Wednesday, 27 May 2015

My First Miniature (1996 vintage!)

Hi folks,

A very thoughtful post on Fairweather Hobbyist about the experience of painting your first miniatures reminded me of a special discovery I made a few months ago. I was rummaging through the deepest recesses of my dankest bitz box, and I found this little guy:

Poor fella had no boltgun or base, but I soon fixed that up...

I painted a 10 man squad of these marines back in '96, after reading issue #195 of White Dwarf. It contained special rules for Sergeant Centurius, a Legion of the Damned special character, who quickly became my favourite way to kill Eldar (there are many...). I loved the Legion of the Damned artwork and set about trying to paint them, with a big emphasis on the word try.

On second thoughts, the scheme I picked was probably not a wise choice for a complete novice, but it does gives me all kind of warm fuzzies; 15 year old me was already trying to paint free-hand bones and flames on marines.

I painted these guys using the Chromacryl paint tubes from my local newsagent. That stuff was thicker than toothpaste, but I thought I was pretty clever; saving money for some Terminators of course. There was no highlighting in those days for me, or ink washes. The closest I got was painting over something black and wiping most of it off with my fingers. I can distinctly remember how nervous I was painting these figures, having no idea how to do it but desperately wanting them to look good.

Chromacryl: burn it with fire.

I had one other friend who started collecting at the same time as me and we both blindly stumbling into painting. We rarely spoke about the techniques we were developing, as we were both self conscious of our efforts I guess. We just kept trying new stuff. Most of it didn't work, but every now and then we would discover something amazing. I persevered with the Legion of the Damned figures for about 12 months, until some people called cheese and I turned (almost...) all of them into Dark Angels. I just painted straight over the top with Citadel Dark Angels Green. To this day, I still strip miniatures and find those flames hiding underneath. Ironically, GW published the rules for a complete LotD army in a White Dwarf a short time later [sigh].

Finding this Legion of the Damned marine brought the whole journey back to me, all of the thrills and frustrations and lightbulb moments. The older I get and the longer I play this game, the more I have come to realise that there is no end to learning how to paint. We all have to start somewhere and learn along the way, and the boundaries of our art keep expanding. The way we share our skills, triumphs and defeats these days makes a huge difference to the novice painters who come blindly stumbling through our doors.

For what it is worth, even after 20 years, I still feel like I am a novice. Though perhaps a novice with some tricks up his sleeve...

See you across the table,


P.S. I also found the folded paper cut-outs I used to use before I had any miniatures...