Loquacious’ Adventures in Minis, Part 3 -STUCK

It’s been a while since I talked to you about my misadventures in miniatures. I have successfully purchased, cleaned, assembled and primed the lovely Butcher (Kommander Zoktaviar, Butcher Unleashed). I showed you all the process, because what’s a hobby blog without hobby?


I started to paint not too long ago. I had an idea in my head of what I wanted it to look like- I didn’t want the traditional red/black of Khador. I wanted something a little more savage and primal, almost invoking a feeling of a Bushman. I decided on a tanned or buttery yellow cape, and that’s the easiest, flattest surface on this model, so that is what I tried to paint first as well.

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Before painting, you have to assemble your supplies. Note that I am a sucker for fancy tools and bought the GW painting station. I actually like it a lot, assuming I have a place to stow it between painting sessions. (This is not always true, which makes the station a little annoying for reasons I will try to remember to tell you about later.)

Ok, onto painting.

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This actually looks almost dead on to the idea I originally started with. The color is nice and well applied (and that is a real trick for me!). I was pretty happy with it, but I knew I wanted some depth and weathering on it, as well as needing to paint more than a cloak.


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So I started on the chest armor and shoulder pads.


Let’s say I hated them this way and leave it at that.

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Second coat of paint and a little bit of cussing has helped things SOME. I am still less than thrilled with the overall appearance, even knowing it isn’t even close to done. I can’t see the forest for the trees and all I see is a bunch of stuff I hate.


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I decide to try to fill in some details to help give me a sense of direction. I know it’s sort of counter productive, but it’s how I tend to operate, so lemme do it my way =P

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I hate the collar of this cloak so very much, it makes me ache. I can’t get anything close to either a wash or drybrush in this strange area and it seems to need to be painted one peak at a time. I’m not a patient painter.

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I have done some of my over painting here- where I GLOB a lot on and then take it off with a BIG DRY light, fluffy brush. I helps me feel better about how things may look in the future.

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I got mad at how “flat” it seemed to me, so I started adding in tones and depth, but in doing so, I have gotten myself more than a little annoyed. Right now everything is disjointed and I don’t like it. I almost want to pay someone to paint it because it is making me so frustrated =(

On the painting tray, when I have a lot of space, I can just come back to painting a dab here or a dab there when I have a minute. I don’t have a lot of space, and there’s no handy drawer for the whole setup to go into or onto while I work on other things or more accurately, nothing at all.

I know my method is a lot of crazy and expect to hear a lot about what I am doing wrong. I have always painted this way- find an element I like and finish it all the way before moving on- so asking me to change may not work.

I’m now stuck in a phase where I hate the damn model and want to give up, because so much of the work coming ahead is small detail work that I cannot stand in any way. Whoever of you said this was a treat to paint was a big fat liar. =:P

If you get stuck on a model, what do you do?


2015-05-16 00.03.58

Right now, he’s looking like a hot mess of sloppy and ugly and I am stuck.

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  • Von

    “If you get stuck on a model, what do you do?”

    Strip it, leave it alone for a month, then start again. I also don’t tend to start painting unless I have a very clear idea of how I’m going to paint something and what it’s going to look like. Noodling around gets me nowhere except by accident.

    My advice for your Butcher, at this stage, is to go inside out. Nail the lowest details, the stuff you’ll have to get a brush past other stuff if you paint it later. Face, maybe. Get something more or less done so you’ve completed an element. At the moment you’re bouncing around from pillar to post and so you don’t have the satisfaction of milestones achieved to keep you going.

    • Smoke88

      I like this approach. I found having a good long look at the mini and figuring out what is the part that is going to give me the most grief getting at is the place to start. Sometimes those parts flow into an easy to reach element and it feels like an achievement has been unlocked. It might be getting dry brushing finished before detail can start.

      In short, messy and difficult first then it’s all about what you want to pop out as a finished piece. But really thinking about a plan of attack is crucial.

  • Cedric Ballbusch

    Once I tended to paint as you describe, one area at a time. While this works if you know what the finish project is going to look like and are reasonably assured that you can achieve it; most of the time it’s better to block in all the base colors first and figure out if the figure is going to work before moving on (man, that was one hell of a sentence).

    Otherwise, models always go through a period of looking worse before they look better.

    Nice thing about mostly painting uniforms these days, I don’t have to worry about picking colors.

    • In reply to both of you, I did think I knew what I wanted. My problem is that I am pretty sure my idea is beyond my actual ability =/

      • The Warlock

        I’d say it is within reach and totally achievable. From the pictures it doesn’t look as bad as you probably think it is.

        Usually when I find I hate a model’s paint job, it gets a dettol or acetone bath and I start again. Not sure if this is good advice but it’s what I do. Almost all my 40k dreadnoughts have gone through this stage.

        Maybe a brown wash to fill in any white gaps/hard to reach places? I’m sorry but I really don’t want to give much in the way of opinion lest I make everything worse ^^;;

        • several people have said it’s not as bad as I think. Which should be encouraging, but at the moment it’s sort of the reverse. I know that’s my own issue to solve, but it’s a problem all the same.

          • The Warlock

            Don’t worry, I used to beat myself up over every little thing. I know people can do the mouth noises and say it, I but I mean it. From someone who’s taken a long path with painting skill, it’s not that bad 🙂 So far it looks pretty tidy for a WIP, and it mainly seems to be the collar of the fur cloak that’s the issue here. As I said, maybe a wash could help as it’s a white undercoat (which is a bitch to paint from) to give a ‘guide layer’ where details and such are shown by said layer. Forgive rambling, hit the ethanol but seriously I understand where you’re coming from. #nineyearstopainteldar

          • Von

            That’s good advice, that bit about the guide layer. My first stage is always, always, a thin dark glaze to bring detail back out of the primer and show me where everything is.

      • Bush Craft

        If that’s a true statement, you’ll improve your skill.

        If it’s not, you’ll achieve your goal.

  • Like Cedric said, models always get to a stage where they look worse before they look better. I think that’s true in all creative endeavours: writing, drawing and painting, probably even music (although I am woefully unmusical so I wouldn’t know).

    Anyway, I always (always!) hit a wall near the end where it feels like I’ve failed. Just knowing that’s what’s happening is normally enough for me to push through and finish, but before I learned that, I often gave up.

    Practically, it’s hard to say because everyone has different taste. I like Von’s suggestion. If it was me I’d do the face, or, the axehead, or just the cloak, and finish it, and then there’s a bit of the model that looks finished to keep you motivated.

    • I kind of want to save the axe for last, as I truly love Lola and want to do something fabulous. I just don’t know what yet =P

  • Zab

    Lo, find a reference pic of what you are going for and have that standing by when you sit to paint. It doesn’t have to be the exact model or pro pj just a picture that captures the feel of what you want and maybe the palette you are going for. Check deviant art and see what you can find. In contrast to what von is saying it suoudns like you need to do a rough color sktech on the whole mini for your own personal view to see if your palette is working like how James wappel and fernando ruiz work. here is a trick: doa rough drawing of the mini and then try sketching out the colors on your drawing to see if you like how they lie, when you get one close then apply it to the mini in a rough base coat and go from there painting inside out like von suggested. For now leave it be strip it if you need but put it down for a week and come back once the bad feelings go away. Its just a mini, FUN, have FUN with it or put it down until you can 🙂

    • Zab, the reference pic is one I really like and can actually use. I don’t think I would have come up with it myself, so thanks for that lovely idea! As far as a rough sketch, you are vastly overestimating my artistic ability =P the idea is awesome until I actually go ahead and put pencil to paper. It’s a worse mess than what you see now.

      • Zab

        Try it, even rough shapes with colors placed on them will give you an instant feel for the palette. My scribbles are basically stick men with basic shapes that have been painted but I swear it works!

        • Is there any chance you would share a post with pictures of how this works? I would be very interested in that process but can’t quite grasp how to accomplish it.

        • The Warlock

          Seconded. Could you elaborate, Zab? I’d like to see how you do stuff.

          • zab

            Yeah I am working on a BDay project for my little one. A Day of the dead skull. I’ll take tons of wip pics including the sketch and ref pics i use before putting paint to mini, may not show up until after that nova open but I can email you guys early pics as i do them for my wip thread on CMON which is more up to date than my blog – which I work ahead on by like 7-10 weeks o_O

          • I would love it, Zab!

          • Zab

            link to my CMON WIP thread which is more real time and up to date than my blog, but has less in depth step by step:



  • The painting process should flow naturally… sometimes that’s harder when you’re taking pictures at each stage. I often paint in sections – like, all his skin, then cloth, then armour, etc… but sometimes you get to that stage where you’re like, “I’m not sure how dark/light to do this, or how this is looking..” and you really should slap some general colours around so you can get an idea of where the model is headed.

    The secret: Before a mini has definition (shadows primarily, sometimes highlights too.) it looks like just a bunch of paint on a figure… because that’s all it is. Which is just a stage of painting.

    I have an artist friend who does amazing stuff – we have his art hanging on our walls – goes through the exact same thing. HATES some of his work during the beginning stages and even though he knows it’ll get better, has trouble pushing over that hill. I think I’ve faced that phase often enough now that while I’ll sometimes look at a mini I hate, I know just from experience that this is just the ugly phase and it’s going to get better.

    My suggestion: Throw a red or light black wash on the red armour, and a brown or orange one on his cloak. Let the details jump out at you.

    I have plenty of times while painting where my mini just looks like a hot mess. I think the difference is I usually paint a section start to finish.. then maybe touch everything up afterward to bring highlights and shadows together. I went looking for photos on my site, didn’t find great ones, but I think I’ve dug up a few examples…

    Before I washed my Scorpion in my 3-step painting guide he looked like a mess of primary colours. Just adding the washes made a huge difference:

    Even Moxxi was looking rough until after I started getting some highlights on her:

    Until I softened everything with pigments, Thagrosh was looking really messy..

    On my infernal, I went from “very cool rocky figure” to “omg, look at all the white and bright ass yellow, what have I done?” Little blending, shading and highlighting later, green molten firey skin.

    Seriously, it’s just a stage of the process.

  • Drathmere

    I get stuck painting models all the time. If you don’t finish the model, it will sit on your desk irritating you for months. The best plan is to push through the bad parts. Von offered some good advice that I would follow. I think you need to paint in some shadows in order to start feeling the model. I would put a single base layer of paint down on each of the white areas. Just push your way through it, and don’t worry about blending. Flat is exactly what you want. Then go through with some targeted washes to add color to the crevices. Use different washes to create different color shadows. I think a few brown and green washes will bring your red out. A sepia wash on the stitching on the cloak would help as well.

    Painting should be fun. Don’t worry about what others think about the model.

    • It’s what *I* think of it that is bothering me =P

      • Drathmere

        But all models look terrible during the painting process! It is the final matte coat that dulls them down and adds that wonderful blue filter blending it all together!

        • Zab

          Quiet you! Your red bias is showing. Although model masters did work quite well for the Sons of Orar 😛

      • Von

        Poor Lo. Thing is – Dave’s right. Everything looks like it might be crap until it’s done. You’ll know it’s done when it stops looking crap. *sage nod*

  • Thuloid

    Looks to me like a mini with an incomplete base coat. They all look like that at that stage. I can’t even tell from the base colors whether it’ll look good, since so much depends on what you pile up on top of that. But absolutely nothing to worry about.

  • Lolz.
    Ah, Lo.’
    I luvz ya, but to be perfectly honest, most of your problems here stem from your procedure. I FULLY understand ‘don’t mess with my procedure’ issues (you know this is true), but this is one of those rare cases where you can greatly benefit from unlearning what you have learned and start from square one again. You can do it on your own. You don’t need anyone’s help.
    Painting is surprisingly rewarding when it comes together. Proper procedure is very important, and prevents things from getting a lil’ outta hand like they have here. I would recommend starting with some YouTube videos in your spare moments. Find a series you like, and watch them like at lunch at work and stuffs. This way you’ll have some ideas when you sit down to paint. You’ll be psyched to try stuffs.
    Painting random bits and pieces of a complex model will never end well, and nowadays they’re all complex. It really looks like you need to go back to the beginning, but there’s no need to feel pressure- it’s your model and your hobby. You can do it at your own pace.
    Viya Con Dios!