Well That Just Happened!

I would never have thought it were possible!
In the space of eleven days, I managed to paint 81 miniatures!  That's 37 British 8th Army and 44 Deutsches Afrikakorps for Chain of Command!  And, I'd like to clarify, that was around my work.  It's utterly unheard of.

How did this happen, I hear you ask.  Well, let me explain.

Over the years, I've found my own rhythm when it comes to painting.  I've learned what I can do to get the kind of results I'm happy with.  And for three decades, this journey has taken a number of turns.  There are methods I've tried and liked.  Others that I've tried and definitely not liked.

There was the time when the original Citadel Journal made it clear you should use only a black undercoat (my normal practice by the way), and that you should leave a visible line of this black between each item on the model.  In this way, you create almost a cartoon black like around everything.  This certainly helped with adding definition to the model when viewed on the gaming table.  Now, it wasn't the kind of thing you'd win a Golden Daemon with, but it was the way ahead for many a year.

Washes were always a thing, but not necessarily my thing, you understand.  Of course, when Citadel released their new painting system with ready mixed shades, the world changed.  No longer did you need to figure out the amount of water to add to your acrylic paint to make a decent wash.  It was a good time for many.  And most importantly, it was a good thing to help newcomers into the hobby to achieve a very good result without all the crying over too watery or too heavy a wash.  In recent years, I've begun using washes where once I resisted for many a year.

Over time I got to enjoy painting from a black undercoat.  I believe today the method is called wet blending.  I simply started with the shade colour and added successive layers, blending as I went, working up to the colour itself and then adding in some highlights as well.  It looks good to me.

But it takes a fair bit of time.  Sure, over the years I've been able to speed up the process a bit.  You begin to learn how to use the viscosity of your paint to aid the blending process.

And I share all this because a couple of years ago I painted my first 28mm Perry British 8th Army.  It took three sessions to complete.  I don't record the exact amount of time I take to paint.  A session is normally between one and a half and two and a half hours.  Three sessions would normally fill a week to a week and a half, depending on work commitments.

Why did it take this long?  Well, there are a few reasons I think.  First up, there's the palette you're using for the British 8th Army.  It flies in the face of everything you'd do if you had free choice of choosing the palette for your model.  Every colour on them is almost the same.  There's not much between Iraqi Sand and medium flesh tone.  Nor is there a lot between Iraqi sand and stone grey.  And khaki is just a darker shade of the stone grey.  One of these colours forms a perfect highlight colour for another.  And if you're wet blending, it gets blooming hard to find any definition to your model.  You can highlight medium flesh tone with Iraqi sand rather well.  Stone Grey is the perfect highlight for Khaki. So you paint the gaters khaki and highlight stone grey, and paint the webbing stone grey and shade with...well...the natural choice is Khaki.  The Dark Flesh tone from Vallejo's Game Colour range is also the base colour I use for the wood on the rifles.  Net result?  It all looks the bloomin' same.
It took three sessions just to get something I was happy with.  And there ain't no way you can do that when you need to paint 37 of them.  Well you could, but you'd lose heart.  I know I did.  And that was just after one model!

A few weeks ago I decided to try and batch paint ten of them.  I decided to use washes and see how it went.  The result wasn't particularly favourable.  The washes did what washes do.  They darkened everything.  Way too much.  The definition was too stark.  Too dark in may areas and too strong a difference between the shaded and raised areas.  It wasn't good.

So I put them to one side so I could look at them another time and see what could be done.

Which is exactly what I did do.

So, what did I do? 

Well, I decided to change the colour of my undercoat.  I know, blasphemy, right?  I realised that I needed to be able to get good strong base colours on the models.  That way I could make use of the Army Painter Washes I've been enjoying adding to my painting options in recent years.  In particular, I planned to use Soft Tone, Flesh Tone and some Strong Tone.  And if you're reading this and have never heard of them before, the flesh tone is I assume very similar to Reikland Fleshshade; the Strong Tone is incredibly similar to Agrax Earthshade, and the Soft Tone is very similar to... well... something else. 
The plan was simple.  A Pale Blue Grey (It's an actual Vallejo Model Colour , and perfect for shading white, let me tell you!) undercoat was applied.  Then I applied two coats of each colour as I blocked out my models.  Soft Tone went over all the uniforms, both British and German, Flesh Tone over the flesh, and Strong Tone over the darkest colours.  Not all at once, of course, because this wouldn't have been helpful. 

And I used the batch painting method.  It's something else I'd not used much before.  Quite understandable really, because it doesn't lend itself to the wet blending method.  But here, I began with a section of ten men, but found myself liking the process so much that it often jumped to batches of twenty.  Or any other grouping that seemed to help get the job done.
With all this done, I went about adding  a few highlights.  Not over all the colours, especially where the 8th were concerned.  I focused on highlighting the webbing so they would stand out a bit more.  Aything that would add a little more definition.  The main aim was to create forces that looked good on the tabletop, rather than the usual up close method I normally employ.  A large scale skirmish game is all about the volume on the table, rather than intricately painting a half dozen models for a game. 
And I have to say, I'm really happy with the end result.  I posted a few pictures over on Twitter and they were really well received.  They might not be as detailed as I would normally do, but there's an important less on I've learned here.  Eleven days saw 81 miniatures completed.  And in the process I went from thinking it would be years before I'd be ready to introduce my friends to the awesome system that Chain of Command is, to knowing it can happen any time soon.  I just need to work on my Jump Off Points and some additional support options. 
So if you'll excuse me, I'm away to work on some Jump Off Points...!

As always, thanks so much for stopping by!

Comments

  1. Nice work and great achievement on completing your troops.
    I also like your profile introduction quote.
    cheers John

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    1. Thanks so much John, on both counts! All being well, my first attempt to run a game of Chain of Command is only a few days away. Starting to get very excited. And a bit nervous. But Too Fat Lardies games always sell themselves, so here's hoping I don't prove to be the exception to the rule!

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  2. That's worked really well. Good looking toys ready to play.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! I just have to work on a Vickers VI and an SDKF 252 and that'll be me ready to try running my first game.

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  3. Nice stuff. Matches quite well with the techniques I landedon for painting WWII

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    1. Thanks Koen. Great minds think alike and all that...!

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    2. Exactly. An alternative I tried earlier is black primer and then a white drybrush. Enhances the contrast, especially for lighter colours (I did that for my Desert Rats and DAK).

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    3. I've heard of that method too, Koen. It can be really useful if you then use thinned down washes of your final colour. Kind of pre-Contrast approach.

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