Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Five Things I've Learned in the Last Year

One of the first, and one of the most recent, Space
Marines I've painted. Hopefully there's a qualitive difference!
So, it's been about a year since I decided to take advantage of being stuck in the house more often to pick up the old painting hobby again. I'm still not terribly time-rich, and but I think I've learned a lot and shown some improvement in a most areas that matter. One of my big motivations for starting this blog was that when I started out I learned a lot from the painting/gaming community online and whilst I've no illusions about either my own skills or the worth of my opinions, if even one person reads these posts and comes away with some inspiration or insight then in some way I've given back.

So, in lieu of any real progress on my current project, here is the 5 things I think I've learnt this past year.


1) Patience. I think I am now probably better then I've ever been at painting small metal and plastic figures. OK maybe that's not something I'll stick on my CV but it's still a skill I'm developing and like all skills it takes time. The biggest difference between teens-twentysomething me and the me of today is that I'm much more patient, and prepared to spend that little extra time getting something right. And the biggest single difference you can make to your figures is painting within the lines, and the biggest contribution to that is patience. And indeed to everything that flows from that. There is no rush - and if there is a rush, there is always clever ways to cut corners. Which leads me to...


2) Do the Reading. There are dozens of great painting and wargaming blogs out there, and it can look a little daunting. But very quickly you'll see the community hub ones like From the Warp and discover the massive amount of info contained there. And then they'll still seem daunting, when their idea of "basic" is well above your level, or their Works In Progress look like Golden Daemon winners but you'll learn a phenomenal amount in a short time without ever touching a paintbrush. And the biggest secret you'll learn is...

3) Cheat. You'd be amazed at how many great effects are so simple. At least, I was. I'm not talking "base-coat, mid-tone, wash, highlight", but things like Gem/Lens effects, weapon scoring, weathering and the like make a massive different and are pretty easy to do. They can take a couple of tries, but at heart they're simple techniques that shouldn't scare anyone, and can life a figure immeasurably for such a small change. And of course it's easier still if you...

4) Plan Ahead.  Depending on what you are painting you'll need be having a great deal of vareity in how complex your colour scheme is, but the thing that stays constant is the need to think ahead of the current layer. Most paints don't layer well - or rather they layer excellently, assuming you have the right basecoat underneath, and needing mulitple layers due to dodgy basecoating can erase fine detail or lead to uneven surfaces. Painting from "the inside" or painting part-assembled models is critical and again, a straight forward behaviour to get right. But, at the end of the day...

5) It's not a competition. These guys on the tabletop, shooting at each other? Thats a competition. But you don't get any points for how pretty your army is, and the best painted tank in the world isn't less vunerable to a good multi-meltaing. Like any other hobby you should paint for your own enjoyment, and measure yourself against the best you feel you can do. There will always be someone better. Don't be intimidated by the excellent work you see around, use it as an inspiration, because those guys aren't doing anything you can't attempt. They've more skill, more practice, for sure, but they should be something you aspire to, not something you're scared of.

Gosh, i think thats enough rambling for one day...