25 Feb 2013

L2E's Tyranid Project Log - Part 3 - Batch Painting (ugh)...

Terrible, just terrible.
Hey guys, JT here with another update to L2E's Tyranid Project Log; where I will, unfortunately, be discussing batch painting and I will be sharing some tips and tricks to get those large blobs of critters/ 'umies painted in record time and to a decent standard.

Click the 'read more' link to view the article.

   So here we are; we've run out of time to paint the big bad boys which are oh so much fun and we need to grind out dozens of nearly - identical little guys to fill the ranks of our army/swarm/warband/ WAAAAAAAGH and it really can be a bore for even the most enthusiastic painter - not only that it can be terribly time consuming when you factor in drying times and the like. I decided to begin painting a host of Termagants - 20 at the same time - to take a break from the big monsters until I can get me hands on a spray gun. That might be a bit of a shock to many readers - no spray gun!? How can you paint a hoard with no spray gun!? I do own a spray gun; it just happens to be in Queensland with all of my bits and I won't be able to retrieve it any time soon (bulk shipping from North Queensland to Sydney is going to be extremely expensive) so I plan on purchasing a new one.
    What I understand is that in the majority of cases, our new hobbyists will be operating without a spray gun and so I've endeavoured to try to batch paint my little raptor things without the use of one. I will point out that if you don't own a spray gun, and you need to paint large models/lots of little ones or are simply not a fan of spending endless hours painting the same colour - buy one. Now. The GW is decent however you need to purchase two propellant cans along with it, due to the rapidly decreasing air pressure inside the can it basically freezes and will be unusable until you allow it to recover - which is why two are essential.

   So just how do you go about batch - painting and what are some tips to help you get it done nice & quick yet still have it look nice on the tabletop? One of the first principles is dry brushing, the ultimate in time saving painting techniques when combined with proper use of washes. When you dry brush, you wipe off most of the paint on your brush onto a tissue or piece of paper towel (it can't be a tile, smooth surfaces won't catch the paint properly) until it seems like there is nothing on it. You then brush lightly over the model several times in long, repeated smooth motions until you get the desired amount of coverage. When done properly, your dry brush should only pick out raised area's of the model and leave the recesses and lower area's the base colour - you can use this technique as a rather simple transition step to provide a smooth gradient of colour change with repeated applications; and it can also be used to highlight a model's raised area's quickly and efficiently. There are a few problems with dry brushing, such as the amount of paint you will go through if you do it over large area's or on many models - far more then simply painting them properly.
   The brush you use is of paramount consideration when dry brushing, much like the name suggests - it needs to be dry; when you clean the brush, make sure you thoroughly dry it with paper towel before you put it into your paint pot. If your brush is wet, the paint will run and destroy the effect you're trying to create. You should be using a fairly sturdy or old brush for this process as you will destroy a regular or detail brush extremely quickly with dry brushing. When i'm batch painting, I use the Large Dry Brush from GW (I call it the Tank Brush) for the basecoat and transition to a medium for other colours; the small dry brush is basically useless for dry brushing as you should only be using the technique on larger area's.

   When you're dry brushing a batch of models, its best to start with darker colours and work your way up to a brighter one, reducing the level of coverage gradually. For the Termagant on the left, starting with a white undercoat - I began with a heavy dry brush of Zandri Dust followed up by a wash of Seraphim Sepia to add a little bit of a yellow tone, which was then followed up with a dry brush of screaming skull and a lighter wash of Seraphim Sepia mixed with a touch of Lahmian Medium. This whole process, replicated across 20 models ensures that there is no down - time waiting for the different stages to dry - when I finish the first layer on the last model, the first model will be completely dry. It helps to vary the amount of models you're painting, too many and it becomes daunting and boring; too few and it isn't as time efficient.

   After I've done the basis of my flesh, I then move to the red carapace - I begin with Mephiston Red as the base coat which is layered on rather quickly; I then wash this with Seraphim Sepia and dry - brush with Evil Sunz Scarlet. Then it is a matter of filling in the details, basing and blacking out the talons.

   This whole process takes 4 hours, which is 12 minutes per model.

    The key  to proper batch - painting is to start with the primary colours and work your way up, and to keep things as a simple as possible; you can batch paint anything - even tanks. If you're trying to batch paint your hero characters to immaculate detail; you're doing it wrong. When batch painting things such as Space Marine's, it pays to think about how you construct the model prior to painting; pro - tip, leave the boltguns off so you can easily paint the body of the model and paint the gun separately, as well as not attaching the model to the base (this can be a life save when painting something low to the ground - like the above termagants) to make things easier.

   So there you go, some basic tips for a pretty basic technique that still manages to frustrate everyone - which will likely never go away as painting your rank & file can be boring at the best of times. It is important when you go into batch painting is to not try to produce masterpieces - little mistakes are probably not going to be noticed; and besides - you don't batch paint if you want a Golden Demon level squad of Space Marines. The important thing is to keep your colours consistent across the models and master the simple techniques you will be applying.

   How do you guys feel about batch - painting? Do you dislike painting hordes as much as I do; and are you considering starting up a Grey Knights army for the blessedly low model count? Let us know in the comment section below or over at the +Bell of Lost Souls lounge.

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