Playing EPIC in 28mm.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Commerical Painting Services

Like buying anything, outsourcing the construction and/or painting of your precious little men is down to you: how much you willing to pay ? how long are you willing to wait ?  There will be a going rate, but this could open to negotiation.

Using any commercial painting service is a relationship; you will only get out of it what you put into it. (yawn inducing but true)

Basically, there are two ways to go:  a full on commercial painting service operating as a company or co-operative.  Or a single artist.  What you get with the commercial painting service depends on your communication with them;  I think that there are a few things you as a client need to give a little thought to:

The level of communication you want;  Do you want WIP photos every week ?  Are you happy with a 'this is what it is.' photo before you pay and they post ?

The tighter the brief you give, the more likely it is that you will get what you want.  Don't shy away from what may seem to be an absurdly panikity level of detail; the painter(s) are not inside your head and don't know what you want, so the more information you can give, the more likely you will get what you want.

The last thing is that you have a slightly enhanced probability of getting something done to a deadline - if you need the army done before blogwars, then the company or co-operative, having multiple painters, is going to be more likely to meet your deadline.

If you manage to find a single painter, an artist with whom you can establish a rapport, then you may get to the point where they 'tune in' to your style and peccadilloes and/or you trust their creativity and ability to produce something that just looks great and that you will be happy with and didn't know you wanted before it turned up.

But this takes time.  And means that you will have put a few commissions their way in order to get to that point.

Another thing which is obvious but took me a little time to learn is that every person who does this does it because a) a lot of other people have told them that they are good enough. b) they love painting figures, even getting a kick out of presenting you with 140 iggies. That you have made them paint all the same.  And c) if they muck it up they will struggle and persevere with your commission because their own pride/stubbornness will make them.  All of which are a win for you as client.

So, to get personal; Why do I use these services ?  Time is one thing.  I can paint iggies.  But I cannot find the time.  And if I'm paying someone quicker (or who has the time) and better (let's face it), the scheme can be a bit more exotic.  So time, yeah, a pro painter can do in a weekend what takes me a year.

Skill level is another; my best effort will produce what I sometimes get back as "table top quality".  Now, I realise that I could take steps to improve my painting (like doing some, for a start).  However for reasons I outlined some time ago, I don't want to, because I have other things to do with my time.

But to sum up being a paying client:

If you have a deadline, colourscheme, notion, design, preference, cost limit, expectation, desire, requirement or fetish that needs fulfilling, then it is down to you as client to let the painter know.

So, there you have it.  My take on getting someone else to paint your little men.


  1. Nice post, enjoyed reading that. I've never used outsourced painting, because I got into this hobby when I was young(er) for the painting and nothing else, and it's only in the last few years that I've started gaming. Plus, as you say it's all very well to say 'you just need to practice' but when you have to shell out lots of money, time and effort it's hard to write off the first five years of your hobby as 'practice'. I've been painting for ten of my twenty four years, and it's only in the last two years with the Palladians that I've been 'happy' with the standard. But I can totally see how and why others do it now.

  2. Wait, Ed's only 24???? Bloody hell I feel old...... ~_~

    I only wish I could afford to have someone paint my minis......

    1. It's true, when I opened the door, I was expecting someone a little older !

  3. Very good post sir, very thoughtful and all that. I'm the opposite of Ed, I started for the gaming and only recently I've got into the painting side of things. Despite the fact it's taken me over 15 years to get on with it I've always wanted to avoid getting someone else to paint them as I knew then I would never really make a go of it. But I can definitely see why you would, as it's time that really slows me down. Ed gets to bloody paint at work. Git.

    But then I have commissioned artwork in the past, and of course do artwork on commission myself. There are always those that give the vaguest outline for their briefs and those that give exacting instructions. Both have their own challenges of course. I try and go somewhere inbetween when I'm commissioning work, so whoever is doing the work gets to put their spin on it but I still get what I asked for. But as you say it's a relationship, so some artists want more definite instructions, others want to get stuck into the concept and see what they can do.

    But definitely, definitely agree with the last paragraph - I like my briefs to be as clear as possible so that way everyone is happy with the results.

    Haha Dai, Ed makes me feel old and I'm 27...

    1. Then you're a young git too. I need to go tell some kids to get off my lawn..... ~_~

  4. I would also definitely say "too much" detail is far, far preferable to very little, speaking from the "artist's" perspective

  5. Oldies! I should also say that I often do commissions - usually for Kieran and Dan, and other mates in exchange for red gold (port) so I get the best of both worlds.

    Apologies to Zzzzzz for me turning his blog into a forum.

    1. None needed. Even now, I am working on my Special Reserve to Krieg Platoon equation.

    2. Ah yes I still have that fine crusted port for painting those Orlocks for Mike in the campaign, damned fine payment it is too

    3. Funny, my commissions over the past 2 years have mostly all been for comics.... Something tells me I've been doing this wrong.