Painting your models: Love to or hate to?

I was painting a drop pod the other night when I stopped for a second. I was frustrated that progress wasn't going faster. It's my first time painting a drop pod and I'd gotten to the point where I just wanted it to be done. I've already got a good amount of time involved in it and it's still not complete. I began to look for ways to cut my workload.

And then I realised I was treading dangerously close to losing the love of painting and having it become just a task.

I've done a ton of painting over the past year, so much that I've stopped keeping track of painting points. I've painted tough color schemes, simple ones and everything in between, but I've never gotten like this before when painting. It's never been just a task.

But losing the love of painting... that would be bad.
So I took a break and thought about what it was that really bothered me. It wasn't that the drop pod was taking longer than I anticipated, that was just the problem on the surface.
I'd fallen in love with the model being done as opposed to the process of painting it and I wasn't there yet. I wasn't "done," I was still painting.
That was the problem.

But the end is just that, the end. It's the process (painting) that's important and it should never get boring or become just a task. For me, I realise now that I just need to change (and keep) my focus and on the process and enjoy all the little things I learn as I paint models and not see the "end" as the source of enjoyment.

I'm fortunate that my commission work allows me the opportunity to paint models I would have never had the chance to paint otherwise. I am very thankful for that and I know that if I lose the love of painting, it will be reflected in my work.
And nobody wants their stuff painted by someone who doesn't care about anything other than getting done.

So I urge you, take a few minutes while you're painting your next model and just enjoy the process. Stop worrying about how well you paint and what the finished model will look like and and just enjoy painting it.
Because if you're not careful... you might suddenly find yourself hating to paint and and then it's just a task.

Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!


  1. I that typically happens when you're painting a large model that takes longer than normal to paint. You lose interest in the model and get bored with it, while still having to finish it. It become a tast towards the end. What works is putting it down for a little while, getting a cup of coffee or tea, watching old Seinfeld episodes, then coming back to it fresh. Works wonders for me.

  2. I completely agree. I have been pushing myself to clear out my backlog, all the while trying to not lose actual enjoyment of painting. I recently varnished those Skorne models I have been working on for so long. I got into this mind set it isn't good enough yet, despite the fact they supposedly just a quick change of pace models and not showcase caliber.

    I am trying to pick something big to work on next year, and am really being careful/reluctant about picking a project that has lots of small pieces where I might develop that, "just get it finished" mentality. Heck I have a whole rambling blog post kicking ideas back and forth about what to commit myself to next year.

    It is tough trying to balance time, variety, cost and pace.

  3. Nicely put! In order to get our armies on the table (some of us) want to have them painted to a certain standard. Either not getting to this standard or no progressing fast enough in almost enough to throw them out. OK, maybe not, I dropped too much on them to do that. Getting into this “hobby” for the miniatures first then the gaming, allowing this frustration to overwhelm my senses negates the work I’ve enjoyed for that last few years. Great advice: take a break, paint/convert something different, enjoy the fruits of your past painting exploits.

  4. I do love painting; sometimes, it's the only interaction with my 40k minis that I get. :) However, I've nearly hit painting burnout before when I was trying to make some arbitrary contest deadlines. I had to take about a month off afterwards before I felt like putting brush to plastic again. Sometimes a break is necessary - or just a break from the usual. I'm looking forward to painting my Chaos Marines, just because it'll be something other than Tau. :)

  5. Ron I have the same problem and it's mostly because I get frustrated that my 1500 DA army is not finished yet, even though I've been working on it for a long time.

    So for me it definitely is the thought of the "end" of the process just so I can get those models playing on the table.

    I have recently got into Wyrd's Malifaux because I love the models and I intend to take my time painting them. Also you can start playing with just 5-6 models so the daunting aspect of getting an army finished is not there. I intend to take 40K break with Malifaux to remind me that I do love the hobby aspect of the game first and playing second.

    It's funny that you got this feeling while painting the drop pod. I got the same way and mine is still only about 75% done. Something very daunting about the pod if you want it to look good. Strange.

  6. Good points and one's I will need to remember as my big project for this upcoming first part of 2010 is a rather Large Chaos Reaver Titan from Forge World. I'm planning on painting the interior as well so while it sits there the exterior will be just the resin grey or primed and I know that will get to me eventually, so might need to jump around on it a little bit so it feels like something is getting done on it.

    The good side of it is that there is enough detail and interesting bits on the model to keep me entertained I think.

    Also on the list of to dos late in 2010 is a Brass Scorpion...

  7. Ron,
    once a while ago, when I wore a younger man clothes...*grin* hobby was painting and airbrushing (not models, but painings and illustrations), and at that time I had a lot of fun, but absolutley no money. So my greatest wish was to make money with my hobby.
    Fortunately at that time, my wish came through and I became a graphic designer - working for a computer company.
    But very quickly, it became work, and I lost a big deal of fun in painting and airbrushing, stopping it completely.
    I then switched to computer graphics, having much fun there too, but again it was my job. I used the computer graphics for a game company (board game) so it kind of became my hobby too.
    But I learned when I (very personally) connect hobby and money, it becomes a job, and I loose the fun.
    So when I started with WH40K modeling in 2007 I swore myself not to let it happen again, and make sure it is and remains a hobby.
    So far it worked :)
    I hope for you it will also remain being a hobby and fun for you.

  8. Burn out sucks. I find I come face to face with it when I have to much repetition. Taking a break helps a lot. Sometimes I may need to even work on something else or leave the project alone for a day.

    I have two simple rules for myself:

    1. Don't allow yourself to get burnt out. Take any and all measures to prevent this.

    2. Keep focused on your goals and constantly remind yourself how nice it is to accomplish those goals.

    Once a project is complete, everyone always takes a step back from it with a smile on their face. It's in that moment, that feeling of pride in your accomplishment, that needs to be harnessed to motivate you through all your subsequent projects.

  9. This is perfectly timed. I am trying to finish my first land raider and have hit a painting wall. I am just not interested in it for the time being. I noticed last night that when I tried to force myself to finish the tedious stuff so I can get to the weathering, that I was being hasty and making mistakes. Time for a moment of zen!

  10. I agree, sometimes you should shift back a gear and take a break from painting. Sometimes it's too much.

    This is a hobby that takes up a lot of time, but I think the rewards are fantastic.

  11. As a side note, I've since finished the drop pod (pics to come soon) as it was only another hour or so of work.

    And it was a pleaseure to do.

  12. I know where you are coming from on this one. And you have hit a very deep nerve for what seems like a lot of your followers on the blog. We all hit it and we each have our own ways to get through it. For me it’s playing video games, for others it’s taking a tea/coffee break. Very good topic thanks for sharing, it just goes to show that you are not the machine that people thought you were, and you are human somewhere in there. Haha.

  13. I know I'm a little late and I don't paint near as much as most of your guys, but for me... there is a 'wall'. I can get something started and it's not a problem. But there is a point where I really don't like it. Once I get past that point though, it's like the model is coming to life and I really enjoy painting. It's just a #$%^& to make it over my 'wall'... I've got lots of stuff that I start and never finish.


  14. I have 3 unfinished drop pods. For some reason I cannot work up the enthusiasm to finish the paint job.

  15. i think it may be drop pods.
    Of all the minis that i have ever painted drop pods have been my least favourite. I had to do 7 for my slamanders and it almost drove me mad. I need to go back in the new year and detail them a bit more


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