Painting in batch

Right now many of us are on a Runewars kick.  It’s a great game, it’s new, it’s fresh, and a lot of fun.  But the miniatures are unpainted.  Having played several other games where the miniatures are supplied unpainted, this didn’t feel like a major problem to me.  Not a problem, but a hurdle.  Runewars has A LOT of miniatures to paint.  A LOT.  And to most of us, this seems like a daunting task.  A lot of new Runewars players are coming from the X-Wing and Armada crowd where the miniatures are supplied painted.  This makes it so much easier to get involved in a game and aide in the immersion.  While Runewars plays just fine with unpainted figures, it sure makes the game look nice when both players come to the board painted.

As a human player, I have the equivalent  of 3 core sets and will soon have a couple of infantry command boxes and 4 more trays for cavalry.  For now we’ll focus on the 3 core sets.  That comes out to 48 infantry, 12 cavalry, 3 rune golems, and 1 hero.  That’s 64 figures to paint in total.  Painting one at a time, I would estimate would take about 2-3 hours.  That’s between 128 and 192 hours.  Assuming you can paint 10 hours a week, that’s almost 13 – 20 weeks or 3 – 5 months.  That’s a long time!  Granted people have different schedules and may be able to dedicate more or less painting time.

This isn’t meant to be discouraging, though I can see how it might be!  But there are options to make this go a little faster.  Personally, I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to painting.  With a 2.5 year old and a newborn plus the burden of being on call 24/7 for work, my spare time is valuable.  This isn’t a complete list of things you can do, but it’s a list of things I do to significantly speed up my painting.  I paint in a batch so I’m doing multiple of the same type of model all at once.

1. Use an airbrush or prime with your base coat.  Most people at least prime with their base coat to speed up the paint job, but this is intended to be a beginner’s guide.  Personally I still like to prime with black (or grey) with an airbrush and then airbrush on the basecoat where it should go.  I’ve found that airbrushing goes really fast and dries much quicker than spray on primer.

2. Do a test model.  This will take longer than usual but it helps reduce the decision making part of painting.  Once you get a model painted up the way you like it (or close), be sure to take note of which colors were used and where.  This way when you paint the bulk of your models, you can reference the test model.  You won’t have to take a few minutes to decide which color would look good for a certain peice… just copy the test model and put yourself on autopilot.

3. One color at a time.  By doing many models at once, you can stick to the same color until every piece is done with that color.  The obvious benefit is that brush cleanup time will be reduced but it will also get your brain in a rhythm.  In Runewars, the infantry has only 4 different poses.  If you paint all 4 of the same poses at the same time, you’ll remember where the tricky spots are and what you’re likely to miss.

4. Base at the same time.  Same as before.  If you base all the models at the same time, you only have to get that material out once… for longer than usual, but only once!

Batch painting isn’t for everyone, since there are cons to doing it this way versus doing models one at a time or a tray at a time.  The biggest downside is it’s still easy to get overwelmed and hard to stay focused.  I initially did 15 spearmen at the same time and it almost drove me nuts.  So now I’m doing 32 spearmen at once… separated in groups of 16 but still all at once.  This time it’s going a little better because I take frequent breaks.

Overall starting to paint your Runewars miniatures may look like a difficult job, but it doesn’t have to be.  Remember that once you get your core set(s) painted, the upgrades will trickle in slow enough that it won’t be so bad later on.  But just because there are a lot of models doesn’t mean that in the end painting won’t be worth it.  The look on other players’ faces when they see your models is always fun to see.  Hopefully I’ve given you a few ideas to make this task a little easier!


A life changing event

Ok, so I’m not talking about any of the big life changing events but this was quite the change for my painting.  At Adepticon this year, I bought an airbrush, compressor, and a few accessories.  I had done some research about a year or so ago but decided it was way above my skill level and not worth it.  However during the last six months, I’ve started playing quite a few more miniatures games such as Team Yankee, Dropfleet Commander, and most recently Runewars.  With all those models to paint, I was looking at a daunting task to get them all painted.  Since I had no experience whatsoever with an airbrush, I sat down at a booth that had a demo station.  The guy doing the demos was pretty skilled and showed me the beginner model airbrush.  I had a hard time getting the hang of it.  The action was stiff and I just wasn’t getting the motion down.  After a few minutes of struggling, he handed me the more advanced model and I took to that like a fish to water.  I ended up purchasing the whole kit on a whim and it was a great decision!

I ended up with an Iwata Eclipse and Smart Jet compressor.  The Eclipse is a pretty popular airbrush with the pros so the quality speaks for itself.  For the compressor, I didn’t know too much but I did know I wanted one that wouldn’t have a problem keeping the pressure up.  The Smart Jet runs fast enough to keep up with high usage and has an automatic shutoff when the tank is full.  I’m by no means an expert on the subject, but this was my personal feeling when making this slightly educated decision.

A life changing event
A life changing event

Once I got home, I quickly set up the airbrush and compressor (and everything else) and started practicing with just air.  That got old pretty quick but it did help cement the hand/arm motion I was going for.  After watching several videos on cleaning, maintenance, and general use, I was prepared to tackle some test models.  Priming them was a cinch.  So much easier than a spray can and it dries much faster.  Changing colors took a while the first time around, but 20 minutes after priming I started base coating.  Base coating was also fast and much more accurate than I thought it would be.  I was afraid there would be a lot of overspray or spillover but I was able to control the airbrush flow enough that it looked pretty good.  Only a little bit of practicing was required until I felt pretty good about the whole process.

Since then, I’ve jumped over to painting my Runewars minatures.  I started off with a single test model and that went very well.  Which leads to my next great benefit of the airbrush: batching!  Once I figured out how I wanted my spearmen to look, I took out the next 15 models and began the process.  Within an hour and a half, I had 15 spearmen and the Runegolem primed and base coated.  All in all, it took around 5-6 hours to paint and base the 15 spearmen and Runegolem.  Not too bad if I say so myself!