Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Limits of Good Taste and Knowing When to Pack It In - Part IV

So I’ve explored the limits of good taste with my three examples. But what about knowing when to pack it in?

It’s easy to point and laugh at someone’s space Nazis. It’s much harder to take a step back and evaluate your own position. Unfortunately, you need to take this step back more than you might think.

Tunnel vision is a bitch and is real easy to fall into. If you get too focused on the project you may stop asking yourself critical questions concerning your color choice, a symbol or even your background ideas. Then, when it’s all said and done, you have a high chance for some level of shittyness to be staining your project.

For me, the best way to combat tunnel vision is to get second opinions from other people – preferably those people who won’t lie to spare your feelings. Bonus points if they have significantly different ideas about the hobby than you do. I ask my girlfriend. Other people to ask would be close friends or even your parents. Remember, they’re not commenting on your painting skills, but rather the idea you’re going with. Now while other people’s opinions are like assholes and far from a foolproof check, it’s still valuable. Ask people early and often.

DO NOT RELY ON FORUM USERS TO HELP YOU. Not all feedback is created equal. The real people you know will be much more helpful than a collection of random, anonymous strangers on the internet. You can always see if anonymous strangers have anything helpful to say, but don’t count on it.

Forums (especially table top gaming forums) aren’t usually useful because they have a number of critical limitations.

1.) First and foremost, you don’t know these people. They may be overly nice (because they are polite, well mannered individuals) or overly critical of you (because they are assholes) by this simple fact. They will either support and encourage you or tear you apart. No matter what and for little reason.

2.) Most forums have a ‘no being mean’ rule. Criticism (constructive or not) often falls under the ‘being mean’ category. WIP sections of various forums are strictly for making people feel better about themselves and getting bullshit compliments. They are NOT for receiving any kind of useful feedback. The mods and the white-knighters will see to this.

Here is an example from Warseer’s rules:
8) Please respect other people's choices and opinions. Do not make fun of their painting, their miniatures, or their armies. It only serves to discredit your stance.

3.) There are a ton of attention whores. They like to give you advice even if they have no fucking clue. They create a lot of noise with little use and will go to great lengths to maintain their own opinion of themselves.

There are other things to keep in mind to help fight tunnel vision. These are useful even if you don’t have reliable people to help you out.
1.) Keep in mind that what you paint on your models reflects on you to some extent. Your models would not be there unless someone put some time and effort into them. When people see your completed labors, they know this. If you’ve painted an entire army with say… Nazi iconography and/or boobs on it, they assume that you put some serious thought behind the project that represents a ton of man hours. If you are comfortable being the “Nazi guy” or “boob guy”, carry on. Otherwise, think of a new gimmick.

2.) WWII and you: World War II is fascinating for a variety of reasons. I won’t go into them. However, 70 million people died and every country involved has something to be ashamed off.
So while the pictures of the war are extremely useful and the stories and events involved are great for all kinds of inspiration, stay the hell away from stuff that clearly identifies your army with an actual participant in WWII.

Aaand that’s the end of my sage advice. Bottom line: please, please take a step back from time to time and look at your work from other angles. Nothing is worse for yourself than (finally) realizing your ‘beautifully’ painted (and expensive) army is a dog turd. And nothing is worse for other people than having to deal with your dog turd.

No comments:

Post a Comment