It has been noted that my painting output appears to have increased dramatically over the past few weeks, and I was asked on Twitter what accounted for this – was it regular painting time or using Contrast paints? The character limit of Twitter stopped me from fully expanding on this, so here are my thoughts on why my painting speed has improved.
It is an obvious statement that in the current lockdown situation, thanks to COVID, we have rather more time available than normal. It has been easy for that time to be used for all sorts of things over the past months – not all of them necessarily a productive use of time. I made a conscious decision at the start of this year that I would spend more of my available time doing ‘Hobby Stuff’. This is very much in keeping with the comments I have made before about #hobbystreak and spending some time each day – even just 30 minutes – doing something hobby related. So frequency is certainly a factor, as I am making my hobby time intentional, rather than just something I did when I have nothing else to do.
‘Rule of 5’
One of the biggest changes has been, on the face of it, a small one – but I have found it has made a significant difference. I have reduced the number of models I am painting in a batch. I think that most us tend to paint figures in batches, especially when we have an army or warband project in progress. Up until recently I tended to paint figures in groups of 10. This seemed to work OK, but there were times when even painting just 10 models at a time would seem slow, and I would find that my enthusiasm would wax and wane.
A few weeks ago, during a ‘Paint and Chat’, we were discussing how many models people painted concurrently, and it was suggested that I should reduce the number of models I was working on – which I did – from 10 down to 5.
This small change seems to have made a huge difference. I think the reason for this is that I have actually found that I can come close to completing painting five models in a typical 2 hour painting session. That achievement creates a positive feedback loop – you feel better about your hobby progress, which subsequently encourages you spend more time with your hobby. I have found that I am currently feeling much more positive about miniature painting than I have for some time, because I finally seem to be ‘getting somewhere’ and having an impact on my, admittedly vast, lead & plastic mountain.
Has Contrast paint made a difference?
I have been using Contrast paints quite heavily since I added them to my paint collection. I must admit that I do like the effect that they give, and yes, they do perhaps allow you to skip a step when painting. You may remember me saying that I am only really a model painter by necessity – I paint figures in order to play with them, and I cannot play wargames with unpainted figures, it just seems wrong. So, any technique or product that enables me to produce a painted miniature to an acceptable tabletop standard is fine by me.
Up until Contrast paints arrived on the scene, my main technique was ‘block paint and wash’ using Army Painter washes. Contrast paints achieve a similar level of finish, on the whole, so I am happy to mix the two styles. I purposely painted this Goblin Army only using Contrast paints where I could as an experiment to see if it did improve my painting speed – it has as little I think, though it has been tempered by the amount of chainmail on the Oathmark Goblins; I have been using basecoat and wash for those parts of the models*.
Have I answered the question?
I think the answer is that there has been a combination of factors that has led to my increased hobby output, but I think the one that has the most effect is the positive achievement feedback loop. The fact that not only do I feel like I am making progress, but that I can see that I am making progress, has encouraged me greatly to crack on and get more done.
And frankly, I am actually enjoying painting at the moment, which is probably the deciding factor. At this point in time it is a joy rather than a chore – long may that continue.
*I still haven’t decided which method of painting chainmail I prefer – basecoat metallic and AP Dark Tone wash or basecoat black and metallic drybrush.