The Speed Painters Manifesto

Are you a bare metal general? Or do spend your whole weekend painting just the belt buckle on a model? Do you love to hate to paint or maybe hate to love to paint? I am here to break you free! This article is about Speed Painting. In this article I will talk about changing how you think about painting and even show you a few time saving steps. First off who am I?

I’m Quickwork. A long time gamer who started with Warhammer 40k and graduated into the wonderful world of Warmachine. I have a deep passion for Table Top Wargames and love nothing better than a competitive Wargame between two fully painted armies. I am also a MOKAN Warmachine member here in the Midwest,USA.

As a player I believe you have the onus to contribute to your community. You should support your local game group, evangelize the hobby to new gamers and participate in the modeling side of your hobby. The first two are pretty self explanatory. You want your community to have the resources it needs to survive and you want your group to grow. But where does modeling go into contributing to your community.

Everyone loves to see painted models. It is what first attracts us to the hobby and keeps us frothing over when new models are spoiled and finally hit the store shelves. It is hard to express why rolling dice and pouring over rules gives us as gamers so much pleasure but it is easy even to non-gamers to see why pictures of models are so enthralling. The look so dang cool.

Imagine if you went to see the latest blockbuster action movie. Sweet car chase scenes, gunfights and babes all fill the movie screen with awesome explosions and sound effects. Would anyone argue that action movie would be better if it was just in black and white? The same point goes to painting your models. All the components come together with color.

On to Speed painting. The first step to Speed painting is to get yourself in the right mind set to paint.

Set aside a small amount of time each week to dedicate to the hobby. I am a bit nuts so I set aside 30mins-2hrs each night to painting. I paint a lot, but for the regular John Q. Gamer I would suggest two 30min-1hr sessions during the work week and 1 2hr session on the weekend. I usually paint while watching TV, talking on the phone or while keeping my fiancé company while she does something in the house.

What matters most about this time is you dedicate it to this activity. You are going to paint for however long you decide and once that time is up you get up and do something else. This can help to keep you focused on painting while you are painting and keeps the activity fresh so it is something to look forward to for the next time you have dedicated to it.

Have your work station ready. I like to keep my work station easy to access and simple to set up and put away. I use a Magic the Gathering Play mat, a small jar of water, a white tile with paper towel and the brushes. I can easily fold up everything into a little package and take it where I want with little fuss. I am huge fan of these play mats because the are water resistant, comfortable to rest your arms and elbows on and take up very little space when not in use.

Choose your colors ahead of time. This is a critical step to improve your painting speed. If you know what colors your are using ahead of time you will be ready to go. Color choice is a subjective thing always bear in mind that it has to look good to you, your opponent will appreciate that is is painted but you ultimately have to be proud of your work.

When I am Speed Painting I like to choose colors with a specific application in mind. I choose a Main color, a secondary color, an accent color, 2 metallic colors as well as a wash/ink. The main color is going to dominate the feel of the army. I typically choose rich simple colors such as Blue, Green, Red or Purple. I avoid Brighter colors such as Yellow, Orange, Light blue or Green or White when I am speed painting as a main color. This is because these colors can require more layers become opaque or have fewer options for when I am highlighting.

My secondary color is going to typically be for my emblems or clothing on my models. This color I use as the catch all for random pieces of cloth, shields etc. I suggest using a color that is oppositional to the main color and I recommend something that is a different “temperature”. By temperature I am referring to dark and bright colors. So if you use a deep blue as your main try a bright red for the secondary. This will help to make each color stand out and help to POP the models. An army that POPs will get noticed much more at the game table than one which may have been on a technical level better painted but more muted in temperature.

The accent is a color for jemstones and small pieces that need to stand out but will not completely define the color of the army. Eyes on Warjacks, Tongues on warbeasts and gun sights are all examples of accent color choice. Go wild with this color choice. Pick something that is vivid and it will help to not get lost on the model and accentuate the detail.

I typically select 2 metal colors almost always. A goldish color and a steel color. For 2 metals help to break up the model and distinguish between sword blades, pistons, wheels and medals of honor,filigree and other ornamentation. The wash is used as part of a Speed painting technique, so choose something like a brown, sepia or black wash would be my suggestions. There exists all colors of washes but if the pairing is off with one of these color washes it can throw off the whole look of a model.

The Painting Process. I’m going to do an example with my nifty Cygnar Charger here. Once I have my model primed and ready to be painted I identify my locations for paint. I select a color for each section on the model in my head which to me looks something like this:

I just begin to apply paint of my selected colors to their designated sections until I hit every piece of the model. What this does is give you an idea as to what the final product will look like. This part is where you make any changes if you don’t like how the colors are meshing.

I then wash the model with a brown wash and wait for it to dry. The wash will darken the original color and add depth to the recesses of the model. This creates easy and simple shading. I have invested about 20 minutes so far into this paint job.

I go back with my original color and go over the washed model taking care to leave the recesses dark. The model looks pretty good at this stage with minimal effort. [IMAGE]

Now take a color slightly brighter than the color your painting on and just hit the very edges. Make sure to hit high spots like rivets and helmet crests. While this is a crude highlight it will serve to add that slight layer of depth to the model.

My Speed painted Cygnar Charger with the rest of his Battle Box Crew.

This technique is super simple and won’t make for the most dynamic or sophisticated paint jobs it will serve to get those models painted up quick and on the table. It took me not counting the wash drying about 40 minutes from primer to completion.

I hope this helps some of you out there struggling with how to paint your models quickly. In Summary make sure you have your work station ready to go. Dedicate a small amount of time to painting the model and plan out your color palette ahead of time.


Until next time,



Author: Quickwork

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