… when I’ve stopped painting eyes on my miniatures.
Case in point is this miniature, and the ones before it in my Flickr photostream:
As noted in the comments on one of my earlier pictures, I’ve finally crossed a final frontier in painting. Over the years, I’ve always tried to paint each and every miniature as if it was going to end up in a painting competition (and most of them eventually did), but as many a wargamer knows, if you want to actually play with your painted toy soldiers, that standard of painting is not compatible with getting lots of figures on the tabletop.
So, in order to change this, I have gradually lowered the standard of painting for my figures, starting with 15 mils, then 20 mm figures and now, finally, I have crossed the final frontier and started painting the big boys to a tabletop standard as opposed to a competition standard. This evolution is inevitable if you want to actually play with your toy soldiers, and I still think of myself more as a wargamer than as a figure painter.
First indication of this was when I, after ten years, did not enter a figure in the Crisis painting competition — a trend that seems to be general as the organisers complained about a lack of historical subjects in the competition. This is normal, as the competition has moved towards a competition for painters, no longer for wargamers.
Now what is different about the ‘tabletop’ painting standard? For one, I don’t paint eyes anymore. It’s only a few minutes gained, but every minute counts. I also lower the number of layers to the minimum I can get a way with. On large areas, such as the above figure’s cloak, I still do three layers, but the vast majority of areas get only two (e.g. the skin and trousers of the figure). Detail stuff, such as the belt get only a single layer, and I often don’t even bother painting the shoes (they just get a drybrush of the color of the base over the undercoat).
Another ‘trick’ I use, which is nothing new of course, is to have number of figures on the go. That way, whenever I take a color, I apply it to various figures, e.g. this figure’s cloak is blue, that one’s trouses will be blue, and that one’s tunic. This way, you get some of the benefit from an assembly line painting system without some of the disadvantages.
And does it work? Well, over the last three weeks or so, I painted over 10 figures, which is not much by some standards, but is significantly more than my previous output.