3 Tips to Keep the Passion Burning for your Miniature Painting Hobby
A hobby is like a relationship, it starts like a raging fire, with great enthusiasm that will conquer any obstacle that will prevent you from pursuing said activity or person but I would fathom to say that not many will judge their relationships by the honeymoon period but by how happy they were in the long term. The same theory applies to hobbies too but with less drama...usually.
For me, my longest serious hobby relationship has been going on since I was 13 in 1995 and its beloved name is Tabletop Games. It all started when I saw a White Dwarf Magazine filled with beautifully painted miniatures by Games Workshop in a bookstore called Kinokuniya in Singapore.
I was so into the hobby that I even purchased the official painting guide by Games Workshop at the time and like most people who wanted to paint up a literal army of miniatures, I started batch painting, which is basically the Ford method of car assembly but applied to painting. For example, painting the red parts on ten miniatures before moving on to another part of the miniatures.
Batch painting is usually no issue at first as learning new techniques and seeing your painting improve is exhilarating in itself but at some point, your skill will plateau and that feeling will become more and more of a rarity. Then batch painting will suddenly feel more like a curse of boredom whose results are compromised paint jobs and long hiatuses from the hobby.
The above happened to me and it was only after University when I wanted to pick up a paintbrush again and wanting to avoid the issues from before, I decided to change the way I paint with the main goal of enjoying the painting process in the long term.
What are these ways you may ask? Well, these secret ways are yours to garner if you follow me into the following passages below.
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1. Paint one Miniature at a time
This and the second point are probably the most important changes that have improved my painting experience. This is because the biggest killer of any task is procrastination and procrastination has no better comrade than a task that is daunting. And to any miniature painter this, of course, includes looking at a whole host of unpainted miniatures that needs to be painted.
The sight of all that unpainted plastic results in a fight or flight response and the rationale that if one is not able to finish the whole project, why bother to start at all. Thus by breaking the project into smaller projects or in my case single miniatures then suddenly one is not hindered by the mental barrier that is procrastination and can get to the important task of putting paint on plastic.
The painting of a single miniature also has other benefits such as being able to paint at one's own pace unhindered by the sight of other miniatures that are on the painting assembly line. This, of course, will result in not only a more enjoyable painting experience but a higher level of paint job which in my experience. The less stressful method also results in a higher level of experimentation of painting techniques/colours as your experiment only applies to one miniature rather than ten. This experimentation being key to improving and becoming a better painter.
2. Paint one colour daily
I apply this method on top of painting one miniature at a time but this method can also be applied to batch painting methods too if painting one miniature at a time is too slow for any individual.
This method is more for someone with sporadic amounts of free time rather a set schedule as it breaks downs the painting time in some cases to twenty minutes or less in some cases.
As you improve your painting skill, painting any colour on anything becomes a process of creating gradients of highlights and shades of that colour, the complexity of which is up to the painter to choose. The many steps per colour of course then results in a larger time investment and in the process might lead to quick excuses that can derail a regular painting schedule. Thus by painting one colour a day, that long task is now reduced to a manageable step that can even be achieved after a long day's work and not just during the weekend.
3. Paint consistently and take breaks
It is when one achieves the enjoyment of painting that this part becomes relevant as just like exercise, the goal is to keep it that way and not fall back into bad habits that will hurt you in the long run. This is especially true when you finish painting one miniature to a high satisfaction level and suddenly feel like you can do the same for a group of twenty because painting is fun again! And just like lifting weights, this will just result in pain and a return to the original procrastination issue.
That is not to say that you should not endeavour to increase the amount if you so wish but my advice is to do so gradually rather than by leaps and bounds. So if things don't turn out as expected, it is an easy return to the fun process.
In fact, for me I tend to take breaks between miniatures that makes me want to paint even more and thus even though I take breaks, I am consistently painting, keeping my skills honed and most importantly enjoying it.
In conclusion, I guess in a nutshell my advice is to just chill and remember that you are engaging in a hobby and to enjoy the process. Life is filled with enough things that feel like a chore so your hobby should not be one of them. So raise your brushes and let's hope each stroke is followed by a splash of pleasure.