Thursday, September 4, 2014

Community Topic: Making Mistakes and Dealing with the Aftermath

Zab posed a great question for his Community Topic that I think we've all had to deal with at some point in our hobby careers. What happens when we make mistakes, and how should we deal with them?

I can personally answer this question based on personal experience…numerous times over.

And over…and over…

Let's start this off with an exercise. Raise your hand if you think you're perfect…or maybe if you think you've even just never made a mistake on a hobby project you took on.

Right. I can't even see you and I know your hand isn't raised.

The truth of the matter is, we've all had to deal with this at one point or another. Most likely on nearly every model we've ever painted or put together. I honestly can't think of any project I haven't screwed up at one point or another. So rather than belabor that point, how about we look at some methods that we can deal with the mistakes themselves.

The "No One Will See It" Method

This is exactly what it sounds like. You're nearly done with the paint job on a figure, or you are done and have just sealed it, and you notice a dot of paint where it shouldn't be in some place that will hardly ever be seen. This could be in an armpit, crotch, under a cloak and really hidden, or where ever. The point is that more than likely no one but you will know where it is. In this case we just shrug our shoulders and not worry about it, since no one will see it.

The "I Don't Care, I'm Done" Method

This is extremely similar to the above method of dealing with a mistake, but in this case it doesn't matter where the mistake is. It could be blatantly obvious to all who look at the model, but you're so sick of working on it that you call it done anyway. Maybe at some point in the future you'll fix it, but not today.

The "23rd Times the Charm" Method

So it may not take you 23 times to make sure your figure isn't cross-eyed, but it certainly feels like it. This is the method for those who won't give up until they fix their mistake. This is a fairly common method for me, as I actually have repainted one eye on a figure's face 8 times before I got it right. This is the most common method for those of us who want to get one particular part right, and won't give up until it's done. It's a good one, but be careful not to make yourself cross-eyed trying to be perfect.

The "Where's My Simple Green" Method

Yup, I've done this too. This is when you feel that you've just screwed up so much that you need to strip it and start over. Maybe you snowed a model while priming it, frosted a model while sealing it, or anything in-between. It doesn't matter so much as to what you did, it matters that at this point you feel its beyond saving and it gets dumped into a bath of Simple Green so you can start over. This isn't a bad method when used judiciously. Sometimes the best thing to do really is to just start over.

The "I'll Get Back to it Later" Method

This is not to be confused with the "I Don't Care, I'm Done" method, as in this case the model isn't done. However, there is a project you want to start so much more that you tell yourself you'll get back to the model soon, shelve it and never look back. I seem to have done this recently with the two entries I was going to put into the P3 Grandmaster Competition at Gencon. Often, unfortunately, this isn't so much about fixing your mistakes as a kind of denial about ever fixing them in the foreseeable future.

The "Scorched Earth Policy" Method

I'm ashamed to say that I've enacted this method once. Years ago I was part of a team at Adepticon where we all did Demons, each of a different Chaos god. I chose Tzeench and looked forward to it, however I procrastinated so badly that I rushed the project and got them barely up to snuff for gameplay. When I got home I was so disgusted with them, both in how they looked and how they played, that I trashed the lot of them. Literally. 1000 points of Tzeench demons, metal horrors and screamers and converted heralds and more went into the trash. I didn't even want to ebay them. Please for the love of all that is holy, avoid this method. I regret it to this day.

So what's the takeaway here? Personally I think its that none of us are perfect, nor will any project we do be perfect. Mistakes aren't there to discourage us, they are there to teach us, and make us better in the long run. If we look at it in any other way, we are just setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment.

So what's your favorite method of dealing with hobby mistakes?

- Tim




  1. Great post! I recently applied the "hammer of rage" to a reaper bones mini that was just all kinds of awful from casting to painting and infuriated me to no end. Very rarely will I smash a mini with a hammer, but it happens. You know what's really sad about this one? Bones minis can't even be smashed right!!! Stupid polyvinyl plastic! Sometimes you just need to let it out and the mini becomes the focal point of the rage. My cheapness out weighs my rage though so nothing of nice quality will ever find itself under the hammer of rage :P I try to remember there is rarely anything mini related that can't be fixed, but its effort to reward ratio may relegate it to the bottom of the pile ;)

  2. I'm "I'll get back to it later" and "I don't care, I'm done". I'm probably this way because I am a bit too much "23rd times the charm" so I get bogged down in painting a model and often don't want to finish the last little bit of work.

  3. I tell people I'm an "I'll get back to it later", but secretly I'm actually more of an "I Don't care, I'm done"!

  4. It never fails, every time I think I'm finished with a model, take it out to get some sealant on it and BAM, there's something I missed or screwed up. About half the time I'll take it back inside for a touch up, but I'll admit there's a fair few "I don't care, I'm done" models in my collection. :)

    ...There have been a few models that aaaaaallmost got the hammer treatment before I cooled off and ended up in the "where's my simple green" bucket.

    Great article, man!

  5. A miniature is never finished ... which maybe explains why I never coat my minis with a 'final sealing coat'. ^_^

  6. I always save mistakes for later. They make great terrain pieces and causalities. :) Also gives you a second chance to redeem yourself. You know, from the time you "accidentally" snapped the killa kan in half.