The sweetest imperfection

May 15, 2022

Wow, really hasn’t been an active year for blogging, has it? While DotL has been very quiet, I’ve been busy with hobby stuff – and I’ll hopefully eventually post about it.

Much of this year’s gaming has been Five Parsecs from Home, a solo game that I’m happy to recommend, which I have been printing and painting models and scenery for. However, this is more of an editorial style post than a regular From the painting desk one. Why is this? Because I’m doing something profoundly different!

By “profoundly different” I don’t mean a new technique or a fancy new tool, but a fundamentally different approach to what I usually do. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to miniatures stuff (and various other minor things in life). Very small things can bug me far too much. An irritating mote of dust stuck to a miniature’s varnish. A slightly off painted eye. A mould line that I didn’t clean up neatly enough. Support marks on prints. A slightly different colour tone on two miniatures’ bases when they should be the same…you get the idea.

In general I don’t mind this, it’s just who I am after all, but it can cause some practical issues now and then, such as when you’re in need of a table full of new terrain. Sticking to my usual working habits, a table full of scifi terrain would probably take me months, and even that would involve compromises. That’s really not good for actually getting a game in – a couple of months is plenty of time for a budding project to run out of steam and result in half-finished reminders of that one cool idea you had.

Solution? Live with these minor imperfections. This is obviously nothing groundbreaking, and I’m sure it’s something every miniaturist thinks about at some stage. Sometimes you’ve done something as well as you can no matter if you’re happy with it or not, sometimes you just want to finish something so you can do something else that’s more inspiring or interesting. I’ve done this in the past too, and obviously I don’t put 110% into everything I do, sometimes I just want stuff that’s finished. This time, however, I’ve been doing it to a different extent than usual.

With this scifi scenery, I went for terrain that looks good on the table. I wanted it to look nice for gaming, but it does not have to stand up to close scrutiny or close-up photos – which this post will feature to illustrate a point. What this means in practice is that I printed at a much higher layer height than usual (0.2mm compared to my usual 0.12mm), only bothered to do minimal clean-up, and no imperfections such as failed or rough bits have been fixed. As I don’t want to bin things that can be used, these are basically stuff that I’d normally label “test prints” and give away for someone who can stand them being a bit crappy, or spend a lot of time fixing them with putties, sanding, and things like that.

The same goes for painting. These models have been hit with spray primers (one of which completely malfunctioned, covering the model and my spray booth in dry paint powder – no matter, still used the model), lathered in quickly made washes, and given a couple of coats of drybrushing using large brushes and craft store paints. Some very basic detailing and weathering, and that’s it, done!

You can click on the photos below to enlarge them.

Wrong printer settings resulted in funky random lines on the surface. Also, the windows are just blotches of paint.

Layer line central! Printers aren’t good at shapes like the pipes here.

These buildings have detachable roofs…

…that warped horribly after painting.

My printer had a rough day with this file, resulting in some gnarly texture and print artifacts.

Spray can malfunction left the inside gritty and chalky. I decided not to do anything to it, as I don’t usually play inside buildings anyway.

At first this felt horrible, but as it was a very conscious experiment, I decided to plough through and just live with it. What do you know, at some point I started to be more and more happy about them! Are they perfect? No! Do they need to be? Also no! Placed on they table they look really nice actually, and of course everything is subjective – I would’ve died for terrain this cool as a kid! This isn’t an “oh, woe is me, my super high standards are simply unbearable” kind of thing, but more an issue of my own personal flaws features and idiosyncracies and dealing with them in a healthy and beneficial way. I know this may not seem like a big thing, but believe me, it is!

Local planetery enforcers about to get destroyed by a genestealer. Doesn’t look at all bad to me.

I’m sure most of us have feelings of inadequacy at one point or another in this hobby: with the internet full of amazingly skilled people, while inspiring, it can also be disheartening at times. Learning to let go of excessive perfectionism or self-criticism that needlessly holds back hobby enjoyment is, I think, a great way of getting more out of our toys. For me, it meant putting together a bunch of very adequate terrain in a fraction of the time it usually would’ve taken, which means more time left for other things, more terrain to actually use in games, and more joy from completing things. Most of all, it allowed me to enjoy this awesome hobby even more than before. Importantly, this isn’t a “you should do this as well” post. Lavish attention on your models to your heart’s content if that is what makes you happy!

As an interesting final note, I started this post months ago but haven’t gotten around to finishing it. After digging the models out of storage, I found myself thinking that they actually look pretty nice and much better than I remembered. This made me happy – it seems there’s been an actual shift in how I view these things now, so…go me, I guess?

The hut in the first few pictures is a micro hab unit by Saucermen Studios, available for free on Thingiverse.

The buildings with the detachable roofs are stackable buildings by Rocketship Games, also available for free on Thingiverse


  1. Hey Mikko, I know exactly what you mean when you wrote about feelings of inadequacy from too much internet viewing. I’ve had to take what I view as inspiration and try to glean one or two aspect(s) from what I read or view and try to incorporate that into my box of tricks.

    It’s very hard to not judge your own work by others standards, so I’ve worked hard to just paint and play what makes me happy. I’m glad you are able to get more hobby and gaming done, and sad that your blogging less post, but in the end, it just nice to know that one of my favorite bloggers is still around! Looking forward to more posts in the back half of the year!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks very much for the kind words. I think the approach of using high standard work as an added inspiration instead of an unreasonably high bar is the way to go. I do hope to get some more blogging going – I think I’ve been suffering from a kind of blank page syndrome, but now I’ve made a post I’m finding myself much more enthusiastic again!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post Mikko. I have had to learn not to “seat the small stuff” both in life and gaming. From a gaming perspective my solution was two standards. A gaming tabletop standard where the importance is to get things on the table and must look OK from two feet away not under a microscope. The second is where I do my absolute best. Not as good as others but it is my best. I use this for key pieces like a general or an army that I really like. Works for me.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for the comment Guru! I find that to be a healthy and useful distinction for minis – and I guess for life in general as well!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This is absolutely relatable. I also typically print terrain at 0.12mm layer heights. I say it is because I have a long enough backlog to paint but in reality I really want to do a good job producing it for my table. But I also let the perfectionism side of me stop me from enjoying or even starting ambitious projects. It is awesome how you started to let that go to put things on the table and are now seeing a change in perspective.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the comment, I’m glad to hear you could relate! I do a fair amount of printing in both FDM and resin, and I really have to pay attention so that I don’t set resin standards on FDM – which can be really tricky! I do find myself more and more accommodating of the inescapable features of FDM, such as layer lines. I’ve now settled for a compromise where I print larger things like buildings at 0.2mm, smaller things like barricades, piles of crates etc. at 0.12mm, and anything smaller than that (as well as any miniatures) or requiring sharp detail in resin – typically at 0.03. This has worked really well so far!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I to also print in both resin and FDM. My standards for resin actually have changed as I used to print at 0.025mm for myself but since do professional presupporting. Since I test my work on the community standard 0.05mm. I honestly can’t see in my collection what is lower layer height and which is not. Being forced to change for work has really helped me.

        Liked by 2 people

        • That’s something to keep in mind definitely – I’ve been thinking of going back to 0.05 for faster prints, as I don’t think I could tell the difference either. The only thing stopping me is that I have my settings great for 0.03, and switching to 0.05 would be that little bit of extra effort…

          Liked by 1 person

        • Shameless plug. Try the “cones of calibration” it is an exposure time calibration tool I helped design as apart of Tableflip Foundry. It is one of the easiest pass/fail calibration tools on the market and designed to see the impact of supports.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Cheers, will do! I was aware of those, but didn’t know you were involved – it’s a small world.


  4. All looks good to me! 🙂 Funnily enough I’m about to start some minis that are, for me, different to what I’m used to as far as painting goes and I’m accepting that I may just have to live with them being good enough!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks John! I think it’s a good mental development – it was for me at least ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Cool stuff and they look great to me. One aspect of the hobby I hate is the perfection on the net and people always having to improve skills and techniques. Completion painting is to me a different hobby than war gaming in many ways. Although there is nothing wrong with that it can turn people off and that is a shame. I find enjoyment in painting and playing with painted toys is much better than unpainted. But the perfection on the web is not something that many of us can ever reach. That’s why I still blog – to show a real persons painting. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mellis! We definitely have a society and culture that’s constantly pushing us towards striving for perfection, regardless of whether it makes us happy or not. Happiness is a much better goal than perfection, I think!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. All looks perfectly serviceable to me dude, exactly the right amount of fucks given

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks muchly Alex, agreed 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice unit matey, I have to say its better to have blank page syndrome than scatterbrain syndrome where one paints up a bulk amount of figures only to loose enthusiasm for the bloody dio !!! I am trying to rid myself of that this year but whether that come to fruition we will have to wait and see!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, it’s a lesson I’ve learned, and re-learned many times over the years, and sometimes I still have to learn it all over again. Lately I’ve been pushing myself to get more done and if that means not worrying over every tiny detail then so be it. At first I was worried I’d never be happy with the results but honestly I don’t see a difference. Given time though I’m sure the curse of perfectionism will creep back in. Anyway, lovely work on that terrain – looks damn good to me!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Wudugast! I’ve noticed the same – things I thought would bug me have really ended up not bugging me. Unsurprisingly, most/all of it is just in my head.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. These look great! Thanks for showcasing our terrain with such a great paint job!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you – and thank you very much for the excellent terrain. I went in on the Flatline city 2 KS, so there are bound to be more of your pieces eventually shown on the blog 🙂


  10. […] another friend of mine, (I have several buddies. Trust me, I’m as surprised anyone…) I’m consciously trying to be […]


  11. Wow, feel like we’re on the same page. I’ve been out for quite a bit, mainly from the blogging side. On the painting side, I feel like my painting is starting to evolve and I’m letting go of some stuff., I’ve started to really take notice of how little the details I put on a mini actually show up outside of the dreaded microscopic camera lens. When I show a completed mini to the family under normal lighting conditions, they have to really squint to even see some of the stuff I put on there. Which feels like a lot of hard work for nothing. I remember some artists have said to hold the mini out at arms length occasionally to get a good overall view of how it’s looking. I’m going to keep trying to remember that.

    First off, glad to hear you are happy with yourself and your results. That’s definitely one of the most important things in life and this hobby of ours. I also think your terrain there looks absolutely fantastic! I’d be thrilled to play on a table with those. As you said, any of us would have been pleased as punch to have that kind of terrain to play with as a kid! Looking forward to seeing more!

    Liked by 2 people

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