Artist Spotlight: Sergio Calvo

Artist Spotlight: Sergio Calvo

If you searched for new models to add to your collection, looked for new Kickstarted releases, or just browse the web for inspiration. Chances are you stumbled upon works made by Sergio Calvo. This one-man painting machine has done Box Art for several CoolMiniOrNOt releases. Painted eyecatching Dark Fantasy and Sci-Fi sculpts for Blacksun Miniatures. Painted several iconic Infinity The Game Characters for the Luxumbra range. Not to mention painting Samuel L. Jackson as a space marine. All of this, on top of doing miniature painting streams, making painting tutorials, and hosting lessons for those who are eager to learn. His actions show a commendable work ethic. And he has an extensive portfolio and prestigious awards like The Crystal Brush to show for it.

About The Art

When you look at Sergio Calvo’s works two things immediately stand out. The first one is his technical knowledge and understanding of lights, shadows, and textures. The second is how vibrant and colorful his works are. Sergio shows a clear understanding of the color theory and utilizes it to the max. It doesn’t matter if he paints a vibrant diorama set in the daylight or a dark and dull throne room. It will be full of meaningful colors, regardless. Color is just another storytelling tool for him. A good example is his 2017 Crystal brush entry ‘Space Wolf’. It sets a dark cold atmosphere just by color choice alone.

The Interview

– How would you describe what you do for people who don’t know?
– My name is Sergio Calvo and I am a professional miniature painter. My job is to make box art or covers of miniatures for companies, basically, it would be like making posters or covers that we see in the cinema. But, in this particular case, it is about showing the potential of the miniature through the paint job. I work for companies, Kickstarter campaigns, and personal projects for collectors. My work is very versatile, as it depends mainly on the miniature to work on. For me, every project is a work of art so I always try to give the best of myself.

Fairy by Aradia Miniatures

– How did your painting journey begin?
– The first thing I did was Warhammer. I played with my friends and family since I was a teenager. What I liked the most at that time was playing games and painting armies, both mine and those of my friends. Later, when I was eighteen years old, I started working in a store in Madrid. My job was to paint armies and historical soldiers. At that time, 16 years ago, I almost exclusively used oils. I find it very curious that they are so popular nowadays. A year later, I started working for another company and it was there where I met the world of fantasy miniatures. I think it caught my attention from the first moment because I have always been a very creative person. These miniatures allowed me to play more with color and express my creativity, something I have always been passionate about.
Cerberus by Ariadna MIniatures


– Do you have any experience in traditional art or did it all start with miniature painting?
– I have always liked artistic disciplines, especially drawing and coloring. I studied art, so I have been trained in technical drawing, art history, and color theory. Later, I finished my training in private academies. I was also self-educated through books and above all, painting for many hours throughout the day. I believe that training followed by practice is the best way to learn. That has always been my mindset and today that is what I try to teach to my students.

– Looking at your works, it’s clear that you mastered color theory. Is that something that came to you naturally or did you study it?
– I studied it in art classes and through color theory books. For example, I always recommend books by James Gurney and Betty Edwards to my students to get started and to go deeper into color theory. I also use great painters of history such as Caravaggio, Rubens, Velázquez, for references. It is important to understand that all artistic training is important because they serve as a basis for developing a more personal style.
– Are there any particular inspirations for your paint works? (other artists, books, movies, etc.)
– Yes, using references from other mediums and artists is an excellent way to learn styles, use of colors, and ways of replicating different materials. I have many illustrations books in my studio, for example, a book by Paul Bonner, or The Art of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But, not everything can be found in books, nowadays we can look for references on sites like Deviantart, Pinterest, or Instagram.
-The term Spanish Style started appearing more and more in recent years. In your opinion, is there such a thing as a Spanish Style of painting miniatures?
– Everyone is always looking to develop a personal style that is recognizable. Right now in Spain, we have a lot of very recognizable styles that many people can easily identify because their creators have been able to show their knowledge in a simple and specific way. I believe that not hiding anything from the students is key for them to learn and develop their personal style. I don’t know if it can be called Spanish Style because in the end each artist is an individual and has his own characteristics. But, I can say that many of my students told me anecdotes that their works started to resemble the way my own works are painted. These comments make me feel very proud because they mean that I am doing my job well. Teaching from my point of view and helping them to develop their own style.
Progress made by one of Sergio’s students
– In your video on the color theory you talk a lot about the CMYK color wheel. What made you choose it over the traditional RGB color wheel?  
– I made this video precisely because many of my students wanted to know what is the logic behind the color theory that I use. Actually, the color theory is too complex to explain in a few sentences. The fact of using CMYK instead of RGB is very simple, our eyes do not emit light instead they capture it (that’s why monitors use RGB and printers use CMYK).

– How much pre-planning do you do for your models. Are all the painting steps planned in advance or do you improvise a lot when painting?
– Before starting to paint, the first thing I do is search for references and plan both the color scheme and the environment in which the miniature is going to be. This allows me to know where I want to go and how to paint the miniature. I don’t set time limits for this phase because depending on the project it can take a few hours or several days. For me, it is always essential to find references, from the feathers on an owl to the makeup I want to do on a female face.
Then, I sit down to paint with a clear idea. I like to try and improvise but I always follow a logical order. For example, for me, it doesn’t make much sense to use glazes at the beginning of a project. I see it as a finishing step for when I have the miniature 90% finished. I like to play and improvise the most with the bases. I think that the variety of materials we have today allows us to create incredible sceneries (dioramas or settings).

Elf from World of Warcraft

– There are no limits on how much time you can spend on a model. How can you determine when the work is finished?
– I think this is the most difficult part for everyone. You can always work more and more on a miniature but we have to finish it when we feel happy with the result. I think a mistake that many people make when they start in the hobby is precisely not to finish a miniature or to leave it half-finished. If we have reached a point where we say “that’s it, I like it” we can move on to the next miniature. If we reach a point where we think “I don’t know how to continue” it is also a good point to finish. The important thing is that we paint and that we finish the model whether we are happy with the result or not. That is when we can look back at all the miniatures we have done up to that moment, and we can appreciate the evolution we had from the first to the last model. That is when we become aware of how much we have learned, how much we have evolved. It is not so much a question of determining the ideal moment to finish the miniature, but that we are happy with both the process and the result.

– Do you have any fun stories about miniature painting?
– I have some very funny ones. The one that comes to my mind is one day, during a plane trip, a person recognized me and we were talking about my work. The funny thing is that after chatting for a while I kept thinking “I know him and I don’t know how”. Turns out that after he told me his name I realized that I was also a big fan of his. It was a very funny and curious moment. Because he liked my work and I considered myself a big fan of his.

– I noticed that your videos answer a lot of questions about miniature painting and yourself. How do you decide what to cover in your videos? Are they based on your observations, or do you cover questions that you receive from your viewers?
– I always try to answer the questions that people often ask me in the comments, on social media, or questions that my students ask me during classes. I always try to write down all the questions. Because on many occasions I can take for granted that it is something that everyone knows. I also like to speak from a personal point of view, telling about my experience throughout all my professional years. I think that combining questions and experience is a good way to help everyone to learn and above all to improve.

One of Sergios classes

– Last question. What’s the one thing that any miniature painter needs to know how to do?
– I think the first thing is to understand is that nothing is set in stone. It is not necessary to always thin your paints, lick the brush, or paint your finger to sharpen the tip of the brush in order to be a great painter. On many occasions, I have seen that type of mindset in my students simply because other people are doing it. I always say that if they are comfortable doing it, that’s great, but it’s not necessary to know. To improve they have to practice, enjoy what they are doing, and above all, have fun. That is my philosophy and what I always try to transmit to everyone.


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