Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Nothing But Motivation: Staying Motivated When Painting

    One's motivation to participate in the hobby element of miniature wargaming is often a topic of discussion in online gamer communities. It seems more and more people are concerned with fighting hobby burnout to keep churning out painted figures. Being entirely honest, I rarely experience hobby burnout in the way a lot of people describe it. Generally, the complaint seems to be that when one has done too much hobby work, they loose the motivation to continue hobbying at that pace. For myself, I find I lose motivation when I go for long periods without significant progress. Momentum is important for me to maintain a decent pace when painting. This isn't to say I'm entirely immune to burnout, but acknowledges that different people work in different ways. These tips won't work for everyone, but I've found them to be particularly effective for myself. Hopefully you'll be able to pick out some methods that will help keep you excited about this hobby.

1. Alternate the types of figures you're painting. 

     This first point is one of my favourites. When working on a large project like a full sized army I like to switch things up between each unit and paint a different kind of model. For example, if you were to paint a Space Marine Tactical Squad, and then paint a vehicle or character before you tackle the next Tactical Squad. Most painters will use a different method for their character models and vehicles than they use for the basic infantry. It's easier to go back and forth between these techniques rather than trying to tackle one hundred Space Marines, and then having to paint a whole vehicle fleet after that. Similarly, one can alternate different scales of miniatures or miniature lines to go a step further and paint a different colour scheme altogether. 

2. Constant process management and improvement.

     Once you're in the groove of painting an army, the colour scheme becomes second nature to you. You won't have to put the same amount of thought into the fifty-fourth Clanrat as the first one. One of my favourite things to consider during painting is how I can streamline my painting process. Between daydreaming sessions, I'm analyzing my colour scheme and trying to figure out how I can make it more efficient. Some ways to streamline you techniques include: 
  • Identifying and eliminating redundant steps. These are extra steps in painting a model that you don't actually notice when the you've finished your figure. Excess highlighting and drybrushing layers are a frequent example of this. 
  • Optimizing the order in which you complete steps in your painting process. For example, if you know that you'll be using a Nuln Oil wash on your Guardsman's weapon and on his boots, it would make the most sense to have both the weapon and the boots painted and wash them at the same time. This way you'll only be opening the pot and using the wash once. It seems like a minor time saver, but it adds up especially when painting in batches of five or more miniatures. 
  • Synchronize the completion of a painting project with the completion of the assembly/priming of your next project. If you know that you're almost done painting one project, it's helpful if you have another one on deck. This way you won't lose your momentum by having to switch gears to focus exclusively on assembly. Doing this will require that you get a feeling for how long it takes you to assemble a miniature and how long it will take you to paint them. Once you get an accurate sense of how long it takes, you'll be able to more effectively implement this process. 

3. Find a dedicated hobby space. 

     This step can be hard for some people, particularly for those living in apartments. If you can find a way to set up your hobby area and keep it set up, you'll get a lot more done. You won't have to take everything out each time you want to paint and it will become more of an impulse activity rather than something you have to plan for. Five or ten minutes a day is better than nothing. One neat idea I came across recently was a hobbyist who had set up their painting desk inside of a closet, complete with desk lamp.

4. Find new inspiration. 

      Looking a miniatures in magazines and online can be motivating to keep you painting, but after a while it becomes dull if you're looking at the same sources and the same models. Recently, I've started looking for hobby inspiration not just in the miniature wargaming hobby, but also drawing from other scale modelling websites, and even looking at the methods of professional prop/model makers from the movies. Doing so can provide a fresh perspective on tired techniques and give you ideas for new ones. Additionally I've found many scale modellers are making figures much nicer than what is usually seen in miniature wargaming, and I for one could learn a thing or two from their techniques. 

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