Assembly line Wiki :: Assembly

Assembly line Wiki

By Iffy with suggestions from Redbeard

I've been (re)learning tons about assembly line painting as I motor though the endgame finish of an army challenge and get through painting over 100 orks in between blocks. If I get my Ork Boyz done by 1/17/09, which I am on track to do, I will have finished 223 figures in 3 months. This 30 day period alone, I will have finished 99 Orks and 9 Deffkoptas. Here's how they turned out.

Just to set some context, when I paint in assembly line fashion, I'm talking about painting 50+ figures at a time. For the Tyranids, because they all have the same color scheme, I was painting 60 figures at once. For the Orks, I worked on a batch of 99 Boyz and Nobz. However, the process works for smaller figure counts too, I just happen to paint in large lots. Also, just because you're using an assembly line methodology doesn't necessarily mean you need to compromise on quality.

The key to maximizing the speed of your assembly line is to execute steps in the shortest amount of time while retaining your accuracy to minimize rework. Many people interpret this as 'work on one color' at a time. The truth is really a little bit more precise. It's work one color with a given brush at a time. Every time you have to change brushes, you lose time. Every time you have to manipulate your figure, looking for the next piece to paint, you lose time. So how do you set up your assembly line.

Break your painting process into small steps

One of the things I've learned is to break figures into discrete little repeatable blocks of color that can be done quicky with the same brush. By this, I mean sub steps to a particular color. For example, the AOBR Orks have tons of straps, I separated them into like body types, and then did all of the back straps, then all of the front straps, rinse and repeat with the next block of figures. Another example is the gun metal. I was able to hit most of the armor and weapons with a #4 flat brush, which was too large for the toe caps. These were handled as a separate step with a #1 round brush. Had I allowed myself to get into the rut of "must finish the gunmetal", I would be swapping brushes back and forth.

Your goal is also to minimize the amount of figure turning and manipulation, which results in you having to search for what to paint, you are not only improving your speed, but you're also reducing the amount of missed items that need to be corrected later. This allows you to learn things from a step (what needs to be painted, how, most efficient way to do so) and apply them consistently across models.

Here's a front and back snapshot of some of the body, head, and arm styles available in the AOBR set. Depending on what I was painting, I would group figures by weapon type, helmet style, or body type and then complete a grouping before moving onto the the next. Yes, this meant I was painting the same thing for 15-20 figures sometimes, but you get really fast at it.

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