Sunday, March 8, 2009

Painting is like having sex...

To quote Leslie Nielsen...
"It's like having sex. It's a painstaking, arduous task that seems to go on and on forever, and just when you think things are going your way...nothing happens."

Although Nielsen's character Lt. Frank Drebin was refering to police work, the analogy applies to painting too. When you have a new army planned, the sheer amount of models you need to paint can seem daunting. Since I have long since fallen into the trap of wanting to have multiple armies (Brazen Claws, Raven Guard, Imperial Guard, Tau, Eldar, Tyranids, Orks...yes, I'm insane), I'm amassed for myself a task akin of Tolkien's "Long Defeat." Each army has grown in slow stages over the years, and several of them are still small, but then, I've been collecting for 22 years now, so they've had time to mature.

Ever since the imminent arrival of the baby, my "gaming room" has been retired and replaced with a nursery. This, however, means that rather than hide up there and paint all evening after work, now I set up a card table in the living room. The result is that my wife sees more of me.

I use a large kitchen cutting board for my workspace/painting palette, and a desk lamp for illumination. I prefer to use natural light when I can, but these days that's not so realistic.

My palette, with years of mixing evident, including the yellow stain in the gutter where I knocked over a paint pot.

The TV is usually on to give me some background noise and something to look at when I need to rest my eyes. Now that the baby is here she's usually parked in her bouncer or swing next to my table so she can critique my painting abilities (she can be vicious). The multi-tasking might make my painting somewhat less efficient, but it's good for my sanity and keeping my mind occupied. And if I couldn't multitask, I'd never get around to painting at all!

In order to work through the mountains of miniatures, for the most part I paint in batches--that is, entire squads at a time. I switch between armies frequently to stave off burnout. So I'll paint a squad of Space Marines, then some Orks, then some guardsman, then some Tau, etc. Of course, painting ten more or less identical miniatures in a row can cause some burnout too. A frequent tactic that people use is batch painting when painting entire squads. That is, basecoat all ten models, then shade them all, then highlight, etc., like an assembly line. By the time you get to the last model, the first one is dry. I have found that this works for me, but in its own way that can lead to boredom too. So I put a little twist in it. I usually paint the basecoat of one color on all ten models, then paint the tenth one to completion. Then I paint the next color on the remaining nine, then complete the ninth model, and so on. At first the task seems daunting, but as the work progresses, there is less work to do on each model, and less models to work on, so it accelerates. On day one I might not finish any models, on day two maybe one model, day three another one, day four 2 models, day five a few more, and by day six the squad is done!

The latest edition to my Brazen Claws Army, Assault Squad 8, 2nd Battle Company, painted using the assembly line method.

By the time the squad is done, I'm usually temporarily sick of that army/color scheme, so I move on to something else. When I can't decide on what to do next, I might take a few random miniatures from different armies and work on all of them simultaneously.

But there's nothing like an upcoming game to galvanize you into painting miniatures. My Brazen Claws were doing pretty well, but when I started the Axis Columen Campaign, featuring them against the Necrons, I knew that the last battle of the campaign was going to be an Apocalypse battle, so I needed to get cracking to get my army up to snuff.

My Brazen Claws before the campaign.

But I wanted the last battle to be more...apocalyptic, and I knew that I needed some more firepower to face the Necrons and the Tombworld Beacon, so the army needed some augmentation.

My Brazen Claws at the last battle of the campaign, with the addition of Tactical Squads 3 and 4, the remaining five marines of Assault Squad 7, and Devastator Squad 9.

But it seems that whatever I'm working on...the mountain of unpainted miniatures just keeps getting larger and larger...perhaps my next project needs to be a conversion of a Space Marine named Sisyphus.


The Inner Geek said...

Well, I definitely feel your pain on the need to avoid burnout. Also, with my own bundle on the way in late June, I'm glad to see that there is 40k after childbirth!

Faolain said...

Love the Leslie Nielsen quote. I'm also very far behind on my painting. My entire Tyranid force is basecoated (thanks to an airbrush) but not a single model is actually finished. My Eldar are a little further ahead, but I'm redoing my old paintjobs since I did them ten years ago. Those Brazen Claws are looking pretty good.

Admiral Drax said...

I love that twist on batch painting - genius!