14 Feb 2013

Making time to Paint

   Painting is a chore. 

   If you're thinking that thought, as many of us have - you're in a bit of a tough spot. You may have spent hundreds, if not thousands on a shiny (grey) army of plastic goodness, then looked at it as a whole and felt over-whelmed by the sheer amount of work you will have to complete to paint that thing up to a decent standard. I understand this problem, deeply.
Oh...That's...Just...Too Much
   After a brief hiatus from tabletop war - gaming to deal with various health and personal issues, I launched myself back into the hobby with the release of the Blood Angels - those Sanguinary Guard models were just too pretty to resist, and I diligently painted them to the best of my (rusty) abilities at the time. I then bought the metal Astorath and conveted him into a roman-esque spear - wielding psychopath to lead my display army - I never intended on playing with my pretty boys. Then the Storm - Raven came out, I just had to have it. Then I worked out I could create a cool little strike force if I bought a Furioso Dreadnaught to lug around - but I did need some assault squads to have a more realistic army - and hey, what about some land speeders to float around after my Raven?
   Before I knew it, I'd amassed a terrible, yet playable army - and soon found myself being gradually sucked into the addictive cycle of gaming and buying to improve my army - with my half - painted and ugly miniatures rolling around against other similarly ugly armies. Some disclosure, I'm a painter before a player and I love the feeling of whipping out a nicely painted army to play with every so often - when I go to my local GW, you can find me at the painting table working away on a commission or my personal stock, with a game maybe once a month.

Small Doses - 20 of the 90 to be painted

   I believe that this is a common issue with most people, and my story will ring true with most players - new and old alike, after a while; I just could not bring myself to paint that army - there was simply too much to do, and I was already itching to start my next project; so my rather large Blood Angels force now sits in boxes gathering dust - never to be seen again. What a waste.
   I know the article is about finding the time to paint, but I must also point out the need for self control when it comes to purchasing your little plastic dudes - now I will only allow myself to purchase a new kit if I've finished with the previous kit, and the results are worth it, the effects are two - fold; firstly I paint my models much faster and to a higher degree, as the desire to purchase more plastic crack motivates me to do it fast and do it properly; and secondly, the satisfaction I have with my purchases after taking the time to consider them, and the joy of pulling out a well painted and well balanced Imperial Fists army is...far better then ashamedly dragging out the vile lumps of colour that were my Blood Angels.
   As with most things in life, the harder you work - the better the reward in the end; and it is a lot of work to fully paint, assemble, clean and base a playable army - which is not for everyone. You have a few options in this case; you can pay someone to paint it for you (there are a large number of reputable studios and people who can do this for you - at a price), you can speed - paint your army with the 3 colour minimum of most tournaments; or you can learn how to break up your painting sessions into manageable chunks; for the purposes of this article we'll assume you want to entertain the third idea.
   Here I will list some tips & tricks I've learnt over the long years to help you reach your goal of having a nicely painted, playable army as quickly as possible, and maintaining that desire to see it finished -

  1. Paint BEFORE you Buy - I already mentioned this, and it may be anathema to the hardcore gamers out there - but it is possibly the most important step you can take to getting that fully painted army; this helps break up your painting into easily manageable chunks, as opposed to the horror that confronts us when we look at entire force that needs work.
  2. Don't expect this when you start out
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice - Your first steps into the hobby are usually like that of a small child learning to walk; they're awkward, you will fail more often then not and you it will be a long time before you can run - but do not despair. I have yet to meet someone so naturally gifted in the ways of miniature painting that they can produce works - of -art upon first touching brush to plastic, every single artist  you see will have started off in the exact same spot as you have - producing awkward, sometimes ugly miniatures and being somewhat ashamed about them. The important difference is that these people viewed these early attempts not as failures, but learning experiences - if you practice your skills, you will improve over time.
  4. Persevere - This is somewhat related to the previous tip, but it is important enough to warrant it's own entry. Never, ever look at your miniatures as failures, or critique yourself too harshly on what you could have done better - no one is perfect, the important thing is to always try your hardest with each and every new miniature you paint. Do not spend insane amounts of time on a single miniature, trying to make it 'perfect' - do what you can, and then when you tire of the model - move on to a new one and try again.
  5. Ask for Help - It took me a long time to realize this, but I do not know everything about miniature painting - and to this day, despite some ten years of experience behind me - I still do not know everything and likely never will. If you want to improve, if you see something you want to replicate or you can't work out how to do white properly - then ask someone who does know, and try and get them to show you - your local GW or FLGS will be invaluable for this, as the hands - on approach is far more helpful then reading blocks of text on the internet.
  6. Analyze, Don't Judge - You can spend hours agonising over your 'failures' and never achieve or learn anything - reflection is important as you will never learn otherwise - but judging yourself will merely lead to despair and hopelessness. You must find the balance in yourself to know when you've taken it too far, and stop immediately; take notes, spend 10 minutes looking at your latest attempt and think about what you can do to improve your next model - any longer, and you're worrying too much.
  7. Don't Push too Hard - Those Sanguinary Guard models are nice, aren't they? You sit there reading about how they were done, and read about NMM (Non - Metallic Metals) and decide to try your hand at it - and fail. Badly. Your skills may one day be at a level high enough that you can reproduce that effect, but for now - they probably are not. It is true, there are different techniques that work for different people at different skill levels - learn the easier one's first and apply them until you master them, then move on to a new skill - never push yourself so hard that you cannot hope to be happy with what you produce, and always keep in mind where your limits lie. A good place to start is dry brushing and using shades, once you have those down you can move onto layering and highlighting, and so - on.
  8. Baby Steps, and Small Doses - You hate painting, the boredom of sitting for hours painting the same models/colours over and over again is draining to say the least and certainly not for you - I'm the same way about painting; I have other commitments, I have a son to visit, a girlfriend to spend time with, video games to waste time with, friends to drink with, a job etc. We all (with few exceptions) have other commitments in life, and they are usually more enjoyable or more relaxing then toiling away, hunched over miniature soldiers whilst splattering ourselves in paint. I believe the key to alleviating this is to paint in small doses - need a break from loot hunting in Borderlands 2? Spend half an hour base - coating your latest squad/tank/flyer/swarm. Woke up early for school/work? Why don't you spend a small amount of time doing that first layer of paint. Waiting for something good to come on t.v? Go and dry brush that Rhino sitting in the corner - taking little breaks to paint in between your normal activities will help get it done - its amazing how quickly you can get things done when you compartmentalize your tasks.
  9. Try Something New - I always try something new when I start a new batch of miniatures, even if it is something as small as changing the steps I take to finish a miniature, changing my highlighting technique or trying out a new method of glazing; experimentation and change help to keep things fresh and exciting as you work on your miniatures - this is good even when you're batch - painting a squad of marines, maybe try out some distinctive war paint/tattoos/heraldry to help personalize even your rank - and - file ; you can even think of an interesting back story to explain the Idiosyncrasies you've utilized.
  10. Plan Your Army and Your Purchases - Write your list before you purchase the models - this will help prevent you from purchasing useless miniatures that you won't use, there's nothing worse then investing money and time into something and then realizing it's a Carnifex - it's cool, but really not the best thing you could be purchasing, especially when you look at the Trygon. Where you can, plan out your purchases to suit your budget and time constraints; if you like doing character models more then your troops, perhaps purchase a box of troops in - between each character model will help you get everything done.
  11. Set Realistic Goals and Get Painting - Like work, realistic goals provide better results - unrealistic goals stifle creativity and having no goals is merely lazy and destroys motivation. Personal goals are a key for any effective individual, and especially important when tackling something as daunting as painting a massive army of grey plastic. An unrealistic goal is something a long the lines of having a whole chapter of space marines painted in a month - besides budgetary concerns (not many people are that wealthy) there's also the matter of time. A goal that is unachievable is more harmful then anything; you're just setting yourself up to fail and it's not good for you as a person to be berating yourself all the time. You need to think about you, and what you do - don't set goals to what you think other people are doing; if you're a slow painter - then allow yourself the time to accommodate that; a good goal will force you to work just that little bit harder and motivate you to get it done, without stressing you or disrupting the other areas of your life too much. It doesn't matter how small or large the goal is, any goal is good as long as you stick to it; and maybe reward yourself a little when you achieve each goal (my reward is to purchase that next kit =D). In the end, you do need to start somewhere - so why not now? Pick a model(s), set a goal, remember the tips I've offered and do a bit of painting - it won't be that bad.
   Wow; I had not intended to write so many points - its basically a 'Top 10' list; although this list is by no means conclusive, it might not even be helpful to you - these are just tips from personal experience. As always, we invite you to share your insights, critiques, idea's and suggestions here on the site, or contact us on Facebook - we always look forward to your feedback, and hope that you continue to enjoy our articles.

1 comment:

  1. This is fantastic advice! Thank you for sharing this!!