On quitting

I don’t like to quit pieces – at least, not once there’s a certain amount of work done – but sometimes a model really tries your patience. The beastman is one such piece.

For clarity up front: I’m not quitting him, I just hate him. He’s too far along to give up on, especially with the end in sight. He’s also quite striking, even if the actual paintwork is rubbish.

Anyway, back onto the topic.

I don’t have a set of rules about what makes me like or dislike a model, although there are trends:

  • I don’t like models that are all sculpture with no room for the painter’s interpretation. There are a lot of these about at the moment, pretty much all in the high fantasy genre, and the models are, indisputably, beautifully sculpted. The anatomy is perfect, the details are crisp, all that jazz. However, they’re a work for the sculptor, not the painter. The painter turns up and throws some snazzy lighting effect on it, ultra-shiny NMM, whatever, but it’s still the sculptor’s work. These are models that you can’t take out of their original context. Half the time, you can’t even try to be novel because it’ll just look weird.
  • I don’t like horny nerd-boy models. You know the ones. I could throw out a couple of obvious manufacturers, but anyone familiar with the hobby already knows which ones I’m talking about. I could probably talk at great length about why I don’t like these models and not even scratch the surface. (I should note that there’s a gradient within this sort of model – from the relatively inoffensive “quite a bit of cleavage” all the way through to “that’s probably illegal in Japan”. On the less-offensive end of the scale I might be convinced by a good model with a lot of opportunities. On the other end, I honestly can’t see a reason for them to be made other than to fill some teenager’s ill-advised fantasies.)
  • I don’t like excessive detail. Games Workshop put me off this – you’re painting a model, get about 75% of the way through it, and then you realise you still have six pouches, five spare weapons and a million tiny skulls still to go. They’re not massive details, and you don’t need to put the same effort in, but you also know that if you paint all six pouches the same colour, it’ll look artificial and draw undue attention to them. I swear, there are some sculptors who cannot leave a model alone.
  • I don’t like sculpted texture where gestured texture will work. You mostly see this in the hair on models. Some sculptors will cover it it tiny lines so you know that it’s hair, while others will build the forms and leave it to the painter to sort out, knowing that hair at that scale would probably not look terribly textured.

So, the beastman. He generally passes most of these conditions other than the texture. But holy crap, what texture. There’s barely an open surface on the whole model. Worse, it’s incredibly finely detailed texture. My kudos to Allan for actually achieving that, but he’s caused me an enormous amount of frustration. You see, with texture that fine across so much of the model you have two choices:

  1. Spend the rest of your life very carefully picking it out by hand.
  2. Pretend it isn’t there except in key places, and rely on washes to capture as much of the detail as possible.

I haven’t included ‘dry brush the hell out of it’ here because the detail is too fine, so the drybrush would just fill in the recesses in a lot of places, and not catch on any of the detail in others.

Anyway, I went with the second option because I’m not stupid. The beast has some lovely muscle forms, so that was really an easy choice. However, all the back and forth with washes, reasserting highlights, glazing to get the colour back in, reasserting the shades, etc. meant the whole thing took much longer than it really should have.

An extra flaw in all this texture is totally unrelated to the model, but very notable for me. I have psoriasis, as many of you probably know, which means I basically get dandruff all over my body. This gets into everything, which is something I’m used to; when it gets into fur texture, however, it’s damn near impossible to get out again. The beastman is doomed to have his own case of severe dandruff, and there’s not a lot I can do about that.

Worse than all of these crimes, however, was my own hubris.

I don’t like painting models in subassemblies if I can help it. I find it difficult to figure out the light or to appreciate how a scheme is going to come together. Unless there are key details that will be unreachable once assembled, I much prefer to work on an assembled model. I’ve done this plenty of times on models the same size or larger and not had much of an issue.

The beastman, however, is a different, erm, beast. He’s lanky and spread out, hunched over and still has parts that couldn’t be glued in place to begin with. This meant that I was forced to keep turning him around and upside down as I painted him, getting bits in the way, impeding my brush’s access, having to brace a finger against a part I’d already painted, and all that. If you want to paint this model, do not assemble him until you’re down to the last flourishes. Avoid that as much as possible.

And just so you don’t have to have waded through this furious rant without some kind of reward, here are some pictures of the bastard in question, about 90% done:

One of the few things I do really like about this model is how good he looks from behind. That’s a lovely bum.

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