Mentor downloads, with varying degrees of usefulness/inspiration. This is genuinely the first that made me think ‘I could actually do that,’ and more importantly, you don’t need masses of prerequisite skills beforehand to do so! Not only are you given one example, but three. Over the building stages of the download, you are shown how to build a brickwork base, how to imitate ancient/crumbling buildings, how to make cobblestone style bases and how to give your bases a lift with the help of some superglue accelerator. The second half is dedicated to painting, and shows you how to weather sections of your bases, how to add variety to the colours of bricks and cobbles, as well as adding depth to more general sandy areas. The final section is all about adding foliage and fiddly little extras to your base to really make it pop.

    There are two or three things that really make this download stand out from the usual MM fare. In contrast to other Miniature Mentor DVDs, this actually ends with three finished products that you can compare your own work against. Usually you get finished sections or something similar, but this takes you through every step, leaving you with a complete vision of the process. In the past, I’ve felt a bit let down on other models (obviously they’re under constraints, but this is a review!) where you can’t see the process carried out over the whole thing.

    The second is the man himself, Ben Komets. Rightly or wrongly, people will no doubt have formed their opinions of the narrator behind the camera over the years. His catchphrases (‘Good job’) are few and far between, as Ben has a fantastic grasp of English. This means that he is confident enough to talk you through the whole process, rather than relying on the brush to do the talking. Again, one has to take into account that this may be down to the source material (bases), but I have no doubts that his up and coming tutorial on wet blending will have a similar feel to the whole thing. As ever, random hints and tips come out whilst he rambles, and again adds to the value of the tutorial as a whole.

    Any downsides?

    So far, the review has been positive, and justifiably so. Hopefully, this is the direction MM will take (hopefully with their interview section added to the download- I would be really interested to hear a one-to-one chat with Ben, especially as he painted the Chimera that inspired me to do mine!). The only serious criticism I would have, and this is the same for a lot of their range of tutorials, is that some of it might not be considered ‘masterclass’ level for some people.

    As ever, I think this comes down to your own perceptions of your work. Personally, although I’ve made some creative bases that I’m very proud of, I still don’t think I’ve managed to create a base that looks truly ‘professional.’ Now I could have figured out to use plaster and make it into tiny bricks (as I’ve been told by numerous people), and I could have tried to ask around for specific materials, etc. However, it is very handy to have it all in one place, and the work is of a high standard so for me it’s not a problem.

    Secondly, although one of the models concerned is a Space Marine, there is no real love for Sci-fi or Steampunk here. Of course techniques are always transferrable, but it might have been nice to see a truly sci-fi base included.

    The Ratings

    Quality: 9 / 10 – As always, the picture quality from the Miniature Mentor series is of a good standard, and I’m sure with a better monitor this would be improved further. My downloads had no glitches or concerns to worry about. The tutorials are clear and simple to follow. As mentioned, it’s really only lacking a dedicated Sci-fi section.

    Value: 9 / 10 – 5 hours of information for about £15. The detail is fantastic, and Komets is a talkative and enjoyable ‘host’ to the proceedings. The work seems accessible and in many cases inspirational. The only point lost for me is that should you really want to, you could probably find these tips online, either by asking or by rummaging around on the usual sites. (I’m quite lazy though, so having it in one place is very useful!)

    Overall: 9/ 10 – For the price, even as a one-off buy (through Wamp of course ;)) this is a handy video tool to help you up your basing game. As ever, it usually takes a video or real life tutorial to get across all the ideas you might come across for free and this does a great job of making high quality bases look like a feasible task. It might sound like a bit of a cop out giving it such a high score, but it’s a handy video tutorial from a truly talented painter, so the score is deserved. As MM might say, “Good job, good job.”