Miniature painting making it big

Transforming a hobby to a career

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Photos and story by ROY FANG

Jim Vesal caters to wargamers who prefer gaming or collecting over painting. Vesal, who received the hobby track award for his painted models in the 2019 International Tournament Circuit, paints tabletop miniatures in his Vancouver apartment for a living.

“I’d won quite a few awards that year regarding my painting so a lot of people knew me as both a fast painter and a good painter,” Vesal said.

Tabletop wargames involve players fielding dozens of painted miniature models to simulate combat versus another player’s force. Vesal, who has painted models since he was 12, was able to utilize his reputation to acquire a steady and returning client base for his business, Duplicity Paint Studios.

“Generally with my clients, if they liked my work they’ll continue to work with me on future projects, different projects, sometimes they’ll build on existing projects.”

Stefan H, an employee at Strategies Games and Hobbies, a Vancouver-based store that specializes in board games and tabletop games, said that some people enjoy painting models to relax.

“A lot of people enjoy the hobby just for the painting and not actually the gaming aspect,” he said.

Vesal previously worked in hospitality but painting has become his full-time job for the last six months. He plans to return to working in hospitality when he finds a role that appeals to him.

“[Painting is] a really good counterbalance to the chaos of hospitality,” Vesal said. “I can do it alone in the quiet and it’s chill. It’s no one else and it’s just me, whereas hospitality is the complete opposite.”

Vesal has recently finished his latest commissioned work, space marine Warhammer 40k models for a returning client who is from Florida.

Jim Vesal puts the finishing touches on a Soul Drinkers dreadnought
Vesal adds transfers and finishing touches to two space marine dreadnoughts on Nov. 28, 2023

 

A Space Marine terminator librarian next to a hand
A space marine terminator librarian painted as part of the client’s commission on Nov. 28, 2023

 

Tabletop miniatures are often designed on a small scale and require skilled hand-eye coordination to paint properly. The pieces to assemble the model are highly detailed and sometimes very delicate.

After finishing the space marines, Vesal then began work on another commission, Tyranid bugs for a client’s Warhammer 40k army.

Jim Vesal displaying boxes of Tyranids from Warhammer 40k he received from a client to work on
Vesal’s client sent him boxes of models and paid him to assemble and paint them on Nov. 28, 2023

 

Sprues of Tyranid models with an assembled Tyranid sitting on top
Unboxed model sprues and a painted model, all of which Vesal’s client wants him to paint. Taken on Nov. 28, 2023

 

Jim Vesal places texture on a base as he uses his computer for reference
Vesal creates a base for the miniatures while looking at a reference image of Zerg creeps from StarCraft on Nov. 28, 2023

 

Jim Vesal building Tyranid models for a client
Vesal clipping parts off a Tyranid sprue on Nov. 28, 2023

 

Jim Vesal gluing together Tyranid models for a client
Vesal assembling parts together on Nov. 28, 2023

 

In his free time between commissions, Vesal works on personal painting projects to destress. These projects include his new and growing Warhammer 40k Aeldari army and figurines of his favourite video game characters.

Teal-coloured Aeldari warriors
Vesal’s Aeldari aspect warriors for his personal force on Nov. 28, 2023

 

Jim Vesal's Aeldari army
Vesal’s Aeldari army on his shelf on Nov. 28, 2023

 

A teal-coloured Avatar of Khaine from Warhammer 40k
The Avatar of Khaine, one of Vesal’s favourite models he has painted. Taken on Nov. 28, 2023

 

A teal-coloured Jain Bar from Warhammer 40k
Jain Zar, another model of Vesal’s that is also his favourite. Taken on Nov. 28, 2023

 

A figurine of Y'shtola Rhul from Final Fantasy 14
A 3d-printed figurine of Y’shtola Rhul from Final Fantasy 14 painted by Jim Vesal. Taken on Nov. 28, 2023

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