The whole point of this blog is me trying to improve my painting. I think that I have, partly by using different techniques, but also by approaching painting with a slightly different attitude. That probably sounds very wishy-washy, but hopefully the following thoughts should make it a bit clearer.
1) Water your paint down.
Seriously, this makes a vast difference. With thinned paint - about the consistency of milk - you don't obscure details. You have better control over where your brush is going. You don't leave marks in the paint. You can shade much more subtly. This one is hard to overstate. Many thanks to my friend James who suggested this in the first place.
2) Only paint what you want to paint.
Or perhaps make sure you're enjoying what you're doing. In my case, this means painting individual models in whatever way I want to paint them (often once they've been heavily converted). Uniforms go out the window. Each model becomes a character.
It might be that you're the sort of person who is happy batch-painting a hundred skaven (a friend of mine did this and nearly went insane in the process). That's fine, but you might need to accept that they won't be your best work, and you'll have to learn to be happy with that. Or split it up with other stuff. Once your hobby becomes a chore to you, you have to wonder why you're doing it.
3) Take the time to make the best job of a model that you can.
This doesn't just mean freeing up enough time in the evenings to get the job done. It means being honest about whether you're pleased with the work you've done and, if not, deciding what you are going to do about it. I hate redoing models, especially if I have to take them apart to do so. But in something like a Necromunda gang or a Frostgrave party, where every person counts, you really don't want something that will just about suffice: you want your models to be as good as you can get them.
So I've had to make myself go back over old models: tidying things up, admitting that some conversions haven't worked, cutting off mold lines and repainting where I can, and so on. Will the model do? Quite often, yes. But is it as good as I could get it to be? No. That's not to say that every one of your vast goblin horde has to be perfect, just that you have to be honest about when you should call a model finished or not.
4) Army Painter Strongtone.
This is a kind of dark brown ink/wash. There seems to be a bit of a view that you can just dunk anything in it, and I'm not sure that I'd do that for character-type models as if can look a bit haphazard, but it is very useful stuff indeed. It's good for cloth, especially greens, browns and off-whites, faces and machinery that you don't want to look very clean. It's definitely worth investing in a small bottle, like this:
I don't like basing models. Specifically, I don't like putting grass on the bases. The stuff I'm using always looks pretty poor, as if the models are trudging through green-brown lumps of gravel. The solution I've come up with is thin textured plasticard.
I've used two main sorts: a pavement of irregular stones and an industrial metal with embossed bumps, presumably to stop people slipping. I'll talk more about basing some other time, but it's not too hard to make a base of plain metal or dark grey for a rubber-flooring type effect. Rust and warning stripes help and can liven up models really nicely. Of course you can buy some great bases, too.
And that's it for now. I can't promise that those will work for everyone, but they've helped me. I'm still no expert, but I'm much better than I was! If I come up with any other thoughts, I'll put them here too.