Saturday, 25 November 2017

Beautiful Models v Time - The ultimate rivalry

You might well talk about Man Utd v Liverpool, The Bengals v The Steelers or The Yankees v The Red Sox but I think it is universally given that Beautiful models v Time is the ultimate rivalry in history.
The greatest rivalry?
I came up against this particular rivalry once again in my life the other day. This time of year (September - December) is generally my busiest time. It is the start of a new school year, we have many birthdays through October and November in our family and then Christmas hits. During this time of year I get precious little hobby time and when I do I need to be very efficient and focused in what I do. It is usually in these situations where I hate Games Workshop the most!

As you may know I have been working on expanding the Death Company for my Flesh Tearers army this year. It has been an incredibly slow process for me but I have been grinding through them as the year has gone by. Finally I had got the main torso's finished and in my hour spare I thought I could make some good headway on the arms and weapons and they would be very close to getting on the table.
Finished torso's on the Death Company

Wrong! I then realised just what I had left to do when I started to prepare my painting time...

All the other bits to go on the models
Once I had got the bits I still; needed to get them off the sprue, scrape the mould lines from them , prime, base coat, layer, wash, highlight and weather them. Looking at what I needed to do I pretty much put them back in the box as it was too much to take on in just an hour! I think what really did it was looking at the level of detail just on the shoulder pads - wow! That really got me despondent, just when I thought I had nearly finished I realised I was nowhere near even though I had completed the hardest parts of the job by finishing the torso's.
Blank Shoulder Pad - Yaay!

Blood Angel Shoulder Pad - Gah!!
At this point I sat back and started wondering what other hobbyists think about beautiful models v time. I think that we all love looking at beautifully detailed and painted miniatures on the tabletop. There is nothing like playing with a fully painted army on a nicely decorated battlefield - it really does enhance the game. However, to get to this point requires a ridiculous amount of time scraped away from the better half, job or family and spent alone (usually) under a desk lamp cursing your hands for shaking too much.

Over the last decade or so the quality of the models produced has increased dramatically offering many more details, multiple parts and endlessly poseable figures. Is this a good thing I began to wonder? Wouldn't it be easier and more enjoyable having just a fairly blank space marine to paint rather than one (especially a death company marine) adorned with engravings, laurels, blood chalices and the like? Instead of taking me a year to paint 6 marines, wouldn't I have been playing with them in games for 6 months already? Yeah they look good when they're done but can you really see them in game anyway?
2nd Edition Space Marine
8th Edition Space Marine
(Alright it's a Death Company Assault Marine but the detail has got better over the years!)
 My issue is that if a model has lots of detail I have to paint it. I find it very hard to cut corners as I feel I haven't finished the job. If the detail wasn't on the model or I had to add it to the model then I could happily choose just to not glue it on. Therefore is the answer that Games Workshop needs to come up with more blank figures but with more optional bits included? I know that this happens to an extent but could it go further?

As a hobbyist I really love the detail and the miniatures these days are quite incredible. As a dad with a full time job I haven't got the time to deal with miniatures this good. So where does this leave me? Get them painted on commission? No chance! It needs to be my own work and I couldn't afford it anyway - I'm a dad! Take shortcuts and leave some of the details out? In your dreams! The models are too good for that! I guess I just have to be better organised with my time. I need to make sure that no second is wasted and that I'm combining stages of the painting process with the same colours on different models or that I am building or preparing models in the same session rather than building one and then starting to paint it. I would definitely be interested to hear of your techniques to save time when hobbying as it's such a precious commodity.

Also what are your feelings on the level of detail on the miniatures you paint? Would you prefer more or less? Would you like lots of detail on character figures and less on the rest? Would you like optional details on the sprue that you could then stick on yourself?

Let me know your views.

All the best
James – A blog about Warhammer 40k and the Horus Heresy by four Dads


  1. My big time-saver is using big brushes for both basecoats and shading/highlighting on the main colour of each model. By "big" there, I mean like 1" brushes normally used for doing trim work on houses.

    Start with a very heavy coat of my base colour over the primer, and then one or two more coats that are successively both lighter and more directional, coming down from the top. It also has the benefit of making all the details stand out nicely, so it's harder to miss them and have to waste time going back and doing them after you've already moved on from the colours for that detail.

    Details get picked out, but without much highlighting or shading. Maybe a bit of drybrushing or a wash on something like that Blood Angels Shoulderpad there (probably just Balthazar Gold and a drybrush with Gehenna Gold), but nothing more.

    It scales up really well for batch painting, and I can get pretty decent-looking stuff done quite quickly.

  2. I have to say that I've never considered using a massive brush but I am about to start an Ork army and have been wondering how to go about it. This sounds like the perfect solution, I will probably give it a try - Thanks

  3. My view on this is that you simply don't paint all of the details. I have a growing Adeptus Mechanicus army, now, anyone who has handled those miniatures will tell you they are festooned with detail. Somewhere you have to draw the line otherwise you will never make progress. Check out my blog for examples of the army you will see that all of the major details are picked out, but, a lot of the background detail is just filled in with metallic or basecoats. Hope that helps.