Painting Vs. Army Building

So in my last post, i talked quickly about the difference between 'Painting' and 'Army Building' - i wanted to expand a little on what i was saying in that post.

For me, the hobby started (oh some 20+ years ago now!!) when i saw a copy of White Dwarf for the first time - I was fascinated by the Goblins they had in the issue (as part of 'Eavy Metal). Over time i learned about the games and started to play some of them (well, truth be told, as many of them as i could lay my grubby mits on!).

However, in all that time, i never properly 'built' an army! I had large number of models (11,000 Pts of Warhammer undead at one stage, sadly lost in a house move), but they never gelled in the way the armies did in the pages of White Dwarf. Basically i was running in to several problems:
  • Because I'm mainly a painter (i only get to play a few times a year, due to work and other commitments, and painting is what always fascinated me about the hobby) I always try to finish models to a display standard. I either get disappointed when i realise that i cant keep that level of detail up for the whole army or i let the standard slip.
  • I always find that i end up either over complicating the paint scheme, or becoming distracted by another colour scheme for the army, leaving it looking like a rag tag group, rather than a co-ordinated whole.
  • I find that i become bored in the middle of units, and so nothing ever gets finished properly (Usually i get to move on to something new fairly quickly when painting single minis, whereas units tend to take me much longer)
Recently tho, I started to realise that building an army is not about each miniature, the skill is in producing a reasonably painted, but unified looking group - the quality in the army comes from just this unification, even though each model is not the best paint job possible. "The whole is greater than the sum of its part", some might say.

So thats what i set out to do with my tau. The first thing i did was to spend some time looking at as many colour schemes as i could on the internet; I took an image of a tau from the GW website, loaded it in to photoshop and tried to airbrush new colours in to the image, to give myself an idea of what it would look like etc.

Once a new colour scheme had been established, i tried to figure out the quickest way of applying it - obviously the simplest paint job would be the quickest, and the simplest paint job is just basic flat colours. By avoiding high lights and shadowing (as well as all the intermediate washes, glazes etc) I instantly found that I had massively reduced the painting time per model, but that the units looked nearly as good as if i had done all the extra work

The other thing that i did when building my tau was to put away my paint set! I have a rather silly paint collection (i hate not having the colour i need when i need it!), and because it sits just by my right hand, its easy to think "I'll just grab a new colour" - by physically removing the paint set and just having the 4 colours i was using, i managed to reduce my "paint lust" to a minimal level.

So now i seem to have found a way to build an army that gives good results! The only thing i have found now is that i get "army fatigue" - basically i get really tired of painting the same thing and start to lose interest in painting. At this point I grab a cool single miniature (or five) and get painting on that, putting in as much detail as i can, experimenting with paint combinations etc.

What is everyone elses experience? And what tricks do you use to keep your army on the straight and narrow?