Sunday 14 March 2010

Review - Miniature Mentor - Todd Swanson Masterclass

Decided to pick up my first Miniature Mentor tutorial yesterday as the tutorial looks at a figure painter and figure I really admire - Todd Swanson's Plague Lord Festus, the 2008 LA Slayer Sword winner.

The promise of 5 + hours worth of high quality video tutorial and an extensive pdf. file covering the Festus figure from start to finish was too much for me to resist. £16 and 2 hours of downloading later I had five 1 hour video files, a 15-20 min interview video, 64 page Festus Walkthrough pdf. and an excel colour conversion chart - pretty good value for money!

I started by reading through the pdf. as it was quickest to download and gave me something to do while the video files downloaded.

The pdf. Walktrhough

The walkthrough gives a pretty thorough and highly insightful account of the entire process, from receipt of model (Todd created the figure as part of a GW Slayer Sword winner challenge - they only allowed the use of the 40k Chaos Terminator Lord kit parts and any scratchbuilt items), to sculpt and conversion work, creation of the base (very interesting part!) all the way through to the painting and assembly with plenty of good quality close-up photos at each stage.

The Interview Video

After reading through this, I got stuck into the videos. The interview with Todd was quite simple but had a few points of interest about Todd's equipment preferences etc. It's always interesting to me to see how other painters work, the equipment they use and why they choose to do so.

The Tutorial Videos

For the actual tutorial videos themselves Todd works on a few example pieces, not actually from the Festus figure, but showing the same techniques used. The videos cover Todd's highlighting, shading and blending technique for the base armour colour - covering a number of important technical skills, the chipping and rusting process over this base armour colour - using the sponge method similar to that which I have described previously, freehand technique, and how Todd paints and weathers exposed metal.

The quality of the video image is very good, with good lighting, focus and sharpness of image. Every stage is covered in extended detail, allowing you to really see how smooth transitions and natural weathering are built up.

The audio is also pretty good, with Todd and the Miniature Mentor presenter (I don't think he mentions his name?) giving pretty good commentary on what Todd is doing, the techniques, equipment etc.

Having watched 4 + hours now (last video still to watch), I already feel I have picked up quite a lot that I will be applying to my own painting and modelling efforts. It really has been well worth the cost and I'm already eyeing up a few more for future viewing.

If you haven't already, I recommend checking the Miniature Mentor tutorials out. Even if you consider yourself an experienced painter, I can guarantee you, you will learn a number of cool new tips and techniques from some seriously talented guys!

To check out the full range of tutorials available from Miniature Mentor you can click the image advert at the side of this page (and help earn me some affiliate income! :D ), or click here to visit their website.


  1. Nice review.
    I am lucky enough to live in the same geographical area as Todd, and was able to get an in-person viewing and tutorial from him some time ago. Great guy.

  2. I think I own all the videos except the brotherhood sculpting ones. I was waiting for the Festus tutorial to come out but never got the e-mail.. Off to buy! These are the best MASTER CLASS videos I have seen so far. HD tutorials professionally filmed and stars GD winners showcasing the techniques that helped them win. I believe these videos are the only ones people should buy keeping with 2 rules. Quality of Video and Talent. These have both so they get my $$$ :) Nice review CMD!

  3. I've been pondering for a while as to whether I should take the plunge and purchase some of these tutorials, this review actually made me get my finger out and do it.

    I'd not seen this tutorial advertised before, and as it's chaosy it was a bonus. I've watched it through once, and now going through a second time, picking up bits I missed or didn't understand.

    Quite frankly amazing, it fantastic how you can go from a basecoat and to something like the final product. I'd seen the chipping method before, but this is by far and above what I've seen in others.

    Worth the money for me.


  4. Watched the tutorial. . .came buckets.
    Watch it if not only to experience multiple orgasm brought on by all those trophies and skills.

  5. We have a drinking game around these tutorials. Every time the mentor guy says absolutely you take a drink, when he interrupts the guest painter you down your glass.

    You'll be trashed in short order.

  6. Actually, every time he says "good job", take a drink.

    What really peeves me is that they make it sound like you will learn everything to make the mini they show - complete from start to finish. But they don't. They don't even work on the same mini. The colors are totally different. This would be fine but no where do they mention these things on the web page. It's misleading and smacks of bait and switch. The only thing that saves them is the quality of the video.

  7. I have liked the look of these videos for quite some time.

    For me, the models being painted aren't the most important factor, as I would be looking to use the same painting techniques on a variety of models.


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