Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Big Painting Conundrum

I'm at a crossroads and I really need to think hard about which way to turn. I'm suffering from what I've come to call the Big Painting Conundrum.

Over the last few days I've been looking at painting guides online and at pdf copies of the How To Paint Citadel Miniatures book and the very interesting Ultimate Miniatures Painting Guide from Cool Mini Or Not. I've been watching The Painting Clinic Channel for a host of tips, and I've found the perfect solution for painting red. When I got back into gaming about 18 months ago it took me a while to progress onto painting - just putting the miniatures together and playing a handful of games took up a lot of time.

Now I've really got the painting bug, the nagging question is... How much effort to put into painting? I'm at the stage where the 'undercoat, base coat, wash, two levels of highlights' approach is pretty straightforward and looks to be producing some good enough tabletop miniatures. Although I don't have any aspirations to enter into competitions with my painting, part of me really does want to develop my skills as far as is possible.

Yet I'm troubled by the notion that to reach 'the next level' as a miniatures painter will be a very heavy investment of time. Let's say that to be competent at the stage I've outlined above it's taken me very approximately 25-30 hours. What will it take to reach the next stage of accomplishment - I mean in terms of the finished look of the model - and will the time investment satisfactorily match the improvement in appearance? Will it be worth it when considering the accumulated additional hours per miniature?

Over the coming months I will have to settle on an approach and a preferred set of techniques. But for now, these are the best tips I've found or have figured out through trial and error, and I'm certain that they match most people's experiences (although I think they're always worth repeating, even if just for my own benefit!): 

  1. Be patient - probably the easiest thing to forget! - getting it right takes time
  2. Experiment and accept you'll go wrong every now and then - I know I have and sometimes in ways I'd not realised at the time
  3. Thin and mix paints all the time, while being as painterly as possible within your ability - this is what I'll be working out over the autumn/winter
  4. Never cut corners on materials - crap paint and crap brushes equals crap finish and there's no way to avoid that
  5. Sit properly in a well lit area and don't hunch your back - ouch! 

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