Tournament Gamers Painting Masterclass 1: Matt Cook – Dark Eldar
This blog will be the first in a series of blogs dedicated to that rare thing. A tournament gamer with a fantastically painted army. It’s not rare to see a painter who casually games or a gamer that is great at painting but focuses on getting an army done. It is however extremely rare to see an army painted with such skill you’re guilty that they have to face your own dreary army across the battlefield and for this army to be used at several tournaments and survive the wear and tear that comes with it.
My first subject is Matt Cook. I first met Matt vaguely when I first started going to tournaments regularly. Since then I’m sad whenever I’m at a tournament and he’s not there. An amazing guy and if you play him you’ll definatly enjoy it. A silent member of team Death or Glory now, he produced this fantastic Dark Eldar army and I have invited him to tell us about it below. So without Further ado here is Mr Matt Cook.
1. Tell me about yourself and how you got into warhammer
My name is Matt Cook and I’ve been into the Warhammer hobby for nearly 15 years. I started collecting a Skaven army when I was in secondary school, but quickly fell in love with the Imagery of warhammer 40k through the game Necromunda. My friends and I all used to play long running campaigns as part of our school’s warhammer club. From there a love of painting and gaming developed before I went to work in the Kingston and Woking branches of Games Workshop shortly after my 18th birthday. It was whilst working for the store that I really began to develop my painting and modelling skills.
I left the company and started to get interested in other game systems, most notably Warmachine, before returning with a vengeance to the world of 40k. I attended my first tournament in 2009, and loved it so much that I really started to develop and hone my skills as a more competitive player. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I find preparing for a tournament, changing elements of my force and wanting to try new ideas and tactics really acts as an impetus to spur on my painting,
2. Why Dark Eldar?
The reason I chose Dark Eldar is because I had a Dark Eldar army from when they were first released. With the re-release of the entire range it seemed a good time to update the army. The figures are gorgeous, perfectly capturing the dynamism and ancient cruelty of the Dark Eldar, and I have found that the interchangability of the kits allows for a wide level of customisation – For instance, I am not a huge fan of the Finecast Wracks, so mine are modelled using plastic Daemonettes and a range of spare parts from my Dark Eldar bits box! I love the elegant construction of the vehicles too – usually I find painting tanks a chore, but in the case of the Dark Eldar it gave me an opportunity to experiment with painting free hand designs on a large curved surface, and I am quite happy with how the results turned out.
3. What drives you to continue painting?
I find painting is a perfect way for me to relax! I can hide away in the study, stick some music or a good audio book on, and then happily paint for three to four hours. With my job taking up so much of my time, I find it is important to have ‘protected’ time where I can focus on unwinding and doing something which relaxes me – painting does just that. On top of this, I’m always seeking to improve my techniques – If I return to an army after a while I see ways in which I can make the next batch of models even better. I find tournaments are great for giving me a ‘Hobby kick’. I always come away with some new painting and modelling ideas which I want to try out with my next project.
4. Do you find that taking armies to tournaments restricts what you can do with your army painting wise
In a way, tournament gaming does restrict what I can do painting wise. For example, I’m a big fan of the Dark Eldar Talos, but I can see no justifiable way of putting it into a list without thinking ‘Would another Ravager have served me better here?’ However, for me painting is as much a part of why I do the hobby as gaming, so I try to find time to work on standalone pieces, often for painting competitions, commissions or displays. Sadly I don’t have the imagination when it comes to converting figures for ‘Counts as’ models – Some armies are full of gorgeous models, all painstakingly converted, and I often find myself wondering where their creators get their inspiration! I do quite a lot of Kit bashing, but if I’m honest with myself, it is pretty limited in scope! So if there was an area I’d like to see myself improve upon, it would be to be able to create more individualised pieces for my forces.
5. What was your toughest challenge in this army?
The toughest challenge in my army was painting the Razorwing. I wanted to create a piece that fitted into the army colour scheme wise, but that also reflected the individualist nature of the Dark Eldar. To do this I went for quite an ambitious freehand design. If I’m honest, it worked, and I was happy with it at the time, but I can now see many ways it can be improved. The freehand on later vehicles I feel is a vast improvement, and it just goes to show that you learn from what you have done previously. If I was to do another Razorwing, or a Voidraven, I would draw on the techniques I have picked up and refined since.
My favourite model has to be the Haemonculus. Not only does the pose capture the creepy ‘mad professor’ element of the character, but it also gave me a real chance to practise smaller scale free hand and a different flesh tone. I was then inspired to paint chessboard detail onto his personal Venom... squares on a curved surface does funny things to one’s mind....
7. What painting project is next for you?
I have a couple of projects I’m working on at the moment. Firstly I’m building a Crusade era Imperial Fist army, based around the second company of the Imperial Fists. I started this project as part of a Doubles army for the July Doubles tournament this year and have since carried it on, adding an allied detachment of pre-heresy Dark Angels to the force. This has proved an interesting challenge, as I’ve had to be pretty ruthless in ensuring all the components are free of overt Imperial imagery which would not have been around in the 30k universe. As such I’ve made extensive use of Forge world armour kits and raided a fair few friend’s bits boxes! Secondly I’m putting together a Chaos marine force based upon traitor Space Wolves. This is for a charity painting event where the aim is to paint a 1750 point army over a weekend. The stipulations include the fact that the army needs to have at least 50 infantry models on 25mm bases in it! So I’ve been experimenting with a variety of speed painting techniques recently as I usually take a long time over all my models, ensuring that they all meet my particular standards! Hopefully the pay off will be that I can still achieve a great standard of miniature painting but at a faster pace!
Finally if there is one skill set I want to teach myself it is to be able to use an airbrush well. I have one, and so far my efforts have been.... simplistic. But as with everything, practise makes perfect, so hopefully over the next year I can begin to incorporate some airbrush work into my regular repertoire.