Well, what a pleasure to be here, with you, enjoying our hobby together.
Myles has asked me to do an introduction to… well, me. I shall go through a little about me. Who I am, what I do, what involvement I have in the hobby, what I have done, my achievements, what I enjoy in the hobby, my projects new and old, and the things I do to enjoy the hobby the way that I do. I shall add some photos of the work I have done through the last 10 years or so throughout the introduction so that you can see some of my work.
So, without further ado… we have already established that my name is Matt. I’m an ageing hobbyist, lets leave age there. Far too embarrassing these days lol. I am a father and am employed full time within Her Majesties armed forces.
I’ve been in and around the hobby for around 26 years now. Starting as a 12 year old ultra enthusiastic boy who used to spend all of his spare time in my local hobby store. Playing games and painting toy soldiers. Totally enthused by this hobby that we all love. Wrapped in the lore and mythology that is fantasy wargaming. And a general annoyance to the staff. We all have to start somewhere. And for me that somewhere was Ultramarines. Blue and yellow. And the things that were on the front of nearly every box set in the shop. Not that I was influenced or easily led of course.
I continued with this routine for the next 4 years until I went away to join the Armed forces. for a period of time, I didn’t have any opportunity to enjoy the hobby due to intensive training. However this didn’t last long. By 18 I was back involved with the hobby. Taking it up at every opportunity that I could.
Admittedly, painting was not my key interest at this time. Though I dabbled, I was mainly interested in building models and taking them to play games. I look back now and realise that I really wasn’t much of a fun person to be around when it came to wargaming. I was so ultra-competitive that all I wanted to do was dominate and win. Taking no consideration to my opponents enjoyment in the hobby. So this continued for a good 5 or 6 years. Until such point that I wanted to make a change. Having always considered myself quite proficient as a painter, and being someone who didn’t accept low personal standards, I decided that I wanted to up my game a little.
This didn’t do much for me in terms of getting my armies painted to play games with, but I decided that I wanted to push my painting a little and try out for golden demon. And so it began. One of many a year entering. Each time getting finalist pins or the equivalent of, back in those days it wasn’t much, as far as I can remember at least. Never managing to get one of the fabled trophies.
The day came that I decided to go a step further in my love affair with Games Workshop. I ended my career in the Armed forces in order to pursue a career with the company. Initially wanting to become a miniature designer. Something that I failed in, but which taught me loads and developed new skills in doing so.
Failing in this role I turned to retail. Becoming a trainee store manager and moving on to store manager. Proving to be very successful as I was very target driven. However it totally burned me out. So I took the opportunity to move into security for the company. This may seem like a step-down, but it was a step in the door. I managed to make contacts all over and make my ambitions known. Within 9 months I managed to grasp the role as miniature painter for Forge World. Something that I was absolutely buzzing about.
My friends used to take the mick out of me for the amount of forge world bits that I would buy and adorn my models with throughout my younger years. Always a sucker for detail. Now I finally had the opportunity to be absolutely embroiled within the world of extreme detail and for me at least, hobby heaven.
It was about the time that Horus Heresy was coming about. Just before book 1 of the black books was released. I would be taking lead on all of the miniature painting for my absolute favorite aspect of the hobby. The Horus Heresy. A time of Demigods leading armies of superhumans. With the favoured son turning traitor and turning upon his god-like father in all-out civil war.
Now, remember when I mentioned being an annoyance to the hobby store staff? Well, a large part of that was because I was absolutely addicted to the artwork within the mighty tome that is Visions of Heresy, Collected Visions. I would constantly be bombarding them with questions of when they were going to release models for the Primarchs and the Emperor and the Custodian Guard. I was absolutely obsessed with them. Only to be constantly told it would never happen as it was the past from within the game setting. Ultimate Disappointment.
Until now. The time of Horus Heresy was in full swing. It was absolute hobby heaven for me. So, I was now painting. Every single day. My very first model for Forgeworld was the avenger strike fighter. Which I absolutely loved. Even more so because I had some of my absolute hobby heroes there to teach and to influence me. I put my all in to it to try and impress. Only to come in to work the day after I finished it and see a post-it note sat on top of it with a big fat red F written on it, along with “see me”. My heart sunk. And the bugger that was its designer totally played me. Making out it was the most horrific thing ever to happen. Turns out that all it was was that I had put the tail fins on upside down so I had to turn them around. Everyone pissed themselves with laughter at the new guy. I think you could have fried an egg on my face it was so red.
Anyway, enough of the self-humiliation. I went on to paint so many models. For book production photography, web releases, display models and event display boards such as the Istvaan 3 display board where Angron lead the final charge against the loyalists. 565 infantry models were on the board. And umpteen tanks. And we did it in just over a month. I say we because most of the studio designers, Neil the master mold maker, and I were involved with producing it. It was an awesome time for a hobby for me and so many other Heresy fans. Above you can see but a few of the many many models that I painted while in Forgeworld.
But then it got better. I was entrusted to paint my first model of the character series. Up until this point I had not been trusted to paint them. Too wet behind the ears. But now I got my chance. It was time for Ferrus Manus to come to life.
Simon Eagan had done an absolutely amazing job of the model. It was amazing to see it. But daunting to take on such a project. So I arranged a meeting with Simon, Phil, Mark, and Keith. And we went through so many concepts. I made a particular note of how Simon envisaged him looking, how his mind saw the final piece, what parts were particularly important on the model.
It was an immense challenge. But something that I really tried to do was to push my style of painting in him. A style where you are initially hit by the iconic parts and personality of the character. But when you have the opportunity to go in close, to really spend time to appreciate the detail you see so much more. Like the armour. There were 9 different colours go into that armour. The idea was to have a sheen like blue steel that had been worn while locked away in forges. Superheated and rapidly cooled, splashed upon by acids and other working materials. I wanted the armour to tell a story unto itself. So you will see hints of blue, yellow, rusted red, acidic green. And combinations of all of the above. But not just layered upon each other. They were splashed over at random. Modulating and melding between one and other. Then when they would mix and match over, they would give the dark, almost black look that Iron hands are known for.
And that wasn’t it. I didn’t want highlights to look clean and smooth. But I didn’t want it to look out of place either. So I mottled them. Showing how it built towards the light but continuing the story of all the different elements that it had endured, in meandering fluid graduation to its lightest colour.
I could go on and on. His famous metallic arms and how the metal was blended into the skin. Incorporating green into his skin to make it look pale from where he was withdrawn from light within the forges for so long. And ultimately, how all of this was designed to be a complete opposite to his opposing piece in the duel, Fulgrim. Where one was cold, the other oozed rich warmth, where one would be dirty, the other would be overly pristine.
And so we will leave that subject. Maybe I shall continue with it in another article.
So, life went on. I went through multiple character series models. And so, so many others. But I unfortunately had to endure a lot of personal crap in this time. And felt that time was right to move my life on after 3 years my time in the studio came to an end.
I decided to rejoin the Armed Forces. But that was just my main job. I still loved the hobby. And continued to collect and paint and game with my friends. At this point I was contacted by someone who wanted me to come run a course to teach people how to achieve the finishes that I did in Forgeworld. This was the dawning of what turned to be something amazing.
One lesson turned into many. ‘I’ became we. MKA studios was born.
Together we went on to form one of the most successful painting tuition classes in the world. We travelled the globe. All the way to the other side of the world in fact. And many other destinations in between. We went on to teach over 300 students. With multiple students going on to win golden demons or other painting awards. And for the first time, I managed to bag a couple myself.
While it was a life long dream to achieve it, it really had slipped down my order of priorities. I want really fussed about the stress that competition painting brings, or seeking personal glory. Nonetheless, the trophies will always sit proudly on my mantlepiece.
I particularly remember being on duty the day that my first student informed me that they had won. I think they may have heard me all the way in Nottingham. Everyone stopped and looked at me as I couldn’t contain myself. It was a proper proud Dad moment. I was so proud for him to have gone on to achieve his dream. As it has been for all of the other who have gone on to do so.
But the happiness was not just from people winning awards. It was from being involved with and having the honour to help so many people to enjoy their hobby in the same way that I did. It was great to be able to see so many hobbyists painting up their armies. The Horus Heresy was alive within us. And their passion only went on to stoke my hobby fire.
All things must come to an end sooner or later. And so after 3 years, we went our separate ways. The other guys going on to form their own group, while I enjoyed my hobby and more importantly had the chance to enjoy my life with my family. I still go to teach the occasional course here and there. With some amazing friends from all over the world coming together to organize the classes. Something that is just incredible for me. The experience is second to none.
And now that brings me to today. So much more has happened throughout my life, but I think I would need a book to publish my life story. I shall do plenty of other articles. Including articles on my past and future projects. And we will do article on particular models. And I shall also be doing loads and loads of tutorials, guides, lessons and so much more.
Currently I am writing PDF guides and video tutorials for Lil’Legend, and also running the War of the Gods Patreon. This is a monthly pledge system that follows along towards creating an army of your own, with guidance from me and support from your peers. The first War of the Gods campaign is based on Adeptus Titanicus. Pictures of my personal Adeptus Titanicus models can be seen above.
In War of the Gods you get:
At least 2 Zoom sessions per month with our instructors via Zoom or alternate webinar hosting platforms. All of which are recorded and posted on to the patreon so that you can go back and watch them if you have missed them.
* Entry into an exclusive Facebook group where work can be shared, critiqued, and improved. Join a vibrant community of hobbyists all seeking to build armies, build skills and chat about their work in a supportive environment.
* Log progress, pledge monthly, and grow your collection alongside a community.
* Prizes upon completion of project such as bespoke painted miniatures,
*Private tuition with our instructors,
*Free entry to gaming events, and promotional materials from our sponsors!
You also get:
- Full library access
- Patron-only posts and messages
- Early access to content
- Patron-only voting power
If you would like to join us in War of the Gods and become part of our awesome pledge, please follow the link below.
You can also get one on one lessons with me through the Lil’Legend patreon by clicking the following link and scrolling down to the correct sign up for tuition and stating that you want private tuition with me. Not only will you get the one to one tuition, but you will also get access to all of the PDF guides, video tutorials, articles and seminars already on the patreon.
If there are any subjects I’m particular you’d like to hear of or to have guidance or lessons in, please don’t be afraid to ask. I’d love the opportunity to work with you. I hope this hasn’t been too boring to read. And I very much look forward to this opportunity to work with you all to develop our skills as a part of LIL’LEGEND studio’s. I live by the saying that the biggest loser is someone who thinks they are above learning new skills. There is always something to be learned. Even if it is just a different way of doing something that you already do.