Visions in Color


The Visions in Color show (ViC) is an online show originated by Dominic Heutelbeck (a German miniatures painter of no small talent) and hosted on his painting website. I recently interviewed Bob Lippman, a long-time participant, Jason Moses, who's only been able to join in once, and Dominic via email to see what they had to say about this unique show.

The Visions in Color show (ViC) is an online show originated by Dominic Heutelbeck (a German miniatures painter of no small talent) and hosted on his painting website. It began a couple years ago as a way for a few members of an online painting list to share their different interpretations of one figure. It grew along with the list - from 9 participants in the first to 59 in the last, with a potential for many, many more when the current show ends.

The show works as follows: everyone starts with the same miniature, and they've all got to get it done by a fixed date (though later entries are possible - anyone can go buy and paint any of the ViC minis to contribute their vision). It's not a contest. It's a show, wherein the participants are motivated to do their best just from a love of painting.

That motivation shows itself in a couple of ways. First of all, naturally, each of the participants chooses a different scheme. In addition to this, anyone can convert the miniature in any way.

ViC #5 started out as an orc from FanPro Miniatures and ended up with a Grinch orc, a gunslinger orc, a Highlands orc, an insect-orc, a demon-orc, and many other variations on the garden-variety orc (if there is such a thing).

I recently interviewed Bob Lippman, a long-time participant, Jason Moses, who's only been able to join in once, and Dominic via email to see what they had to say about this unique show.

GG: Dominic, why'd you come up with the ViC?

Dominic Heutelbeck: The concept of the Visions in Color showcase resulted from an early discussion on the mini-painter mailing list. Here we were arguing [whether] we were able to name the painters of miniatures in the 1999 Reaper online painting contest just by inspecting the paintjobs. So we began discussing the various styles of painting. In this discussion I just had the idea that it would be interesting to see the same miniature painted up by the different members of the list. By that time I knew another event where something similar had been done. That was the so called "German championship in miniature painting", which takes place at the DUZI every year. But this wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

GG: What's the philosophy of the show?

DH: While the event at the DUZI is a contest, I didn't want to engage the small community of painters we were back then on the mailing list into a contest. Also we had all skill level present on the list, and I wanted this to be represented in the show too. So one major point of the show is, that it is not a contest. [T]he participants send in their pictures and descriptions, because they love the hobby, and not because they try to win a prize. Other central aspects are:

  • Be open to get inspiration from what your fellow painters did.
  • You can even learn from a painter that is not equally skilled in the various painting techniques. She may have some good visions, ideas, concepts or approaches to things where you simply do the same thing over and over again without thinking about it.
  • Be open to share your knowledge and ideas. For this, everybody is encouraged to write a text, in which she describes what she did why, and anything else that seems to be important to the painter about the miniature in question.
  • You try to find your own vision of the miniature. This means you shouldn't copy army color schemes, but get creative and make something unique.
  • If you need to modify the mini, or place it into a scene (vignette or diorama) to make your vision come true, just do it.
  • Step into unknown terrain. Even if you have only painted fantasy miniatures so far, why don't you try out what you can to with that mech?

GG: What's the point of the ViC?

Jason Moses: The point of the ViC is to be able to enjoy various interpretations of the same piece, as well as to help promote the sense of "community" within our painting culture. I think that a somewhat unintended result of the ViC is that it spurs conversions, which I always find especially emblematic of imagination.

GG: What makes a good ViC entry?

Bob Lippman: Good question. I think a good entry stays true to the spirit of the miniature, while at the same time adds something unexpected to it and truly personalizes it. Of course, solid technique is obligatory. Finally, a good entry is one presented with useful, in-depth and interesting commentary and top notch photography.

JM: A good entry is any entry, because the most important thing in the ViC is to participate in the community. That said, I most enjoy entries that reflect some creativity. This may be represented by a new conversion, an unusual painting style, etc.

DH: For me a "good" VIC entry is an entry that shows that the painter has put some effort in the paintjob, yes, maybe that he even has pushed himself to the limit of his own skills. A "good" VIC entry also shows that the painter did his own thing, and didn't just follow what others did with similar miniatures before. Finally, what makes the entry even better, is when the painter enjoyed preparing the miniature.

Just something else I found pretty interesting. There are even some long time participants of the ViC, where you can see how their painting skills have improved over the time. I find this to be very fascinating to watch.

GG: What's the value of the ViC to the 'net miniatures community?

DH: I can't really answer that question. I can only tell you what I would like the value of the ViC to be. I would like it to be a medium to share our craft with each other, where everybody tries to help each other to get the best out of it. And where painters from all over the world get together in friendship and love for the hobby.

JM: Again, to promote community. It's a great thing to put names together with their work. My hope is that this allows us to actually meet one day and enjoy each other's company. I've met several painters through the mini-painter group and the ViC. Not only do I exchange email with some of these people, but we also sometimes trade miniatures. I, for one, love getting a mini in the mail.

BL: Its great to see other people's interpretations of the same piece. Its non-competitive, which is good since you can learn from those you admire.

GG: It's still pretty unique, isn't it?

DH: Yes, right now I think it is the only place where the work of miniature painters can be seen in this form and where they can communicate in this way. I think a place that has been set up in a similar spirit is Elfwood, where amateur fantasy illustrators share their work with each other.

Most other miniature sites are running contests, or have just a simple hotornot schemes [GG: like set up, which lacks that communication and educational part of the ViC.

GG: Jason, how long have you taken part? Just the last one, right?

JM: Yes, just the last one. I'd been eager to participate in the ViC ever since I'd learned of it. It was a huge pleasure to take part, although I was only moderately pleased with the miniature (and even less pleased with my treatment of it - grin). While I am not taking part in the current ViC, I look forward to participating in the next one, and I've helped put thought into the running of the next ViC. While the ViC is almost the exact opposite of my own "challenge" (in that one may paint any female miniature for my event), they both serve the same purpose of drawing people from literally all over the world together. [GG: Jason's referring to his "chick challenge," another similarly-themed show]

GG: Any final comments?

BL: I hope that we can continue the VIC with many other manufacturers. Its great publicity for smaller manufacturers who don't necessarily have the money to do large scale marketing. I also think that more people who say they are going to complete minis should actually do so. We get about 60% of the (sponsored) minis back painted. I'd like to see that number closer to 80%.

DH: The ViC seems to have touched a certain need. Also it has caught the eye of the industry. So we where glad to acquire sponsors for our little show. These have been Reaper Miniatures, Ral Partha, and FanPro in the past. But this does not mean that the ViC has become a promotion forum for certain companies. We do keep it independent, but the collaboration with the industry has gave us, and will give us, the possibility to show the diversity of the hobby, and to provide the participants with unique miniatures, that they wouldn't be able to get anyway else. But also sponsoring isn't a fixed part of the show.

Also the VIC has inspired other showcases in a similar spirit. The most prominent one is the so called "Visions in Putty" or ViP. This is the VIC for miniature sculptors. A certain theme is set and everybody freely interprets it. Also here the participants range from people who just did their first sculpt up to old industry professionals.

I hope that we will be able to keep the Visions showcases alive for a long time.

I wish I had known about this a few years ago when I was trying to learn how to paint my minis. I might not have had so many "back line" mini's if I could have seen and learned from so many. Think I'm going to have to go check them out.

I wish it'd been around when I was learning to paint, too. It would have helped out a lot -- as it was, learning was a slow and lonely process. ;)

In contrast to Joel above, my learning experience in mini painting was very group oriented. Me and some friends would get together and paint. I look forward to my first VIC maybe bringing back a bit of this feeling of .... well community! The mini-painter e-group is a fabulouse resource for painting knowledge and I'd recommend that anyone interested in this hobby check it out.

I wish I could say that was the case for me Joe. My first few forays were with a group of friends. Unfortunately, they had decided that mini painting was an art form that one either had a talen for or did not. It was almost 5 years later that I picked up a paint brush again. Those first few were downright ugly. Not only was I trying to learn good technique, but I was fighting with some partial color-blindness that means many of my mini's have rather jarring color schemes according to my wife. When I next get the chance, I will definitely be heading over to VIC and seeing what's up.

Grrr... there's plenty of communication on CoolMiniOrNot (now anyway)! :P Nice article Joel