Behind The Board Games: Sébastien Lavigne, Professional Painter

May 23, 2019 by brennon

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We were very lucky enough to find some time to talk to an utterly fantastic painter from within the industry. Sébastien Lavigne is now probably best known for his work on the Mythic Games range including Time Of Legends: Joan Of Arc, Solomon Kane, and Reichbusters: Projekt Vril.

Behind The Board Games: Sébastien Lavigne, Professional Painter

Come and join us for a chat with him below and look at some of his superb work within the tabletop industry.

Ben: When did you first know you wanted to be a miniature painter?

Seb: I don’t think we can choose to be a miniature painter. We are, or we are not. Even if we do not know it yet! So, search inside yourself!

B: Which other painters out there are an inspiration to you?

S: There are so many names that I can’t be exhaustive trying to remember them all! The very first one was without a doubt the legendary Mike McVey when he was part of the Games Workshop painting team. I think he has contributed to democratising miniature painting via accessible processes.

Joan Of Arc Dragon - Seb Lavigne

The old Rackham painting team are still a great inspiration to me due to their fantastic job with the Confrontation miniature range. It is mostly because of them that I am constantly willing myself to improve my painting skills to higher and higher levels.

Nowadays, I’m extremely impressed by the Spanish painting community which is bringing something new and extremely interesting to the profession.

B: Of all of the miniatures that you've worked on, which one has been your favourite?

S: It’s a tough question, but I think it was the very first figure I did for Mythic Games. The Black Prince for Joan Of Arc. I had never painted a 15mm scale figure before and I was a bit uncomfortable that my first paint job for this company was going to be such a small one (with obviously less surface area to achieve something really spectacular!).

The Black Prince - Seb Lavigne

All those fears went away as soon as I started working on it and I really enjoyed the experience. Painting a miniature at this scale is no harder than a 28mm scale one and, in the end, spectacular effects are just faster to achieve!

B: Is there a specific genre and scale of miniature that you really enjoy working on (Fantasy, Sci-Fi etc)?

S: I think that any genre and scale bring great things to the fore but I’m very much a fantasy painter. In my eyes, a sword is more interesting to paint than a machine-gun. Fantasy also brings magical effects which mean loads and loads of nice uses of colours!

B: Can you tell us a little bit about your painting process and how you get started on a miniature?

S: It can be obvious, but the first thing I’m doing is looking at the miniature and dreaming about who it is. What is the character’s personality? What are they doing? What is their history? What is the kind of terrain around him going to be like?

Solomon Kane - Seb Lavigne

Most of the time, answering these questions leads to a colour scheme. Then, I apply the bases colours on any parts of the miniature, checking the contrasts, harmony, etc. If I’m not happy with the result, it is still easy to change. Once I’m ok with the basic colours, I can start the regular shading/highlighting work on every element.

B: What would be your advice to others aspiring to break into the industry as professionals?

Why the hell would anyone want to get into this mess haha?! Seriously though, understand that this is a tough environment where competition is fierce. Many people will try to obstruct you, for the sake of interest or simply their own ego. In short, you have to be very determined and passionate but also have a little bit of business sense. Finally, you also need a lot of luck!

Archangel Gabriel - Seb Lavigne

Once everything is said and done however, painters with the best careers are the guys that are more a source of solutions than a source of problems for their clients. Try and be the answer rather than a riddle for a client!

B: How about regular painters; do you have any tips to help the average person sitting down to paint miniatures for the first time?

S: Don’t be afraid and have fun. You’re not going to ruin your miniature. If you’re not happy with what you did, you can just repaint it! If the paint is too thick, there are many ways to remove acrylic paints from a plastic figure. Feel free to work and play around, making mistakes as you go, its the very best way to learn!

B: What have been some of the stumbling blocks you’ve encountered when working in the industry?

S: Probably my lack of notoriety (in the best way possible) at the beginning of my career. The miniature industry is a really small environment where everyone knows everyone and it's really hard to be taken seriously if you do not have good relationships.

B: What was your first encounter with tabletop games?

S: It was in the early '90s, during a trip to Los Angeles, California. I stumbled upon a gaming store. I was first attracted by the miniatures in the window but when I went inside the shop I was stunned by a group of big guys gathered around a table.

Gulka - Seb Lavigne

On this table were armies of beautifully painted characters launching an assault on an incredibly detailed fortress standing in the middle of a handmade landscape. Players rolled dice and checked distances with measuring tapes. It was like a slap in my face and I instantly knew I wanted to do the same thing!

B: Are there any games that you're currently playing and enjoying?

S: I'm still a fan of Games Workshop games and I'm trying to keep time to advance the Warhammer: Age Of Sigmar campaign I started with some buddies. We hope to finally give Warhammer Underworld a go as well as CMON's HATE.

B: Can you tell us if you have any cool projects lined up for this year?

S: I'm going to have mountains of figures to paint so it will obviously be cool! At Mythic Games, I'm going to have a lot to do on this year's projects, including Super Fantasy Brawl and Hel: The Last Saga.

Magore's Fiends - Seb Lavgine

I'd love to get some time to paint more miniatures from the Solomon Kane range. The models are mind-blowing and it's a shame that so many of them have never been painted!

For my own collection, I hope to find time to paint one or two tribes for HATE, finish the painting of Blackstone Fortress, start work on some warbands for Warhammer Underworld and maybe to start an army for A Song Of Ice & Fire, the miniatures for which are very nice indeed. If I can do all that, it'll be great!

B: What do you think we can expect from the industry in the coming year?

S: I hope to see more games and always a higher quality of product! The industry is changing rapidly and is becoming more and more professional.

I feel like the amount of publishers is growing faster than the number of gamers sometimes too. So, maybe can we expect big publisher's attempting to popularise more miniature games with a new audience?

What is one of your favourite models that Seb has painted?

"Why the hell would anyone want to get into this mess haha?!"

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"I hope to find time to paint one or two tribes for HATE, finish the painting of Blackstone Fortress, start work on some warbands for Warhammer Underworld and maybe to start an army for A Song Of Ice & Fire...."

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