I learnt two things this morning, or maybe I should say that I remembered two things this morning:
First: I drink too much coffee... Makes it harder to paint, because of light shaking, and light headaches that comes when caffeine effect wears off; coffee hangover. My favourite time for painting is during my lunch break at work at my office, in front of a huge window. On an overcast day, like today, it is as close as to a perfect environment that I can think of. Unfortunately, my favourite time to drink coffee is during the morning, at work... especially on dull overcast days... like today. less coffee next time.
Second: The thinner the paint you use, the "messier" you can be. It can be seen on these minis, freshly painted 20 minutes ago:
I usually paint my minis using the "dressing-up" order (paint like you dress: skin, first layer of clothing, next layer... up to details like straps). So in this case, I painted the flesh like I did on the Velites, using layering of paint thin enough to prevent a texture build up, but thick enough to be opaque. When I started on the brown tunics, I diluted my paint up to water consistency, giving a very VERY transparent result. I did that on a whim... don't ask why.
The way to use paint as thin as this is to paint many, MANY, M-A-N-Y coats one over the other, depositing only a very small amount of pigments every layer. The only important thing is that you do not flood the miniature as you would with a wash, but instead pick up a small amount of coloured water on your brush, and paint with it using the layering technique. A very long job you may think... not really: As each coat have very little effect on the whole paint job, you can apply it very roughly at the location where you want it, it does not matter at all if you you slip and accidentally cover a spot you did not want to... as long as you don't accidentally cover the same spot many times! in fact, you DO want to cover lightly different areas of the same spot as that is what will give you a smooth colour transition.
I did know this technique, but I always come back to "short-cuts" like thick paint-layering, drybrushing and dipping. The fact is that this method is not terribly longer than any of the short-cuts! Painting these two Hastati took me less than an hour, and would have taken even less if TMP member "ancientgamer" would not have pointed out to me that moulding lines are very visible on my Velites (thank you, by the way...) and if I did not spend a few minutes removing them. (EDIT: damn... I just saw that I missed some... I conciously left the spears alone, but there are some others that I missed... This is for me the main downside of 1/72 minis)
Try it out.
Lastly, I would like to thank every one who took the time to leave a comment, either here or on TMP. It is very encouraging, motivating, and helpful.