Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Words of Wisdom 3

Today's lesson comes from John G Garratt ('Model Soldiers for the Connoisseur', Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1972, p50):

'There is no logical reason, except possibly as a technical exercise of dubious merits, why eyes should be painted in detail at all.'

I'm with Garratt on this one, unless you want an army of Wilko Johnsons chopping out riffs across your wargames table then enough with the staring eyes - less is more, merely suggesting eyes is much more effective for 30mm and under i reckon.

That said, think what you could do with an army of Wilkos...


MSFoy said...

I'm definitely with you on this one - it's possible to spoil an attractive figure by attempting unnecessary detail. At risk of revealing myself as a total throwback, I also have to say that I don't really approve of shading on miniatures.

In the real world, 3-dimensional people do not walk around with shading painted on them - the natural fall of light will produce shade. Unless one is painting flat Zinnfiguren, or attempting to give depth to a (flat) picture, the same applies.

I can appreciate the skill of modern painting techniques, but some practices have grown up which I can't really see the point of.

I'm braced, ready for the broadside from people who know better...



DC said...


Whilst i obviously prefer a degree of shading and detailing (for no better reason that it looks nice - i'm not going to pretend for a second that it's 'realistic') i can see where you're coming from. One of the reasons why i prefer older, slender, 'simpler' figures is that they don't force me to paint every last button, buckle, or finger nail - in contrast to modern figures where such details are so exaggerated that you can't ignore them. If i'm painting a figure then i'll decide what level of detail i paint it to, thanks all the same Mr sculptor...8-)

BTW, i think you'd have got on well with Mr Garratt - whilst he (sometimes) admires the skill in shaded and highly detailed figure painting he doesn't seem to feel it's at all necessary. I'm enjoying Garratt's book - he's quite an opinionated so 'n' so.


paintpig said...

Confirmed and understood for 30 years now, John G Garret hey, another one to add to my hero list.

Now moving on to painting white eyes on 'orses, aaarrgh!


Maverick Collecting said...

Much as I hate Game Workshop, their new washes are just enough to hint at eyes by filling the cavity with 'shadow'.

I always used to paint flat colour and then maybe dry-brush if it's blue say - Union trousers in a lighter shade, but I hate the 'sausage-finger' paint style used more and more, and I'm not keen on the bitty-brush over black undercoat method either.

But then I don't do much painting at all these days - Eyes t'aint what they used to be, so everyone's output is better than mine!!!

Roly (Arteis) said...

Odd that you talk about not painting eyes, because that is soemthing that has just come up on my blog, too:


After many years of painting eyes on all my figures (even where they are mainly hidden by shako or helmet brims), I've finally given up on them. And it works!

I do place a drop of GW devlan mud wash in the socket, though, to give a suitable shadow effect.

Lee said...

That reference to the great Wilko Johnson made me laugh :-) So glad he's still going strong, what a unique style. Oh, and I don't paint in eyes these days either.


Anonymous said...

I dropped painting eyes long ago. I simply looked at painting of 19th Century artist depicting military action. The size of the painted image are certainly larger than our minis. Yet the professionals more often than not, shade the eye socket. Further examination of even 20th Century photographs show that an image of similar size to a casting yields once again the shaded eye socket rather than the eye and iris.

Foss1066 said...

I'll take the other side of the fence here and affirm completley that my figures that have eyes painted in them seem to shoot better.

Actually, depending on model, and scale (6mm eyes anyone?) I'll leave them off. Okay, I almost ALWAYS paint them on my 28's, but I am trying to reform.


Der Alte Fritz said...

I'm your huckleberry. I always paint eyes on my 28/30mm figures. The figure seems incomplete without them. Sometimes the eyes look good, sometimes they need some more work. One problem with pictures on the internet is that they blow up the picture larger than it actually is, so the eyes seem to be much bigger than they actually are.

I agree with you on the three color shading. I don't care for it at all. I have gravitated to a 2 tone color scheme with a dark undercoat color and some modest drybrushing of a lighter color, which looks more realistic than the 3 tone Dallimore system.


rob3rod said...

I was so intrigued by the quote, I went out and bought the book!,Hows that for an endorsement.
Nice figures by the way.