Take a cursory search of Ye Olde Internet and you can find thousands of articles, videos, and blog posts with instructions for painting models for miniature wargaming. Whether you want to learn OSL, zenithal lighting, blending, layering, airbrushing...the list is endless...the information is out there. Lots of people are trying to show you techniques for improving your paint jobs or shortcuts when you are banging out those 50 Ork Boyz. There's plenty of HOW. Let's talk about WHY.
Why should you paint your models?
Of course we gamers are always tweaking lists, cooking something up, or testing
out a different army on casual play days...and of course during those times it's fine to proxy. When we have brand new models we can't be expected to NOT field them until they are fully painted (although I know some folks who do this)! But why should a fully painted army be the eventual goal?
First of all, because it's cool. One of the coolest things in this hobby (besides winning) is seeing a fully painted army arrayed for battle. It just plain looks badass. Endless hordes of spearmen in a panopoly of Empire colors or a Trollblood Warbeast that looks like it just smashed someone's face in are quite a bit more enjoyable to see on a tabletop than a hunk of metal or plastic. God forbid you have to live through the "Upside Down Paper Cup Orbital Assault" that has crushed so many!
Next, lets look at the practical side of things. You PAID for these models. They are "kinda expensive". Make that thirty five dollar unit look like it's worth what you paid. Get your full reward from the expense. You don't buy a seventy dollar lot of unbleached cotton to make a jacket with! These little plastic dudes are your avatars on the field of battle, don't you want them to look nice? Sure, some players treat them as though they are just chess men. One side is ivory mens and one side is ebony mens. I have seen this matchup. Is that what really got you into the hobby in the first place? Let's talk about that...
Most tabletop wargamers I know aren't selfish. They want the hobby to grow, as a growing hobby means more opponents to crush. A growing hobby equals attracting new players, and new players are drawn to this bizarre activity of ours by shiny awesome looking spacemens. Paint your guys because you want people to share your hobby. Paint your guys because that's what hooked you. Whether it was the 'Eavy Metal spreads in White Dwarf or your buddies 4 color Ultramarines, painted figures likely got you hooked, so pay it forward.
Speaking of which, lets talk about sportsmanship. Crimson Wraith's awesome article on etiquette (read it if you haven't) covered a lot of important things, but one thing he left out was painting. Especially in tournaments, painting represents your opponents PERCEPTION of YOUR valuation of THEIR favorite hobby VS their ACTUAL valuation of THEIR HOBBY. Was that too complicated? Let's rewind. When someone spends enormous amounts of time lavishing attention on their models for some of the reasons above, and then shows up to play and sees that you haven't, two things happen pretty often. Firstly; they are demoralized because they want to play army mens with nice looking armies, and secondly; they think automatically that you like this game less than they do. Whether it's true or not. Having a fully painted army is an overlooked but important aspect of tournament etiquette. Don't just slap three colors on to your models the night before because the TO says you HAVE to. Paint your models nicely. Do it for your opponent.
"But", I hear you say, "I can't paint like that. My models look crappy. Seeing nicely painted models makes me never want to touch a brush again. It is too hard. It takes too long." Nonsense. painting is a trainable skill that gets easier very rapidly with practice. For example, here is an amazing specimen from my early years:
Pretty awesome, huh? You ALREADY paint better than that.
As I said in the beginning, there are great resources available if you want to learn the techniques. Hopefully this article has inspired you to dig in and make it happen. Happy painting!
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