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Thursday, January 12, 2012

One Color at a Time: Maximizing Your Painting Efficiency

By Brian

Looking back over the emails I have received about painting figures the biggest complaint I read is that
it can be hard to find time to get any painting done. We all know that this is a hobby and that 99% of
the time it will take a backseat to life, work and family. I know that painting up a new army can seem at
times like a formidable task especially if infantry are involved. So what I would like to address in this post
today and over the next few months is my technique for keeping an infantry paint job moving forward
and maximizing limited time. In bold will be my recommendation for what you should try to accomplish
each time you sit down to paint. So let's begin.

Day 1

In my last post I showed the first step in building an OSS raiding company and a FSSF company. My
personal choice has always been to paint figures on the bases. Alternatively you can use the traditional
method of popsicle stick. These are a great help since they can easily fit 4-5 guys per stick and you can
later transfer them onto their respective bases.

First session: Open your blister, clean any flash, organize which guys will go on each stand then either
glue them on the stand or on a popsicle stick. If you decide to glue them on their bases now would be
a perfect time to add your PVA and sand mixture or spackle to fill out the bases. The PVA glue has to
dry overnight anyway so let the downtime work for you.

Day 2

Day two should greet you with an organized group of figures waiting to be painted. Before the colors
come out you need to prime. Spray primer (flat black is best) will be a quick way to get things moving.

Second session: Spray prime your figures or brush if that is what floats your boat. Then let everything
dry overnight.

Day 3 to infinity...

This is where things get challenging. You now have a horde of little black painted figures looking back at
you all sad waiting to be fully painted and placed on the game board. You start to think, "oh crap how
will I ever get this done?" What you need now is patience, perseverance and possible a solid kick in the
ass. The trick is twofold, first every time you sit down to paint focus on getting a single color over all of
the figures. Second try to maximize your time by starting with colors that will cover the most area on
the figure. Avoid at all cost any areas that will cause you to have to go back and repaint any color you
have already done. So now here is an example to help add some clarity.

The pictures below represent two nights I had this week to paint. I had 47 stands of infantry with 2 to 4 guys per stand. They were previously based and primed and waiting for some color. Since the base color

of my bases was the same as the helmets (brown violet) that is where I started. This allowed me to cover a fair bit of area on each base relatively quickly. Since I was going to paint up the bases the areas I did not want to paint were the boots and pants. These areas will get hit with the colors of the base and it is much quicker to go back and touch them up in black than it would be to repaint their respective colors.

On the second night I decided to finish up painting the bases. I left the edges of the bases unpainted since my grubby little hands will be all over them while I paint up the figure. I will paint the edges of the bases last. The bases will require two applications of dry brushing the first in khaki and the second in buff. While I will be using khaki later on for shirts and jackets I decided to hold off since these areas can be time consuming and dry brushing goes much faster. Also after I finished my second dry brushing application I can go back on another night with black and touch up any areas that got paint on them while I was dry brushing ( I tend to be a quick and dirty dry brusher).

So to recap. Pick one color a night and apply that color to all your figures. If you are doing a quick
technique like dry brushing you can probably do two colors that night. This rule will apply for each color
you decided to use. Also try and maximize each color below is you will find my color list as a guide.

1. Brown Violet (helmets and bases)

2. Khaki/Buff Dry Brush (bases)

3. Black (touch up)

4. Khaki (shirts and leggings)

5. USA Tan Earth (pants)

6. Basic Skintone (Faces and Hands)

7. Sepia Wash entire figure

8. Highlight with base colors (khaki and USA Tan Earth)

9. Green grey (webbing and equipment)

10. Beige Brown (wood, rifle stocks)

11. Gunmetal grey (rifle barrel)

12. Brown (boots and that little strap on the top front of the helmet)

13. Any other details (patches ect)

14. Matte varnish.

My next post will show my progress and which colors I used. Good luck and happy painting.



jmezz382 said...

Good stuff Brian

Lee Hadley said...

I'm definitely at the "oh crap how will I ever get this done?" stage with my US Parachute Rifle Company. Twenty nine bases and 104 little men looking back at me with defiance.

I follow a similar step by step approach to you but I also use the 'diversion' tactic. If I feel intimidated by a task I start a second project and work on that. I swap between the two projects until both are done and it does seem to help me overcome Painters Block.

Hein said...

A great read. Thanks

Neal Smith said...

Putting figures on the sticks is (IMO of course...) the best ROI as far as painting efficiency goes.

Generally you can put all of one type of pose or kind of figure (command, riflemen, SMG) on a stick and can make the same brush strokes on all of the figures or more efficiently apply the one color you are working on at the time.

For example, having all of the command guys on a stick also means you are not constantly picking up stands and painting one figure. You can put that color on all of them at once. It also means less manipulating of the figure/base to get at the place you need to paint.

SinSynn said...

If you put the figures on the bases, there will always be a couple of problematic 'hard to reach' spots.

A paint-stirrer stick is the way to go- you can easily fit two stands worth of lil' troopies, and it's easy to 'assembly line' production.
Go down the line using one color at a time (sound advice there). If you set up two sticks, by the time you finished the second, the paint on the first will dry, and you can grab your next color and begin again...

I skip the whole 'spackle step.'
Plastic Soldier Company troops have thinner bases...white glue and basing sand cover them fine.

A large platoon of troopies can be a daunting prospect...I just wrapped up 2 full grenadier platoons and a Pioneer platoon along with 4 machine gun stands....
(Note- all from one, single 30 dollar box of PSC troops)
That's 109 lil' dudes....Oofah!
...It'll be a while before I grab another box!

xenite said...

Great stuff! I too paint inf on sticks and in an assembly line manner. If you are painting smaller units, or really want great access to a particular infantry fig, glue them onto the top of a thumbtack. This gives you something decent to hang on to, and you can poke them into a nearby piece of wood, or styrofoam. This keeps them from falling over and chipping. I have a platoon of Panzerpioneers done this way and I think they look great. I wouldn't do a infantry company this way unless you really were dedicated to spending the time on them. --Aaron

nathanfagan said...

I have used both techniques but personally prefer to paint my chaps on the bases as Brian has done here.

The main reason being that I paint the base first and then the inf second, stopping me accidentally slapping some earth tones all over the painstakingly painted miniature.

I agree that more detail and speed can be obtained when painting the ifantry but when I came to basing I was so paranoid about trashing the new paint jobs the basing time was counter productive.

Secret Squirrel said...

nathanfagan hit one of the two main points for why I paint on bases.

1. Practical "The main reason being that I paint the base first and then the inf second, stopping me accidentally slapping some earth tones all over the painstakingly painted miniature."

2. Psychological. I have tried on more than one occasion to paint on sticks. When I first got into the hobby this was reccomended to me by many a seasoned painter. However, for whatever reason seeing a bunch of guys on sticks did not give me the feeling that I was getting to the end result quicker. With the guys on the base I can see how every step is getting me closer to the end product.

@Sinsynn Those hare to reach areas are usually the ones that nobody would see even if you took the time to paint them. With some forethought on how you position the guys I have yet to run into a spot I couldn't reach.

Izimu said...

Very informative post! But just to offer a different perspective, I find it more mentally fatiguing to "chain paint" like this than to work on only a few stands at a time. I feel like my productivity goes down when I have to slog through repetitive tasks.

Hatchitt said...

Great read. I personally paint figs via the assebly line method. I white glue all my figs onto nails and put the nails in to strips of styrofoam. I then primer them and paint a specific area on all of them and then move on to the next area. I usually start with painting all the faces, and hands first and work my way out. Works well for infantry. With the figs on nails you doint miss any spots and handling them is easy. It can be mind numbing, therefore you need music or something to keep you from going insane. I make machine gun noises which seems to keep me entertained when painting. :)

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