Trying to get better at painting

I recently finished painting a 2nd Edition Blood Bowl Dark Elf team. I’m not even sure how I got started painting them. I had no intention of painting them, it just happened. I based and primed a number of figures ready for the winter and the next thing I know I am slapping paint on a team and they were done. The result isn’t terrible but it’s not great and as I finished them I cam to the conclusion that I need to make more of an effort to improve my painting.

Since getting back into the hobby I have slightly improved my painting results but this has mainly come as a result of painting more things rather than anything I’ve tried to do. The more you do something, The better you get at it.

Blood Bowl teams are only very limited in terms of the number of miniatures so we’re not talking huge armies to get ready between games or tournaments. I should have enough time to dedicate to each model to do a better job. There is no need to rush, although my natural impatience generally makes me to just that.

I think that the best way to make a change of this nature is to do it wholesale. Sometimes making small changes, tweaks, to your technique or environment are needed. But in this case I need to fundamentally change my approach and break the old habits and mentality. For me this would mean changing the models that I paint, the way I paint and the environment that I paint in.

I ordered a small painting station and rearranged some of the hobby bits in the cave. I decided to practice on models that are different from my usual metal Blood Bowl figures. I watched some of the many online painting tutorials. I looked at how I was holding the model and how many models I painted at once.

My normal – old – technique was more of a production line. I’d paint the base coat of one colour on all models, then the next colour and then next all the way through to the final details. It always felt nice as lots of models had paint on and they were all finished at the same time. But, I got bored, I wanted to get things finished and probably, truth be told, ended up cutting one too many corners. So 1 model at a time for me now from start to finish (as I did more I ended up with running 2/3 at the same time).

I’d been looking at the primed Warhammer Fantasy High Elves on the shelf for many months now and decided that they would be perfect for practising with. The models are plastic and very well defined. There were also plenty of guides and tutorials for me to consume.

I found some brilliant tutorials from GirlPainter and I followed these to the letter. I converted the paint colours to the new Citadel system but followed the process as described. I watched the video a few times and wrote down the steps, colours and mixes so that I could repeat them.

I picked up a Swordmaster and started painting. I mounted the model on a paint pot to change the way that I could hold and rotate the miniature. I cleaned my brushes and I was away.

Straight away I noticed the difference in the quality of the miniature. It felt like a really nice mini to paint. The different sections were well defined and by following a tutorial I wasn’t afraid of how and where to put colour. By painting different colours it naturally meant that I was dipping my brush in the water more. I was also using an old plate as a palette which helped to keep the paint at the correct consistency and the brush not loaded with pigment. This in turn lead to the quality of the brushstrokes being better. It was all working together to be a better overall paint job.

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It all came together pretty quickly and the finish is probably – no, without doubt – the best that I have ever done. All of this at the first attempt. I’ve since started to repeat the process with more miniatures, each time trying to get better and better. Making the details that bit better each time. Trying to blend better each time. There’s still a lot to learn and a long way to go but I’m really enjoying the process and am so enthused that I want to paint up the whole High Elf army over the next few years.

I’ve got some more Blood Bowl teams being delivered at the end of the year and I’m looking forward to trying out my new skills on those over the coming months.

Getting better at painting is possible. Don’t be afraid. Give it a go.

I’d love to hear any painting advice, techniques or resource that you may have to share.



2 thoughts on “Trying to get better at painting

  1. Those are some nice looking High Elves. Unless I am painting a character or a monster model, I typically take the “assembly line” approach, but with a batch of 5 models. If I try more than that, it feels like it takes too long, but less than that, and it doesn’t seem to move fast enough. I look forward to seeing how the army progresses.

  2. Pingback: A Man & His Toys | Painting-by-numbers

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