Thursday, July 3, 2008

Iron Painter advice from a vet who's been there...

Howdy folks! As the title suggests, I’ve run and competed in several Iron Painters during my time with GW. Iron Painter evolved a bit over time, mostly because we learned from some early mistakes and assumptions. Each iteration got better and better as we learned more. From this experience, as well as experienced gained from competing in them, allow me to share my experience and impart to you a few suggestions. For Legio Malaysia’s first Iron Painter, I won’t be competing for the Purity Seal despite the fact I plan to paint something anyway. I’ll be judging the entries at the end to determine a winner (if any! One Iron Painter I ran had an appalling drop out/failure rate, and no one won!). In the future if we get high attendance, we’ll let Iron Painters vote for their favorite army as the winner. However, this time I’m suspecting that our first one might not get a huge turnout. Feel free to ask me questions/seek advice during the competition if you like.

First, let’s start with the army you’ll be painting. The most common problem with past competitors is that they didn’t bring a LEGAL army. A big part of the idea behind Iron Painter is to get something done that you can use on the tabletop by itself. So, if you decided to compete with a Warhammer army, you better make sure you’re painting an army general and two core choices from your chosen army. If you don’t have those three things, your army isn’t legal! Remember that you need to have at least 30 models, and that the models must be worth at least 1000 points. Do up an army list for yourself and for the judge (me), and make it easy to prove that you meet the mark.

Now, let’s get on to the practical side of painting. Use the time you have before the Iron Painter wisely. Clean all the flash and mold lines off your models, and assemble them nicely. If you plan to glue sand on the bases, do so before you spray prime them. When you prime them, make sure you get every crack and crevice of EVERY model. Set yourself up to be as successful as possible- SAVE TIME AND ENERGY.

When the bell rings at 12:00 noon Saturday, be sure to get crackin’ and keep crackin’. Know how you’re going to paint your army- don’t wait until that day to figure out a color scheme. While you’re painting, be thinking of the next step so you waste as little time as possible. Get up every few hours and take a short break. Walk around a little bit. Check out the competition. Get some fresh air. Then, get back to work!

I strongly recommend that you paint your General, Command HQ, or HQ choice first if you want it to look good. Your mind will still be fresh. Your best painting is only going to last the first 6 to 10 hours or so unless you have inhuman mental endurance. Take advantage of that “good time” and paint the difficult stuff right off the bat. Save the block painting for when your mind turns to mush at 5:00 AM Sunday.

Finally, I have a list of things that experienced Iron Painters tended to bring with them in the past. Read through this and make sure you bring what you’re going to need (other than your army and standard hobby supplies!).

• MP3 player with headphones
• Charger/batteries for your MP3/music source
• Portable lamp that clamps on to any table
• Your favorite snacks and energy drinks
• Seat cushion (if you have a hard time sitting for extended periods)
• Pillow to catch a cat nap on the floor

I wasn’t kidding in the initial post when I said finishing an Iron Painter is like finishing a marathon. Make no mistake- this is not an easy thing to do. Fatigue will smite you without a doubt. The average Iron Painter contest I ran in the past had a whopping 75% dropout/failure to complete rate. Grind it out. Keep putting forward effort no matter what. The feeling you get by finishing something that hard is well worth the lack of sleep. Remember, you’ve got the rest of Sunday to fall into a painting induced coma!


  1. How I wish I can join! Alas I won't be around to take part! It would be good for me to have a challenge of completing my minis which always seems to have something else that gets in the way of my painting schedule!

    I sure hope you'll have heaps of pictures showing the energetic mood in the first 6 hours and the meshed up look towards the end!

  2. Yes indeed, I'll be taking plenty of "before and after" pictures. We'll post pictures of all armies that were successfully completed for the Iron Painter. It'll be sweet!

  3. Oh crap I just realized I'm down to my last 000 brush. Anyone know where I can get them? My old store doesn't stock them anymore...

    Great tips, Jeff! I'm looking forward to the event! I'm preparing my orks for painting as I type this!

    Talk about hype...

  4. I don't think I can be around for the full duration of the Iron Painter stint. I will try to make it on one day though, we'll see how it goes :D

  5. At 1st i wanna enter My Raven Guard. Sure can finish one with their black color scheme hahaha..

    But the timing is not right. By day 26th i'll be at Tailor's for GDragon. And by night i will be in Melaka. So you guys have fun.


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