For those that haven't been following my recent blog posts may not know but I recently moved back from the US to the UK. Moving 6,000 miles around the world - especially when most of your belongings are on a boat for several months can make painting even more of a challenge. I'm hoping to buy a home of my own but in the meantime I am crammed into my parent's attic with a handful of paints and whatever minis escaped the packing boxes.
All of this has put a real strain on my commitment to my hobby. Having just returned from a trip to California to get more of my affairs in order, I am finally ready to return to my Space Hulk set... but opening it up, I am once again struggling to find my motivation. These are gorgeous miniatures that I have always loved, there's a manageable number of models and much of the terminator paint work has been done already.
All of this has left me wondering what it is that helps get me into the painting 'groove', as I thought through this issue, I figured I'd make some notes that could help others (and remind me) of the things that can be done to relight the spark.
Dedicated AreaThis is something called out by Uncle Atom and I agree whole heartedly - if you have a space set up where you can sit down and dive straight into painting, there's a much lower barrier to getting going than if you have to pull everything out of boxes to get going and know that you've got to pack it all away when you're done.
Having said that - I've never had a truly dedicated painting area, the closest I've gotten is a portable painting station that I can pull down from an out of the way shelf to dive into a painting session and this is really all you need - a tea tray can suffice! Just have the things you need for your current project set aside on it and you can store the whole thing in a cupboard or on a shelf to pull out when you are painting and store away again after.
Regular ScheduleEven if you have a dedicated painting area set up, it doesn't help much if you don't sit down and use it. There are a few different ways to ensure you get into your painting, but they all involve having motivation to get down to it.
You can set aside some time to sit down and paint, this works well for some folks, not so well for others. For me it's very easy for this to feel like a chore. If you are going to do this - try to make sure the time is at least 60 minutes and preferably several times a week. This is enough time that you can make some headway and frequent enough that it will become routine easily.
Paint to audioAnother option is to give yourself another thing to drive you to paint. Uncle Atom speaks to this point in one of his videos - if you have a podcast or an audiobook that you enjoy - make it something you listen to whilst painting. This is a really effective way of motivating yourself to knuckle down to some painting.
Paint with othersThis is my personal favourite and a technique that really helped me when I was still in California. If you can get a group of painters together, you can set aside an evening a week to meet up and paint, maybe at someone's house or at a game store. For me, the FLGS had a group of painters that were budding tournament painters and avid gamers that would get together for a painting session every Monday. The level of output in these sessions wasn't always that much, but talking about your figures, showing off what you've been working on is a great way to motivate you to do more. I'd often come back from a group session just wanting to paint more, make it to the next step with the figures I was working on.
Blog about itI enjoy writing and taking photos, so for me, blogging is a natural fit. Writing up what I've been doing helps me remember techniques and sharing it across Facebook Groups/Reddit/Paint&Putty helps me collect feedback from others and it really drives me to do more. I have a dashboard for my blog that shows my page's views and I get to see that blog posts about the painting of a miniature, where the miniature is completed - gets more views and so I try harder to paint more and post more and get more views. Of course there are ways to cheat the system (and that's true for most of these tips) but it is a great motivator.
Use what you paintThis one can swing both ways, it can breed complacency but on the flip side, I find looking at figures I've painted being used can really inspire me to do the same thing for my next game. It also encourages me to play the game as I get to show off the figures that I painted up. For some though I can see that painting up one game can just make painting up the next game seem even more arduous.
Know when to stopThis is a tough one to balance. On the one hand, you want to paint your best, on the other - you often are just sick of dealing with a figure which puts you off of moving onto the next.
There is also another level to this, painting to a standard. I have spoken about this a few times (notably in my Speed Painting post) but make sure you know how well you want to paint up your figures. A great demonstration of this is Zombicide - it has a ton of minis, you probably want to give the heroes some TLC, maybe the Abominations; but the walkers? just go quick and dirty!
Date your minisThis is a weird little hack I got from a fellow Blood Bowl player in my local league. Date your figures and you can see how you've improved over time. This takes a while for the pay off but even after a year of doing this I feel it's well worth it.
- Raggy, signing out
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