Miniatures: The work space
Before you go to the store and buy yourself a series of figurines to paint, or even before you buy the paint to slop all over those figs, you have to get one question answered. That question is: Where will I be painting?
The main answers to this question are:
b) I’ll be changing places
c) The same spot, but I’ve got to clean up afterwards
d) A permanent spot
Let’s skip answer “A” for a second and go on to answers B & C. Hopefully, answer “A” will clear itself up by the end of this installation.
The Basics: The main things that you need to think about when choosing your location (non-permanent or permanent) is space and lighting. Depending on whether you will be painting a single figurine, or whole groups of them at once will change how much space you’ll be needing.
A good chair or stool to sit on is a MUST. Miniature painting is time consuming and there’s no need to break your back hunching over needlessly… a nice cushion is a plus. Try to ensure that the height of the chair or stool brings you to about elbow height to the surface you’ll be working on, so you can lean your elbows on the table and have the figurine at around face height.
You’ll need a nice flat and horizontal surface to put everything on. I emphasize horizontal because little bottles of paint rolling off of your desk might very well add colour to your life, but it’s hardly practical. The area that you’ll need to clear off to put all of your stuff is around 4’ square (2X2’). This will give you 1-2’sq. for the actual work and the rest dedicated to the paints, brushes, water, towels, other figs, magazines etc..that you’ll be using to paint your fig.
This area will change depending on how many or how large your fig(s) are and how many you plan on doing at once. In the case of a permanent location, you can dedicate more space for storage of paints, bits, boxes, tools and other assorted materials.
*Note: Even with moveable locations, you’ll still need a semi-permanent/permanent location to keep all of the stuff that you’re not using immediately, and to store your work tools etc.. when you’re not actually painting.
So…a chair and a flat surface. Easy enough, right?
Location: It’s all well and good to say that you’re just going to use the kitchen table to paint on, and many people do just that, but you’ve got to keep a few things in mind.
- Lighting: not everyone can paint during the day, using pure sunlight to illuminate your work. In fact, most days and all nights, sunlight isn’t enough light, so you’re going to have to provide some extra light somehow. *This’ll be discussed at length when I talk about tools.
Distractions: Like I wrote before, painting takes time and a certain amount of concentration (as you’ll find out). Distractions take many forms. The most obvious are things like pets (cats just love walking across paint surfaces, scattering minis, paint, & water), kids (what’s that Dad?, Can I touch? Dad won’t mind if I play with his toys), and Significant others (Why didn’t you take out the trash? Shouldn’t you be doing else?)… other, non-living distractions might be things like the phone, internet, television, or sunbathing neightbours. Avoid distractions when you can.
Safety: Living distractions can also be sources of danger, especially considering that you may be working with glues, solvents, sharp obects & tools. You want to leave a swathe of dead enemies on the battlefield, not in your kitchen. Keeping this in mind might limit your work area to places where you can limit access.
- The work surface: Face it…accidents happen. Paint get spilled, exacto knives slip, things get gouged and although you want to protect your surface, accidents will happen…. So working on that Louis XIV table might not be the best idea. It’s a good idea if it’s a stable work surface because you don’t want it either wobbling from side to sie or tipping over easily (TV trays are out, I’m afraid).
That’s it for the actual area. In our next installment, I’ll be talking about the kinds of tools that will come in handy when working with both metal and plastic minis.