Saturday, 5 May 2012

Warhammer for Parents


Three weeks down - only seventeen years, eleven months and one week to go. Ostensibly, parenthood is for life, but I need a light at the end of the tunnel, so lets just go with eighteen years, shall we?

From what I can see, the only clear difference between mankind and any member of the animal kingdom - let's say, for example, a jackal, appears to be four hours of sleep. I know this, because having missed out on opportunities to claim my four hours of sleep, I can confirm that all rational thought evaporates, and one operates purely on instinct.

I just caught myself about to throw an empty biscuit packet down the toilet. It made sense at the time.

The thing is, I think I'm getting the hang of this now. Parenting and painting, that is. Here is evidence:

That's right - a painted figure - one that I've painted since the BOJ* came along. It took ages, and has really challenged the way I currently paint, because I suspect it unsustainable.

*Bundle Of Joy

And, if you have a solid memory, you might say - hang on, you've already painted one of those, how do I know its not that one?

Well remembered. Here are the two of them together:

As you can see, the other was damaged and has been repaired to have a giant machete sort of thing, and has different coloured armour.

With this extra chaos dwarf, that means I now have nine painted - one more and I'll hit another milestone!

But lets go back to that unsustainable painting method for a moment. The problem I have is that I cheerfully sit there layering away, never using any inks, or washes, or shades, or whatever the kids call them these days - except for my trusty brown ink, of course.

I must now raise the challenge - if I am to continue with this sort of hobby - perhaps not so much playing, but just the simple joy of painting - I must get more efficient. I recently saw a post of some chap mentioning how his target is to get a figure painted in an hour. It sounds like an excellent idea, but I am too OCD and panicky to even experiment with my lovely old lead. Yes, I know, I can strip them, etc, etc. OCD is my enemy here, because I'm struggling to break out of my old behaviour, and I somehow suspect my figures will hate my for trying. I can't have angry figures now, can I?

Still, I forced myself. I was in town somewhere, and I popped into a leading gaming outlet, where I picked up the following:

As you can see, the seals have not yet been broken. To be honest, I don't even know if I've bought the right thing. I don't know what I'm doing, and I don't know what to do next. I've even wondered how weak I was that I fell for the pimply faced marine's painting advice with these things. The figures I have are older than him, so what does he know, come to think about it?

So, perhaps the thing is to throw the question out to the wider forum:

What is a quick way to paint figures? Could I get a good looking figure in an hour? Is such a thing possible? Are inks part of the solution?

As a complete aside, I am now aware that Citadel have changed all of their paints. Whilst I've tended to avoid the balance of GW's stuff, because it is no longer from the 80's, I've used the paints because I know the colours and to be honest, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. But now they've gone and changed everything on me, so I guess that final tie no longer applies.

So, a second question to the community - what's a good alternative? I believe that the paints that GW used to use in the 80's/early 90's are still in production by another company?

Oh, it's a girl, by the way. 8.5 lbs, or 3.7 kgs in new money. Daddy's She's still getting a nerf gun, though.


  1. Hey Gaj. Congratulations on your new family member!

    Regarding painting, I struggle with the whole thing and have to admit I find it somewhat tedious. Basically I paint the figures in their basic colours and apply a brown GW wash (the one now named Agrax Earthshade). That's it. Now I make zero claim to painting figures of quality, but you can check out my Doctor Who figures (or any others) on my blog and see what you make of it as a quick option. I have to say it suits me fine and produces results that are acceptable for gaming in my opinion.

    Oh, and the old GW paints are produced by Coat D'Arms by the way. I still use them with the excepotion of the aforementioned wash.

    Hope this may be helpful to you.

  2. Hi Gaj, nice to see some more painted lead from you. The entire 80s range of citadel colours is still available (under cunning assumed names) from Coat d'Arms and they are excellent and very reasonably priced (important when a parent and in constant need of nappies, wipes and, of course, sleep). Just google Blackhat miniatures and have a browse. There is even a conversion chart floating around the internet- on dakka dakka forums IIRC.

    As for speedy painting, I have recently worked on a method that works for me. First, base colour the miniature. Wash with black and brown inks where appropriate. Once dry, apply two highlights to each base colour (adding white to the mix). Works a trick for me, but you just have to experiment and find out what is best for you!

    Good luck.


  3. Hey Gaj. Congratulations.
    Yes you can paint a decent looking mini in under an hour. Here's how:

    Base coat. Wash with ink of same basecoat colour. Highlight with base coat. Fine highlight with slightly lighter shade of base colour. That gives you a base colour, shading and two layers of highlights. If still not satisifed with the results, add another layer of highlights. THEN STOP. BASe coat, shading and three layers of highlights is more than enough for a non-display miniature.

    Stick to a limited pallette for each miniature (say, two different clothig colours, a metal and a skin tone) and you'll find painting much easier and faster. Your mini's won't be as detailed individually, but will still look great on the tabletop. Take a look at my gallery pages for loads of examples.

    Oh, another hint: because I have such little free time to paint for myself anymore, when I paint my own stuff I try to choose a colour pallette that lets me wash the entire miniature with just one shade of ink. The Imperial guard troops in my gallery were painted that way. Total painting time for the squad was (if I remember right) less than three hours. Not including the time I spent waiting for washes to dry. Hope that helps.

  4. There's a good look at the new paints here, including a copy of the conversion chart.

    But yes, the old paints still exist as Coat d'Arms.

  5. Hey, congrats on the new addition. I remember how the hobby side evaporated when my boys arrived. at the time I was much like yourself, using Kevin Dallimore's techniques, which was mostly layering without inks, washes etc. I found that my newly restricted hobby time made me re-evaluate how I painted. I still wanted to produce figures I was happy with, but I needed to achieve that result faster. Cue re-introduction of washes, glazes, and even such things as the dip. After some time experimenting, I found breaking out of my old technique was a really good move, but it took 2 children arriving to kick me up the arse to do it!

  6. Hey Gaj. Congratulations on your protégé/extra bone marrow/BOJ!

    Having decided I wanted to be just like Mr. Saturday above I also went and had two (WHY the bank manager screamed at us - Because we can't count I screamed back that's why we have you in the first place but I digress)

    I have also been really struggling. Our latest is a lot more, shall we say variable in his inclination to sleep compares to son number 1 and it has taken us 7 months to get some equilibrium. But as you say you have to come to the understanding t hat more figures painted will require a sacrifice of quality. Quality or quantity its rare the painter who can do both.

    You may want to check a couple of articles I wrote on differing techniques

    Painting with washes

    Dipping adventures part one and two

    I can tell you the new citadel paints are an improvement over the last batch I am a great fan of the new dry brush paints - I have never drybrushed before these I hated the technique so give them a go!

  7. It really is only when you get your second that you realise how easy one kid is! Quit moaning....
    But seriously congratulations to all three of you. I get flurries of activity with painting and then great long periods of inactivity. I used to paint maybe two large armies a year, one fantasy one historical. Now luck to get a few units done.

    Getting your gaming kicks online is about the only regular thing open to us 30 something gamers with kids, GWKs.

  8. Congratulations Gaj! Welcome to the wonderful world of parenting...

    I enjoy painting the most if the results are good. If the results are not to my liking I lose interest and the will to finish the miniature. I prefer quality above quantity and I like to think I'm improving my methods with each project I finish. Painting in quality doesn't always mean it has to take hours. Just keep improving your techniques and experiment with different painting styles. This should give you a broader set if tools to work with.

    What I'm trying to say is you should be proud of the miniatures you paint otherwise you end up with a bunch of miniatures you don't like to look at.


  9. Congrats and well done (as if you did the hard part :)

    As others have said base coat and two or three highlights, limit your pallet, etc. Ink wash (brown usually).

    Those Citadel Halflings you saw on my blog were done in just such a fashion. Good enough for my failing eyesight I reckon : )

  10. Hi all

    Thanks for the rich and varied advice, covering both the business of parenting and painting.

    @MC Monkeydew - I like to see myself as the architect in the arrangement - I submitted the designs, you see.

    @Dreamfish - that is sound advice. I guess that's the place that I'm stuck. I like painting the way I paint, but I can't believe I'll get anywhere soon. As it is, I'll probably only apply the new methods to as yet unpainted armies - I can't change how I do the undead now, I don't think. Oh bother...

    @Erny - you're right there. Much easier to type with one hand than to paint with one hand, I suppose. Anyway, here's to many more years of online gaming!

    @Lead Legion - I have a question again - so you're saying I should use inks of the colour of the base coat? So if I paint an orc (green), I'm looking to wash with green? Or would a darker ink do? This seems to be what the other chaps are suggesting, but I'm interested in your approach, as you've made a business of it :)

    @Orlygg - thanks for the tip. The paints even have some of the original names - that should make it quite easy!

    @Everyone else - watch this space - maybe, just maybe, I'll get a spare hour today. Lets see what I can do.

    Finally, one more question for the forum. I would typically use a spray undercoat of black, which is great for layering, but is that still suitable for this approach? I see a lot of people use grey (as opposed to white), but what's the reason for this? Does a black undercoat limit the effects of the inks?

  11. I guess gray means you can build up layers or shade easily its a midpoint compromise. Also if you're myopic (many painters are) details is easier on the eye with a gray primer.

  12. Hi Gaj - long time reader, great blog and congrats on the BOJ.

    For quick painting, I use the Army Painter method: colour spray primer - block colours - Quickshade Inks - base and done! I've painted the full set of Project Pandora (20 models) in just over two hours this way.

    You can see examples of my painting over on my own blog should you wish to take a gander.

    You can download their 24 page painting guide for free here:

  13. Congratulations Gaj - on painting a mini up, oh yeah and procreating and all that too I suppose! ;)

    Here's another tutorial I made on painting with Vallejo matte medium -

    Hope its of some use - the ink wash on the undercoat helps to give pre-shading and shows a lot of detail up. I've begun adapting the grey undercoat and black ink wash a bit. For the Amazons I painted recently I changed it for a buff undercoat and brown ink wash as the minis were going to predominantly be painted in yellows and flesh tones - just saves a bit of time getting vibrant colours over a darker undercoat. Matte medium is great as a cheaty method for layering up highlights. For the hundreds of Orcs I painted for Orcs Drift another cheaty method was to give them a very watery black ink wash (matte medium mixed in to keep the effect mat) once they were finished. It brought out a lot of detail but can give the minis a dirty look - great for Orcs - maybe not so much for High Elves...

    Never tried Coat D'arms paints as I've been happy with Vallejo - might have to try some some time though.