Friday, 4 February 2011

Making Room For Your Hobby

For as long as there has been a hobby, be it model trains wargames miniatures or anything else, there has been an argument over space. If the hobbyist gets their way, entire rooms all over the country would be converted to model storage and display rooms. However, generally the non-hobbyist side of the relationship curves this to a corner of a room or, the shed. (This isn't so much a bad thing as it stops us getting too carried away with our little plastic men.)

So, now we know we can't have a whole room, (except those lucky few), we settle for a desk somewhere in the house. I thought i would just give you a run down of what I think makes a good hobby space and why I like mine.

First of all, do you buy a desk? I didn't! I decided to build one to fit what I needed rather than have to just deal with a normal desk. Sounds a big job I know, but it really isn't. I opted for a very simple no thrills build. A cheap £12  shelf book case on the left and a sheet of MDF on the right. Top that with another sheet of MDF and you done. I then bought one of the nice wooden painting stations before GW released their new plastic ones. (This was about 5 or 6 years ago now).

There is some more space to the left of the painting station, but that is occupied by a potted tree. So, I now have a clear work area (not in the picture but you get the idea), I chose to add some square place mats so I could move piles of stuff quickly. (Laziness is the mother of invention.)


Rear/Corner Spot Lights

Next up, lighting. This is so often over looked and it is really important. I am very lucky and have my desk right in front of a window that spans the length of the desk. However, this won't cut it at night or on cloudy days. For this reason I use a 3 light set up. 1 directly above the desk pointing down towards the middle. Then one on each of the 2 back corners of the painting station.

Flood/High Light

I use a very non-eco friendly 100W bulb in the flood light to get a good bright light that covers most of the desk. The rear spots can then be used to highlight specific areas as required. I often use them during the photographing of models a get an even light from all angles. (More on photography in another post.)

So we have the space and the light, now for the tools.

It is said that only a poor craftsman blames his tools, this is utter rubbish. No matter how good you are, no matter how much talent you have, the total can only ever equal the sum of its component parts. So the tools of the hobby, brushes, paints, glues, thinners, filler, putties, files, knives, clippers e.t.c.

Over the years I've used a variety of brushes and have found that a mixture a styles and makes makes for a nice set. I use Citadel Miniature brushes, combined with Vallejo Toray, Reeves bristle, Royal white and Pebeo among others. This variation of brushes means there is nothing that isn't covered.

A quick note, I own well over 100 brushes and use some of them maybe only once of twice a year. For this reason I have a selection of 18 on my desk at any one time. These are my all purpose set made up of a Citadel brush set, a Vallejo half set and a few Reeves. This selection covers almost everything I do on a regular basis.

As you can see, not every tool need to be expensive, an old baked bean tin acts as a great brush holder. I also use it to store the odd file.

The paint you use on a model is always going to effect the outcome and I'm not just talking colour scheme. Every brand of paint is going to give you a different level of pigmentation, and different shade or texture, the same colour in a different range can give a completely different finish.

Once again, i advocate a mixture of brands. I used Citadel (GW) miniature paints including foundations and washes combined with Vallejo Game Colour and P3. I find this mix gives great coverage, depth and tone. The massive pigmentation of the Vallejo paints create some really nice full colours.

Reference Material
One of the most useful things to have while painting is reference material. The Internet is a great tool, either through blogs like this or google images etc. But you can also have good old fashioned paper based reference. The obvious choice is White Dwarf, the monthly games-workshop hobby magazine.

I keep a stack of useful ones under the desk all the time, plus a big white box of painting notes and guides from over the years. Also a great place to keep bits boxes for current projects and a couple of spray cans.

So that's my hobby desk and the tools I use on it. If you have an interesting hobby space or a suggestion on tools use etc send it to and it can join the file for the Ultimate Hobby Guide.