This week I have been doing a METRIC TON of research and painting. I now have a full twenty-six points painted. This post is longer than the others, but I feel it is critical for those getting into painting to know where to go for information. I found all of this the hard way; hopefully now you won’t have to. This post is in three sections: Four Basic Painting Tips, Video Guides for Techniques, and Lesser Known Tools for Modeling.
This Battle Box is my first go at painting minis. Everything below I learned and found while painting these.
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Four Basic Painting Tips
Tip 1: Find Pictures of the Models you are Painting.
Find things you like and don’t like so you can recreate it on your model, but still make it your own. By having a clear image in your head (or in front of you of what you want to create) you can pick up painting much faster.
I have three places I start when looking for model ideas. The first is the Privateer Press forums. People post their work here and offer constructive help. The second is coolminiornot. The people who post here are really good. Finally I just do a google image search and see where it takes me.
Tip 2: Write out your Painting Steps in Order and Set up your Paints Before you Begin.
You would not build a crib without an instruction manual and steps. Your miniatures cost a lot, so take five minutes to outline your painting steps. It will save you time & aggravation, and your models will look better. The back of your faction book has a few models with the paints used as a starter. I do a base list with the item painted and the color. Ex: Skull and Hands – Jack Bone I then do a detail section Ex: Skull and Hands – Brown Wash, Dry Brush Menoth White Highlight. Make sure you always paint from the inside of the model out. It saves you a lot of touch up in the long run.
Tip 3: Figure out your Ideal Paint Consistency.
I like the feel of the paint when it is the thickness of 2% milk. I use mixing medium and distilled water to get it how I like it. When the paint is thicker it seems to cover up more detail, the brush dries out faster, and the paint just doesn’t look as good. 1% milk is consistency is probably the thinnest I use for standard painting. Much thinner than that and it doesn’t seem to do much without a lot of layers. Do some experimenting and see what works best for you.
Tip 4: Practice Practice Practice.
Just like everything you are new to, your first model is probably not going to be awesome. Resist the urge to strip it down and start over. Keep that model as a source of pride so you can see how far you have come and improved.
Video Guides for Techniques
This woman is fun to watch and has some nice work. You don’t even realizing you are learning while watching her.
Rose City Miniatures
The gentleman from Rose City Miniatures has a list of basic tutorials to start you painting.
Hand Cannon Online Glazing Guide
This is an excellent written tutorial on glazing. It was the best one I found that shows you the potential of this technique.
Feathering and Wet Blending Guide
This is one of the better blending guides out there. Good information for new and experienced painters.
Airbrushing Metal Tutorial
Fun accent and beautiful metal work
Awesome Paint Jobs on Brush Care
These guys paint very nice models. Their videos range from basic tutorials to stuff for the professionals.
Lesser Known Tools for Modeling
These items are not necessary, just helpful. They are not things that people normally think about when they start painting. You will also find links to the version of the item I have, as well as alternate stores you can purchase them from and videos where available.
I don’t recommend just any light. Buy an OttLite. It is a full spectrum light designed for close up detail work and crafts. Purchasing an OttLite was a much bigger deal than I though it would be. My impression was that “a light is just a light” – boy was I wrong. The detail on the model really comes out when you view it under this light. This is important because it helps you pick out items that can benefit from highlighting. It also means that if you accidentally paint something you didn’t mean to, you can find your mistake faster. Simply put, the detail is much easier to see when I use this light versus a standard table light.
Stores: Online, JoAnns Fabric, Michaels Crafts
*JoAnns and Michaels tend to have sales on the light every 3-6 months. I picked up two at 50% off.
This stuff is incredible. I use it for two separate purposes. If I am mixing paints together, it seems to help them blend better. The paint doesn’t dry out as fast on the palette. Metallics can thin inconsistently with water, and the mixing medium seems to help suspend the pigments better. This way the paint that comes from the first stroke looks the same as the paint from my last stroke. Finally, the paint flows better onto my brush when I use this, meaning I can paint for longer in between dipping and cleaning my brush. I can mix my paints, lightly rinse my brush between each piece on my model, and keep going. This saves me so much time.
Stores: Privateer Press Online, or your FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store)
The Masters Paint Brush Cleaner
In my first week of painting miniatures I destroyed a few brushes. I didn’t know how much water I needed, how to clean my brushes, and I made a host of nooby mistakes. I now clean my brushes each night with this. It gets the paint out much better than water alone. After cleaning is done I place an ample amount of it on my brush, reform the tip, and let it dry with the cleaner on it. The cleaner actually conditions the brush and your brush dries with a happy little tip. I have already saved the purchase price on this cleaner by not having to buy new brushes and I just started using it. Awesome stuff!!!
Video Tutorial on How to Use the Masters Brush Cleaner
Eye Dropper / Bitters Bottle
Use this to easily put distilled water into your palette for paint mixture. This is much more accurate than trying to get a little water at the end of your brush. I picked up mine at my pharmacy, but the same bottle is available from Amazon at the above link.
Stores: Local Pharmacy, Amazon
You would not intentionally put calcium and metal into your water when mixing paints. Your Bone Jacks don’t need fluoride for their teeth. So don’t use tap water while painting. Your paint will flow where you want it to and you won’t get water spots.
Optivisor is a magnifying headpiece that I use modeling. I have used these for years in fine pitch soldering, but it works amazingly for painting these miniatures. (also great for tying flies if you fish) First, I recommend staying with the Donegan Optical Optivisor brand. They are a little more expensive, but you get what you pay for. Many people make the mistake of purchasing their headpiece based on magnification, not on the focal length. Don’t be that person. Sit at the table and figure out how far away you have the model when you normally paint. If you paint with the model 12 inches from your face, look at the 12 inch focal length Optivisors and THEN choose your magnification. First off your eyes will thank you. With the proper visor you will be able to paint for longer without eyestrain. It is a life saver when you have a model that is very intricate.
Tutorial on Choosing the Visor that is Right for You
Not everyone has five hours to spend holding tiny bits on an army of guys. The Helping Hand (also called Third Hand) can solve some of this for you. It is a set of alligator clips on a a swivel base. You can hold the models together with this and walk away to do other things; attach an arm and go to work. My only other recommendation with this would be to wrap the teeth of the clip with a piece of electrical tape so the model doesn’t get scratched. I don’t use the magnifying glass on this because I have my visor but some may find it useful.
Thanks for joining me in my second installment of this blog, and will continue each Friday with the new information I have learned.