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Making Time to Paint

Making Time to Paint

Hi, readers!  This is the first of what will be many guest posts here on!  Mugu, is a good friend (despite being a dirty Cryx player), and is currently taking part in our Slow-Grow League, painting some of his filthy undead minions.   Enjoy!  – Plarzoid

courtesy Master Marf

Hello all you crazy gamer fiends out there! This will be my first post of hopefully many here on Plarzoid’s website. When I was approached (at spork-point no less!) by my good friend to add some content to his site, my mind immediately melted. After cleaning up the remains and pouring them back into my head, I thought I’d start off with a subject that I’ve seen come up time and again regarding getting miniatures painted up and put on the tabletop:

Finding or making time to paint.

I’m currently in the last few weeks of our slow-grow league and to me a large part of a slow-grow league is that it’s an ideal opportunity to make time to sit down and paint your miniatures a little at a time, and end up with a 35 point Warmachine/Hordes army. Perfect, right?!
Well, it would appear not to be the case for a few of our players.  I’ve asked a few of them why they don’t at least make the attempt to get their armies painted and the reasons ::coughexcusescough:;  roll in – No time, no place, no experience, too much of a perfectionist, too intimidating, no money to buy paints and brushes (okay, that one any gamer can understand), my models don’t look as good as so-and-so’s models, and so on.

Yeah, what he said!

While I won’t address some of those here, I do want to cover the two I hear most often – No time to paint and no place to paint. Never enough, right? Finding or making time to paint is…well, hard! Yes, I know, trust me. And here I bet you thought I was going to beat you all with an old brush and berate you for not making time to paint – family, girlfriend, kids, pets, friends, work, and homework be damned! No, I really do get that making time to paint is hard to do. Like a lot of fellow gamers and painters that I know (or read about online), they like to have at least an hour to paint. Why an hour? Well, to set up their painting area – paints, miniature(s), water well, palette, light(s), and whatnot (I like to have a drink at hand), then paint, and then clean up and put everything away. That, of course, is assuming you don’t need to clean, pin, or assemble anything, which eats away more of our precious available painting time.

I’ll start with your camera!

One way that I’ve found to increase the odds of getting our little metal undead minions (did I not mention that I’m a Cryx player?) painted and on the table (I know it’s a personal preference, but I don’t usually field models that are unpainted) is to try to make a permanent painting area or have a quick setup. All that time spent on set-up and clean-up eats up valuable time you should be spending painting! Ideally, in your house, apartment, or room, you can make a small area that you can leave your paints, miniatures in progress, brushes, any other tools you like to use, and a container of clean water permanently that won’t be messed with by kids, cats (amazingly my cats became quickly disinterested in anything on my painting area when covered by an old towel or piece of cloth), and wayward nerf gun bullets, and you can also add carpeting to this area, so it will look better and it won’t mess up your floors if you drop a little paint, using the home décor from the Magnolia line I could find the perfect carpets for this. Someplace that you can quickly sit down when you have a small amount of free time to paint. I’m currently lucky enough to have such an area in my house, though this wasn’t always the case (especially when we lived in an apartment up until a few months ago).

A quick note on what I mean by a “small” amount of free time, I really do mean like 10 to 20 minutes or less. In that time I can paint a wash on several minis, do some basecoating, maybe paint a few details here and there. Nothing big and meaningful, but trust me those little 10 minute sessions really do add up and help you in the long run. This in turn allows me to focus on things that take longer (like highlighting and shading or detail-work) when I do get longer amounts of time to paint.

Uh… Not Quite…

While I realize not everyone has the option of having a permanent place to set up a painting area (trust me, in my old apartment, I certainly did not), but if you have a plastic storage cart, tackle box, old TV dinner stand/tray, a large unwanted flat baking pan/tray, or box or something that you can set up quickly and put away again just as quickly is the key here. The idea is the same as with the permanent painting area- set your stuff up quickly and get 10-20 minutes of painting in. Note also that none of these things are terribly expensive even if newly purchased. The plastic cart below is only $15.00 at Office Depot online and will allow you to store paints, brushes, and whatnot and still roll it into a closet or out of the way area when in use but quickly pull out and set up when you want.

Much better!

I used to have most of my paints in a tackle box and my in-progress miniatures on an old metal side of a computer case (both of which I still somewhat use). For years I’ve had most of my paints in a tacklebox, though some stores – DickBlick online comes to mind, sell them as hobby boxes, they’re mostly the exact same thing and often more expensive (my current tacklebox was about a $20 less than the exact same one sold at Dick Blick online as an art storage box). Tackleboxes come in all sizes, but the ones I use (I’ve only had two and my first one lasted over 20 years) have the trays that fold out to one or both sides. This allows me to see most of my paints all at one time. The one pictured to the left is $17 on and is pretty close to what I have now.

With this old set-up I was able to pull out my tackle box of paints, my water tub of clean water, and my miniatures off the top shelf of my bookshelf (it helps that I’m tall) and be set up and painting in less than three minutes and clean up was just as fast. It had the added benefit of making my long suffering wife happy as there was no embarrassing (to her) toy soldiers or paints littering the dining table. It made me happy because I could get in the odd 15 minutes of painting before bed or while she was in the shower (hey, take your time where you can get it!) or otherwise occupied.

If you have $90 to spare, you could get one of these…

Which is almost ideal as it has a fold out table that you could paint on. But I’m like most gamers who would rather spend our hard earned dollars on more miniatures, paints, or other goodies. I mainly wanted to show you the above to give you all an idea of what is out there. The good part of getting a wooden cart though is that you can permanently mount a light on it and hide the cord inside a drawer when not in use (I have a friend who did that).

So, in the end, the idea is to enable you to make more time to get paint on your miniatures, even 10-20 minutes a day will add up and help get your army painted!

My question to you, dear readers, is what kind of set-ups do you have or how do you get time in to paint?

View Comments (12)
  • It is always interesting to read about how other people go about setting time aside and what their hobby areas are like. I use a Large Corner Desk for my paint station and try to paint early in the morning before the days distractions get the better of me.

  • Actually, I was thinking it was a shame we can’t imbed pictures in our replies as I too like to see what people’s work areas are like (I’m strange that way!). If I have a bit of time in the mornings before heading off to work, I like to get some brush time too. Its extra nice because its just the cats and myself, so very quiet (at least once the cats have been given their morning sacraface) and a great time to get a little painting in.

      • Nice to know you’ve come out of the closet. 😉 Really though, do you work out of that desk you put together that I saw a few pictures of a long while ago?

        • Harr, harr. The closet was at the old apartment in Pentagon City. Now that we’re in a 2-bedroom condo, we have an office where I have a normal computer desk and that hand-made one. The handmade one is mainly a staging and photo area, since I usually work in front of a TV show or movie.

  • I’ve taken over half of our dining table. It’s lined with newspaper and a lamp for some extra light. All my models and stuff are tucked away into that little corner, out of sight.

    • Forgot to mention…my thing is that I am just slow at the moment, so I need to set aside at least an hour at a time in order to get anything done, lest I have a situation like my Torch that has taken well over two weeks now to finish due to life getting in the way.

  • @Ron – Two weeks really isn’t that slow IMHO. Of course that depends greatly person to person. In a way I find warjacks much quicker to paint than troops, solos, warcasters, etc, etc, as warjacks usually have less small details/fiddly bits to paint up. I also think that once you get several warjacks under your painting belt, you’ll probably have a system on how you paint your warjacks that will allow you to speed up your painting somewhat. That’s been my experience with Cryx warjacks in any case. I do have to say that your models look great, however long you spend on them! Have you had a chance to try out any of the basing materials that you got from me?

    Your comment did bring something else to mind, I know when I usually sit down to paint, I have a goal in mind, ie, “I’m going to finish all the highlighting on this bonejack tonight.” With the 10-20 minutes here and there, it allows me to have no end goal, just more of a “okay, the scrap thrall needs armor wash on its metalics” and do that and then maybe one or two more small things if I’m lucky, almost never anything where I have a bigger end goal in mind.

    • Yes indeed! I’ve used it for Eiryss, pButcher, and a bit for Strakhov. Thanks again! And thanks for the compliments!

      • My pleasure and remind me to check out your minis the next time we’re there together. I reallly want to see what you did with your bases.

  • As a wedding gift we got some new furniture for our apartment, so now I have a big hobby table/desk that I can spread out on. It’s “me territory”, and my wife has said that I can leave it as messy as I want… so all my miniatures and paint tend to get scattered all over. That makes it a little easier to get set up and painting.

    • That’s kind of my wife’s take on me having the computer desk to use as my painting/modeling area. Her only requirement is that I don’t leave the water pot with water in it as the cats like to use it as a secondary water dish when they think no one is looking. :Þ

      Do you think that you paint or model more now than before you had your own area?

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