Recently Malorian made a new years resolution to Play Painted. I personally have been playing painted for years now, but his decision to commit to playing painted inspired me to write this article about the subject.

Channel that anger! Right into your painting.

Warmachine is a game that is strong enough in it’s design and compelling enough in its interactions that it draws in players from competitive meta’s that don’t necessarily have a basis in the painting and hobby aspect of the game. Likewise some people who play the game find themselves with little time to paint with the general pressures of life, and it can be difficult for them to find the motivation to paint their models.

I certainly don’t have any magic solutions to find people the time or motivation to paint their models, but I’m going to try! The benefits and sense of personal accomplishment are well worth the effort!

WHAT DOES “Playing Painted Mean?”

“Playing Painted” is as simple as it sounds, you exclusively play with models that are painted. It sounds easy, but it’s not, it’s very hard. Painting takes time and more importantly it takes motivation, you need to WANT to have painted models.  It’s especially hard when the vast majority of your models are unpainted and it seems like an insurmountable task to get to the point where you could realistically commit to playing painted.

So why play painted at all?


Doesn’t this inspire you to play painted?

Pride, prestige, projects and substitution. These are the reasons to slap some paint on your war dollies!

First you can take pride in your painted models when you lay them out on the table, pride that you completed something… unlike your degree.  Achieving a personal goal can be a minor substitution for all the epic failures that have been your sorry excuse for a life!

Secondly, people will comment about your fully painted army and the fact you never play with bare metal. Prestige and honour will follow you within your community, unlike the scorn and disappointment that radiates from your father.

Thirdly, what better way to distract you from the gaping emptiness of life than a painting project! That’s right, forcing yourself to paint your shit will give you something to focus on besides your crushing depression!

Lastly, we’re not all cut out to be warmachine super stars so why not focus on something that is actually achievable! Paint your models so that when some autistic, socially maladjusted bastard packs your shit in with barely assembled scraps of proxy garbage you can at least say you looked pretty during the ego raping!

Doesn’t that motivate you already to get out the brush? What, you say you don’t know how to paint?


Ok, first off, this whole article is pointless if you think you don’t know how to paint. Fact is, anyone can paint, even this dude, who’s a paraplegic, who paints with his mouth. So it’s a pretty weak ass excuse to say you don’t know how.

Jeffery LaDow, look him up, paints real good!

You don’t have to be Rembrandt when a Piccaso will do. There’s lots of online help (see below) and if you are socially oriented you can find someone in your local meta who would be more than happy to share their painting expertise with you. Not knowing ‘how’ is not an excuse, not wanting to might be, but hopefully this article will convince you of the benefits and thrill of playing painted and I’ll get you off your ass and wielding a brush!

So, you say you ‘can’ paint,  but you suck?


I find that goals are always easier to achieve once you lower your standards! I jest, but in all seriousness I used to be a gruellingly slow painter. I would do 7 tones on bone using 3 different colours. After describing this process to Scott he said he couldn’t tell the difference between my finished bone and my base bone with highlight and dammit he was right! Yes, if you get right in there you can appreciate the  subtle transitions but on the table top the quality was identical. I immediately stripped down my process to base+wash+mid tone+highlight, or basically 3 tones and cut my painting time in half and the end result is practically as good.

Lowering your standards is pretty flexible, besides reducing the overall paint quality  you can cut your standards in a few more ways:

  1. Start with only playing with base coated models, that is, the simple starting colour.  You can always go back and wash/highlight your models after you have reached a base coat goal. Baby steps with frequent rewards is what it’s all about.
  2. Leave basing out of the equation until the models are painted.
  3. Rely heavily on washes and inking and don’t sweat the highlighting, you can always go back and hit that stuff later.
  4. Don’t worry about the paint job not being top notch, anything, and I do mean anything, is better than bare metal.  Keep the paint thin and you can always go back and spruce it up or repaint.
  5. Everyone needs to starts somewhere and you will never learn or improve your painting technique unless you actually do some painting. Like I said, you will get tons more respect if you put in some effort than if you didn’t put in any.

“But it’s too much stuff!”, I hear you complain.


The key to committing to Playing Painted is breaking the task down into easier to digest chunks so it doesn’t get overwhelming. You don’t want to throw yourself into the hopeless task of painting two 75 point lists for the tournament you have this weekend, keep it realistic. Breaking down the task of painting your army can be as easy as doing it model by model but I feel there is more to be gained and more satisfaction to be derived if you commit to a certain category of model and promise to always play that category painted.  Once you do that you can move onto another category and so on, until the whole army is painted. This way you get more satisfaction out of achieving regular goals.

A word of warning; units are always the hardest and most time consuming of any category of model, take care when approaching them as a goal.

Here are a number of ways you can try to scale back your painting goals to the point you can ease into Playing Painted:

  1. Start with your caster: Basically commit to never playing an unpainted caster, it’s a small step into getting something painted.
  2. Start with 0 point lists: Play smaller games and commit to playing those painted
  3. Start with your battle group, or move onto that if you have competed the previous goal.
  4. Commit to never playing with unpainted solos or attachments

Overall the importance of breaking down you goals into easy to handle chunks is so that

So, you’ve now accepted that you can paint models, even if you aren’t a painting master and that you can pick the models off in little chunks, but, it’s so hard to get off you ass and do it, isn’t it?


Motivation is hard to come by, especially when it’s way easier just to sit down and binge watch Jessica Jones or something. Motivation can be manufactured in a number of ways:

  1. Reward yourself- paint a model then watch an episode of Game of Thrones, then promise you won’t watch another one until you get another model painted and so on. Likewise, promise yourself not to buy new models until you’ve painted one, or paint a model and reward yourself with a beer, whatever it is you like to do.
  2. Set a regular time to paint. It doesn’t have to be hours if you can’t find that but try and set yourself a time every day or every Wednesday if it’s that hard to sit down and do 20 mins, an hour or whatever.
  3. Multitask: Paint while you watch TV, or listen to Podcasts, or while your significant other is watching their favourite thing that you couldn’t care about. I paint on a TV tray and just sit around painting while talking to my wife or she watches home and garden television.
  4. Set a deadline: This doesn’t have to be a super aggressive dead line but maybe aim to paint a model or half a unit a week. If you have a regular time and a regular quota it will do wonders for your output.
  5. Do it with friends: Nothing motivates like having others trying to reach the same goals! Set a community quota of a model a week or if you can get together and drink some beer while cranking out some models! Encourage each others and be an example to others, together you can have nice looking battles in no time.
  6. Don’t compare your painting to others, this isn’t about winning painting prizes, it’s about being fully painted (see lowering your standards).


Okay, you’ve gotten off your lazy ass and painted your models, even if that’s a base coat, and you’ve dedicated yourself to playing painted, now what?

Now watch the magic of motivational example take over your friends and community!

Besides the obvious benefit of having nice models to play your games with and people stopping by the table to comment on you being fully painted, Playing Painted has some very real and positive affects on your community, because Playing Painted is infectious.

Once others see you painting up your stuff and dedicating yourself to Playing painted they will see how cool it is and want to do the same. Then you will have others to share and help motivate you!

That’s not just motivational nonsense either, it happened in my meta and I think I was the spark that got it going!

Once I made the commitment to play painted my immediate friends also pushed themselves to do the same and when several of us show up at the store fully painted, it motivated people there until almost everyone was playing fully painted. That may not sound like much, but it builds a community that is more deeply committed and connected when people have more shared aspects of the game than just competitive tech. It also gives you an additional element to converse about and compliment each other on when you get together. In this way there is a broader commitment to the hobby and more social glue to keep the community together.

Of course the inverse is true, if you play in a meta where everyone plays with bare metal and proxies out the ying yang, there is little motivation to paint your stuff. Why bother when everyone else is just pushing unidentifiable junk around on the table? Likewise, a community that has very little or no social connectivity outside of the tech and competitive aspects of the game is less likely to stick together or to attract new players.

That’s right, communities that play painted are way more likely to grow and stay together than those that don’t. In this respect a little bit of friendly ribbing and well intentioned shaming can go a long way. I’m not saying you should mock those who play with bare metal but feel free to snicker and point, they deserve it.


If this article hasn’t convinced you to try and play painted, fine, you suck and people will look down on you for the remainder of your miserable life, BUT know there is an alternative to painting your models yourself: HIRE SOMEONE TO DO IT FOR YOU!

So if you’re a lazy bastard with more money than motivation, or you lack the minimal manual dexterity required to slap paint on little metal toys, maybe you can find some poor slob to paint your shit for you. These poor souls do exist and they will endure sweat shop conditions to paint your man dollies for a tiny compensation.

Here’s one such slob, feel free to throw money at him:


Committing to playing painted is actually quite thrilling and invigorating for yourself and your community, it not only gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment but it helps you connect with others in your community. It’s worth the effort on every level and it just takes one or two people to make that commitment to fire up others, so get off your ass and pick up that paint brush!

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