It took me ages to actually get into painting figures. I tried enamels on various Airfix sets when I was a child, with the usual poor results, but was happy to line 'em up and knock 'em down, paint or no paint. I did at least paint the tanks I built to go with my WW2 infantry, using rules taken from a book a friend loaned me, which I wrote out over a couple of nights. No idea what those rules were, but I enjoyed them for "proper" games.
Anyway, moving on in time, another friend brought "Tunnels & Trolls" into a very dull Social Studies class one day, and role-playing dominated the next couple of years. With that came the "need" for a few figures, and "Chaotic High Priest with War Mace" was duly bought and painted, my first ever Citadel figure and probably my first ever metal one. This was followed up with a few orcs and elves, but most remained unpainted.
My problem was simple. Painting was a chore, white undercoats meant annoying little bits you could not get to without painting over previous bits and the whole thing became tedious again. My group liked the few efforts I did finish, but finishing was the problem.
Then, in a far off magazine, I discovered an article by Kevin Dallimore about how he painted figures (we are talking at least late 80's here, probably later). Black undercoat? Hmmmmmmm....................I tried it and, well, have painted ever since. Black was not without its porblems, however, as red and other colours would not cover it, but an extra stage of pale grey saw to that, with the red on top, but I no longer had those unsightly white patches to try to get to. One Norman army, both sides plus allies for the Second Punic War and Napoleonic Austrians, all in 15mm, and some fantasy and sci-fi figures in 28mm later, and I was hooked on black, yes, even for the white-coated Austrians!
Yet now I am faced with the same basic conundrum, in that a black undercoat does not suit everything. My Tomb Kings were undercoated white, as were my Nurgle Death Guard, but white was still the no-go for me unless the figures were a ringer for it. The answer for me lay in the Army Painter spray cans. My 1690 redcoats use Dragon Red as a base coat, for example. I have also used this for a foray into Steampunk, with a unit of Wargames Factory Zulu War British built and undercoated in the the same way. If I were a Moderns man, the range of greens/ olives/ desert yellows etc would make tank painting far easier (just to show the exception that proves the rule, I actually painted my meagre 2nd SS Panzer Division stuff with a black undercoat and dark yellow on top, as I took a while to bite the bullet!) It is entirely true to say that I would never have started a range of redcoat troops (i.e. 1690), regardless of the draw of the period, without this undercoat option.
Now I have bought some of the Mantic sci-fi Orx, I will be looking at the various browns and greens as undercoats for speed and ease of use. Spray brown, pick out flesh in green, paint the odd different item of clothing and the equipment and tone down with a wash. I will time myself to see what I reckon the saving is.
These cans are the way forward for me. I have not yet tried their varnish washes, but will do also, but only for select things I want to look dank and dark - the Orx, for instance, or undead. Having said that, I saw an article recently, as well as a "How To..." booklet, on how to use this stuff yet still highlight back up as I normally would.
Why did I not think of this stuff myself??? D'oh!!!!!!!!!
I may even get round to matt varnishing my output........................