Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Modular Painting

I was actually planning to post this several weeks ago, but with an awesome military exercise, I completely forgot about it until FTW posted the “painting a model…in pieces?” bit.

My mantra in life is: “I strive for greater levels of efficiency”. I find a pattern in everything I do, a subtle way of doing things in a more lean, organized, and effective manner to create maximum output with minimum input. I move the things I need closer to me and organize by order of importance, extent, and length of use. It is an over thought engineered lifestyle, but when actual free time is a precious commodity, the benefits pay off immensely.

We as hobbyists already understand that when painting a mass of models that require the same color, an assembly line approach is worthwhile. We have logically concluded that to minimize changing colors on a paintbrush and to gain momentum with a defined and effective stroke repeating the same action numerous times is more efficient than say painting one models arm blue and immediately painting another models legs red. A step further than this becomes obvious when you examine your assembled models. Sure, you can dart the brush in and around arms and legs with ease. A skilled painter can use a micro brush with the precision of a scalpel and dazzle onlookers with extra effects, zig zag trims, runes, and other decorations all the while avoiding the pieces that overlap. This approach is not worth the time it takes to concentrate and avoid the obstacles. If even one time you slip and have to swap colors just to correct a mistake, you have wasted minutes of your precious time. The time you spend being surgically careful to create an exceptionally neat job is worthless if you could simply relax and remove the obstacles. Think of the time you waste picking one model up just to put him back down and pick a second model up when you could hold a sprue of arms and paint them all at once. The brush leaves the painting area to refill on paint and that is it. Keep the sprue and brush close to your paint and that is even less time you are wasting. Imagine how less careful you need to be if you use the sprue as a handle (instead of cramping your fingers around a tiny hand) and fly through the basics.

Let’s face it, we all know how completely convoluted these models with their unique poses and extra bits can be. All these extra seconds you spend being unnecessarily careful, moving around obstacles, picking up and putting down models, touching up minor slipups all add up to extra models painted. I also cannot express to you how satisfying it is to cut all of your painted bits out at one time, and within 5 minutes have completed units.

Does anyone else have any time saving advice?


  1. Well, I don't paint with pieces still on the sprue as I've found having to go back and prime/paint the spot where the part connected to the sprue to be a big ol' waste of time...not to mention trying to get the paint to match perfectly, etc.

    What I do is cut everything off the sprue and then take the Dremel with a 1/32" bit and drill holes into the parts in places that won't show. Then I press in several little "paper clip stands" that I've made by bending...well, you guessed it, paper clips...into specific shapes that will let the parts "balance" on the stands. I can then use the ol' "helping hands" stand/alligator clips and put the parts right where I want them. Sometimes I don't even use the "stands", I just use a straight piece of paper clip and use the alligator clips on the "helping hands".

    I know it adds a couple of extra steps in there but I've found it's much better -- for me, at least -- to do it this way. :)

  2. I've never tried the painting on the sprue method. Like CrusherJoe, I don't like the idea of touching up the place where the part was attached.

    For the most part I assemble everything and then paint, but for larger models I will do it in pieces.