An Interview with Ichiban Painting

Not so long ago a chap popped up on my Twitter timeline with increasing regularity. A an eager hobby mentalist called Hugo, the man behind Ichiban Painting. Always one to promote all aspects of the wargaming community I thought I’d have a little chat with him…

TSC: For those that haven’t heard of Ichiban Painting tells us a bit about what you do and the motivation behind starting the business.

IP: I’m Hugo! I’m a miniature painter to keep it simple. I started modeling at a really young age and I was big into the military diorama scene. After many years I started to get bored with doing browns an OD greens  (That’s khaki to us Brits – TSC) and what not… But I wasn’t really interested in doing cars and aeroplanes, not really my cup of tea. One day a friend asked me if I could come with him to a hobby shop. A Games Workshop, as it turned out. It was the turning point in my hobby life. The models where really cool and along the lines of models I would like to do. Sure enough I returned to the shop the next day and bought loads of paints and some models. And that was the start. Since then I kept on painting and went to as many contests as I could. Doing so landed me my first commissions. Back then I was living in Canada so it was fairly easy to get commissions and paint. Life brought me to Japan, that’s where I did hit a wall. The Warhammer and 40k games are played here but it’s not as big as in the UK, Canada or the rest of the world. Finding work was harder, my reputation had to be rebuilt and I was struggling. For a couple of years I was just doing models for me and some old clients. Then I said why not go live on the web and see where it brings me! So in January 2012 I started what you guys know now as the Ichiban Painting Studio.

TSC: Having taken a stab at commission work myself I found painting other people’s models really killed my motivation to paint my own. What tips can you give fellow hobbyists to stay motivated on projects be it their own for painting for others?

IP: Man that’s a really hard question. It kills my motivation too. Normally when I’m deep in a project I need to take breaks. So that is when I go and paint a model for me. So I always plan my painting schedule so I have one or two days a week to do my stuff. That way I’m not hardcore on only one project. I think that’s a good way to change. But I still love doing it. Come on! I paint every single day.

TSC: Are you influenced by other people’s styles or techniques or do you develop and experiment with techniques on your own?

IP: Good question! (Thanks! – TSC) Actually I’ve learnt tonnes of techniques in modeling clubs when I was younger. Then starting in the GW world I tried to read all books I could find. I’m always looking for new technique and new ways to do things. I use other painters tricks and also experiment on my own. It’s really important to evolve as a painter and also modeller. I love going to Demonwinner, a site that has all the Golden Demon winner entries. That’s a good motivation to get better. I am currently learning and experimenting with molding and sculpting.

Best advice is if you think your skills are good don’t just stay there at that level; always try to evolve and get better.

TSC: Needless to say, you’re a big 40k fan; what attracted you to the universe and who is your army of choice, and why?

IP: I guess I ended up on the 40k side of things pretty quickly. My first GW model was a high elf model but I went to 40k right after. I was attracted by the coolness of the models and also the fact that it’s still along the lines of what I used to do in military dioramas. Over the years I fell in love with the whole universe with the books and art. I do want to try and do Warmachine but I guess I’m popular at painting 40k stuff so I get clients wanting those models painted. I’ve done my fair share of Warhammer Fantasy models but not since I went live on the web.

Army of choice…hmm…To paint I think all armies have good and bad points so I can’t say, I do a lot of Space Marines but I think my top 3 would be Space Marines, Grey knights and Eldar…or Tyranids. You see I can’t even decided that!

To play is another story. I only started to play about a year ago, I know the rules, universe, armies, weapons very very well but never had the chance to play before that. Now I play from time to time but I’m still busy with painting. My army is a Space Marine chapter. In French there’s an expression that goes like this ‘cordonnier mal chaussé’ it means that even if I’m a painter I don’t have painted minis.

TSC: What’s been your favourite project to date, either your own or someone else’s?

IP: I’ll say recently it would have been the Voltron themed dreadknight for @r3con on twitter. He won a contest of mine that I ran in February. Then he told me he wanted a themed dreadknight! So this project was nice because of the conversion, building/sculpting the base and the cool painting scheme.

TSC: What’s the one project you’d love to work on but haven’t yet had the chance?

IP: A Titan! (Word! – TSC) And guess what I ordered one last week? Ultimately I want to do the Eldar Phantom Titan but that bad boy with weapons is so expensive! So the next best thing was the Eldar Revenant. I would love to do an Imperial Titan too one day (I’ve done a couple. They’re awesome – TSC). Big models are such a challenge, building wise with the magnetization and also pining the model then you have a good base where you can do a crazy diorama. Painting them is also challenging since you can’t make mistake since its so big, if you do it will be so apparent.

TSC: For those that might like to hire you, on what basis to you accept commissions and how do they reach you?

IP: For commissions I always try to give good prices that people can afford but still offer a really high quality piece. I mostly take any type of projects. Of course I’m not the best at everything paint wise and I always let my customers know if I’m not comfortable with a project. As of now March 23rd 2012 I’m heavily booked but I could still do smaller side projects.

People can reach me via email at They can also come and talk to me on twitter @ichibanpainting, and lastly I post pictures of my work on Flickr and my website.

TSC: Hugo, it’s been a pleasure. Good luck with the Titan and I hope to see some pictures soon.