Tournaments are fun and exciting.  They are great way to show off your skills at playing the game.  They are also a great venue to show off your painting skills.  I’m going to talk a bit about paint scoring in a tournament.


Why try for a high paint score?

Why should you be trying for a high paint score?  Well I think you should for a number of reasons.  First, it’s fun to show off your skill with a brush.  Second, I like looking at well painted models and playing against them, therefore I want others to view my army the same way.  Third is that you actually score points towards winning the tournament by having a good paint job.  So let’s discuss what is needed for that.

The Minimum:

The minimum you need to compete in a tournament is actually pretty simple.  What you need is for the model to have 3 colours and some sort of basing material.  That is it.  If this is all you do you can get into a tournament and play.  However you are likely to get no points on your paint score.

A bit more advanced:

Now we start getting down to it.  At this level the judges are looking for things like:  Edging the base of your model.  Painting the basing materials. Doing things like the eyes.  Basic layering, dry brushing, and washing.

Now to the good stuff:

O.K.  Now things get interesting.  So if you want an army that is going to get high marks for “painting” there is a lot of work and planning that need to be put into it.  So lets cover what you generally need to know and do.  I say generally as every tournament has it’s own paint scoring policy and there are some slight differences.  Overall though they are pretty close.

  • Display Board – Your army should be on a display board of some sort.  This board should be painted and use basing materials.  It should match the theme of your army.  It should be set up in such a way as to make your army look attractive and formidable.  Advanced versions of this include doing a painted backstop for the board that continues the scene and maybe even side boards that do the same.
  • Basing – The basing you choose for your models should work with your display board.  It should be be well painted and have more than just sand or texture paint.  It should be telling a story when put together with your other models and the display board.
  • Conversions – Having conversions in your army shows skill in modeling itself.  A good set of conversions or a single very hard conversion that fits the theme of your army will add to your score.
  • Turn Counters, Objective Markers, and Relics – You should create your own turn counters, objective makers, and relics.  They should be will painted, fit in with the theme of the display, and be functional.  Remember that a 40 mm base is the standard size for an objective marker or relic.
  • Banners – You should have a banner or standard for your army that fit’s the theme you have chosen.
  • Army Leader – This should be a stand out piece, and does not have to be an actual part of the army list.  A good example I saw online was someone made from scratch a display model of the Silent King for the Necron army.
  • Army List – This one is rare but some tournaments (I saw the one for BattleWorld and that one does it) have you make a display for your army list that matches your army display.
  • Painting – I’m going to break this up into further sections to highlight the points.
  1. Base coat – Is the base coat even?  Is there more than one colour on the base coat?  Are there signs of brush strokes or mold lines?
  2. Shading – Is the model shaded properly to darken the shadowed areas?
  3. Laying, dry brushing, and glazing -Are you using these techniques to bring out the raised areas and the areas that more light will be hitting?
  4. Light sourcing- Do you have a good concept of how light affects your model and have you painted it so as to bring out the shadows and highlights? (Note, when doing glow effects Light Sourcing actually works opposite of normal, with the light coming from the deepest areas and being darkest at the high points)
  5. Colour theory – Do you understand how colours work together and have you planned accordingly in your scheme?
  6.  Go for the details – Get the little things on your models. Make things like eyes and targeting arrays really pop and stand out.
  7. Unit leaders – There should be things in the paint job that signify that this model is special beyond what the plastic mold says.  If a unit does not have a leader (a squad of Necron Warriors for instance) designate a model the leader and make them a bit fancier than the others.
  8. Free Hand – First stay away from transfers, you will get some points for using them but you will never get top marks.  Instead learn to free hand on your models.  Give your models unit markings.  Make banners to move with your units that show army markings.

There are more advanced techniques that will lend to increasing your score, but doing this should give you top marks.  Remember that one model that is not up to the standards of the rest will drop your whole score.  The most important thing though to remember is to have fun.


Until next time,

Joe M.