This week I interviewed my favorite person in the whole world: my husband, Greg Principato, Jr. We share a passion for gaming and crafting. My crafting is typically chainmaille or paper crafts, but Greg has been doing games crafting since he was a kid. Here’s our craft room:

To Play Is Human: What kinds of hobby crafting do you do?
Greg Principato: I paint miniatures for board games, role playing games, and tabletop miniature wargames.  I assembled papercraft terrain and buildings for role playing games and tabletop miniature war games. Extending my papercraft skill, I assembled some print and play games. I have also used foam core to create board game inserts and a card tray.

Tzolk’in, Czech Games — Greg painted all the gears on the game board.

TPIH: How did you get into crafting for games?
Greg: It started when I was young. My dad played historic tabletop miniature wargames and started me on first edition AD&D when I was about 6. I got into painting minis when I was a little older and even made some money painting ancient Celts and Romans for his friends. I also got into making custom spears and pikes out of brass rods for minis.
In High School, it was Blood Bowl and more D&D.
I fell out of painting for a while and primarily played board games but got back into it with Warmachine and Hordes. It was at this time I found an interest in papercraft buildings for wargame terrain. That led to an interest in crafting with foam core and print and play games.

Warmachine – Cygnar – Gun Mages and Black 13th (More photos here.)

TPIH: What do you enjoy about painting miniatures?
Greg: The act of painting can be a nice retreat from the world. When I’m working on any crafting, there is an intense focus on what I’m working on. There are all these little variables that your mind is consciously or subconsciously taking into account: the color and shade, shadows and highlights, the flow of the paint, its translucence, the spring of the brush, the way the hairs of the brush move. My mind escapes into this tiny space, the world scales down to match the mini, and while sometimes the technique I’m doing might be a little stressful, the entire process is calming.
To add, there is something about a world in miniature that I just love to see so when a set of minis are done, it’s fulfilling. I have a long-term desire to do more crafting and use some of my collection of unpainted minis to do dioramas.
Considering all this, it probably comes as no surprise that I’ve spent much more time painting minis than using them for gaming.

Gloomhaven Painted Minis
Gloomhaven – Brute and Scoundrel
Gloomhaven Painted Minis
Gloomhaven – Brute and Scoundrel. Inox symbol added to the Brute’s shield during the paint job.
Gloomhaven – Tinkerer and Mindthief
Gloomhaven – Summoner: Greg modded this figure to look like the character art. He removed the left hand and attached a portal.
Gloomhaven – Summoner: Greg modded this figure to look like the character art. He removed the left hand and attached a portal.

TPIH: What are a few of your favorite projects so far?

  • Pathfinder Vindicator (Reaper). It was my first time trying some freehand painting (sword emblem on cloak). (More photos here.)


  • Hordes Circle Orboros. I love this theme and had fun with making the front arcs on the bases. (More photos here.)



TPIH: What does your workspace look like? What tools to you keep within reach?
Greg: Snap blades, Exacto knife; Jeweler’s files; Paint brushes (primarily sizes 1 and 2); Paint (mostly Privateer P3).

Current project: The Grimm Forest, Druid City Games

TPIH: What advice would you give to someone thinking about getting into miniatures painting as a hobby?
Greg: Be patient. Less is often more. Don’t get discouraged. Experiment.
I have a tough time with the above. I’ll have a vision of what I want a piece to end up as but I don’t have the skill set to get there. I’ve found that my morale is higher if I just paint pieces to a point I can call complete and then move onto a new project.
Don’t worry about setting aside practice pieces. They are all practice pieces. Your skill improves with each piece. You can improve some by reading about techniques but your hands still need to go through those motions and your mind has to learn from it.
My biggest fear is screwing up a piece but it’s important to remember that it’s just paint. Don’t like how something turned out? Just paint over it, or strip it down and start fresh, or wrap up the work on it and move onto the next piece.
Less is often more. When painting, it’s easy to get lost in the scale of the mini. Remember to pause and hold the mini at some distance. It’s easy to spend too much time on details that might not be relevant when the mini is on the table and the viewer isn’t touching their nose to it.
Read up on tutorials that are out there. There is a wealth information available by people in the hobby. You can see what you like and don’t like and understand how they achieved those effects.
Oh, and don’t confuse your drink with your paint rinse cup.

Mage Knight, WizKids – Greg painted the towers in the game.

TPIH: What are three tutorial sources that you have found helpful?
Greg: Hand Cannon OnlineArcane PaintworksCool Mini or Not

Cryx – Rolling Bones Goreshade the Bastard & Deathwalker (More photos here.)

TPIH: What are your current favorites in these categories?
Recently played game: Gloomhaven
Mechanic: Worker Placement
Theme: Fantasy
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Illustrator and/or Sculptor: Peter Mohrbacher, Thomas David


Do you have a tabletop gaming project that you’ve created? Contact me with some information and photos. No project is too big/small — as long as you made it yourself and you use it when you game, it is eligible for submission! I would love to see projects for board game upgrades and accessories, RPGs, miniatures (I would love to see mini paint jobs!), terrain, dice towers, custom playmats, custom dice, or anything else you have made.

4 Thoughts on “DIY Crafty Gamer, Issue 11”

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