Ladies and gentledudes, I want to introduce you to another artist I stumbled upon recently: @the_raptors_claw. My first viewing of this artist's content was actually thanks to a good Real-Life friend. My Marine Corps boot camp buddy @rorycolinfretland was looking for some inspiration for his Raptor's army. Next thing I knew, I was sent a link to a a page with some of the smoothest blends and most amazing uses of the color green I have ever seen. The muted metallics and vibrant blue lenses compliment and contrast so perfectly with the power armor. The basing is incredibly unique as well. I love the larger "boulders" because it creates an image in my mind of this unrelenting force of death, traversing its way over whatever terrain necessary to deliver swift and ultimate justice. I think the artist's use of the airbrush is definitely right in the sweet spot. You can tell an airbrush was used because of the butter-smooth transitions, but it's done in a realistic way, where the gradient isn't overpowering or obnoxious!
Enough about me, let's get to it!
1. How long have you been involved in the hobby in general?
"I started painting in June 2019 so I have had quite a short journey so far although prior to this I somehow knew what an Ork was and what it looked like so I may have done this in a previous life? I have been very artistic since a child and I can remember countless hours drawing Dragon Ball Z characters laying on my bedroom floor. Art went out of the window as the reality of adulthood dawned so painting is my escape from the real world and a chance for my inner geek to release".
2. How long have you been actively promoting your content on social media?
I’ve been active since I started really, June 2019. If you scroll far enough you will see my first attempts of painting some poor Tau, poor fish heads. It was all for the greater good.
3. What initially drew you to the miniature model hobby realm?
I actually walked past a Games Workshop store window in Chester, England and the window display caught my eye. Although I didn’t go in on that occasion I went home and browsed the Games Workshop website and I’ve been lost in the hobby ever since. I’ve returned to the store on several occasions, dipping my toes into the social side of the hobby whilst stocking up on those sweet sweet pots of liquid talent. I also like comparing my artwork to the GW display cabinet minis (who paints their store models, maybe someone can fill me in?).
4. What tabletop game would you say is your favorite? What particular faction within that game is your favorite and why?
Warhammer 40K is my big love, although I have purchased a few Infinity models which I’m yet to paint, still in my pile of shame, yikes. Primaris Space Marines are my current passion and I seem to have ridden that ‘new wave’ into the hobby, I had no idea they were so controversial but heck, they look the nuts right? I specifically love the Raptors chapter, who are a successor chapter of the Raven Guard. I chose this chapter as they are very much so like a modern military fighting force in the way they play out, very reasonable and utilitarian. Green is also my favourite colour so this helped sway me in choosing.
5. What is more enjoyable for you personally: painting or playing the game?
I can only say painting as I am yet to play a game! I am a very slow painter and I would hate to put an army on the tabletop that isn’t fully painted, so it’s been a long term project getting my Raptors up to tabletop standard. Playing a game in the future is what has kept my morale up whilst painting, and it’s almost the main goal that keeps me focused. Unfortunately GW keep throwing a spanner in the works with new releases, so the way I envision my Raptors force changes on a weekly basis as they release more and more stellar models, God damn those plastic crack shufflers.
6. If money or time weren’t a consideration, what single purchase/upgrade/expansion would you make to further your hobby enjoyment?
Space. The area I have to work in is extremely limited, I am usually forced to spread out of that tiny room to my girlfriends dismay, and it’s not uncommon to hear the words “why the hell are there toy soldiers in the kitchen” resounding throughout the house. So, you know, a small upgrade. Maybe a small home in the Hollywood hills, no biggie.
7. Where do you get the inspiration for your particular army theme or style?
I owe props to @themightybrush who has heavily influenced my experience in the hobby so far and is also a fan of the Raptors. He produces extremely high quality work and then breaks that work down into digestible chunks in the form of PDF tutorials. He also offers his own water slide decals purchasable through his website and they have been invaluable. Just go to his website, you won’t regret it. Enough kiss-assing! Other inspirations have been @daemonrich, @thunderwulfen and @redeaglestudio, all massively talented artists.
8. What tips or advice would you give someone just starting out in the hobby?
Dilution and consistency of paint is everything. Duncan Rhodes of GW has made it that much of a ‘thing’ that a newbie can’t miss this information on their way into the hobby but what they don’t push is wet pallets, get one, it will change your life. Also, be proud of your own artistic evolution and do not focus on others you perceive to be untouchable. Remember, what you are seeing on social media is for the most part a highlight reel of the artists success’, what you aren’t seeing is the countless do overs and rough drafts that never made it.
9. What was the moment you realized commission painting was something you wanted to pursue as more than a hobby?
I am still to book a commission so it’s very much so still a hobby, however in the current uncertain climate the world is in its been nice to think “what if”.
10. What was the most difficult obstacle you had to overcome on your path to becoming a full-time painter?
The biggest obstacle I’ve overcome so far as a painter is Imposter Syndrome, the feeling of not being good enough.
11. What was the most rewarding experience you’ve had as a painter?
Looking at your own work and thinking “damn that’s good” before uploading it to social media and having that reaffirmed by the hobby community is super rewarding.
12. What product line do you endorse and what about their products do you feel sets them above their competitors?
I love the work @unrealwargamingstudios put out with their resin bases. The bases are full of visually interesting detail, they are reasonably priced, fantastic quality and the customer service is great. I think they set the bar high in a very niche market that will see them remain at the top.
13. If you could earn a sponsorship or endorsement from your dream company, who would it be and why?
Again, @unrealwargamingstudios. I play to my strengths and creating/building bases isn’t one of them. Their plug and play products compliment my painting style, with a quick lick of paint on the base my army is ready for the tabletop.
14. What advice would you give to someone interested in taking the plunge to becoming a commission painter?
Don’t underprice yourself to win work.
Lee, thank you so much for being willing to chat with me about our shared hobby. Although you don't have the same following as some of the other people I've interviewed, that's kind of the point. This is a little fun opportunity to talk with people that inspire me, or others in the hobby. I think your representation of your Raptor's Army is one of the most convincing and soulful displays of a primaris force I've seen. Your battle damage and wear is top shelf stuff. Your lighting, shadows and natural gradients are powerful but not distracting. I see why my buddy told me to check your page out months ago. I'm very excited to watch you grow as a painter and as a content creator. I can tell you right now, brother...."Imposter Syndrome" no longer has a place in your vocabulary, unless it's being used in the past tense.