Tuesday 15 March 2011

The Period Drama Challenge

With the inclimate weather hitting Scotland this weekend, I sat Arabiansquire down to continue painting his space marine, having finished his first one a few weeks ago. After 30 minutes he'd done the blue and the guns on a couple of figures before the need for a break and a biscuit. The painting gear was left out, and took the brush down time to walk the dog for half an hour. So imagine my surprise when I returned to find him sitting finishing off his FOURTH figure on my return. How did that happen? He'd used a few speed painting short cuts (reduced palette, etc), but they are painted and will be good on the table.

Now where am I going this? Well I'd spent the marine painting time assembling a trio of old Terminators I've had lying about. Suddenly I'm behind, but "salvation" was at hand. ArabianQueen wanted to watch a Period drama (about Dylan Thomas) that night. So I wondered if I could speed paint the 3 terminators whilst "watching" it - 1hr 45 mins. (Question: why is a Dylan Thomas love triangle film set in WWII a period drama and hence OK to watch whilst Saving Private Ryan isn't and gets the thumbs down? The injustice of the world!) .
Now as this desperate plan was forged a mere 30 minutes before program start I didn't have time to test any colour plans, etc - just grab some paints I thought would work, equip the laptop painting station, pour a large drink and sit down before curtain raise.

Title sequence runsAn hour in
  My initial plan was to dry brush the background parts of the terminator and just use the main colour on the most forward sections of the armour. A drybrush of dark marine blue was rubbish. So I repeated with Space Wolf Grey. It also looked rubbish, so I abandoned this plan and went for a covering of Dark marine blue (the clock was ticking) on the armour and Space wolf grey as the base for the helmets (the intention being the helmets would be white) and a white shoulder pad. Next up was hopefully the final colour shade of Space Marine Blue. It didn't take me too long to realise that this was going to be too dark, but in the interest of consistency I painted all 3 termies in it. On the opposite end of the contrast range I also realised that Space Wolf Grey was way too light to pick up the sunken detail of the helmets, so I gave them a wash in blue. Whilst all this was drying some aged gold was applied to the motif on the shoulder. Gun bolt metal was also brushed on the weapons. Time was running out now, and I'd started to run out of options on my rushed palette. The ink wash had dried on the helmets so some white highlighting was done. A quick dash through the house had me "borrowing" ArabianSquires blue that he'd been using for his marine earlier in the day, which I only managed to get on one marine before the end credits had finished rolling. I'd failed!

15 mins to goThe final credits roll
  Or had I?

Well, yes I had. But as compensation after less than 2 hours I had 3 mostly painted Terminators and I had learned some valuable lessons. I was always going to be tight for time from the start. Next time I should convince my other half to watch Gone with the Wind (although that's actually a film worth watching!). Spending so much time applying coats of paint (and the subsequent drying time) did me no favours. Having a rough idea of what sort paint colours you are going to use is no substitute for knowing what paint colours you are going to use. Also, not playing 40k, the models are not very familiar to me, especially all the small details in the sculpts that are not immediately apparent when they are bare metal. All these problems were all symptomatic to the fact I only thought of this with half an hour before the whistle blew.

And just to finish the piece here's a picture of the finished Terminators after about another hours work. No great shakes, but table worthy (see below):

The key to the timed speed paint is preparation. You must know your model, paints and methods. Know where you can save time with a big brush and what parts you can get on with whilst other areas dry. Know how long it'll take to work round fiddly bits or how you are going to tackle them. Know where you can shortcut with washes and a dry brush. With a plan you know will work you can efficiently get the paint on.
And to finish, a picture from the following day as both sets of newly painted figures got table time.

Space Marines and Terminators take on the Nekron menace


  1. As I paint infrequently and generally quite slow I found a hair dryer to be really helpful with speeding up the drying process. I picked up a Tesco value hairdryer for £4.50 or something like that.

  2. I suspect that my plastic mini's would suddenly start to audition for the next Red Bull advert if I did that! Anyway hairdryer use and enjoyable TV viewing tend to be mutually exclusive events.