Shrewsbury game enthusiast blends hobby with vocation

By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer

One of Dalton Ryan’s intricate models in the Wargaming collection

Dalton Ryan (Photos/submitted)

Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury resident Dalton Ryan first learned about the strategy challenge of “Wargaming” as a kid on vacation in Scotland. The miniature figurine game pieces looked “cool” to him. Playing a demo game there piqued his curiosity of the lore of the universe, reading books, and online investigation. Little did he know his interest would lead not only to his becoming a full-fledged Wargaming hobbyist, but also a commissioned artist who gets paid to skillfully paint the intricately designed game pieces.

According to Ryan, Wargaming generally involves rolling dice, comparing statistics, inflicting damage on units or removing models as casualties over the course of the game. There are missions, all with different rules.

Most Wargaming missions have a point or power system to rank the model’s worth when constructing the army which helps players understand their budget when building a force. Players need to develop their own army, with painting and assembling the pieces being a necessity for play.

After graduating from high school Ryan got a job where he earned enough money to invest in the hobby full-force.

“I bought paints, brushes, soldiers – the whole shebang – and retreated to ‘the command bunker’ as I called it,” he said, “which was code to my mom for ‘I’m going to paint in the basement.’”

He started with a few boxes of guardsmen and a command squad, and began picking up box after box of additional troops, heavy weapons and tanks, until his army grew massive.

Soon, Ryan had so many pieces, he sought a painter to help him complete his array models. The person he employed sent back broken models, lazy paint mistakes, and construction errors. Ryan restored his game pieces and began advertising himself as model painter. He figured if that guy can get paid for sloppy work, he should be able to make twice the amount he paid.

Ryan’s first commissions were from friends. He started with a lower rate, racked up a few hundred dollars and received positive feedback from his customers. He’s since set up an Etsy shop, Zer0LifeStudios, for his commissioned work. He’s gained several commissioned contracts, plus he’s received an international bid to paint 50 models.

Although Ryan is thrilled to be devoting time to commissioned work, he remains a big fan of playing the game. He believes it’s a great hobby that anyone can get involved in. The best part, he noted, is the game’s ability to get people to socialize.

“I feel a lot of people in these [gaming] hobbies have those odd social phobias because these are our escape outlets or this is what we do for fun rather than something like sports,” he said. “We’re all people, though, and I love nothing more than showing people the awesome worlds of our various hobby shops and getting more people involved.”

Now that Ryan has turned his passion into a vocation, he’s happy at play and at work.

“I love painting, and I love the game, so being able to help other people enjoy their time playing the game with pretty models, which I get paid to produce, is like a dream come true,” he said.

To do his work at the highest level, he cuts models from sprues, removes sprue lines and excess material, and assembles and magnetizes models for ease of switching out various weapons. He gives models a base coat, and then applies sand, gravel and little tufts of grass. He typically uses three colors, a base, a layer and wash coat; and sometimes a fourth color for drybrush/highlight work. Finally, he adds full facial details, teeth, nails, even custom freehand painting for certain patterns.

Ryan’s commission work came about at the right time in his life. He lost his father in April and his job as well. He felt directionless and retreated into his hobby completely. He went full speed into painting, building and all the details.

“After a few weeks, I found it was a pretty good method to cope with the grief, because it gave me something focus on and clear my head,” he said. “From there it just grew…you find some of the best source of inspiration from the weirdest circumstances.”

Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=91764

Posted by on Aug 11 2017. Filed under Byline Stories, Neighbors in the news, People and Places, Shrewsbury. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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