Duncan Rhodes – Painting Academy – Ask the Artist

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Duncan Rhodes - Ask The Artist - Featured

In this week’s Ask the Artist, we get to know the man everyone already knows. Duncan Rhodes. Unless you are new to the hobby (and even then you’ve surely seen the memes) you already know the man behind the phrase “Two Thin Coats”. But let’s take some time to understand his motivation and what drives his great work.

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As I came back to the bobby about 4 years ago after a very long hiatus, one of the things I found most useful were Games Workshop’s painting guides.

Looking back now it really is crazy to think how much of a big deal these guides were.

When I was a lad, I got into Warhammer models around the same time Duncan did (detailed in his answers below). Back then you would pretty much guess how to paint.

Laying down colours similar to what you see in magazines, occasionally you would see a technique or such in a magazine. Or a mate would tell you about things like drybrushing or what washes do. If you were really lucky, your mum would dump you at your local Games Workshop store and they would show you how to do something spectacular, like Gems…

But now, we take all that for granted. Coming back to the hobby and getting impressive results was relatively easy. Thanks to Duncan’s super approachable video guides the painting process broke down neatly into; Base Coat, Wash and add 2 levels of Highlight. Rinse and repeat for the different coloured areas of your model. As you follow through the guides you will gradually pick up new techniques, like drybrushing for speed and texture or glazing using mediums for soft and steady transitions.

This is the man responsible for countless thousands of hobbyists improving their skills and arguably the most well renowned online painting-tutor.

Now running his own independent studio to keep that torch lit in with Duncan Rhodes Painting Academy.

So we are absolutely honoured, humbled even, that he took the time out of his busy days to talk to us.

Duncan Rhodes – Painting Academy – Ask the Artist

Who are you / What is your place in the hobby?

I am Duncan Rhodes and I am a presenter who specialises in the tuition of hobby skills. I don’t really consider myself a YouTuber (though I am on there), instead, I focus as best I can on teaching skills to help people access the hobby.

How long have you been promoting your brand?

My business partner and I have been active on our own making painting video content for about ten months now!

What are your social media channels?

Our membership website with lots and lots of content is www.duncanrhodes.com , and we also have a YouTube channel (Duncan Rhodes Painting Academy). On Instagram you can find me at duncanjrhodes, and on Twitter you can find me by my handle @Two_Thin_Coats !

How long have you been in the hobby in general?

I got into the hobby when I was 11, making me a 24 year veteran at time of writing.

I had a brief break when I was 17, but not for very long. I found painting to be so relaxing and enjoyable that I really couldn’t keep away from it for very long.

What was the moment you realized this was something you wanted to pursue as more than a hobby?

I don’t really recall a specific moment, but when I worked in Games Workshop retail I really enjoyed teaching painting skills and it all just grew from there.

I’ve been very lucky to be in the right place at the right time!

What initially drew you into the hobby?

I stumbled upon a GW stand in a model shop in a small town in Derbyshire.

At the time I was really into model aeroplanes and Star Wars, and seeing Space Marine model kits combined all of these interests into one! I took away the free leaflet which was the ‘how to play’ booklets from 4th Edition Warhammer Fantasy and 2nd Edition 40k combined into one, and whilst I didn’t quite get the rules I loved the Marines and couldn’t wait to paint some.

One week later my Dad took me to the local Games Workshop and bought me a box of 6 miniatures, two paints and a brush… From then on I was hooked in wargaming!

What do you enjoy most about the hobby?

Painting armies!

I like the display laid out of the miniatures together when they reach that point of looking like a collection, when the force is around two units, a general, some sort of big centrepiece and some support things.

In Warhammer terms this is around 1000pts which is what I usually get up to before something else draws my attention.

How did you refine your skills?

When I worked in Games Workshop’s retail chain I was lucky enough to work alongside some amazing painters who took the time to point out where I was going wrong and show me how to do things.

I refined and practised what they taught me to the point where I was able to get a job in Games Workshop’s Design Studio, and there are some incredibly talented people working there who taught me lots of new skills. So really it was tuition, and lots and lots of practise!

What types of models most interest you?

Human soldiers, usually fantasy or historical.

When I was new to the hobby I really liked sci-fi models but as I’ve got older I have found myself drawn to the look of units of soldiers in formation with matching weapons and banners flying above them, flanked by cavalry and artillery.

Most of my armies these days are like this, such as armies for A Song of Ice and Fire by CMON (which exactly fits what I described above!), and of course my Napoleonic French army of which I am extremely fond.

I think I like the human element because it’s easy to identify with, such as when the troops are facing a big scary monster you can understand what danger they are in!

I understand you’ve been working on some big monsters? What can you tell us about them? 

For my own armies, I normally don’t have the opportunity to paint big monsters but in the Academy, they make for very popular videos so it’s always fun to tackle them there.

I think it’s because of the intimidation factor of them, at first glance it can be difficult to know where to even start, but I really enjoy the challenge of working out and then showing how to piece them together.

Ones that stand out to me are the Mega-Gargent Kraken-eater and Ghazghkull Thraka, both of which were loads of fun and packed with little details but also are models that don’t fit into the armies that I normally collect.

What is your favorite tabletop game?

That’s a very difficult question, and the answer changes with my mood! I can’t pick just one so I will talk about a few of my favourites.

I am a big fan of A Song of Ice and Fire the Miniatures Game by CMON and enjoy playing three of the factions: House Lannister who have all sorts of fun dirty tricks, The Nights Watch who are a small elite army that are highly adaptable, and House Targaryen who are a finesse army that hit really hard but can easily be overwhelmed in return.

In addition I love playing Black Powder by Warlord Games for which I have a Napoleonic French army. This is a period I find fascinating in world history, and collecting and painting miniatures for it has been a great way to learn about it.

I am quite the nerd for researching the uniforms and developing methods to paint them! I also like to play The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms by Modiphius Entertainment which is a highly narrative game that can even be played solo and has some very detailed and characterful miniatures, and I have recently been enjoying painting a Crucible Guard army for Warmachine by Privateer Press.

This is a game I have only just started to play and it is quite different from other systems I have tried, it’s very deep in it’s strategy but really what excites me about it is the lore and the style of the Alchemical soldiers of the Guard.

It would also be remiss of me to not mention my favourite game from Games Workshop, and that is Adeptus Titanicus, which is a fantastic game to play with beautiful miniatures throughout. There are so many more besides this that I like, and if you ask me tomorrow I’ll probably have a different list!

What advice would you give someone interested in starting the hobby?

I think I would advise them to pursue the models that they like most and to enjoy the experience of painting them.

Don’t be intimidated by mistakes and the judgement of others – there is nothing that cannot be fixed and you will learn through mistakes.

Everybody started somewhere and has walked the same path. There are a few key things to understand too for which I have become something of a meme, but these things are true: thin your paints, and apply two thin coats!

What advice would you give someone struggling to find motivation to finish a project?

Order your painting in such a way to mix things up. For example, paint a squad or unit, and then something different such as a character to add variety before going back to another unit. Then do a monster or a tank, and so on.

Also, aim to paint these things in blocks depending on the game to get to a point where you can get some games in because having a fun battle is a very inspiring thing that will get you wanting to paint up that next miniature for the next game.

In Warhammer terms I mean going for 500pts first, then 750pts, then 1000pts and so on, and you can do this in just about any system. Also, you can always paint something completely different and come back to the original project later if you want!

What resources would you recommend for inspiration?

There is lots of Inspiration out there! Joining like minded groups on Facebook is a good idea, and in the Academy we have added a forum for such a thing to allow members to interact with each other and push each other to paint cool new stuff.

With the Internet at hand there is so much out there though, so you can always search for blogs or galleries on your chosen subject.

I would also recommend picking up a book related to what you want to paint, such as a Codex or a history book about the project you are wanting to do. Of course there is lots of video content for inspiration on YouTube, and the many videos we host in the Academy too.

What is your greatest achievement in the hobby?

Breaking down barriers for hobbyists, and helping them achieve the skills that they want in order to paint their miniatures just how they want to.

This has always been the goal for Roger (my business partner and our video producer) and myself and we plan to keep doing it!

What has been your most memorable obstacle?

The initial decision to do the presenting for Games Workshop was a very difficult choice to make.

I am quite an introverted person so it was a big hurdle for me to be on camera, but I wanted to help people paint. Sometimes you have to be brave and step out of your comfort zone!

What is something you feel you need to improve on?

I want to learn to sculpt with green stuff. I understand the basics but I know I have a long way to go!

What tools do you use & why?

I use a wide variety of brushes but have come to really like the Regiment brush from The Army Painter.

It is an excellent brush of a good size that holds a fine point, so I use it for my basecoats as well as fine details. I’ve even used it to paint eyes!

What paints do you use & why? not bound to one brand.

I use a variety of brands of paints which are chosen based upon product availability and my own experience with them (as in, if I don’t think it’s very good then I won’t use it!).

This is something that is a core part of our video production because we want viewers to be able to get and use the gear that we do, and for the gear to reliably do what we show it to do.

My own painting then follows along with this and is very much practise for videos, so that I know what I’m talking about when we are filming!

The brands I tend to use the most are Citadel and The Army Painter, but sometimes I make use of Vallejo and AK Interactive too.

I do have some experience with P3 paints which are very nice, but they can be a bit tricky to find in UK hobby shops which is why they haven’t appeared in any of our videos as of yet.

Do you have a secret weapon, Tool or Technique?

Not really, I try to be as transparent as possible to help viewers learn so secrecy would be the opposite of what I do.

I guess I have two bits of advice that are certainly not secret: thin your paints and apply two thin coats! Except with washes…

What do you feel is the next step/goal for your brand?

We’ve got some exciting things that we are working on but I can’t talk about any of that just yet!

Duncan Rhodes – Painting Academy – Closing Comments

Duncan, thank you so much for talking with us and it’s been incredible to get to know more about you and your motivation. Especially behind the scenes with a bit. It must be a hard balance to paint the things your audience want whilst there are so many models that you are drawn too personally.

Such beautiful artwork and some great collections shown above!

Sounds like you have some interesting stuff on the horizon too and we are super excited to see what else you will deliver to the hobby-verse in the future.

Everyone, if there is one thing to take away from this, then alway remember – “two thin coats”, especially if it’s a bit drizzly out.

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  • Self-appointed Editor in chief of FauxHammer.com - But I need to thank the team for existing and therefore enabling me to give myself role - without them, I'm just a nerd with a computer and a plastic addiction.

About FauxHammer 218 Articles
Self-appointed Editor in chief of FauxHammer.com - But I need to thank the team for existing and therefore enabling me to give myself role - without them, I'm just a nerd with a computer and a plastic addiction.

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