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Interview with Anders Eklund


  • Interview with Anders Eklund

    Our next interview subject is Anders Eklund, better know as Ritual. Anders is a studio painter for Wyrd and his style is well known . He is 34 years old and hails from Sweden. He works full time with digital books for disabled people. He is a gold medal winner at The World Expo and is also the first of our 'paint masters'.
    Heres what Anders had to say

    First of all, I'd like to say that I'm honoured that you guys are interested in my thoughts and opinions about this hobby of ours. I never see myself as a "big shot" in the hobby, but if I can share the knowledge I have, help or inspire someone to grow as a painter, or simply provide entertainment for a few moments, I'm happy to oblige! :) I have collected all the questions and arranged them in a somewhat sensible order. A few questions are left out because there were similar questions already, that more or less have the same answer. Hopefully I haven't left any other out.

    When did you start to paint? & what was the first mini you painted?
    It depends a bit on how you define "start to paint". When I was a kid (I'm talking 5 years old or so...) me, my father and my older brother used to melt pewter and cast minis from rubber molds. Those minis are rather awful with today's standards, but the whole process is incredibly fun for a 5-year-old. Then, of course, we painted them using Humbrol enamels. This never became a real hobby, it was just something we did now and then. When I was about 9 or 10 I got a role playing game for Christmas from my brother and pretty soon I discovered fantasy miniatures. I think I bought my first one in 1985 when I was 10. The first mini I painted was some sort of druid or wizard with a leather jerkin and a sword. Don't know what brand it was and I don't have the miniature anymore.

    Your 'style' tends to be quite subtle in terms of contrast and you often use a lot of earthy natural tones. Is this a conscious effort to strive towards realism, and do you think a miniature could ever be painted in a photo realistic way?
    I am not entirely sure where my style comes from. One of the things that shaped the style I have today is trying to copy the Rackham look somewhere in 2002-2003 when I discovered them. I was taken by their clean but more muted look and I wanted to break away from the 'Eavy Metal-influenced style I had had before that. My attempt att copying the Rackham style was, in my own eyes, rather unsucessful, but soon I began hearing from people that I had a very unique style, which surprised me as it wasn't something I had attempted to aquire. But, I figured that was a good thing, so I began developing it. I started looking at historical miniatures as I felt my style was in some ways closer to what the historical painters do. So, from that point I'd say it's been a conscious effort.

    As for painting in a photo realistic way... I'm not sure, really. Certainly not smaller scales. But, if you have big enough surfaces to work with I think you can adapt techniques used by special effects people in the film industry to paint in a rather realistic way, using transparency. Also, I think it's possible to paint in a way such that photos of the miniatures look quite real.

    Ejhin de VanthHave you ever had the urge to go crazy and experimental (rather than naturalistic) and how did it work out? How you feel about sculpting/conversion would be part of this question?
    Yes, many times! And quite often it ends up looking very much like my style usually do! I remember wanting to "go crazy" with colours on Ejhin de Vanth, and yes it has plenty of colours, but I think they're all looking quite muted and not nearly as crazy as I had intended. I think it's my urge to make things look natural and seemingly life-like that sort of takes the edge off any craziness that I might attempt. In a way, I think that perhaps I shouldn't fight it... I have my style and maybe it's better to work on that than try to change it or do something entirely different. But, at the same time, I don't want to get stuck and I think it's important to try new things. I have, during the last year or so, began using stronger colours. If you look at some of my recent Hasslefree miniatures (Sola and Hatherley, for instance), they have some rather bright colours, basically just one or two, and still plenty of the more sombre, muted colours that I usually use. And, I think that works pretty well. So, this is something that I will continue to explore.

    I must confess to not being much of a converter or sculptor. I've always been a bit reluctant to get into this side of the hobby. I think it's partly due to me often being a bit impatient to get into the painting bit. I've learnt to spend time on cleaning the miniature as that really makes a difference to the final result. Getting rid of ALL mold lines, imperfections and rough spots is very important if you're doing high end stuff. But, spending time converting the mini is something I seldom feel like. It happens that I do simple conversions like weapon swaps and such, but I rarely reposition miniatures. It's on my to-do list! :)

    Any aspirations to enter the sculpting side of the hobby?
    Yes, I really want to learn how to sculpt. I am just a bit reluctant diving into it, since I would be back at beginner level. I get more satisfaction out of spending my free time on painting, as I know the results will be something I can be proud of (most of the time, at least...). But, sooner or later I will take the plunge! I already have some books about sculpting and anatomy.

    Can you name a moment or moments when you had a painting epiphany and finally "understood" a certain technique or concept that has significantly elevated your skill? And what lead to this realisation? Examples of minis at the time?
    Hmm. I'm not sure I've had any big revelations when it comes to painting. Not recently, anyway. I have always seemed to grasp things pretty effortlessly as I go along by trying things out and using what experience I already have. When I started painting again after a lengthy break, I think in 2002, I already had a lot of knowledge about basic techniques that slowly surfaced from the murky depths of my mind. Then I found lots of useful material on the Internet and started incorporating new ideas into my slowly recovering technical abilities. I guess I've had small epiphanies here and there all the time, but nothing that really qualifies as an AHA! moment.

    As an example, if I remember correctly, I used glazes for the first time on my Drune warriors. But I can't say it was that much of a revelation. It was just something I tried and it worked pretty well.

    But, maybe when I think about it... When I started to mix colours instead of painting straight out of the pot, that made a huge impact on my painting. When you're focused on finding the right paint pot and always think in terms of the colours you have in your paint arsenal you're limiting yourself. It's much harder obtaining the results you picture in your mind when you're limited to specific colours. Nowadays, when I have an idea in mind it's the colours I think of, not the paints. Then, I rummage around among my paints to see which paints to use to mix the colour I think of.

    Do you think licking brushes has affected your style?
    In a way, yes! Of course, you can do exactly the things I do by using water instead of saliva, but being a habitual brush-licker has definitely influenced the way I'm painting. Instead of watering down my paint to the proper consistency I keep the paint rather thick on my pallette. I then use a moist brush when I paint, and thus, by varying how wet the brush is when I dip it in the paint I can quickly switch between various consistencies of the same colour. I use the tongue to fine-tune the consistency. If the brush feels too wet I can get some of the moist out by licking it and if the brush is too dry I can wet it by licking it. The ease and flexibility of this process have probably made me use glazes and feathering a lot more than I would otherwise, if the process would be more involved and time-consuming. When I feather, for instance, I can quickly get rid of any remaining paint from my brush by licking it off and then use the brush to stretch out the paint I just applied and feather it out. I think this is much easier and quicker than wiping the paint off on a towel or switching to another brush, as some do. Perhaps I should mention, for all the unbelievers out there, that I never put a lot of paint on my brush, so when I lick paint off the brush it's never much.

    Should non-brush lickers be shot?
    No, that seems excessive. I think a bit of torture would be enough. Possibly mutilation...

    Do you feel to achieve the highest level people must blend or can layering be just as effective?
    I am always a little confused by what people mean when they say "blend". I have always seen "blending" as a general term meaning "creating colour transitions". With that definition layering would be a type of blending. But, I assume wet blending is what this question is about. I think you can use layering to produce rather good results, actually. You can refine the layering process by making the paint more transparent, more like a glaze. You can also make the transitions smoother by using more intermediate steps with smaller changes in the colour. The combination of these two measures can make layering a very powerful method.

    What's your favorite colour? and maybe different, your favorite color to paint?
    In real life, my favourite colour is black. Black is not something I enjoy painting that much, though. I think one of my favourite colours to paint is human (caucasian) skin. I probably would enjoy different types of skin colour too, but I haven't done much yet. I have painted one african looking mini and I'm planning on painting a few middle eastern looking minis pretty soon. But skin is such an interesting thing to paint, I think. I love the challenge of making it look alive. It's not just getting the colour right, it's all the subtle colour shifts and things like that you need to do to make it look natural.

    I also like colours between blue and green, like turquoise, teal, etc.

    Do you consciously try and push yourself or do you prefer to paint in a relaxed way?
    Well, I think it's something inbetween, really. I am not a very competitive person, and I don't think I'm obsessed with miniature painting. So, I don't feel I'm in any hurry to do things and accomplish things. I've painted for close to 20 years and it's just the last couple of years I feel I have been at a top level. I will continue to paint for as long as I'm physically able to, so I believe I have plenty of time left to continue to grow. When I paint it's as much therapy and meditation as it is a striving for results, and thus, I need it to be relaxing. But, I also want to go forward. I just chose to do so in a comfortable tempo.

    Do you do anything else while painting? Music, movies etc?
    Most of the time, no! I can't concentrate if I would watch something while painting, and I also have difficulties concentrating if I listen to stuff. Being very interested in music, I tend to listen very actively when I listen to music. So, it easily becomes distracting. Sometimes I listen to some ambient or atmospheric industrial music or something similar, as that has more the effect of setting a mood than painting a picture, if you see what I mean? The mood is not distracting, while a picture would be.

    What's the process for you starting a mini? Do you sit and plan everything on paper first (the base, the colours, etc.), or do you just dive in and see what happens?
    I usually have one rather simple idea when I start a mini. It can be the colour and look of a certain, often dominating, garment. Or, it could be a certain base or setting for the miniature. I usually work out the rest as I go along. Sometimes I go and think of ideas for longer times, but quite often I never get anywhere with those ideas. I have found that I get some of the best results from rather simple or spontaneous ideas. I also like simple miniatures with rahter uncomplicated compositions, so I strive to not over-think things.

    NMM or metallics?
    I used to be very much in the NMM camp when I got back into painting. Since the Rackham style was one of my biggest sources of inspiration in the beginning it became natural to get into NMM. I also didn't particularly enjoy painting metallics and I was never really happy with how they came out. Before starting doing NMM I tended to pick minis with little metal on them.

    NMM is quite fun to paint and I learnt a lot about placing highlights and using contrast in effective ways by painting NMM. But, now I've learnt to do metallics well and I have to say that I enjoy the look of well done real metallics better than NMM when I look at miniatures in real life. It's not that I don't like how NMM looks in real life, but I think metallics give a more natural look and that's what I'm striving for. NMM tends to look more like illustrations or computer graphics.

    So, nowadays, I mostly use metallics when I paint. I wouldn't mind doing NMM, though, once in a while. Especially if the miniature in question is mostly going to be seen in photographs, as that is when NMM is the most effective, in my opinion. But, usually I paint miniatures to be seen in real life.

    What are your thoughts on the blend of different types of miniature painting? I.e. can certain techniques used on larger scale pieces, like airbrushing, be successfully transfered across to smaller scale sci fi and fantasy figure painting?

    I think us fantasy painters can learn a lot from those who paint larger scales. An obvious reason is the larger number of large scale fantasy miniatures being produced. But, plenty of things can be used on smaller scale minis as well. Obviously, painting details with airbrush isn't really practical on a 30 mm miniature, but you can use the airbrush for base coating and you can also do some pre-shading and initial highlighting with it. Also, when it comes to basing techniques and terrain there's much to be learnt from the historical crowd. These are just examples... I'm sure there's more. I can definitely recommend picking up a book or two by some historical painters and sculptors. Bill Horan has made some rather useful books and Danilo Cartacci has written a book that I have had much use for.

    What makes you want to paint a certain mini? Certain sculptors, maybe it has room for freehand, or it just has to ooze character?
    I buy minis mostly in two different ways. Most of my minis I buy upon immediate impulse when I first see it. I know this is something I would like to paint. Then, sometimes, I buy a mini because I have an idea that didn't come from seeing the miniature, but the miniature is perfect for the idea.

    The sculpting quality is usually the crucial point when I decide if I should buy a certain sculpt or not. I enjoy painting good sculpts, period! Bad sculpting takes much of the fun away for me. If I see poor anatomical understanding, folds in garments that looks unnatural, poor faces etc., I don't want to spend 20-50 hours having to look at that. I'm pretty open minded to subject matter, though. I like everything from historical miniatures, busts (both fantasy and historical), creatures, male minis, female minis, etc... as long as some effort has been made to create something interesting. I have some favourite sculptors that I follow with interest. But, I'm always open for new things... as long as it's well sculpted and has something that sparks my creative impulses.

    Airtis, Barbarian gnome - Gold at World Expo 2008
    What is your favourite mini you have done?
    It's usually the latest one... I'd say Sola (mk. 2), the Enigma gnome and the Avalonian Recruit bust. I think, between those three minis, you can find all my strengths as a painter to pretty much my current top standard.

    What artists do you admire?
    Obviously, I admire Marijn van Gils who did the mini I mentioned above (and he's done a lot of other very unique stuff), as he's someone who "thinks outside of the box". I admire Adiran Bay, both as an artist and as a person. Danilo Cartacci is probably my favourite historical painter, and I've learnt a lot from reading his book and looking at his miniatures. Raul Latorre, Allan Carrasco, Jérémie Bonamant Teboul, Mathieu Lalain, Romain van den Bogaert, Remy Tremblay, Sebastian Archer, Kevin White, Jacques-Alexandre Gillois, Edgar Skomorowski (degra), Jaume Ortíz, Calvin Tan... the list of people I admire could go on and on.

    Favorite people in the hobby?
    I am not sure how I should interpret this question. The thing is, with this hobby, that when you go to shows and meet people, almost everyone you meet is extremely friendly and positive and generous. So, I could make a very long list. It's probably easier to list those you don't like. This summer, when I went to the World Expo in Spain, I met a lot of people and I was overwhelmed by how many really great people there are in this hobby. I feel bad trying to name names, as I probably will leave some out that are as deserving as those I list.

    Any disadvantages to being such a recognizable member of the internet painting community at all? Does being eFamous ever become a drain on your painting time as an example?
    Not really, as far as I'm concerned. I get questions now and then, and I don't mind answering them. But, then I don't think I'm that famous. Well-known, yes, perhaps... in painter circles. Those who have won Golden Demons probably are more widely known and may get bothered more than I do.

    Highlight of your mini painting career?

    Definitely winning gold in the Fantasy Master Painting category at World Expo 2008. I can't think of a higher honour than that. The whole experience of displaying your miniatures among some of the best in the hobby, being judged by a panel of experienced and respected people within the hobby and then being awarded a gold medal was really overwhelming. Being in that environment, surrounded by so many talented hobbyists that I have so much respect for, and being given this honour is a very special feeling.

    Where do you see this hoby in 10, 20, 50 years? While physical art will always exist, what do you think technology will do to the hobby. Positive aspects? negative?
    Well, I think the painting/sculpting/modelling hobby will remain pretty much intact. The love of sculpting, building and painting miniature models of all sorts of thing will always touch some people. Maybe some new tools will be created, new materials etc., but the craft will probably be pretty much the same.

    I'm sure we will see new things happening in the gaming hobby, though. Possibly, the painting hobby and the gaming hobby will become more separate if new, easier and quicker ways of obtaining good looking armies are developed. But again, there's a certain amount of love for painting in the gaming crowd as well. Even though some may think painting for display is a waste of time and even snobbish, a lot of people love to create their own armies and have them look unique. I'm sure we will se new types of minature games and board games in the future. But these games aren't necessarily going to push the traditional miniature games out as they might very well attract a different crowd.

    What do you think will be the next big style of painting to hit mini painting in the next few years? I.e. NMM was a few years back, OSL was another one. What do you see as a possibility for a new trend to hit the venue?
    I think, rather than having certain specific trends that influence the whole "scene" we will have a wider range of styles. I think we will see more and more larger scale stuff in fantasy and sci-fi, as that will give painters more opportunities to do advanced things. We already see the beginning of this. Also, I have seen a growing interest from historical painters for fantasy, but they prefer bigger miniatures, as that's what they're used to.

    I think the current trend of doing weathering, battle damage and using a gritty style will remain, but I also think that we will see more and more stuff that goes the opposite way, using stronger and more saturated colours.

    Another thing I think we will see more of is more "arty" stuff. Using miniatures in bizarre ways, like the miniature by Marijn van Gils I mentioned earlier. Clever dioramas, bizarre and artful sculpts, that sort of thing.

    As well as painting for yourself you also paint miniatures for Wyrd and occasionally do private commissions, would you ever consider painting for a living?
    Not likely, no. Painting for money changes the way you look at the hobby. Some people can keep the love for it while still working professionally, but I don't think I can do that. If someone paid me large amount of money for just painting the miniatures I want to paint and do so in my own time, then yes! But I don't think that's very likely! :) I prefer to keep painting as a hobby and just do the occasional commission when I feel inclined to.

    Which mini do you wish you had painted?
    This is one of the best minis I've seen. The concept of it is exceptional. And it's bloody well executed as well. I feel very lucky to have seen it in real life. This is something that definitely might be called art, even though I don't consider miniature painting in general as an art.
    Click image for larger version

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    Whats it like being a studio painter for Wyrd?
    I haven't painted anything for Wyrd in a while now, due to real life getting in the way. But, that is one of the cool things about Nathan. He is very understanding of these things. He's never been demanding. He's a great guy to do work for, in my experience. I have also enjoyed being a small part of Wyrd since its start. I remember Nathan showing the first greens and asking if I wanted to do an article using one of the miniatures. Then, for various reasons, he became one painter short, so I ended up doing one of the miniatures for the first release. I enjoy the style and the design of the miniatures. I think they're quite an original company. I hope to be able to do a couple of more studio paintjobs in the future.

    Do you say wyrd like weird or like word (like Rob Cardiss does?)
    I say "weird", because I believe that is the correct way to pronounce it. ;)

    Who's the best wyrd studio painter?!!!
    Well, there's no way I'm going to answer that! ;) Truthfully, not just saying it to be nice, I think all of the team now are really good painters. They have strengths and weaknesses like everyone else, but they all have qualities that I really appreciate and that I think are great for Wyrd.

    Zombies or Vampires, Pirates or Ninjas, Greenies or Dwarfs?
    I think I prefer Kev White's curvy ladies! :D

    Do you regret agreeing to this yet?
    Hmmm... Took me a bit longer than expected to answer these questions, but no, I don't mind. Feel free to ask me more questions if you have any!

    Any general tips to help us improve?
    Well... The most important thing is to keep having fun painting. As long as you enjoy the process of painting a miniature all is well! It doesn't matter if the miniature isn't as good as you would like or if X number of French guys are better... If you had fun painting the miniature it was worth it. Generally, there's no rush becoming a great painter. You have plenty of time. It took me about 15 years getting close to the level I'm at now. Of course, many of those years were spent painting in solitude, with no input, no sources of inspiration and no sources of information. So, my early days saw a rather ineffective development. But, it doesn't matter! I had fun all the time, and I still got here, to this level where I'm at. If painting becomes a source of stress and frustration you'll risk losing the love for the hobby. It could be temporary, but it could also be forever.

    Another general tip is to be calm and patient and let things take the time they need. I am all for trying new things and I don't think you should be afraid of jumping into deep water, at least not when you've passed the beginner stage. But, I don't think it's very effective to try EVERYTHING at once. I think you'll learn things better and more thoroughly if you focus on one or a couple of things at the time and spend some time really getting to grips with those, before moving to next thing. You'll build a stronger foundation that way and have a stronger position to attack next
    obstacle from.

    Looking at more technical matters... I think one of the best pieces of advice I can give anyone is to not put too much paint on the brush. A lot of common problems people have can be avoided if you apply paint more economically. It is much easier to control a small amount of paint, regardless of how thick or thin it is, than a lot of paint. Also, don't think there's ONE particular water:paint ration that is the best, or ONE particular technique for whatever thing you want to achieve that is the best, etc. Most things can be done in lots of different ways, and being able to use any of those gives you more flexibility and a better chance to solve problems, adapt to different circumstances etc. You will have favourite methods, for sure, but sometimes it can be more useful to use a different method, and being flexible will make your life a lot easier.

    A final piece of advice... Keep your eyes open for things in your surroundings that could be useful. It can be stuff that gives you inspiration. a piece of rust that looks cool, a nice texture on a wall, a beautiful colour etc. Or, it can be stuff that you can use for basing or terrain. If an alarm clock breaks down... Take it apart before throwing it away. There can be cool looking pieces inside. If a plant dies... remove the soil and look at the roots. They might have intriguing shapes and be perfect for trees or bushes. Stones, twigs, tree bark, moss... there's lots of things in nature that can be used for terrain. These are just examples of all the useful things you can find if you keep your eyes peeled. Stuff that won't cost you a single penny. And it's always cool to be able to use this type of things because it makes your bases or terrain unique.

    Well, that's all for now, folks! I hope you will find my ramblings at least somewhat useful. And if you wonder anything else, just ask!

    Cheers, all... and good luck painting!


    A big thankyou to Anders for answering our questions. He is currently running a 'Paint masters' step by step exclusivley for Wamp. To join in visit here
    More of Anders work can be found in his coolminiornot gallery

    Sola mk II

    • ScottRadom
      ScottRadom commented
      Editing a comment
      Anders/Ritual has been one of, if not THE most helpful people I've come across on the net. He's answered my questions and given great advice. Especially early on. Thanks Anders!
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Darklord Wamp creator, painter (when I find time) Find out more about Darklord

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