As a boardgame lover with an obsessive personality and poor impulse control, I have quickly amassed a huge collection of games, miniatures, accessories, and whatnot. A few years ago I even tried to take my hobby/obsession one step further – why not paint the minis? For years the prospect of painting some of the minis I have has been an idea in the back of my mind. I have Scythe, Fury of Dracula, Spirit Island, Stuffed Fables, X-Wing, Star Wars: Imperial Assault, and A Song of Ice and Fire. Plenty of options on what I could paint. Miniature photos will be chronological, arranged near paragraphs that relate to when they were painted. Please forgive the dodgy photography – one skill at a time!
So, a few years ago I picked up some paints and gave it a shot. I painted inconsistently and didn’t have a routine or a plan in how I approached it. This was fun. It was fine. The minis I painted were way nicer than not having painted minis, but the prospect of ever accomplishing more than a few was daunting. So, painting got put on the backburner for a few years, and most of the hobby games I have with unpainted minis also got moved to the backburner.
And then I was fortunate enough to see a friend and play a game with an almost fully painted set of A Song of Ice and Fire, by CMON Games. This is a game I Kickstarted back in the day but don’t play often. I should play it often, because the ruleset is incredible; it is a simple and fast game where your choices matter. It is a really rewarding experience. And so, I was spurred on. Let’s paint my Stark units:
This is the thought I had before it seems like the whole world decided to rearrange its schedule to make painting way easier for me. This thought was pre-Covid lockdown. It was right before my friend Scott started a Twitch stream of him painting minis four times a week. It was before I went from working forty hour weeks to working zero hour weeks with no social outings. And so, we paint.
I found that as I started, there were three main things that helped me continue painting. As a relative newcomer to the painting side of the hobby, I felt like I was starting from scratch. I’ve heard the old mantra of “thin your paints” about a million times, and I had painted maybe fifteen figures before, but it felt like a fresh start. I found that diving into this hobby there are so many resources out there to be helpful. There are people who teach you how to paint and teach colour theory and whatnot, and I’ll provide a list of the people I found helpful in learning at the bottom, but the most important thing for me wasn’t instruction or theory; the most important thing was to have people view my minis and say “cool.” That’s why we are doing this, isn’t it?
I sent photos of my minis to people close to me, my friends and partners, and people who like minis. Miniature painting is so supportive. People are all at different levels, but it is easy to agree that paint on a mini is cool! When I was brave, I would even ask for critiques. Finding this feedback helped spur me on to continue painting. I wanted to have another cool thing to show off and put on my shelf.
The second big drive for me was having a goal. Early in this process I decided that I wanted to paint all of my Stark forces in A Song of Ice and Fire. That goal is maybe more ambitious than I should have set initially. That was about 60 miniatures, all told. An intimidating number even thinking back on it now. Oh, but I mentioned the obsessive personality and poor impulse control, right? I painted 24 minis in the first month of quarantine. So the natural next step? BUY MORE MINIS. My Stark army now features 101 minis, and while I am much farther along now, I still have a decent amount of unpainted minis. My current goal is still to finish them up, hopefully by mid-June.
The last important aspect for me was to find the time. This was so much easier due to the current unfortunate state of the world. With everything shut down, I might as well paint! The other way that I found to solidify somewhat of a scheduled worked hand in hand with my friend Scott. Scott is an incredible miniature painter and started up a Twitch channel, Moyles Meticulous Minis, where he paints 4 times a week. Twitch is a wonderful thing to have active in the background for me – my brain finds it hard to focus on one thing while watching TV, for example. Twitch is a platform that is easy to phase in and out of focus as you work on other things. Having someone there to talk to and answer questions and give advice was so hugely helpful for a new painter.
Painting was a hugely rewarding hobby to get into during these times. With so much free time and a stir crazy feeling, sitting down and focusing on something felt good. I feel very lucky and know that I have a lot of privilege at this time – I am healthy, financially stable, and have a personality type that can turn focusing on something when stressed into a super power instead of an anxious experience. If you’ve been looking at getting into painting, I encourage you to try it out. If you have wanted to and can’t find the brain power in this stressful time, don’t worry. Your minis aren’t going anywhere. They’ll still be there when the world calms down.
Squidmar Miniatures (https://www.youtube.com/squidmarminiatures)
Duncan Rhodes Painting Academy (https://www.youtube.com/duncanrhodespaintingacademy)
Warhammer TV (https://www.youtube.com/warhammertv)