So ZombiePirateXXX has already alluded to various methods of painting and possibilities open. Now I am not as an accomplished painter as he is. When he completes a piece it is normally stunning, and if I have any painting questions I will normally appeal to him.
However, I have an incredibly short attention span and this gives me one massive advantage – I can paint armies very fast. Not just slap dash mind you, up to a decent standard, every model will be highlighted, shaded and based. There are a few secrets therefore I may be able to impart to you, dear spambot.
Plan, and Plan Some More
This is where speed painting big armies really happens. Have a look at your model. What do you want to achieve? Think about a colour scheme. Then, take a few models from the army and paint them. Have a look at the final result and ask yourself some honest questions. Is it good? Is it reproducable over vast swathes of models? Would it look good as an army? Was it quick enough? Here are some considerations I take into account:
Invariably I always find that when painting an army, less is more. Select just a few colours that complement each other well. I normally aim for around three colours on a model. Fewer colours means shorter painting times, and if you choose the colours well the army will look more cohesive. Ensure that the colours are correctly highlighted and shaded, this will not usually take too long but will make the model look much better.
Also consider using base colours to your advantage. For example, I once painted an Imperial Guard force. For my test model I used white spray as an undercoat. I directly applied a sepia wash to the undercoat and immediately I had a Guardsman in desert combat gear, already shaded and highlighted as the wash turned the recesses dark but left the high points close to white. I could then experiment with making his rifle and body armour slightly different. Eventually I painted his armour and rifle in a desert colour, then sepia washed the entire lot. A bit of work on the face and hands and its nearly complete. Paint the base yellow, add some sand and rocks, drybrush the base, and hey presto, a quickly painted model to a decent standard. I can feel the wrath of experienced model painters everywhere bearing down on me already, that you aren’t supposed to cut corners like this. But heck, this will make your eyes bleed you elitist lot – I once painted an entire skaven army without even undercoating it. Simply applied a wash to the grey plastic. Heck, rats are grey. They turned out rather well actually, looking better than many other armies I have seen which took infinitely longer to finish, and when you have 500 bazillion ratmen to finish its worth doing it.
Lets not forget the base of the model. I have seen many nice models made to look bad by a poor base. Always at least paint the base. Worst case scenario, get some dark green paint on it. Top Tips – Go to your local pet store and get some bird grit. Looks like little stones on a 26mm base. Also useful – sand, and static grass (like little bits of green fluff). Stick them on with PVA glue, then highlight or shade as you desire. I generally don’t bother painting these additions but shading can add to the effect.
Fine detail and symbols to paint? On fifty rank and file models? Forget it! If you are desperate get some decals.
This is one of the best ways to make a model look good quickly. Learn to drybrush up to a good standard with a big paintbrush. I painted a red Khador Warmachine army using this technique. Spray the models with black undercoat, then apply five layers of drybrush, starting with deep red, progressing in brighter colours until the last drybrush layer is orange. Doesn’t take too long but looks good. Then you can paint in the rest of the model – smokestacks, axes etc.
Experiment with washes. They can save you hours of shading. Also try the unusual, for example washing straight onto the undercoat as mentioned above.
No matter how fast you paint, ensure you varnish your stuff. If you’ve gone with bright colours a good gloss varnish will make them look brighter. If you have cut corners anywhere (example not using an undercoat) the varnish will ensure that the model can be handled without risk of paint damage. It will protect your long erm… hours of hard erm… work.
So then, you’ve got 400 models to paint. Establish your technique on one or two then go for it. Paint your special characters seperately to a higher standard. Remember this: Your army will always look infinitely better if it is finished.