For a while now, I have considered taking on commissions and doing paid painting jobs. I often find myself wanting to paint models that I have no desire to own or figures for games that I know I will never play (such as hundreds of Wargames Factory Samurai).
Of course commission painting is the end goal of many serious painters. The idea of being able to make a living off of painting toy soldiers is a dream for many. I am not sure I have ever looked to it as an end goal in that way but rather something to try out and maybe do on the side. Maybe that should have been a clue that this really wasn't something for me, but I forged ahead and gave it a go anyway.
The idea I had was to batch paint a few boxes of The Farstriders warband for Underworlds:Shadespire. These models look great, each warband is only 3 figures so painting up 4 boxes in a go is still only 12 figures to paint. They are also mostly one colour and can be airbrushed very quickly. I also wanted to film the process to give others a guide on how I go about this sort of a project.
I started with a basic unboxing video:
I then ran through the prep work:
It was at this point that the movie mogul plans started to go off the rails as I had a full scale camera revolt on my hands with SD Card failures and video deletions... leaving me with some less than ideal footage for the basecoating video:
After loosing so much footage, and running short on HDD space on my laptop - I gave up on recording the rest of the stages.
Key things to remember when painting for profit:
Time is literally moneyThis is really important. Most of the time you will be getting paid per figure - spending more time on them is not going to get you any more income most of the time. Sure that cloak would be a great space for some freehand but are you being paid to sink a few hours into painting freehand?
An argument can be made that there is a benefit for you that may make it worth it. I can understand this perspective but I strongly recommend that you stick to your own models for practice and experimentation. There are two reasons for this - Extra work starts setting your client's expectations higher and will lead to disappointment if you have models without this extra bling; additionally if you end up with a less than ideal result - you still have to go back and repaint things so you can provide a finished piece to your client.
I suggest having models put aside specifically for practice. You can by cheap job lots of figures on eBay (or Reaper Bones if you like those). These are models you have no need to finish and should think of as practice pieces specifically. You could use your regular models to experiment on but having 'junk' models frees you up to push the limits more, try something without worrying about it going wrong and ruining the model.
Planning is keyFor these Farstriders - I knew the exact techniques processes and steps I was going to use before I even bought the models. You should never dive in and start painting a model before knowing the steps and the order of these steps. Get this wrong and you end up having to repaint bits you've already done as you struggle to reach areas you need later in the process or find that colors don't work together.
Having all the steps in mind is also important for being able to price a model appropriately. Many people will price based on the type of model (troop / hero / vehicle etc) but the model itself is also important. I know that I can paint about 20 Space Marines in the same time it would take me to do maybe 5-10 Cadian Guard because Space Marines are so simple in design, have no faces and relatively little detail. The Airbrush also means I can get a lot of gradient on the Space Marines easily to further improve quality and cut the time.
Be tidyI've alluded to this point before but if you are painting areas that you've already painted then you're wasting both time and money. Be tidy and do it the first time.
Airbrush all the thingsNot an option for everyone but if you can, get an airbrush and use it... a lot. As you can see in the basecoating video, I'd laid down primer, zenithal and all the basic colours on the model in less than an hour of work.
Find washes you can work withI rarely use washes for display pieces, I will spend the time to layer my paints and blend with glazes... That takes time, time you are unlikely to have when commission painting so find yourself some washes that work for you. Some folks swear by Army Painter; for me this tends to pool and leave tide lines - I have a full set of the GW Washes and love them.
Because you are likely to put a wash over the whole model which will darken the piece - start with brighter colours. This will minimise how much you have to work on the highlighting later.
On a related note - use different washes for different colours. It's easy to fall back to 'Strong Tone all the things' but it will leave the model looking muddy. Use Dark Tone for Silvers and greys, Soft Tone for flesh etc.
DrybrushDrybrushing and what I call wetbrushing (a cross between a drybrush and an edge-highlight) will quickly give you the pop you want with very little effort. This works especially well on better quality miniatures that have a good texture to them. A well executed drybrush can bring out all that detail in a fraction of the time.
These blogs, as well as being tutorials are also my own reference book and this is why you so often see photos of random pots of paint in these posts. In this case, I've lumped them all together here (mouse overs and alt texts will give you some handy hints to reproduce for yourself).
Along with failing to film most of the work... I also failed in taking photos as I went along. I churned through the minis pretty fast (less than a week end to end) and in racing through, I somewhat neglected the niceties.
If you like the look of them, please do buy them!
- Raggy, signing out