Lately, the term “Speed Painting” has become popular in the miniature painting community. We’ve seen YouTubers featuring how much miniatures they can paint in X hours (i.e. Miniac, Squidmar, Goobertown Hobbies, Trovarion, etc.). A few content creators have also focused on Speed Painting (i.e. Midwinter Minis, Haste Hobbies). Allow me to present a some perspective about speed painting, making it sound less of a competition and more of a rewarding painting technique.
An Alternative Painting Style
Chances are miniature painting remains to be a hobby for you and it is not your main source of livelihood unlike content creators and professional painters. We split our time for family, chores, work, other hobbies, and rest. We want to spend quality time with our family (spouse, kids, siblings, parents). We have errands to do on a daily or weekly basis. We still have our jobs, run business enterprises. Some of us engage in other downtime activities such as exercise, reading, dancing, watching shows, playing games. Finally, we need our 6 to 8 hours of daily rest. If you would like to churn out painted minis and still do all these, then I suggest you try Speed Painting.
Zombie Minotaur painted within1.5 hours.
This was the miniature that made me realized that Speed Painting can have good output and also liberating.
While the above describes the type of hobbyist that can benefit from Speed Painting, there are also those that may not be a perfect match. Painters who aim to join serious painting competitions, hobbyists who now want to make painting a livelihood, and artists who are meticulous with their craft might not gain the maximum satisfaction from Speed Painting.
Neither Better nor Worse
Speed Painting is neither superior nor inferior to the regular painting style. It’s like deciding which music is better: Punk Rock or Heavy Metal. It’s a matter of taste. Both require their own kind of experimentation and training, leading to different output styles. In this regard, it is possible to have Speed Painting as one painting style in your skills repertoire akin to enjoying both Punk Rock and Heavy Metal music.
To say that Speed Painting will result to lower quality paintjobs would be fallacious. Speed Painters challenge themselves to produce an output that would still be pleasing to the eyes (yours, primarily). As they continue to improve their speed painting muscles, you might find them producing an output that is more than just “decent”. In addition, as Speed Painters become more familiar with their tools, they can generate amazing artworks.
Shub-Niggurath painted in 2 hours.
A clear plan in your head can guide your speed painting towards quality output.
The Sweet Spot between Quality and Time
Allow me to offer a definition within the context of the miniature painting hobby.
Speed painting is painting miniatures from start to finish with a “good enough” quality within the shortest period time so that you can still do other things.
In other words, Speed Painting is finding the sweet spot of three factors --- Quality, Painting Time, and Extra Time.
Speed Painting requires a “Trade-Off” mentality. If you wish to have a higher quality of output, then expect to spend more time painting and less time for other stuff. If you want to be extremely fast, you may get some time to do other things like painting more minis or playing your game but don’t expect to see amazing paintjobs. Of course, if you decide to focus on other things then you will have to sacrifice on the quality of your painting and/or the amount of time spent painting. There are no hard and fast rules about how this trade-off will be done, it will all be based on personal preferences.
Byakhee painted in 1.5 hours.
I focused on the face, wings and stomach area. I sacrficed the other areas with a rush painting job.
Like the standard approach to painting miniatures, good quality output will never happen overnight. You will have to devote time and deliberate effort to work on your Speed Painting techniques.
Dragonborn fighter painted within 1 hour.
Experimenting on recipes can later lead towards faster paint jobs.
Here are a few things I learned since I started honing my Speed Painting skills:
- A Well-Organized Desk; Knowing exactly where your Nuln Oil is located can accelerate your sessions.
- Let the Miniatures Shine; Leverage the fine details of your beautifully detailed miniatures.
- Plan; Speed painting doesn't mean you don't have a plan. In fact, it's the opposite.
- Identify your Focus Areas; Paint 2-3 areas really well and sacrifice the other parts (like hard-to-reach areas)
- Create Recipes; In the long run, this will make things faster (or even better).
- Do some things in Batches; Generate momentum by priming and base coating in batches.
- Quality as your “Time Limit”; Don’t beat the clock, instead push on until your “good enough” quality
- Know when to Stop; There’s a time for adding more details but there is also a time to be satisfied.
- Practice. Practice. Practice; ‘Nuff said.
Biology explains the elated sensation we get when accomplishing small things. Dopamine is one of the “happy hormones” our body generates whenever we get instant gratification. This can give you a boost of positive energy which can motivate you to take on the next paintjob. Once you get into the rhythm of painting miniatures, your body then generates a different hormone, Serotonin, which gives you that calming feeling when you are doing something you love. During these times of uncertainty, I’m pretty sure we can use some “happy hormones” to keep us centered and grounded.
There is a level of satisfaction in finishing a miniature in a single session. You’ll get the bigger satisfaction when you have finished a warband, an army or a board game. Soon, you will find yourself reducing your backlog significantly and rapidly.