Saturday, 7 January 2017

2016 Painting review and thoughts...

I've just completed a tally of my 2016 painting. Here's a list with links. Over 1000 28mm figures. Plus given discussion with two wargaming mates yesterday, I've added a few thoughts on how to get many figures painted!

28mm Napoleonic painted in 2016

The vast majority of my painting time was spent on Napoleonics in 2016...

96 French Old Guard
96 French Middle Guard
96 French Young Guard
96 French Artillerie de la Marine
96 French Line
36 French Guard Cavalry
16 French Guard Horse Artillery crew + 4 guns
1 French Cantinière

78 Polish Line
36 Polish Vistula Legion
12 Polish Uhlans
12 Polish Krakus
16 Polish Foot Artillery crew + 4 guns
16 Polish Horse Artillery crew + 4 guns
2 Polish General

72 Austrian Hungarian Infantry
24 Austrian Jagers
12 Austrian Uhlans

(Plus some bridges and churches, and basing up dozens of trees which I haven't yet posted)

28mm Ancients painted in 2016

These have expanded since the last time I mentioned them.  In total I painted the Macedonian force shown below. More pictures here.

153 Phalanx
50 Peltasts
8 Slingers
60 Cavalry
3 Elephants

6mm Sci Fi painted in 2016

6mm hardly counts in comparison to 28mm but hundreds of these were painted too. In total effort probably still less than for a single Napoleonic Guard Cavalry 28mm unit though...!  But small scales are the way to go if you want very fast painting and larger games on smaller tables. It is particularly suitable for 'modern' style conflicts, though I've seen some very nice Napoleonics in 6mm too. My Hordes of Things blog is for all my non-Napoleonic wargaming.

Total 28mm Figures Painted in 2016

950 Infantry
134 Cavalry
12 Guns
3 Elephants and 6 crew

So a total of 1105 28mm figures total last year (or 1239 figures if horses also count as a figure each). I'm slightly tempted to get it all out on the table to have a look, but that's quite a mission so not yet! I'm well on the way to some huge Napoleonic games though, and I must order some more KR storage boxes for cavalry...

This blog also passed the 100'000 view mark a few months ago and is rapidly closing on 200'000.

Thoughts on Mass Painting... How?

A few thoughts on this topic to close. Quite few people have expressed surprise at the number of figures I've managed to get painted over the last few years, including two wargaming mates visiting yesterday. It initially surprised me too, as I never considered that I'd be able to get all this done on top of work and time with wife, friends, wargaming and so on (not to mention writing journal articles, playing computer games, watching a few movies etc).  

However, considered in the cold light of reality I'm not sure it is that much. It is afterall a grand total of about 3 figures a day. Doing that number of figures or even a third to half of that amount should be quite achievable for most people I would think (aiming for a lower amount if you have younger kids or health issues for example, higher if not). And imagine what could be achieved if retired, provided hands and eyes are still sufficiently competent...!

Even if budgeting a full hour for a 28mm figure, and so 3 hours a day to paint 3 figures a day, most people spend more time than that watching TV each day. So painting while listening to TV would achieve that goal. And these days, fortunately there are instead vast numbers of free audio podcasts, audio-books and so on that you can listen to while painting. I think the easy availability of these has made a big difference to my painting volume, as I can't imagine painting for very long without listening to something beyond just music. Recently I've been listening to the excellent Wars of Coalition podcast by Mark Jessop. Before that it was an audio version of Origin of Species.

I don't paint every day, but even an hour or two on most days really starts to add up. Especially if you use the odd weekend or holiday to give the process a boost. Do it while listening to audio material and it's not even replacing other activities. Much of what I listen to has some bearing on my work as a psychologist and manager, or to science/history in general, and there are also many podcasts on wargaming these days too. Perhaps some extra motivation comes from working as a health professional where the fragility and transience of human existence is daily evident. It reminds me not to waste time on lesser activities.

Of course to get speedy it is also very important that you don't paint just  a couple of figures at a time. Instead batch paint them as this previous post suggests and you'll race through them faster. And if you're painting non-Napoleonic figures it will likely be even faster due to lower level of detail. See my other painting articles in the sidebar for more tips I find helpful.

Anyway, I hope that brief analysis provides some inspiration to someone out there. Set yourself what you consider an ambitious but achievable goal and go for it!

Thanks for reading, and do let me know in comments below of any ideas you find helpful in getting many figures painted!


  1. Totally agree with your comments... when work allows, I find I can manage a lot of figures. Well done, you!!
    Nga mihi

    1. Ah glad it's not just me then, thanks Robin! :)

  2. I am a bit of a peace and quiet type, so don't need another distraction while I am painting - it is probably my own limitation that I can only concentrate on one thing at a time.

    I agree about giving up time to paint, it is much better to a little than just fall into a daily routine of inertia.

    In my life, the greatest time sink is the internet, it is just too easy to plonk down and get drawn in to a big chunk of time going down the pan - it is easy entertainment after a tiring day.

    I have tried moving some of this time over to painting and will do a 50 minute session say every couple of days. It s enough to see progress and be encouraged to do more.

    I think everything we do falls into habit and some things like say going to the gym or baths are easy to stop once you give a couple of missed attendances. One day becomes two, becomes a week and the next thing is you have lost the discipline to go. Painting strikes me to be of that ilk.

    Things will only get done if you do them!

    1. Many thanks for your lengthy comment Norm. You're right and different things work for different people. And also that the internet can be a big time sink! After a particularly tiring work day I tend to avoid painting. Cheers.

  3. Ive got too many Household chores as a Parent so I only got through 300 in my first year . But I always look for easier ways from your Blogs .

    1. If you've got kids that's a great effort I think Rusty. Especially if your first year doing painting too. Great work!

  4. Mark, congratulations on a great output.

    I couldn't agree with you more about volume painting. It really is just a matter of application. You have to break the task down into steps and complete them in a logical sequence. I am driven by targets (usually to finish armies for use in our annual wargames weekend) and try to paint for two or three hours a night - this is my way of relaxing after the stresses of the work day. I usually only work on six foot or three mounted figures at a time. Using this approach I completed a little over 1,800 figures last year.

    1. Aha excellent someone who has managed even more than me! :) Great points too, especially about having a target like an upcoming game. Very interesting that you've managed that many figures working in such small quantities at a time too Mark. I'm sure many people will be heartened to read that! Thanks.

  5. Amazing effort Mark. I think I managed only four hundred last year, but that was around moving house and a few other non-wargaming pursuits.

    I like to estimate how many colours, including shades and any washes that need to be applied, (for most Napoleonics I have found it to be between twenty-four to twenty-seven), take a batch of twenty to thirty figures, and lay down the base sixteen or seventeen colours across them all. From there I prefer to complete them in lots of three to six, as I find I can concentrate better in terms of tidying up any mistakes and concentrate better on the details I want to bring out.

    I much prefer painting in the morning myself, and find it relaxes me before the start of a working day. Mind you, the sun comes up at 4:30am in Brisbane during summer, and there is bugger-all else to do at that time of the day anyway.

    1. Interesting thanks Lawrence. And that's still an sizable number completed, great work! Seems a few people do this smaller numbers at a time thing successfully which is good to know. And sunrise at 4:30am, and I thought 6am was early! :)

  6. you have no excuse :) this is an astonishing accomplishment. bravo!

  7. Over 1,000 28mm figures at the quality level that you do is still pretty astounding. I am happy if I do at least 500, and I think that 600 is probably about my record since I have been married and working 60 + hours a week. I agree with you that painting in large batches boost productivity, as does painting regularly. I watch very, very little TV - I'd rather paint!

    1. Cheers Peter, I think 500-600 if working 60+ hours is pretty astounding! My wife and I haven't had the TV tuned in to regular broadcasts for a couple of years now, but we have watched a few shows from the internet as a Friday night thing.

  8. Replies
    1. An honour to have you drop by, many thanks again for your podcast Mark! :)

    2. More than happy ora from Northland!

    3. Do you have an email? Or could you email me via my website? There is something I'd like to ask of you...Thanks!

    4. Cheers Mark, have e-mailed you.

  9. Awesome work! Impressive total :)

  10. What a lot of lovely figures, you're Austrians in last year's challenge is one of the reasons I've been assembling hundreds of plastic napoleonic figures I've also been painting some. Thanks a lot!
    Best Iain

  11. Prolific output, Mark! I have watched your 2016 parade of 28mm Napoleonics and thought that you paint both swiftly and beautifully.

    Well done!

    On painting philosophy, I am in complete agreement with you. Painting a little each day can produce large volumes of figures. I can turn out a goodly sum of figures with only an hour spent at the painting desk most days. Of cours, a two or three hour session on a weekend helps too.

    1. Many thanks Jonathan, and nice to hear you're another one using a similar philosophy with regards to painting :)