Introducing Erik Swinson, a highly decorated professional miniature painter hailing from Virginia, USA. Erik’s extraordinary work has been recognized with gold accolades at prestigious competitions like the Golden Demon, World Model Expo, Reapercon, and Capital Palette, and he has even clinched the coveted Best of Show at Monte San Savino. His collaborations span across esteemed industry brands. Adding author to his list of accomplishments, Erik launched a successful Kickstarter campaign for his published work, ‘The Art of Erik Swinson’. His talent and dedication truly set him apart in the realm of miniature painting.
1. How did you start with miniature painting?
I was introduced to Warhammer 40k by a friend because he knew I liked painting Gundam models. It was my way of combining my enjoyment of gaming and model making.
2. What do you most enjoy about miniature painting?
Honestly, it’s the community. I don’t know if I would have taken the hobby as far as I have if it wasn’t for all the amazing people into miniatures. The shared passion for art and figures is what really makes our little world so great!
3. What is your main source of inspiration?
I draw a lot of inspiration from fantasy and game artwork, whether it be Frank Frazetta or Wei Wang (former illustrator for Blizzard) or any of the amazing artists who worked on Magic The Gathering.
4. Who do you look up to in the miniature painting community?
That would have to be Alfonso ‘Banshee’ Giraldes. He mentored me when I was really getting serious about display painting and has continued to be a friend and a peer now that I have entered the professional industry of miniatures. He has always been honest, sometimes maybe a little too honest, and is in my opinion the best teacher in the miniatures world.
5. What is your favourite painting technique?
I don’t know if I have a favorite technique. I think every technique is just a means to an end and think each painter should experiment and find what works best for them. I guess if you consider cast shadows a technique it’s probably the one I’m most known for and love including them in my work. But I consider that more a style than an actual technique.
6. What was the most difficult painting technique to learn?
I think we overemphasize the importance of techniques in miniature painting. Being able to wet blend or glaze doesn’t do you any good if you don’t understand when to use them. Understanding light, shadow and volumes are the most important things you can work on. Really studying NMM (Non-Metallic Metal) is what unlocked my understanding of light and reflections and probably took the most time to do proficiently.
7. Why is colour important to miniature painting?
Color is massively important, maybe only secondary to light. It’s one of the ways we express mood or ambiance on our figures. Color can represent emotion. A barbarian bathed all in red is going to have a vastly different feeling than one in blue.
8. What is one miniature you have always wanted to paint?
I don’t know if there is one particular miniature I’ve always wanted to paint. But there are lots of characters from video games, books or fantasy art that I would love to be made into miniatures. I think it would be awesome to paint some of the characters from League of Legends for example.
9. Why would you say a wet palette was important for miniature painting?
I do a lot of color mixing and having a wet palette is absolutely essential for long sessions of painting. Like many I started by using the little well in the tops of GW pots, but as I improved I needed the ability to mix my own tones.
10. What is the key tip you would give to a miniature painter who wants to improve?
Focused practice, all the tutorials in the world won’t make you improve if you don’t put in the hours. But beyond just grinding, you have to really dig into what you are doing. If you want to paint better skin tones, paint more figures with lots of skin, study references and practice the things that you need improvement on. Painting 100 of the same space marine will only teach you how to paint that one space marine really well or faster.