Porky’s Wild Bore – Anything can happen in the next paint layer?
Time to dive into the House blogrolls again.
Last week I mentioned Tabletop Fix as a place with plenty of posting on recent and upcoming releases. Another blog like it is Wargame News and Terrain, which this week had a Warrior of Atlantis from Antediluvian Miniatures.
If this miniature doesn’t have a face to paint, and has so many smooth or more uniform surfaces, and especially if it’s single-piece, it might be quicker and easier than many to get to a given standard for gaming or display, depending on how that helm is approached of course. Could this be a reason GW’s space marines are so popular?
It makes me wonder how little painting is too little, and how simple a miniature can be before it’s not really a miniature at all as we understand it, here in tabletop gaming at least.
Last week at the House itself Thuloid posted on non-gaming – on how things like clearing and packing also tie into the hobby – with a spectacular picture of a room. That picture reminded me that where a casual observer might see a high level of disorder in a space, the user might not, for being used to it.
I’d imagine the same is true for a lot of people, and for other kinds of space, even less physical ones.
In tabletop gaming a person might see a current project in what could be thought of as several extra dimensions. In the usual three of course, but also as a position in modelling or painting processes among a range of possibilities and potentially hazy limits, as well in terms of the current status of what the project represents in one or more settings, and game systems, and maybe metagames, along with degrees of compatibility, including with parts in a bits box, primers, varnishes and so on. That’s a lot of information to juggle.
But maybe that mass of detail keeps our attention occupied to the point that we lose sight of the bigger picture, and draws our focus away from whole undiscovered spaces, or spaces to be discovered anew.
One radically traditional approach to what a miniature is and what needs to be done to it is currently being sized up by CounterFett, who’s back posting and in the past week posted about a bucket of fantasy figures that might usually be thought of as toys and a plan for some modern versions – painting them with pens.
That might seem strange, but neither the quality of the material used for a figure, nor the density of detail in its sculpt, nor the expected use necessarily demands any single approach, beyond the need for, say, safety precautions. Even a complex sculpt can be painted to a three-colour standard, and even a simple one given a rich patterning at the painting stage.
That three-colour minimum is a natural response to the challenge and maybe cost of putting together a fully painted force, especially quickly – for a tournament for example – where the emphasis on drawing out the sculpted detail is secondary to the identification of the miniature or a baseline aesthetic expectation.
There might be times when even a complex sculpt doesn’t need more than three, or need all of it’s detail picked out specifically, which might be the case with the silvered look of the aliens in GMort’s post on an Alien vs Predator demo.
On the other hand texture can be suggested even where a sculpt itself is smooth, with mottling for example, and maybe especially where the production technology or market for the figure isn’t necessarily matched to the skill of the given painter. A possible example of this is the Blanchitsu school, with Citadel miniatures. Scale modelling techniques for weathering and object source lighting are also methods that might reflect more a presumed interaction with the imagined world than the structure of the miniature itself.
An interesting example of this kind of up-painting might be an effect shown at Kevin’s Miniatures & Hobby Table, in this tutorial using the Aquans for Firestorm Armada.
That pattern could be understood as an in-world camouflage, for dust clouds for example, and maybe even a form of chameleonic technology, but it also makes the ship look lit as if underwater, which might then be a nod to the essential nature of the miniatures as pieces in a game, canvases for artistic expression, and possibly a knowing or exuberant reference to the suggestively aquatic naming of the faction.
To go back to GMort’s post, those alien minis might be given a splash of gloss varnish to suggest secretions, while the vibrant colours of that terrain suggest a mini could be painted to work with a context it’s likely to appear in.
There’s so much potential after all, and maybe few boundaries between approaches that aren’t created by the creation of convenient categories. Just look at Dave’s series on colour theory, not least the posts on monochromatic and contrasting achromatic. Look at the different ways models are prepared for use beyond the tabletop, in TV shows like Stingray, or SFX sequences in cinema, or as aquarium decoration, or for shop window displays, or festivals, or demonstrations.
Which brings us back to those toy figures and painting by pen.
If there’s a sense that the hobby presupposes that a miniature should be coloured in some way, the question then becomes whether or not we agree, and possibly then how we do it, and how far we go. In the end it might just be preference, and the desired experience: do we agree to meet a minimum standard for practical, aesthetic or social reasons, say, or go all out to impress, or to satisfy a passion, maybe to see what happens or what we can achieve, possibly experimenting with new techniques or materials, to break out; or maybe we tailor the process to fit certain associations or correspondences with the figure or context, whether that’s childhood memories, or time spent with family, or teaching others, or just winding down?
There might be as many ways to paint as there are painters, or more. The hobby might have seen only a fraction.
But if so, could there also be at least as many understandings of what a model is as there are modellers?