Wednesday 5 August 2015

Take a Hobby Sabbatical!

Talk to most scale modellers, and they'll likely confess to being terrified of painting figures. They love building and painting armour, aircraft, and sports cars. Many even love placing them on dioramas. Suggest to then that their scene will have more life with some figures, and you'll probably get some kind of excuse as to why it won't work.

I've always had an arrogance about me - there's no reason I can't achieve something if I really want to. Doesn't matter what it is. If I'm not naturally talented at it, I can work hard and learn it. Plenty of room in that spare 85% of grey storage upstairs after all!

Turns out there are a few things I just can't do. I suck at car maintenance, and am unable to keep a cool head while shopping for clothes.

What I have managed, though - and it was quite by accident - was to learn more than just the basics of miniature painting.

I have a 1:48 Spitfire in my stash. It's part finished, as it was my contribution to an abandoned office model-off (or group build depending on how competitive you are).

Definitely not out of the box, I upgraded bits to resin and PE, and bought a flight crew. And there it stayed. I tried a couple of figures, but they looked like a lot of attempts I've seen from casual figure painters. Truly, truly awful. Block colours, thick, blotchy faces with no features. No hope, then, but to make the excuses. "I don't do figures. I like 'accurizing' vehicles".

What a load of old bollocks.

My kid turned ten. He discovered 40k. I dug out my old miniatures collection, and we set out to revamp, expand, and learn new things. He liked the game, and I like to paint - so I taught him the basics of painting, and he taught me the basics of hitting on 3s. By the time he quit (he had enough of getting stick at school for being a nerd, and also being fed up of his 40k friends' lack of conversational range), my obsession with miniature detail had really grabbed hold.

I'm not naturally talented with a brush - past a certain level. I practice wet blending and NMM, because it's bloody hard! I've learned OSL and diorama composition, new basing techniques and airbrush methods. Lining, edge highlighting and the rest.

I found that I hadn't built a scale model in about 3 years, but in the meantime my skillset had grown considerably.

OSL on a spaceship? Yes please! It saves on wiring potentially unnecessary lights, when the illusion of light works just as well.

Edge highlights on engine parts? Thank you very much! Makes the dark areas really pop.

Hand blending small transitions? Saves getting the airbrush out and starting all over again.

Conversely, scale modellers have a lot to teach warpainters. Ever heard of dot filtering or bare-metal foil? I'm yet to try dot filtering properly as a weathering technique, but oil stains will look great on the Imperial Guard Chimera I have started.

So here's my point - if you're a scale modeller who is scared of figure painting, pick up a pack of imperial guard and a white dwarf mag (both nice and cheap on eBay) and get stuck in. Take a break from your Hurricane or Sherman and practice your skintones - zombies, vampires and dwarves all have different requirements - and they're all transferable skills. Check the forums, and follow YouTube tutorials. Totally worth it. If you can detail 28mm, you're onto a winner when you're back working in 1:6 scale!

If you're a warpainter, take a break from Orks and Orcs and build a clean sports car, a beat-up 1950s jet, or an Elizabethan ship. Pick up FineScale Modeller magazine. You'll find your skills being pushed to new levels. Source new ways to make the model special, and you'll find inspiration to up the quality of your wargaming pieces.

You never know, you may fall in love with new things you can do...

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