One of the things I tell people starting out painting toy soldiers is to keep that first model. You’ll probably look at it and think, well thats pretty average, and aim to do better, but unless you hang on to that model (or take a photo I suppose) you’ll not be able to look back and see how you have improved. If you can hang onto a model every now and then. The only way you get better is practice, practice, practice.
Between the late 90s through to the noughties I painted small to large forces for almost every faction in WH40k, right up until Games Workshop priced me out of their range. This gave me lots of practice even though at times I felt like I was going no where painting the same model over and over, especially for rank and file games like WHFB.
These days I’ve almost gone back to where it all started, character models. While I do have a couple of “army” scale games like Bolt Action and Flames of War I’m really a big fan of skirmish games like Bushido and 7TV which focus more on individual characters. My gaming hobby was deeply rooted in Dungeons & Dragons where it’s all about the character, and while we started out in the “theatre of the mind” we gradually migrated to tabletop representation. One of those characters was, naturally, an Elf Ranger. I really dont remember this guys name, and while ive been tempted many a time to repaint him, this guy remains my token reminder of where I started.
Horrible glossy enamel, paint splashes all over the place, paint so thick I am sure there is buried detail despite the late 80s, early 90s model, staring eyes enough to scare a beholder and no basing whatsoever.