UK Golden Demon 2022 – An Interview with nerodine on his Golden Demon Debut

October’s Golden Demon held in the UK was special for two reasons: it was the first held in the country for a few years due to the pandemic and marked the 35th anniversary of the competition. 

Soggy and Bair were on the ground and are here with a series of articles and interviews showing different aspects and perspectives of the event. For a bit of history or context, click here.

We caught up with Dave at Golden Demon to get his perspective as a first time entrant to the competition and thoughts on the hobby in general.


GH: Could I get you to introduce yourself, and tell us what’s brought you to Golden Demon this weekend?

Nerodine: Sure. So I’m Dave, aka Nerodine. It’s my first Golden Demon – I had planned to come in 2020 but then 2020 got in the way. So when tickets went up, I was resolved to make sure I could actually come here, and I wanted to see my figures in the cabinet.

GH: How has it been? How are you feeling? And what’s it been like seeing your figures in the cabinet next to everything else?

Nerodine: I can sum it up as amazing, just pretty simply. The standard of entries, the variety, the innovation, the creativity, the colour palettes just on everything, they’re just fantastic to look at. You’re coming away with a million ideas for projects next year.

Seeing your figures in the cabinet, not big on ego, but it’s very exciting. And somebody, I think it was Darren Latham, said, “Be part of it. Come to these events. Put something in the cabinet. Participate.” It’s an old thing, but just be part of the enjoyment. Get yourself in there and just have fun with it.

GH: That’s awesome. What was your initial motivation for entering Golden Demon?

Nerodine: I paint a lot for myself, just for playing sort of high tabletop standard. And one of the things I wanted to do was start to push myself, get better and deliver character pieces which have more interest, and which were simply better painted. I find if I have a deadline for something, which terrifies me slightly, then it motivates me to actually want to get it done and actually produce better work.

White Dwarf 113. Credit – Games Workshop

GH: What initially got you into the hobby and at what point did competitive painting really get on the radar?

Nerodine: Gosh, White Dwarf 113 – so that was, I’d imagine, ’89 or somewhere round about there. They just released a new Rhino kit, and a friend of mine handed me the magazine in school, and I just went, “I don’t know what this is, but I need it.” And that was back when you could get a box of three Rhinos for a tenner. Good luck getting that now.

And I just went, “I need to go out and buy these. I need to build these. These are amazing.” They really interested me, so I got into 40K/Rogue Trader as a result of that. It was a lot of fun. Just creating characters, barely playing, just sort basically putting your face in the lore and the excitement to just looking at the universe at being built.

Competitive painting really is only something I’ve looked at the last two, three years. Before that, it was a case of paint an army, get an army on the table, play an army. And then over time, life, family, work and the rest of it became, “Okay, I don’t have time to paint 3,000 points, 4,000 points for an army. Necromunda looks good, that’s 10 figures. I can do that.” – I’m going to play those 10 figures for six months, so that felt like a more achievable standard.

Nerodine’s entry at Eindhoven. Credit – @nerodine (twitter/ig)

And then I was like, “Well, I should be trying to see how I compare against other people.” So I went to the Scale Model Challenge in Eindhoven in 2019, which is an amazing European event. It’s not just GW, it’s a huge range of fantasy, historical, military, incredible range of stuff, thousands of entries on shelves. It’s like a huge hall filled with other people’s models. And I just came away really excited about seeing these things. And seeing friends entries being rewarded for being great was brilliant. And I was like, “I quite like that. That’d be really nice.”

So I thought I’d put myself in and sort of see how I can do. And I find it really helps to push myself. It’s not me versus other people, it’s me versus me from last year.

GH: Would you say that painting’s always been the main focus of your hobby, or has that changed over time?

Nerodine: I would say painting has been the main focus. I take an enormous amount of solace from finishing work for a day, sitting down and being able to paint and having a tangible output from my free time. I work in computers all day, so being able to put the computer away for a day and just sort of sit down and do something which is not on the computer, so that’s really nice.
And my kids are into it now as well, which is brilliant, so we can have a painting day on a Saturday, where everyone just sits round and we just talk and they want to paint stuff.

It’s fascinating to see already how they think about painting in a completely different way to how we were doing it, where we had a Mike McVey painting guide was the only reference thing. And they’re like, “Just look on something on YouTube.” It’s like, “What?” Fantastic.

Nerodine’s GD2022 entry. Credit – @nerodine (twitter/ig)

GH: It’s amazing how far we’ve come and things have changed in that regard. Could you talk us through your entry for this weekend?

Nerodine: Sure. It’s a three man Inquisitor and his retinue 40K squad. It’s the Inquisitor Erasmus model, and I built a slave Ogryn from the Necromunda pack. And I got one of the hired guns from Necromunda. Made three of them. I actually planned to do five or six figures, but time, procrastination, deadlines, and trying to push the quality of the other ones meant that I ran out of time, so I just put them on simple bases and then put them in. But I tried to set a color palette, so one’s more sort of yellow, one’s more orange, one’s more red, so you get a nice analogous color scheme between them. And then tried to create connecting points, so painted liquids on two of them in the same style so they tie together. The Ogryn’s got an Inquisitor symbol tattoo on top of his head, so he ties back to the Inquisitor.
But it was good fun. It’s the best I’ve painted, so I’m incredibly pleased with the output. And I’d like to go home now and sort of add a few more characters into that war band just as a side project.

Credit – @nerodine (twitter/ig)

GH: Was there anything specific with the choice of model for your entry that you’re wanting to highlight or…

Nerodine: I was inordinately pleased with the fact I managed to get some nice lighting effects on the Inquisitor and his sword, and he’s stabbing a book in the model, which is kind of amazing. But I didn’t like the way they’d being sculpted so I filled it all in, sanded it back, and then I painted it more as a chaotic tome so I could get more detailed on that. It’s literally impossible to see unless you’re sort of standing over it and you sort of tilt it and look at it from top down. But I was very pleased with that.
Some of the lighting effects I’ve got in there in terms of the quality of material, so you can turn it, it’s super shiny. There’s also some textural leather. So I was quite pleased with that.

GH: As it’s your first Golden Demon, how long did it take you to decide on that entry and that concept? Was it something you’ve always had in mind or…

Nerodine: No. Two months ago, I started painting a metal Eldar Seer Council as my original project. I felt I was at a standard now where I could paint the original Eldar figures well enough. So I was like, “This is quite exciting now. So I started painting, but I was just rubbing paint off. Even though they were on a base, every time I turned around I just seemed to pull paint off. And I can’t do this anymore.

Seer Council WIP. Credit – @nerodine (twitter/ig)

So three and a half weeks ago I bought three figures, sanded them down, primed them, and I started painting them as like my plan B. I decided on the project in an evening just from what I had in the cupboard, so not ideal. The lack of preparation, I would say, definitely counted against me, because I couldn’t tell the same narrative.

I mean, you go around the shelves and you see the entries, the ones that excite are the ones which have got a story, not just the backdrops, but the ones where there’s interaction between the characters. You can tell there is an event in progress. Those are the ones which are getting people really excited, and those are the ones getting commendations and pins. So next year’s entries, I will try to plan a little bit better.

GH: While you’ve been working on your entry, how do you deal with hobby burnout?

Nerodine: Wow. Pacing. One thing I find is I don’t paint well after about 10 o’clock at night. I feel there’s a diminishing returns thing. Simply spending an incredible number of hours is not a guarantee of quality level.

I was spending an average of… My projects have been 60 hours in three and a half weeks, so that’s just over two hours average a day. So I could sit down, put the kids to bed, sit down, eight o’clock till 10 o’clock and paint, and that was sort of my average through the three and a half weeks. Because there’s a certain point where you’re just noodling. You’re just pushing paint around and there’s no change or progress. You’re not materially impacting or improving anything, you’re just spending an extra hour on the figure because you have an extra hour. I sort of pushed myself to avoid the fatigue by focusing and setting myself limits.

And also remembering to stand up, right? Because your legs atrophy as you’re sitting. But as soon as I found myself moving from a nice position where the model was arm’s length in front of me, painting, to my shoulders being hunched while I’m painting, that’s time to stop.

GH: Did you find yourself working on anything else while you were working on this or…

Nerodine: To my surprise, no. My work in progress desk is an absolute shit show. I’ve got 40 or 50 figures on it, and I ignored all of them. I was very proud of myself for a grown man. It felt like the hobby equivalent of eating greens. So it was the only thing I painted for that period.

GH: So with your entry, how did you know when to stop?

Nerodine: Because I got to Thursday night and I was traveling on Friday morning. Looking at it now, and with the benefit of seeing other entries, I could’ve spent another 50 or 100 hours on it. But I think it’s important that you go, “I’m satisfied with what I’ve produced.”

There’s always something more you can do. If you talk to the painters who are sitting on those top shelves with their commended entries, they will tell you that it’s not perfect. They’ll tell you that an extra week, they’d have repainted part of it. Nobody is ever producing the perfect figure. There might be two or three which are really close here, but they’ll always go, “Oh, there’s something else I could’ve changed.” And you just have to reach where you’re satisfied.

Nerodine’s Scrap Demon entry. Credit – @nerodine (twitter/ig)

GH: So in terms of advice for those getting into painting, what would you say your biggest painting shortcut or cheat is? Do they exist?

Nerodine: Use a bigger brush. Any model you’re painting. We did the Scrap Demon/Hobby Challenge yesterday and while we were painting those models, I was using a large dry brush for most of my painting – just to put colour on fast. You get paint onto a model. It applies even if you’re painting a storm cast. Pick a storm cast, you’re going to paint most of it in one color because it’s armoured. Or you’re painting an orc, so mostly going to be green. Get a large brush, put the colour on, don’t… Just keep the paint thin. Right? Don’t make it too wet so it’s running everywhere, right? And just put it on. It’ll go fast. You’ve got a base coat on something in five or 10 minutes. You don’t need to go, “I spent three hours base coating it.” Put the paint on the figure.

Watch less YouTube tutorial videos and spend more time practicing, or if you’ve got them on, make it a background activity, and paint, because you’ll only learn more by practicing what you’ve been watching on your videos. So that would be my recommendation.

Credit – @nerodine (twitter/ig)

GH: Is there any technique or a skill that you wish that you had picked up sooner when you were painting, when you were first getting into it?

Nerodine: I think one of the biggest helps has been understanding better how non-metallic metals work. Because in order to sell the effect, you have to understand the shape of what you are painting. So you don’t paint the underside the same brightness as the upper surface if your light source is above you. That helps you sort of sell to the audience what your figure looks like, and for them to understand what you’re giving them.

This material is like this. But then that comes back over to all your other materials as well. So you sell a piece of cloth by having lighter against the darker with the contrast of it.
But also understanding that these are only figures. Most of these are plastic. Paint is

incredibly thin. All of this is reversible. All of this could be fixed and undone. Put the paint down and try something. Don’t sort of sit there in fear that your first brushstroke is going to be wrong. Just get it on there and don’t worry about correcting yourself.

GH: Now that you’ve made it here, what advice would you give to anyone else considering entering Golden Demon for the first time?

Nerodine: Please, please come along. Please, please, please come along. Put your figure in the cupboard, in the cabinet. Be excited about it. Talk to the other painters. If you see something in the cabinet that you love and you happen to see the painter who’s there, go and talk to them. Go and tell them, “I’ve just seen your piece and that’s amazing.”
This is a space where you can get excited about it and everybody else here understands why you’re excited. Whereas when you’re at home with your family, unless you’re in a big hobby family, most people are like, “That’s lovely, Dad.” You’re in a space with 500 people who are all equally excited to be here. Talk to them. Just enjoy the time. Have a fun weekend with it, but put something in the cabinet.

Credit – @nerodine (twitter/ig)

GH: Did you suffer a lot from imposter syndrome with considering entering, and how did you overcome that?

Nerodine: No, because I know I’m not as good as the other painters. The standard is remarkable. So I was just pleased that the me of this weekend is better than me of a month ago, who is better than me of a year ago. I find you should be looking at the work of other painters to inspire and motivate, not to depress you.

Get excited about what they’ve done, and get curious about what they’ve done as well, so you can go, “That’s a great technique.” Talk to them on Instagram. A lot of the time some people will say, “Sign up for my Patreon,” but most of them will go, “Thanks. I did this,” or, “I did that.” Some of them are giving you tutorials on there as well. Go and learn. Go and try what they’re doing. Emulate it. And so many people are willing to share what they do in the hobby.

GH: It’s amazing how approachable some of the people are out there.

Nerodine: Right. Right. I mean, it’s just a great bunch of humans.

GH: Lastly, where is the best place that our readers can find you online and see more of your pieces and work?

Nerodine: If you want to see any of my work, I’m Nerodine and that’s me on Twitter. That’s me on Instagram.

There is no Patreon. And I certainly don’t have an Onlyfans.

GH: Onlyhams maybe…