Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tackling the Painting Pile

I've been watching a lot of mini painting technique videos on YouTube of late, and this weekend, I decided to start addressing the massive pile of unpainted minis and game tiles that have been sitting in our craft room for... let's be honest... over two years since we moved in.

Anyway, the first step was to finally get this bugbear I'd been picking at for several months to a finished point. I really used him as a prototype for experimenting with different shade variations based on the same color... in this case, I was working with browns and reds. He was already mostly finished as of this weekend, but I hadn't started any of the metal surfaces on his weapons, shield or armor.

Next, I cracked into my Dwarven Forge cavern set. These tiles are great, because you can be super sloppy with the paint and still get amazing results. I painted one tile to completion to test out my technique, and then got started on an assembly line working through a whole set one step at a time.

Then I decided to attempt a set of several Bones minis at the same time. I stuck a selection of nasty insects onto a popsicle stick, but struggled to keep it steady while base coating... then I stuck the popsicle stick to the top of an old pill bottle and had much better success. Again, I couldn't resist just finishing up one whole mini instead of working through the group... so I painted a scorpion.

My experience this weekend taught me a couple things about my technique. First, I need to load more paint on my brush while base-coating. I had much more success getting the first coat on the scarab beetle than with either of the scorpions, because I was starting with a properly full brush. It resulted in a much smoother edge when free-handing the legs on top of the model's triangular leg slab things. On a related note, I need to not be so stingy with the paint on my pallette. All my paint bottles are dropper style, so I can drip out really tiny amounts, but if it dries or gets clumpy before I finish, then any added efficiency will be lost. Lastly, I really need to thin my shade and highlight layers. The Bones line is a little obnoxious because the plastic repels anything except full-thickness paint, so the base-coat can't be thinned. But thinning the top coats really helps smooth out any blending work.

I still have a few process questions I'm still wrestling with, particularly when it comes to working with Bones. They are advertised as being paintable without priming, and indeed, that is what I did with both the hobgoblin and scorpion, but base-coating black by hand was a real pain and would have been much more quickly done with a rattle can of primer. Unfortunately, I have had some bad experiences with Bones and primer. I found that a hobgoblin similar to the one I just completed remained tacky to the touch for at least several weeks when primed with a Krylon spray can. Spray on clear coat has had a similar effect. I have two Bones candelabras that are still sticky to touch years after painting and sealing with a clear coat. I'm not sure what causes the reaction, but it is something I haven't experienced with pewter models.

The need to use undiluted paint when basecoating unprimed Bones is similarly frustrating. I feel like many of the faces I paint on Bones models wind up looking cakey, and I wonder if it is because the base coat has to be so thick.

Regardless of my outstanding questions, it felt good to make a small dent in my pile of painting. Now if I can just let myself be a relative beginner at this and not try to match the high level of expertise I see in the YouTube videos I've been watching. I may get there, but not if I'm too paralyzed to practice.

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