The first edition of Life During War Games was two weeks ago, but there are a few loose ends I want to tie up. I have received some feedback that needs to be addressed and there was one particular type of paint I failed to mention because it needs more space than I had. So, this week’s Life During War Games is dedicated, once again, to paint.
Omar Bailey voiced concern with my advocating hobby paints (Apple Barrel et al.) in place of Vallejo and Games Workshop paints. They are definitely too thick straight out of the bottle, much thicker than most miniatures paints. Because of my background in two-dimensional painting, I am used to watering my paints down to a milky consistency and applying it in multiple thin layers. This approach is time consuming and requires patience, but it is what I am used to. Thing is, I was wrong. I should not be advocating hobby paints at all. A trip to my favorite game shop, table Top Game and Hobby, showed me the error of my ways. Basically, hobby paints have a much lower amount of pigment by volume. This means that they will fade and discolor with age, even under normal lighting. If you are planning on painting your minis for keeps, then the best method is to buy a very flexible selection of Games Workshop, Vallejo, and Reaper paints. I apologize for any damage my misinformation might have caused.
I do feel that I need to make a brief note about my particular painting situation. I have a moderate case of gout and a family history of Parkinson’s disease. This leads to my hands shaking subtly when I am trying to focus on a miniature, so my style is built around my physical issues. I prefer a colored base coat, with GW Foundation colors on any large areas, followed by a wash, and a light dry brush to finish. My models will never look as good as the ones in the magazines and books, but I get results I can be proud of. If my painting advice ever seems suspect, feel free to call me on it, because I do lose sight of how other people paint.
In my initial column, I really wanted to cover inks, washes, and dips, but I am trying to keep these weekly missives short and sweet. When I first started painting, I abused inks. I used GW Green Ink and Flesh Wash and especially Chestnut ink excessively, resulting in models with high contrast, almost HDR-style, paint jobs and strangely glossy shadows and recesses. I grew out of this folly and stopped using washes completely.
Games Workshop released their new washes a couple years ago and I was reticent to start using washes and inks again. On a whim, I picked up the Devlan Mud wash and my world was shaken. These new GW washes were very different from the old inks. The shine was gone, the pooling was easier to manage, and the results were fantastic. When mixed with the Foundation range, I was able to paint up rank and file Dwarves in a hurry: flesh with Tallarn Flesh, metal with Boltgun Metal, clothes with Dark Angels Green, and a wash of Devlan Mud was all it took to make table quality troops.
I was impressed enough with the washes to try the inks again. Two thinned washes of Yellow Ink, sadly out of production now, over Mithril Silver and I was able make a more beautiful gold than the out of the bottle gold paint. Chestnut Ink, in moderation, makes great grease and rust streaks on machinery. Ultimately, the lesson I learned was that with proper dilution and technique, inks and washes are a valid way to paint models quickly.
The Army Painter, makers of fine spray primers, make their ducats selling a product called Quickshade. I have never used Quickshade myself, not because of misplaced pride, but because I never needed to paint a large number of troops in a hurry. Quickshade is similar to the old Minwax dip method favored by skeleton and Skaven players for years, but with some important differences. First of all, Quickshaded minis do not have the telltale gloss that Minwax dipped minis get. Secondly, Quickshade takes paint over the top of it, so it can be used as a second or third step in the painting process, instead of being a final solution. Sure, the price difference is significant ($5.50 vs. $30) but even a cheap bastard like myself can see the point in paying for quality. The more soldiers I paint at 15mm, the more I consider picking up some Quickshade.
While I cannot put too much weight on anecdote, I have seen Quickshade at work. My friend Shane, the same friend who introduced me to the great Krylon Camo primer, used the Quickshade to great effect on his Skaven army. With over 250 rat men to paint, Shane used a combination of Krylon Camo Khaki primer and Quickshade Strong Tone to get the Skaven table ready. Even my slapdash techniques could not approach the speed and quality of his results.
In the end, I think washes and dips are an important part of a painter’s paint collection. While there are not cheap options, per se, the money spent is almost always worth it. All of the Micropanzer aliens sitting on my painting table make a can of Quickshade look like a very good investment, right now.