Friday, August 26, 2011

Product Review: Dark Sword Miniatures Masterworks Painting DVD

This is something I don't usually do with the blog but I know I have some readers who, like me, are always looking to improve their painting and learn a few, new tricks.  Recently I saw the trailer to Dark Sword Miniatures "Masterworks Miniature Painting With Jen Haley and Anne Foerster" 3 DVD set which you can see here...
I ordered the DVD set directly from Dark Sword and it arrived just a couple of days later.  Now I have been a fan of Jen Haley's work for a few years now but I wasn't as familiar with Anne(shame on me!).  To be straight to the point, it's an EXCELLENT DVD set for painters of any level and I can't recommend it strongly enough.

I will break down my review to a quick areas of interest/concern:

Cost: The DVD set retails for $50.  It is a very fair price given that you are getting 3 DVD's that are fairly comprehensive and include many hours of advice and on-screen painting tutorials.  There are many painting tutorial DVD's I have eyed over the internet but have been reluctant to purchase, knowing that the $30-$100 cost could easily buy me a bunch of minis instead!  However, having taken the plunge on this, I am so happy that I definitely delivers everything that it promises.

Presentation:  The DVD menus are easy to navigate and broken into various topics that you can select to see a tutorial one particular aspect of the hobby.  The actual video consists of panoramic shots of Jen and Anne discussing theory and technique, and high resolution close-ups of minis that they are working on.  The lighting, audio and editing are all high quality.  Problematic quirks of miniature painting DVD's like painter's hair in the shot and focus problems are nearly non-existent.   Every technique was clearly presented on the video so that what the artists are trying to convey are clear and crisp.

Contents: The wide array of topics covered in the DVD's is impressive.  Many times painting DVD's will be too ambitious and try to cover too many techniques with limited time commitment...this 3 DVD set allows the painters to be comprehensive and giving reasonable time and explanation to the myriad of methods they employ.  You have the whole gambit of pertinent topics here including(to name just a few): Brush & Paint Selection, Shading, Highlighting, Washes & Glazes, NMM(Non-Metallic Metals), Cloth Texture, Color Theory, Problem Colors(White, Yellow, Black, Red), Prepping, Finishing and MANY, MANY MORE!  There is definitely much to chew on here for both novice and veteran painters.

Style:  I love the approach of this DVD.  Instead of just one artist talking you through their approach, there is a great "give and take" between Anne and Jen; this really sets these painting DVD's apart from the rest of the crowd.  The painters convey many times that there is "more than one way" to get nice results...and often they show their different approaches to certain methods.  If you are relative beginner I highly recommend popping in the third DVD and going right to the "Conclusion" chapter where Jen and Anne offer solid advice on one's mindset and approach to the hobby in general. 

Closing Thoughts: This DVD will be a great resource to me for years to come I am sure.  I am someone who has been painting minis for many years, but often feels like he's stalled in his progress and techniques...not quite being able to take things to the next level.  Well, as they say in the video there is no "magic pill" to make one a better painter, or any real shortcuts, but with this tool at my disposal I definitely have no excuses not to improve.  I look forward to re-thinking many methods I use in painting and trying both the conventional, and unconventional, techniques that Anne and Jen teach in the DVD's.  On a side note, my wife and I have been married for 19 years(this Sunday) and we both have hobbies...none of which are in common.  Though she's always been very supportive of my mini painting(which I appreciate!), it was her sitting next to me as I watched these DVD's that made her decide to give the hobby a try...if that's not an endorsement for the Dark Sword DVD set I don't know what is. 

Maybe you are looking for me to rate this DVD...well, the text above make it clear how I feel so the usual cliches all apply: Five Stars, 10/10, "Perfect", etc.

If you have any particular questions about this DVD set feel free to post a comment and I will be sure to reply with details.

Thanks for reading/viewing...
Happy Wargaming Everybody,

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