Monday, 21 November 2016

Arms Length: the cure for painting perfectionism

For the last couple of evenings I've been working on the first models for my Flesh Tearers army. Nothing too complex or extensive, just a handful of ordinary Tactical Marines with bolters, not even an entire unit. It was even going well until I hit a roadblock: the white on the chapter symbol.

Like a lot of miniature painters, white is something of a problem for me. Endless iterations of white base paints and layers have come and gone and I still can't get a consistent coat. My dream of a White Scars army lie perpetuallyunfulfilled because I just can't make large expanses of white armour look like anything more than a field of visible brushstrokes and painfully evident basecoat.

Still, thought I, the only white on a Flesh Tearer is on their shoulder pad and I had a method straight from a painting guide that just had to work because, hey, this is what the 'Eavy Metal team had worked out was the path of least resistance to a good, flat white.

So I painted the red, I painted the black, I filled in the base layers on the gold, the gunmetal and the green lenses. It was all going well.

Then I tried to paint the chapter symbol. Once again, as ever, visible brushstrokes and a patchy finish that left the basecoat painfully visible.

Frustrated, I slumped back on my couch and, smoke rising from my ears, turned my attention to the episode of Supergirl I had on the TV as background noise. After a few minutes of Kara and Cat's delicious mentor relationship soothing my savage breast my eyes flicked down to the models on my painting table and I saw something.

A good, consistent white. The same white I'd painted, untouched from when I'd turned to the TV in frustration. Now I wasn't holding the model right up to my eyeline under a bright lamp, now that I was viewing them at a decent distance of about two feet, it looked okay. A little dull, perhaps, maybe in need of a Ceramite White or Pallid Wych Flesh highlight but good enough.

I think this is the real issue in my perfectionism and maybe for other people as well. I forget that most people who see these models won't be holding them as close as I am when I'm painting them. Instead they'll be on the other side of a four foot table and looking down at the models.

So the next time you're frustrated that your paintjob isn't “perfect”, get some physical distance and look at them the way you and your opponent will look at them on the tabletop. Trust me, it gives you literal perspective on your work.

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