Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Getting back on to the painting wagon (old post) Dec 2011

Disclaimer Now heading into the second campaign there are more than a few of us getting back on the wagon and even second generation kids who are getting into this for the first time, so anything I write in this article is based on personal experience and may not be right for you. Some of this stuff may be blatantly obvious to some, which is fine I don’t mind this isn’t aimed at you. The campaign(s) that inspired this burst of painting and articles is using the Warhammer Fantasy Battle 8th Ed and Mighty Empires, both GW products. Also I’m going to mention Games Workshop (GW) and their products predominately, not because they are better or anything, it’s just what I have and used. There are many different ranges of paints and brushes or even models you can use in your wargaming. I also talk about non GW products as cheaper alternatives again not because they are better but its what I used because I can not afford everything I want.

A couple of months ago I discovered I had a High Elf army, last week I discovered I had over 7000 points. Ok so Ebay was very good/bad for/to me. But I realised that I needed to paint some of this, ok need is probably a strong word. I wanted to paint this army.

So after going “oh my goodness I have a lot of high elf miniatures where the hell am I going to start?” I decided on some of the second hand Sword Masters that I had acquired for the aforementioned Ebay. The reasoning was that sword masters (aren’t Spearmen) they are kick arse, (they’ve won more games than they’ve lost for me) and that if I flubbed them they were only the second hand ones not the pretty ones from the Island of blood box set.

They turned out that pretty cool and now I have 18 Tabletop standard Sword masters, painted. It was quite an experience that I thought I would share with you, my experiences and to encourage you to make you realise that you are not alone in thinking that where the frak do I start and how do I keep going? What I should have done is painted some core models because you know you have to have 25% core as a minimum. But I don’t have much choice for core, spearmen, archers or spear/archer/men.

For a start let’s discuss what I mean by table top standard. Table top standard means that the paint job is good enough to look at across the table and not go “my eyes!” It also means you are not trying to win a golden demon (GW painting competition) it means that you not take too long per model and that means minimal advanced techniques. Being neat is the key. Table top standard can mean you can field a large amount of reasonably well painted miniatures quickly. Painting you character models… is another article.

For instance, those Sword Masters had one wash and one dry brush (for the scale armour) the rest was base coat and they came out sweet… as long as you don’t look at their faces.

Ok I lied I did a base coat of astronomicon grey and then did the skull white over coat leaving some of the grey as shading for their… oh hell lets call it what it is, their skirts. That said even with minimalist paint job of seven colours and a wash, they still took me a week or so. On the other hand I got them done.

Ok I still need to add a few more and paint a banner.

Ok a lot more and do the other sword master regiment/horde as well, but I’m working on it. Did I flock the base? No did I do any highlights? No, did it still turn out ok? yes! Most of us are of an age where time is precious to us and that we need to get the most bang out of our buck for what we do. Streamlining our painting processes means that we can get on with the rest our hobbies and lives.

So now we get to the meaty bits of the article of what I learnt doing this and what you might take away. There is no order for this so read the whole article as I am rambling about my experiences.

There is no right and wrong what you see in the army books are guides only to they might look like. Its your army you paint it anyway you like. That said, either have a test model(s) to paint up before you commit to the scheme you have in mind or some armies have printable test designs on the GW website so you can use paint or pencils or textas to decide what is right for you. Also the GW website has how to painting guides for select models in each army though I will note that they seem to have a lot of colours for even the basic core models that I checked out in the high elves. So I took some of the suggestions and ignored others as they seemed excessive for the above mentioned Tabletop Standard.

Don’t be scared in making mistakes, you’re going to make mistakes, but its ok everyone does and mistakes can be fixed.

In fact don’t be scared in general, the modelling aspect is really scary for everyone to start with, perhaps even more so for people getting back in the saddle like me because you pretty much have to relearn everything and catch up with all the latest techniques.

And especially don’t be scared of the gorgeous miniatures that populate the net particularly the ones on the GW site. If you want to cry go look at anything Mike McVey has done. After that pick yourself up and remind yourself that you are aiming for Tabletop standard.

When assembling the models, make sure you get rid of all the flash, what I mean by flash is the metal left on the metal model from the molding process. Check several times cos you will miss some and it’s really annoying when you’re painting and you found flash after you’ve undercoated/base coated.

If you have a lot of metal/armour to paint, undercoating black saves a lot of pain and anguish. Undercoating is in fact optional these days with the new base coat paints from GW, though I prefer undercoating either with black or white it depends on the model(s). As mentioned before black if there’s a lot of metal or dark colours or white for bright colours, again my preference and experience that bright colours look muddy with a black undercoat. Black or white I get mine from Bunnings at $8 a spray can. Children can not buy paint spray cans from hardware shops unaccompanied just as a warning. Of course, if you have say a large amount of one colour to paint undercoat in that colour.

Use Sable brushes, need a minimum of two a “standard size” brush and “fine detail” brush, the standard size for large areas and the fine detail for the fiddly bits. Jackson Art Supply is where I get mine from. I believe the GW are still sable. Cheap non Sable brushes are fail.

Keep the brushes clean, every time after my brush has been emptied of paint I rinse the brush thoroughly in the water I have always handy and then remove the excess water by putting the brush in my mouth and sucking, most people wipe the water away on a paper towel, I don’t because I feel that you bend the bristles when wiping it on the paper towel. Strait bristles are important for neatness. Again this is my preference and habit for almost twenty years with water based paints.

Keep your water clean so you don’t get colour bleed, or keep the water you use for cleaning brushes and thinning paint separate. I just empty and refill the disposable plastic cup every time I get up for a break (see below) you can use a normal cup but I’ve broken enough cups to use a disposable one (I’ve already broken one disposable one in the last 6 months)

Thin the paint, I only found this out recently and wow this has made a huge difference to the quality of my painting, when loading palette I find 3 to 4 blobs of paint to one blob of water works well for me especially with the number of models, 5 (I’ll get to this later.)

Actually no I’ll get to it now, do a number of models at the same time, like a factory assembly line. Paint each colour on all the models one after another, I was doing five models at a time, this seemed to work for me for high elves. I’ve done skaven and gretchin in tens which I seem to remember working. The last five of the eighteen turned into eight as I added the command group to it, which was a mistake. I kept running out of paint and having to reload my palette interrupting my rhythm and slowing down the production. Next time I’m going to paint the command group separate.

Do the larger areas first if you make mess it more likely to be cleaned up later as you paint more of the models.

Minimise distractions, I have ADHD which means it’s very hard to keep on track some times fortunately there aren’t too many distractions in my house. But what I do to ensure distraction free painting is to ensure that there are some awesome tunes either played loud enough to drown out incidental noises from my surround sound system or if at night through my headphones. I find that trance or hard rock works best. Don’t try and watch something that you’ve not seen before either on TV or the computer. If you want to watch something don’t paint otherwise your painting will suffer, I’ve found that having something you’ve seen a lot as background noise works. Again your mileage may very. I don’t have any animals, partners, children, parents or siblings at this time so I’ll let you work out how to get rid of them but I’ve found in the past that a large amount of doors between you and the distractions helps.

If you have to get up finish the colour you are on or write down where you are up to. The awkward moment going back twice to finish a colour that you thought you had finished.

That said, do get up and take a break once an hour. Walk around; take a drink especially in this heat.

Ensure you’re painting in good light, multiple light sources are good. If you want to go all out ensure the globes in the light sources are daylight globes, available from hardware stores. Cheap lights are available from Ikea that I’ve found.

Have a good chair, you’re going to be painting for hours you need to be comfortable.

Make sure the model is immobile as possible. This is to help neatness, if you are holding the model try brace your arm either on the desk or the arm chair.

If you make a mistake don’t panic, keep going and come back to when you have either finished the colour or if the mistake is small enough keep going to the end and clean up all the mistakes at the same time saving time.

Ensure you have a clear work space and only the models you are currently working on and the paints and tools you currently need. To minimise distractions and ensure that you can quickly lay your hands on what you need.

Don’t paint hungry.

If you can arrange it do it with friends a few people open their houses so that people can come and build their models and paint them, each week (in our group of friends at least) You can do hobby with like minded people and perhaps even picking their brains.

There are also the GW shops themselves where you can get the hobby developers advice or even a free painting lesson for the learner. Also there is/was free paint (to use there) as well as opportunities to play some friendly games.

After you paint them don’t be stingy and cough up for carrying equipment otherwise all that effort will go to waste. Probably another article.

As I said at the start, most of this stuff is obvious to a veteran painter and you can probably find a lot of tips and guides online not just at the GW site. That said GW also have Hobby books for both basic beginners and advanced painters I’m eying off the masterclass book for Christmas.

I hope you got something out of this, I think the main thing I learnt or relearnt is that you just need to dooooooooo eeeeeeeeeeet and it will get done.

My next article is going to be the differences between fourth and eighth ed.

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