Monday, January 5, 2015

The Five Ws of painting pt. 1

Let me start off this post by saying that this is my opinion and my thought process when it comes to painting a display piece. Whether or not it's a single figure, squad or even a larger group. Yes, this same process can be used when batch painting your army for tabletop and it could give your army a nice background story if you choose to give it one. So take my thoughts with as much weight and merit as you like and if I have given you a new way of looking at something then I'm glad.
If you are familiar with the 5 Ws of journalism then you have a small head start on this. For those who don't know, The 5 Ws are pretty much the framework journalists, researchers and investigators  use to get the backstory on an event that has occurred. They are:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?

Now there is also a sixth word that can go along with these and it's 'How?'. With these, you can get the background and a more complete picture of something. Most of us as kids know a simplified form of this in the game Clue(Cluedo for the UK folks). In Clue, the object of the game is to find who killed Mr. Boddy (Mr. Black for the UK), with what weapon, in which room. So hidden in this board game are the basics of this concept.

The Who, being the murderer. The What, being the murder itself. The Where, being which room it happened in and the How being the weapon of choice. When is applied since it happened at a party. So by the end of the game you have a complete picture of what happened that fateful night.
So how does this apply to painting? Well you can take these same base concepts and apply them to a character or squad or even an army if you want. you can break down your project each of the five Ws and by the end of the process you may have a better idea of what colors, basing material or terrain you may want to surround your miniature with.

The Who:
Who, without the Who there wouldn't be anything to paint. This is the focal point of the entire project. So before you paint anything else, look at the miniature. See what they are wearing or if it's mechanical look at it's armor or outer shell. Usually there will be a theme already in mind by the company who created the miniature. Next thing to take into account is "Is this a named character with a pre-written backstory". This can can be your biggest ally or a hindrance depending on your mindset.

You can take the route of following the fluff in place. This can be anything from famous battles if they are a soldier to if they are from a certain time period the materials of what they are wearing. For instance if they are from a genre like steampunk, you will see alot of brass, copper, deep woods and leather mixed with Victorian style clothing. If it's your standard Space Marine, you can look at what legion they belong. This can make the process alot easier for some but for other's it may hinder the creative process since the information is there and you are just interrupting it in your own way.
On the other hand, there could be no background to the character at all. If this is true, do not be afraid of making one up. Use your imagination and give them a back story. Maybe they are an assassin dressed up like  nobility or a ruthless space pirate out to pillage what it can from unsuspecting cargo ships. The world and the universe around it is at your finger tips. You can choose to paint it yellow with pink polka dots or very neutral colors. The only thing limiting you is your own imagination,your skill and  your color pallet.

Whether you decide to follow the fluff or go out on your idea, research what you can. If they are from Victorian era, look at the fabrics, the colors, the way the ladies put on make-up. Even if you are going with your own backstory, this can add a great deal of realism to any project. The smallest things can turn a lord into a street rat, a monk into a cultist, A lady into a farmer's daughter. Like the saying goes, The devil is in the details. Once you have the details of who this character is supposed to be, you can choose your colors and go onto the next step.

Now, this is only the first step of the project and the "Who" ties into each of the next steps. So if you hear me going back and mentioning the "Who" again, it's because its a piece to the puzzle and all the pieces interlock and form the final picture

Okay, wow this  post ended up being longer than I thought it would be in my head. So now this will turn into this weeks topic! The Five Ws of painting week. So as always thanks for reading and if you liked it comment below and share with your friends. If you didn't still comment and tell me how I can make this blog better.

Until Next Time,


1 comment:

  1. Nice. This isn't talked about too much, so is good thing to bring up. Basically I use this system without really thinking about it. Used basically the same system in the Army, when preparing our OpOrd, battle plans. Thanks.