Space Marine Chapters poster by Games Workshop
If you've been following this so far, you took the quiz, read the explanations and now you're wondering what's the point of all this?
The previous post had two more pictures with questions at the bottom.
For those who still aren't sure, here are those answers:
1. Four fingers.
But let me ask you this, if the image shows no fingers at all, but a row of bumps and what looks like a wrench, how do you get four fingers? You just know, right? Our brain fills in the gaps of missing information. It looks like a hand, we recognise it as a hand and we assign it everything we know that goes with "hand." That means four fingers, a thumb, etc.
2. A horse.
This one is even better. All you have is a shape (stylized at best) to go from. No color, no icons... but you still come up with a horse. How many horses do you know of that only have two legs, no eyes, and one ear? That's all that the "horse" we "see" in the image. But we still get horse as our answer.
The human brain tries to figure out what something is based on what it knows and recognizes. You don't have to show us the whole thing for our brains to figure it out. We are able to fill in the blanks and come to a fairly accurate guess. It's how you got Genestealer and Ultramarine dreadnought as answers in the quiz.
Same thing goes for 40k. We know the history and background of the game and we are able to figure out what things are based on their shape, color and identifying marks. Our brain does the rest.
Now... depending on how much of the background you know will determine how good you are at determining what some of the more obscure things are. But, we all know the basic background of the game, even if we don't play every single army ourselves.
But how does this relate to painting?
Simple. Because we know that people brains try to "fill in the blanks," we can apply this to our painting and give people information that their brain can use to make the leap to exactly what we want them to.
My Deathwing troops are the perfect example.
Let's look at why they work as it relates to the painting aspect. I get the bonus for the correct shape, but it's the painting that tells you exactly what Chapter they are.
In reality, there is no white or even bone color on these guys. In fact, they are just primed with light grey and washed with Devlan Mud. But here's the key, they are light in overall appearance and I've added a single tan highlight on the edges of their armour. This combination (the light overall look and the tan hightlight) is all it takes for viewers to look at them and immediately make the jump to "Deathwing..." based on what most people know about the 40k universe.
Add in the single shoulder pad icon (that isn't even exact, but a close approximation) and it's all a viewer needs to be sure.
And what does this get me? Good question.
It gets me all the associated baggage that comes with "Deathwing." Because people recognize my army, they immediately think about everything they know about Deathwing and put that on my army.
Thinking things like, those Terminators are going to be tough to crack, Deathwing are the toughest in the Imperium, those are the most senior and experienced members of the Dark Angles, etc...
When they (their brains) make the jump because they recognise the army, they immediately "fill in the gaps" with everything else they know about them.
Image from Games Workshop
And it goes on...
Space Wolves are another good example. What does it take to say "Space Wolves" to a viewer? Grey armour with some variation of red, yellow and black markings that resemble what we all think we know about Space Wolves?
Do that and all of a sudden, you'll find people recognise your force and bring all their Space Wolf fears to the table when playing you.
Do you need 40 shades of grey and blue and black all blended together with intricate detailed symbols painted on each shoulder?
Blood Angels will be another example... paint them blue and they won't have the same effect. But paint them red, add "blood drop" type imagery and all of a sudden, you've got Blood Angels and all the close combat ferocity associated with them.
Do you need to have a base color of XYZ, highlighted up through 80 shades of red and then blended together to get some complex Blood Angels red formula? No. Find the essential characteristics, include those and you'll hit the mark every time.
Ultimately, my Librarian failed (at being recognised as a Deathwing Librarian to your average player) because while I had the shape, my color was off and I had no icons to help the viewer figure out where the model belonged once they couldn't figure out the color and their brain couldn't match it with anything they already knew to jump to.
But the idea works for any army.
Unless you're doing some strange "counts-as" force, have obscure conversions, or have picked a completely unknown paint scheme, you'll already have the shape associated with your army.
If you can figure out what it takes (as it relates to painting)for the viewer to look at your army and jump to the conclusion you want, you'll get all the added benefits of the model's rich background when people face off against you. Regardless of how accurate it may or may not be.