Paint first, then assemble?

One reason it takes me so long to get my minis done is I don’t assemble them completely before painting. Usually, I’ll put them together (if they need assembly) up to the point where I think I’d prefer to paint an individual piece before attaching it to the overall model (for example, weapons). I know a lot of people (most even?) don’t do this – after all, why paint something that’s going to get covered up anyway? And that’s a perfectly good reason too. Time of course, is also a prime factor for almost everyone.

Yet, when I’m working on stuff for my collection, I don’t mind taking the time. I don’t lavish as much attention on the parts that will be covered, but I will see that they are basecoated and washed. Sometimes I will go in and detail things that might be partially covered, so that the transition from the covered to the uncovered area is smooth. Also, sometimes it can be very difficult to get your brush into certain areas of a model if its already assembled. You might not be able to see that area so well once it’s done, but when looked at closely, you can see if it wasn’t done at the same level as everywhere else.

At any rate, I paint this way mostly to satisfy myself and I do enjoy the results.

I think I developed this painting habit when I was a kid building model airplanes, as I have a memory of reading some piece of advice somewhere that suggested painting small items first before assembly. Odd how something like that can make such a lasting impression!

What about you? Do you put your models all together first and then paint, or paint first then assemble?

4 Responses to “Paint first, then assemble?”

  1. Because I am inherently lazy, I will consider which is the easiest way to do it. I was able to very quickly paint up all my Epic Squats on the sprue then just did touch ups on the points where they were cut from the sprue. The sprue also is a convenient handle to hold the minis while washing off mold release and while painting. However, sometimes I have virtually no prep time available and have to play with the minis unpainted (recoil in horror) so in that case, they will be almost entirely assembled before any painting at all is done.

  2. I like to do interiors which usually need to be done before you fully assemble a model. But my painting just isn’t at a high enough level to justify worrying about the bits that are hard to reach or can’t be seen. I went through a phase of leaving arms off but now I think I’ve come to terms with the idea that assembled, painted, and finished is better than part painted, part assembled!

  3. I do the exact same. Although someone else may not see the hidden paint behind a boltgun, I know it is there and it would bother me.
    I usually assemble in a similar way that you described then touch up where the parts are glued together later.
    My process for space marines is usually Body, right arm with Weapon and then backpack.
    How does someone paint around a bolter to get the chest eagle if they assemble first? I’m not the best painter in the world but i do know i can’t paint round corners!

  4. I usually assemble my minis to a point where I can still reach everything, leaving arms off if they block out too much 🙂 like you said: some parts you can’t really see but I will know if they’re painted or not.

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