Life is more important than a 3 colour minimum

For those of you who haven’t realised, M and I have very different roles at ObSec and with this blog. He will write about the different armies he plays, played against and converts. I tend to cover the non-rules, non player kind of thing. I cover the atmosphere at events, give you info on why we make the decisions we do, support and encourage (I hope) female players and new players to enter the tournament scene knowing they will be welcomed with open arms and dispelling myths about tournament behaviour, cliques etc and often, so often, I’m talking about painting.

A Public Service Announcement…

Today is going to start out a more serious post than I normally write. I’m writing in my role of mother hen. On the weekend a player drove from down south for a tournament at a local-ish gaming club after doing what so many of you (including M) do. He stayed up all night painting his army. He drove for a couple of hours to get to the event, played for 7 or 8 hour and then attempted to drive home again. 12 hours is a long day for anyone, trust me, we generally do 12-13 hours on event days, the driving is long and boring (and we only have a 40 minute drive) and the concentration required for a full day is exhausting, followed by a long and boring drive home.

You’ll notice I wrote that the player ‘attempted’ to drive home, while he did eventually make it home it wasn’t under his own steam. From what we have been told; midway home, the long boring road became somewhat hypnotic and he woke up after his car had left the road and was stationary, in a ditch. Fortunately the player is ok and no one else was injured and while the car is in a bad way it is replaceable. The player is not!


So here are my thoughts:

1) we care about all of you, even those of you we have never met in person, too much to hear of you injuring yourself or anyone else, I’m a funeral celebrant, I spend time comforting families after accidents and I don’t want to find myself presiding over your funeral from a painting related driving accident.

2) 3 colour minimum is not worth your life! Or the lives of anyone else

3) If you read the tournament prep guide M talks about making sure you get your normal number of hours sleep before an event to make sure you are at the top of your game at the event, while it is important to get enough sleep to concentrate on your game, concentrating on driving is more important!

4) Sleep is important, just ask any new parent! There is a reason sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture! (Trust me, as I type this at 3am!)

5) Energy drinks will only get you so far!


This is all well and good and I don’t think anyone would refute any of those 5 statements (actually I know a few players that may refute claim #5 but I’m going to stand by it!), yet we still have a 3 colour minimum. We have 20 days until First Blood tournament (when I wrote this but it may be less by the time I get it posted). M painted his entire Corsairs army in less than 20 days (actually he painted it to 3 colour minimum for an event in about 3 evenings, however he needed a ‘fully finished painted army’ for Vegas so he had to do more detail work which was fiddly and took time). As you all saw, his army was finished more than a week in advance. Gold star for him this time! (This time she says… like it won’t happen again! – M)

Bob thinks painting is relaxing, Bob has never been up painting until 3am the morning of an event!

Here are my painting an army to event minimum standard quickly tips:

1) TODAY look at your army list (if you haven’t written it yet start by writing it!),

print it out

work out which models you need to buy and when you will be able to pick them up

write down what you need to do to each model to get it to 3 colour minimum.

Did I mention WRITE IT DOWN!

Work out how much time you think this will take – now double it! It’s easy to underestimate how long these things take!

Work out how long you will need to get it done and divide that by how many days it is until the event less 2, I.e 35 hours painting, 20 days until the event less 2 days = 18 days. 35/18 is just shy of 2 hours a day. Can you do 2 hours a day?

2) Look at what paints you need, including spray paint and varnish – LOOK at how much paint is in each pot, don’t think you know that you have enough. Nothing annoys me more than being half way through a terrain piece and running out of paint and not being able to finish painting it because it is 11 o’clock at night and the stores are closed. Nothing annoys me more, except perhaps when M is painting an army and THINKS he has enough paint, but does not and has to drive 45minutes to the nearest stockist REPEATEDLY! That’s time wasted where you could be painting but have to stop because you have run out of paint, it is time wasted driving to the stores when you could be painting (45 min there, 45 mins back and 2 hours chatting to the staff is 3.5 hours painting you are losing – admittedly it could just be M that chats for 2 hours but even with 5 mins in the store it is still an hour and a half painting time (or, you know, family time) wasted! Extra tip for fun, before driving to the store call them and see if they have everything you need! I’ve lost count of the number of times we have driven somewhere only to find out they have run out! 3.5 hours wasted and we return still unable to paint and have to travel 45 mins in the opposite direction. That’s 7 hours wasted!

3) Buy (and assemble) any models you still need, any paint brushes and any colours you need ASAP! A little tip with assembly is to think about partial assembly. In the Corsairs army M has just built and painted he built the vehicles but left the guns off. It meant he could spray undercoat the planes black and the guns white which made painting white gun barrels easier. Then he could paint the tanks without worrying about getting the blue paint on the white guns or worse the white paint on the blue airbrushed hulls. It also meant he didn’t have to go back and touch up the paint. Once they were painted separately he glued the guns on. This is especially useful for some of the really fine detail models. We were recently in a GW store and there was a gorgeous model (Archmagos Cawl) that had been fully assembled and glued to base before it was painted. M and I both looked at it and said there is just no way to get to all the details with it fully assembled, paintbrushes don’t bend around corners (sadly!) so look at the models you are working with and the components and work out if partial assembly may be a good option for that model!

4) Start painting NOW! 1 hour a day between now and First Blood is 20 hours! M paints 9.30pm to Midnight in the lead up to events. 2.5 hours a night between now and First Blood is 50 hours of painting. When he had a 9-5 office job he used to take his models and paints to work with him and paint during his lunch break. He would paint for half an hour to 45 minutes then eat his lunch while the paint dried. If you only get a half hour break you could paint for 15 minutes – I can hear you now ’15 minutes isn’t really worth it. Yes it is! Every minute you spend painting is worth it! There are heaps of excuses that we all use to procrastinate starting painting ‘I’m too tired, I’ll start tomorrow’ or ‘I’ll do a big session on the weekend’ ‘I don’t have everything I need, I’ll wait until I can do it all in 1 hit’ ‘I work full time and have a family’ ‘I don’t have time.’

Just start.

Better to be a bit tired now than put your life in danger the day of the event! I do a fair bit of motivation work and ‘I don’t have time’ ‘I’m too busy’ is one of the most common excuses I hear. I often ask people if they watch TV in the evening, most people do so it isn’t that they don’t have time it’s that they are choosing to spend that time doing something else, which is fine but own that, don’t say ‘I don’t have time’ say ‘It’s not top of my priority list’. I also totally understand the ‘I work full time and have a family’, this is why M used to paint in his lunch break and now paints after the kids are in bed. If we had better light in our lounge room he would paint there while we watched a movie together but we don’t so he paints at a table with good light and I do something else either alongside him or separately (although if it’s along side him I make him turn off the podcasts 😀), sometimes when we have a lot of painting to do for terrain for events we get the kids involved. Cheap plaster of Paris figures they can paint with craft paint or just painting on paper while we work on the terrain, we are all together and spending time as a family, bonding and all that, they get a creative outlet and we get 30% min of every table covered with terrain at events. One of my anti-procrastination tips that I use for myself is to decide to do something for 15 minutes. Everyone can manage 15 minutes right? Once you get started, if you can’t be bothered painting after the 15 minutes is up, stop. You might not achieve much, but it is 15 minutes less that you need to do the night before the event! What I normally find is once I’ve got started I’m ok and can manage an hour or 2, it’s just that initial getting started that I struggle with.

5) Entertainment. I know some veteran painters listen to podcasts or watch movies etc. M tells me this helps the time pass for him as he doesn’t really enjoy painting as much as he used to. I’m still very new to painting and need to concentrate so I can’t watch a movie while painting or listen to a podcast. I can barely hold a conversation and paint. It’s one of the few times I’m quiet. I sometimes listen to music, but with a house with 3 kids, 2 dogs, a parrot and a husband I quite enjoy the silence 😀.

6) Batch paint! Look at your list. How many models all need the same colour? Put them out in front of you and paint them all in one go. I know there are times when this won’t work but focus on what will work. How many models CAN you do like this? Try to paint the army as a whole rather than painting each model individually. What I mean by that is get your main 3 colours on first THEN go back and add detail. If there is an army on the table that has 150 models that all have blue armour, red shoulder pads and a metal shade for guns then that army looks uniform. If you have an army with 5 models painted to Golden Daemon standard and 145 models that have been under coated white then the army isn’t tabletop ready regardless of how beautiful the first 5 models are. I’m not saying in anyway to compromise on your painting standard or quality, just pointing out that the painting doesn’t need to be finished but every model does need to have 3 colours on it. There is nothing stopping you, after the event, continuing the painting until you have 150 Golden Daemon standard models. In fact prior to the event, after getting 3 colour minimum, there is nothing stopping you getting say 3 models to GD standard instead of the 5 you would have got if you hadn’t spent the time getting them all table ready.

7) Tips to make your army look ‘finished’, once you have finished your 3 colour minimum painting, go back and paint the bases, the tracks for the tanks and the engines/gun barrels etc on the vehicles. This will help make them look defined. You don’t have to do this if you have 3 colours, but this will be the quickest way to get the army looking like it is finished. It might take an hour and a half to go through and do this, if you can find the extra 90 minutes it is worth it to take models from ‘3 colour minimum’ to finished even if they aren’t actually finished 😀

8) Set an end date at least 1 night before the event! Try not to be painting the night before the event. If you have to paint the night before call time at the time you normally go to bed.

9) If you are short on time resist perfection. The minimum is 3 colours, once you get 3 colours there are very few points (if any) available and your army needs to be pretty shmick to get full points (if painting is part of the scoring). Is it worth the extra hours painting or are you better to spend those extra hours a) sleeping, b) spending time with your family c) playing practice games or d) a combination of all above?

So, 3 colour minimum…

Well what started as a public safety announcement focusing on the importance of sleep before driving to an event took a turn. I guess I thought that simply saying ‘make sure you are finished at least a day ahead of time so you can sleep the night before’ may leave some people thinks ‘great, as if we didn’t already know that piece of common sense, I don’t ever WANT to be painting all night the night before an event, it just happens that way’. I hope some of these practical tips will help actually give you some strategies to finish ahead of time and to get a good night sleep. Please remember your life is more important than a 3 colour minimum.


2 thoughts on “Life is more important than a 3 colour minimum

  1. This is a very good topic and one I’m thrilled that you tackled. At the end of the day, this is a game of little plastic army men and it should never ever come at the expense of ones welfare or safety.

    Very well written and appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *