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"Painting quality VS figure quality" Topic

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Current Poll

1,116 hits since 24 Jan 2020
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Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Jan 2020 1:57 p.m. PST

Your choice
A. Low cost sculpt with great paint job?
B. Expensive sculpt with dreadful paint job

Russ Dunaway

mad monkey 124 Jan 2020 2:13 p.m. PST


Dynaman878924 Jan 2020 2:17 p.m. PST

B I can always repaint but I can't resculpt. (but the poll should say good or bad sculpt instead of expense level)

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Jan 2020 2:22 p.m. PST

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder-- cost is not.

Russ Dunaway

Prince Rupert of the Rhine24 Jan 2020 2:24 p.m. PST

B – I can always paint strip it and give it a better paint job…

Having said that my experience is the lower quality sculpts are much harder to do a good paint job on.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2020 2:45 p.m. PST

B, I do my own painting.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Jan 2020 2:46 p.m. PST

A great paint job makes any figure look great.
A crappy paint job makes any figure look --- well -- crappy.

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2020 2:48 p.m. PST

Scale also factors in my opinion in 6 or 15mm I would want the paint job on lower quality sculpt but with todays 28mm and higher the sculpt comes into play more than the paint job for me

Having said that too plain of a, or unrealistic/miss-proportioned, sculpt and I'm not interested regardless of cost or paint quality

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Jan 2020 2:58 p.m. PST

Years ago I had a call at OG.
The gamer was considering doing Napoleonics-- he was concerned that he was not that good of a painter and that when he was done all he would see on his table was "seas of blue, green, and white"
I responded:
Unless you hold the figures 5 inches from your eyes -- no matter how you paint them --- all you are going to see is seas of blue, green, and white ???????"

Minibeady24 Jan 2020 3:51 p.m. PST

A, with a good base on it as well.

jurgenation Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2020 4:24 p.m. PST


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2020 5:05 p.m. PST

Sadly, "low cost" and "expensive" do not always correspond to low and high quality sculpts. I've got two batches of artillerymen on the painting table right now, purchased from the same firm at the same time and at the same cost per figure. One batch is nicely proportioned in realistic poses. The other will be sold painted in a flea market for less than I unwisely paid for the raw figures.

Given that hedge, Dynaman's right, of course: I can fix a bad paint job while I'm stuck with a bad sculpt.

But Russ, if you need to hold castings 5" from your eyes to tell good and bad paint jobs on 28mm figures, have a talk with your optometrist. Three feet, perhaps. (Or we have very different ideas of good and bad paint jobs.) One of the best arguments I can make for 28mm figures is that I have to stop and look closely at a microscale board to see what's going on--and sometimes can't tell then--I have to stop and look at a 15mm table, and I can see what's happening on a 28mm board as I walk by the table.

von Schwartz24 Jan 2020 5:22 p.m. PST

If it has a bad paint job its MY fault and I can fix it.
If it is a bad sculpt, I'm screwed!

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2020 5:38 p.m. PST

Hmmm. Another point. A great paint job can add detail to a casting without, but there's not a darn thing the painter can do to make up for unlikely poses and inhuman proportions. And a good sculpt is also usually faster and easier to paint.

Hey, I date back to Scruby battery cast figures. If there's one part of miniature warfare I know well, it's bad castings.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Jan 2020 6:41 p.m. PST

There is one company that I do not like their sculpts at all -- I had a guy show me his army and it was painted very nice and it was just beautiful to look at. The basing stole the show.
The late Uncle Duke put games on and most of the sculpts were very poor, but the overall presentation with terrain,etc made the games look great and attracted giant crowds.
We have figures at Old Glory that some people hate, other people praise so the discussion was not met to be along those lines --?
I wonder if we put the emphasis on the figure to much and not our ability to display it in a game.
Robert --I did not say anything about scale?

skipper John Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2020 8:11 p.m. PST

It's the paint, it's always the paint.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Jan 2020 8:28 p.m. PST

I walk around convention tables and to be honest I don't even look at the figures. I look at the overall display.
One game I was admiring the fellow running it came over to me and said 90% of these are your figures -- I honestly did not know?
One range we produce that I have always been personally unhappy with is the 25 mm FFL. I was watching a really impressive FFL game once and I was aware that the fort Zinderneuf was an OG product -- but I asked the GM -- who made the figures? He looked at me puzzled and amused -- they were 100% OG!! I was shocked how great they looked!!

Zephyr124 Jan 2020 10:14 p.m. PST

I paint all my minis the best I can. Besides the money spent for them, I don't want to be stripping/repainting them years from now, so I spend a little extra time on them now… ;-)

Fat Wally25 Jan 2020 12:01 a.m. PST

Contrary to the popular saying, you CAN polish a Bleeped text.

Nasty sculpts/castings with a fantastic paint job will always look better than beautiful sculpts painted horribly.

It's not about cost.

Perris070725 Jan 2020 12:20 a.m. PST

A. Painting makes the figure. Some of my favorites are old sculpts beautifully painted. A canvas is flat and the artist brings it to life.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine25 Jan 2020 12:57 a.m. PST

What constitutes a great paint job and a dreadful paint job? if the quality of the sculpt can only be described as low cost high cost because

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder-- cost is not."

The same criteria probably apply to paint jobs there are many different styles and painting techniques in the hobby now. Certain styles I really don't like (for example the trend for airbrushing and OSL in fantasy/sci-fi miniatures) that even if I can appreciate the technique I don't want my miniatures painted that way.

olicana25 Jan 2020 4:03 a.m. PST


Having said that, it also depends on who is painting them. I paint for a living and, if I'm charging you £10.00 GBP for a paint job the cost of the figure is far less important as a percentage of the overall cost so buy the best sculpts, I guess.

Then again, I have a lot of OG figures in my own Italian Wars collection as a percentage we have to be talking 50% at least and I like them a lot. They are to my mind, pretty good sculpts (if not the very best) and in large units really look the business, even close up. They also fit well with other manufacturers stuff and never look 'out of place'.

Don't knock OG before you see the range you are interested in. There isa lot of good stuff to be had from OG

Old Glory Landsknechts at Ravenna 1512 with W. Foundry French (Swiss range to their left).


OG Spanish, at Garigliano 1503 (I think).


OG massed pike at Cerignola 1503


OG Swiss pike block


There is a cost benefit to OG that, if buying lots of stuff and painting for oneself, can't be denied.

Lots of figures for Marignano 1515


And lots for Ravenna 1512


There are more pictures of OG, TAG, Foundry, Eassex, Front Rank Italian Wars stuff at this address they all mix well, and nothing looks 'bad'.


Kind Regards,

James Roach

Lucius25 Jan 2020 4:27 a.m. PST

If you are a gamer first, then A.
If you are a painter first, then B.

For me, it is always about the sculpt. Otherwise, I'd be playing with flats, grain-of-rice armies, or hair roller armies. There is nothing wrong with that, but it isn't my corner of the hobby.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine25 Jan 2020 5:04 a.m. PST

Lucius does make a good point the hobby is a broad church.

If all I want is big armies on the table, to play games, then cheaper sculpts ( and smaller scales) with basic paint jobs are going to float my boat.

On the other hand if I prefer small skirmish/RPG style games or just modelling dioramas. More expensive sculpts (in larger scales) with more detailed paint jobs are going to, most likely, be right up my street.

Of course there are the odd ones who can afford the best sculpts, paint them to a very high standard and in huge numbers….lucky gits

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP25 Jan 2020 8:19 a.m. PST

Display only gets me so far, Russ. A few cons back I stopped in at an absolutely 6mm beautiful table of a battle I was reasonably familiar with. All the features were there and accurately represented, and nothing wrong with the troops--except that, even though I had painted troops for both sides in that battle and more than once, darned if I could tell the sides apart. Uniform colors were similar, standards were--possibly historically--absent or cased, and a few similar things. It reinforced my existing conviction that every effort must be made to make nationality and troop type obvious when you look at the table.

But, as Lucius and Rupert say, it's a broad church. My 2mm and 6mm forces and terrain involve choices quite different from the ones I made for my 28mm.

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP25 Jan 2020 8:29 a.m. PST


Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Jan 2020 9:29 a.m. PST

This was not intended to promote or degrade Old Glory or any other company -- this is why many manufacturers do not post here I believe is because they fear that will be the assumption.
I wanted a discussion as to the overall importance mounting, terrain, display of the figures -- perhaps I worded it wrong?
Some of my personal favorite companies is Foundry --and of course Perry just to mention a few -- yet I have witnessed them on the table at conventions and they looked like blobs?
There are a few companies where the figures are praised and I for the life of me do not see the lure -- but I have seen them on the table and they looked amazing -- OGs FFL as mentioned above -- people love those figures. I at one time was going to have them all re-sculpted and so many people kept buying them I thought "oh well?"

I also participated in a kickstarter where the figures were displayed beautifully painted -- I usually will not pay a large sum for figures, but they looked nice in the add -- they arrived and I happily tore the package open (yes, even though I own a miniiature company I still do that) and the product was mediocre at best. I had been sold on the paint job, not the figures.

Personal logo Doctor X Supporting Member of TMP25 Jan 2020 9:58 a.m. PST


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP25 Jan 2020 11:21 a.m. PST

Ah. Might be a wording thing, then. Yeah, better a good consistent display of second- or even third-tier castings than first-rate castings poorly based and without terrain to match. And the best sculpt and paint job for a single figure in a skirmish game is not necessarily sculpted and painted as you'd want for a mass battle, even without allowing for scale.

May I say a word for consistency? Two armies of Spenser Smiths on a plain green board with cardboard buildings and pine cone trees can still be a nice-looking board. But grass the bases and not the board, or put a few K&M trees among the pine cones, and it shatters the illusion. It doesn't matter if your terrain comes from half a dozen sources if it blends. But if you look at a village or a forest and see sources rather than houses and trees because they stand apart from each other, it's time to settle on something. That's what flea markets are for.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Jan 2020 2:40 p.m. PST

I recall a fellow who purchased and painted to a high level the attackers and defenders for the Alamo -- however he did not want to go the last step and purchase or build the fort ??
For several years he put the game on with a tan blanket, a few cactus, and masking tape marking the perimeter of the fortress? The figures did not matter --- the game IMHO looked dreadful?
Same thing, I have purchased figures based on a photo of a master paint job only to receive rather mediocre figs ?
Also, Old Glory figures are not really designed to be "a figure" -- they are designed to make "a unit" -- So some who pick an individual figure out of a pack and complain of the pose need to realize that this same figure in "a unit" will look great.
Some years back I bought some ACW from a very popular company that is also known for the amount of variants --painted and mounted them -- however because the only difference was the head and a slight change in the legs they all looked identical in the unit. Good sculpts --not a good "UNIT!"

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP25 Jan 2020 2:50 p.m. PST

The original question assumes the purchase of painted figures to be used as painted. I don't do that -- I either buy unpainted or I strip off the paint and repaint them -- so the question is not directed at me.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Jan 2020 3:18 p.m. PST

The original question "assumes" nothing.

Grelber25 Jan 2020 4:36 p.m. PST

I've had a few figures over the years that were such awful sculpts that I just couldn't bring myself to paint them. I guess I'll never know if they could have become " Low cost sculpt with great paint job."
Back in "The Olden Days," I heard about some figures winning a painting competition at a convention. It was a period I really wanted to do, so I inquired, and was told I really, really didn't want them. A couple years later, I tracked them down, ordered samples, and found that I really, really didn't like them. They never got painted, and ended up being sold at the local auction labeled "Deformed humanoids."


coopman25 Jan 2020 5:49 p.m. PST

A, if I have to choose between those two options.

USAFpilot26 Jan 2020 11:15 a.m. PST

C. Great sculpt with a great paint job.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Jan 2020 1:39 p.m. PST

The point is, a person can spend $10 USD for a miniature and paint it like shite so what's the difference ?
Where as I have looked at collections with older and now inferior figs such as the old custom cast conferderals that are painted and displayed to a very good effect.

UshCha27 Jan 2020 6:22 a.m. PST

Low cost, The paint job is immaterial at 4ft and will not look good close up as it will have too higher contrast, so go cheap.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Jan 2020 2:57 p.m. PST

If I am buying, it is a cheap figure.
If I am painting, it is my crappy paint job.

surdu200528 Jan 2020 4:26 a.m. PST

I walk around convention tables and to be honest I don't even look at the figures. I look at the overall display.

I agree. The thing that makes you stop and notice a table is the overall presentation and the terrain. At three feet away, you don't see much of the detail of either the sculpting or the painting. Of course, we all like well sculpted and well painted figures, but look at OLD cartoons from Disney, Warner Brothers, and MGM. The backgrounds are works of art, but the characters are simply drawn, inked, and painted.

Then after you stop to look at the table, you will lean in closer to admire the figures and the paint job.

Sgt Slag28 Jan 2020 10:39 a.m. PST


I paint to a GEtGW standard: Good Enough to Game With at 3-4 feet. I really don't care about highly detailed paint work, as I will rarely see it.

Gamed with a friend, using his 15mm fantasy figures. I could not tell what some figures were, on the tabletop. I picked up a stand, and discovered they were green Orcs -- with highly detailed, painted eyes, better than I've seen on 28mm figures!

To me, it was a waste. Like I said, sitting on the tabletop, I could not even tell what race they were -- never mind that they had highly detailed eyes painted on them! Nice paint work, but largely a waste, IMO. I have 20/20 vision with my eyeglasses, and 20/15 vision with my contacts. It isn't my poor eyesight that is the problem.

I do simple block painting, in an assembly-line fashion, followed by The Dip. At arm's length, and on the tabletop, my figures look just as good as the figures painted professionally, by a guy who paints for manufacturers, who feature his work on their web sites… At tabletop distances, his work is not discernible. He spends 10+ hours painting each figure, I spend 10 minutes. We both win, but my approach is faster, and easier. LOL! Cheers!

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP28 Jan 2020 1:38 p.m. PST

Don't forget basing! A great base can bring the best out in averagey paint jobs.

Also, I think figures for gaming should be judged at wargames distance, and not scrutinised like diamonds!

Just my thoughts though…

Lucius29 Jan 2020 9:12 p.m. PST

I've got to add one more comment. I'm old enough now that I only buy non-upgradable figures. I paint them all to a 8-10 level. I routinely field 600 minis as matched armies. I spend as much time on my bases as I do I my troops.

I can do this because I made that conscious decision to only buy the best lead available over 25 years ago. It takes time, but watching a great collection slowly accumulate is one of the finer points of the hobby that age lets me appreciate.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Jan 2020 1:58 p.m. PST

I understand your point Lucius that you "buy the best lead available" -- but that is very subjective --one of my points was that opinions vary on that and others may not have the same oponion -- also --some of it may have to do with what you have been told enough times? I know one company that it seems to me to just have a handful of very dedicated "fan boys"-- I strongly suspect even compensated fan boys due to their commitment??
I have seen many many Old Glory collections look every bit as good as Perry's or Foundry-- just look at Olicianas collection above !!
I just purchased a collection of painted armies of Elite and old Connoisseur that is one of the nicest collections I have ever looked at.

Russ Dunaway

Russ Lockwood30 Jan 2020 4:20 p.m. PST

Hmmm….maybe we should rate the combat effectiveness of a unit based on its paint job!

Alas, with my painting skills, most everything I have would be ranked 'levy/militia'!

At least it might be one step up from 'rabble' (spray painting).

UshCha31 Jan 2020 3:00 a.m. PST

Basing is another issue. I dislike anything that is more than minimalist. To me nothing worse tha an infantry element walking down the road on a over detialed piece of landscape, it just looks AWFUL. I did experiment with very thin clear plasic for some standing 3D printed 12mm figs. It was the best by a long marging equaly good over a wide range of terrain base coloures, but in the end 12mm prone figures (virtually horizontal flats) on an integral base won out. They look nearly as bad as troops standing on a landscaped base but at least I have not wasted so much time and being 3D printed on an integral 0.6mm thick base they are quick to colour and don't look like they are standing on a podium.

Perhaps we need a wargames figure range and a moddlers figure range. Figures shold be judged at 4 ft plus as wargames figures.

To be honest if I was clever, for 12mm infantrty I would use Lazer cut flats, perfectly acceptable, but it would be hard on my laser cutter to cut credible sized gun barrels.

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