Don’t Have Time to Paint? – That’s A Lie

Pimpcron is calling you all out this week.

Hello people! Your democratically–elected Pimpcron is here with a dose of truth and time management. I often ask people with non-painted armies why their armies aren’t painted. And no, it is only in rare cases that I’m pushing them up against a locker and knocking their books out of their hand when I say it. Though, I do generally finish the sentence with “nerd” and I’ve been known to wear my high school football jacket with my letter.

No, I’m not being a holier-than-though painting hobby bully. I’m genuinely asking them if they don’t like painting, or think they can’t paint well, etc. And nine times out of ten, they tell me that they “don’t have time”. It is at that point I push them into a locker, call them a liar, and take their lunch money. Everyone in my gaming group knows I rule with an iron fist, and there’s a saying, “Liars don’t eat”.

So Do You Really Not Have The Time?

We hear this expression constantly in life. From kids not finishing their project for school, to adults saying they don’t have time to hang out with each other. And nothing boils my blood more than hearing a single friend with a normal 9am-5pm job and no kids say “I don’t have any free time”. If I wasn’t already on probation for multiple accounts of assaulting nerds, I’d punch them in the face.

So when I hear this horribly incorrect expression, I have to sit down and think to myself, “Does this person really not have to do [whatever]?” Well, I used to use this phrase too, and nobody (except Big Brother) knows me better than I do. So here is an imaginary example of one of my single days before having kids to show that this phrase needs to be expunged from our language. The thing I’m saying I don’t want to do is … hmmm. Let’s say bathe my elderly neighbor’s ferret (no innuendo, a literal pet ferret).

Isn’t she adorable?

I wake up just in time to go to work, and head out the door. Could I have woken up earlier to bathe Sparkles that I told Mrs. Widdlebottom I don’t have time for? Yup. I work all day and come home. I might have a chore or something to do before I make dinner. After dinner, I get on the internet instead of scrubbing Sparkles. Then I read a comic book and drink sweet tea, obviously not with a freshly-cleaned ferret. After that, I talk on the phone with my girlfriend instead of dunking a ferret in water.

And before bed, Mrs. Widdlebottom calls and asks if I could come over tomorrow and I say, “Gee willikers Mrs. Widdlebottom, I would love to, but my schedule’s been super busy and I’ll have to let you know.” 24 hours later, the ferret is still nasty and I played Magic: The Gathering with a friend, cleaned my bathroom, watched the Simpsons, and painted some models.

I did have time. I lied to myself and her because it wasn’t one of my favored things to do with my free time. Let’s say I loved Sparkles to death and she was an awesome ferret. Let’s say I really didn’t mind bathing her, but other things got in the way.

He’s lying and I know it.

If This Is Just a Lie, What is The Real Situation?

Well clearly you have time for whatever you want. Very, very few of you work 80 hours a week. To those of you who do, you get a free pass. To all of the rest of you, you have to do some soul searching and realize that your life is full of things you MUST do. Sleep, eat, work, cleaning yourself and your living space. The rest of everything you do is what you choose to do. I talk to people all the time that claim they don’t have time but watch TV for 4 hours at night. Guess what Peaches? That was time you could be doing other things.

So on an average day of a working adult with no kids, when you take all of your “must-do” things out of the way, you really only get about a Top 5 things you have free time for. If you don’t choose ferret cleaning or model painting to be in that Top 5, you’ll never “have time” to do it; because you never made time to do it. If you have children your list goes down to a Top 2 or 3 due to butt-wiping, cleaning up spills, and refereeing arguments.

Single People with no kids: “Nah, I can’t do [whatever], I’m super busy.”

So you have to figure out how badly you really want to paint your models, and be honest when someone asks you why you don’t paint them. Or wash the ferret. Or wax your back hair, any of the things you’ve been putting off. It’s about Time Management. If you shaved off just a bit of time each night from Facebook, TV, or twisting your mustache near railroad crossings and laughing, you’d have more time for the things you say you wish you had time for.

BUT here’s the catch, it doesn’t matter if painting your miniatures is in your Top 5 or not. You’re an adult and your time is yours. If you’d rather watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians instead of painting a model, there is nothing wrong with that. Well, there is but that’s another topic. Just be honest with yourself and others that it isn’t a matter of “not having time” for it, you choose not to do it.

The same goes for money management. I see people constantly say that don’t have money for bills, yet own 4 laptops, 2 tablets, 3 cell phones, cable internet access, video game consoles, 2 vehicles, eat dinner out all the time, among other things. Just be honest with yourself, it helps put things into perspective and helps you identify what is important to you.

So why isn’t your army painted?

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  • Tshiva keln

    Been prioritizing Pimpcron articles, obviously.

    • petrow84

      I don’t have time for setting them up in my feed… oh, wait…

    • Well, I can’t blame you for that huh? 🙂 Let’s put Pimpcron articles on the “Must Do” list with chores and eating.

      • KingAceNumber1

        Wait, so the “Must Do” list is mutable now? Did my boss get that memo? I really feel like it’s necessary for my survival to have whatever day 8th releases off work…

  • euansmith

    “So you have to figure out how badly you really want to paint your models…”

    I would actually like to paint them well. 😉

    I’ve noticed how, since GW has brought out their own range of coloured primers, Duncan has started moving away from that, “Undercoat with Chaos Black and then build up one zillion thin coats of paint to get the colour you want.” style of painting .

    The video about painting Imperial Fists actually looks like a paint job I could be bothered to replicate; spray yellow, high light with lighter yellow, wash the crevices with a dark yellow wash and highlight selected edges with an off white.

    • danutzfreeman

      I believe this is the best way to paint. There’s no point in making your model extremely detailed since you’ll be using it on the tabletop from a distance and you won’t see the really fine highlights. Big models like Magnus sure, but that’s due to it’s size.

      • orionburn

        It’s hard for me to do at times, but you have to be realistic when it comes to the time put into models. I’ll put a lot of hours into a big kit, but there is really no point in me spending months to get my 50 Termagants looking top notch when they’re going to likely spend more time dead and off of the table rather than on it.

        • TenDM

          I’m afraid to even start painting my Tyranids because I know I can’t do 50 Termagants to a low standard. I’m going to sit there painting an extreme highlight on the eyes of units that will be picked up by the handful… =(

      • Brandon Sharitt

        I’ve never been a very good painting and have always antagonized over painting my models, going so far as to skip games I wanted to play in favor or prepainted games like X-Wing, Armada, and Attack Wing. But recently I decided to give 2000 points of Dwafts for Kings of War a chance and I realized that these are going to be on the table and didn’t have to be perfect. Much to my surprise, I was able to get them painted in about two weeks, and while they’re not quite show case models and you shouldn’t look at them too closely, they don’t look half bad a table distance.

    • Fergie0044

      I like to strike a happy balance between ‘Duncan level’ and the bog standard ‘three colours and a wash’ level. If there’s a Duncan video I’ll follow it but skip some of the really fine detail steps.
      Plus for the life of me I don’t see how people can paint fully glued models! I need to paint mine when they’re half assembled or else there will be tonnes of mistakes.

      • euansmith

        I paint mine fully assembled so I don’t end up painting bits that are going to be obscured by other parts. But then my painting is strictly “looks fine if you have poor eye sight at 1m distance” table-top standard.

        I tend to spray the mini with the main colour as a base colour and undercoat, block in some contrasting colours, and then hit up the entire mini with a wash.

        • I paint them fully assembled too, I hate to waste time painting an armpit that is obscured by a storm shield.

          • Fergie0044

            Ack, I just don’t have a steady enough hand. It’s not like I’m doing details or anything – its just easier when there is two components touching each other that are different colours – a metallic skitarii backpack on the orange robes for example.

          • Graham Bartram

            The machine god deserves your devotion. I’ve been painting Skitarii recently and they are far easier painted in parts. With the Yellow armour on black robes colour scheme I am using the time I could spend touching up accidental paint dabs makes whole models a no go.

          • Graham Bartram

            I must admit, I do the opposite. That armpit will be visible at some angle with a magnifying glass and needs doing. ….hmmm … maybe that’s why my painting looks great but takes forever. :/

      • KingAceNumber1

        I’ve always painted fully assembled, I honestly can’t get a model to look right if I don’t. This goes double if there are any OSL effects on it. I just can’t tell what’s supposed to be darker and where highlights should go if I can’t see the whole picture.

        • Fergie0044

          ooooh OSL – fancy stuff and I can see why you’d need to do it that way. Beyond my capabilities though.

    • Yeah, for ages their tutorials were way too many steps for me to try them.

  • Fergie0044

    Its an established fact that unpainted models play worse than painted ones. For the sake of my win/loss ratio and fragile pride I ONLY field painted stuff.

    …which is why the ad mech army I bought back in January has yet to see any action. 🙁

    • Lol. That’s why my Khorne for Aos hasn’t seen table play yet either.Only have about 570 points painted.

  • orionburn

    Totally agree. For me, and hopefully many others so I don’t feel like a standout weirdo, part of the problem comes down to feeling overwhelmed because I was an idiot and bought way too much crap in too short a period and now have a backlog to keep me busy for months. The other side of the coin is that I actually love painting….the models that I want to. Need to get going on my new Carnifex? All the time in the world. Want to sit down to work on that pile of 100 gaunts? No need to rinse my brush in a water cup. I can use the tears pooling on top of my paint station.

    I’m thankful my wife puts up with my hobby habits. Most nights I sit with a TV tray/table with my paint station (which is basically a board that’s been collecting paint for 10 years) and a desk lamp as we watch TV in the evenings. It really is about time management. Even on busy days I can find at least an hour to paint if I really want to paint.

    • Ugh. yeah. Hobby backlog can really make you put it off. I too have a back log and it can be overwhelming.

    • ryan woodcock

      Jesus. You just stated my exact setup!

      • orionburn

        Hey, it works! Except for the one time I went to move it and the legs folded on me. That didn’t end well…lol

        • ryan woodcock

          I just find that i limit the paints i use because i dont have them all in front of me so i forget about other ones i may or may not choose.

          My lamp actually clips onto the tv table so it doesn’t take up space too lol. My paint station is the top of the citadel paint station set they sell. It works really well though !

    • KingAceNumber1

      This is the most accurate. I spent 5 hours painting a Death Guard sorcerer kitbash a few nights ago, but I’ll be damned if my Skitarii Ranger squad isn’t still primed black except for the one dude I tested my scheme on. It really does come down to whether or not I want to paint the model.

  • Hendrik Booraem VI

    As I like to tell my fellow WH40K gamers, “I’m an 80% kind of guy.”

    I have a reasonably good idea of how well I could paint my army if I really wanted to. But, due to the 80/20 rule, I feel like it’s not a good investment to paint the WHOLE army that well. So I paint them to 80% of what I could. Takes about half the time, allows for some models to look really great, and others to look pretty… weak, lets say.

    But all of my models exceed the “3 colors” tournament standard, and it’s pretty easy to paint new ones to the minimum (minimum being like 30%, not 80%).

    • Sounds good! You’re managing your time and getting the job done. I do that too. My troops are just “okay” but my characters or big stuff I take time on.

  • benn grimm

    Some armies are more enjoyable to paint than others, sometimes it’s the models, sometimes the paint scheme… I’ve bought starter forces and realized half way through I just don’t really like painting these guys for whatever reason, possibly a bit wasteful, but great for conversions.

    • orionburn

      So true. There’s a lot of armies I’ve looked at and opted not to pursue building based solely on knowing I would absolutely hate painting them.

      • benn grimm

        A valuable skill I wish I had…;)

    • Fergie0044

      True true. When I first started with the dark vengeance set I quickly realised that I just plain HATE space marine bikes. Hate the idea, hate the look, hate hate hate to paint them. Nurgle bikers may be powerful but you couldn’t pay me to build, paint and field them.
      Meanwhile the chosen and characters were a joy to paint – such great models.

    • KingAceNumber1

      This is the literal only reason I don’t own everything in the Dark Eldar range. I adore how the models look, but I cannot for the life of me sit down to paint fiddly spike elves and their fiddly spike space boats.

      • benn grimm

        1500 ish points was enough for me, and you’re right , they are a bloody fiddly pain…)

        • Fergie0044

          gives you more power though, right?

          • benn grimm

            Lol, I wish…)

  • zeno666

    One of my favorite excuses is “Hey, my hands are too big, I can’t deal with these small details!” 🙂

    Tip, don’t fingerpaint use a brush.

  • davepak

    A common barrier many mention is having “too many” or “too much” to paint so you feel overwhelmed.
    I can get this – how having so much can be intimidating or just hard to focus – or can just feel like there is so much to get done, its hard to start.

    This is true with painting, work projects, or heck, even collage!

    The key here is getting organized (even just a little) and taking it in small steps, that are easily accomplished – so you can feel a sense of progress and not be overwhelmed.

    A few tips;
    * organize your work-space – even if it is a temporary one – have your paint “box” organized with what you need, and try to declutter as much as possible.
    * out of sight out of mind – get the majority of models out of the way where you can’t see them. Only have out the one or two kits you are actually working on. this helps immensely. I have a closet FULL of models – but on my “work in progress box” I have only a couple of kits out.
    * Focus – its easy to get distracted – and sometimes you DO need a break – but try not to work on too many things at one time – otherwise progress will be elusive.
    * Small projects – I break my projects into smaller work units – things I can usually get done in a reasonable amount of time. I have found no more than say one vehicle at a time, or 3 bikes, or 5 infantry (or 10, if they are very basic). This helps a lot.
    * Keep track of progress – I keep track of what I get done – this helps a lot for inspiring future work. Even if its “assembled 5 guys this week”. Maybe I did not get much done, but even some progress is progress.
    * Make a list – maybe – I have a big list of all my models and work I need to do. I try not to look at this list too often, because it can be overwhelming. But I do pick out things that I want to work on next.
    * A calendar or schedule – no, nothing detailed – thats crazy (ok, some people like it). Take those small projects and goals, and put them on a schedule. Simple stuff like write on the first week of the month “Assemble five guys” or “basecoat tank”.
    * Be realistic – don’t make a project “Paint 10,000 points” or “remodel house” for a weekend. This will just discourage you when you don’t get it done. Small steps like “paint one squad” or “clean corner in garage”.

    Finally, look at your competing activities – strangely, we all have 24 hours in a day. Its how we use them. TV/facebook/youtube/internet etc. is a HUGE time sink – decide just how much time you want to spend on those activities. I have a lot of friends who say “I don’t have time…” who have plenty, they just choose to spend a lot of it …on nothing.
    Sure, we all need to veg and decompress – heck, I read nerdy internet sites a couple times a week – but its how much time we spend and the choices we make.
    Oh, and all of the tips above – they are not just for painting minis – but can be used for anything from work projects to getting your degree (i.e. don’t try to take 18 hours a semester and work two jobs…its ends badly, I know…).

    Finally, unless you are held captive in a prison in a 3rd world country – you are the one in charge of your life – approach any challenge in small manageable chunks – and you will be surprised what you can accomplish – you might even be able to paint an army.

    • Graham Bartram

      Having pretty much just done exactly this I couldn’t agree more.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      escalation leads are good for motivating people to paint one or two units at a time and not be overwhelmed.

  • Lion El’ Jonson

    …I’ve been repainting Betrayal at Calth Death guard for 2 years now….

    This time I got the perfect DG scheme!

    ….I said that very same thing the last time I finished the box, then then they went into the stripping bucket.

    This time though, I have it nailed down. I will finally put this cursed box away once and for all!

    Wish me luck. May Horus guide my brush!

    • dave long island

      I just wanted to say: good luck, we’re all counting on you.

  • I paint every day. Typically have for a great many years. Thats how I can get new armies painted in a season. I’m pretty much the only one I’ve met that does this regularly though.

    It is my hope that pre painted minis become a thing so people that won’t paint their armies can have painted armies and the table overall can improve in looks.

    • KingAceNumber1

      I have friends who paint 2-3 hours a day, every day. I really don’t understand where you lot find that kind of endurance! I get so fatigued after doing a unit of infantry or a tank that I’ll put down my brushes for a month at a time.

      • Really its like meditation for me. Its a hobby. If you dont’ enjoy the hobby you won’t want to do it as much.

  • Graham Bartram

    Just a thought. If YOU are one of those who keeps buying minis and never get around to painting them why not spend the cash differently next time. Instead of buying more minis… ..just pay someone else to paint some of the ones you already have.

    • petrow84

      I’ve reached the unfortunate equilibrium, that I can’t stop buying new minis… and also, wouldn’t let anyone else paint them, but me.

      • orionburn

        I painted a Void Shield for a friend and made me realize if I try to do commission work for guys I play with then I’m going to have to get someone else to paint my stuff…lol.

  • Matthew

    I enjoy drinking, and I enjoy painting miniatures. The first hobby ruins the second one.

    • Muninwing

      i almost always have a drink while painting. not more than a triple scotch, mind you… but that’s usually enough to get the warm fuzzies and relax from painting at the same time.

  • dave long island

    The ideal time to paint up my minis will be when we’re all in the bomb shelter comfortably living out our days, as the world outside suffers thru the agony of a post apocalyptic dystopian hellscape. That’s the plan, anyways.

  • Desmond Burke

    I’m painting 1000 points of Kharadron Overlords for a tournament May 21st. I paint every day!

    The key is to just picking up the brush, and telling yourself you’ll paint red on the pants, for instance. Next thing you know, you are in the groove and getting things done really fast.

  • MechBattler

    Assuming it wasn’t all scripted, how many lives did Maury destroy with polygraph tests that are known to be completely unreliable? So much so that they’re inadmissible as evidence in court?

    • Don’t you DARE call maury into question. He is a God among men, and leading investigator of baby-daddies.

  • MechBattler

    Here’s my answer to the actual article.


    Opponents are more likely to forget about a grey model than a brightly colored one. Which stands out more? The peacock or the peahen? The peacock of course!
    So while my brightly colored models are drawing attention, my grey ones are in a building totally forgotten. Even by me sometimes.

  • afriedrich

    I love the IDEA of painting: sitting on my sunny deck, listening to fantasy music while painting vivid color schemes adapted from my historical research. Then there is the REALITY of painting: sitting at my cramped painting desk, trying to figure out in subpar lighting what the hell that thing is supposed to be on my soldier’s uniform, grinding away painting the same tedious series of lines on dozens of soldiers. I have lots of time for the former — not so much for the latter.

    • memitchell

      See my amazing post below. It’s a lot more fun to paint my way.

  • memitchell

    Choose a base color. OK, red for Blood Angels. Bing tht paint with you.
    Go to the hardware store. Buy a can of red paint that most closely matches your paint bottle (preferably semi-gloss or flat). And a can of water-based woodstain in a dark brown color like Minwax American Walnut).
    Spay the sprues with the red paint.
    Paint the parts that are not going to be red while on the sprue.
    Assemble the model. Glue to their bases.
    Touch up the places where the parts were attached to the sprue, and any sloppy painted places or glue stains. Using the red paint that matches (within reason) the red spray paint.
    Dip the model in the water-based wood stain. Use a larger brush to wipe excess stain back into the can. (Oh, do NOT shake or stir the can, you want most of the pigment to settle to the bottom. The remaining essence is perfect). Wash up the large brush with water.
    The woodstain is also your clear coat. You probably don’t even need to use mat varnish.
    Do your base like you like, and apply decals.

    You can do a squad of Marines (or whatever) in a day or two. You models will look better than average. If you want to take them to the next level, you can paint on the woodstain coat, including highlights. No models are harmed by this method.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      that is basically Army Painter’s dip method, except their dip is a gloss so you have to spray matt varnish on afterwards.

      • memitchell

        MY way is:
        Prime and basecoat in one step
        Most painting of details on sprue, easy to see easy to get to.
        Assembly and touchup completes all painting.
        Dip shades, blends colors and transitions, obviates fine detail (unless you want them), fast, drys quick, easy clean up, non-toxic, final coat, and can be painted over for highlights and more detail.

        Maybe I should sue Army Painter 😉

  • Darryl Park

    Yeah, it’s often a case of people not /wanting/ to paint and I used to call my customers out on it when I had a store. They seemed relieved to admit to themselves that they simply didn’t enjoy painting when I did so. Which is a fair cop, since I get that there’s certain aspects of any hobby that people enjoy more or less than others.

    • Yeah! And no shame in it. But they should fess up to it.

  • Muninwing

    i like to paint. it’s relaxing.

    but i take my time, and it’s a lot of focus and work.

    similarly, i can afford a house if i don’t have to pay for it all at once. break it down into monthly payments and i’m actually in good shape.

    but painting for consistency sometimes needs the same mix of paint, the same technique, etc. that means larger batches. or it takes many stages, often with wet-blending, which requires a large chunk of time to sit down and just paint.

    i have a wife that i both love and like i have a 3-year-old with lots of energy. i have a new house that we’re still settling into. i have other hobbies. i have books i have not yet read. i have grading to do for work — and a professional job that requires my time and focus.

    i actually do not have chunks of time in my schedule large enough for me to sit down and paint. and if i did, half the time there are other more pressing projects that need doing.

    come summer, though… i am set up and have the time. i’ve nearly finished setting up my ventilated spray-room for spraypaint and airbrushing.

    for me, i cannot paint if i have other more serious things that i’m avoiding. i feel guilty. so when i’m a week behind on my grades, i have to do those first before i can justify painting. paradoxically, when i have time to paint, i usually get a lot of other things done too because i’m far more focused and my head is clearer. it’s avoidance behavior clear and simple.

    • TenDM

      Yeah. I take my time and try to do the best job possible, so I have to clear an afternoon to paint. That might be easy for some people but I have other hobbies and plenty of more important things. I’d feel bad painting when I know my girlfriends dog hasn’t been walked in days.

  • Deacon Ix

    Awesome article! I had a similar epiphany awhile back and I’m amazed at how much you can actually get done if you put your mind to it 🙂 I have had several friends ask how I manage to fit everything in – it’s really fairly easy, just get off your behind and DO IT!

    • Yup! For me Facebook is a huge time sink. Gotta stay off the FB if I wanna get something done.

  • Spacefrisian

    Does not have time to paint models but has time to assemble them, that makes alot of peeps scratch there head and realise the meaning of bogus.

    • TenDM

      Painting takes way longer than assembling. I can throw together a hundred gaunts in the time it takes me to paint five of them. Especially if I’m painting to a standard higher than spray coat then black details. In my book three colours is worse than not painting at all.