I am going to start off by saying I am not the best painter in the world. Edge-highlighting scares the Emperor out of me, blending is a concept so beyond my confidence-lacking-skills that I have recurring nightmares and highly detailed or complex models trouble me deeply. Despite these obvious shortcomings, I usually walk away with a model that I am happy with, even if it doesn’t reach the highest of standards. Then I started painting Death Guard.
The Death Guard almost broke me. The Death Guard broke my partner. Heck, the Death Guard almost killed me. These little buggers are beautiful in the most abhorrently disgusting way imaginable, and painting them was a nightmare. Not going to lie, until they were done, I whined like a little bitch. I could see the cracks forming in my partner’s psyche as she slowly edged towards the knife to end me.
Every time I thought I was finished, a sneaky tentacle would pop up, usually out of a butt, and force me to go back and touch it up. That was the name of the game really – touching up Plague Marine butt tentacles for hours on end. But that wasn’t the worst part – the worst part was my own incompetence when it came to seeing the bigger picture.
It was one of those painting sessions that I could only describe as being mind-numbingly stressful. I had an idea of what I wanted them to look like, sure, but I couldn’t imagine the model I was painting reaching that vision. The armour didn’t look right, the tentacles looked too bright, the orange stood out too much, the brass looked too shiny etc. etc. The process was hell.
Instead of taking a step back and saying to myself: “Of course they look pants you goon, they aren’t even finished!” I said: “The unfinished armour looks unfinished!” In hindsight, I was being a fairy. When I was ONE step away from finishing the models, I still couldn’t quite grasp why I didn’t like them…I was about to give up.
But I pushed through, I added a divine paint. The holiest of pigments – Ushabti Bone. I even used the forbidden technique – dry brushing. The moment I was done, I was happy. The model was complete. The vision I had, had been met. Mostly. My partner put down the knife, threatened to kill me if I ever whined that much again about toy soldiers, and life was good.
Painting the Death Guard taught me a valuable lesson – don’t be a bitch. Your models will look unfinished until they are finished. You’d think after 20 years of painting (mostly poorly) that I would have learned this already…but apparently not. For me, it was a tiny inclusion of a colour that tied the model as a whole together that changed my perspective and made the last few hours seem like a drama that likely took years off my life.
So yeah, to all budding painters out there, don’t be like me. Be better. Paint your dudes to completion before you judge them. It may seem obvious, but it would seem I am pretty fricken stupid.