Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Speed Painting Skaven Clanrats


Having recovered from the exhaustion of painting x50 Clanrats in the space of week (you can see how they turned out here...) I can now use this brief lull between painting units  to provide some insight for other aspiring Skaven warlords who need to paint a large number of troops relatively quickly.

The main goal here is to get a large number of models to the table-top, painted to an acceptable standard, in a relatively short time. The models won't look as good as if you spent hours on each one, or if you spent time detailing each model - but they WILL look good enough to be on a gaming table. (And you can always revisit the unit later anyway.)

This single-minded approach might not work for everyone, but it worked for me by helping me to paint faster than I usually could because I accepted this as my goal. Finally, the hints below come from my first experience of painting 50 models in a week. Some of them I tried, and some of them are things I didn't do, but I would try in the future. I hope they will all be useful!

  1. Assemble (glue parts and file away any flash)
  2. Basing Part 1.
    1. PVA glue and dip in sand.
  3. Undercoat whole model Chaos Black Spray - including bases.
  4. Basing Part 2. 
    1. Overbrush Calthan Brown (or another dark brown)
    2. Drybrush lighter brown (Calthan Brown/ Chaos White mix)
    3. Lightly drybrush Fortress Grey.
    4. Paint base edges in your preferred colour.
  5. x1 basecoat colour in a sitting on all models. I could do 1 colour on 50 in two hours. (Just!)
    1. All metal areas using Boltgun Metal.
    2. All cloth areas using the army colour your choice (Ice Blue for me) in the next 2 hour sitting 
    3. All furs using the basecoat colour of choice. (Vermin Brown?)  in the next 2 hour sitting 
    4. etc.
  6. Repeat step 5 until each model is completely base-coated.
  7. Wash each model in Devlan Mud.
  8. Admire how much you have managed to get done, then immediately start looking for mistakes and things to improve!  ;-)
10 TIPS:
  1. Make a commitment...
    • ...somewhere, somehow that will force you to keep going. On an earlier project (Doomwheel) I promised I would put the results of my painting up after a specific weekend. This helped me to keep going, even if I didn't quite make my deadline.
  2. Set yourself a time limit... 
    • Write it down somewhere visible in way that makes sense. (A calendar counting down the days in front of you?)
  3. Promise yourself a reward for completion of the unit. 
    • A bottle of Bugman's? Or a new unit to paint next?
  4. Be iron-willed about the time you will allocate each day (or night in my case...)
    • I said 2 hours max each night, so 2 hours it was.
  5. Arrange your workspace in a way that is logical and removes thought from the process. For example...
    • Arrange all models in a block on your left on a piece of card or movement tray. 
    • Take the one closest to you.
    • Paint.
    • Set down on another piece of card/ movement tray to your right.
    • Once all done with one basecoat, pick up the tray to your right and move it back to the left and begin again (if you can take another round!)
    • Make your workspace portable so it is easy to put away and get out without taking a lot of time to prep or tidy up. (Not relevant if you paint in your own room, but in my case I'm working in the kitchen...)
  6. Don't allow yourself to be distracted into working on details. No, no, no! If you do, before you know it you'll have wasted an hour doing the armour buckles on a few models. Remember, the goal here is to get as many models as possible onto the table. You could have painted a basecoat colour on x25-30 models in that time!
  7. Take shortcuts and compromise to get the units to the battle on time.
    • Not every Clanrat has to have the same fur colour. To save time, have 20-30% of your Clanrats with "black fur" (i.e. black undercoat only.) This adds variety to your unit and saves you some painting time. You can always drybrush a touch of grey later to add some flavor
    • Don't bother with "Effects" - no rust, verdigris, sharp edge effects on weapons etc. (You can always do that later.)
    • Don't waste time trying to get into the really difficult to reach bits under arms, in crevices etc. Someone looking at the model from above wouldn't see that anyway. Natural shadow and a black undercoat will fill the spaces anyway!
    • Only drybrush the wood grain on shields.
  8. That includes bases...
    • Good bases make an average unit look better... 
    • Great bases make a good unit look awesome... 
    • but Basic bases get you into battle quicker. (Basecoat, overbrush, drybrush only. No flock, flowers or fluffy details are necessary.)
  9. Good music makes the time go by...
  10. Use confident, long brush strokes where you can... 
    • Confidence is the key - if you make a mistake don't worry, Devlan Mud wash will cover most small errors and they won't be visible in a unit of 50 rats viewed from a couple of feet away. Don't be tempted to fix it.
    • Good areas to use this technique on Skaven are tails, spears and robes. 

a.) ...there will of course be faster ways than described above (using spray guns or only having 1 or 2 colours in the unit for example). I'm not claiming that this the fastest way (or the only way.)
b.) ...the beady-eyed among you (which is most, if you truly are Skaven Warlords!) will notice that the clanrat units in these images are different. That's because I didn't take any pictures of these specific Clanrats before I painted them. Nothing shifty going on - I promise. (On my honour as a Skaven Warlord. Cough, cough.)


  1. This is really great, thanks!

    If only I had 2 hours a night to put into these guys... haha. I'll find time.

  2. Glad that this is of some use! :-) I think 2 hours is actually too much. You need a break after an hour anyway to stretch and give your eyes a rest. Even 1 hour would be good enough if you wanted to do 30-40 as a target.
    Good luck!


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