Greetings one and all.
Today we have a guest writer in the form of a close friend of Grey paints Chloe Parpworth-Reynolds, so without further ado I'll hand you over to her.
Tabletop gaming is having a huge renaissance right now. With D&D becoming a trendy part of geek culture, drawing many new faces, many tabletop addicts are branching out and discovering the exciting world of Warhammer for the first time. There’s no denying, however, that unlike D&D and other tabletop games where with a manual and some imagination you can get started, Warhammer is an expensive hobby. So why do so many fans of the game spend more money to have figures professionally painted by a commission painter?
In this article, we’ll be exploring the pros and cons of hiring a painter to help you decide the best options for you and your army.
What is a Commission Painter? A commission painter is exactly what you think it is! It is a person who is skilled at assembling and painting models, that charges a fee to paint figures for your army to a professional standard. Commission painters come in many forms and specialisms. Some painters will solely stick to painting models of a specific game such as Warhammer, while others specialize further into a single army or game subsector (such as 40k vs. Age of Sigmar). Some may solely create decorative dioramas for gifts or displays, but more commonly the models painted will be for in-game use.
The Pros of Hiring a Commission Painter
Let’s start with the pros of hiring a commission painter. There may be many individual reasons why someone might commission a painter, but in this article, we’ll be covering the most common benefits.
1. Not all Players are Artists I like to think of Warhammer gamers as three different factions; there are those that love to play the game, those that love to create the models, and those that like a bit of both. Many commission painters fall into category 2 or 3, but the people who hire them tend to fall into category 1. Put simply, you don’t need painting skills to love the game, but you do if you want your models to strike fear into the hearts of your opponents! This can be a problem if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body; after all, we’ve all seen the models that literally look like they’ve been dunked in paint like Han Solo trapped in carbonite. Therefore commission painters rescue you and your models from this fate and create a beautifully painted army you can’t wait to play with.
2. Not Everyone Has the Time While we can all agree that Games Workshop loves to drag their heels when it comes to reworking certain models (Sisters of Battle anyone?), there are still a lot of new models released each and every year. If you run more than one army you may find you have the money to buy all of the models you’re craving, just not the time to paint them! Commission painters can help you to keep up to date with the newest releases for your favorite armies, allowing you to use them to vanquish your enemies far sooner than your opponent whose still frantically painting their new unit. On a similar vein, some people simply have to decide whether they want to spend time painting or spend time playing as their life circumstances don’t allow them to do both. If you love nothing more than hitting the table in your free time then hiring a commission painter may be the best option for you.
3. Cost-Effective Now, bare with me on this point, as you may be scratching your head trying to think why paying money for a commission actually saves you money. Well, the supplies needed to paint models are expensive, and getting started can take quite a lot of investment. Most models need between 3-8 different bottles of paint/paint effects. With basic paint costing £2.75 a pop and effect paint costing £4.75, the cost starts to add up. Alongside this you’ll also need clippers to de-sprue your models, a mold-line remover, plastic glue for assembly, paint brushes, and basing materials. As well as this you’ll of course need to buy the models, and if you’re ordering online you’ll be paying postage too.
So, as you can see the costs of starting your customization collection aren’t to be sniffed at. So, if you’re a casual collector who’s looking to build up an army over time, hiring a commission painter will actually be most cost-effective for your time, money, and effort.
4. You’re Buying a One of a Kind Piece of Art If you’ve seen some of the Golden Demon entries over the years you’ll know that model painting is an art form. When you commissioner a painter what you will receive is a unique piece of art that no one else has. This is because most commission painters paint-to-order. This means you can pick your desired color-scheme, effects, weapon options, and even additional features such as magnetization. While of course the base model is mass-produced, the way in which your model is put together is unique. Each brushstroke defines the figure as yours, and you’ll reap the benefits of the painter's artistic flair.
5. A Cohesive Army Let’s be honest, Warhammer is something many of us fall into gradually. Aside from the Start Collecting! kits, we buy a model or unit here and there to bolster our forces (it’s when we’re hooked that the mass purchases happen!) We’re also constantly updating our armies to suit new rules and releases. This means that over the years armies can end up looking like a mish-mash of different styles and quality. While this may work great for an Ork aesthetic, for many players it can be an irksome detail.
As a novice painter, trying to recreate the exact look of a unit you painted a year or more ago can be a struggle. Commission painters are experts that know their hobby inside out. They know the different paint combinations and layering it takes to recreate colors and can ensure that the army you build looks like one cohesive legion.
The Cons of Hiring a Commission Painter
Of course, there are cons to hiring a commission painter too that you’re probably already aware of. It’s worth noting, however, that with a few considerations, many of these cons can be mitigated entirely.
1. Cost Let’s address the elephant in the room; hiring a commission painter will still cost you money. After all, you can’t expect someone to work for free, and painting models can take hours and even days depending on the nature of the work you’ve requested. You can of course mitigate some of the cost by selecting tabletop standard paintwork over display level paintwork. Just remember, you get what you pay for. You can’t expect to pay the same price for a Golden Demon-level masterpiece as you do for a one-coat Necron unit.
You also need to remember that no model is the same. Some units are made of a handful of pieces, while others require complex assembly and painting. Put simply, yes, the cost of commission painting can be considered a con, but if you’re willing to be flexible with your expectations, it’s actually much more affordable than you’d think.
Commission painters, of course, work on a commission basis. This means that there will be times when they have a completely clear schedule and can set to work right away on your project, and other times where they have a queue meaning you could be waiting days, weeks, or months for your models. A good painter will be upfront and honest with you about their worktimes, however, giving you the chance to look elsewhere if you’re on a tight deadline.
Getting to know a commission painter can be a great way to reduce wait times. Many painters become backed-up with commissions when a new edition has dropped or a new line of models releases. If you’re interested in one of the upcoming releases, or you want a model completed in a certain time scale, you can always talk to your painter and request a slot in advance.
3. You have to Trust Someone Else’s Vision
As mentioned in the pros section of this article having a model commission-painted gives you a much larger range of options regarding color-scheme and customization. There is a slight con to this, however, because you do have to trust in the vision of the artist somewhat. While all good commission painters will regularly check-in and send you photos of updates, there are times when you have to sit back and accept that they know best.
You can help avoid being saddled with a ghastly creation by checking through the artist’s previous work. Do you like the coloring decisions they’ve made? Do they capture the shine of the weapons in a realistic way? Taking time to make these considerations will help ensure you aren’t left disappointed.
Make Sure you Choose the Right Commission Painter!
So, there you have it, while for some the joy of painting outweighs the need for a commission painter, many players find hiring someone else to make their models stand out from the crowd allows them more time to enjoy the thrill of the game. If you’re considering hiring a commissioner painter take the time to do your research. Make sure you like the painter’s style, are happy with their prices and turn around time, and you’re unlikely to be disappointed with the result!
Chloe Parpworth-Reynolds is a writer with a passion for geekery. Her Adeptus Mechanicus is her pride and joy and while she may not be the best at the game she'll never go down without a fight! For enquires please email email@example.com