I am a man of many principles (but only one scruple, which I keep in my wallet with the loyalty cards). These are a handful of the ones which have become Relevant to How I Do My Hobby. I’m going to try and explain each of them in about 100 words. I will fail to heed this restriction, because I over-write as a lifestyle choice, but hopefully I will fail in a manner that makes things clear.
Branding = Chod
Brand loyalty is a sign of closed gates. If you can only conceive of building your Citadel miniatures with Citadel tools and Citadel glue, painting them with Citadel paint and basing them with Citadel sand, you’re in a terrible mind trap and you need to get out. These models are painted with an oddball mix of Vallejo and Citadel Colour and Formula P3 and Bob Ross’ art supplies – whatever worked.
My wise and patient friends have taught me, and I agree, that it’s good to have Your Dudes, and to make them Yours. Imitating the house style of a proprietary manufacturer is a sign that you have the brain worms discussed above. You don’t need to paint exactly like the books. Neither do you need to chase whatever technique is currently fashionable on CMON merely because it’s what the good painters are doing and we all have to rush towards getting gud without thinking if it’s worth it.
Arm’s Length Painting
This isn’t Von’s Amazing Macrophotography Blog. I don’t paint things to look good under close-up 4000 dpi super-snappy camera-wrangling. I paint them to look good from the distance at which miniatures are traditionally viewed, i.e. arm’s length at best, while they’re on the table.
Three Chances To Impress
Every model has three chances to impress itself on the viewing eye. Firstly, as part of an army: a bunch of dudes who are all painted up semi-decently. Secondly, as part of a squad: a smaller bunch of dudes who are in some way discrete from all the other dudes around them. Thirdly, as an individual dude, discrete from the squads, yet still manifestly part of the army because of the common elements. Key point: not every dude has to impress on this level. Vehicles, monsters and characters have to. Everyone else can afford to blend in.
Colour Palettes and You
Better colour theorists than me have talked about the whys and wherefores of this –choosing paints and manipulating colour and putting a colour scheme together. Another really good theorist of the hobby has spoken at length about stylistic choices and selecting appropriate colours with which to make a statement. What it all comes down to for me is deciding what I want an army to look like and only selecting pieces which can fit in with that overall aesthetic direction. Or selecting an overall aesthetic direction which suits every piece I might conceivably include.
Lead with the scary bits
Iron Warriors have this so much easier, what with being able to slap hazard stripes on anything they feel like, but it still helps if the sharpest, pointiest, most murderiest bits of the model stand out somehow. This is Robbie’s old trick, which I attempted to adopt on my abortive Tyranid army and, to an extent, on my Retribution. I’m wondering, at the moment, if you can even use it to signal ‘bullet catcher’ status by not making a weapon/fang/gnarly bit stand out, or reserving the technique for special/heavy weapon guys and leaders.
Bases and Faces
I forget where I took this idea from, but it’s a good one, an alternative to the ‘scary bits’ approach above. If a model’s face looks good and stands out, it looks… well, ‘alive’, for want of a better word, sort of personal and personable. If a model’s base looks good and stands out, it’s easy to distinguish from the tabletop and it’s tied in to all its friends.
Bases as Extensions
I took this from Brian, the gentleman of ones, the man who would b. smoove. The base should be treated as an extension of the model. This means it should be treated with three colours and a wash at the very least, same as the rest of the model. It should also share its colour palette with the rest of the model. The visceral hate directed at those Goblin Green bases from the mid-Nineties is often down to Goblin Green having NOTHING in common with the colourscheme of the model above, particularly if that model sported the vivid shade of Blood Angels Orange which characterised the Red Period. Red/green clash. It’s an invitation to colourblindness.
There. I think that was relatively restrained, don’t you?
If you’ve made it this far, have a picture of my best paint job to date: the only model I’ve done where I think all these principles are successfully upheld.