When you see an army that looks a lot like this...
You tend to see the person playing typically not investing as much into their army. Either in how they talk about it, how they use it on the table, or even in their care for the army. A lot of times you see those armies tossed into a box between games (I know I've seen several armies like that). Basically the person has only put in the time to get them assembled.
Now, this could just be that the person hasn't had the time to begin painting the figs. Everyone has those hectic times after all. But when you see that same army month after month with nothing done to it, you realize that a few things might be up. One thing could be that the person doesn't feel they can paint it to a standard they would like, which is an honest feeling for a number of people. Another thing could be they just don't feel it's worth the effort, can't say I believe that but every player has their own take on the hobby.
Then you find the armies that are painted to a three color standard...
|Using an example of one of my figs during work on it, unfinished, but just to show a point.|
I can't say that it's wrong to leave an army at that level, because it's not my army after all. But the players that have put in the effort to reach that level tend to seem to enjoy playing the army more overall. A lack of hobby skill shouldn't deter people from getting their miniatures painted to this level, especially if they like the army. You don't have to be a perfect painter or an artiste to get a decent looking paint job done. And lets face it, if you are willing to put in the effort to reach a basic three color level, you'll likely find some people around your FLGS that can help bring it up a level for free (because, lets face it, some of us love the hobby side of the games we play).
Then you run into those armies that have had a fair amount of time and effort put into them beyond just painting...
|A local players Khornate army, with his display base. Love playing this guy, his army is just sweet to see.|
These armies show a lot of attention to detail, sometimes with custom bases/resin bases/etc, the details are lavished upon. Not everyone can spend the time, or has the talent, to get this kind of army painting done. It is possible to get those things done if you can't do them, but a lot of the time (like most of the time) it will cost you in the wallet department. Artists tend to like being paid for their effort after all.
But even those that don't feel they are artists can still make their army 'pop' with some minor work. Even a three color army will reach a new level if you do some easy work on the bases, adding rocks, static grass, snow, etc. Those things can really help a 'looks good' army jump to the 'damn that looks nice' level without a ton of effort. And lets be honest, taking that time can help you really be involved with the hobby side of the game. You'll feel more invested in the army, and that feeling of investment can lead to more fun at the table, and at times even better play (yes, I mean that, having a good looking army can help you focus on the play which is a big help in play improvement).
Basic hobby skills aren't hard to develop, and with them you can feel your army is looking better and better. I'll be putting up some tips and tutorials in the coming weeks that cover some of the basics, such as customizing bases, use of various materials for basing, as well as basic highlight and shading techniques.
Feel free to comment, I'd love to here what people think on this topic.