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Painting Standards in Tabletop Games and Gatekeeping


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19 minutes ago, yukishiro1 said:

My basic feeling is that the justification for the game's existence is on the hobby side. If you're just looking for a good competitive game, AOS is surely not what you're looking for. The rules are often unclear, frequently broken, and always unbalanced. The reason we all persist with it despite these flaws is because the models are cool and fun to play with, and painting is a large part of what makes the models look cool. I've yet to meet a single person who thinks grey plastic looks better than painted models.

So with all that mind...there is absolutely no need for everyone to have everything painted all the time. The amount of effort involved in painting an army is immense, and people absolutely shouldn't feel bad about fielding an army while they are in the process of painting it. But I do feel like if you're someone who just never plans to paint their army no matter what - or who has vague plans but in practice is never going to because there's always some reason why you couldn't make any progress - we're probably not looking for the same thing from this game (and I question if you're playing the right game at all, but tastes differ and if it works for you, more power to you). I don't mind playing a game against you now and again, but I doubt we're going to hit it off and become best buddies. And if I have the choice of a game with you or with someone who shares my priorities...I'll choose the latter. It's nothing personal. It's just that I'd rather have more fun than less fun. Just like if someone brings a list I hate playing against (hi2u 4 foxes!) I probably would opt against playing against that too if I had a better option.

One thing I can't personally understand and have little patience for is people who make a big deal out of everything in the army being nominally painted, even if it's to a terrible standard, because I think that actively undermines the ultimate objective of people creating good-looking armies they're proud of. For that reason I'm not a big fan of battle-ready painting requirements for tournaments. I'd much rather someone show up with an army that's half painted to the best of their ability (no matter what their ability is, that doesn't matter) and half still primed than have them show up with an army they did in an all-nighter to the bare minimum level. That just seems like such a waste to me. I get that it's hard to enforce a "make a good faith effort" requirement at tournaments so I understand why most TOs have settled on a battle-ready standard, but I personally dislike the kind of painting it ends up forcing people into. 

 

Occasionally I come across a post that so perfectly encapsulates my opinion on a matter that I wonder if I am, in fact, Edward Norton living in a rundown apartment wearing beaters and drinking cheap alochol and plotting anarchy.

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I'd probably like painting a lot better if I was any good at it 🤣 I find it a huge roadblock, especially when I start painting an army and it ends up being not competitive.

I mostly play on TTS these days because of COVID, but I also really appreciate that it let's me play the game without having to spend hours on hobbying.

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I am all for tournaments that have no painting standards but I prefer if events do. Like others have said, the game is a visual one. You are creating vignettes with your models as you play. You can stoop down and see a recreation of another world. Painting your army is a way you can help create a better experience for your opponent. There is a balance between being as welcoming as possible and promoting the hobby in all its glory though.

One thing I did before I had a painted army was go and watch a tournament. I got free entry and I could enjoy seeing all the incredibly painted armies duking it out. Was super inspiring for me as a new player.

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Our local community tends to "enforce" painting standards through friendly ribbing. Nobody bats an eye if you show up to game night with a newly-assembled unpainted model. If that model is still unpainted after a month or two, you'll start to get an increasing number of comments along the lines of "What paint scheme were you thinking for that guy?" and "What, you still haven't painted that one? Come on!" Also, if the dice are being cruel to you, it's definitely because you haven't finished painting your army.

But mainly it's about positive encouragement - we run monthly painting pledges where if you complete your goal (can be anything you like, a single model is fine) by the end of the month you go into a raffle draw for a voucher at the local hobby store. We've put a lot of work into making it a supportive, welcoming environment where we all share advice and cool tutorials we've found, give constructive feedback, and accommodate all skill levels.

The local tournament scene always has a painting requirement for events, and often has prizes for the best painted armies.

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Beyond the aesthetic and grog-nardy objections to grey plastic, I think unpainted armies actually skirt into the modeling for advantage category. This is especially true when everything has been primed black. It's just harder to pick out the weapon load-outs from a distance, units blend together more, etc. It's not decisive, but it is a disadvantage to your opponent. 

As people have said, if this is a noob building their first army, it's not an issue. If its an experienced player running a net-deck it's pretty annoying.

Like most of the other commenters have noted, there aren't great mechanisms to force people to paint, but soft reinforcement like making it a requirement for tournaments or awarding points for painting progress during leagues provide good incentive. Hopefully, the FLGS offers occasional painting sessions or at least hosts an FB group or Discord to help new painters get their brushes wet.

Overall, I'm with the folks who not that as pure games, GW's offerings are mediocre, it's the art that makes them worth the time/money investment. I wouldn't want to play historicals against a WAAC player and 40K/AoS are much closer to historicals than say StarCraft, IMHO.

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For the casual hobby part u should do whatever u want. If u want to join a tournament just meet the requirements to enter that tournament. Everything else imo is people making other people feel bad about their minis to make themselves feel better. I just cant wrap my mind around why someone would give a negative comment on another players minis if not asked directly. And if u like to play against someone with only high level painted minis thats also ok and good luck with that. People look for different things in this hobby and thats fine. 

Edited by Iksdee
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I'm also of the opinion that the visual appeal is of extreme importance and greatly enhances gaming experience. I think the art and the minis were what got us into the game in the first place, not so much the rules or the prospect of winning in some sort of tactile e-sports.

With that being said I'd never refuse playing because some minis are not painted. But there should be proper minis that appropriately represent what they are supposed to represent. If an opponent fields a unit of Dwarven Ironbreakers and tells me those are supposed to 'count as' Witch Aelves I'd be greatly annoyed. I also once read someone saying they don't care about minis and would play against worms made of playdoh if put on the correct based - that I just don't get.

Now, onto painting progress. I'm a very slow painter myself. I started AOS back in early March by ordering some Lumineth. Until now I have finished 10 Wardens, 2 Dawnriders, 2 Stoneguard, Eltharion and Teclis. Delivery issues played a role, as well as a Bachelor's thesis. But I keep at it and try to stick to my Ymetrica instead of painting Daughters and Kruleboyz who I got because I just couldn't resist...

I have a close friend who started at the sane time as I did, and he got a huge load of second hand Stormcast Eternals, almost all of them neither primed nor painted. He is really into the army and the lore but until now he hasn't finished a single model. It's mostly because he has really high expectaions of how his finished models should look but he doesn't reach them due to inexperience. And then he stops. I tried getting him into a trying out contrast colours as a relatively easy way of achieving great results. Then we sat down, watched a video on how to do his scheme (Hammers of Sigmar) with mostly contrast colours and compiled a shopping list. He seemed really motivated but then he didn't get a single one of those colours up until now, and we made that shopping list back in June. Sure, he has to work a lot, but so do I. It's just a pity.

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My last Frostgrave game was vs someone who came to my house with just folded pieces of paper with the name of the troop on it.

I simply gave him a team from minis I've painted but wasn't attached to.

Now I can't do that for every team very often (I'll run out of wardogs and birds), but we'll figure something out. When I played at someone elses' house, I asked whether I could paint the models for the next game. Oathmark would be a different story, and Stargrave is also more limited for me.

Some of the monsters we can roll still use pathfinder pawns because I was too lazy to print and paint them yet.

So yes, I mind playing vs grey plastic, but not enough to not do so, though enough to give away old painted models.

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1 hour ago, Maogrim said:

It's mostly because he has really high expectaions of how his finished models should look but he doesn't reach them due to inexperience. And then he stops.

Yeah, it's so easy to fall into this trap. I was in that position for years.

The thing that eventually broke me out of it was realising that I was being pulled in two different directions - I wanted the models painted as quickly as possible so that I could call them done and play with them, but I also wanted them to be done to a really high standard. You can't do both at once, especially when you're just starting out.

Try to get your friend to instead focus on one priority and aim to make consistent progress towards that goal. I've tried both: super quick and rudimentary paint jobs to finish off a force fast, and focusing a whole month's attention on a single model just to really get to grips with a challenging technique or a particular effect. What I've realised is that you can still do both, just not at the same time - get the whole force done quick and dirty, then come back later and refine your work until you're happy with it. I get so much more painting done this way, and it really alleviates that paralysing stress of having a massive pile of unpainted models waiting.

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For me this subject is very much a "different strokes for different folks".  I've been in the hobby long enough that I remember when unpainted armies were much more common than they are now and seeing an army in white or yellow was as rare as hen's teeth.  I've certainly played with unpainted models in the past, but since I've started gaming with a more regular group of friends that's become less common.

My own bug bear is when the reason for not painting is because the person couldn't be bothered.  I've much less of an issue when the reason is lack of time or not enjoying that part of the hobby.

From an aesthetic perspective I think we all agree that a painted army looks better than an unpainted one.  What I'll throw into the conversation is that the colour you paint your models actually has an impact from a gaming perspective too - the champion in a unit is infinitely more identifiable, two identical units with different cloth colours are recognisable as two independent units, etc.  

I'm now going to be controversial 😉  It has never been easier to put paint onto a miniature.  We have a range of coloured spray paints, washes, contrast and paints that cover in one coat, combined with a plethora of tutorials and videos.  That's not to belittle the amount of time or effort it takes, both things that people have in varying amounts.

Where I do think people go wrong though is purchasing whole 2k armies in one hit and being defeated with the scale of the task before even picking up a brush.  Some of the best advice I've ever been given (and subsequently given out) wasn't on painting techniques or schemes, but instead was on how to plan painting an army, breaking it down into manageable chunks and putting unpainted models out of sight.  The other piece of advice is to remember that army painting is a completely different discipline to display/competition painting.  Most people only ever see armies from 3 feet away, so there's no need to paint eyeballs or tiny details that would be invisible at that distance - also don't forget that the people who paint the display miniatures we see on the boxes clock in at least 1800 hours of painting a year (often double that) and have been painting for 5+ years!

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16 hours ago, Dolomedes said:

Has anyone here ever seen anyone refuse to play against unpainted armies or ones that aren't some sort of 'table top ready'?

The closest I got was contemplating to cancel a DnD game where I said I would be willing to run grid combat and supply most of the miniatures and terrain if everyone else was willing to buy and paint a model for their character. People bought their models, but made no effort to paint them. I offered to have everyone come over to my house to paint together, but that never really panned out. Eventually, the game fell apart due to COVID before anything happened on my end, though.

13 hours ago, The Red King said:

"To get what's really special out of tabletop you have to do both." Well good news. YOU have! Your opponent not painting their minis doesnt keep you from getting that something special.

"I didnt get into this hobby to push grey plastic around." More good news, you arent obligated to play with your opponents models, in fact most people would reccomend you not push around their grey plastic without permission. 

Just to be clear, none of the positions in the original post are exactly my own. I just wanted to outline two fairly extreme positions on the matter to get discussion started :)

In reality, and I believe you can see that in this thread, there are not a lot of people who are into this hobby but either never want to paint minis at all or expect 2000 point fully painted armies as an entry point. The overwhelming majority seems to be understanding of the realities of putting together a painted army, but see it as an aspirational goal none-the-less and seems to expect people to at least make a good faith effort.

As for the point that my opponent's unpainted models don't take anything away from the game, I disagree with that. The aesthetic is, for me, a huge part of why I got into the game in the first place. And only playing against Greymodel Slowness, with their proud heraldry of unpainted plastic and visible mold lines just does not do it for me.

I think in reality, painting is most often less of a hard requirement and more of a soft expectation. What I am trying to figure out for myself is, at what point would I become a meanie by expecting an effort on the part of my opponent to at least try. If I was in an evening basketball league, but frequently failed to come to practice and games, my team mates justifiedly be mad at me for not making enough of an effort. In my above example of the DnD game I was running, I feel like I was justifiedly annoyed at the other players because they did not make enough of an effort to paint when we had explicitly agreed upon it before starting. But the point at which my opponent would be in the wrong for not making an effort painting their army (if there even is such a point) is much less clear.

The comments on the youtube video I linked in the first frequently seem to have a similar message: I thought about trying out tabletop games, but the expectation of needing to paint models is keeping me away. For me, that's sad. I'd love more people to join the hobby. But I can also see the perspective that maybe those commenters are just making the right decision: Tabletop games are one hobby with a gaming and a painting component, and if you don't want to paint at all, then yeah, good call, better stick to board games.

I think it comes down to how we view the hobby as a whole. The creator of the youtube video I linked is explicit in saying that he thinks the painting and gaming sides are two different hobbies that GW just markets as one thing. I personally feel that what makes the tabeltop hobby unique is that it has both an essential gaming and painting component, and that while you can obviously engage with them on their own, to actually pariticipate in the hobby to the fullest extent you need do both.

Edited by Neil Arthur Hotep
Profanity filter, my old nemesis. You got me again.
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13 hours ago, The Red King said:

I'm sorry but I have to strongly disagree with you. 

Paraphrasing you so I apologize if I misrepresent something. 

"To get what's really special out of tabletop you have to do both." Well good news. YOU have! Your opponent not painting their minis doesnt keep you from getting that something special. 

 

"I didnt get into this hobby to push grey plastic around." More good news, you arent obligated to play with your opponents models, in fact most people would reccomend you not push around their grey plastic without permission. 

 

I prefer seeing painted armies fighting painted armies but every person who gets driven from the game by that kind of "standard" will never paint their army and they'll never play any games so the standards at a casual level should really be "whatever allows you and your opponent to have the most fun* *must make REASONABLE accommodations" clear proxies and the like being reasonable. Not being allowed to deny someone access to the hobby based on your personal preference is NOT an accommodation.

 

I should add I'm fine with tournaments having paint requirements. Nobody is being kept out of the hobby by not being able to go to tournaments and by the time you've reached that level you could probably paint them or use some hobby budget for commissioning a tabletop level paintjob. 

Nothing personal. Just an observation.

I think this is such an interesting response. From a philosophical point of view.   The lvl of standard we have for painting and assembling of our opponents models is purely subjective. There is just no objective stance we can take on that point.  But i think this response is full of language trying to make the subjective, objective.  I mean the term reasonable accommodation means absolutely nothing. Some ppl find bases whit  a code reasonable enough others will find models in the wrong sub faction colour unreasonable.  Those two would both seem unreasonable extremes to myself but that would be my subjective perspective.  

The same for  trying to create a divide between the players armies. There is no  clear line between those other then who paints what.  Your opponents army being grey can be just as big an detractor to a players fun as their own.  Sure the opponent is an autonomous being  in control of his own life. But he can  not impact what makes a game feel special to the other player.  If the other player find it annoying  to play against grey, nothing the opponent does or does not do is going to invalidate that feeling.  There is no objective right or wrong in that sense. 

 The only objective observation one can make on this issue is that any and all standards are a form of gatekeeping. That is what standards are for, to keep out that what does not meet them.  And where we draw standards should be a practical consideration. 

 Are you looking for more opponents? Better keep those standards low.

Are you looking to prepare yourself and your buddies to win some events better keep those standards high. 

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'It's your hobby' is a phrase I hear a lot, but it's also a social hobby and when you engage in that aspect you have to accept that how your army is presented will affect your opponents experience for better or worse. So when you turn up with an unpainted army, it's the effect on your opponent's gaming experience that's under consideration.

Naturally there's a lot of context to consider - is it a unit of mortek guard that's only primed and the guy facing you has been running on fumes from work recently? Or is it a tournament event and the latest netlist is in front of you with proxies and grey plastic galore? In the former case there's few people I'd hope who'd have much issue, in the latter case it's a real stinker.

Personally I don't play with unpainted models because if I did I feel I'd lose a big motivating factor, and boy do we need those when it comes to how long these projects can take.

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While we are on the topic of painting standards i have another question. What are your standards for a tabletop ready model or unit?
I am trying to figure out where the sweetspot is for me. I am taking way to long painting my armies imo. Although it is also because my skills are lacking for what i am trying to accomplish. I am horrible at blending colors and i have to put the time in to learn that skill at some point but i just cant find the time between work and having a daughter thats only 2 months old. I am thinking about spending less time on the details of basic troops and put some work into leaders and behemoths. I've also read something about saving time using the focal point of a model and concentrate on details there and less on the other parts. In a way i have been gatekeeping myself XD.

I think i have to change my mindset of what is tabletop ready. Do u paint your armies using different standards or do u all paint them up to be the same level? 

Edited by Iksdee
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Tbh I don't enjoy playing against grey plastic since the immersion is suffering immensely and those kind of players tend to bring the - kindly spoken - "more optimal choices" on every occasion and therefore encourage a general pay to win attitude. So overall I endorse anything that counteracts this kind of play.

I guess this is where all the trouble starts. It is always expected to bring the live and let live mentality to an event or in these kind of scenarios. Lets say we got the matchup casual vs tryhard and I'm in camp casual. I will focus on a respectful behavior despite playing gainst their grey tryhardcombinations, not moaning ingame about the different expectations we got (keywords being listbuilding, willingness to paint, the struggle to kill even one model etc.), so overall being respectfull, trying to get and maintain a good atmosphere and so on.

But I feel this is a very onesided approach - where is the gesture of goodwill from the tryhardside? They will have a great game against a fully painted army, with a regardful opponent while having a mostly assured win. They can still achieve their personal expectation and therefore get everything they want without the need to take a step back or even consider the expectations of their casual opponent. But hey, I guess we can wait to get smashed 2-3 times in order to get a chance on pairing against someone with similar mindset, it's ok. And there are plenty of narrative events, aren't they? 😕 (I tell you something: there is no such thing)

So overall I feel like this: If you wan't to tryhard, go for it, but please show the same respect you demand on your position towards your casual opponents as well. And the first step to meet their expectations is to put some paint onto your miniatures. I seriously don't care for all the expressed reasons on why someone had no time to bring even the minimal Standards of paint onto his figures. Be honest to yourself, it's all about time management and prioroties

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3 minutes ago, Iksdee said:

While we are on the topic of painting standards i have another question. What are your standards for a tabletop ready model or unit?
I am trying to figure out where the sweetspot is for me. I am taking way to long painting my armies imo.

Far too high - it's why I take forever to finish anything 🤣  In truth, I don't actually have a specific level I aim for, my Legion of Grief/Nighthaunt army I painted up using primarily using contrast and took me around 15 weeks, but is technically the least accomplished army I own with not much in the way of highlights.  My Khorne army was probably 8 months in total using the WHTV guides - everything has at least one highlight.  Imperial Knights were about 3 years on and off.

Nowadays I tend to try and aim to complete a unit within a specific timeframe based on how busy I am with an overarching timescale for the whole army.  I'm looking at completing my Gravelords army by the end of the year all being well, so that'll be around about the 6 month mark, aiming for a minimum of 10 hours a week - ideally 20 if time permits.  One thing I do is to split my time into assembly, conversion & painting.  It gives me enough variety that I don't get bored but does mean that sometimes things appear to take longer than they actually do!

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18 minutes ago, Iksdee said:

I am taking way to long painting my armies imo...

I think i have to change my mindset of what is tabletop ready. Do u paint your armies using different standards or do u all paint them up to be the same level? 

Oh Gosh, tell me about it. I paint like this too. I try and push my skills with every model and am painfully slow. I think if I was asked to given advice to a new player I'd tell them to think about how much time they want to spend painting per week and when do they want to have their army finished. I think most new players would not say they want to spend seven years per army 🙃.

A simply painted army with just a few well chosen colours and a simple but consistent basing scheme can look amazing. 

Edited by Greyshadow
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12 minutes ago, Iksdee said:

While we are on the topic of painting standards i have another question. What are your standards for a tabletop ready model or unit?
I am trying to figure out where the sweetspot is for me. I am taking way to long painting my armies imo. Although it is also because my skills are lacking for what i am trying to accomplish. I am horrible at blending colors and i have to put the time in to learn that skill at some point but i just cant find the time between work and having a daughter thats only 2 months old. I am thinking about spending less time on the details of basic troops and put some work into leaders and behemoths. I've also read something about saving time using the focal point of a model and concentrate on details there and less on the other parts. In a way i have been gatekeeping myself XD.

I think i have to change my mindset of what is tabletop ready. Do u paint your armies using different standards or do u all paint them up to be the same level? 

I really empathize with this because I am also in a position to be working full time with a small child, so I basically only get to paint on weekends. And when I first started Warhammer, I burned myself out for a while by trying to paint to a too high standard.

Since I do like painting for it's own sake, though, I don't feel the pressure to motivate myself as much as other people. I know that I will eventually get around to painting all the stuff I have, given enough time, so I don't get anxiety from having a pile of shame.

What has helped me actually get results is to set reasonable expectations for myself. I slow grow my army by painting just about a box of models per month, less in the winter because the lack of natural light makes it harder to paint late in the day. I, too, mostly suck at blending colours, so I tend to go for impactful high-contrast paint jobs instead. Blending is just hard with acrylic paints if you don't have an airbrush. Instead, I focus my effort into techniques that I can do reliably without getting frustrated, like edge highlights and blacklining. The thing you mention about focal points of a model is also something I do: I put effort into the face and other important details, but boots are fine with a layer of brown paint and Agrax.

I also think it helps to recognize where you should put in effort an where you should not. For those 30 battleline guys, it's probably not worth painting them all to the highest standard. In such cases, my benchmark for determining whether the models are tabletop ready is very literal: I look at them from about one or two meters away on a tabletop and if they look good, they are done. Centerpiece models and heroes are worth putting time into. Skeleton Warrior #37 just needs to get done.

The approach works for me, and I have been able to paint more than 5000 points in two or so years this way. But still, I recognize that the effort I put into painting is more than some people are willing to invest, because I still shoot for a fairly high overall standard.

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13 minutes ago, Neil Arthur Hotep said:

I really empathize with this because I am also in a position to be working full time with a small child, so I basically only get to paint on weekends. And when I first started Warhammer, I burned myself out for a while by trying to paint to a too high standard.

Since I do like painting for it's own sake, though, I don't feel the pressure to motivate myself as much as other people. I know that I will eventually get around to painting all the stuff I have, given enough time, so I don't get anxiety from having a pile of shame.

What has helped me actually get results is to set reasonable expectations for myself. I slow grow my army by painting just about a box of models per month, less in the winter because the lack of natural light makes it harder to paint late in the day. I, too, mostly suck at blending colours, so I tend to go for impactful high-contrast paint jobs instead. Blending is just hard with acrylic paints if you don't have an airbrush. Instead, I focus my effort into techniques that I can do reliably without getting frustrated, like edge highlights and blacklining. The thing you mention about focal points of a model is also something I do: I put effort into the face and other important details, but boots are fine with a layer of brown paint and Agrax.

I also think it helps to recognize where you should put in effort an where you should not. For those 30 battleline guys, it's probably not worth painting them all to the highest standard. In such cases, my benchmark for determining whether the models are tabletop ready is very literal: I look at them from about one or two meters away on a tabletop and if they look good, they are done. Centerpiece models and heroes are worth putting time into. Skeleton Warrior #37 just needs to get done.

The approach works for me, and I have been able to paint more than 5000 points in two or so years this way. But still, I recognize that the effort I put into painting is more than some people are willing to invest, because I still shoot for a fairly high overall standard.

It seems like we have the same style of painting for the most part. May i ask if u use washes? I am starting to question using washes or at least use it less because it dulls the color of the model if i try to go for a higher contrast paint job. Also where can i find something on blacklining. I've not heard of this before. 

I have like 2 to 4 hours a week to paint, i've been busy with a black coach last 2 weeks and i think i have at least another 2 to go XD.  It is actually hard for me to lower my standards for painting but i really want to put some color on my pile of shame.

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That's a really interesting topic.

Since my first steps in this hobby 30 years ago, I have had the personal claim to only play with painted minis. This sometimes causes problems for me within the game, as I don't always have the units at hand that would be best at the moment, but what's the point.
But I would never apply this personal claim to my friends and play partners, whether I play in a shop or in the hobby room.

However, I have already seen several times that players and beginners were denounced because they did not appear at the gaming table with painted armies corresponding to the current state of the game (very often in GW shops). The really bad thing was often that the so-called veterans stood at the gaming table of two strange players and uttered their nonsense without being asked. I don't know if that's only the case here in Germany, but I think it's really absurd. What is this nonsense? If the person didn't paint his models, then so be it. It doesn't matter if you do it consciously or if you don't have the time. It's her hobby.

I often had discussions with such gatekeepers and in the end it often turned out that they had an absolutely underground painting standard or only half-painted armies. I think that's bad, especially for newbies.

I always find it better to support people and motivate those who don't like painting to paint their models. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

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1 hour ago, Iksdee said:

It seems like we have the same style of painting for the most part. May i ask if u use washes? I am starting to question using washes or at least use it less because it dulls the color of the model if i try to go for a higher contrast paint job. Also where can i find something on blacklining. I've not heard of this before. 

The question about washes is hard to answer. I definiely use inks and other low-opacity paints a lot, but rarely all over a large area and especially not as a finals step without clean up. But I still like to use them as the starting point for skin and to tint areas of a model.

As for blacklining, there is a good video by Vince Venturella about it (as always):

It's basically just putting a dark, neutrally coloured lines between two sections of a model to make it more readable and to clearly separate the details. It's like the opposite of highlighting an edge, but in my opinion it's easier to do and has a larger impact.

I like to use a neutral coloured shade paint to do it, because shades flow well. I use Army Painter Strong Tone, but Agrax or similar paints would probably work. I deposit the paint in the recesses with an old size 2 brush with most of the bristels cut off:

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Here's the effect just black lining has an a white-primed old skeleton I had lying around:

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Here's an example of a model with heavy black lining and how it improves readability from a distance:

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2 hours ago, Neil Arthur Hotep said:

I really empathize with this because I am also in a position to be working full time with a small child

I find many adults I work with have act like a small child 🤣  In all seriousness I don't envy any parents juggling a job, family and hobby!

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It seems the argument for painting standards in a casual setting boils down to the fact that this game is a social experience where both players share some level of responsibility for each others enjoyment of the game. The disconnect for me is that I consider shaming someone over their available hobby time/painting skill/ etc. To be much more detrimental to the collective fun than grey plastic.

 

That said I get the sense from the responses here that those for and against are arguing for or against two very different examples. I am arguing to defend the slow painter or the guy who isn't confident enough in his skills to do justice to a model, but those on the other side are arguing against the guy who shows up with a new grey netlist every time an army comes out. So I think that's where the conflict comes from. 

 

Taking the extremes from either side (guy who vocally shames unpainted models and guy who vocally says he will never paint his army cause hes just gonna sell them with the next release). One makes me roll my eyes but the other actively drives people from the hobby. 

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2 hours ago, Neil Arthur Hotep said:

I like to use a neutral coloured shade paint to do it, because shades flow well. I use Army Painter Strong Tone, but Agrax or similar paints would probably work.

As an addition to the above suggestion, Contrast paints are fantastic for blacklining. Black Templar and Wyldwood are my go-to choices - it's so easy to put them exactly where you want them, and they don't leave "tide marks" like washes can.

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4 hours ago, Falandris said:

But I feel this is a very onesided approach - where is the gesture of goodwill from the tryhardside? They will have a great game against a fully painted army, with a regardful opponent while having a mostly assured win. They can still achieve their personal expectation and therefore get everything they want without the need to take a step back or even consider the expectations of their casual opponent. But hey, I guess we can wait to get smashed 2-3 times in order to get a chance on pairing against someone with similar mindset, it's ok. And there are plenty of narrative events, aren't they? 😕 (I tell you something: there is no such thing)

 

The grey plastic I usually saw when I did play was from more casual people, not the tryhards, but you make a good point that someone buying out a new wave of minis and dropping them on the table is going to be a complete Negative Player Experience for their opponent. I was always under the assumption that that scenario is why painting is required for tournaments, though it does not stop them rolling you in what's supposed to be a casual game elsewhere.

I do really wish narrative events were a thing!!! The new Path to Glory is quite heavy in 3.0 so maybe that's a place for us to start?

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