Painting miniatures is one of the joys of nerd-dom. It’s too bad that miniature painting can so intimidating for newcomers. But enter Sorastro, the YouTuber who has not only made painting really cool, but is introduced nerds everywhere to the joys of painting miniatures. If only we could get an interview with Sorastro…
So I captured him and brought him back to Nerds on Earth HQ. He was interrogated thoroughly, then released unharmed.
Clave: What’s your origin story? How did you get started painting miniatures?
Sorastro: I started painting miniatures at around the age of nine or ten. I can’t remember the specific first miniature but I remember having a sizable undead Warhammer army and some greenskins (it’s funny how little our proclivities change over the years!). When Warhammer 40K launched in 1987 I was mostly into painting space orks and do actually have some surviving examples of my painted miniatures from back then.
Clave: What were the circumstances that got you thinking you might want to make it your full-time gig?
Sorastro: I didn’t do any painting at all for a long time but returned to the hobby around 10 years ago and found myself enjoying it more than ever before. I produced my first couple of tutorials just to satisfy a creative itch (I had recently bought my first video-capable DSLR and I was keen to see what I could do with it). When I made the first Imperial Assault video the public response was so strong that I felt compelled to commit to a series of regular episodes that just grew and grew in popularity.
It hasn’t been easy putting in the hundreds of hours required on top of holding down a demanding day job (and raising two young kids), but the cycle of intense creativity and audience response creates a kind of feedback loop that is very rewarding.
Then on June 2nd 2015 one of my dear viewers (I haven’t forgotten you Carl!) added a post to my Facebook page suggesting that I start a Patreon account. This pretty much changed everything. A bit like when Andy Dufresne first chips away at the prison wall with his rock hammer and begins to conceive of a way out, I soon began to see the potential of the platform.
As the truly humbling level of support for my work grew steadily over the following months, the dream of turning this creative passion into a viable living started to look more and more real. Deteriorating conditions in my day job further fueled my ambition to pursue a purely creative life and three months ago I handed in my resignation.
Clave: Your Patreon support is much deserved; it’s easy for me to brag on you. Not only have you filled a great niche in teaching beginning painting for popular miniatures, but you have production values that are heads and shoulders above anything else out there.
So what’s a rough time breakdown of your process, including the music?
Sorastro: It does vary somewhat from video to video, and naturally the first episode of a new series takes up a lot more time as entirely new graphics and music are required. But here’s a typical (and very rough) breakdown:
- I’ll spend anything between around 2-8 hours testing out color combinations and techniques to find the most effective and easy-to-duplicate approach.
- I might then take around 12 hours to film the painting process (including taking transitional shots) – although this can vary wildly.
- Scripting, recording and editing the narration may take around 4 hours,
- and the main editing process may take between 7-12 hours.
- The music may only take a couple of hours (if I re-use previously-composed tracks) or a lot longer if I’m composing entirely fresh pieces.
- I’ll then spend a couple of hours photographing the finished model.
All in all a full-length episode can be a good week’s work (which is what I’ll be doing each week from September!).
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Clave: Can you give us a little teaser as to what might be coming next?
Sorastro: Sure! I’ve just completed the “Lando” episode for Imperial Assault and next I’ll be returning to some of the earlier releases for the game such as the Royal Guard Champion. I’m also going to cover some of the Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition miniatures, along with some more Zombicide: Black Plague, Blood Rage, and plenty more Descent.
I’ll also be producing various one-off guides for other games, as well as an absolute beginner’s guide to miniature painting.
Clave: Oh! I’m looking forward to those beginner guides! What are your top tips for a total beginner painter?
Sorastro: Don’t be afraid. Enjoy both the painting process and the learning journey itself; balance the need to be self critical in order to strive for continual self improvement, whilst also being happy with what you’ve achieved.
Clave: Now that you have a sweet collection of the best painted miniatures in gaming, which ones do you actually get to the table?
Sorastro: It’s been such a busy year for me that I haven’t played as much as I would like. However I have recently enjoyed playing both Descent 2nd Edition with the amazing new app, and Star Wars Rebellion with my daughter.
We’re also planning to get plenty of Imperial Assault in this summer and we’ve had some great games of Zombicide: Black Plague. For solo play I love Eldritch Horror and Kingdom Death Monster. And within the last year I’ve also had a blast playing games such as Fury of Dracula, Shadows of Brimstone, and Arcadia Quest.
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Clave: What else are you nerding out on?
Sorastro: I like reading HP Lovecraft, the current wave of Star Wars comics, and I’m also enjoying Alan Moore’s Providence. I thoroughly enjoyed Stranger Things recently on Netflix, and I also like the occasional video game; current favourites include Dark Souls 3, Star Wars Battlefront, and Total War: Warhammer.
Clave: Thank you so much Sorastro. I’ll release you back to your painting, but not before I end this with some ways that folks can either get in contact with you or some means to get into the hobby of painting.
Sorastro’s Youtube channel can be found here. Grab a paint brush and sit down to give it a watch. It’s fantastic. If you’ve even had the faintest inkling of getting into painting, click through and grab one of the games listed above, then sit down to Sorastro’s videos. It’ll change you.
If you are already a fan, consider becoming a Patron. I’m one and I can attest that Sorastro updates and communicates more effectively than any other Patreon campaign I’ve supported.