Thursday, 17 August 2017

Tips to become a better painter

If you're reading this blog then chances are that you've painted a mini or two in the past, or otherwise you're thinking of making a start.  Either way there's always room for improvement, and that includes myself, in fact I think most people with a creative bent are their own harshest critics.  I waver between thinking that I'm a decent painter, and thinking that I'm slap dash and lacking imagination (usually after painting a squad of dirt coloured guardsmen).  In reality I'm probably somewhere between average and good depending on my motivation and the subject- not every basic trooper gets the full Eggmarine treatment as there isn't enough time.  Anyhow you can see my daubings on this blog and make your own mind up.

Here are my top tips to improve, be warned they're more of a philosophical bent rather than actual techniques:

1.  Take pride in what you do

Are you covering some bits of lead (or more likely plastic) in paint just to get them on the gaming table?  Or are you making a minor artistic statement to the world?  haha that sounds a just little pretentious.  But there is a point, if you create something do your best, so when it's on the table then folk will make a little assumption about you, the same way you might comb your hair or polish your shoes before leaving the house.  People will see that you take care with your stuff.

The fact that my Crimson Fists got wiped off the table last Saturday was overshadowed by the amount of compliments my army got down the club, so I didn't mind losing... although I made a mental note to take more care in my army selection in future.  Always game with painted minis.  If table top is your thing, then make sure your minis are dolled up to the nines.  Take pride in your colours.  Then if you get tabled by an empty soda can and a pile of blutack that rolled through a bitz box, at least you can claim the moral victory.

So what if your minis aren't up to scratch down the gaming club?  You're trying, you're learning, seek out new knowledge and apply it.  The reward comes from perseverance.

2.  Learn about colour.

Get a basic art book from the library, or look online and learn about the colour wheel.  The 'Eavy Metal painters at GW don't pick colours at random, they use complimentary colours, pastels, shades and alternate hues to make that miniature speak to you and say 'buy me'.  Choosing your colours appropriately can go a long way to helping your model 'pop' and stand out on the table.  Observe what you see in every day life and decide what works for you.

No one really knows exactly why orange looks good next to blue, they just do.

3. Learn about shade and highlights.

Without shade, any painted surface becomes a featureless blob.  If, like me your first painted minis started off as beautiful sculpts only to become featureless blobs then you weren't painting with shade in mind.  The counter to shade is the highlight and the two of these act to make any surface three dimensional.  We shade and highlight our minis, because despite being three dimensional they are too small to actually look very three dimensional, so we give them a helping hand.

I personally always work from a black undercoat and shade up from there.  So even if I was painting a white mini I would work up from black, to dark grey, lighter greys and finally a white highlight.  The finished article would not be completely white it would just *look* white and have some pretty heavy shading.  Artists might call this method chiaroscuro, and I never meant to try and emulate that technique of the masters I just sort of got there which leads me on to...

4. Find your own style/ Always be the student

There are painters out there that take it to a crazy level of good.  I'll never be one of them, but it counts to look at their work with a critical eye and try and figure out what's going on there, don't just look, try to *see* and learn from it.

I've tried unsuccessfully to emulate many other mini painters, though in fact copying techniques from other painters is a good way to learn.  You can learn not only the technique but whether or not you like it, and it's okay to reject a technique if it doesn't work for you.  Non metallic metal is my nemesis, many painters can carry off exquisite masterpieces that leave me in tears just looking at them, I've tried and failed many times.  It's a limitation of mine that I've learned to live with. Some part of me thinks I should persevere and hack NMM, other parts of me think no, just play to my strengths.  My minis look increasingly like MY minis the more I paint.  I can do grimy and weather beaten, I can do dirty, but I can make it look pretty too. Sometimes.  Other times it goes straight on ebay and I try to forget about it. 

I suppose my point is, eventually you'll get to a place where you're not copying other minis but painting to your own style, and owning it.  Developing and learning new stuff as a painter will feed into it but ultimately your minis will be YOU.




No comments: