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A primer in cutting corners

October 7, 2004 9:51 AM - Posted by Robartes - Category: Painting

As I mentioned before, I have been able to speed up my painting of 25-28mil (the One True Scale) figures considerably. One reason for this speedup is the fact that I now cut corners when painting. This entry is about the various ways in which to speed up the classic three-layer painting technique, some ways of which are applicable to other painting techniques as well. I’ll focus on painting techniques/tricks and not mention other ways of speeding up army painting such as the assembly line (which doesn’t work for me anyway). Here goes.

  • Prime black

Or a variation thereof. I prime grey, because I have found a good affordable spray primer in Brico, but give the primed figure a heavy black wash afterwards. Priming black speeds up your painting because you can afterwards afford to paint less of the figure: deep recesses are shaded automatically, and spots you miss are not obtrusive, so you do not necessarily have to go back and touch them up.

As an aside, the spray primer I talked about used to be the Bricobi one, but they reformulated this primer some time ago, resulting in a smoother finish without enough tooth to be useful. Luckily, the giant Stop cans of grey primer (the link is to the black paint spray can, the primer does not appear to be listed on the website) seem to contain the older formula. Happy me.

  • Use as big a brush as you think you can. Then use one bigger than that.

Bigger brushes hold more paint and cover more area in one stroke, so you’re both loading your brush less often and using less brush strokes. For an individual colour, this might not seem to be much, but it quickly adds up in time saved at the end. These days, the smallest brush I use on my rank and file miniatures is a number 2 (OK, I use a 000 for the eyes, but that’s only five seconds’ work), as opposed to a 000, which was my staple brush before. As long as the brush comes to a good point, you’ll be amazed at what size brush you can get away with.

  • Don’t correct every error

Only correct the really obvious ones. On a rank and file miniature, no one is going to notice that the colour of the tunic bleeds over onto the breeches, or that the underside of one arm has been forgotten. As long as you are not entering the wargame model in a painting competition, no one — not even yourself some time later — is going to notice these kinds of errors. Of course, a broad red brush stroke across the face should be corrected.

  • Be less precise

Do not agonize about getting every brush stroke in the right location with the right thickness etc. Just paint as fast as you can, and if it looks OK at first glance, it will be fine. Although I do not recommend this, bad lighting helps in this regard (but will kill your eyes, so don’t bother) :).

  • Use less layers

Less layers means less to paint, obviously. On some areas of the figure, you can get away with less than three layers. Prime candidates are belts and straps, which I now usually paint in only one layer (simple leather colour on black).

  • Use other techniques

I went through a period where I layered everything, including prime dry brush candidates such as fur or hair. These days, I’m far less hung up about this: when an area lends itself to drybrushing or washing, than I will do that when it is quicker than straight layering. Fur, hair, armour etc. are good candidates for drybrushing.

That’s about all I can think of now. Individually, all of these tricks do not add much, but taken together, they mean the difference between getting a figure painted in three hours versus less than one hour (the Celtic warrior in the sidebar took me less than one hour, including the shield), to a quality that is more than adequate for a wargames army.

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