Lock n’ Load: A Painter’s Journey to the Competition – Introduction

Hello, fellow painters!

I have decided to create an article series that will run weekly from now, until I attend my first US convention since 1994, in which I will compete against other talented painters in the miniature hobby field. The only convention that I can feasibly afford to make it to this year will be Privateer Press’ own, Lock n’ Load Gamefest.
In this series I will be documenting my progress, and some general knowledge about what I am expecting to enter, how many hours it takes me to paint each model, and perhaps, even some pictures too! I will be covering the events and seminars I will be attending, with before and after the convention write-ups, and pictures. It is my goal to introduce who I am to the miniature painting world, and to prove whether or not I can compete against some of the best painters out there!

Let’s start with an appropriate introduction, shall we?

So, how did this guy come up with the forum name, ‘Ghool’ for himself?

I came about my forum name some years ago, after the release of an old, by very innovative, video game called, Neverwinter Nights. Since I was an RPG/D&D addict for many years, I began building adventures using the easy-to-use toolset that came with the game. I’m not sure how it came about, but when I started running these video game adventures as a Dungeon Master, I picked a Ghoul as my DM avatar in-game. In fact, that’s where my avatar picture is from; the Ghoul portrait for Neverwinter Nights.

I was always a fiendish, and evil DM, so I thought image appropriate. When I went to post these adventures on the Neverwinter Vault for others to download and play, I opted for the same name as my DM avatar. But, on the NWVault, the name, Ghoul was already taken. One letter change later, and I have since then dubbed myself, ‘Ghool’ on whichever website or forum I visit.

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Who is this Ghool guy, really?

My real name is Brant Benoit (ben-wa, not ben-oit), and am I French? Well, no, not really. I’m of Belgian descent, not French. And no, I haven’t spoke French since I was 9 years old, and most of it has been forgotten. When I traveled to France and Belgium, I remembered enough to get by.

I am a father of two young children; a 3 year old girl, and a 17 month old boy. I am happily married to my wife, and have been for the past 7 years. I stay home with my kids, and work a part time job, 3 nights a week, and most of my gaming purchases are financed by my commission painting.

I paint at least 2 – 3 hours per day, and sometimes up to 8 – 10 hours when my wife is home to help with the kids, 2 days a week.

My Website: MiniFreek Painted Miniatures

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How did I get started painting miniatures?

I was initially introduced to this game that was becoming popular over the first few years of Junior High. Some of you might know it; Dungeons and Dragons. Some friends began playing the game back when I was 11 years old, in 1983. I was spellbound with this wonderful game that didn’t even require a board! And, polyhedral dice? Who had heard of such a thing?! That’s when it began.

I used to live in Edmonton, and at that time, there was this new, gigantic mall that was built within walking distance of my house, and after a few games of this ‘D&D’, I had to get myself some of the rules. In the mall was a hobby store called, ‘Kites and Other Delights’. As you can probably guess, they sold a lot of kites. But, they had a wide range of hobby stuff, from RC cars, models, puzzles, and of course, my new obsession; D&D books and boxed sets. I spent many a lunch hour flipping through the books on the shelf, but what really struck me was this glass case that was set up behind the D&D books.

It was full of all these little metal soldiers, sorcerers, monsters, and of course, dragons. It was at that first moment of me seeing these great painted little men, that my love for miniature painting began. I bought a few of these metal figures, some Testor’s enamel model paints (that’s all that was available back then, and they were horrible!), and some brushes. I ran home, and began putting paint to miniature almost immediately. This went on for FOUR years; painting with enamels, bad brushes, and making no headway at all.

Circa 1989 – 1990:
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Shortly after moving to Calgary at 15, I made some friends that shared the same interests as myself; drinking, girls, and of course, D&D.
After a few months of hanging out, and trying our hands at some different RPG’s, my best friend at the time gave me a book.

It changed everything.

This book (which I still have sitting on my shelf) was called, ‘Heroes for Wargames’. It was published by an obscure publisher, and featured a great many miniatures from a fledgling company you may know; Games Workshop. I was blown away. These models were (back then) fantastic! How could they paint like that? I thought that I could never achieve such grandiose paint schemes, smooth blending and shading such as this! But, the beauty of it was, it had extensive painting guides and tips inside. The pros shared their secrets! The biggest change was the suggestion to use acrylic paints. What a concept! Water based paint! Wow!

Now, my only problem was finding good, water-based acrylics somewhere. Then, that very same friend, brought me to this tiny little hole in the wall called, ‘The Sentry Box’. It was there that I picked up my first set of Ral Partha paints, and more models to put paint to. I began trying new techniques mentioned in the book; dry brushing, layering, and blending. And that’s when I started to make some real progress.

I entered a few local contests, and won a lot of them, and placed in every single one that I entered. But, making progress was still a bit of a struggle. After many years of painting solely D&D miniatures, I expanded into tabletop wargaming, mainly Battletech. I painted a host of mechs, tanks, and teeny 6mm infantry, and discovered many new painting secrets and techniques. But, even after 10 years (it was now 1993), I still hadn’t made very much progress. Sure, I could paint as good as, or better than the models on the boxes, it still wasn’t enough. I decided to go to GenCon 1994, and see what the ‘real’ competition was like.

Circa 1995 -1996:
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My jaw hit the floor when I saw the entries I was competing against.

I entered anyways, and didn’t even come close to placing. But, I learned a lot. I stood in front of those cases, studying models for four days. That’s when I started to make some real headway with freehand techniques, and painted patterns. But, it was slow, I painted slow, and in my 20’s, I had more important things to do other than paint little metal men. I wanted to be a chef, and I spent a great deal of time working, and partying.

Circa 1999 – 2000:
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Fast-forward 6 years. After much partying, working two jobs, and finally getting out of my parents house, I decided to go to college, and major in illustration in the graphic design program. I didn’t do much miniature painting in the 5 years I spent in college. I think I painted two models during that time. But, I learned a lot about basic design principles, and colour theory, which were all perfectly applicable to painting my little metal men.

A few years after that, I started working at the Sentry Box, which had moved to a much bigger location, and with tons of free gaming space. That’s when working the cash desk one monday morning I discovered this book from Privateer Press that had just been released; Warmachine: Prime Remix. Since I had nothing to do on a slow monday, and I needed something to get me into painting miniatures again, I read the entire thing. I quickly bought it, and picked the faction I thought looked the coolest; Cygnar.

April 2007:
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After a few more years of reading everything on the internet I could find about miniature painting, here I am, writing tutorials for Hand Cannon, and sharing my years of experience with others struggling (well, not everyone!) the same as myself when I first started out.


How long have I been painting miniatures?

Aside from my 5 year hiatus during college, I have been painting almost constantly for 27 years.

My latest Miniature, the Ice Queen from Crocodile Games, which I finished yesterday:

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What am I going to enter at Priveteer Press’ Lock n Load Gamefest in Seattle?

I have several models I will be entering. Some old, and some new. I have three models for the Warjack/Warbeast Category, a Unit and a Battlegroup for that same category. I will have at least one new miniature for the Single Warcaster/Warlock/Solo category as well.

Warjack Entry #1:
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I have spent a great deal of time on one Warjack (not the Hammersmith above) entry, which I just finished up a last week, and it’s this model that I am almost certain I will get a medal for (here’s crossing my fingers, knocking wood, and every other superstitious anti-jinxing method!). I spent over 50 hours on converting and painting this single warjack, and man, is it Epic!

Battlegroup Entry:
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Unit Entry:
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I am also entering the Hardcore Tournament with a pStryker 50 point list. I’m not in this one to try and win anything but the Master Craftsman award. I can paint, but I’m not exactly the most competitive, nor strategic player.


What am I looking forward to most about attending Lock n Load?

The thing I’m looking forward to the most about attending Lock n Load, is meeting some of the great people I talk to on almost a daily basis on the forums, face-to-face in person. I’m really excited about playing a bunch of games, meeting some of the PP staff, and just enjoying something that a large group of people feels as passionately about as myself. That, and I also want to check out all the fabulous paint jobs in the tournaments, painting contest, and on the Iron Arena tables!

Only 4 weeks to go, and I’m counting the days!

Until next week Hand Cannoneers, Keep the Paint Flowin’!


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