Deathbridge Warhammer

Deathbridge Warhammer

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Secret to Modelling and Painting

As I returned from the rain-soaked Prairies of Alberta, I found myself once again in comfortable surroundings, ready to sit down and paint up a storm.  I put out the models I wanted to paint, sat them in front of me, and stopped dead in my tracks.

Has this ever happened to you?  Have you ever found yourself keen and ready to paint, only to fall flat when it actually comes time to dip your brush?

It got me to thinking: What's stopping me?  So, as is my nature, I thought and thought about it.  My process came up with the following questions:

Am I losing interest/not interested in painting this army?  If so, why?  Did I need to start something fresh, since I've been ponderously working on the same army for quite a while now?  Is my interest in this army waning because I'd rather be playing a whole different game?  Is the sheer number of models I have intimidating me to finish?

So as I thought about these things, I came up with some guidelines for myself that I think will keep me on track, and prevent me from getting stopped in my tracks.

1.  Never buy ahead.  It's actually a really, really good idea to plan your army in advance.  It helps with theme, color choice and maximizes purchasing power; as opposed to impulse buying and then leaving several units on the shelf while you game.  If you are starting a new army, don't go out and buy 3000 points (in the case of Warhammer Fantasy or 40k) right away.  Get an HQ (or hero) and 2 Troops (or Core) at most.  Paint those, and then expand from there.  A lot of burn out will occur from the subconscious knowledge that getting these 10 models done is great, but there is 200 more in your closet waiting to be painted.  Don't get overwhelmed.

And if you are already past that point, there is a solution.  Pack things up.  And I don't mean in your case or on your shelf.  I mean stuff them in a cardboard box, tape the box up and put it somewhere you don't normally store your models.  Not to opened until the project you are working on is finished.  It seems like a lot of effort, and more than a little strange, but it will ease your mind psychologically knowing that they are literally 'out of sight, out of mind'.

The third, and most drastic option, is to sell off some of your stuff.  This one seems to work the best for me, as it helps me decide what I want to keep, which assists in choosing my next painting project, simply by figuring out the priorities (modeling and painting-wise in an army).  This is usually a permanent solution though, so be careful.  Seller remorse is almost worse than having too many things to do.

2.  Preparation is everything.  I'm sure you've heard most of this before.  Clean your mould lines.  Make sure the feeds from the sprue are cleaned off.  Make sure you model everything the model is going to use (grenades, weapons, etc...)  This does two things: First, a clean model is nicer to paint.  I find it frustrating to be painting and then have to paint over a mould line.  It sort of wrecks the model for me.  Also, cleaning the model gets you familiar with the model.  You'll see details you might have otherwise missed if you just dove straight in.  And as for modeling all the options on your model, that's just a courtesy thing.  It makes the game easier to play for you're opponent because they know what they are getting into.  One of the most frustrating things I find when I'm playing is when a model is under (or mis)-represented.

3.  Base before painting.  Nothing is more frustrating than spending hours painting a model, then having to go back and base it.  And even worse when you go to base it and the glue sticks to the model rather than the base.  It's also been my experience that pre-basing, before priming, helps the basing material stick better.  This cuts down on the time needed to finish the model.  If you've never tried it before, I strongly recommend it.

4.  Pre-plan your color scheme.  And practice it!  Knowing exactly how you are going to tackle every color in your army helps the painting go faster.  And it's much less daunting to come at a fresh model with a color scheme in hand (or mind).  I find the best thing to do is to write everything down.  Then, if you take a long break from painting, or you add more units to a finished army, you can maintain consistency.

5.  Only work on a few models at a time.  This is one where a lot of people will probably disagree with me, but I find chain painting entire squads to be painful.  It stops being an exercise in painting, which is fairly artistic, to be mass production, which is more the realm of being a robot.  I NEVER work on more than 5 models at a time.  Anything on a 40mm base or larger, only one at a time.  Yes, it's slower, but, you'll find the quality goes up.  And the unit will look better overall for doing it.  Plus, setting a goal of painting 3 models in a night is much more achievable than painting 30 models by the end of the week.  My Eldar, for example, I painted everything in threes.  It took a long time, but I think it was worth the extra time.  Plus it got me through the entire series of Robotech.

6.  Have an end goal.  This can be anything.  An upcoming tournament.  A big Apocalypse game.  Playing far from home.  Or it can be more set, like 2000 points, or one of every unit.  Deadlines are a great motivators, but they are also the biggest cause of burn-out, because it's in human nature to 'cram' at the last minute.

7.  Have something special planned for your army.  This usually ties best into theme.  Taking my Eldar as an example, I used the Forgeworld Avatar as my centerpiece for the army.  I saw the new sculpts for the Aspect Warriors, and saw that Forgeworld Avatar, and immediately I had a theme; Biel-Tan Eldar.  So I sold off my old Eldar army and started fresh.  You should ALWAYS have a showcase piece in your army.  Something that ties everything together.  Something that makes the guy on the other side of the table drop his jaw.  Now this doesn't always have to be a model in the army.  It could be a stunning display board.  It could be a hand-crafted, leather-bound army list.  But it should be something that lets your opponent know that you think there is more to this game than winning.

So the next time you sit down to paint, and find yourself stuck, try some of these ideas.  The goal is to make painting enjoyable, since the bulk of the time in the hobby is spent painting (or at least it should be).  If you feel like painting is a chore, guess what?; it is.  If you find the joy in painting, it is a very, very rewarding part of the hobby.


Timbo said...

Strongly agree with the first point. When I built up my Dark Eldar, I bought everything in one big chunk. I'd finish painting up a skimmer, then realize there were 7 more to go. It was daunting to say the least. With my new Daemon army, I've been taking it slow, and the process has been much more enjoyable.

Doompickle said...

Great article Feevah.. I think it will definately help me when I start my gobbos...again. LOL

Thats what I did when I started my Deathwing, really helped keeping it small.

And your Eldar look awesome!

Court said...

Just to add abit to yer awsome article there Matt, if at least to back up some of yer points.

3 - this is a must. If you base yer models with a mix of gravels, than coat wash it. (watered down white glue) Finally with the undercoat applied you'll have an indestructible base to work off of.

5 - I find 5-6 models works really well for this as a goal. Usually will do about 6 normal models or 2-3 special weapons/sergs etc etc.

6 - Goals are a great point but the deadlines to burn ya out often. I find set something simple like.....1 model a day even. Be surprised how far this can get you hehe.

7 - This is the biggest thing i think nowadays of no more soft scoring, and adding of Ard Boyz Fan Boyz. A real fan of the hobby has an idea in mind for his army, not necesarily what internet list is un-beatable this week. I play Ultramarines cause i love Ultramarines, always have, always will. That keeps me collecting and painting Ultramarine things. The only thing that'll keep you into painting your army and the hobby is that love of your army.

Green Feevah! said...

I couldn't agree more, though I keep my painting model count low. I get burned out really easy from chain painting, so it's rare that I'm painting more than 3 or 4 models at a time.

Actually it's another thing I really like about Warmachine. No 30-man squads. Having 7000+ points of Orks and 10000+ points of Orcs and Goblins has made for some VERY daunting units. Which is why I think I'll be painting either my Ogres or my High Elves first.