Thursday, July 9, 2009

What's it take to get you to Paint?

Admittedly, I am a paint snob. I rarely put unpainted models on the table unless it's a new army or a new gaming system I am trying to learn and I expect the same from my gaming pals. I don't play pick up games against people with unpainted models and I don't support or attend tournaments or events without a painting requirement. For me, the fun is playing the game, not winning the in order to have fun playing I want as much eye candy as possible..when your beautiful 3000 pt army gets wiped off the table by another another beautiful 3000 point army, I barely remember the loss- just the glory of the game..when your painted army loses to some unpainted pile of featureless metal and plastic it makes me want to leave my army in a case for the next month.

I'm fortunate that the people I game with are like-minded in that everyone despite work, families, jobs, school and whatever excuse find time to paint their models, slowly but surely..I like watching how peoples armies develop over time, I've run things like our last painting challenge with the single hope of motivating people to paint. Appreciating the finer points of the hobby, i.e- the craft, will inevitable bring you far more satisfaction that every winning any tournament..think of it this way- While winning a GT or your favorite local tournament might be nice, it's soon forgotten after the next year's winner trump's your accomplishment. On the other hand, winning a Golden Daemon stays with you forever as others may join the elite but you're always a member. Figuring out what build trumps the current meta game for the season and having the luck of your dice back you up just doesn't impress me, winning best overall in a properly structured tourney, Battle/Sports/Paint/Comp does.

Games Workshop has recently seemed to lose the enthusiasm that always seemed core to the mission statement. In that "The Hobby" stands above all else in purpose. Recently, standards have dropped for GW sponsored events and demand to sell more product has pushed the creation of game systems designed to sell obscene amounts of models that an employed person could never hope to paint to a good standard in a lifetime. Other companies such a Privateer Press don't push the hobby as part of the core game platform..the result is no one paints their models as the norm..which I can tell you absolutely kills potential sales and interest in their games, either go pre-painted, or promote the hobby portion of the game..leaving it to a bare metal standard despite some wonderful sculpts just doesn't cut it.

My point in bemoaning the demise in the interest in painting is that its sad because its easy to get started and it is such a fundamental aspect of the hobby. Anybody, I mean anybody as long as you have two hands can paint to a three color standard. I've read all the excuses and they just don't hold water, if you have time to play games, you have time to paint. The only excuse that's holds any merit is " I suck at painting, or I can't paint" well everyone starts out that way, so I wanted to talk about a few things that can help you get motivated as well as teach you how to paint.. The focus here is on books as if you're reading this you are already versed on the value of Hobby Blogs.

Foundry Miniatures- Painting and modeling guide.
Hardcover 200 pages, around $30 USD.

I recently purchased the above and have to say it was great buy, I am always on the hunt for painting tips, new ideas..and particularly manufactures own opinions on painting their own models. This book covers it all. from beginner to expert..tons of color photographs, and real tutorials. I find this to be the best of the lot here, especially for the intermediate or the the beginner, but I say that with my current keen interest in Foundry's gigantic line of models out on the table. (I really like all the tips for converting metal miniatures here as well besides the paint.)

Games Workshop-How to paint Citadel Minatures-
Soft Cover 96, $25 USD

The first "how to" Book I bought back in 2003, when I started getting back into the hobby again, light in content..GW books often get crap for being more focused as product advertising more than tutorial..this book is pretty solid and goes over all the basics..they've released alot of awesome models since then..time for an update. find it used somewhere..definitely useful for beginners. Again there isn't much in here your subscription to White Dwarf didn't cover over the years..but you have that you probably already have or don't need this book.
(edit- apparently this book has been updated as its a different cover than my copy, not sure if the content's been updated)

Cool Mini or Not- the Ultimate Miniature Painting guide
download 400 pages, $10 USD

a compilation of articles posted on the CMON website. A great bundled resource but since you can all the content for free by cruising the database its not mandatory, but buy it for easy point of reference. The bar at CMON is extremely high, and many of these articles are very advanced and while they look easy on paper, application requires practiced techniques..but at 400 pages there is plenty for all. definitely worth checking out.

If you can find time to check out these books and still not find motivation to paint..give it up already, case closed- I sending the Great Unclean One to your house to eat you.


Shrink to Fit said...

"What's it take to get you to Paint?"

For me, it takes a lot of focus and the ability to delay (perceived) gratification. Painting takes time and hard work, whereas scheming up a new army and buying new models is lots of fun and relatively painless--just not for your wallet. In my mind, I have all these really cool armies completed. In reality, I have one completed army and lots of unassembled/unpainted models for lots of other armies.

Here is my tried-and-true army-building process:

1. Pour over internet and White Dwarf.
2. Find inspiration for new army.
3. Play around with potential army lists.
4. If still interested, buy a unit of said new army to paint.
5. Continue playing around with potential army lists.
6. Get distracted by another cool unit in the new army.
7. Buy said cool unit in new army.
8. Buy complimentary unit to make cool unit even cooler.
9. Continue buying units until you have purchased the entire new army.
10. Feel overwhelmed at all the bare plastic and metal figures that haven't even been assembled yet.
11. Procrastinate in assembling new army by killing time on the internet and looking through White Dwarf.
12. Repeat steps 2-11 indefinitely.

One of my best excuses for not painting is, "I want to wait until I'm a better painter and modeler before I start this army." That's my current excuse for my idle Dark Elf army. It doesn't stop me from buying the models for the army, just from starting it.

Scott said...

I've never needed external motivation to paint. It's almost like I need to do it. I believe that you can find the time to paint if you really put your mind to it.

Even now, with a 8-week-old baby in house, I've found time to work on stuff. Painting has been difficult, but I have built a lot of models I had still in their box.

I have to admit that I still play with a lot of unpainted models. But that's in no way my goal. I ideally want to have fully painted armies. This tread of thinking it's Ok to never paint your stuff makes me sad.

John@Plastic.Legions said...

@ Shrink to Fit

I forgot to mention ADD as a completely viable excuse, I don't think paint books can cure that. at least you got one Army done though..for most thats an accomplishment.

@ Scott

yes, the sad part is what provoked the post..but your stuff is worth the wait buddy!

Peter said...

I find I have to see some really good painting on said blogs (Alvin makes me want to paint a lot) but unfortunatley my desk is a mess of cd cases, paper and god knows what... and probably about two dozen old cups of tea, I'll clean it tommorow... I swear!

Anonymous said...

I 100% agree with your post. I too consider myself a painting snob. Painting 3 base colors and basing does not take a lot of time. It really doesn't. A poorly painted army still looks 100 times better than an unpainted or primed army. Most armies all look the same from 3 feet away. You can always go back and highlight/ink the army later. Once you get the basecoating done I find that is when I really start to enjoy painting.

As far as GT tournaments go that allow unpainted armies. If you play against me I will knock your sportsmanship score as I find it rude and unsporty to show up at any tournament with an unpainted army. At local tournaments I will knock off sport pts to a lesser degree. Now if it appears you are working on painting it or a new to the hobby that it different. But when I see that grizzled gamer bring out his dwarves from the 1980's that aren't painted I don't want to hear about not having time to paint.


Bill Lim said...

I enjoy painting. Almost as much as I enjoy the game. But my enjoyment of the game comes from the playing not the winning. So like the others I agree with your post. Though I'm not as much of a paint "snob" I will put unpainted figures on the table, if I'm currently working on the army. I would never play with completely unpainted armies, and you are right I don't enjoy playing against.

As far as getting me to paint. Sometimes the inspiration/motivation hits strongly and I can spend multiple hours a day for a solid week working on things....Other times it seems like Painting is a real chore.

Personally I find that when I'm inspired, or in the mood, I need to put that brush into my hand otherwise I won't get much of anything done.

Also having clear goals really helps. Our "Paint Challenge" was great for this. We had clear goals every week, and it really helped me keep interest...

Basically, if you feel like painting...PAINT. If not, don't force it. That is how I work. :)

JamesCabak said...

I have gone, by my count, 2 entire years without painting.

2 years.

I continued buying, some modeling, but I took a break from the hobby end and the last game I played in was GenCon 2007.

Now I am finally returning with the construction of dedicated spray booth, airbrush, and all-new paint center. However, even then, it has taken 6 months of preperation, reorganization of my stock - I've had many friends that left me their unpainted collections, and cataloging to determine where I stand in my collection. I've had to get a grip on my buying as well as make tough decisions with my time management as well considering I still have work and school. The only thing that would make it worse is if some woman chowing down my cash.

Currently, I have less than 2% of the collection painted despite far over 3000 points per army of every army in 40k and Warhammer (including Chaos Dwarfs) and that doesn't count the specific multiple armies like Space Marines. I calculated the time it would take to paint it all at somewhere around 4.1 years at 6 hours a day (2,190 hours per year). Even that is a conservative estimate. Nor does that even touch historical troops which far outweigh 40k and Warhammer combined.

It is a sobering thought. I'm a pretty slow painter and while my best, potentially, could go head-to-head with any Golden Demon/CoolMini person, I'll likely never have the time or energy to actually hit 6 hours per day.

The result is a serious situation that I am not playing games as I do not have anything painted and the circle repeats visciously. I give up and go play a computer game for, wait for it, 6 hours. Whoops.

Books won't help as the last thing I need is another information source or reference. I have too many ideas as it is and woefully short time to actually act on any.

It's time to ante up and get busy or kiss goodbye all the investment. Roll up the shirt sleeves and charge. My apartment looks more like a stock room, clean and dusted, but packed to the gills. I've taken on a sort of mania that I refuse to admit defeat from under the deluge. I will have the entire collection of every army and every army will be painted.

It starts now. The great enormous painting project begins. It will be a long haul looking over all the boxes as far as my tiny apartment horizons. But if Skywalker can go from farmer to Jedi, Frodo can walk for thousands of miles without Converse, Hamlet can make the ultimate sacrifice, and Liz Bennet can score Mr. Darcy, I'm reasonably confident this too can be done.

Tally ho!

JamesCabak said...


I've also shut down and put away my game computer.

The arcade is closed.

Go paint.

ZeroTwentythree said...

I'm another paint snob.

Not that I'm picky about the level of painting. I just like to see painted figures, and that someone has put forth the effort.

Back in the day... ;) ...this was never even an issue. We would all field the occasional unpainted unit or figure that we just bought and had to get in the game right away. But that was a temporary thing, and they would be enthusiastically painted next.

It wasn't til I hit one of the local stores near the university I attended that I saw people using the same entirely unpainted, and frequently unassembled (just a pile of loose bits on a base!), figure for years without ever putting forth an effort.

I think the internet, as you allude to in mentioning blogs and CMON, has been a great boon to both beginners and experienced painters alike. Various miniatures wargames forums are another source of information, as many have painting sections.

Painting is as an enjoyable part of the hobby for me as the games themselves. But as I accumulate an increasing amount of interests (in terms of armies & figures) I've been looking into alternatives since it's clear I won't be able to paint it all myself.

The first alternative is, obviously, a painting service. There are hundreds around the word, providing varying degrees of service, quality and pricing.

The second is the "dip" method. At first I was a bit wary of this, having seen some of this back before the spread of info on the web. But at this point there's so much information available, and the techniques have been refined, that even someone with only basic painting skills and limited time should be able to crank out armies with relative speed.

Thanks for the enthusiastic painting post and the references. Keep spreading the word, brother. (Paint snobs unite!)

Felix Flauta said...

Sorry, John. I disagree.

If I didn't enjoy painting as much as I do, I probably wouldn't do it. Part of that enjoyment has definitely come from liking my own results, but even when I painted poorly I enjoyed the process of painting the models (some would say that I still paint poorly, hehe).

My opponent isn't there to entertain me. I only expect paint if the event requires paint. Otherwise, I'd rather have good humor and a good game.

Do I think paint keeps the players invested in an army or game? Definitely so. But too often it keeps players in a negative way. "I've already spent x amount of dollars and hours building this army, so I have to try to find a way to enjoy this game."

I also recently heard a guy talking about the hobby and he said, "I don't really like painting, or the game. But I like doing something better than other people." or something like that. Why the heck would I want to play that guy, even if he has a beautifully painted army?

I liken it to comic books that I read. When I buy comic books, I don't look to the artwork first. I want good stories, so I pick up specific writers: Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, etc. Good storytellers attract good artists anyway. Good artists don't necessarily attract good writers.

In the tabletop wargame, then, I want the models to have a great story and cool rules. Paint on my opponent's models is the least of my concerns. I'm too busy painting my own.

Felix Flauta said...

The TLDR version of my response: I disagree.

John@Plastic.Legions said...

Says the guy that has more painted armies than anyone I know, I think you should swap screen names to "the Conundrum"

"Do I think paint keeps the players invested in an army or game? Definitely so. But too often it keeps players in a negative way. "I've already spent x amount of dollars and hours building this army, so I have to try to find a way to enjoy this game."

Are you gaming with nihilists?
you need to get over on tuesdays more.

I also recently heard a guy talking about the hobby and he said, "I don't really like painting, or the game. But I like doing something better than other people." or something like that. Why the heck would I want to play that guy, even if he has a beautifully painted army?

Where the hell are you hanging out?
using complete D-bags as examples doesn't count.

Felix Flauta said...

Hey, these are guys I don't hang out with. My point is, when people don't like the game, sometimes they hide behind the paint. And how can I be hanging out with him? It's not Warmachine he's complaining about :D

And some people have a competitive streak a mile wide. We can discuss this one in particular in person. He was probably just talking trash.

My point is, I don't rely on someone else painting their stuff so that I can enjoy the game or the hobby. It's not a conundrum. You're responsible for being a fun person, but your paint isn't responsible for making the game enjoyable. For me, painted figs are always a bonus. I paint because I like it. He paints because he doesn't. We enjoy playing the game together because we like each other's company.

I'd rather play a fun non-painted than a not-so-fun painter. D-bags DO count because I don't want to play them either way. My problem with your argument is that too often, painters equate non-painting with being a D-bag.

monkeymannate said...

my biggest thing that holds me back with painting would have to be the ADD. Also I'm a pretty big perfectionist, that combined with the amount of cash invested in just the models themselves i see it as that i have to one shot the figs. In my eyes I have always preferred 1# playing the game. 2# converting models to something unique. Then lastly painting.
Also, with my current transportation situation (CTA) my figs have taken a LOT of abuse going back and forth. I would probably be more likely to get games in less if my armies were fully painted to avoid the risk of damage in transit.

just my 2c, see some of you guys Tuesday.

John@Plastic.Legions said...

@ Felix- I dont think anyone would disagree in that they would rather play a fun person than an unfun one or do I think anyone would disagree that not painting your models makes you a D-bag that was never my point.

My point is/was to provoke response over what I see is the decline in full participation of hobby..the last time I was at the bunker it was packed and 80% of the players were pushing around grey plastic or bare metal..dont even me started on GWOP..I haven't seen a painted army in the store since our club night got canned.

There are quite a few good people people who don't paint their models
milling about both shops..what's it take to inspire them to paint?

What do you think it takes to inspire the non painters you know @ BSG or where ever to paint?

@Nate- you try though man, that's the point. (though if you show up Tues with painted Rohan - I will be doubly impressed)

oni said...

@ Felix - "My problem with your argument is that too often, painters equate non-painting with being a D-bag."

I don't think d-bag is the appropriate word. I equate it to being a lazy ass.

[on topic] I have periods of 'all ahead full' and periods of being a lazy ass myself. What motivates me are all of the gorgeous pictures GW puts in all their literature and the pictures hobbyists post on their blogs and forums. If I'm in a slump, I can easily get myself out by browsing through a WD or seeing what others have completed.

Tim Kulinski said...

Well I will raise my hand as a Paint Snob as well and I just don't get why people buy models and paints and then don't paint!

I have said this before, but for me, I like seeing someones painted army across the table from me. I don't care how well they are painted, I just want to see that this person took the time to try to paint.

I have a friend here in Phoenix that has no problem with playing with unpainted models, he hates to paint. For him, as long as he has the right model, than its all good for him. Thats fine for him, but would drive me crazy! But his hobby is about collecting and not painting.

For me, I bought into the "Hobby side" of GW games, so for me, I assemble/convert paint & play with my models. I may not be a Golden Deamon painter, but I like the way I paint. I have always been more of the creative type and enjopy the artistic side of the hobby as well as the stories & backgrounds of GW's games. Thats the hobby for me.

So if your like my friend who collects and plays with unpainted then knock your socks off. But please please don't whine when you go to enter a GT or local tournament and want to play & turned away because your stuff dose not meet the requirements for fully painted only!


ZeroTwentythree said...

"My problem with your argument is that too often, painters equate non-painting with being a D-bag."

While there's not a direct correlation, I've got to say that (anecdotally) my experience has been that more of the D-bags have unpainted armies than painted armies.

Others may disagree and I've still known really great people with unpainted stuff. Like I said, not a direct correlation...

ZeroTwentythree said...

"I liken it to comic books that I read. When I buy comic books, I don't look to the artwork first. I want good stories, so I pick up specific writers: Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, etc. Good storytellers attract good artists anyway. Good artists don't necessarily attract good writers."

What about the people who want both a good writer and a good artist? ;)

Felix Flauta said...

Well, yeah, it'd be nice for my friends to paint, but I'm not going to sit on their back about it, or mark someone down on sportsmanship about it.

And like I said (either here or elsewhere), paint is a sign that someone is invested in the army they're playing and they're more likely to stay around, so I like to see that, too. I just don't demand it of people.

Tim: You answered your own question with the example of your friend. Some people would rather collect the figures. There aren't any pre-painted figures of the army they're collecting (prepainting being a thing of other game systems) and hiring out adds to the cost and reduces the number of figures they can collect and play, so they collect and play with bare metal and gray plastic.

Another reason they don't paint is resale. Touching paint to their army often detracts from the cost of reselling their stuff on Ebay or to someone else who actually wants to paint the figures.

oni: I disagree. There are logical reasons not to paint. There is a definite learning curve to getting things right, and re-dos are either ugly, expensive, or time consuming. Maybe they'd rather work hard at the game rather than on something they don't like to do?

Zero: The ideal is to have both, but when your friend doesn't want to paint, then they're not going to paint. I'd rather not give them a hard time beyond meaningless trash talk.

John: The pics of the Extreme Juggernaut might convince the one guy to paint, but I'm not so sure.

If a tourney wants to make it a requirement for paint, that's not a problem with me. I just don't like being the personal attitude towards unpainted armies. If paint is part of a sportsmanship score, then mark it down. If it isn't, then don't.

That sort of thing.

John@Plastic.Legions said...

The extreme jug is a very cool model
I'll long for the day I actually see one painted other than on the PP website.

AoM said...

I'm gonna have to call bullshit on your Privateer Press comments. A Masters painting competition at Gen Con every year, hardcore having a requirement for fully painted armies, the painting DVD, plus the new additions of the wet palette to the hobby line all work against you there. yes, steamroller rules do not require painting, but it is encouraged. And I'd have to say that while Golden Demons have burned themselves into everyone's minds as one of the ways of setting the bar in the painting community, I'd say that Privateer Press throwing around $1200 for the equivalent of a Slayer Sword winner puts them a little higher. Both competitions give out shiny statues for the top 3 places, but Privateer gives 1st place in each category $200, plus another $1000 for the overall winner.

Now, I totally agree with you about wanting to have painted models on the table, but my painting and gaming time is quite limited, and I hold myself to a reasonably high standard. This is part of why I have switched to more skirmish gaming. I can get away with only painting a few models to a nice level, rather than trying to crank out masses of models at a just slightly better than average table top level.

Also, painting the same model over an over again gets really boring. Even with plastic kits, you can only get so much variety out of a space marine. That's fine if you're only painting one, or even a single squad, for a competition. When it comes to painting for the table, that just grows really old. Most truly skirmish scale games are going to only see a handful of models on each side, and you'll usually have unique models for all of them.

Beta testing for Malifaux was one of the best things to happen for my motivation lately. I'm bringing painted crews to Gen Con for demos, and I'm going to be running more demos after Gen Con's all over. No one likes a demo with unpainted models. I might not always have the best terrain available (dependent on what a store has, as I've got an apartment that's too tiny to store enough terrain for that), but the models will certainly look pretty.

John@Plastic.Legions said...

First I am hearing any of that. They should do a better job of communicating that outside the WM inner sphere it be helpful in expanding the player base. When I actually start seeing painted PP models, I'll be more convinced, right now in Chicagoland its a sea of white pewter.

Felix Flauta said...

If you're basing that on my battle reports, then it's no wonder.

My most frequent opponent is Phil, and it's very unlikely that he will ever paint. The extreme juggernaut interests him in painting, but it's such a big project to tackle I think he needs to work on his other projects first.

However, of the people I play, there are folks that paint.

Aaron M
The guys I played in the Schism Event

The PP forums have a modeling forum for minis and even one for terrain.

What I've noticed about people with painted models, though:

1. People with painted models have nailed down a list. It's the same important step that gets people painted in 40k or Fantasy. It's a set goal with a set time.

2. League play is constantly in flux as the scenarios, advantages, and global effects change from week to week and season to season. So it makes it difficult to nail down the list.

3. Model releases are constant, so even the meta for tournament play is in flux. It's not a lot to deal with once you have a faction, but to new hobbyists and players it does seem like a lot to catch up on.

So to get it down you need a goal, but your goal always shifts due to scenarios or model releases.

At some point it just becomes easier not to paint when there's a possibility you won't be using a unit that you've put a lot of time into as much as something else due to changing conditions.

John: What are you basing your view that WM is a sea of pewter anyway?

John@Plastic.Legions said...

Your battle reports aside
you've told me repeatedly the painting requirement was an obstacle to future WM at Adepticon because most people (in general) don't paint, with the exception of the one game you played here with martha..every warmachine game I've seen being played around has been no paint. like I said it could be coincidence, I've been in Games Plus twice, but no paint. You seem to have valid reasons why people don't do it Seems to me that PP doesn't really push the paint thing like GW used to..maybe I'm I also mentioned last time I was at the bunker 80 out of 100 people there we pushing around unpainted models..I'm not particularly concerned about what
"game" we are talking about just the decline in painting.


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