I made a big mistake today. After varnishing some newly finished figures I had a close look at some of the very first figures I'd painted for my Timurid/Islamic Persian/Moghul project. In particular, I looked at the Afghan spearmen (May 2009) and some late medieval handgunners for the Timurids (of a similar date). They've been sitting happily in their toolbox waiting for the rest of the lead pile to join them. I have to say I wasn't impressed.
In Dec 2009 I bought my magnifier so looking at these pre-magnifier figures was a shock. The edges of the main block colours were untidy and the highlights were high contrast and "stripey" to boot. On some figures my painting was just plain awful. I certainly wouldn't paint them like this today.
I know I was struggling to see figures properly for a while before I bought the magnifier but I didn't think it was this bad. My failing eyesight explains the lack of control and neatness. I must have been over emphasising the highlights to compensate as well. If you look critically at the photo of the back of the spearmen you should see what I mean.
Anyway, and to cut a long story short, they've all been re-painted; just the coats and jackets mind you. They now have a neater block colour and a more muted highlight. To speed up the process I used Flat Future to seal and varnish the figures which worked like a charm. On the positive side it didn't take that long and they now are a closer match to my current style.
The magnifier has obviously improved the quality of my painting and I suspect that in the last five years my style has improved too. I know that in the last couple of years I've been making a conscious effort to highlight with a colour just different enough from the base to be seen clearly and no more.
The moral of the story is never look back.