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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Back to Basics: Army Painting

Here we've got a guest article about painting from Mathieu. I'm considering doing an article linked to this for my Tyranids on some easy painting tips. Will see how my painting goes over the next few days. For now however, enjoy.

Hi all!

I wanted to share some thoughts about army painting, how to prepare for it and how to handle it, and figured 3++ would be a good place. Hope you'll enjoy it and it'll help keeping it up!

If, like me, you expect to paint with painted miniatures only, growing up and having a job, a family, kids and a social network, hobby time becomes a commodity. How can you then get the motivation and time to get your stuff painted up? I believe there are 4 main factors that impact the modelling and painting of an army. Let’s discuss them, I’ll reflect upon my past and current experience as examples.

Expected use

Are you going to paint your main force, or a sideline army? Obviously, The more use the army will see, the best chance it’ll be painted, as it’s more rewarding to play with painted stuff.
How about an army designed and painted for a tournament? Will you play it regularly after, shelve it, or sell it? Most tournaments have a painted minis policy, so if you don’t expect to play the army regularly outside of the event you’ll need to find other incentives to paint.

I expect to play my future IG force roughly 50% of the time. My buddy and I have a “no grey plastic mini” policy, so there’s a strong incentive to paint if I ever want to field those Elyseans.

Time dedication

Ah, army painting and time…

Completion deadline first: this one really is twofold. Having a limited time to paint an army is a great motivator as it sets a deadline. On the other end, it can become a demotivator once you start lagging behind your schedule, or realize making it will require lots of efforts over a short period of time…

The completion deadline needs to be assessed taking into account the time available for painting and modelling (or the other way round, if you prefer). The idea is quite simple: the shorter the time span to complete the army, the more frequent the time you’ll need to dedicate to it (or the lower the overall quality of the job).

This is where a good understanding of the time you can dedicate to painting and modelling becomes important. How many hours can you dedicate, on average, to the hobby? How much time does it take you to complete a model?
Once you have an idea of your painting rhythm, set yourself regular goals by joining a real or virtual group of painters. This will help you organize your painting calendar, and keep you going as you see and show chunks painted every few weeks.

I don’t have that much time available to paint, typically around 5 hours/week (usually 2 evenings per weeks) as my spouse won’t tolerate much more. However, I’ve been known to spend nights at the workbench in case of insomnia, so that may be higher (although I hope I won’t be for that very reason). I used to set an objective of 10 infantry models per month while working on my orks, this was more or less in line with what I could deliver. I have less infantry models but I want them better painted this time, so let’s shoot for 2 months per squad and we’ll see how it turns. Add in the 4 flyers and 2 Sentinels, and it becomes a whole year project (or so), which is fine for me. I’ll be able to start playing skirmish games around March, and will see the army grow as the year goes by.

Hobby objectives pursed

What’s the objective, painting or modelling-wise, behind your army?

There will always be a reason for painting. Is it a constraint, i.e. you have to do it (for that tournament you registered to), or do you do it because you like painting? Your goals will differ: in the former case, achieving a decent enough standard to be accepted to the tournament will be enough. In the latter, do you wish to experiment or practice a specific technique? Work on types of surfaces you’re not used to (fur, bare skin, etc.)? Maybe you want to convert your army to a specific theme, or start using plasticard?
Your objectives can (and likely will) change over time. Taking a step back to confirm or amend them is good practice, and will allow you to realign either the goals, or the timeline.

I initially decided to go for a quick-painting time frame (which, for me, was a framework of about 4 months, lol) but, upon receiving and starting painting the infantry, decided to do the models justice and paint them to a good standard according to my skills, try some new techniques and improve at infantry painting. This is why I’ve extended the squad completion time as I know I just couldn’t deliver in 1 month’s time.
As far as vehicles are concerned, I consider myself an OK painter, so I’ll handle them as usual, meaning about 1 month / flyer, and another one for the 2 Sentinels.

Enjoyment factor

You’re going to spend many hours at the workbench, they’d better be entertaining rather than a chore. Do what you like to do, or else face demotivation quickly!
basecoats and washes. Do you like to paint each individual model like for a painter competition? Then a small and elite army is best suited for you. This also applies to certain hues and tones, or some types of models (for instance, space marine power armour).
Practice with different techniques, give them a try, and you’ll soon discover what good for you at a certain time.

My ork army taught me that I’m a hull painter more than a body painter, at least as far as yellow-wearing greenskins are concerned! The battlewagons were easily the part of the army I enjoyed best working on. I also realized I moved away from the bright palette used by GW towards more natural, duller tones. This was another factor in the choice of my paint scheme for the Elyseans.
Why those models? Well, I’ve always considered them awesome-looking on pictures, and I still think they are now that I own some (although they’re quite a paint to assemble).

To conclude, before starting a new project:
-         make sure you’ll use the army after it’s painted, the more often the better
-         set yourself some modelling & painting goals, check whether they are consistent with the time you can dedicate to it
-         plan to do stuff you’ll enjoy working on!

If those conditions are not met, you’ll likely end up working reluctantly on your army, which will jeopardize its completion.

How do you guys (and girls) proceed to model and paint a new army?


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