Sign Up Now FAQ
Signup Now
Come on sign up, you know you want to. It's free and easy and you get to be even more awesome!
View RSS Feed

Boris' Ramblings

The Sniper

Rate this Entry
Warning - you will see a realise I'm a big bag of crazy after reading this (if you didn't already know).

Some of you may know this story, or at least some of it.
Last year for Games Day I started work on a Forgeworld Sniper. I wanted to do my best work, and spent longer prepping it than I ever thought possible, I even used a little putty to smooth out the cloak and fill holes in the legs!
I experienced some difficulties early on, like snapping off the scope on the rifle. I had lots of helpful suggestions online, and after some experiments with different methods, I decided on a way to reattach it without it looking like a bad join.
So far so good.
I then primed it and basecoated the model in silver paint. There was a good reason for this (in my mind). I had used this technique on two other models in the past, that had been a) incredibly fun to paint, and b) and turned out to be some of my best work. I knew it was a bit experiemental, but I was ok with that. Other people, not so much.
I posted up some shots of the start I made on the cloak - but everyone seemed more concerned with the metal basecoat and I agreed that maybe in hindsight it wasn't the best plan.

Now, you have to understand, that last year I had a mindset to not cut any corners on my entry - to do the best work I possibly could. This was based on having spoken to lots of people who told me 'that'll do, just won't do', so I changed my attitude, to think like a winner (even though I'm very aware that I'm not at that level, I take part for fun).

So I messed up painting the cloak, and despite people saying "you can fix it with blends" I didn't have the knowledge or skill to do that, so I stripped the cloak, cleaned it up and primed it again. I started painting again - now more than 8 hours into a piece with nothing more than a global basecoat! This time something clicked, my blends worked and I was really proud that I was doing the best bit of painting I'd ever managed.
I posted pics online and asked about how to improve it, but instead of getting tips on managing the colours, and perfecting the highlights everyone (or at least it seemed like everyone to me) still seemed hung up on the silver base coat. That was soo last week.

The problem was that this really stuck with me. It wouldn't be being mentioned if it wasn't an issue, and despite the fact that I had already been painting over it, it seemed acceptable to the vast majority to keep telling me that the basecoat was wrong. I had already agreed I wouldn't do it again in the future - but what could I do with this piece?

I felt torn. The only way to do a really good job on the model would be to eliminate any errors - and clearly there was a big error. The only option I could see would be to strip the entire model and start again (at this point most of the cloak had been painted and I'd worked on the hat and skin). The suggestion of stripping it was only greeted with negative responses online. I was confused.

The mini was clearly wrong - and the only way to fix it would be to start again, but no-one seemed to think that was a good idea, but they continued to moan about the basecoat (or at least that's how it seemed to me). I couldn't continue, as the mini wasn't the best it could be, but I couldn't go back either. That was the best damn bit of painting I'd ever done. I was doing well and I had a real vision for the piece, i just couldn't face stripping it and losing the 12+ hours I'd already spent painting it. (Yup I was taking it real slow) So I quit.

The model has been relegated to the back of a cupboard ever since. I did take it with me to GD to show a few people who said it looked much better IRL (as is usual with my photos) and that the basecoat didn't really seem to have made any ill effect. (But reminded me not to do it again)

I ended up finding a new piece to start (my skaven) and ended up stripping it when it was about 90% finished and then repainted it in two weeks before the comp - but that's another story.

The sniper is one of those big painting moments for me, and with it being competition season again I can feel the same pressures coming back. I have no hope of winning, I'm not kidding myself there - but one day I would like a finalist pin (came close with the skaven as well), but that's not the most important thing to me.
Painting my absolute best, with no shortcuts, no "I just ran out of time on that bit" excuses - my very best, that's my aim so that I can be really proud of what I've done.

The sniper made me so unhappy though, I was snarled up with anxiety. I just couldn't fix it and make it as good as everyone seemed to think it could be which meant I was letting myself down. I don't want to end up like that again but I'm not sure what the healthiest way is.

There seems to be a big divide between what I can do and what it can be and bridging that gap seems to be the key.
Any ideas, as I have already got frustrated enough to daydream about stomping on my entry and crushing it with my foot?
Does anyone else experience similar anxieties?
Tags: None Add / Edit Tags


  1. exilesjjb's Avatar
    I hear your pain Boris and think you should get back to apinting just waht you like do not paint for comps. if when it is done you like it take it to the comp. I think some times too much planning could be the problem you have to free style it sometimes.
    Why not pick up a figure at random from you lead pile and just paint it do not over prep it just enjoy putting paint on it, I think you may be supprised at the result
  2. Ulfgrimr's Avatar
    Don't get too hung up by what others say. Yes, it can be very helpful, but at the end of the day it's your opinion that counts. If you've experimented with a technique and you like the results then that's a win. All the techniques we use (or abuse in my case ) had to be 'discovered' and who's to say you haven't discovered a new one here.

    I'd agree with Exilesjjb and paint what you want, for you, don't worry about competitions. If you're enthusiastic about it that'll show through in the piece. You could try something different like painting a mini only in shades of your favourite colour or in monochrome (a good exercise in tonality) but most of all paint what you enjoy in the way that you enjoy painting.
  3. Ocelot's Avatar
    When it comes to competition entries try not to listen to other people's ideas. If possible don't post pictures of the entry at all until the competition is over. This is your entry, not anyone elses. As soon as somebody points out something like 'the blends could be better, prep is wrong blah blah' then it sticks in your mind and it makes me lose all focus and drive to get the mini painted.

    Get crit at the end, it is much much easier to improve with painting when you start a fresh mini because you already know what the outcome of the last one is. Another plus point of getting minis done without showing wips is that when you have done 3 or 4 of them you can sit back and see how much you have improved (and hopefully a golden demon trophy will be standing behind one of them!)
  4. Vern's Avatar
    'that'll do, just won't do', so I changed my attitude, to think like a winner
    I can't agree with that, if a hobby isn't fun then it's not worth doing (I'm strong believer in paint what you want rather than what you think you should) besides, the more you finish (good or bad) the more you learn.

    meant I was letting myself down
    If every finished figure is a little bit better, or you've used a new technique, no matter how small (or discarded afterwards), you can't possibly be disappointed - a figure as super recyclable, you can strip them 1/5/10 years after their finished (& each finished mini is personal record/inspiration for the next)

    So I quit
    Does anyone else experience similar anxieties?
    Not anxiety as such - but I have box full of half painted mini's (that'll either revisit or not)

    Sorry if that sound harsh, it's not meant to be
  5. nathanr's Avatar
    I say you should dig that sniper out of the back of the cupboard and finish it! I also think that while outside opinions can really help develop your panting, it can only go so far. You have to be able to enjoy yourself and experiment with what works for you. If basecoating silver works for you then do it. Heck, if basecoating skin with bubble-gum pink gives you the result you want then do that too! If someone tells me that what I'm doing won't work, I'm probably going to try it anyway and see if I can prove them wrong.
  6. Iacton's Avatar
    I think that the main issue that I see out of this is the tendency to hit the paint stripper, rather than paint through an issue.
    Having done a few competition things now and having had a modicum of success, the main thing that I have learned is to have a strong idea of what you want to achieve with the piece - i.e. pose, setting, colour scheme, amount of weathering, light sourcing and so on. Now some of these things might be a given - like light for instance - others might have to evolve as the piece goes on. I have lost count of the times that I have repainted huge swathes of a model having lovingly blended it for 3 or 4 hours, only to stop, take a photo and think "That's the wrong colour" or "That bit looks great, but it makes the other part look rubbish".
    However, I can count on 1 hand the times that I have thrown a 1/2 painted model into the Nitromors/Fairy Power Spray. (Priming, now that's a different story!)
    If a model is going ok and you do a bit that you aren't happy with, providing you've not slathered the acrylic down in 3mm thick layers, you can just re-paint it. Move onto another part of the model, or lay down a quick, thin base coat of the correct colour, before moving on so that it doesn't draw your eye too much.
    Don't be tempted to just re-start all the time because you know the mistakes are there. To quote another Scott (Adams)....

    Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.’

    Opinions help get another viewpoint, but they aren't gospel, and we all know that we don't have perfect photography skills - except that we are able to perfectly highlight all of the mistakes and inadequacies of our work!
    Stick at it, things click in their own time.