Saturday, 19 November 2011

Coopitsu - Work In Progress

Nothing special, but I'm doing something I haven't done for years which is to paint for the sheer bloody hell of it. For years, I've been painting in a very regular and mechanical fashion and with one aim in mind, which is to churn out figures for wargames with as little effort as possible. Such as these Victrix 28mm Napoleonic Wars Austrians which are sharing space on the painting table with Brother Hornhead and his mate up above.

The Austrians use what I call my "Airfix Homage Technique" which is essentially, if the plastic is a usable colour (as it was in a lot of the Airfix HO scale boxes of toy soldiers) then damn well use it, since Victrix cast these in an off-white why not use that as your basecoat? Some details slapped on and the whole lot covered in Devlan Mud and two coats of Citadel Gloss Varnish. Airfix Homage Technique is even more blatant in my abandoned WFB7/8 Night Goblin army which mysteriously uses grey as its base colour...

...and these EM-4 Miniatures re-releases of the old Grenadier Space Rangers which are cast in silver plastic.

So yeah, it's fair to say that for years I've treated painting as some form of industrial product line and then tried to see how more and more efficient I can make it in some form of demented Deming-like analysis.

And this is cool for wargames but I realised I was missing the creative, artistic side of things.

So the two plastic Chaos Marines above have been painted in a totally different and almost organic process. I've been influenced recently by a lot of John Blanche's modern figure painting which differs dramatically from the "paint like this" instructions that GW throw out.

JB's figures are dirtier and heavy on the texturing with a realistic muted look to them and he uses inks as a primary painting mechanism. How to do this? Well, a while back I noted a brief aside in Dave King's blog about painting with inks. Basically prime grey, drybrush white, wash with Badab Black and you have a primed, pre-shaded model. Then just layer on successive glazes of ink.

So that's I've done with Daler and Rowney acrylics inks for the red with the odd glaze of different ink to break up the uniformity of colour (another thing I've noticed in JB's work - all colours are mottled or randomly faded in some fashion). Precise ink-lining with Badab Black and Devlan Mud to get that soft blend between colours.

Anyway enough with the technical stuff. This is a slow process and has reminded me of a few things I'd forgotten about splashing paint on figures.

1 - Painting is inherently a pointless and daft activity

Wherein lies it's genius. There is nothing, nothing like sitting up at two in the morning adding a small highlight or extra glaze to a tiny part of a tiny 28mm figure and realising that you can't see it, but you know it's there and the sheer insanity of all this pointless idiocy is keeping you sane.

2 - Speed-painting for wargames is inherently a chore.

Even if it's a enjoyable chore. It is artless, all artistic expression has been removed. You are painting to order, because you need 10 Space Marines, one with flamer, one with missile launcher and one with a chainsword and you paint those and exactly those with no extras and tight control over the contents of the squad because that is the squad for your wargame.

3 - Painting figures for a game you have no bloody intention of ever playing again is weirdly liberating.

It is. I like the look of the Chaos Marine with the melta-gun so I painted him. This is anathema to painting-for-gaming which only uses the melta-gun if it's an "efficient build". Normally when I speedpaint, I have the idea in my head that as a figure or batch of figures are completed, there's a milestone towards a new unit or an army or a game. With this, there's nothing. You did it, because frankly you enjoyed it and the slower it is, the more of the enjoy paint time there was.

I mentioned above the word "organic" in regards to this sort of painting for paintings sake and this is what I mean - the Austrians and Goblins each followed a rigid and "tuned for speed" recipe. Each colour was planned in order based up experience painting a couple of test shots and the recipe was then tweaked and tweaked (do I need to paint this? can this be seen in the finished article? are these two colours similar enough to mean I could just use one of them?) to require the least effort for best result. This painting is different, it's a lot of spending ages looking at the model and trying out little odd touches of colour to try and change the direction the model is travelling in. Going back to the recipe analogy, the speed painting is like trying to measure out exactly 200 grams of rice or butter whereas the slow painting is more a case of getting halfway through and thinking "I might chuck half a can of chopped tomatoes in".

Haven't enjoyed painting so much for years. Can see it becoming a new hobby interest.


  1. I painted up a HeroQuest Chaos Warrior a few weeks ago for no other reason than because I liked the miniature and felt like doing some painting. It was good fun.

    My Space Marine Space Marine army was a Dark Angels force. This may have just have had something to do with the plastic being a dark green.

  2. When the first Epic game came out, my mate took all the green plastic marines, black washed the lot and said "There, Salamanders chapter!"

    It's sad but I can't actually remember the last figure I painted that wasn't for a game.

  3. I look forward to seeing them in the flesh so to speak.

    I have two levels of painting. There is speed painting for large numbers of stuff like Romans or orcs but if I'm painting something like a character model or something just because it looks nice I will spend the time on it. The GW washes (praise be unto their name) mean I have found a happy medium between the two. I recently painted a Warmachine Cryx warcaster in 20 minutes which looks like I spent hours on it, just by doing base colours and then giving the whole lot a black wash.

  4. Airfix Homage Technique sure beats seeing hordes of unpainted miniatures!

    Ever heard of 'The Army Painter'? It's a dipping technique, but works much better brushed on. Get some strong tone and use that instead of the GW washes - shading and gloss varnish in one coat!

  5. I have! My WW2 figures are all army paintered. Most of the stuff I paint is plastic though which I don't tend to varnish with anything more than a quick spray of matt.