Now, I don't consider myself a master figure painter by any means. Nevertheless, I appreciate well-painted miniatures, like most of us do, and the 20/25/30/40mm round varieties in particular. So, I am always on the lookout for new things to try in that eternal quest to improve my own brushwork here in Zum Stolleneller. Over the years, this painterly upward mobility, for want of a better term, has been inspired and spurred on by the likes of Doug Mason, Peter Gilder, Phil Robinson, and others. I may never be as good as them in my efforts with the brush, but part of the fun comes through trying, and the satisfaction gained from a job well done. Painting yuppy jokes aside, then, here's what has been coming together in my mind recently:
1b) It's no harder to paint with oils than with acrylic or enamel hobby paints provided one adopts certain techniques and uses good brushes with points.
2b) Thinned oils dry much faster than is commonly thought. Oil Alkyd colors dry overnight. Winsor-Newton produces a nice line of these. Unsure whether other companies do though. Mediums are available in better artist supply houses to mix with oils and speed up their drying time appreciably.
5c) Watercolors run at the slightest pretext of moisture. . . even after being "dry" for many days. Vivid and bright, yes, but not really suitable for figures that will be handled.
10) Be bold with black or dark brown lining though. It helps figures look more defined and nuanced. Look at Doug Mason's figures.
12) Figures that look too busy, or too boldly painted up close will probably look just fine at arm's length.
13) Overthinking how to paint, or asking constantly, "Am I doing this wrong?" risks bringing on great anxiety about it, and can lead to avoidance and inactivity, which gets in the way of enjoying the wargaming hobby to its fullest extent.
14) That said, some thought on how to approach painting several units of wargaming figures is necessary and helpful. The only way to improve at any activity is to try it, skin one's knees a time or two, and then gradually become better as experience with the paintbrush and how to use it increases. It's like a sport or playing a musical instrument.
15) Painting isn't the actual game on the table of course. . . But it ought to be, and can be, a highly enjoyable part of the wargaming hobby provided it is approached in the right way. . . Whatever that might be.
Maybe a few of the ideas outlined above will assist not only established wargamers, who may be in the midst of a painting slump as I was for much of 2011, but also aspiring newcomers, who might struggle with the the thought of actually painting those 150-200 new figures. To my mind, that "I have the figures, but how will I ever paint them?" question is one reason so many of the latter fade away after a while and are left with a drawer somewhere full of lead. A sad end to what might have otherwise been a fantastically absorbing hobby.
And so, wargaming comrades. . . March with me! Let us unite in our collective efforts to spread wargaming goodwill, painting theory, and eradicate the mountains of unpainted lead and plastic that accumulate in too many boxes, cupboards, and drawers around the world!