Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Painting for Tournaments, Part 1: How Not to Paint

[This article is part of the Painting for Tournaments article series.]

My little survey has been sitting in the sidebar for a few weeks now taunting me with the fact that I haven't written anything yet in relation to it yet.  Well, tonight is the night.  I am going to try and put together a 2-3 article series on painting to get high(er) soft scores in tournaments.  The first article is going to be about what I have seen as a player and a paint judge that might yield a low score. 

As mentioned in my post on Post-Event Judging Thoughts, I had the fortunate (but at some moments tiring and frustrating) job of paint judging for a major Warhammer Fantasy Indy GT here in Texas.  It was pretty cool and it really helped to re-establish the fact that I am a pretty sound hobbyist.  I was able to see a lot of good painting, a lot of bad painting, and a distinct lack of painting in a tournament setting.  It bolstered my confidence in my ability to see quality painting.  I was also able to better appreciate how that might tie in to someone's success at a tourney.

So, to begin the series, I thought it might be good to talk about the things I saw as a judge that made me want to lower a person's score, or at least not give them as many points as they could have gotten with a bit more effort.

1) The first thing that will get you dinged is having unpainted models.  Yeah, I know.  Obvious, right?  Well, apparently not.  If you are paying money to attend a tournament and you want to do well in the tournament and you know that there will be soft scores, why not freakin' do your best to get the easy points to push to you to success! It blows my mind that people will pay $50-$60 for tournament fees plus $100-$200 or more for hotel accomodations, food, and travel, and yet they hamstring themselves from the start.  In the tournament I judged players got a solid baseline score if their entire army was painted to a minimum degree (generally the three color minimum rule).  It's that easy.  I saw some crappily painted armies at the tournament, but they were fully painted crappy looking armies and due to that fact, they got higher scores and unpainted armies.  Listen folks.  Do the prep work to get your army together before you go.

2) Drybrushing!!!! AHHHHHHHH!!! I hate to see an entire army drybrushed.  It drives me nuts.  I think it is because drybrushing is one of the first skills taught to most hobbyists and that it is an easy technique that makes players think they can simply drybrush an army and it will look good. Big mistake.  Drybrushing is a technique use for highlighting textured areas like chainmail and fur.  It should not, I repeat, should not be used on the entirety of a model.

3) Poor basing will also ding you.  I have seen armies that have multiple basing schemes for no reason.  As if the player borrowed a bunch of models from various friends and put them together to make an army.  This simply will not do.  You don't have to do elaborate bases to make an army look cohesive.  At the same time, you don't want to lose the model in the base.  There are a few principles for basing that help present a model well, but I will go over those in another article.

4) Dipping done wrong.  I don't know how many armies I saw that were dipped.  I know it is a great way to paint an army fast, but in most cases, if done hastily, it looks like your dog got a hold of your army and drooled all over it after licking it's butt.  Dipped models tend to shine a lot and it is easy to have too much varnish/wash build up on the mini and then it looks bad.  If you want to dip, fine, but take the time to do it well by adding a few highlights and using a matte varnish on your models to knock off the shine.

5) Leaving out the details.  Too often people could simply pick out a few extra details on a mini and they would get quite a better result on their painting scores.  If you don't want to spend the extra time doing it for every model, try picking out things like HQ models and sargeant models, or MCs and various tanks.  Bottomline, the details show you care and spent the time.  Paint them appropriately and you will get higher scores.

So, like I said, this is simply a beginning article. If you find yourself pulling a Homer Simpson in response to some of my comments above,

Stay tuned for some ways to bump up those painting scores and improve your chances for walking out of a tournament with an award or two.

Other hobby related articles:
How to Paint White Part 1: Bright White
Painting Halfway Decent Power Weapons
Tutorial: How-to Rock Bases on the Cheap

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AoM said...

Gonna have to disagree with you on the drybrushing comments. Drybrushing in it's most basic form is not good for painting a full army, as you pointed out, but correct drybrushing will actually yield very smooth blends. The trick is to need at least 3, but more like 5, passes each time you go up a color, and there needs to be at least 3, with 5 being better again) colors bringing you from your base to your highlight.

If you're doing this correctly, you should see virtually no difference to the model after the first and second passes because you are distributing such a miniscule amount of paint.

Drybrush up to the next color, glaze back down to tie things together, repeat for the next highlight step.

Most people just learn the really rough and dirty drybrushing that works well for fur, chain mail, and other rough surfaces.

Dave said...

AoM, thanks for the interesting comment and take on painting, but as you mentioned, I think we will have to agree to disagree. Drybrushing is a bit too messy, in my mind, for any solid detail work. Besides, what you are talking about seems more like a loose form of layering with glazing interspersed to smooth transitions. That is primarily what I do, but with very thin paint and smooth motions instead of the less controlled drybrushing stroke. This also protects my brushes a little better as drybrushing is notoriously hard on brushes.

But, as I said, that is an interesting take on drybrushing. Perhaps you could link some of your work in a comment. I would love to see it.

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