I'm no hobby Yoda, but there're a few things I've learned over the years that many new hobbyists probably don't think about.
Segregate Models From the Mixing/Cleaning Process
When you are mixing paint, cleaning your airbrush, or just generally working with things that can splatter, move your models faaaaaar way. I had a close call recently while cleaning my airbrush that could have ruined 20 hours of work.
I had just finished airbrushing some soot onto the stacks of my possessed vindi and while cleaning the black paint out of the brush with some solvent, I accidentally hit the trigger which blew a pulse of air into my used paint/cleaner container which in turn splashed a gout of that muck across my painting area. Luckily, my hand was positioned in such a way that it shielded my vindi and only a little bit landed on my wife (C'mom babe, skin regenerates! What's the big deal?). But, 9 times out of 10 I wouldn't have been holding the solvent bottle in that manner. I got off with a very close call that time. In the past, I've had to repaint entire models because I just couldn't take the time to put them in a different area when working with splashy stuff.
Secure Work and Avoid Handling
It takes me a long time to paint a model. This means it gets handled a lot. That handling can wear the paint off over time. I've gotten into the habit, even with the larger models, of touching the painted bits as little as possible until after they are dull coat sealed.
|A champagne cork (it's lightweight) with a heavy layer of gloss coat and some blue tack makes a great handle.|
White glue small parts to toothpicks or blue tack figures to old paint pots or clamp vehicles in spots that won't be visible when complete, then be sure to handle them using only the toothpick/paint pot/clamp.
|That's a Craftsman woodworking clamp sticking out of the rear of the this Rhino.|
For me, this is especially true for metal parts. No matter how much I clean them or what type of primer I use, I always get edge wear. Minimize your edge wear by not touching them at all until after it is thoroughly sealed!
Rest Your Brush Hand On Something
|The heel of my right hand rests on the thumb of my left, keeping everything nice and steady.|
Detail work is about a steady hand. If you have your brush hand hanging out in space, you have to control your fine brush strokes with not just your fingers, but your entire arm up to your shoulder. Trust me, it's far easier taking your arm out of the equation. I typically rest my brush hand against something like my other hand or the table.
Know When to Step Back
I know that when I'm building a new model I'm excited about, I tend to rush things. Rushing a build can cause you to make mistakes like gaping seams, forgetting to take care of mold lines, or misalignment of parts. Rushing sculpting will cause wasted green stuff and fingerprints, not to mention having to do completed parts over again because you just had to keep going rather than let stuff cure before handling. Rushing painting and weathering can also cause fingerprints, as well as missed spots, and just plain silly mistakes.
If you want to do it well, the model building side of 40k is about patience. Unless you've built and painted a lot of models, doing it right is going to take time. Take a deep breath, step back long enough to let things dry (or cure, or settle, or whatever). Go plan your next move and then execute that move. Or, set that piece aside and work on a different model, which is what I do most of the time. Be patient.
Any other tips you guys have would be a welcome addition to this short list. Please feel free to put them in the comments below. Thanks!