Monday 9 March 2015


The biggest problem I have ever had in my entire wargames career is painting. I am not a fast painter and I also do not get as much time to devote to this as I would like - actually that is not strictly accurate - I do not enjoy painting so having more time to paint would not really work for me! If I am honest I think that the issue is one of perception. You see all these nice models that are beautifully sculpted and artistically painted with tectured and flocked bases and you somehow feel inferior unless you are not churning out the same quality in an army of some 500 28mm models.

It is like seeing people in  the car park stepping into their Ferrari whilst you are wrestling with a 25 year old Datsun (that is Nissan for who are too young to remember Datsun).

I am in awe of these people and probably envious as well.

My first efforts at painting figures were very much in the 'flat colour and gloss varnish' school - and I am really pleased that this technique still has its adherents. I have seen many examples of gamers that still use this technique and their games still look as challenging and as exciting and, more importantly, are more readily attainable to us artistically chellenged mortals.

If I am honest I have been mulling over this issue for some time and again, if I am honest, I am thinking that using a simple flat style with gloss varnish on plain and unflocked bases will enable me to be able produce armies rather than torturing myself over what I feel I should be producing.

As the meerkat once said...."Simples".


legatus hedlius said...

I'm one of the people who wargames solely as an excuse to paint figures! I also get depressed at the quality others achieve and I have dealt with this recently by deciding to only do games featuring limited numbers of figures so I don't have to paint 500 figures (I am a very slow painter too).

I remember the flat colour unshaded figures I used to paint as a teenager and they can look excellent - especially if the figures themselves have lots of straps, belts etc (Napoleonics would look good done like this)

Personally I don't like gloss painted figures unless deliberately aiming at a toy soldier look. Modern matt varnishes, I read in an article in one of the wargames magazines, are just as hard wearing as gloss ones.

Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


I think that simple painting and a varnished finish - coupled with plain greem-painted bases - is an excellent choice ... and not just because it is the same as the choice I have made.

I want wargames figures to fight battles with, not just to impress other people with how good a painter I am. Do these highly detailed figures fight any better? I doubt it ... and the chances are that by sticking to a simple way of doing things you will get figures finished and on the tabletop whilst other painter/wargamers are still painting eyelashes on their figures!

More power to your painting arm!

All the best,


Conrad Kinch said...

Good man David. Eminently sensible approach.

PatG said...

The thing about the Datsun is that it fits your price range, requires a lot less time for maintenance and allows you to get groceries and pickup the kids i.e. play games.

If you really want a Ferrari that's ok too but I'll stick with block paint dip and matte varnish. ;)

Bluebear Jeff said...

Personally I find that too many of the "fancily based" figures I see online detract from the figures.

They pull focus away from where it should be; that is on the figures.

So I heartily approve of your "simples" plan, sir.

-- Jeff

David Crook said...

Hi Legatus,

The great thing about our hobby is that people can enjoy different facets of it but it does not make them any less of a wargamer. I find painting a chore and anything that can make this easier for me is to be welcomed.

Using my old technique will mean that I will be able to produce figures in the time and quantity I want without all the agonising over shading, highlights and sculpted bases. The game is the thing and if my technique means I can get to this then that is fine although it does raise a number of other issues.

All the best,


David Crook said...

HI Bob,

That is exactly my thought although it has taken me a while to get to this conclusion!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Mr Kinch,

I already have some plans afoot so watch this space!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Pat,

Well said that man!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Jeff,

If I am honest I think that the old toy soldier style had it about right but I readily concede that some of the modern figures seemed to be routinely turned into works of art and are used for gaming - sadly not by me though!

All the best,


WSTKS-FM Worldwide said...

Simple painting is underrated in 2015. Even some of the hyper-detailed lines now on the market would look quite acceptable with simple block painting and glossy varnish. Absolutely no need to paint the eyebrows, pupils, lips, buttons, and nostrils on each figure to achieve a convincing and visually pleasing mass effect.

Best Regards,


David Crook said...

Hi Stokes,

I think that my problem has always been thinking that I should be buying into the whole detailed painted miniature thing but it just is'nt me!

Simple and easily do-able will be my mantra.

All the best,


Paul O'G said...

Our hobby has wide and diverse aspects to it - focus on the ones you enjoy! Personally, I quite like some aspects of modelling but I am not fast and I am not fantastic so I have to be careful what I focus on. Whatever you do, as long as you are happy with the end result thats all that matters!

Hope the injuries are healing nicely with a minimum of discomfort mate

David Crook said...

Hi Paul,

If I am honest I think that what I have been guilty of over the years is to spend more time worrying about painting and how to get to what seems to be the standard than actually getting down to it with a brush. In effect I have almost psyched myself out of it.

No more - I will paint how I want as invariably my gaming is more often than not solo these days so it really does not matter about the standard - other than it being tidy as there are few things worse than a sloppy basic paint job in my opinion!
Oddly enough though I have made more of an effort with the ships though....;-)

All the best,


Prufrock said...

I am a slow painter, a procrastinator and a perfectionist, so I feel your pain! I find making a start is the hardest thing, so if settling on a simple style makes it less daunting, it has to be a good thing. That said, your painting seems to me to be of a very good standard, so your simple is still going to result in classy figures.


TheDiomedeF16 said...

I personally find painting the figures very therapeutic, listening to the radio with my dog under the table. I really enjoy seeing the fruits of my labour on the wargaming table. I am a rubbish painter, but seeing them en masse, it doesn't matter. I base them all (28mm) on pennies with a simple covering of flock. Does for me, and that is all that matters...Ian

David Crook said...

Hi Aaron,

I am at that stage of my gaming career where I should really be in the positiion of knowing what works best for me when painting. In truth I guess I have always known but felt obliged to 'raise my game' in terms of technique simply because it seemed to be the thing to do.

You know what? I now no longer think it matters because at the end of the day I am effectively pleasing myself!

I have made a point of changing my ship painting technique primarily in the interests of speed and am pleased with the results (many thanks for your comments in this regard) but I have always struggled with painting anything 'organic'.

Having decided on the figure technique I am actually looking forward to trying it out so watch this space!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Ian,

If I could just pick up on the last sentence: "Does it for me, and that is all that matters".

Says it all really.

All the best,


Steve Gill said...

Thanks for a thought-provoking post, which I very much identified with.

I think up until well into the 90s I had a self-taught painting style, evolved through trial and error, which I was very comfortable with.

At some point around the millennium, I started to get distracted and unsettled by much greater exposure to images of other people's painting and a disconnect developed between what I actually did or could do and what I thought I probably ought to be doing instead, and this had a negative effect on productivity. Psyched out, as you say in your comment above, is a good way of putting it.

Good luck with your own initiative, I'm sure it's the right way to go.