This post is just a ramble about using painted figures in your games and when is it okay to game with unpainted minis and when should you use painted figures? Let's start with using unpainted figures.
|The figures for the Von Drakk's Manor set for Super Dungeon Explore, straight out of the box and unpainted.|
However, my attitude completely changed a few years ago when Steve and I had a discussion about using unpainted figures in a game. I can't remember what game we were talking about but the gist of Steve's argument was that I had two choices when it came to playing whatever game it was we were discussing. One, I could wait to play the game until after I had painted all of the figures for it, which could potentially take a year or more, or two, I could play the game now using the unpainted figures that came with the game. That was my light bulb moment! That was when I realised, it was acceptable to play with unpainted figures. I have no idea why it took me so long to realise something that is so blindingly obvious! After all, as a solo gamer, the only person who knew I was gaming with unpainted figures was myself... and ultimately, did it matter all that much? No, of course not; not if it meant I got to play the game straight out of the box and get to grips with the rules. For sure, I much prefer playing games with fully painted figures. Aesthetically, it is much more appealing. But by breaking my own self-imposed commandment - "Thou Shalt Not Game With Unpainted Figures!" I was able to do far more gaming than if I'd waited to paint all of the figures that came with the game. Nowadays I will frequently play a game using unpainted figures... but only ever in the privacy of my own home.
|The same figures for Von Drakk's Manor, all superbly painted (not by me I hasten to add) and a real treat for the eyes.|
Which brings me to another point, which I'm sure applies to a lot of gamers. There are those who can not paint or who simply don't have the time to paint due to work and/or family commitments. What are they to do? Or perhaps they can paint but not very well. To be honest, they're stuck between a rock and a hard place. There is not much they can do other than use their unpainted figures. I'm just glad I'm not one of those people.
I realise I'm very lucky in that I have artistic talent and I have plenty of spare time to devote to my hobby, which must place me in a minority. For those who can paint but not to a high standard, I'd advise they carry on painting and gaming with their painted figures. To me, a badly painted figure is a lot better than an unpainted figure. It at least shows you've made an effort. Plus, the old adage of "practice makes perfect" still holds true. The more you paint, the better you'll become.
I'm a completely different painter now than what I was 20 years ago and back then I was completely different to what I was a further 20 years ago. I now use ink washes, dry brushing techniques, fine-lining, blending, etc. when I paint nowadays. These are techniques I would never have attempted or even thought of doing years and years ago. When I first started painting figures I was just a young lad and as long as the colour looked right, that was all that mattered to me. So I'd paint my old Airfix 1/72nd or 1/32nd scale figures with a mix of Humbrol matt and gloss paints! Also, with those Airfix figures, they were often made of a coloured plastic that resembled their uniforms, for example, WW2 U.S. Army soldiers were made of olive drab coloured plastic, whilst WW2 Afrika Korps were made of sand coloured plastic. So, because the plastic was the main colour of their uniform I wouldn't bother painting those bits! Oh, dear! It was a long learning process before I knew better. I've got rid of most of those old figures but of the few that remain, I look at them with deep embarrassment.
|A selection of my own painted figures from the Von Drakk's Manor set, which I'm very proud of.|
This brings me to my final point - always strive to paint to the best of your abilities. For the vast majority of gamers, being able to paint to tabletop standard is perfectly acceptable and I'd certainly go along with that. We can't all paint to professional standards and why should we? As long as we can paint a figure and say, "I'm happy with that," then nothing else matters. If you can paint, whatever your standard is, then you should paint. If circumstances dictate that you can't paint your figures then by all means, and use your unpainted figures. I still say it is better to game with painted figures than with unpainted figures but what is just as important is that gaming with unpainted figures is better than not gaming at all.