Sunday, 8 September 2013

Painting miniatures is proper nerdy

About 18 months ago, we took a break from an ongoing digital board game project, and returned to an old hobby of twenty or more years ago: miniatures painting.
It's frustrating to return to something you used to be good at, and find out you're not quite as good as you once were! Without wishing to sound immodest, some of our earlier miniatures, painted during the early 90s, were - by today's standards anyway - pretty darned impressive.

More recent painting attempts still show the "dated 80s style" of painting - basically starting with a dark colour, then painting from the "inside out" (i.e. starting with the deepest recesses and painting up to the upper-most shapes) and finally highlighting the extremities.

Only a few weeks ago, we dug out the old Citadel paints, scraped the dried paint from around the tops of the pots and had another go.

in close-up, the painted effects are far less impressive than when viewed from at an arm's length!

Now miniature painting is quite a nice way to get away from the computer for a few hours, and do something creative. But our paints are a bit raggedy now, and we've already spent a small fortune at the local GW store buying up more paints, which now bear no relation to the paints we've already got (apparently GW changed their paint suppliers - and thus all their paint names - a few years back).

Building up an expansive set of paints is going to be an expensive job. But mixing colours from our existing range is a painfully slow task - take a dab from the pot with a clean brush, wash and dry the brush, take a dab from another pot, mix, wash and dry the brush, take another dab from somewhere else, mix, wash, dry.... how fantastically tedious!

Then, almost by accident, we came across The Army Painter range of paints.
These paints have clever little dropper tops, allowing a precise amount to be dispensed.

This approach means that inbetween shades can easily be mixed, accurately and repeatedly.

Suddenly, the idea of having 145 little pots of paint and having to use exactly the right colour on exactly the right model seems like a crazy idea!

Over about a hundred years we've tried artist's and craft acrylics, many different manufacturer's paints and, reading reviews online, it seems that there's a massive difference in performance between even the same suppliers of paints (the Games Workshop Citadel range is apparently very inconsistent across range types). So are these paints any good?

The online reviews for far have all been pretty positive. Even White Dwarf 'Eavy Metal painter Mike McVey has said they're very good quality paints. Which is good enough for us! But what's really got us interested, is the Army Painter method of "dip shading" or Quick Shades. They provide a quick way of getting a half-decent level of painted miniatures onto the tabletop, in just four steps:

The results are nothing short of amazing. And, apparently, quicker, easier, and all-round better-looking than our recent painting attempts. There are obviously a few extra steps applied after the anti-gloss is applied (some extra details are picked out using very fine brushes) but to date, everyone who's used them has said they're excellent paints and get really good results, really quickly.

What better excuse to get some bought and try them out?
This paint set is about to be superceded by a new version of the paint set, with a few more inks/shades and a couple of extra paints. But since we're looking at this set to enable us to mix our own colours easily, a few extra shades of acrylic colour aren't enough to keep us waiting for nearly three weeks 'til the 2013 version is released.

So we headed off to and bought an Army Painter Mega Paint Set.
The little online chat window popped up and rather cheekily we asked "Ian" if there was any chance of a discount. Amazingly, and by indicating our eagerness to buy straight away, we got a 10% discount!

In the meantime, the artwork for our modular electronic board game is almost complete and ready to apply to a prototype board. With a few neatly painted miniatures, and a working electronic game, we're very nearly close to actually getting a game tried out. But then again, we've been saying that for about six weeks now.......

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