Stay motivated and finish your army!

(My friend's nearly complete Nurgle army)

Every now and then I come across another post on motivation and how to "keep at it" and finish your 40k army. I thought, why not ask the members of the FTW Blogger Group and see what those guys do to get their armies finished and on the tabletop.

I never thought the response would be this big!
As a way to make it easier to crawl through this monster post, I tried to bold some key words from each contribution. Where you see a link, there's a more in depth explanation by that contributor you can check out.
You're still going to need to motivate yourself to read it all though...

Here they are:

+ Join a Painting Challenge on a forum!

+ Get into a routine of updating your blog/site regularly so you feel you have to paint something to show.

+ Work towards a deadline, such as an upcoming tournament.

+ My biggest motivating factor would be my gaming friends.
Currently we have a 400 point challenge to give us a reason to paint, giving us a soft deadline to have a 400 point army painted and ready to game with.
We also have painting parties to make painting fun, and add a collaborative nature to the process. These parties also help feed the most basic motivating factor: I want my army to be bigger and look better than my friends' armies so I can rub their nose in it.

+ Basically, willpower – I will not battle with anything that is not painted.
So if I want to battle with the latest ‘Gucci’ unit for my Relictors Space Marines, I paint. Another method I employ to ‘motivate’ my co-conspirator Pornstarjedi is to set an agreed challenge between us, his is currently to finish off 60 bases before buying anything else – using Painting Points, 1 base equals 1 pound of new Planetstrike ‘plastic crack’.

+ Work on all of a unit at the same time. Why? Because if you finish one you will feel like you finished already. Trust me.

+ Playing a game always gets me motivated. When I see nicely painted models the other side of the table compared to my dull grey plastic it gets me going. It also nice when people complement you on your paint jobs and ask what paints you used, and what wash and bases etc. I’ve also played against opposite paint job armies, I don’t mind that people don’t paint their armies, though one player his were all primed white, though the paint job was naff and had all strands of paint dripping from the model it looked a complete mess. When you see other painted armies it gives you motivation to get yours done and even go that extra mile when you see good examples.

+ A lot of my motivation comes from having a blog. If I'm not working on my models, then I have no material for my blog. Also, I dislike playing games with unpainted minis. I will if I don't have an option, but I would much rather play with a fully painted army.

+ Have a plan, take your time and keep at it.

+ Slow and steady; set a modest, attainable goal each month (for me, usually one unit or 150-200 points), and just work on it when you can. Also, don't forget to play - nothing can remotivate you to get more painted than getting a game in!

+ I turn off my computer and start doing the work.

+ The rule we have is: "if it is not completely finished, which means painted, based, and sealed, then it cannot be fielded." 40K is a HOBBY of playing a game with painted miniatures, it is not merely the game itself. Getting a new unit painted up and ready for play is its own reward when it is finished, if for no other reason than being able to say, "those babies are DONE!"

+ I usually try to remember that while I paint and model for fun, it's a whole lot cooler at the end of the day to have everything complete to show for the money you sunk into your hobby. Also, whether or not your army is painted says a lot about you as a person: the amount of patience you have, your dedication to a project, and the ability to get things done. Finally, I would suggest listening to 40k Radio when you paint, because even just hearing some guys talk about the game you love will help keep you motivated to stick with it.

+ I stay motivated in three ways: 1)By imagining how cool my finished army will be once done and 2)By concentrating on the model I am working on now so that the larger task of finishing entire armies does not discourage me. Basically, I concentrate on the large and small picture, avoiding the intermediate picture where things can get bogged down. And, the third way I motivate myself? By having a gaming blog that forever requires more material!

+ I'd say the start to motivation lies in picking an army range you truly want to work with. This means knowing whether or not you like plastic or metal, and if you hate metal, skip the metal-heavy armies. When you get down to the painting, pace yourself: if you have models you like, use this as motivation. Run through the boring stuff, THEN reward yourself with that sweet, sweet model. And, it's fine to take a break if it's only a short one; we all need a little down-time every now and then.

+ Set yourself immutable deadlines that are enforced by other people such as entering contests, tournaments, or painting escalation leagues. Then figure out the amount of time you will need, double that number and block out that much time before the deadline. This gives you flex time to walk away when needed, but still sets the clock for keeping you on task.

+ Paint with a friend! Helps you to focus on the model because you have someone with you to help stop you from getting distracted.

+ Go to tournaments. It's the best motivator I know.

+ Go to tournaments, build a poor list out of borrowed painted models and get your backside kicked so hard that you swear to yourself: "Next time I will beat them with my fresh painted miniatures."

+ Initially, excitement about the new army/system is what drives me. That rarely lasts very long, though. After the warm glow of new toys fades, playing, playing, playing is what motivates me to paint more.

+ Go to tournaments or events and look at other people's painted armies. That's the biggest thing for me to look at an army and say "I think I could do that too!"

+ Reward yourself points and when you reach a certain number, you get the "ok" to buy something new.
Set aside time each night to do it. An hour here or an hour there may not seem like much but at the end of the week that's 7 hours of painting you got done.
Listen to tunes to get you pumped up or mellowed out (depending on your painting style).
Go to a tourney and see how well the battlefield looks with two fully painted armies battling it out on the tabletop.
Get a group of friends and set up a paint night each week or every other week.

+ I have always found playing with a painted army to be the biggest motivator for me. If I go anywhere to game, even to friends or family for a game, I absolutely HATE using an unpainted unit or army. If I do (mainly because I have to try this new cool looking or cool rules unit out) then I will definately get something painted before I use the army again. Also my luck seems to be considerably better with painted units than unpainted ones.

+ Were all "Junkies" when it comes to buying minis or other game stuff..I know myself I always want to buy everything as soon as it comes out. So use painting units as incentives to buying that next group of models for your army. In a way as a reward for finishing a unit, buy the next one. Keeps things moving that way. It also helps you manage money in a tight economy.

+ My group runs a regular "Escalation League" that REQUIRES fully painted models once a month. We always end up racing to get our models painted in time for the league. Breaking your army into 250pts a month makes them VERY manageable.

+ For me it depends on the situation. Normally I am just painting to paint so I will switch back and forth between armies to keep it fresh. I will paint a Squad of Space Marines, then maybe Sisters of Battle, then maybe an OrK vehicle, I even switch between 40K and Fantasy for a change of pace. Now if I am trying to get a specific army painted say for a tournament, I will usually read a bunch of fluff on the army or read a book about the Army. When I was painting a Space Wolf army for a friend I read the novels by William King when I wasn't painting to keep me motivated.

+ I find laying out everything I need to do across my painting desk and not allowing myself to paint anything else 'till it's finished works wonders, as there's nothing more depressing than seeing a mass of grey plastic sitting on a painting desk.

+ Get out your models occasionaly, lay them out nicely, and look at how cool they are. Be inspired to finish them!

+ Time management, I set a small goal for the week and work on it.

+ Set a goal always, have a basic outline of the army for points and units involved. This of course can change as you build the army up. I also tend to work on different parts of my army, after finishing a troop choice, I might work on an HQ or Elite choice, this way you don't get bored and make the project drag. Remember above all else This Is A Hobby, if you feel it dragging put the paintbrush down or whatever it is that is dragging you down and walk away for a day, two, or however long it takes to regain your sanity, your army will still be there when you get back. Enjoy!

+ I refuse to paint the special units/characters/models until I have painted some squads of basic troops. generally, a 1/1 ratio, one squad = one fun model.

+ Painting points are a great way to keep motivated! Set a points value for each model/type of model and you'll be more motivated than ever. If you don't make progress on your modelling and painting, your army can't grow or you can't buy that peice of terrain you've been eyeing off for weeks.

+ These days its hard to stay motivated with work and family, things I do to get and stay motivated is sign up for painting challanges on WarSeer and Bolter and Chain Sword. I also have a friend who I exchange photos of our WIP's every Sunday, we have to have at least a single model/unit done every week.

+ I find Inspiration to build an army is never lacking – once I see a cool conversion, or just a sweet mini, I will develop an idea around that mini/theme and build the army from there.

As for painting, I struggle to make what sits in my head a reality with the brush and this tends to dissuade me from doing more; however, comments from staff at the local GW, other players, etc will really help motivate me to paint and try new things.

Constructive criticism/comment from my peers in the community really help – and seeing what others have done, and having them talk through the process/explain how easy or simple painting can be a big boost.

Competing in leagues/weekly gaming groups also helps as it is a constructive environment where there is a community effort to progress new armies or models – i.e. motivating each other.

Painting an army in steps also helps – to get to a legal 500pts, 1,000pts or 1,500pts - whatever you want to achieve – have a plan and stick to it and try and avoid distractions or starting a new project before you finish the old.

+ Well, having a strong theme that you love, of course tournaments, and blogs are a real motivator.

+ I draw motivation from a lot of sources and it's sometimes hard to pinpoint specifics, but here are two that work best for me: 1. Eye Candy - GW posts tons of excellent pictures in their literature and on their website. Seeing the masterfully crafted war diorama's and miniatures puts me in hobby gear, full throttle. 2. The FTW Blogger Community - I would have to say the best way I can explain this is... Mob Rule for the Orks. It can be hard to keep motivated if it's just you and "your half wit mate, Zog". The FTW blogger community is great for personal morale as it's a place where like minded people can come together and find inspiration and motivation amongst each other.

+ When I work on an army I try to remember that the journey is the destination. Finding 20 minutes or a half hour every day or every other day can really get a project done faster than most people think. Don't think things like "I have to be somewhere in x amount of time so I can't paint." It only takes a minute or two to clean a brush and a cup. Remember to enjoy your hobby that you spend your hard earned money on.

+ Give yourself an end goal, whether it be pride, money, outdoing a rival, or just plain seeing it on the battlefield. If you struggle with that, chain yourself to a table and paint a small model or unit. Field that unit/model next game and relish that good feeling of seeing it done. That always helps me stay motivated to do the rest of my army.

+ A good way to stay motivated is to keep a few interesting models (I like Dreadnoughts or Sergeants) to work on as "rewards" - things to work on once you've finished a good deal of other work and to break the lull of assembly lines.

+ I have three major ways. One is multitasking when doing other activities like watching tv. Another is to have a bunch of different paint schemes in my army- that way I don't get too bored with painting the same thing over and over again. Finally, I have vowed not to buy any more models until the models that I own are built and painted.

+ A buddy of mine and I tell each other about our current and planned projects by email and it's turned out to be a source of motivation for both of us!

+ Paint a variety of models but don't beat yourself up for putting a half-painted model down and picking up a new one. Start a blog and read blogs or watch YouTube videos on the hobby.
If you're not in the mood to paint, then do another aspect of the hobby (assemble/convert/game/terrain building/dioramas, etc.). There are lots of things you can do to stay motivated.

+ Play lots of games, or go to lots of tournaments. If you are like me, you will hate seeing bare plastic on your side of the table when your opponent is fielding a fully-painted ensemble of miniatures. Envy will give you the motivation you need, or at least the desire to better your army.

+ I have never played a game of Warhammer 40,000. For me it's first and only a hoppy of modelling and painting. Therefore I find myself losing motivation whenever different forms of entertainment offer a novelty, mostly videogaming and literature. I find it's easiest to keep myself focusing on painting is to paint troops models and a special model (not necessarily an HQ, but possibly a specially modelled sergeant, or an older metal model that I bought second hand and stripped, etc.) at the same time. I don't take a step forward on the special model until I've taken that step for the troops. I'm doing this for my Tacticals and Veteran Sergeants these days.

+ Combine gaming and painting – Don’t be afraid to play during the time you paint your armies. I find the best way for me to remain motivated to paint is to play a campaign or series of games with the army in question adding and painting new units week for week.

+ For me, the biggest motivation for painting and modeling is tournament related. I usually have a different or modified army build that I need for an upcoming tournament – that will require additions to my existing armies. I either have to paint them or change my army list – and it usually comes out as a blend of the two. On Tuesday before the Big Waagh I was staring at two primed Wave Serpents and a primed Dragon Exarch that were critical to my builds... not a lot of sleep that week!

+ Hide your unpainted models so you can't see how much you have left and display your painted ones so you can see how far you've come. Nothing is more deflating than seeing a mountain of plastic and metal staring you in the face.

+ I find collecting and painting a mutually enforcing pair, bolstered up by my concurrent hobbies of blogging (which requires updates, models and therefore provokes progress) and underlined by intermittent games - which encourage the pride in fielding a painted army.

+ To stay motivated, make sure you choose an army you really like in each of these three critical aspects: How the Army Plays, How the minis look, How you colour/paint scheme looks. If you fail to meet one or more of these criteria, chances are you won't find the motivation to paint.
Put on a movie while you paint. Something you enjoy, but already know fairly well enough or just paint with friends.

+ First, buy your models since you're more likely to assemble an army if boxes stare at you from the shelf.
Second, when you finally decide to do a squad or vehicle, start by cutting every piece off the sprue. You don't want to loose the bits, and you'll assemble everything.
And last, when it comes to painting, do something quick on all the models that is close to final (I do all the heads of my models,for example) so you'll actually want to finish the whole squad because it looks odd partially done.

+ I read every black library book that comes out. This invariably inspires me to pick up an army and have some fun with it. I can thank the Horus Heresy series for brining me back into the hobby. From books to blogs, eventually some spark will catch, and I will furiously paint away at a new army. When the newness of the army fades, and I am struggling to finish the last unit, I usually schedule a game at the local GW store. This forces me to paint my whole list up, since I do not like to play with unpainted miniatures. It also works as a sort of unveiling of the new army, and I end up painting a lot of additional details and correcting painting mistakes before the game.

As you can see, there's tons you can do to stay motivated to get your army done. Find what works for you and get going. Before you know it, your army will be finished and your biggest problem will be what army you should start next.

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. Holy bejeezus, that is quite a collaborative post! Well done, Ron, as well as a good job to everybody who contributed!

  2. I know some gaming groups on the net paint with each other via skype, it would be cool to see FTW do something like this :D

  3. Jack: I can see where that works for players local who have all the equipment. Once you go past "local," you can actually get into time zone differences and even different days.

    It's something I never thought of until I started blogging like this.

  4. Wow thanks for the tips, a lot of stuff here and great for someone like myself who is a great "starter" but struggles to complete projects!


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