First world problems

I left you just about when I was picking up my can of spray-paint to lay down a base coat for my minutemen. This was all still very much in that first wave of excitement I told you about. In fact, in that weekend I got a considerable amount of brush painting done as well. This left me with a few questions of painting technique.

A bright and auspicious start.

Just so you know: I’m a pretty mediocre painter. I lack practice and have spent years hardly painting at all. Due to time constraints, a few years ago I overcame my antipathy towards letting somebody else paint my miniatures and in this way I have obtained beautiful Dark Age Saxons and WWII Americans for skirmish games. I have even bought armies and single units, so that I now have a nice medieval Norman force and an eclectic collection of fantasy figures.

But recently I’ve found I quite enjoy the painting, and when a limited amount of miniatures is combined with a reasonable deadline, I even get things done. Which is why 80 miniatures and 10 months seems so attractive. But I’m still not very good at painting and quite slow.

To save time I have adopted the army painter philosophy, which I used previously on my Prussian Landwehr and some medieval monks. Overall I’m pretty pleased with the results. But what about highlighting? Experience suggests that only extreme highlighting works in combination with dipping (although I don’t actually dip. Does anyone really dip?).

My Landwehr drying after ‘the Dip’

So what about highlighting after the ‘dip’? Will the paint stick to the glossy varnish? And will the result be satisfactory? Maybe the dipping result is fine as it is and the highlighting not even worth the time. It would be useful to experiment, but that requires me to sacrifice some miniatures for that purpose. Not that I don’t have a bunch of unused miniatures lying around, of course. But more troubling is that it will stall my progress while I’m on a bit of a roll…

The other question is how to get a good balance between diversity and uniformity for my minutemen. I’ve seen some beautiful examples of far better painters than me using understated hues to great effect: no miniature is the same, but there is a real sense of unity to them.

What I’m afraid of is having a very colourful collection of minutemen who will not look very good as a collective. And of course, even if I manage to configure a balanced palette, I’ll still be a mediocre painter, and it won’t look as good as the pros. You know… first world problems!

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