Wednesday, April 10, 2013

So You Want to Be a Painter

Great miniature painters aren't born, they are made.  I can pretty much guarantee that no person has ever picked up their first model and gotten all the mold lines off and done a Crystal Brush quality paint job on it.  It just isn't realistic.

I've been in the hobby since about 1994 and I am just now becoming a decent painter.  There was a time, back around 2000 when I was forbidden by my FLGS to put paint to model.  I played in a Warhammer Fantasy tournament and was awarded the "Worst Paintjob Award".  It was all done in jest but it really put me in a mindset that I would never be able to paint.  Being color blind doesn't help either.

So when I got back into the game in 2009 and was here in Afghanistan with no one to paint for me, I had to bite the bullet and start painting.  My first attempt was Black Templars and I thought they were pretty good then but now I look back and can see so many ways to make them better.

My next major project was my Sons of Vengeance (Blood Angels).  When I first started them they were pretty bad but as I progressed and got some skills under my belt they got much better.  I also started experimenting with airbrushing during this time and I think that helped me out a lot.

But how did I get better at painting?  Was it just "keep putting paint on models until you get better"?  No.  If you want to play guitar, you take lessons and watch videos and practice.  If you work on engines you study and tinker and get your hands dirty.  Nothing comes easy.  If you want to get better here are some suggestions.

  • Talk to other painters and find out some techniques that you could try to use.  Have them show you how it's done and then practice it on a spare model.
  • There are a bunch of videos, both as dvds and on youtube.  Watch them.  Watch them again.  Watch them and try the techniques they show.  My friend Sigridsdad and I used to have our nights that he would come over and we would "watch paint dry".  We would watch all kinds of models being painted and discuss the techniques and then try them.
  • Look at models online and in magazines and try to duplicate the paint job.  You won't get it right the first time but try again.  Eventually you will have it down.
  • Practice.  Practice.  PRACTICE!  You'll never get better on one model.  It may take years but it will eventually happen.
  • Never give up.  If you get frustrated, step back, take a break and then try again.
  • Focus on techniques.  Do the same technique over and over again until you have it down.  For me, the only think I absolutely am unable to do it wet blending because I am color blind and am unable to see the gradations in color.  Almost any technique can be learned with time and patience.
  • Find brushes that you like to use.  When I started I was using Citadel brushes and they were ok for learning.  Then I got Army Painter brushes as I got better and they helped me for certain things.  Now I use Windsor Newton Series 7 and love them.  I do still use Army Painter dry brushes though because they work best for me.
If you use some of the things above you will get better over time.  Don't give up on yourself because you get frustrated.  Rome wasn't built in a day and you won't be in the Top Ten on Cool Mini or Not in a day either.

I hope this helps those that are trying to get better.  If anyone ever wants to ask me a question, drop me a comment and I'll do my best to help.

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