Color Blocking – How to Paint your Army Fast!

I often preach the gentle art of slamming 3 colors on a miniature and leaving it in that state for months if not years. Here’s what’s great about color blocking.

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.

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

Color blocking and you, a simple guide

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 trick works on our armies too!  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 make the most out of it by getting something playable in return.

Example Plaguebearers

To showcase this, we’ll use the afore mentioned 3 color technique on Plaguebearers.

These dudes are easy enough to paint, because there are about 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 base coat, 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.

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

And Voilà!

Now when you look at each Plaguebearer individually, it’s not great.  But when done on 40 models at a time, it works magic.  Fully Painted Magic.

Are they done?  Absolutely not, but they are playable in any game you chose until you have more time to spend on them.

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 they are done..

When is next time?  Whenever it suits you!  If you plan on playing that army at a tournament, go for a few more details and knock some more points in the hobby section.

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