Mittwoch, 14. März 2012

How a Golden Demon (Lesson 4: Choose the right miniature)

If you are new to this series of articles, make sure to read the first, second and third article, before you go on here.
This article will more than ever show my view and my understanding of a Golden Demon competition and one very hard decision you have to take at a very early point: what kind of miniature do you want to paint? By making a wrong decision, you can reduce your chances for a Demon to almost zero. On the other hand, you can increase your chances and the attention your miniature gets, by following some rather simple rules.
First and foremost, you have to like the miniature you decide to paint. It doesn't make any sense to get your hands on something new and flashy, if you don't like the concept, theme or composition of the miniature. By ignoring this rule, painting that miniature (what usually takes a long time) can become quite a torture. Follow you own taste here, but don't buy the minis on your shortlist before considering a few more important aspects.
1. New vs. old
During the last couple of years, it seems like the latest miniatures on sale are more likely to win a Golden Demon than something you might not even find on the mail order list. There are tons of examples I could list here, but i won't. Go to demonwinner and see what I mean. The Golden Demon contest is there to get GW's miniatures painted as good as possible. If you have a recent miniature and something old painted at about the same level of quality, the newer one will win. That does not mean, that the quality of the paintjob is left aside. However, you should be aware of this fact concerning the marketing strategies of GW. I never tried to gain profit from this "rule" but my chances for winning would have been way higher if I had done so. The decision is up to you.
2. Miniature composition
Lets start with an example to make my point clear:
While the miniature on the left seems like a random mix of bits that lay around on the table, the miniature on the right has very clear lines and a defined focus. This makes it a lot easier to paint a miniature to high standards. The numerous details on the left miniature disturb your attention and distract from the important areas like the face. The right one shows a lot of details as well but they don't overlap the face or the main body structure. Details like the shield and cloak add room for creative ideas, while the armour on the left miniature limits it in a way.
A good composition can hardly be explained or taught, you have to feel it. Most miniatures that win a Demon are simple miniatures with a clear focus.
3. Sculpt vs. conversion vs. out of box
I can't sculpt at all, mainly because I never really put effort into that area of the hobby. This is a clear deficit towards many other painters that go to a Golden Demon competition. Full sculpts can be tricky, if the jury thinks it doesn't show the typical GW-style. On the other side, a sculpted mini is something unique, that instantly catches the viewers attention. A miniature that is "just" taken out of the box must be painted extremly well, to compensate the fact that it is something people have seen over and over again. If you can't sculpt or havn't tried it yet, you might think about a conversion. A good conversion doesn't look like one, but seems to be a new mini out of the box. That way, you can increase your winning chances. Here is an example from one of my winning miniatures:
I only changed both arms to give the miniature the look of something new. Very simple but effective.
So if you decide to sculpt something, make sure to match the GW style, maybe use an artwork or a similar miniature as a reference. If you don't convert at all, paint like hell.
4. Character
You hardly ever see a winning miniature that represents pikeman "x" from regiment "y". Winners are special, they look like tiny living creatures. Don't go for a random Skaven from the Island of Blood box, just because they are cheap. Make your miniature stand out by painting character onto a characterful sculpt. When you walk around a Golden Demon competition, you most often see random miniatures. They will never win because they are not noticed by the jury.
In order to be able to put character, the chosen miniature must fit your painting style without leaving the upper rules aside. Hard task, isn't it?
This is it for today, thanks a lot for reading. If you have any suggestions or feedback, please leave a comment.


  1. Sehr hilfreich der Artikel...
    Ich habe übrigens einen kleinen Fehler gefunden, bei dem zweitem Punkt sprichst du zweimal von der rechten Mini. Man kann sich zwar denken, welche gemeint ist, da nur eine wie eine Bitzsammlung aussieht, aber ein bisschen verwirrend ist es schon... :)

  2. I find your GD articles very helpful. I agree that the "newer" minis tend to win, but I think its not only the marketing strategy of GD. I feel that the judges seek for minis that have not been seen before. Can you imagine judging the 42nd Galadriel in the same pose over and over again? Not as interesting as something you have never seen before. And this goes for new minis as well as converted stuff.

    Scratchbuilds work well for the large scale and Open category in my opinion. If one cant convert, I feel "Out of the Box" works better for units and squads.

    The most important point however is what you mentioned first. You gotta love the miniature to paint it well ;)

  3. Great article, love this kind of reading...

  4. @ dancing platypuss: thanks

    @ Lendur: vielen Dank, ist mir nicht aufgefallen; war ein ziemlich dummer Fehler.....

    @ Zaphi: you are so right!!!

    @ Dark Tower: nice to hear :)

  5. I read this article it really informative for us.Thanx to share with us this kind of some different article.Such a enjoyable.

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  6. I can't sculpt either, and I don't have a huge backlog of metal miniatures. Combined with the fact that new miniatures indeed have an advantage in the competition this leads us to one inescapable fate: FINECAST! I had some plans to enter GW's Lowlands painting contest, and also GD Germany, but I had to put these plans in the fridge because I simply couldn't get a decent quality miniature. What about you? Have you had more luck with Finecast?

  7. Very interesting article as usual, this is the authentic path to win a Golden Demon!! Congrats Chris on such a wonderful piece of knowledge. :)