I want to start this post off with a disclaimer: what you see below are not good paint jobs. But, it seems like the best place to start is at the beginning. This was the start of my miniature painting journey, a set of Stormcast Eternals that I painted back in 2016. It was my first step into what has since become one of my favorite ways to spend my free time. It is one of the first hobbies I’ve ever picked up that has stuck with me over time. It’s something that I do (almost) entirely for myself, and it is something that I have gotten much better yet over the years. I have watched videos, practiced, met with other painters to learn their techniques, and more importantly I have just kept at it so that over time my minis no longer look like they did when I first slapped a way-too-thick coat on these poor boys.
Why did I pick Stormcast Eternals as my first ever painting project? No idea. I genuinely think that this was the first thing that popped up when I typed Warhammer into Amazon. Go ahead and roast away, casual to the core. Up to this point I was vaguely familiar with Warhammer as a franchise, mostly due to the fact that I played the video games (over 1000 hours into the first Total War: Warhammer). Actually now that I think about it, I am pretty sure I got these because that is what I was playing at the time, and I wanted to paint the figures from Warhammer Fantasy, only to find out that the fantasy universe had been blown up and the age of Sigmar was what came after. Lore purists leave me alone, this was how I understood it at the time. With time comes growth I promise I’m better now.
I must have had some cash to burn at the time because instead of doing the sensible thing and buying a couple figurines and seeing if I even enjoyed putting together and painting the models I sprang for the insanely expensive starter set that I think was a couple hundred dollars at the time. If I was interested in painting one model then I might as well go ahead and paint like 50 of them right?
Confession time! While I did spend weeks painting the Stormcast Eternals, I realized quickly it was very difficult, way more time consuming than I thought, and I was quite bad at it. Thus, the entire Warband of Khorne that came with the Golden Boys remains unpainted to this day. They are put together on a shelf and just… staring at me. Sad. Grey. Ugly. To be painted at one day in the undetermined future. They are in the queue I promise. Also, kind of a sad and funny story but Hurricane Harvey hit us the week I finished painting these guys. They were sitting on our big formal dining table when we had to evacuate and our house ended up flooding with person-height levels of water for a couple of weeks. While they were towards the bottom of the priority list when we returned to muck things out, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the table that they had sat on was apparently quite buoyant and had simply floated around the dining room that whole time and then sat gently down as the water receded. The entire army was not only fine, but had not even moved from where I had them sitting on the tabletop. Sigmar would be proud.
We all have to start somewhere, in this case, Kindergarten
Now you have the background, lets get into the real reason I am writing this: breaking down the way my models looked on day one of learning how to paint miniatures! Step on up fighter number one! This neon-gold goober right here. Just off of first glance, I can tell that I had no concept of thinning paints. If this poor soul were to go into battle he would be shit out of luck as he would be a bright and shining beacon for all of this enemies and yet would not be able to move due to the joints being fused together by all of that thick out of the bottle Army Painter paint. Three colors, extra thick. Recipe for success. Suffice to say this is the roughest of rough drafts. No color variation or blending to be seen. Gold and blue baby! I am fairly certain that all painters have a first paint that looks something like this. The reason I have held on to it is because it is nice to be able to go back and see what my starting point was and see how I have progressed since. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to laugh at it though.
At least the flag looks kind of cool
Enter fighter number 3! Were lessons learned? Not really. Still sticking with the same unthinnned paints. At least it looks like I stumbled upon another color with the bone white on the seals. I am going to try to not just shit all over these as I go through them because that will make for tedious reading but there still isn’t much to praise here. Except for the standard. I actually remember stumbling on a rudimentary dry brushing technique in order to get the silver paint on the skeleton which brought out a bit of the detail. My eye keeps getting drawn to that flat grey face though. Just straight flat grey. Why? Why would I do this? Don’t know. This was a color scheme I was committed to for a few more minis before I decided to change things up with the next one.
Well at least there is some color variation now
Your boy has decided that the color uniformity across the army wasn’t gonna fly for these. We needed to spice things up with Rose Gold and… Teal? Is that teal? What color is that? Honestly, I don’t hate it. Had I chosen to go this route for the whole army I think it would have looked good. I can tell I think that I am on to something with the dry brushing because I start to use it quite a bit from this point forward. The fabric has some motion to it, which is pretty good for this early in the painting journey. The paint is still thick as hell though. And that’s actually even more of an accomplishment considering I live along the Gulf Coast and the 100% humidity should have been able to cut down on that at least a bit. Still no concept of shadows unfortunately. Those seals are quite ineffective when you don’t know how to add depth. My kingdom for a wash.
Look who discovered edge highlighting
I remember this being the point where I got frustrated with how bad my minis were looking, so I made a good call and turned to Youtube. Who would have guessed the plethora of mini painting tutorials that could be found there? Spoiler alert: probably anyone who has ever tried to do an art project they’ve never tried before. The cool thing about artists is that lots of them enjoy showing off their art (who knew) and many also like to show off their techniques. I can tell off the bat that I discovered washes and edge highlighting. Unfortunately I still didn’t learn that you need to be able to maintain color uniformity across a unit. So here we have soft gold? I honestly don’t know where I got this color from, it wasn’t out of the pot I know that much. I think I also started thinning the paint at this point because it definitely looks like it went on more smoothly. I know at this point I didn’t have that many units left, so I really took my time on this one. And for someone who had only been painting for about a month, I think he actually turned out pretty decent. I do not hang my head in shame when I look at him. Persistence creates progress! I mark this as the moment I went from “I have no idea what I’m fucking doing” to “I am bad at what I am doing but I know where I’m going with it”. I would put him on a tabletop.
The crowning jewel of this sad, sad army
Finally we arrive at the end of Phase 1 of my paint journey. There were a few more units in the army, but this was as far as I got before I was displaced via a vengeful and angry God flooding my house. I was happy enough with the previous paint job to keep it going on this one. I am shocked that I exercised some restraint on those wings. I can see some greens and blues. An attempt at highlights. Wash on the seals, hell yeah. This is where it kind of began to click for me. I could tell that there was a massive amount of skill that I was lacking in order to get my minis where I wanted, but I also started to see a direction to proceed to pick up those skills. I wouldn’t say I had gotten to a point where I was proud of what I was painting, but I definitely wasn’t embarrassed by them. I had officially arrived at beginner painter level. I was happy to putter around here for awhile, still painting once or twice a month and seeing what that got me.
I think going forward I am going to alternate my paint posts with old paints I was learning and new/current things I am working on. I am not exactly sure how the flow but it’s been fun to go back and see my old minis but I don’t want to just focus solely on that. I paint much more frequently now and try to have one or two new minis done a month that I’m looking forward to showing off and getting feedback on. Feel free to leave a comment if you made it this far, and if you are a painter I would love to see what you are working on currently, or if you have any before and after pics of how your painting has progressed over the years. I’ll add a bonus pic here at the bottom of something I am currently working on.