In anticipation of this week's Iron Painter competition, I thought I'd repost some advice I gave out years ago when we ran our first Iron Painter back in 2008. For those who've never done it before, it's tough! Have a read, and use what you can. It's going to be a blast!!
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 sufficient Core choices from your chosen army. If you don’t have those things, your army isn’t legal! Remember that you need to have at least 30 models. Do up an army list for yourself 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 10:00 AM Saturday, be sure to get crackin’ and keep crackin’. Know beforehand 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!).
• music 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
Finishing an Iron Painter is like finishing a marathon. Make no mistake- this is not an easy thing to do with any degree of skill. Fatigue will smite you without a doubt. The average Iron Painter contests I've run 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!