If you are just tuning in, you can find part 1 of the series here


Part 2 - Painting and Modelling

Now this is something I find myself trying to improve on big time. There’s no doubt about it, our hobby requires some level of skill with a paintbrush unless you can fork out a few bob on a Blue Table special!

First of all, 40k is a cinematic affair these days. Warplanes screaming through the air, tanks detonating, alien swarms swamping a defense line, gunfire erupting... you get the picture. The thing is, awesome looking models make this happen. I’m afraid Ork Warboss Gaz Badbreff doesn’t quite seem as impressive declaring his WAAAAAGGHHHH! when he’s missing an arm and his skin colour looks remarkably similar to white primer. If this is you, then get it together son, you can become a better wargamer no doubt! At the end of the day, cool models painted up on painted gaming tables is a damn fine site.

So the obvious one is get stuff painted! Sure, we all get excited and want to game with our brand new model whilst the smell of poly cement is still clinging to everyones nostrils. The important thing is to not let this happen too often. Be strict with yourself. Don’t go buying the new flavour of the month when you have an army of plastic. Get some stuff painted up first! They don’t have to be perfect, they don’t even have to be finished, but a few coats and a painted base will make a big difference.

If you struggle to find the motivation to paint stuff, then keep it simple. Certain paints and techniques these days are really simple and fast, yet look pretty decent. When I say certain, I mean two in particular. Shading and drybrushing. Fast, simple, done. If you are particularly short on time and effort, check out the Army Painter Quickshade for a rapid-fire paint job that looks decent on the tabletop.

Now maybe you can find the time to work on an army, but you want to become better at it? From this point your looking at 2 things (or both, of course).

Firstly, have a go at some conversions. With a bit of imagination, you can make a truly unique model from just a few changes. GW sprues are stacked full with options these days (looking at you Sternguard), so you’ve got loads of variety, then loads of spares for your bits box. Extra bits on your model can be a very simple way of making a model look completely different. On top of that, there are some great sellers on ebay that sell heads, weapons, banners, shoulder pads, accessories etc for just a few bob.

Then there's green stuff, modelling putty that can be sculpted into, well, anything. It's also great for filling gaps seamlessly and joining things together aesthetically.  I recommend starting simple, as the learning curve can be a little steep for the grand ideas.

Secondly, improve on your painting techniques. There are a fair few channels on youtube that provide great tutorials like how to wet blend or free hand. Of course it’s another learning curve, so have a go on some test models or be prepared to get the Dettol ready! Another option is to look at some advanced weathering, particularly for vehicles. There are many third party companies these days that offer weathering powders, grime-type washes, mud and more. AK Interactive is one such example.

Moving on now, you can make your modelling and painting skills better by tooling up. There are some fantastic tools and aids out there that make things a LOT easier. For starters, when you paint, mount your model. What I mean by this is that you fix the base of a model to a prop, then you hold the prop whilst you paint. This gives you greater control and stops stray paint on your fingers ruining hours of work. The most common method is to grab some blu-tac, pop it on the end of a cork or old paint pot, and fix your model on top.

Next, magnetize! No, it's not a psychic power rolled on the X-Men table, it means fixing magnets to the parts of your model rather than using glue. You can pick up mini-magnets from eBay for less than £5. They are a safer way of transporting and storing large models so parts don’t snap off. You’ve then got the option of swapping parts over, so you can change between special weapons from game to game without having to buy new models. My Chaos Lord has options for a jump pack, regular backpack, Black Mace, Power Fist, Lightning Claw, Power Axe and Murder Sword. Now that’s an armoury!

Then there's the hobby drill. It makes converting models so much easier because you can pin the new part in place by drilling a small hole and using a regular paper clip to connect the two parts. The model is then stronger. Trying to glue a sword blade to a fist is almost guaranteed failure in the long run without pinning.

Ever heard of a wet palette? It's a way of keeping your paint almost infinitely watered down. Thick paint is horrible as it ruins the detail on the model, and doesn't dry with that nice smooth natural look. It can also be especially annoying if your mixing paint to create a specific colour and it dries up, so you've got to recreate the exact colour again. Do it all on a wet palette and your paint will be as moist as a Space Wolves armpit!

Bases now. Bases are so important because they frame the model, so paying a little more attention to them can make a big difference. There are simple solutions like using flock and tufts, to custom resin bases that have arcane artefacts, lava, battlefield debris or whatever suits your taste. Also, why not ask your mate who plays Necrons for a spare head to mark your regular successes over his robo-boys as it's trampled under foot?!

Following on from this, maybe try and build some theme into your models that mark their passage to awesomeness! The Ultramarine Tyrannic War Veterans are a good example of this, but of course its easy enough to kit bash your own. A Chaos Daemons Herald standing atop a Grey Knights standard marks a decent achievement.

Now if you enjoy painting, have a go at a new centerpiece model for your army, like a banner bearer or the company’s Apothecary. Even if you don’t game with it every time, it will add to your force visually, fluff wise, and be something unique to paint from the regular trooper. Also, many of us enjoy painting and playing with cool looking models, even if they aren't the Muhammed Ali of 40k. This is absolutely fine. Fancy buying a cool looking model and making it work on the tabletop? Most of the time, you can (sorry Mandrakes!). So if there is a kit you absolutely love, go for it.

Last, look out for ideas. There are so many amazing conversions and paint jobs for you to drool over, whether its in the pages of White Dwarf, your Codex, your game club or online. I don’t advocate copying people, but you can use these sources for inspiration to create your own individual model. Once it starts marching around the tabletop wiping out models like a boss, you’ll feel even better knowing you laboured for hours on it.

To briefly summarize

  • Paint Everything
  • Learn New Painting Techniques
  • Attempt Conversions
  • Use Youtube Videos for Advice
  • Create an Army Centrepiece
  • Learn to Magnetize
  • Look out for New Ideas
  • Base Your Army
  • Invest in a Wet Palette.

So these are just a few simple tips that can make your painting and modelling even better. As much as we wish we could paint like the ‘Eavy Metal team, the sad reality is that most of us can’t. However subtle changes as mentioned above can make a big difference to aspiring painters and modellers out there.

See you next week for part 3 - background and fluff.

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