Greetings dear readers, I come to you today to show off some mediocre work, behold!
Why would I show off these decidedly “meh” looking miniatures you ask?
“Because you’re a terrible painter!” I hear from the back, and while I admit I am certainly not the greatest painter online, or even in my friend group, I can certainly do better. Here is a sample of my usual work.
Quite the contrast no? Why then focus on what is definitely substandard work, instead of showing off better works? The answer is purpose, to quote Agent Smith; “It is purpose that created us, purpose that connects us, purpose that pulls us, that guides us, that drives us; it is purpose that defines, purpose that binds us.”
I am not suggesting your purpose is to try and save a crappy sequel that ruined one of the best movies of all time, but what I am suggesting is that you tailor your efforts in painting to the purpose of the model. The purpose of these models is to serve as board game pieces for my cousin’s son. And since in fulfilling that purpose they may well be bashed about, hurled at the wall in rage, and when done with, tossed back in the box with wanton disregard for their health. A grisly fate to be sure, and not one worth wasting many hours of painting on. They are however visually distinct, easily discernible from each other and interesting enough that a young child should enjoy them more than tokens or cardboard standees, so they are good enough for this purpose.
“But what does this have to do with me?” You rightly ask, as a hobbyist who produces models for your own war-games and not for the gratification of a hyperactive second cousin. Well I would suggest that not only is not necessary for you to paint your best with every model you put on the table, but that you are actively wasting your time doing so. How so you ask? Observe.
These are a group of soldiers at arms length, the same distance one typically observes them from while war-gaming. Decent enough no? Here they are up close.
And now he looks like trash. We must remember that as we paint, unless we are painting for a golden demon award where we expect a judge to be scrutinizing every square millimetre, we are creating an illusion, not shooting for accuracy. In fact a perfectly accurate model would look terrible at the scale at which we play. His purpose is to look decent from 3 – 6 feet away, in a squad of 20 other dudes, in an army of 100, any of which may be shot off the table at any moment.
Can you tell me which of these 5 Siberian horrors was given a seven color gradient with wet blending and three layers of washes for his muscles? One of them was, and the rest were given a base-coat, 2 layers of dry-brushing and a wash.
And here we go up close.
You might be able to now, but even at this distance it’s surprisingly hard to tell. And to the point, at this distance it doesn’t matter. The purpose of these units is to be one of many that may or may not make it into a large list, so why spend hours and hours working on every single one, when there are a hundred like them that need doing? Unless you have an excess of time to kill or are a consummate perfectionist, there is no need.
Now this is meant in no way to deter perfectionists, or those who want to create the most skillful illusion possible. After all basic techniques like highlighting and shade are tricks of the trade for creating the illusion of light and shadow. But are they necessary for every model? I submit they are not.
By all means spend days or weeks working on your centerpiece models, your characters you use in every game, your Guildball team, your 5 man squad for skirmish games that never changes. But don’t get hung up over making every single model in that 10 man infantry squad look perfect when held 6 inches from your face. Especially if it keeps you from playing games, trust me, that guy who’s army is half grey plastic and half home depot primer is not going to complain.
If their purpose is to look fine when you throw them into battle, and most can’t tell that they aren’t perfect while the game is going on, then don’t worry. Because my friends, they are good enough.