Monday, 17 June 2013

How to build a best painted Army Part 2: The Theme

Picking the theme
So what do we mean by theme. There are a few things to consider with the theme.

At this point you may want to pick an army race and gaming system but it is not essential. For instance you may want to pick pirates as your theme. A couple of things to think about with a theme though are.

  1. What colour choices will I make
  2. Will I use a themed force
  3. How much time am I willing to put into this army? This will depend on games system and point size.
  4. What game systems (Yes multiple if you like) will I use this army in.

Colour Scheme:
This is a very important part and there is a little trick to it.
It must be bright. No I don’t mean fluoro pink but if you paint it 5 shades of grey then no matter how well painted it is the guy next to you with the GW standard paint job will win. I saw a dark elf mini of Sebastian Archers in a GD one year that didn’t even rate. It was well painted easily in the top 5 minis that year (IMHO at least). The only thing wrong with it was it was a limited palette of purples and black.

So back to the colour scheme. Picking purple and black is still an OK colour choice but you have to do something to make it stand out. Maybe a few accent pieces with white or a splash of red to bring out the warmth or just bring your highlights all the way up to white. What ever it is remember what you’re aiming for. You need your army to stand out from all the other armies.

Now I’m not going to go into colour theory or the wheel etc but one thing I will say is that a limited colour palette will also help. You don’t want a profusion of colour (Unless your European they seem to be able to pull it off so well. Must come from growing up with all that history and stuff).

Here are a couple of examples of colour choice for armies that I won best painted with.
Chaos: Dark red, black and white (Bone). Most units were painted red with bone and black accent pieces but the elite units I swapped the color scheme so they where mostly white or mostly black with the other two colours as accent. I also painted the Champions and leaders slightly different.


WIP of Chaos Champion
Sorry for the bad pic. this was done pre 2000

Bretonnian Ogres. Hawk Turqouis and white with a bit of red for accent color. I was originally going to do blue and white but I didnt have blue so I went with the turquois. Im glad i did cause I love the color scheme in this one.



As you can see this is really just 3 main colors to the army and IMHO I think they look great. They have never been beaten in a best painted award but it wasnt the paint job that did it (Altough it would have added to the overall effect).

Themed Force

This could be as simple as taking only a certain type of troops ie 1 race (for example if you played O&G you may just want to take all orcs or all goblins or even only night goblins) but it could be as complicated as taking only those troops that have hand weapons etc.

This was something I was never any good at. I can make a themed force but it wasn’t always competitive so you have to ask yourself will my theme impact on the armies performance and if so is it worth it to try and win a painting award. For me it was always worth it but it may not be for you.

The next thing you have to ask is has it been seen before. So a new army comes out and you jump on the band wagon. Lets say its High elves. Are you going to paint it blue and white? Most people do. Or are you going to theme your army on the Phoenix guard and paint them yellow and red with flames all over them. OK so that theme may have been used before but you can see where this is going. And to hark back to that you may only select troop types to support your phoenix guard which means no lion guard or lion chariots.

OK I can expand this part of the topic but it may take a whole article so lets move to the next topic.

How much time am I willing to spend

This is solely based on your own preferences. I have a friend who could knock a 3000pt warhammer army in 2 weeks. Myself it would take a year to finish an army of this size. This is the how long is a piece of string question so here are a few things to think about.

Are you going to paint for the 1 meter rule (They will look good from 1 meter but any closer and they suck)
Will you paint the whole thing at once or can you come back and finish them later (A thing I hate to do, once it’s painted I don’t want to look at it ever again (Painting wise at least))
What methods you will to use. I have seen whole armies done with the dip and flick. When done well you can paint up and army really quick and have a well painted army. You may not have the best painted army tho.

Here a few tricks to help out.  Most people only look at the front rank and you cant really see the ones behind. SO put most of your effort into the front rank and some effort into the second rank top half.

Heres how I would paint a unit of 5x4. I always paint the banner bearer first. So if I have a few units I will do all of them at once. Leave the other leaders for later as you may want to do something special with them. Next is take the rest of the front rank. You can throw in a few extra as I like to paint 5 or 6 at a time.
Do the whole unit of rank and file to a basic standard. Then concentrate on the first two ranks and add a bit of extra effort into them. As a reward for painting the unit I usually paint the characters in between. Like Champion, muso etc. I will usually paint these guys 1 at a time and I will often make them into center pieces for the unit but more of that later. Even if the unit doesnt have a designated champion or leader I still like to do up a leader figure.

Ok so this is very basic and most of you probably do something like this so how doeas this make your army stand out. Well being the best painter believe it or not doesn't mean you will paint the best army.

Its once again up to you how much time you spend on your army but the more time spent in the right areas the better chance to have a great painted army.

What gaming systems will you use my army in?

With careful preparation you can use your army for multiple gaming systems. I mentioned before that I had a Spartan Army that I used in multiple systems such as Warhammer to represent High Elf, Dark elf and Mercs. I could also use it in many Ancients type gaming systems like Warhammer ancients and SAGA.

If you are going to use it in many different systems then your paint and modelling scheme may need to reflect. You may just use swappable shields etc. I just went for a very simple white and red color scheme and it worked across the board.

So hopefully this has helped. In my next session I will go over things like eye catchers and center pieces for your army. If there is anything you would like me to cover then leave a comments.