Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Scaling Lead Mountain - Eight Tips For Reaching the Peak

I thought about an appropriate title for this post for a bit. It's hard to encapsulate the topic, and right now the title field is empty, but I'm sure I'll come up with something.

So. All those projects. There's nothing new about folks bemoaning the lack of time/willpower/skill/extra arms required to complete all the projects they have in their head to satisfaction. Tons of hobbyists tell you about the list of incredible projects they have coming up that just never materialize. There's even the cheery notion that a hobbyist can't die until he's painted all his miniatures. This is not true. Unpainted lead does not bestow immortality. In fact, it may even cause a health hazard as it teeters on the point of collapse, threatening the pulverize those below into marmalade.

I've been doing this a while now, almost 30 years, and I've had some conversations over the years on how the lead pile might be tackled. There are many suggestions. Good suggestions that I often ignore completely, but I'll list them here for ye to take on or ignore at your pleasure. If even one child is saved from a wardrobe full of unassembled, unpainted models, I'll go to my grave happy. Well, not happy as such, more trying to suck in one more bitter, ragged breath while railing against the unfairness of it all while I soil myself all over the nurses, but let's go with happy.

Before I get into the tips on salving this situation, let me put things in context on a personal level. I have a TON of projects I really, really want to work on. (Deep beath) Theeeerree's: the rest of my undead (I have at least two thousand undead models, most of them metal) the chaos dwarf army, the rest of the fimir army, the Genestealer Cult, The Martian and human factions for All Quiet on the Martian Front, the Realm of Chaos army, the Chaos Renegade warband, undead BlooBowl team, Scavvy gang, and that's just the ones I really want to do and can remember. I'd also like to work on my Chinese and Japanese undead, Orc army, 2000ad Torquemada and his terminators Pulp Alley league, etc, etc etc.

As you can see, it's enough to keep me going for some years without ever buying another model. Will I then not buy any more models? I think the clip below delivers the response to that question perfectly.


Right now, I'm getting excited over the new undead releases from Games Workshop and the new dark eldar plastic wracks, so let's assume an ongoing amount of new models are adding the pile on a regular basis. There's probably an equation somewhere for this. New stuff over old stuff divided by time plus inclination equals painted models or something. Anyway.With that in mind, here we go.

1. Accept you'll never get it all done.
Let go. Take a deep, cleansing breath and exhale. Repeat after me: 'I will NEVER get everything painted. Were I to live for a thousand years, there would still be a box of stuff in the cabinet I meant to get to someday.' Now, with that acceptance of inevitable failure, the piles of blisters and boxes will seem less oppressive. After all, this isn't a job, it's a bleedin' hobby.

Just own it.

2. Decide what kind of painter you are.
Are you an individual model painter? An army painter? What kind of army? Big hordes of gobbos? A small skirmish force? A bit of each? Approach each project with that consideration in mind. If you want to win the golden demon, crystal brush and so on, great. Pouring hours into one model leads to often beautiful results, but don't paint a skaven horde like that. You often see folks on the internets that can crack out amazing armies of individually astounding miniatures in jig time. IGNORE THAT. These are often from studios where folks have learned all the tricks for painting models fast and to a high standard, and they do it all day, every day. It's the painters version of looking at pictures of photoshopped supermodels and comparing their ass to yours. Admire yes, but find your own pace and standard.

3. Stop Being Precious
This is really more of 2, but fmeh. Don't endlessly tinker with already painted models. It is the road to madness. Paint a model. If there's something you don't like, tinker away, but don't expect to get loads painted. It's super frustrating, as lack of progression is a killer for painting mojo. Paint the model. Paint the next model. Especially if you're doing an army. Stick that dude with the chalky layering in the middle rank. I say this, but I have 4 fianna fimm awaiting stripping so I can redo them. Sigh.

Don't do what I do kids.
4. Cheat
Not in the games. That is the realm of the douche. For painting, yes? Find techniques that speed things up. Shaded basecoat, drybrushing, zenithal highlighting, glazing, dip, precision washes, the list goes on. There's so much more out there than layering. Don't ignore any technique, try stuff. I keep looking at getting an airbrush. Those things are time saving magical paint shooting wands, so they are.

Also, it's not cheating. If your miniature looks good when you're done, it doesn't matter what awful things you did to it to get it there. One great question I read on Massive Voodoo, I believe it was, went: 'What do you use to get the great earth effect on your model's bases?' The answer was actual earth. Dried out and so on, but just real dirt. If it works, it works.

5. Keep Moving
The way to keep the hobby exciting is similar to the reason a shark keeps swimming. To stop is to die. Keep at it. Even if it's ten minutes every day, paint for ten minutes. They all add up, those ten minutes. There will always be demands on your time. It's amazing how you can get a regiment painted in those little snatches of hobby time. If you can, keep a place where you can leave models, paints and such, out. Unpacking everything every time you want to paint is another barrier to your finished miniature. I have a nice permanent paint station in the man cave, but I bought the Games Workshop painting tray thing a few years ago. It's one of the best items I ever bought for the hobby. I can leave models and paints on it, bring them up the living room, paint in front of the fire, chat and half watch tv. I can pop it back down to the cave when I get too dru...I mean tired, and not have to pack stuff away. I can just pick up where I left off. One recommends it.

Turns out this is as handy as a small pot.

6. Follow Your Muse
This is a tricky one. Especially when it comes to army painting. To keep the motivation levels up, don't paint 40 skeletons in one go. Batch painting is another trick one can use, but even so, keep each batch to between five and ten models. But as you paint that new army, slowly, every other model you're not painting seems like way more fun than the one you are painting. This gets to crisis levels if you don't deal with it. The so called hobby butterfly kicks in and voila, another half finished project. A way to deal with this is to give in early. Say you're painting 50 skeletons. Paint ten. Then do the movement tray. Paint another 10. Then paint a necromancer. Paint another 10. Then paint something totally different. That Bloodbowl referee, that Necromunda special character etc. The break gives you a bit of a palette cleanser and keeps your painting stamina high for getting those 50 skeletons done. We're doing this for fun, after all, so if you really want to paint something different while you're slogging through a large group of models, do it, and use the change to reinvigorate your determination to go back to the bigger project.

7. Stay Focused & Have a Plan
'But you just said paint whatever you want!' I hear you cry. Yes. I did. But. Also, when you're not taking a break from the squad of orcs to paint that fairy, paint the orcs. If you're painting a squad, decide the make-up of the squad before you start. How many troopers, special weapons, etc. If it's an army, make a list. Each regiment, squad or even individual will add to your total, and as you see units complete, it'll spur you on to paint more.

8. Play Games
I don't play anywhere near as much as I'd like, but few things get the creative juices flowing like playing some actual games with your minis. Every time I come back from a good game I want to expand the army I just played, or add some new terrain or whatever. If you're lucky enough to have a good, regular group or club, all the better. Whittering on about how your 30k space marines are made from eighteen different kits to someone who is listening AND interested does wonders for your painting enthusiasm. it's a social hobby too, after all.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some things, but for now, there you go. I hope this helps anybody out there who's scaling the lead (also plastic, resin restic, playdoh...) mountain. Aha! I think I just found my title.

Wayland Games

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