Review: The Art of … Volume 01 Miniature Monthly

by Hansrainer

Hello dear Jungle readers,

this is Hansrainer with the first of a lengthy series of reviews on "The Art of..." book series by Dave Taylor Miniatures. Dave started this series with a first Kickstarter in April 2021 to fund the production of the first three volumes. He followed up roughly a year later with Volumes 4-6 and a third one with Volumes 7-9 last year. So far, every Kickstarter has been very successful with more than a thousand backers - doesn't sound like a lot but our community is not exactly gigantic - and so the result is pretty darn impressive.

I only learned about the series roughly a year ago, just in time to miss the last Kickstarter and I got access to the books via Oliver, a friend who was kind enough to loan me the first six books. Initially I had the goal to get the reviews done before the publication of Volumes 7-9 but - as it tends to - life happened. I had the reviews of book two and three completed quite quickly, but with this first one it was a bit tougher - I had read it roughly a year ago and unfortunately in this case time doesn‘t make the best editor.

After that time what stuck with me was that this book really delivered a unique view into painting miniatures from what we are used to in the diverse books and series in existence. Similar to "A Colourful Mind" this book contains descriptions of the personal journey of the three artists that were crucial in the foundation and running of the Miniature Monthly painting collective: Aaron Lovejoy, Elizabeth Beckley, and Matt DiPietro. The book is separated into three main Sections, one for each of the three.

Each section contains strong biographical parts that describe the way and development of the artists as well as personal views on specific projects, experiences, philosophies and thoughts that shaped their journey and development to becoming the artists and persons they are today. Each section also contains content more directly tied into the authors' specific ways of creating their content and miniature art, many examples of their work and ideas what to take for the readers own journey.

Aaron Lovejoy


Aaron's section is the one most closely tied to Miniature Monthly's history - no wonder given that it was him who created  Miniature Monthly in the first place. We learn about the challenges of working in the miniature industry for a living - this in and by itself very interesting inside view is already a very good argument to get the book for everyone interested in venturing down this path herself. 
He goes the whole nine yards from the challenges and pitfalls to things that work and also how to stay relevant and alive from an artistic as well as economic point of view.
He addresses many interesting points, like the different challenges different kinds of art for hire projects deliver - army painting vs. display, box art vs creating online content, how he balances personal and business projects, how to learn and incorporate new skills like airbrush or digital sculpting and 3D-printing. The last few pages are dedicated to a few of his favourite pieces:

All in all its mostly the documentation of a personal voyage but there is a lot of wisdom and experiences to be taken from that.

Elizabeth Beckley


The second section is written by and about Elizabeth Beckley. It starts again with a biographical chapter that starts with her upbringing and background and then focuses on her by now lengthy career working in the painting business. Starting out as a private commission painter, not unlike Aaron before, then quickly graduating to work for companies like Impact Miniatures and later as a studio painter for CoolMiniorNot and finally working freelance and founding her own small company as well as joining Miniature monthly and painting for many more companies.

After this section she dives more into the practical aspects of her career and I personally really enjoyed the parts where she connected her classical fine art background with working on miniatures. She connects aspects like composition, colour selection and how to use specific details to create and lose focus. She repeatedly goes back to the importance of using references, especially when it comes to the human form and creating specific results. 

The final note is a page with direct advice for aspiring miniature artists, drawn from her experience in teaching as well as creating art. All in all a very interesting take again and I have to admit I love the whimsicalness of many of her works - would love to get to meet her one day and see her work in real live!

Matt DiPietro


The final section of the book is by Matt DiPietro, the third pillar of the Miniature Monthly team. Beginning with the biographical part, I still find it very interesting how many of the great miniature painters have at least some family roots in the fine arts - and Matt is not the exception it seems. The biography starts with his youth and then moves into his career as a professional artist, starting out in the warehouse of Privateer Press and then slowly migrating over to the studio team with Mike and Allie McVey and Ron Kruzie and finally taking over the position as lead painter later on. Eventually he started his own studio - Contrast Miniatures - and joined the Miniature Monthly team in 2017, as of the writing of this book, he spends his time creating content, teaching and creating art.
Like the other two authors of the book, Matt by now has a very strong focus on teaching and this shows in the more practical parts of his chapter. He puts a strong focus on sketching and underpainting: Be it for purposes of defining Lighting and Drama, establishing material properties like reflectivity or texture or even more vivid skin and other materials be creating a lot of variance using (sometimes multi-coloured) underpaintings.
In a very interesting, though brief, foray into the more artsy aspects of miniature art, he addresses some inherent conflicts many aspirants of hour hobby face as time progresses: The struggle between technique and expression, dealing with the limitations of the medium, painting against sculpts, deviating from traditional or seemingly "right" colour compositions for certain subjects and finding ways to express ones own voice. 
The final pages of the chapter are dedicated in more detail to three specific works of his and conclude the book.

My Impressions and Conclusion


The Good: The Art of Miniature Monthly is an impressive first entry into a series that we now know has been going strong for quite a while now.  With Volumes 7-9 just released and the Kickstarter for 10-12 on the near horizon, there is no end in sight. The concept of the book being more of a biographical thing with large bits of knowledge sprinkled in between is very attractive to me as a reader: I like reading about people and the art they create. I love the fact that the book isn't yet another "how to colour-theory" and "how to volumetry" thing.

The Bad: If you are looking for the typical "this is how you paint X" or "this is how X-Skill/Technique works" kind of book - this is NOT for you. In hindsight and with the knowledge of how much deeper this can go, if each artist has a whole book to expand in from the follow up books in the series, it feels like it falls a bit short. Some, if not many of the pictures could be a bit better - but that's owed to the biographical curse of "dammit I should've taken wayyyy more pictures"…

The ugly personal view: I think this is a book worth buying and reading. If you are interested in the hobby business, if you are interested in any one of the three artists, if you care for their view of the world: get this book. If you are interested just in shiny pictures and looking for that one pro-tip to level up your painting: There are other books for you - and we in the Massive Voodoo jungle have a growing selection of reviews on numerous such books.

I think I will actually pick this one up, even though I have already read it now (actually close to twice) and that's saying something.

See you for the the next review!

A very Massive Bembel Review

by Petrelka

Hey Jungle!

This is Andy, David and Petra bringing you a massive Bembel review! From 09.03.2024 - 10.03.2024 some of us ventured to the first ever edition of the Bembel Miniature Cup in Rodgau near Frankfurt, Germany and we'd love to share our review of this event. So let's dive in!

The Bembel Miniature Cup logo


What a beautiful event!

A whole weekend meeting friends who share the same hobby is always nice. Because the Bembel Miniature Cup took place just a 2-hour drive away, participation was quickly clear. All that was left to do was packing up the miniatures…

What I brought to the contest

All in all, in my opinion, the first Bembel Miniatures Cup was a complete success! The organizers did a great job and the ratio of the miniature exhibition to the sales area was on point. I was impressed by how many vendors and miniatures were displayed - after all, it was the first time and no one could have estimated how many people would come. The venue was very accessible, had plenty of parking, and also the attached bistro was perfectly organized and a nice place to take a few minutes break.

Colorful galleries of miniature art


I limited my shopping to brushes from various brands and a few bases from Dino ;)

My haul

About the competition: Medals are absolutely unimportant to me, I paint to balance my job and mainly for myself - but it's always a nice, refreshing thrill to submit something! I've had a bit of a motivation problem since Monte and no creative energy, but a week before the Bembel I decided I didn't want to go there without something new. What better way than to tackle a item that had been on my list for this year, anyway, and paint one of the hipster heads I sculpted some time ago? No sooner said than done and it was actually a “3 evening project” in which the Viking-inspired version of the hipster was created. While painting it, I noticed that the sculpt had a few weaknesses, which I might try to correct.

The first version of my sculpted Hipster - now with color!

Anyway, back to the competition - as always, I didn't expect anything from this quick project that was submitted in the Master Technical category and well, there was no medal for it either. :D

In the Master Storytelling/Atmosphere category I submitted the same pieces as for the Monte San Savino show last November, for which I received a Highly Commended - in Monte it was a Bronze in Master Storytelling.

Was I hoping for bronze as confirmation? - sure. Am I disappointed? - absolutely not! It was a really tough competition and the judges did a great job. Different judges value different things and that is ok – Thank you so much for your work and time.

Hansrainer and his team did an amazing job and during the award ceremony he showed his anchorman qualities!

The Bembel orga

I'll be back next year and I'm really looking forward to hopefully meeting some of you there.


Last week, I had the great pleasure of visiting the first ever Bembel Miniature Cup with some of my jungle brothers and sisters and close painting-friends. And: Wow, what a first this was! The organization-team, including MV's very own Hansrainer and Petra, outdid themselves in putting together a fantastic new miniature event in Germany to proudly walk in the footsteps of the sorely missed Herzog von Bayern show (R.I.P.).

In terms of organization, from setting up the well-structured and visually pleasing homepage to laying out the exhibition, the vendors area and the little bistro (including a small but sunny place to enjoy a drink outdoors), the team really outdid themselves in ensuring that all was well-planned and ran smoothly. This made sure that show participants and visitors (who had to pay no entrance fee!) could focus solely on shopping to their heart's content and enjoying the amazing mini-artistry on display.

People admiring miniatures

Speaking of mini-artistry, I think it was a very interesting experiment to break up the classical division of "historical" and "fantasy" painting categories - as well as including sculpting together with painting into the same categories - and have judges evaluate all this work together in one of three categories: "technique", "expression", and "gaming". While I heard some participants expressing doubts whether that would work well, I think it's good to try out new approaches and bring some fresh ideas into the way miniature exhibitions and competitions are set-up. In my eyes, including gaming pieces into the competition was a great idea to open up the event to new and broader audiences, i.e., to those who mainly paint minis (albeit to very high standards) for the gaming-table and are not interested in sticking their pieces to unwieldy plinths. Finally, I especially liked that there was a dedicated "out-of-competition" category for those of us (like me, currently) who would like to show some of their work and contribute to the event without interest in participating in the competition.

What for me truly set the first edition of the Bembel Miniature Cup apart, however, was its cozy and inviting atmosphere. Even more than all of the miniature-related events I have visited over the last few years, the Bembel-Cup really felt like a big family-meet, and a wonderful get-together of some of the many people I have met in my now 12 years of painting.

Good stork company at the back of the venue

So, I want to end this little review with congratulations and dealing out a big Thank You hug to the organizers of the Bembel Miniature Cup 2024. You truly did a terrific job in putting this one on the tracks and running it so successfully - so please be proud of yourself! I am already looking forward to the Bembel, 2025 edition!


Our Jungle brother Hansrainer co-organized this great new show together with Frank from Frank Miniatures. The full organizing crew also included me, Gabi and Maren; which meant that during the show, I did what I normally enjoy most: working (and lingering) in the background and enjoying observing that our contest participants, visitors and vendors sparkled with joy over the show. When we opened the doors on Saturday, I welcomed our contestants together with my Jungle brother Johannes and Hansi from our painting community.

Little frogs outside, taking a rest

What filled me with great joy were all our first time participants, to whom we explained how the contest works and where they can place their minis. Soon we had to extend our space, as it was getting quite crowded in the contest area - which was wonderful to see! In the end we had over 500 exhibits to ogle our eyes at - so many great new minis from a whole lot of people who never stuck their toes into competition, it was breathtaking! I didn't find time to finish anything new, so I did bring a ton of old stuff for the "Out of Competition" area.

My "Out of Competition" entries

Even though I didn't find much time for deep conversation (I promise this will change next year!), I enjoyed meeting the monkey crew (Andy, David, Hansrainer, Johannes and Kilian), our pirate friends from Hamburg, the judges, the vendors, all those great artists from Germany and over 11 other countries. And I even did some very minor shopping - some bases from Dino was all that I was looking forward to, and then somehow some more things ended up in my shopping cart. :)

My haul

I can't put it into all the words this event deserves, it was great to finally have a painting and community event again happening in Germany. I am currently in the aftermath of preparing updates for the website & going through the pictures we have taken of the event to also show you all the entries of the competition. Hope to see you at our next year's edition of the Bembel Miniature Cup.

Mark your calendars for the next Bembel Miniature Cup!

22.03.2025 - 23.03.2025

Happy and tired (back at home)

Of course we also handed out our Most Creative Award at this show. It went to Gabi for her beautiful interpretation of the Spira Mirabilis bust of Merlin & Arthur. Congratulations again!

MV Most Creative Award went to:
Merlin and Arthur (Spira Mirabilis)
A happy monkey crew
with our MV winner Gabi

SBS: Puss in Boots' Today

by Daniele "Found" Trovato

SBS: Puss in Boots' Today


Hey there!

This is Daniele :-) First of all, I apologize if I don't write on the blog as much as I'd like, but I'm pretty short on time, and there are plenty of sculptures to sculpt! :-)

I'm excited to share with you the story behind my latest creation: the Detective Cat in a NOIR style from the '20s and '30s!

It all started with my deep love for the Puss in Boots sculpture I made at the beginning of 2023. 
The first one had this 18th-century vibe, chilling on an old armchair with those iconic boots. It got such a fantastic response that many folks asked me to make more sculptures in a similar theme.

This got me thinking: if Puss in Boots were a character in today's world, what would he wear?

So I wanted to create the exact same character. So the same attitude, the same face.

I pictured him as an undercover detective, somewhere between James Bond and Mission Impossible. ahahahahhaha

The inspiration for this new creation struck me while rewatching Martin Scorsese's "The Untouchables."

Before I dive into the creation process, let me emphasize the importance of references in art.

Picasso said, 

"Good artists copy, great artists steal."

But I believe there's another quote that perfectly fits art:

"Nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, but everything transforms."

Some references used

In 2023, art is all about evolving thoughts and continuous transformation.

Now, let's talk about how I brought this sculpture to life.

I used a simple cork as a base, and I inserted pieces of steel wire.

Normally, I don't use steel because molding it into a shape can be tricky (especially if I need to cut some parts), but for this project, I wanted something straightforward, something anyone could paint without much hassle.

Next, I covered the structure with Super Sculpey Original (that pink modeling clay).

When you're creating the initial masses in a sculpture, "block-out" is crucial, and speed is your best friend in any art form.

That's why I adore water-based clay—it's incredibly soft initially, and as the water evaporates, it takes on a different consistency.

After laying down the first layer, I baked the sculpture in the oven for about an hour at 120°C (250°F). 

I highly recommend using a good-quality internal thermometer to monitor the Fimo's temperature during baking. .

I used one from Steadler, but you can find plenty on Amazon. 
My suggestion is: never fully trust your oven's temperature setting.

Then, I added the first masses to shape the cat.

My mix has stayed consistent over the years: 

My recipe: 50% Fimo Professional, 30% Super Sculpey Medium, 10% Beesputty, and 10% Mix Quick Steadler.

Remember my rule:
Less sticky --> less Beesputty and less Mix Quick --> More hardness --> more details
More sticky -> more Beesputty and more Mix Quick --> less hardness --> perfect for first masses

To prevent the material from sticking to the table while working, I always place a sheet of paper underneath.

For smoothing the surface, I use either turpentine or white spirit.

Finally, I baked the sculpture again using the same instructions as above. 

I hope you enjoy the final result as much as I enjoyed creating it.

Thanks for joining me on this artistic adventure.


Please consider to follow me on my site


We could watch the newest TV series on Netflix, instead, we're here to write articles for you!!
Support NOW Massive Voodoo!
If you like to support or thank the monkeys of Massive Voodoo for what they do, please feel invited to drop a jungle donation in their direction via PayPal or check the miniatures they got on sale here.

Tutorial: Miniature mounting system for transport boxes

by Andy

Hello everyone, 


it's Andy, again. The “Bembel Miniature Cup” is in sight and so that your projects arrive safely, I will show you today my concept for new inserts/trays in my transport box.

Before our recent trip to the Monte San Savino Show I thought a lot about how to transport my miniatures to Italy by plane. Security checks, hand luggage, and a wooden box with metal parts kept me awake. I needed a solution that could be presented during an security inspection without much effort and, ideally, required no tools for assembly and disassembly.

Just using Bluetac/Pattafix was too unstable for me and gluing it would have risked leaving residue. That's why I decided on fixing the miniatures (or better: their bases/plinths) to the carrier trays with screws. In order not to have to carry a screwdriver with me, I decided on a combination of screw-in sleeves, M4 set screws and knurled nuts (links as example). This means that the bases/plinths can be easily attached without tools.

Since time was running short before the trip, I simply used a wooden board and drilled holes (as you can see in the picture below). However, for going to the Bembel Miniature Cup, I will upgrade that to a wooden pegboard (hole diameter 5mm, spacing 15mm). One screw per base/plinth is sufficient for 28mm projects and busts. Multiple screws are only necessary for larger or heavier projects. 

A note on drilling

The fact that I had to drill holes into the plinths of finished projects for the trip to Monte made me a little uneasy. To avoid dust on the miniatures, I drilled very carefully and vacuumed while drilling, which worked very well.

For future projects, in preparation for screw-in sleeves, I will make sure to drill a hole in the base in advance if there is any chance that the miniature is to be transported. 


The security check at the airport was a breeze with very nice officials, the miniatures survived the journey perfectly and fixing and releasing them was very easy - all in all, the effort was worth it.

Thanks for reading and your interest. Feel invited to comment in the section below.