Rubber Duck programming is one of the best way to solve problems you’re stuck in. How does this apply to miniature painting?
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.
How Rubber Duck Programming Works
Whenever you’re doing something you struggle with, or something you want to get better at, 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. Rats!
It can also help you look for advice from a mentor or from the internet, 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.