Ask yourself a question. How much time do you spend painting per week? How much time do you spend gaming? Now compare. If you're like me, you spend many many more hours at the painting table than you do at the gaming table. So this post is going to be like a tactics article but for painting. It's about improving your painting.
Lately I have been focusing on trying new things and pushing the limits of the quality of my work. I've been trying to get better at OSL, I've been pushing myself to use more cool colors (I usually stick with warm colors, it's my safe zone), etc. Those kinds of things take time to improve and most of all you need good feedback from your fellow painters. Unfortunately I have to do without real good criticism because I just don't have a lot of people around me who give me good pointers and criticism. Wish I did (know any painting groups in the DC area? let me know!)
So in the absence of peer-review, I've found a couple things have really helped me improve my painting.
The first tip is to paint a wide variety of models. I did Blood Angels for Heroes of Armageddon, I'm working on my own Infinity collection, and I occasionally get a commission I can really go to town on. The variety helps me try new colors and new techniques. It expands my body of work and grows my bag of tricks.
The next thing is using a wet pallet. I started using a wet pallet in May of this year. I had read on Massive Voodoo that I should, so I did. Don't bother purchasing one from Privateer Press, you can make one for like 3 dollars or less. Mine was made from stuff I already owned so I basically spent zero dollars on it.
It does two things for you. it keeps paint wet so you can close the lid with paint on the pallet and come back hours later and that paint is still wet, waiting to get itself on a miniature. VERY useful if you have a baby and you paint during her naps. The second thing, it waters down the paint for you. A lot of painters don't water down their paints (looking at you, Jawaballs). This is not smart. Painting straight from the pot wastes paint. Leaving the paint pot cap open while painting dries your paints out. Plus just looks bad on the miniature ad paint straight from the pot is just too sticky to work with. Get yourself a wet pallet. You won't regret it.
The next thing may seem obvious because it's light. I have two lamps at my painting table. Both with fluorescence bulbs. Before I had one and I was always missing parts of the models, like under the arms, or in a shadow somewhere. This happened because I couldn't see the details well enough, and I couldn't get light in all angles. So I got more light. It helped a lot.
The next thing isn't as obvious to most but it comes down to the basics of painting a miniature - Priming.
Most people either prime white or prime black. Both have their pluses and minuses. White is great because it helps give you brighter colors but it makes if difficult create shading. Black, on the other hand, provides lots of shading for you but it dulls down the colors and makes painting yellow more time-consuming as you paint on multiple layers of paint.
So instead I just prime in both black and white to get the best of both options. This is another thing I learned from Massive Voodoo (noticing a pattern?). We first prime the model in black and then we lightly prime it in white.you get the shading you want and vibrancy of color provided by white. You can also see the details of the miniature better too.
Oh, another thing that is a basic. Holding the miniature during painting. How do you do it? Do you just hold the base? Does that work for you? It doesn't for me. I've now taken to sticking my miniatures on to the tops of medicine containers using stick tack. It gives me a nice big handle for which grip the model as I am painting. There are other ways to attach a model to this kind of grip. Some people use pins, others you magnets...I'm thinking I might try to develop a way with magnets, as sticky tack only works for so long and isn't as strong a bond as I need.
There are probably loads of other simple things one could do to improve their painting but these have worked for me. However, nothing is a substitute for hearing and heeding criticism. Accept criticism with open arms and really consider what people are telling you. That's the only true way to get to the next level. The same could be said for gaming tactics.
Happy hunting, Shas'la, and happy painting.