I’m writing about good habits for wargamers today. And also related to that good habits in other areas of life as well.
I think of habits as being something that is fairly unconscious – something you don’t have to write down and plan for. You just do them. A bit like brushing your teeth every morning and evening. That type of thing. I came across the book Atomic Habits by James Clear recently (after listening to an episode of Henry Hyde’s excellent podcast. I’m only part way through the book so far, but it’s certainly resonating with me.
Habits not Motivation
James Clear says that if you want to get things done, motivation isn’t enough. You can aspire to write a novel, or paint a wargames army, get fit, lose weight, etc etc. But unless you have good habits you will never get there. You have to be able to do the work even when you don’t feel like it.
I certainly feel like that about writing and wargame hobbying. I am really bad at getting into a habit of writing every day. Having read the book I’ve realised it’s because I have an aspiration to write lots of books and be a “writer”, but in practical terms I’m not sitting down and doing it enough. I don’t currently have a real habit of writing on a daily basis. I’m trying to correct that at the moment by setting aside time in my daily schedule, but it’s still a bit stop start.
My Wargames Hobby Habits
My habits are now pretty ingrained when it comes to working on my wargames hobby, and in particular painting miniatures. I paint for about an hour every morning, before anyone else gets up. What helps I think is that I set-up the environment to make sure its easy to do it. I don’t have a dedicated painting area – instead using the kitchen table. What I do is bring down all my painting stuff the night before, just before going to bed. I leave my painting box and miniatures case on the table (unpacked though), and then I set it up in the morning while waiting for the kettle to boil for my tea.
As well as making it easy and having the environment right – nice and quiet, and I can listen to an audiobook or podcast at the same time. I think I’m also putting this habit next to another habit I really like – having a cup of tea in the morning. James Clear in Atomic Habits calls this habit stacking. It works really well.
Now I just have to figure out how to get the same good habit for writing everyday as well …
I have recently been painting some freehand designs on miniatures. This post isn’t about how to paint designs like those, but how to make a fairly standard design look more realistic. I have an Orc archer with a simple quartered design on shield, but I was concerned that it looked a bit flat – it’s quite hard to add highlights to a flat image – well for me anyway!
So I did a bit of Googling and found this great tutorial on how to add realism to shields on the Pinman Miniature Painter blog. The idea is that you can add marks where the shield has suffered damage from people hitting it with swords. It’s quite a simple technique but really adds to the look of it I think.
Here’s what I managed to do as a first attempt on my Orc archer.
It’s pretty simple to do – you add some brown and off-white lines, but looks quite good I think! For how to do it see Pinman’s tutorial!
This post is part of a series of tips and tricks that I use when painting miniature figures. I don’t profess to be an expert, but I always find it useful to find out how other people do things, so I thought I would share what works for me as well.
What is this post about?
I’m not writing here about how to store your miniatures once you have painted them – that’s a whole different thing, but rather the best way to keep your miniatures dust free and safe between painting sessions. I usually paint a miniature over a period of several days – one day I will prime, the next basecoat, the next shade, then do layers or drybrushing and finally basing, which can take a few days in itself.
I don’t have a dedicated place where I can leave my miniatures and painting equipment in between sessions. And even if I did I don’t think I’d want to leave partly finished figures open to the elements – dust for instance, and even worse the ravages of small children and pets!
How I protect my miniatures in between sessions
After just leaving miniatures on a bookshelf, I soon decided I needed a better solution to storage between painting sessions. First off I put an upturned water pot over the figure I was painting. This was Ok but not great when painting more than one figure. The next solution I tried was very small cardboard boxes – some had previously held watches, iPhones, jewelry and other unimportant items. None of these really did the job – especially with regards to height when miniatures were mounted on wine bottle tops for painting (more of that another time!)
I released that I would a proper solution, and I came across the amazing Really Useful Storage Box company and their great range. They do secure and sturdy see-through plastic boxes in pretty much any size you want. They are also sold in several outlets now in the UK, such as WH Smiths, Rymans and others, so quite easy to get hold of.
I chose the 0.7 litre box for what I needed, but if you were painting smaller or bigger miniatures then you could probably find something suitable. So far it’s worked pretty well. The main issue I have though is stopping the miniatures bouncing around. At the moment I am using blocks of Lego to brace the figures in place. If you have other solutions then let me know!