Painting Outside the Comfort Zone

Motivation waxes and wanes, it’s a fact of anything we do. It’s understandable when we’re dealing with games that require large armies, or huge vehicles or creatures.

I don’t know a single gamer who can paint faster than they can buy new stuff so perhaps one of the approaches below can help address that balance or at least slow down how quickly the piles of unopened boxes grow. In the interests of full disclosure, I am thoroughly guilty of unopened box syndrome but do at least have the motivation to keep ploughing through it. I use some of my own collection as examples, not to show off fancy painting (you’ll want to look elsewhere for that), but to illustrate some options.

Change It Up

The cliché makers say that a change is as good as a break and you can apply this to your hobby. If the thought of painting yet another power armoured shoulder pad makes you want to fall on your own chainsword, perhaps this is for you–terminator armour! Okay, not so much, but what about a centrepiece for the army? A special character or converted character gives you a whole lot of detail to play with. How about one of those hefty tanks or creatures that you can really go to town on?

Still not inspired? Check outside your immediate army. If your main reason to paint is to get the miniatures on the table and into a game, what about allies? An impressive Imperial Knight for your Space Marines? A Catachan detachment? Some daemons to bolster your Chaos Space Marines? This changes your focus to a different type of painting – suddenly it’s not armour but cloth. Your line edging might no longer be appropriate and you’re forced to blend. You should find that your painting improves as a result. Everything you learn filters back every time you pick up your brush.

You could also change your system. If the grim darkness of the far future steals your will to paint, try a fantasy setting, a steampunk setting or something in the Wild West. Check out some alternative games in a previous blog. The Execution Force boxed game provided me these guys to change things up:







This doesn’t have to require buying new miniatures. We all know gamers who just want to play and don’t care much for the hobby. That’s fine. They will generally fall over themselves to shovel miniatures in your direction for you to put paint on. This happy chappy of a daemon prince found its way onto my painting table and I’m a true son of the Emperor bereft of all heresy (despite the assertions of Inquisitor Karamazov last month):



Push your painting skills along by trying a new technique. This makes you think differently about what you’re doing. You might become a bit geeky with regards to light and colour and contrast but since you’re reading a blog post about tabletop wargaming, that ship has long sailed.

Try weathering, for example. I decided to go this way for my Horus Heresy Salamanders. My Spartan (below) has some chipped paint and soot staining (they are fire-loving Salamanders, after all):


Other techniques can include different approaches to painting. I mentioned before about buying a Scibor Archangel #2 so I could try out the Vallejo Liquid Gold range. If you’re really ambitious, try out non-metallic metals or freehand. It breaks the monotony, not necessarily by painting different miniatures, but by changing your approach to it. Your thought process changes and so does your experience.

If you’re trying something new, chances are it won’t look like the tutorial you used to achieve it. That’s fine. Paint can be stripped or covered and you get another chance. My advice is that unless you make a horrible mess, if you’re happy that it’s the best you could do at the time, move on to the next. In a year’s time you may reflect and know you can do it better.

Painting Challenge

There are plenty of these around and not only are they a way to shift you from your comfort zone, but also a fun way to interact with the community. You get to see other people’s interpretations and approaches to the same miniature. White Dwarf recently gave away a Stormcast Eternal and Painthammer organised a painting challenge for it which I discovered on Twitter. My entry was vastly outshone by some of the others but it was an enjoyable process:


Hopefully that’s fired some enthusiasm and proved that you don’t have to be great to benefit from changing things up.


Like the post? Sometimes I say things on Twitter. Sometimes they’re interesting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s