Half-ass Your Way to the Top with dethtron: Speed Batch Painting the Half-assed Way

Ok, now we get to the meat of the Half-assed Method- painting like a champ.

ooh fancy, it comes with a cd now

Fair warning folks, if you are a wannabe Golden Daemon competitor or like to spend 30 days painting the eyelashes one hair at a time on your Napoleonic wars 6mm command model’s horse, this primer will make you cringe.  This is all about getting an army to the table fully painted.

‘Do you want it done right or do you want it done fast?’

‘Like all Americans, I want it done fast.’

Here’s the deal: I’m beyond sick and tired of seeing people on Facebook, blogs, or wherever show off a big pile of unpainted minis that you’re going to use for your upcoming Apocalypse battle like it’s the fucking coolest thing ever.  Guess what, asshat, all you’ve done is shown three things:

  1. You have more money than sense
  2. You have no dedication to seeing anything through
  3. Congratulations you understand how glue works

pic courtesy of some jagoff on Facebook

 Meanwhile in dethtron’s sex dungeon:

so this is maybe 20% of my painted Imperial guard- didn’t even scratch the surface on Leman Russes or infantry

I’ll show the method in practice on some 15mm FoW Fallschirmjaeger (the ones I’ve been working on throughout this series) in a minute, but first here are some golden rules.

  • Paint a minimum of 1 unit at a time– seriously, anything less is a waste.  For everything below you’ll be working in batches assembly line style.  If I’m painting pants, I paint all the pants on the unit at the same time.  Saves lots of time in the end.
  • Start and end with the base– painting bases can be messy- or at least it is when I do it quickly.  Doing this step first ensures you don’t fuck up a good paint job later on. 
  • A good base covers up lots of fuckups– the last thing you should do after painting is finish a base with static grass, snow, or whatever your prerogative  is.  A snazzy base with some simple detail helps tie the mini together and draws the eyes away from your decent, but not great, paintjob making your model look better.
  • Paint it Black– as discussed in the primer article, black is my primer of choice.  It works well with dark colors (see below) and creates ready made shading for areas you can’t reach or need some depth.
  • Dark colors are your friend– they usually require fewer coats, look great over black primer, and make for a nice dark, realistic model.  Less coats= less time painting.
  • 2 coat maximum– this is kind of like the 2 drink minimum at some comedy clubs except it’s the opposite and there’s no comedy to be had.  Seriously, though, don’t use a paint that takes more than two coats.  Better yet, choose one that will look good in one coat.  This saves you time and can literally cut your painting time in half.  If you want a bright yellow Tau army or a bright white Eldar force, you should stop reading right about here- you’re not ready for speed painting.
  • Avoid all the highlighting you can– what you’ll see below from my FoW collection has zero highlighting in it and you know what, they look pretty snazzy if I might toot my own horn.  With larger models, I will put a few highlights on faces, clothing etc, but a single highlight for any given color or area is good enough.  Wet blending is for people that have time, talent, or don’t want to finish their army. Instead….
  • Washes are your friend– a good wash fixes everything.  It leaves recesses shaded.  It leaves raised detail lighter, like a faux highlight.  If you’re smart you’ll us a slightly lighter color than you’d like for your finished product in the basecoat and let your wash sort it out for you.  It also smooths out a coat of paint that might be a bit streaky, meaning you can cut down the number of coats on your basecoat.  Mixing your wash with some dish soap increases the capillary action of the wash and heightens the detail while increasing the shading. 
  • Do not try to paint fine details that lie outside of your abilities– doing the basics will get you good practice and leave you with a fine looking model.  If you’re not comfortable painting things like stitching on pants or eyes skip them.  You can return to them later when you’re a better painter.  There’s nothing worse, however, than when someone doesn’t understand how to paint eyes turns an otherwise decently painted model with good fundamentals into a walleyed freak of nature with wonky eyes that seem to stare in 13 directions at once and make it looks like it’s been mainlining a cocktail of espresso grounds and cocaine for the last 36 hours (henceforth known as a meatball).  Eyes are not circles, when you have eyelids your retinas cover up the white of your eyes on top and bottom, and there are quick tricks to painting eyes although a steady hand is required.  If you don’t get that, move along to the next step on your model and re-visit the details when you’re more comfortable.  
  • Paint inside out– this should be a no brainer, but sometimes I’ve gotta spell everything out, don’t I?  Simply put, start with the deepest layers on a model and the largest areas.  Pants, shirts, and skin are usually a good place to start.  If you paint the buttons on a shirt before the shirt, you’re asking for trouble.  Odds are you’ll cover the buttons up when you’re painting the shirt later- if you’re painting at the right speed, that is.
  • It’s ok to be a little sloppy– especially early on in the process being a wee bit sloppy isn’t the end of the world.  If you color outside the lines a little bit, one of the subsequent areas you paint will be likely to fix your mistake. This is especially true early in the process when you’re blocking out your large areas and less true later when you’re doing details.
  • If you’re using a color, paint everything on the model that is that color- sometimes the “paint from the inside out” rule supersedes this, but in general when you’re using a single color, you want to paint all the things on the mini that are that color.  For example, if I’m painting some normal fieldgray German Heer I’ll be using German Camo Dark Green for their helmets and probably their lunch pail things and if I’m not mistaken also their gas mask cases.  Don’t just paint the helmet and move on.  You’ve already got the color on your palette, so hit those pails and mask holders too.  It cuts down on jockeying around with switching paints and cleaning brushes and thus saves you time.

Forgot 2 rules:

  • Your opponent is 2-4′ away from you on the battlefield– sometimes known as the 4′ rule, this just means that you don’t have to be super careful about details, because your opponent won’t be all up in your minis’ faces.  Sure we’d all like to play with or against Golden Daemon quality armies, but I’d sure as shit rather play against a well painted army that’s done than a big fucking gray horde.
  • Know when to say ‘good enough-‘ a corollary of the above rule.  Simply don’t sweat the small stuff kid.  again, everyone in the universe would rather play against a painted army than an unpainted one.  Use any cheats you can to get your army out there and don’t worry if you’ve colored outside the lines a bit, didn’t highlight your cloaks, missed a golden opportunity for some photorealistic facial hair, or whatever.  It’s just not worth getting all bent out of shape over.  After each step in your painting process, look at your minis and decide when to call it- just say ‘good enough.’ If you’ve painted anything, you’re doing better than a lot of players.  If you’ve got better than 3 color minimum, you’re already in a minority of players.  Pat yourself on the back and don’t worry about the awards you weren’t going to win for you painting anyway.

So those are the rules.  Now it’s time to show them in practice.

Before we begin, here’s a pic of my setup.  It almost made the golden rules list, but I threw it out since it’s not really a time saver.  But anyway, do yourself a favor and get a drinking cup with a lid on it.  We’ve all dipped our dirty brush in our drink before, but we can prevent this tragedy in our time with a simple lid.  Plus, if you work in any industry with trade shows, it’s easy to get these free.  Thanks to Blue Buffalo for mine.

do you see the difference between drinking and paint water here?


a good thick coat going on the base
dry brushing for the raised details
starting inside out with skin- 1 coat did it
next covering large areas with a single color
next pants and the first layer of camo also boots because they’re the same brown as the camo

camo is done

rifles, bread bags, and all the other details done- no fucking highlights
a wash of devlan mud- RIP
wash is dry- pseudo highlights and shading have done the trick
grassin’ up that base
tufts, a new favorite trick
unit done
here’s a closer look
a final detail- painting puddles using gloss varnish
and done
and another angle
here’s the unit sallying forth

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