Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Do Painters Have Morale Throws Too?

I usually buy figures in small units: a company of musketeers, one of grenadiers, and perhaps a squadron of cavalry all in one purchase. I find this lessens the drudge factor in painting by providing a little more variety. But there is a downside to this. There may be an interval of a month or so before I paint a second set of figures of the same type. And this means that much of the familiarity with the figure has been lost: the same old mold lines may not be noticed (again), and details of which features to paint up and which to ignore, what to highlight, what to line, all have to be remembered.

I had already painted the rank and file for one company of fusiliers some time ago. I decided that I would try a different approach for the rest, completing the regiment by painting all its remaining figures if not all in one go, then at least in consecutive batches. Perhaps the drudge factor would be more than compensated for by the efficiencies of the method.

Well, the figures have arrived from Tradition of London. As usual the inital reception was one of pleasure (I can't frolic like a new-born lamb anymore, though I do try). But there was a little voice somewhere in my mind doubting that painting them all was really going to be quite so much fun as unpacking them. I set them all out and admired them: admiring figures does not take much effort. But it was when I started to clean them up with a craft knife that I really began to reflect on how long it takes (me at least) to paint thirty six Stadden infantry plus their accompanying officers.

Stadden fusiliers in column of bottletop

I remember the old WRG rules sets with their lengthy lists morale of morale factors. My table for 'painter about to sit and paint' would have factors such as +1 for a sunny day, +1 for a decent programme on the radio, +2 for good anatomy, etc.. I think I made my morale throw, albeit only just.


Stokes Schwartz said...

Hello Andy,

I find for myself that the "drudge factor" seems to lessen in its effect the farther along the figures progress. So, while painting 30+ faces and pairs of hands is far from rewarding at the start of the painting process (or blue coats, or pairs of breeches), once I get to the facings, turnbacks, and shoulderbelts later, things begin to seem much easier and proceed more rapidly.

It's these three details that, once completed, really seem to liven up the painting work and help light to appear at the far end of the painting tunnel. Or at least that's the mental game I play against myself when it comes to getting through a lot of figures in one go.

Best Regards,


Der Alte Fritz said...

Try dividing them into smaller groups of say 12 figures and painting the smaller batch to completion. I find that helps me get through a larger unit quickly.

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

...painting sticks are the answer for me.... several figures all on one stick (I use balsa, about 10 cms x 1cm x 1cm) and all facing the same way - then go production line - paint exactly the same piece of each figure, before moving to the next piece, and repeating etc etc. The more figures on the stick the faster the painting as you're not stopping to pick each one up, put one down etc etc.

MurdocK said...

STICKS are the WAY!

I agree with Steve, for the rank and file soldier put the on a stick. At least 4 of them (that way a company or file can at least be done at one time).

I find that the 'spacers' (I think they are called this) that are used between stacks of lumber are great! They are 1"-1 1/2" wide, 1/8" to 1/4" thick and are often 18" or longer (provided they did not get snapped off in transport). Most lumber yards have them scattered all over the place and are happy to see them collected and taken away for free!

I water down white glue to stick the troops on (again at least 4 on a stick, sometimes 6 or even 9) they are all the same pose and facing the same way, about 15 to 30 degrees off center, not looking directly left or right, but also not straight on. This way I can paint the facial details without having to 'reach over' the mini next to the current one.

By using the sticks you are picking up 4 or more at one time and I find I can blaze through the same detail over and over again very fast. If anything since I have started to assembly line 100s of figs at one time my speed and accuracy have both improved. I credit the ability to pick up so many figs at one time as a big time saver.

I used to use the 'one at a time' method, but hands used to cramp up holding the little base caps or blocks or what-have-you that I had tried. Not any more, my hand gets a bit tired holding the stick, then I rest then end on my knee and just 'steady it' with the other using very little strength while continuing to paint rapidly away.

This coming month I may get through another 200+ figs!

I do urge you to try mounting the men to a sick (even if it is a wide tongue depressor with only 3 minis on it) and try it out!

Stokes Schwartz said...

Hello again Andy,

Don't forget that engineer battalions can also fight as line infantry in the Young-Lawford rules. Definiteley paint up the 2nd Engineer Bn. in your Electoral army. If nothing else, it will give you another unit of muskets for the Elector's generals to call on in a tight situation.

Best Regards,


CWT said...

I agree with some of the comments above - sticks of figures seems to mentally cut the numbers, as you'll naturally tend to think "three sticks to go" rather than "48 figures to go"

Bluebear Jeff said...

Another good "stick" are those paint mixing sticks that you get wherever they sell gallons of paint. They hold a nice number of figures, but are very light weight so you don't get tired of holding them.

I concur with the others, painting sticks are the way to go when you have much painting to do.

-- Jeff

andygamer said...

Tongue depressers are good too. Although with my -5 to dice roll for Inertia, I don't do much.