Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

Words by sprngr

As a gunpla builder, I've always been comfortable with the level of detail and precision that the hobby requires - and sometimes lack there of. But more recently, I've been feeling like I've hit a bit of a rut in my building skills. I've gotten quite comfortable working with an airbrush, painting parts separately, and even masking where necessary. One aspect of it that I feel I had been lacking in was painting fine details. I’ve attempted to use a brush with less than stellar results and relied on trying to clean it up afterwards and hope for the best - or just avoid it outright.

I decided to try my hand at miniature painting. While I was familiar with the basics, miniature painting requires a level of finesse and attention to detail that I hadn't yet mastered and it would give me a chance to get in many more repetitions of this skill to learn. I was intimidated at first, but I was determined to give it a try.

A friend of mine more familiar with miniature painting gifted me a Reaper Learn to Paint Kit. It gave me a solid baseline to get started with a few miniatures and colors along with a guide for applying paints.

The next thing I did was research different techniques, or simply put - watch a lot of Youtube. Like, a lot. I sought out several videos targeting beginners and covering fundamentals from people much more knowledgeable than myself:

Once I felt confident in my knowledge and had all the necessary tools, I started with the skeleton from the Learn to Paint Kit. I began by priming the figure just like I would a gunpla model, to help adhere paint to the surface in the same manner. From there, I started painting, using thin, controlled brush strokes to carefully apply the paint to the miniature's intricate details while following along with the included guide and recalling what I had learned from the videos.

It was a slow process, but I found that I really enjoyed the challenge of painting on such a small scale. I was surprised at how much I was able to improve my technique with just a little bit of practice. The finished product wasn't perfect, but I was proud of the progress I had made.

I've continued to practice painting on the included miniatures, and I've found that there is a much greater depth to it than I anticipated. The attention to detail and precision required for miniature painting feels much less daunting than it initially did and the process itself allows me to iterate much faster due to the scale of each piece giving me the opportunity to experiment and try out different techniques.

For example, I had picked up on using red as an under paint color for orc skin to give it a much more detailed appearance with what feels like little effort.

With every miniature I work on, I feel like it’s better than the last. I’ve gotten better at controlling the brush, the paint on the brush, and just a better understanding of determining the order of operations for applying layers. It’s also been a great chance to work with basing materials.

I haven’t had a chance to incorporate this into a gunpla build yet, but I do look forward to being much more confident to do so and take my detailing game to the next level.

One final note is it has helped me discover a new hobby thing that brings me joy. The downside is my backlog has begun to include a new category of unfinished model.