A few weeks ago, a post came across my Facebook feed from That’s Entertainment, the best local comic book store within 50 miles of my house. They said that they planned to host a miniature painting contest that was beginner friendly. I, very much a beginner when it comes to painting miniatures, immediately followed the link and signed up. And, so starts the story of how I entered a painting contest.
Technically, I actually entered nothing. They gave us 3 hours to start painting at the store. I took advantage of two of those hours and then wandered around the store for about 45 minutes to look for some back issues and find some new series to read. The latest TMNT story looks awesome and now I think I might order some older trades like the one for “The Last Ronin”.
The Miniature in Question
A few other competitors recognized this monster from their travels in Dungeons and Dragons. They also seemed to come in with plans and color schemes. Since I mostly just played with Quinn and the kids at school, I never encountered a hellwasp in game. I came in with the plan to try to make it look as much like the instructions as possible. To borrow a phrase from The Lego Movie, “I like to follow the instructions.”
I went with what I knew and primed the model black. Some others primed in their primary color and I think I might try that technique on some of my models because I like the look of their models. Also, the black base swallowed some of the highlights from the drybrush and made the model look dark. Another painter said the same thing about his.
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I like that the camera picks up some of the detail that my eye misses. Makes me feel better about my technique. Because, looking at it while I was painting, I felt defeated. Nothing worked out the way I wanted and I started to think that I wasted 15 dollars. Then I saw the pictures and I found the inspiration to keep going. I felt excellent after painting the wings. I really like how they look.
The Finished Product (For Now)
I still have to do some work. It looks too blue for my liking. The actual one has more of a purple look, but that’s not too big a deal. I also want to blend the wings better. But, when I showed it off to my family, Liam said, “That looks cool!” So, I felt even better about it. Join me in a couple of weeks so you can hear the actual story of how I entered a painting contest.
I speak frequently of my desire to play miniature games like Warhammer. I even went so far as to order a few “mystery boxes” from Privateer Press and a subscription service I just found a couple of weeks ago. Once, about five years ago, I signed up for a beginner paint class at one of the local gaming stores. Last year, I ordered a learn to paint kit from Amazon. All of this done in spite of the fact that I had no time to actually sit down an paint the models. That all changed when I switched jobs. I finally painted two of the beginner models. That gave me enough confidence to write this Warhammer 40k/Hordes model update.
The surprise box I got from Privateer Press contained units from the Skorne Command. After finally getting a chance to look at everything, the units included aren’t covered in the codex book. Peculiar. So, without a proper army, I decided to write this post instead of a post covering actual game play. Besides, I bought some games through Humble Bundle that I can play on Steam if I need to get the fix of playing the actual game.
When I finally opened the package containing the units, I cringed. Oh, I thought, these have to be assembled. Unwilling to take that risk at the time, I put them back in the box and promised myself that I’d come back to them. Unlike those promises in the past, I kept it. So, a couple of days ago, I took the risk and grabbed the glue. After examining the contents closer, I thought, this doesn’t actually look too bad.
You notice they are still only a “pile of gray plastic” as I saw it referred recently. I still need to come up with a story for the army. Yes, you know me. Nothing works without a good story. I brewed up an idea a couple of days ago. I researched if it makes sense, but found little either way. So, I that as a good sign. As long as it makes sense to me, who cares? Unless I find a play group, who else will ever see it?
Here goes. The unit got cut off from their army in a forest. Their commander (dude with the fancy hat) died from a trap. Ever since, they took matters into their own hands. Dying their armor green with silver accents to camouflage better. I still need to flesh out their mission.
Okay, now the magic happens. Yes, I learned nothing. I might be overpromising and underdelivering with that opening. Nevertheless, I stand by my confidence. I came a long way from that first painting class. While my models still show evidence of beginner’s mistakes, they still look good. And, I even painted these ones!
The green wash caused me problems. But, the rest of the paint job went well. Still minor beginner mistakes like painting the wrong part, but overall, a success. One of the guys lost his arm, so he just grafted a gun in there and continues to march.
I love painting. It brings me zen in the same way that building Lego does. I may not be the best, but I’m getting better and that’s what counts. While this Warhammer 40k/Hordes model update doesn’t talk anything about actual war, look for that in the future. I both found some other models in my box while getting the supplies and ordered a beginner kit that has more Necrons and some other soldiers. So, I plan to put together a couple of armies and march them against each other soon.
Then again, now that I think about it, it was probably a year or longer. However, as you get older, time has this way of feeling like it is contracting. I can’t believe that I never considered it before, but a student in one of my classes pointed out that it is because for every year you get older, each year is less a percentage of your life overall. It’s so obvious, but I just never considered it before. Okay, what’s the point?
Well, some undefined amount of time ago, I got into miniatures. It started with a paint class that I signed up for at Modern Myths, but was only able to go to two of the lessons. Therefore, I only know how to prime and paint the base coat. I don’t know anything about dry brushing, washes, or other finishing techniques. I have been doing some research and talking with Kevin to get a better idea of how to do those things.
After taking the class, I found a deal on a two player battle box of Privateer Press Hordes miniatures. Initially, I had plans to paint the miniatures and, at least, display them until I could convince Chris or one of the boys to try the game with me. As happened too often in the recent past, life got in the way.
I’m 42 this year. I never believed in arbitrary age milestones. Sweet 16, at 18 you are an adult and can die in a stupid war, but then you aren’t mature enough to drink for another three years? However, anecdotal evidence points to the mid life crisis as an actual milestone. I can’t say that is definitely what I’m experiencing, but other than the fancy red sports car (that I can’t afford), I check off most of the other boxes.
The one major adjustment that I’ve noticed is that I changed my outlook on life. Because, you see, another stereotypical midlife crisis trope that I’ve experienced is that I’m gaining some perspective and reflecting back on my life. As a result, I made that change mentioned in the first sentence of this paragraph. I came to the realization a few days ago that I’ve been living my life lately according to the improv credo of “Yes, and…”
Instead of saying “No” or “Maybe I’ll get to that tomorrow”, I’ve been saying “Yes, and..” It has changed me in fundamental ways. Instead of saying, “No, I really like my holiday break”, even though it’s way too long and I get surly by the end, I said, “Sure, I’ll fill out sub forms for your district.” That has led to an extra 200 or so dollars so far and a possibly very good offer that just happened today. Instead of putting the boys off until “tomorrow”, I’ve been playing a variety of games and toys with them as well as almost starting the podcast up again soon. That has led to me being happier, not feeling as guilty, and getting some of my creative energy out.
And, finally, we get to the point of this particular article. Instead of ignoring my miniatures due mostly to a fear of failure, I took the box that they were in out of the game room closet. I primed some more of the models and started talking to Kevin about the process again. That was mostly just to keep myself honest and engaged. I also sent a note to Chris for the same reason.
In both cases, it must have worked because I started to paint the little dragon dog dudes or whatever they are. Even though they are the smallest pieces, they have the least intricacies when it comes to design, so I hoped that might work in my favor. I don’t have the official paints licensed by either Privateer or the Warhammer company, so I had to kind of work around and figure out how to mix the paints that I had gotten for Aiden so that he could paint his Bob Ross masterpieces for the family Christmas gifts.
After my first attempt, I thought about how to improve on the color. I texted Kevin a couple of times and figured an easy way to mute the color would be to add some white to the blue before mixing in the pink. That still wasn’t quite working as well as I had hoped. It might have been because I left the dab of blue paint out on my easel and it thickened a bit. Also, some of you might be cringing at my technique and I don’t blame you. I went a bit heavy handed this time. I’m hoping to get some better brushes and a helping hand magnifying glass to refine my technique. I didn’t care at all about getting paint on the base because I’m hoping to do terrain effects there. I see those of you who weren’t cringing before are probably turning up your noses now. Hey, I’m not that bad!
To fix the thickened blue paint issue, I used a dab of paint thinner on the brush. That both served to lighten the color and make the paint go on less clumpy and preserve the detail of the miniature. It isn’t a perfect job by any stretch of the imagination, but at least I’m doing something with these models that have just been sitting around in a box for at least a year. I hope to keep working on them over the next few weeks and giving them a better look. I will share my process along with my failures that hopefully eventually lead to success. If not, laugh, cringe, and sigh along with me during the adventure.
Both Chris and Kevin have said that I’ve done a good job so far. I can’t tell if they are just being encouraging or actually mean it. However, they’ve both expressed interest in the hobby. Kevin said that he’d like to get back into it and Chris mentioned that he might give it a try. They are both more artistic than I am by a lot, so it will be interesting to see how much better theirs come out than mine if they do follow up. Also, who knows. Maybe we can actually get some games going, either in person with Chris or via Skype with either of them. All I know is that I’m having so much fun with this painting and even if they are only display pieces, at least I can show how much better I’m getting. I hope!
(Editor’sNote: There are no mistakes. Just happy little accidents. Except that paint that I got on the base of the model. That’s a mistake.)
Over the last few years, mainly because of the web page and podcast, I have become interested in new games and even new types of games. Before starting the page, Chris and I mostly just played Magic the Gathering for our tabletop entertainment. Since then, though, we’ve branched out into Dicemasters and Heroclix as diversions. Heroclix, in particular, will be the focus of the next two articles.
Heroclix, as we’ve discussed, is a more cost efficient introduction into miniature games. I will talk more about it in my next article, either tomorrow or Wednesday. Today, I mention Heroclix because it has brought my interest in miniature games back to the front. I haven’t actually taken the leap into any of the games, but I did sign up for a learning how to paint miniatures class so that when I do finally take the plunge, I will have a quality army to present at games.
(Note: Image Missing. I looked for a picture of the unpainted model, but I can’t seem to find one. I found some terrible paint jobs. I’m not saying that I’m a professional by any stretch, but these ones looked bad. The best that I can do is my primed model from the first class shown below.)
As mentioned above, the first day was all about getting used to the process. We chose a miniature (either one that we owned or one that they provided), assembled it, and primed it. I looked over the models provided by the instructor and found one that required the least assembly and looked to be the easiest to paint since I’m a total noob and I just didn’t want to screw it up too badly.
To be honest, I wondered how we would spend an hour and a half doing just those steps, but the in between time allowed for questions and general chat among the class and the instructor. As I wrote on my Facebook, they are an eclectic bunch. One works at Old Sturbridge Village during the summer making pottery and another is a PhD student in polymer engineering at UMass. I learned about the different types of glue, paint, and models available and I am much more informed now when I go to make a purchase.
The second class was actual painting and I have to admit that I was very overwhelmed by the process. I even asked at one point, “Is anyone else paralyzed by choice?” after staring at my model for over 45 minutes. I looked at the paint choices. I searched online. I found nothing that helped until one of the other participants said something about looking at the model in pieces instead of a whole. Then, someone else suggested that I take a piece of the model with a large surface area. Both of those ideas got me on the right track. I grabbed one of the greens because I wanted to make him more of a wood elf than a high elf and I didn’t want to go crazy with the color scheme. I painted his cape that green color and was off to the races.
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