Boardgames have become big business over the last few years with YouTube channels and conventions popping up all over.
But when you buy a game that comes with miniatures and your artistic skills rival those of three-year old finger painters, what do you do? Suffer with the unpainted lumps of plastic every time to break out the game? Or try and paint them yourself and look like you had a body tremor whilst doing it?
Well. What if I told you there was a third option?
Sorastro, an online personality and YouTuber, has created an amazing series of videos that serve as simple, step-by-step guides on getting the best results from painting miniatures. Not only is he an excellent teacher, but his videos have supremely high production value; he composes his own music, does a simple to understand voice-over narrative, and has a great setup. You can see what I mean here!
I had the chance to speak with Sorastro about his painting, his channel, and his advice for people wanting to get into the hobby.
Gary: Sorastro, you’re obviously a very talented painter. How did you get started in the hobby?
Sorastro: I started at around the age of 9 or 10 by painting Warhammer figures. I remember being around for the birth of Warhammer 40K too which I also got into.
I stopped painting during my teens but then returned to the hobby around ten years ago.
I had recently moved to my current city (Brighton UK) and passed the local Games Workshop store; looking in the window I felt that child-like excitement when I saw the minis so I went in and came out £100 poorer! After that there was no looking back; I actually found I enjoyed the hobby more than I did as a kid – maybe because of the patience that comes with age?
Gary: As I mentioned, you have a very successful youtube channel dedicated to teaching beginners how to paint. Why did you decide to start the channel?
Sorastro: A couple of years ago I bought my first DSLR that was capable of shooting video. I had also recently gotten into Zombicide and discovered how great Army Painter’s Quickshade was, so I thought it would be fun to create a tutorial showing how to paint zombies. It really was just a creative outlet for me and not [something] I thought would lead to anything.
A year later Imperial Assault came out and – once again – I just felt compelled to create a tutorial showing how to paint the Stormtroopers. The response to that one video was incredible (one of the first few people to comment on it was one of the lead designers – Jonathan Ying). After that I simply had to continue.
Gary: What is the most difficult aspect of producing your videos?
Sorastro: Wow that’s a tough question as it can vary depending on the miniature. Sometimes I have quite a psychological barrier to overcome before starting a miniature; We all have insecurities and I sometimes have to dig deep to summon the will and self belief that I’m good enough to tackle a certain miniature; Darth Vader for example was very difficult for me to even begin. So I would say it’s painting the really iconic characters that causes me the most stress!
I honestly can’t remember (how long it took to paint The Dark Lord), but I did run extensive color tests on various spare miniatures before shooting so that I was sure I had the recipe and technique down. I have several high elves dressed in black with glowing red spears thanks to Darth Vader!
Every miniature presents fresh challenges – Mak’s eye piece, how to achieve Boba Fett’s green, Chewie’s fur etc. but Vader has been psychologically the most challenging figure for me to paint, more from a mental standpoint than a technical one. Everyone has a clear idea in their mind how those iconic characters “should” look so expectations are very high; that’s quite a weight to carry. Also – he’s Vader, and you don’t get any more intimidating than that!
Gary: And if you mess up, you could be on the receiving end of a force choke! So there’s that, too! “I find your lack of skills disturbing.”
Sorastro: Lol – true!
Gary: What would you say is the biggest barrier for entry for new people wanting to get into the hobby?
Sorastro: I imagine the biggest barriers for new people entering the hobby are 1) cost, and 2) Feeling intimidated or unsure how to actually start. I like to think I can help with 2) at least!
Gary: What is the best piece of advice you would offer to people who want to start the hobby but are intimidated by the amazing work they’ve seen online? Outside of watching your videos of course; which is a given!
Sorastro: Firstly – don’t be intimidated! Use such examples as a source of inspiration but only ever measure your own ability against yourself. Secondly, just do it! Don’t be afraid and just enjoy having a go. If you enjoy the process and end up with a miniature that looks better than it did when it was a colorless lump of plastic then it’s been worth it.
I would like to thank Sorastro for chatting with me about the miniature painting hobby and for his YouTube series in general.
Now, you might be wondering, if even Sorastro can teach you how to paint a good piece; the short answer is, he can. Like a lot of people out there, I have zero artistic talent but I’ve used his tutorials and gotten fantastic results. I’m not even using the same brand of paints for the most part, but using his guide and its suggestions, I’ve done some pieces I’m really happy with.
He can help you jazz up your games for sure; here’s some of what he’s helped me do so far (I haven’t painted the bases yet, please bear that in mind):
[img via teamcovenant.com]
[img via www.alexeysmirnov1977.com]
[img via www.alexeysmirnov1977.com]
You can find Sorastro’s YouTube channel here
You can find more about Sorastro, including more examples of his work, on Sorastro.com
Did you find value in Sorastro’s videos? He’s trying to do them full time. You can support him on Patreon here