Friday, October 30, 2015


In the past, a few people have asked what kind of setup I've got for my painting system. I thought that today I'd take a bit of time and show how I do my hobby/model work.
Shall we see what kind of goodies are inside?

The main feature I have is a Todd Reifer's signature workstation, which is a closable desk available from Jerry's Art-A-Rama.
I bought this desk back in 2012, after my daughter started walking and it became obvious that my hobby solution up to that point (TV trays with a wire rollaway cart) was not sustainable. Having an area I could secure knives, sprue cutters, and pin vices became a priority.

 The Workspace 

My workspace is in a corner of my house's living room. The door behind it is our "beer closet" - the understair close we use for beer fermentation and storage. We also keep DVDs in the closet, as well as our board games.
This was as much as I could bother to clean for public presentation.

The Tabletop

The work surface itself measures 16" by 31". When the lid closes, the vertical storage is 1 1/2, which is enough for most infantry-sized models, but is too short for anything larger. The space is intended for paintings to lie flat, so I can't complain about the vertical clearance. 
Tim Duncan encourages you to be calm; the desk is open.
The right side of the workspace has a recession 5" wide by 14" wide, and 5 1/2" deep, which I call "the pit". I use this area to store larger models, typically models I am assembling/about to assemble, or in the process of painting.
"The Pit" - despair was an optional upgrade

The cover pivots to lift up, and then slides down into a recess at the back of the desk for temporary storage. The material on top is fairly flimsy; I've put two significant divots in it; one when I accidentally dropped a case of beer I was moving to the beer closet, and once when I lost my temper and pounded on it (which may or may not have happened during the 2013 NBA Finals).
It was a Battle Damage experiment...

I have attached a work light to the back of the desk; this is the same light I have been using for almost a decade. I do not use the magnifier attached to it, and instead try to place the light about 18" in front of my right shoulder, and 6" above its height while I'm painting. Typically, I only use this light (and the light for the room) when painting, though I do have a second light I use on rare occasions. 
I don't judge what you put on your lamp, don't judge what I put on mine.

The drawer

The desk has a single pull-out drawer. While not very tall (it's 1 1/2" tall, and intended for paintbrushes), the 15" x 29" size makes it great for my purposes when I keep it organized.
It looks cluttered, but there's a system...

Stuff that helps me sculpt.
I keep corks in the bottom left; these are use whenever I need a stand for an armature I'm doing sculpt work on. I intend to carve grooves in several of these and embed some magnetic material inside, so that I can also use them as bases for when I'm painting models. Currently, I just hold unbased models by their feet, which tends to rub paint off the feet. To the right of the corks is greenstuff and a handful of sculpting tools - a pair of GW sculpting tools, a dental pick, and a random sculpting tool I picked up off eBay a number of years ago. My two pin vises are just above these. Above the corks are my other sculpting mediums - several colors of FIMO, and Milliput, with a few soft foam sculpting tools on top.

Further back in the desk are metal wires - paper clips for pinning, and florist's wire for armature creation. There are a few hundred magnets this far back, to keep them out of toddler hands. There's also some thread, which I use for bowstrings or strange experiments. Foam brushes can also be seen; these are typically for basecoating larger terrain items.
Back of the drawer - sharper bits!

Not pictured: all the other brushes I own
Moving forward from the back of the drawer are a number of splayed brushes that I use for drybrushing, and some new Windsor-Newton Series 7s that are waiting to rotate into my active rotation. I tend to replace the entire line of brushes at once, and usually when I start a new army. These new Series 7 should be used starting with my Herd army in a few weeks. A set of brushes usually lasts me for 2-3 armies, and the old ones remain useful for terrain work or basecoating. Moving forward along the right side, I keep blank index cards that I use to keep track of color mixes, and a spare light bulb for my backup lamp, and a backup remote control for the room's lighting. This lets me control the lighting levels if I need to, as well as turn the fan on or off if I need paint to dry faster. Usually I keep pencils on top of this, both to deter other members of the family from nicking it when they misplace the remote to the light, and also so I can always find one or two for making notes when I'm painting - as you can see, the system didn't work in this case. Along the front of the drawer are the current brushes I use while painting - a mixture of Winsor-Newton Series 7s, Games & Gears Pro, and Rosemary & Co Sable brushes.

Just to the right of the good brushes are the disposable contact lens cases I use for palettes - I mix paint in these and leave them out while I work so I can keep track of how many layers I've done, as well as compare just-mixed layers to the ones that came before. In the center of the drawer is the plastic palette I keep clean water in; I've rinsed brushes out in this thing for fifteen years, and it's the only purchase from my initial hobby buy that I still use. To the left of the palette, I get back into my frequently used model manipulation tools - super glue, sprue cutters, razor saws, box cutters and X-acto knives for mold line trimming, scissors for cutting index cards, wire cutters (out of position for this picture) for cutting pin material, and nail clippers because they just fit with the theme.
It may be chaos, but it is necessary chaos!

The slide-out side drawer

It would be like if you had a trash can, and took out the trash bag.
On the left side of the desk is a pull-out drawer. This is intended to be filled with a trash bag and used as a trash can, but I don't make a lot of trash while modeling (unless I'm building a model and cleaning sprue lines), so I emptied it out and use it to store my Vallejo Game Color paints, which are neatly organized in their case, and my backup light. I only use this light for paint jobs that I'm entering for competitions, or for models where I really want to make sure I have enough light to see what I'm doing. The bottom of this drawer is also filled with cheap craft paints that I use for terrain; these need to be moved out, but I get lazy about it.
The desk listed this area as 12" x 12" with a 17" height, but I think it's wider than they claim. I hope to organize this area better one day, maybe by hanging paint racks over the side so I can just slip them off and on and stop storing my Vallejo bottles in the box and undercabinet. 

Removable tray

Above the drawer is a removable tray that hooks onto the side of the desk. I use this for important tasks like holding my beer, holding the TV remote, or setting up a webcam if I'm doing a Skype paint night. My kids tend to play with whatever I put in it, so I make it a point to keep it empty most of the time. On those nights when I do create trash, it tends to go in this tray until the end of the night, when I dump it in the actual trash can 
Makes a great beer holder!

The front cabinet

More battle damage.
Half of the front hinges open into a cabinet; the other half is used by the slide-out side drawer. I have thought about pulling the framing off and installing hinges to make it front-access instead, but feel it's not worth the effort. It's worth noting that the thin wood referenced earlier was use in this panel as well; I put my knee through the hole in it one night when I dropped a box cutter with both feet directly underneath. I escaped without harm, but dodged hard enough to punch a hole right through the desk.
Pertinent to my needs; this cabinet was easily lockable with a toddler lock. I kept knives and the other sharp supplies in here until recently, when my kids promised they wouldn't open the top drawer and pull things out (in exchange for getting to play with their dinosaurs in the removable tray discussed above).

Opening the cabinet, I have two 15" x 19" shelves, one 8" tall, and the other 10" tall. The top one holds my TGJ Hobby stand; I keep backup paint brushes in here, as well as Vallejo Model Color paints that I use frequently. The rest of the trays hold models that are in my queue but aren't yet at the "top desk" paint level, or models I want to have access to if I'm matching a color or feel. Typically when I'm painting an army, a model or two from each unit ends up down here until the army is completely put together.
Picture taken at a distance, because it's messy down there.

The bottom shelf is a dumping ground for all the other stuff I'm using at that time - big mixing cups for plaster, my bigger selection of sculpting tools, dips, models I've assembled and ignored, and basing materials.

Power Strip

Under the desk (and alongside it) are elements of tech - a power strip that powers the light and my cell phone charger, as well as the laptop and my lighting rig. When the laptop isn't in use (I do occasional Skype paint nights), it lives between the desk and the wall. 

Other Stuff

The desk came with a plastic paper towel roll holder; I ripped this off almost immediately. The desk is pretty dang heavy - I think the shipping manifest said it was more than 95 pounds. I don't think I could get it upstairs without help, even if I removed the contents. It is on castors, so it rolls around easily when it needs to be moved. It's only been in its current location for a couple of months; prior to this it was on an adjacent wall (which now holds several toyboxes). Even though the veneer is fairly thin, the desk itself is pretty solid. I would have prefered more depth on top, but that's the trade-off on a desk designed for easel painting rather than modeling. This is still the best solution that was available for me at the time, and is probably still the only one that would fit my needs. I bought it on sale for $399, and would absolutely buy it again. I think retail for it is over a grand now, but Jerry's frequently has it on sale for much less than that.

1 comment:

  1. Thats a great workspace. I always like seeing how other people work their hobby into/around the house.

    Tim D.