Lifehack, Terrain

Make Terrain Great Again!

Building and painting terrain is something rarely covered, or rarely broken down into something simple and manageable.  
Until now.
This past weekend, the store was having a terrain building day to revamp the store’s collection and lay the groundwork for some of the terrain to be used at the Quebec City Open 2017.  
The turnout was great, I was expecting 2-3 people, ended up with 8-10.
The guide below is pretty much the approach I took for the store’s day (in italics), with additional notes on how to best tailor it to your needs.
Our process is quite simple:
It’s pretty easy to do over the weekend, or, like the store, in a single day, specially that part 1 to 3 can be done ahead of time to get the most of your hobby day.
This step is quite important,  because it will shape up the rest of the work.  Rather than aimlessly working at a building and finding yourself at the end of the day with not much accomplished, you want to work towards something.
For our weekend, my first goal was to tally up all the terrain that was available, break it off into as many complete tables as possible and then get as many of those tables ready as possible.
Maybe your goal is to have a table at home, maybe you want to cull your collection of terrain; whatever the case may be, aim for something that will make you happy at the end of the day.  Don’t be afraid to shoot for something big, you will be surprised at the speed things go when you are ready.
Assess what you do have in order to know what you want to get done. Know where you’re from to know where you’re going, all that jazz.
Friendly reminder that I’m still, I’m still Jenny from the block.  -10 streetcred points.

JLO aside, sorting out is important not only in terms of terrain, but also supplies.
Terrain: If you are starting from scratch, this will be pretty simple.  You can still scavenge to house for cans, boxes, foam and other whatnots that can be made into terrain.  If you already have some terrain made, make a tally of what you have and the shape it’s in (broken, WIP, ready to rock…) 
Then, sort these pieces in line with your goal – if you want to have a single table and you have 26 pieces of terrain, you might not need them.
In the case of the store, we sorted every feature we had by color ( light brown, dark brown, grey and snow )  and then added all incomplete pieces to these to sort them into as many full tables as possible.
Supplies: This is the most important one to figure out before hand.  Again, depending on your goal and current collection of hobby supplies will differ.  Thursday’s article will go into a lot more details for supplies as there is a lot of ground to cover, but this step you note what you have.  In the planning stage, you will figure out exactly what you need to buy.
Here are the most common things:
Large cheap Brushes
Dollar Store Paint
Builder’s/PVA Glue
Basing supplies
Truckload of glue
In ou case, I was taken back by how many folks turned up at the event, so I lost some valuable time having to go out and get more for everyone.
3-  PLAN
Ah yes, we’re big on planning on this blog.  From building a LGS’s worth of terrain or a table for your beatslab, the third step is having some sort of plan.
You don’t actually have to go into much details, but getting a clear idea of everything you want to do will help you get things done in a more efficient way.
Plan your work; work your plan!
Here’s our plan, after sorting out which we did the morning of ( because of the quantity  and 0 previous knowledge of how much stuff we had mostly ).  It’s part french part english, but you get the idea.  ROB  stands for Realm of Battle, the massive GW plastic boards.
The best example, of good planning is as simple as building and gluing everything in the morning so the glue dries during lunchtime and painting everything in the afternoon.
Planning is pretty simple, the 2 main criteria to look for are things that need to be done before others (primer before paint) and things that need to dry off (glue, flock, spray primer)
Self censorship aside, this is where the 3 previous steps lead you comes game day!  
There is not much to be said here, focus on the plan you’ve laid to get to your goal and don’t stop until you drop.
This is probably the most crucial part if you’re doing a lot of tables, like the game store. You can add this to the planning part, you need some form of storing for all your work.  
For regular you’s and me’s, proper storing of your terrain allows you keep your terrain alive longer, and make a more efficient use of your beatslab.
Stashing is only the 1st part of the deal if you’re doing a lot of pieces, the other is labelling the fruit of your terrain building day.  
Because our undertaking was too massive to complete in a day, we not only labeled the boxes with their content, but also their stage of completion.  No notes means it’s ready for action, and we added Incomplete which means that this table is missing pieces, and unfinished, meaning that everything is in the box, but not fully painted.
You can add what’s missing to the note (  Incomplete!  Missing: 2 Hills, Crater, Medium Ruin )  or the stage of incompletion ( Incomplete! Needs primer )
This step is quite important because it sets the stage for the next time you want to tackle terrain, wether it’s tomorrow or in 6 months, most of the 3 steps are taken care of by your carefully labeled terrain box.  
Tune in on Thursday for some more tips and techniques for setting up your own terrain building day!
Until next time,
No excuses, hobby like a champion!

Don’t Be a Fool, Buy Good Tools

Like the Magic the Gathering maniac who spends his fortune on cards and can’t spare a dime for sleeves only to find himself out of value because his cards are no longer near mint, this highest standard of cards quality, much the same can be said on the gamer that buys endless miniatures and paints but never buy his tools.

And to this I say: NO MORE!  All you need is 10%

Don’t be a fool, buy good tools!

One of the very few rules I have about painting in my leisure time is to spend 10% of my gaming budget on tools.  Not 5%, not 50%, 10%.

Tools, whatever they may be, make your life easier and your hobby far more enjoyable.

This 10% takes into account everything.  It’s large enough of a number so you can afford the common things right away, like glue or fresh Xacto blades, or save it over a couple of months to get something big like a new camera to take pictures, a fancy new airbrush or straight up buy a new chair for your desk.

Whatever floats your hobby boat.

On the other hand, 10% is also a restraint, keeping you from going overboard.  You don’t have to buy every single thing and doodad all the time, even if you can ( Money ain’t no thang, player ) Keep the 10% ratio to keep you grounded with buying what you need instead of trying to get everything.

The best part of this rule is it takes away all excuses.

Ever noticed that a lot of folks that complain that buying an airbrush set is to expensive often have 2000$ and more worth of miniatures.  Yet, a good airbrush setup costs barely more than 150$.

To make thing simple, or how I started myself, is to keep track of everything that I complain about ( to myself most of the time) or that I feel like I’m missing when I paint.

The first thing I 10%-ed out on was a Tamiya Electric drill, because I was bummed out of drilling bolter barels in metal grey knights.

Let’s say you’re new to all this, you want to spend your 10% the folloing way most likely:

1-  Hobby Tools – Cutters, X-Acto, Glue, Cutting Mat

2- Painting supplies- Paint Starter Set or couple of colours, Colored spray primer, brushes

3- Because you now have the essentials and can get going, look at what is missing and go from there. 

Hate assembly with a passion?  Look for new tools and toys to make what you hate simpler, like a flash remover or an electric drill.

Not having fun with painting and what to get done fast?  Quickshade and Anti-Shine Spray.

Do these steps as your budget allows you and you’ll always be one step ahead of your hobby needs.

Until next time, no excuses, hobby like a champion.


Steal This Competition Trick to Paint your Army!

I often preach the gentle art of slamming 3 colors on a miniature and leaving it in that state for months if not years.

And while this may seem like the lazy man’s approach to a fully painted army, it is not.  In fact, it’s part of most competition painter’s approach to miniature painting, and it’s called color blocking.

It’s also the best thing ever to have fully painted armies in no time.

Read on to block out with your brush out!

Color blocking and you, a simple guide

Color blocking is doing all the base coats on your model before moving in with the shading and highlighting.

In competition painting, this method is mostly used to get a general feel of the colors and make sure they all fit with one another.  It’s quite frustrating to paint a belt buckle filled with details for an hour only to realize it would’ve looked better in silver rather than gold.

Another reason for color blocking is because glazes and oil paints take forever to dry, so working these steps on multiple areas in a row is much smarter than waiting half a day between each coat of paint.

This is a great trick to learn if you are stepping into the competition painting game and want to slightly speed up your super high end painting experience.

This is fine for Mr. Pants, first name Fancy, that paints for competitions, but how can regular-toy-soldier-playing-joe like you and me can use this?

This trick works on our armies too, as blocking all the colors will usually tell you if your scheme is going to look tight.

Color blocking is the perfect tool for army painters as it can be used as it fits right in the 2 main goals of our painting approach: having a playable 3 colors army and not wasting time.

So the general idea is to do all your air brush parts, then lay on 2 of the main colors,  usually guns and  either faces or belts and accessories.

Once this is done, you have a playable army that is well on the way to become a much better finished product without having to start over.

You are going to paint these colors anyway at some point, so we make the most out of it by getting something playable in return.  And if the army changes, you wasted a whole less time with having only 3 colors on those dudes that you are not gonna plan, and your new additions will get up to speed much quicker.  Win, win, win situation.

Some sort of step by step

To showcase this, we’ll use the afore mentionned 3 colors Plaguebearers

These dudes are easy enough to paint, because there are like 5 surfaces total on them: Skin, Eyes, Sword, Teeth and Guts.

The 1st step is the skin.  A fine green that we do in full.  All the airbrush, and also washes and everything and we’re not touching it again, ever.  So, airbrush a basecoat, a highlight.  Then shade with brown, then highlight again with the airbrush.

Now the actual color blocking.  Sword with Typhus Corrosion, Guts with Red.  We can paint bases with dark brown and call it a day right here.  Bunch of Stinkies ready to take on the field.

But we can also finish blocking it out.  Teeth in bone, eyes in bright green.

And Voilà!

Now it may not look like much, but when done on 40 models at a time, it works magic.  Fully Painted Magic.

Are they done?  Absolutly not, but they are playable in every event/tournament ever and look fine like wine for summons.

Next time, just pick a color, and finish that color on all of them.  Drybrush orange, drybrush silver, Wham Bam! Swords are done.  And so on.

Until next time,
No excuses, hobby like a champion!


Group Therapy for Miniature Painting

Hey everyone, my name is Max ( Hi, Max!) and I’m a paint-aholic.  But don’t worry, I’m working the steps, I’m attending meetings.  And you should come by too.

Not only are they usually not in a church basement, you don’t always need to leave your house.

Group therapy, meetings and other whatnots, with some more seriousness.
Back when I moved out on my own, I lived in a crappy basement with barely any light.  Lucky for me and my painting addiction, the Local game store close by offered permanent tables for people to paint.  That’s pretty much how I learned to paint, or at least transition to crappy models to barely tabletop.  I’ve also made a bunch of gaming buddies out of strangers.
Fast forward a couple of years, me and my roommate would host these paint night once every other week, where the whole kitchen would be turned in a painting studio for 4-5 people.  This was great to get focussed and get things done.  Me and my roommate alone would probably build and paint 8 armies per month this way.
Then a couple years back, with the great thing that is technology and the internet, came the google hangouts.  This made leaving the house or wearing pants obsolete to find people to paint with.  While not as up close and personal ( you can’t help a buddy finish his army over the web just yet ) this brings you hobby friends 24/7 thanks to time zones and different hobby schedules.
Boy, oh boy!  Painting groups sure sound great!  Where do I sign up?
Game Stores

The best way to start locally is looking for a game store that has the space to host small painter’s gatherings.  If you look around, you might find some that already offer this service to their patrons, so just start hanging there.  Make this a semi regular thing and tell people about it (  Yeah, I spend 3 hours here every Tuesday while my girlfriend does yoga…  Or let’s meetup after the Habs game thursday and you can teach me how you… )  and before you know it, you will have the painting group ball rolling.

At Jay’s

No game store?  Have some folks over.  A large plastic sheet costs 2-3 dollars and covers any kitchen table.  Get a couple of supplies like cups and towels from the dollar store and you are good to go.  As your gathering get more regular, there are options you can explore to bring it to the next level:

1- Alternate.  Last week was at Jay’s, this week at my place, next week at Frank’s, and hopefully never at Kevin’s.  Cool thing is that it’s not always the same who have to travel and cleanup, but it does require everyone to have some sort of setup, rather than option 2.

2- Pimp out your place out.  Once you build your Mancave, it’s easy to set a side 2-3 dollars per person every session going out to buying some supplies.  A big-ass lamp, better chairs, make a bulk order of paint, whatever you guys want.  It can also be to setup gaming tables or something.

3- Expand and rent.  Thought I was joking with the Church basement, weren’t you?  Well, as your gatherings go, you may want to setup somewhere affordable and not quite permanent that you can only use a couple days per month.

The Internet

Sometime, your scene sucks.  Maybe you live in Holetown, Buttville or some other remote and deep location where nobody games.  Maybe your local store is all cards and no minis, oh the humanity.  Enters trusty friends: the interwebs.  Either look for twitch with the growing scene of miniature painter and the well behaved chat filled with hobby enthusiast, setup a google account to use their hangout feature.  Skype is also quite nice to use if you do have friends, just not close by.

Internet is great because you can hunt down people you would otherwise have 0 chance of meeting and get specific tips from them ( assuming they do have the time to skype and paint )

Protip sidebar:  do wear pants when on the internet with strangers.

Ressources and communities:


Obviously, I’m not quite local everywhere, however:

Quebec: La Boutique Hellfire ( shameless plug ) has all the paints setup for you to use, staff that knows how to paint, and it’s where I am usually painting.

Montreal:  Les Soiree D’Ares.  A really great group of hobby dedicated folks, I really like what they do with their paint nights and game nights.

Ontario:  Canhammer/ OneplusArmour or whatever their name is now.  These tournament oriented bunch are skyping and painting on the regular, and travelling to tournaments left and right, as well as setting up their own.

Miniwargaming used to be a great community, but I’ve lost touch in the past years.


The Longwar Network:  Probably the most well known bunch out there for 40K, they have a busy twitch schedule and you can always find someone to talk hobby with you ad paint along the ramblings of yo dawgs.

The Hobby Hangout:  Stepping up the game from a small G+ hangout community to permanent hangouts and great facebook community to boot, they also have dedicated hosted nights with themes and experts.

If you’d like to add to this list of communities, please share.

Until next time,
No excuses, hobby like a champion!


The Ultimate Way to Master Any Technique Quick!

Whether it’s this really cool new on the rise technique that everyone is doing, or something you’ve wanted to do for years, mastering your technique has never been easier with this simple trick.

The biggest problem with new techniques is the time it takes to learn them properly.  According to Malcolm Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours of practice in any field to achieve mastery.  Can you imagine that much time spent on a single technique?

Not only can it be time consuming to learn on a single model, applying it army wide becomes much more of a problem when you still struggle with parts of the technique.
Enters the one trick to rule them all.

Programmers call this the rubber duck technique.
It’s something I’ve done for years without realizing there was actually any benefit from it, or that it existed for real.
Whenever you’re doing something you struggle with, or something you want to get better, try to explain what you’re doing to a rubber duck.  Rubber ducks are simple creatures and you need to explain your process with simple details.  
Where you get stuck in your explanations is where you struggle.
Doing this and rationalizing the process is often the key that unlocks progress.  Maybe your brain wasn’t aware that it didn’t understand a specific part.  Brains are tricky and do this on us.  Bastards!
It can also help you look for advice from a mentor or from the interwebs, because instead of saying: “I did this, I failed, I suck, halp.”  You can pinpoint where exactly you need help and get the missing puzzle piece: “Once I thin down my paint to glaze my model, I don’t understand why it pools up”*
The second benefit which is is not really covered anywhere, which I suspect is because it’s not why this technique is used for, is to speed up whatever you’re doing.  Once you explain things you truly master to your rubber duck, you tend to get much faster at them.
And because I know that’s what you’re thinking since the second line of this article:  Yes, I fully expect you to start talking to your models or to an imaginary rubber duck from now on.  Maybe not out loud…
*Usually because there’s too much paint on your brush.  Unload some of it on a paper towel so you apply only a very thin and mostly transparent coat on your model.