Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Time, Practice, and Some Help

I posted this on Facebook yesterday, but thought I should share it here too.  I started this blog back in 2014, but my painting journey began long before that.  I was thinking about what a difference time, practice, and a bit of help can make....

A few recent conversations had me reflecting on how far I've come with the figure painting hobby. So I started looking back at some old projects. I took a few representative pictures for comparison. These are all close ups of faces from busts (so similar scales and all display figures). I painted my first gaming figure around 20 years ago, but it wasn't until 2010 that I got interested in display/competition painting. So this is a look back at some of those early display pieces and a comparison with more recent work.

Practice and a desire to improve (including critically evaluating my own work and seeing what needed improvement) played a big role. But, perhaps just as important, was attending shows/competitions to see what others could do (so I had something to strive for) and all the amazingly helpful artists on the online forums and blogs. Thank you to all of them for the advice and the inspiration. And, whether you're a pro or an amateur, keep sharing your work. It's a wonderful resource for all the people in this hobby!


  1. Hello David! Just recently I ended up reading some of your fantastic tutorials, that I really enjoyed a lot. I love how, in addition to explaining the process, you also got into explaining why, and describe the "inner discussion" that move you to paint something in some specific way. Therefore, thanks for those fantastic and more than useful tutorials!

    Now, I want to ask you a more specific question about this post. First, I need to say that your evolution is mind-blowing! In my case, I resume painting in 2014, also from a more showcasing perspective, and since then I think I have improved a lot. However, I have been able only of painting around 8 miniatures, which sometimes annoys me, as I believe I am a really slow painter.

    Therefore, and since you are also into this for the hobby, I would like to ask you how many miniatures have you been able to paint during these 6 years, and how much time you dedicate to the hobby? I know these are not really interesting questions but it is something I always wanted to ask :) And in any case, I will definitely continue reading your amazing blog and asking, hopefully, more tricky questions.

    All the best and thanks for this fantastic job!

    1. Luis, thank you, I'm glad you've enjoy my articles and my figure!

      That is a tough question as the amount of time I have to spend on painting and the number of figures I paint varies a lot. Since I paint for display and to go to shows and competitions, I find I spend a lot of time on each piece. For a basic 54mm figure on foot, it probably takes me about 40 hours of actual painting to complete. If I'm lucky, I can do that in about a month of real time, painting on the weekends and maybe 1 or 2 evenings a week. For a big project like the 90mm samurai, I probably spent 100 hours or more on it and it took 3-4 months of real time.

      Now, that's a rough estimate. I don't keep track of the actual hours and many times I'll take a break from one figure and work on another (especially when I feel like I'm getting stuck and am not sure how to proceed). With most projects I find myself trying to do something I haven't done before. Might be as simple as a color I don't normally use or as complicated as OSL (like on the Count Melenth bust). For the Dragoon, I pushed myself with the shiny black. Maybe it wasn't entirely new, but I pushed it further than I had before. That tends to slow me down a bit. If I know exactly what I'm doing because I've done it all before, then things tend to proceed faster.

      In the past 6 years, at my most productive I finished around 6 figures a year. For the last two years, I've been taking on some more ambitious projects and it's fallen to 3 or 4 a year. I have a lot of partially painted pieces right now which I hope to finish, so perhaps I'll get more done this next year. And, I have a number of half painted figures which I may never get back to. My interests have moved on and I'd rather spend the time on new pieces than those old ones.

      Hopefully that helps to answer your question. My advice is don't worry about your speed. Just enjoy painting. Try to make each figure better than the last and you will keep making progress. Sometimes you'll go for a long time and it doesn't seem like you're making much progress. But there will be times when something clicks and all of a sudden you see a big improvement in your work.

    2. Hi David,

      wow, thanks for the fantastic and exhaustive response! I really appreciate the time you used to write it!

      Usually, I don't really worry about the time it takes me painting a miniature, but sometimes I have the feeling that perhaps it would make more sense to find a better trade off, in order to practice more, and try out new techniques, rather than spending so much time blending everything on a miniature, which normally takes most of the time. In any case, that is also an important thing to learn and practice, so there is no time wasted :) And also, I cannot leave a poor miniature just like that!

      Fortunately, you have given me a lot of hope! The problem is that, when I see the production of most of the big guys out there, sometimes I think I won't be able to improve at a nice pace without such amount of time dedicated, which is currently impossible for me.

      But now, thanks to your feedback I know it could be possible! It is just a matter of enjoying every minute of painting, and never stop challenging ourselves with every new miniature.

      Thanks David, and looking forward to the next posts!