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Hi gang.

I always have trouble with finishing minis if they take too long.  Groups of minis are a frequent struggle for me.  What kind of advice do you have to avoid burnout?

I try to mix things up to stave off the exhaustion and tedium.  I typically switch off between working on groups of minis, to just doing one at a time.  Small minis to big minis.  Detailed minis to simple minis.  I'll even avoid things that are the same color back-to-back.  Anything to help avoid getting sick of painting.

But I have a harder time just getting through a group of minis.  I'll try breaking them into sub groups, or just focusing on painting everything of the same color like all of the wood, or all the leather.

Maybe I'm just tired in general, but I'm definitely feeling worn down on my current set, which is a shame because I am excited to see them finished.

What advice do you have?

 

How do you avoid burnout?

 

How do you get yourself to just keep painting?

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I have found that sometimes when I struggle to finish painting things, it's because I haven't finished painting anything in a while. My brain sort of gets stuck in the frame of mind of everything being WIPs. <_< Picking one miniature to finish (even if it's just a small, basic one), sort of kickstarts the 'let's get things done' part. Then suddenly I have more energy to work on everything else. ::P: But I admittedly haven't done much army painting.

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I think you're doing ok mixing it up or focusing on one color like you said.  Times have been stressful and motivation is lacking everywhere. It's ok to acknowledge that you're struggling with it. Don't stress out if you're not getting as much done as you "think you should".  Do what you can, when you can. The hobby should make you happy.  If you can't relax and enjoy it, don't force yourself.  Find something that you do enjoy, let your brain and energy rejuvenate. You may find new motivations. 

 

When I'm struggling with projects sometimes I sit and look at stuff and try to gather my thoughts.  I don't reach for a brush, but I'll look at figures and try to come up with a reason I put it down.  What wasn't working?  What if I did something different?  I'll also tidy up.  Fresh newspaper under the work area, clean water, put away colors I'm no longer using, etc.  No stress, no goals, just relaxing in the hobby/craft environment.  Then the burning desire to fix that paint job comes on its own. 

 

Remember, it's not a competition or a job. It's ok to not paint for a long spell and not feel pressured or guilty. 

 

 

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I've been lacking a lot of painting motivation the last few years (I would blame having children, but my lack of motivation preceded them), so my tendency has been to paint for an event - you can find my diary on painting a WarGods Amazon warband on the forums from about this time last year - it typically forces me to get the work done by a given date.

Otherwise I find those occasions when I'm in the process of painting an army (I normally try and batch paint colours or at least units) and lose motivation that is usually a good point to paint a character model, or any other model that inspires me - even if it is completely unrelated to the painting I'm currently doing.

 

This year I'm also taking part in a year-long painting/hobby project on another forum, there are potential prizes on offer but I'm using my entry as motivation to get a project that I started many year ago finished off. The communal aspect of needing to provide regular updates on the project will hopefully give me the motiviation I need!

 

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I'm kinda going through the same thing. I started off the year thinking that I was getting back into the groove....then it petered out. So I'm right now just letting things take their course until the inspiration kicks in again. So I've been flipping through the old undead and vampire counts army books, playing some skyrim and ps4 mordheim, wandering across the internet reading various hobby blogs, soaking up the vibe until it returns.

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When I paint units/armies, I always have something else on the side.

Something different.

 

For example, painting a horde of skeletons and also having a Bust of a Pirate girl on my desk.

Different projects can sometimes help.

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I try to keep a small side project going at the same time as my main painting group. It can be working on some scenery, building a kit of some sort, just something to work some other hobby muscles.

 

I am working on Oathmark just now, so I'm painting a unit of something, then something more general, then a unit etc. I always keep the number of figures to 10 or less, something that will fit into an hour.

 

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Thank you all.  Sometimes its nice just to know you're not alone, even when you know you're not alone.  I guess I do feel some sense of pressure to meet or exceed my mini count from last year.  And I have an amazing ability to turn hobbies into chores.

I really like your suggestions to have a side project.  Like I said, I will often switch between a large project and an easy project, but I normally don't do them concurrently.  It might help to have something else to swap out to when I'm feeling the burnout.

I'm also primarily a D&Der, so the closest I get to armies are just hordes of similar minis.  Been dabbling in some Skirmish games as well, but hordes always exhaust me more than just a character.

Right now I'm working on a unit of frogmen from Hordes, and the thing that's driving me the most crazy is that nearly all of them have an identical quiver that's got too much detail packed into it.  And I currently hate the quiver.  Hopefully once I get past that it'll be easier.  But might try throwing some colors on a few new models to have some options to swap in and out.

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2 hours ago, MoonglowMinis said:

Thank you all.  Sometimes its nice just to know you're not alone, even when you know you're not alone.  I guess I do feel some sense of pressure to meet or exceed my mini count from last year.  And I have an amazing ability to turn hobbies into chores.

I really like your suggestions to have a side project.  Like I said, I will often switch between a large project and an easy project, but I normally don't do them concurrently.  It might help to have something else to swap out to when I'm feeling the burnout.

I'm also primarily a D&Der, so the closest I get to armies are just hordes of similar minis.  Been dabbling in some Skirmish games as well, but hordes always exhaust me more than just a character.

Right now I'm working on a unit of frogmen from Hordes, and the thing that's driving me the most crazy is that nearly all of them have an identical quiver that's got too much detail packed into it.  And I currently hate the quiver.  Hopefully once I get past that it'll be easier.  But might try throwing some colors on a few new models to have some options to swap in and out.

 

In this particular case because you've hit a model that has a particular aspect that you 'hate', this is where I would leave the unit and paint something else for a bit - or perhaps doing one or two in between other things.

 

The other thing I do when I hit a repeated detail that is a PITA is to work out if there is an easy way to get it looking reasonable rather than focusing on getting it perfect - so in the case of over-detailed quivers I'd do them brown with a brown-black wash and quick highlight so they look OK for the time being, and if inspired at a later point go back and finish them off

 

 

I think the easiest way to deal with feeling like you NEED to finish more models this year than last year is to just not count - pack away models that are finished so you don't have that temptation. Alternatively, pick a smaller project to work on for the year (so, for example, pick 12 models that inspire you for whatever reason and aim to finish one a month) so you can have the feeling of achieving a goal without it being too much.

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I took a class more than a few years ago called the Psychology of Motivation. Was about what drives you to do the behaviors you do or some such. I really don't remember much of it, but I do remember that we talked about reward being a driving force for motivation. It doesn't have to be an external, physical reward though it can be; sometimes it's just the satisfaction of having done it (intrinsic motivation or some psych term). Even the expectation of reward can be enough to motivate you, without ever experiencing it. Crazy brain stuff, for sure.

 

You definitely seem to be someone who falls into the intrinsic area; you paint because you enjoy doing it, and like to see the results. From my own experience (because I'm horrible at completing army projects) when that kind of motivation encounters something that halts or slows it (like repeatedly painting difficult areas on models), and makes you have to slough through it, it can really kill the drive.

 

I would therefore suggest introducing an external reward for times like these. Something physical and tangible that you can enjoy when you finish even one difficult model. Make it something you enjoy, but not something that you'll withhold as punishment for not finishing the model (that was probably a different psych class, Psychology of Punishment). There's always candy, or a new bottle of paint or a new mini. But I think the WIPs threads are great examples of an external reward that is out of the box. "Well, if I can just get through this one bit on a model, not the whole unit, I can still share a picture with everyone." We do love seeing people's progress on their projects...

 

Just an idea from someone who remembers less than 1% of a class that really might have been beneficial in life. I totally agree with all the other suggestions too; they are far more successful at completing projects than I am. Side projects are a good way to keep it fresh. Just limit the amount of side projects you introduce, lest you wind up with a larger shelf of shame.

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23 minutes ago, ManvsMini said:

I would therefore suggest introducing an external reward for times like these. Something physical and tangible that you can enjoy when you finish even one difficult model. Make it something you enjoy, but not something that you'll withhold as punishment for not finishing the model (that was probably a different psych class, Psychology of Punishment). There's always candy, or a new bottle of paint or a new mini. But I think the WIPs threads are great examples of an external reward that is out of the box. "Well, if I can just get through this one bit on a model, not the whole unit, I can still share a picture with everyone." We do love seeing people's progress on their projects...

I have been trying to do this more often.  There's definitely part of me that craves the reward of showing something off and receiving positive reinforcement.  I previously withheld sharing any photos until things were done.  Even joining the forums here was to find the kinship and share the hobby with others who shared the passion.

This thread and everyone's responses have been very helpful.  This year has been exhausting enough and it's hard to see something that brings me joy exhausting me as well.  Appreciate all the insights and suggestions.

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Following a recommendation from a hobby magazine years ago (perhaps I’ll remember later where/when), I have sometimes grouped things in an orderly painting plan so that units are followed by heroes/vignettes; that is, the reward for doing the tedious painting is the fun painting.  

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After soaking my head in hot water for a while to loosen up my thoughts, I believe that the author of the article was Phil Olley, and that it was published in an early issue of Battlegames magazine. 
 

Here’s a discussion of a similar Olley bit of advice:

 

http://grandduchyofstollen.blogspot.com/p/painting-large-units.html?m=1

 

(Later)

 

OK, found it, “A Project Too Far” Parts 1 and 2, Phil Olley, Battlegames magazine issues number 2 and 3, May/June and Juily/August 2006.  Available on Wargames Vault, one of the DriveThru RPG branches.

Edited by Rob Dean
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I found I had a lot more trouble with this when I thought about it in terms of work and motivation.  There were a lot of days back then when I wasn't "feeling it" or I'd start feeling guilty because I wasn't painting.  

 

Now I don't have that issue, but it wasn't really a secret formula or anything.  But in case it should be of some help to you, here's how I solved the issue permanently for myself:

 

1.  Enjoy the process.  And I mean this on the most primal, lizard-brain level you can manage.  Just enjoy the basic satisfaction of smearing paint on things.  If you can remember this joy, one we all knew once, no task will ever defeat you again no matter how godlessly boring it might be.  

 

2.  Why are you doing this?   This is a serious question.  I bought all this crap and all these figures for some reason, so what was it?  Was it for fun?  If so, then it's easy.  Paint something fun.  But that's also a dirty trick, because even the fun ones have unfun parts to them.  So you can't count on or wait for motivation.  So why else did I bother with it?  It can only be because I wanted to get something done.  Very good, that makes it an easy decision to just do it so I do.  Right now I have about 35-40, depending on how you count, British Infantry to paint.  I'm doing this because I want to play with them.  There will never come a day when, fired up by the rays of sunrise and a cup of strong coffee that I'm going to exult: "YESSSS!  Today I get to paint 40 pairs of brown trousers!"  But, those trousers gotta be done.  So I will sit down and do them, if it's important for me to get them done.  There's no other way to escape that fate, no matter how wretched said fate might be.  So I reset my brain to #1 above, and paint brown trousers until there are no more brown trousers to paint.  Then I start doing boots.  

 

3.  It's work, it's fun, but most of all it's a hierarchy of wants.  If I want to do something, I will therefore do it.  If I don't want to do it, then there must exist a more compelling reason (want) in order for me to do it - in the case of the British Infantry, I want to play with them.  If I want to do that more than I want to paint them, I will still paint them.  But if I don't want to paint them and my want to play with them is not strong enough, I go and play Minecraft instead.  My want to trade carrots to villagers for emeralds is greater.  If it is, I never feel guilty about it.  I have decided that the price of delayed deployment on the grass mat is a fair one to pay for some vidya games.  If there's any question or doubt of that, then it means I probably want to get them done more and so I should sit down and do that instead.  (this is a basic law of happiness, if I'm going to feel bad and guilty for playing minecraft then I'd clearly be happier slogging through trousers instead).  Don't make yourself feel bad for no reason!

 

4.  It's more satisfying than exciting.  Our hobby is sitting down, often alone, for long periods of time doing repetitive tasks.  This matches no definition of exciting.  It is, by nature, dead boring.  But it's also something we find compelling or we wouldn't be here.  That's because the reward at the end is satisfaction in getting things done and slowly watching a shelf of completed items grow.  If you remember this, then it follows that if you make the time to sit down, turn your brain to #1, and do it then things will finish of their own accord eventually and your satisfaction will increase.  If you're having trouble finishing it's because your reward expectation is off - you're expecting the immediate task to give satisfaction.  If you get stuck there then you don't finish, and so you cheat yourself out of the satisfaction payoff in the end.  This deadly trap ensnares many, it's why there are shelves of shame.  But remember that IT IS A TRAP!  You will get mostly there, lose moitivation, and look for an exciting new thing.  Often you might do the same when the charm of that piece wears thin.  Enough repetitions of it and you'll be left wholly unsatisfied.  Don't fall into the trap.  It's not about motivation, it's about completion.  Keep going, keep going, keep going.  Do that often enough and you'll retrain your expectations of satisfaction and it will never even occur to you to abandon something.  

 

So:  Figure out the simplest enjoyment you can get from it and remember that's your core motivation.  Remember why you bothered doing it to start with.  Be comfortable and aware of your hierarchy of wants and how they conflict.  When in doubt, sit down and do it anyway because it does have a guaranteed payoff in the end.  If you do all of this then I can pretty much give you my 100% pure guarantee that you will never feel burnout or dead motivation again, and your shelf of finished items will bloom.  

 

Edit to add:  I should also note that there is never going to be a circumstance where painting a platoon (or more) of infantry (or orcs) will be anything except exhausting.  It's baked-in as an essential nutrient.  Doing my first platoon of German Grenadiers had my brain goo leaking out of my ears.  But now there's a whole big whack of them on my shelf and that, I gotta say, feels pretty damn nice.  And somehow I found myself buying another box of them, so I can do it all over again.  It's still probably going to cost me some leaky brain goo to get through another batch, but it did pay off enough for me to re-up for another tour.  I consider that proof of my above method.  

Edited by buglips*the*goblin
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The best thing I have found that helps keep me motivated is using the miniatures in games. This is the reason I am painting them to begin with. I used to go through cycles of playing games, deciding I needed more minis, painting frantically, feeling burned out, playing games.... Repeat repeat repeat. With the all the gamestores closed and the conventions cancelled it is harder to get motivated the way I used to. So now I anticipate what I will need for games I hope to play months from now when things open up again. It is harder without that direct feedback loop, but it is what keeps me motivated.

 

    buckyball

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