Friday, February 17, 2012

Batch Painting Blues

Batch Painting [bach - peyn-ting] noun, verb, whatever

1. The process in which a hobbyist takes a number of like-models, and paints them all in stages, so as to finish said models all at once, instead of one at a time.

2. The preferred method of painting an entire wargaming army, to maintain and retain consistency across the entire force.

3. One of the many possible reasons for Hobby Burn-Out, and why Miniature Tim wants to talk about it.


Yes, I know I only have 28 Foot, 3 Walkers and 1 Vehicle to paint for my Grey Knights.  I do, in fact, understand that is a far, FAR lower number of models than what most queue up when batch painting for an army.  I just wanted to state that up front.  Especially to those of you who have an inclination towards playing and painting horde-style armies.   I can fully appreciate the speed that this technique achieves with painting that big block(s) of Skaven, or those 4 full Tactical Squads.

With all that said, I still believe that the batch painting process, while an excellent way to paint a full army, is a pain in my creative and motivational arse.  I tend to get beyond excited to get my army painted once I've finished the converting/sculpting/build stages, and then when I hit that first unit to paint, I hit the road block.  

Instead of not get anything done, I thought I come up with, and share some ways to avoid that motivational road block that I'm stumbling over myself.

Small Batches

A bit obvious and self explanatory, but still worth mentioning.  Instead of painting those 20 Skaven or 10 Marines, take it down to blocks of 5.  It will definitely help avoid the over abundance of monotony that comes into play when painting the same shade of fur over 20 models all at once.

Break Up the Monotony

Intersperse smaller, more interesting pieces in between each larger batch of troops.  For instance, paint a Tactical Sqaud, then paint a Dreadnought.  Paint a Tactical Squad, then paint an HQ choice.  It helps, trust me.  You could even intersperse a completely different project's model into this concept for some real variety.

Be Realistic with Your Deadlines

As in, don't expect to get 120 Skaven done in 2 months, especially with a wife, full time job and kids, or school, sports and a part time job even!  Plan out your 'deadlines' accordingly so that you give yourself some breathing room.

In no way do I mean to sell the Batch Painting process short.  it really is an excellent way to get your army done in a very efficient and consistent manner, and I do use it myself!  Unfortunately for me, it also lends itself to pushing me into Burn-Out at times.

Anyone else experience this?  Is Batch Painting your friend, or a necessary evil?

- Tim



  1. Hell yes I've felt burnout. It was a topic for a Sunday Sermon of mine a few weeks back now. It happens to the best of us, and people like me. :P

    I personally hate batch painting. It takes all of the love and joy out of the experience for me. So I'd definitely say its a necessarily EVIL for the larger games out there. It's damn near killed my hobby though.

  2. Batch painting is my arch nemesis. It's just so systematic, so, so ... Much like work! It burns me out as you mentioned above and much as you mentioned above, it helps to break it up. For tyranids, I will mix in five gants with each 2 40mm base creatures I paint. This helps to break down the project, enhances the otherwise mediocre job I would have done just painting gants and relieves the burn out feeling much more.

    I will say though that batch work has its rewards. When you look out and see those 20-30 models you painted over the month on the table, it is very satisfying and motivating. Even when part way through the batch process, I like to pull the models out for games just to get the encouragement from my fellow hobbyists. I need stuff like that to keep me going. Great article, BTW, TIM. Hang in there man, I look forward to seeing the grey knights in person.

  3. I break my painting down into squads. From here I look for ways that I can add minor details to each squad to set them apart. As one stage is drying I switch over to a vehicle or a unique model/character. This process has allowed me to paint 2000pts of models in a 30-45 days. Once I get in this groove I strive to finish what I have started. My biggest hurdle is committing to a paint scheme.

  4. Batch painting is what sucks about big games like 40k and fantasy and why I like games like infinity more nowadays. I'm currently in the middle of painting 14 space marines for friend and I've found some shortcuts, but it doesn't help that much. I guess the key is to lower your standards a bit and paint them so they look good as a group, not as individuals.

  5. Ah yes, batch painting. Equal parts Bane and Boon! It's definitely the best way to keep the paint scheme consistent across numerous models, but yeah, it can be tedious in the extreme. I'll usually batch paint 20-30 models at a time, but usually it'll consist of 2-3 different 10-man units of varying types. For example I'll knock out a Tac squad, and Assault squad and a Devastator squad at the same time, and mix the models up in the queue so I'm rarely painting the exact same type of model one after the other. That helps a little bit. Still not my favorite thing to do, but it does provide a nice feeling of accomplishment once you get the whole batch done! Hang in there Tim, you can do it!

  6. Frontline: I really need to get into some of the smaller-force games. I'm looking into Warmahordes, as well as own some Malifaux and Infinity. I just need to do something about it! I think that would help greatly.

    OST: Says the painter of a thousand Nids... ;) Thanks for the encouragement, and added advice my friend. They'll be done for Adepticon, no worries there, I just don't want the road block to affect my entry into Crystal Brush :P

    Panda: Ooo... yeah, paint scheme commitments are a bane of mine as well. For my Centurions I bet I went through at least 2 dozen of them before settling on the one they have now! It also sounds like you've got batch painting down to a science of your own too :)

    Tim: (little weird talking to myself here...hehe) I agree with the interest in smaller model count games, but unfortunately I can't agree with lowering my standards of painting. I need it to look as good as I can make it, realistically. If I don't, I wont' even want to finish the army. Case in point? My eldar that NEVER saw the light of day.

    Mordian: Holy crap on a stick, man! 20-30 models at a time?!?!? You sir, are crazy! A painting machine, but crazy!

  7. I feel your pain.

    Try batch painting 5-10 at a time with a reward at the end. For example for every 10 grey knights paint 1 walker.

    I also find and audio book, or tv series on Netflix on my iPad is a great impetuous to paint. I painted my grey knights to the game of thrones audiobook and my chaos are being painted to 24. I don't so much as sit down to paint but to listen/ watch what happens next.

    I also finish the army in stages. So I'll get the whole army based, base coated and shaded. I can play games with it then. I'll come back and do the highlighting, markings, extra details another time. Playing games in between helps keep my interest.

  8. I tend to paint 4-5 models at a time for an hour or so then take a 5 or 10 minute break and just do something else. I check my email or do some press-ups, anything but painting! I'll generally listen to the radio or a podcast while I'm painting but (@ Glenn) the audiobook idea is brilliant!

  9. Given that you reference Skaven and you know I am painting said Skaven at the moment... I will honestly say that I prefer painting large batches of 30-40 models at once.

    I prefer to look at my desk and say, "Wow, That entire unit is 1/5 of the way done" than, "Crap, those 5 guys out of 40 are halfway finished". Also this way, when I finish with the last details for a unit... I'm done.

    For the record... it's 150 Skaven still left to paint :P (40 Slaves, 40 Plague Monks, and 70 Clanrats - although half the clanrats will be done in a day or two).

  10. I don't like painting large groups of figures though they do look good when done. It is a big reason I never start a new army. I just paint additions to existing squads or occasionally add a new squad. I don't even like painting in groups of five, I prefer 4. It is alright for goblins as they are smaller but for chaos space marines I prefer groups of 4.

    I'm just a slow inefficient painter who spends too much time on details most people don't notice.

    1. Oh no.. people notice them, trust me. I know I do. I love finding those details and talking to the owner about them when I'm at a large event, or even just my local shop :)