Yesterday evening, I was painting some Foundry Darkest Africa bearers, and noticed that I had finally come full circle in my painting.
Allow me to elaborate. Way back when I started painting, the first 25mm army I painted was a Celtic DBA army, using Foundry and Old Glory figures. Back then, I was using the classic GW block, wash, drybrush technique to paint the figures. Towards the end of painting that army, however, I was already edging towards my current three layer technique. Over the course of my next painting projects, I developed the three layer technique to something very similar to what is now become so popular through the work of people like Kevin Dallimore and Steve Dean.
Concurrent with the development of the new technique, I also became much more hung up about quality. I often spent hours painting a single miniature, just to make sure that every brush stroke was in just the right colour and in just the right spot. And while that did get me some medals in a few Crisis painting competitions, it also led to a very slow rate of army painting.
Now I’m a wargamer first, and a painter second. This means that I find games played with fully painted miniatures arrayed on a model battlefield more interesting than single painted miniatures, no matter how well they are painted. Consequently, something had to change in my painting style. Over the years, I have noticed that I began to spend less time with a single miniature, starting at the lower scales, 15mm and 20mm. Quality, from a game viewpoint, did not deteriorate, but I took shortcuts: less precise application of paint, less layers, occasionally leave an error uncorrected etc. I also started using other techniques (washing, staining, drybrushing) when they would get me a good rather than excellent result, but do so more quickly.
This had not extended to the One True Scale (25 - 28mm, of course :) ) yet, as far as I knew, but yesterday I found out that it, in fact, did. The last twenty or so figures I painted (which you can see through my Flickr account, with the five most recent ones in the sidebar) have taken me about an hour, an hour and a half a piece. This is about double the speed as before, because I am in fact cutting corners with them as well. I am less meticulous in directing my brush strokes, will occasionally leave bits with only two layers, do not correct every single error (only the glaringly obvious ones) and generally am less hung up about the whole thing. After five years of painting, my ‘pain treshold’ for army vs high quality painting has lifted to include 25mm figures. This is oddly comforting. I can now concentrate on getting armies done.
And the full circle bit? Those bearers I am painting — they have the final layer of skin drybrushed on. Just like the Celts of way back.