Airbrushing

The best paints for airbrushing are Accuflex and Humbrol, with Polly S and Testors each selling an airbrush thinner for their paints. That’s the bulk of what the author knows on the subject. “I’ve done a lot of airbrush as well as regular air gun painting, so maybe I can get you pointed in the right direction. There is a relationship between the air pressure used and the rate at which the thinner evaporates. Ideally, the carrier or thinner is still liquid when the paint strikes the surface to be coated, but not so liquid it runs off. Inks have a really slow thinner, relatively, but since you’re doing a wash, you don’t care if it’s really wet on contact. The idea is to puddle ink in the low spots anyway. The primers usually have a fast thinner, allowing a good coating without running. Spray cans _usually_ are balanced between pressure and range and thinner and particle size. Second, the pressure in the air-cans varies wildly as you use it up. And as the temperature changes. (So does the moisture content from condensation caused by cold air) Even the best airbrush will behave in a cranky way with canned air. Third, the type of paint or ink used may not be too friendly to airbrushing. Particle size needs to be pretty consistent for spraying. A lot more consistent than brushing requires. If you intend to stay with airbrush priming, I can offer some possible help: ” • 1. If you can ONLY use canned air, shoot for shorter sessions. Let the can warm back up a little more. ” • 2. Try an alternate air source, a compressor or an inner tube filled at a service station. You want as little pressure difference between your air source and the spraying pressure as you can manage. ” • 3. Use a primer designed for spraying. There are some hobbyist brands around that might be available where you are. ” • 4. Practice, practice, practice! And a word about priming, thinning and cleaning from Ed Sharpe, which is also edited and used without permission: “After carefully cleaning, washing and drying the figures, I prime them with Testor’s flat white mixed 50/50 with airbrush thinner by Testors. I apply the paint using an air brush. It usually takes 2 to 4 coats. Take your time and do not rush any of the steps. I use the Testor’s air brush thinner only to thin the paint. I use general paint thinner from the hardware store to clean my air brush.”
Category: Airbrushing

Choosing Your Model

25mm is easier to detail than 15mm or 6mm, some miniatures are less or more detailed than others. Again, this is much a matter of personal preference and what you want the miniatures for. Look over as much as you can before selecting starter miniatures, unless you have your heart set on something. Just don’t pick something so fussy or detailed that you’ll get frustrated with your new hobby on your first project. Also, refrain from doing that `special’ one until you’ve had a little practice. Some offerings of types in the 25-28mm range are: Reaper are recommended `beginner’ pieces as they have large model dragons and monsters and fantasy figures many of which have very fine detail. Once you get the knack of painting, can be masterpieces. Games Workshop: Some have heavier features like the Space Marines and so are easier but they have an incredible variety and many beautifully detailed models, thus good for both the novice and veteran to choose from. Mithril: pre-primered and a little above 25mm, broad detail, Ral Partha and Harlequin (now Icon): tend to have sharp detail, good once you have the basics down. Front Rank has endless variety in both individual figures and quality. Excellent sculpting. Great figures with fine features and nice detail. The Foundry: A little difficult for the beginner with superb detail and historically accurate to boot. A bit more expensive than most but well worth the extra money, varies greatly, use your own judgment. In the 15mm category, the finest detail and highest quality miniatures in the Medieval and Ancients ranges are the Alain Touller and Chariot Miniatures figures, in my humble opinion, this is not to take merit from other makes. Both also have really good Napoleonic figures. Also good detail and historically accurate are Fantassin for Napoleonics. These are very economical and paint up very well and provide a great variety of troops and poses. They are always extending their ranges. they may even be bringing out some Ancient ranges in the future. Minifigs3D are also excellent for the wargamer, with an incredibly wide range especially in Napoleonics but tend to be slightly smaller than their brethren but paint up extremely well. I love their Samurais! Friekorp also have a good range of 15mm ranges which are quite easy as starters; as do Reaper in their Shadow Fantasy line. Old Glory are another well known range who hardly need explaining offering such a wide variety in both 15

Opinion varies. Some favour plastic because it’s cheaper, some prefer metal for better detail. Choose according to your own budget and preferences.

Miniture Bases

This depends entirely on what you’re using the miniature for. If it’s a display model, then you can get fancy. If it’s for military gaming, you’ll want a durable, realistic look. If it’s for fantasy play you’ll want durability and likely not too much fuss. Standard materials for bases are: the plastic slotted bases many companies both supply with their products and sell separately, pennies or flat washers, cardboard (not recommended – bends too easily), tiles, wood, sheet metal, matte board, masonite, plastic sheeting and magnetic strips (often bonded to one of the above materials). Filler and water putty have both been used with success, and someone also has claimed to make his own bases out of hot glue. The general rule, of course, is the more use the miniature gets, the stronger the base material should be. You can find all the bases in the mentioned materials on this site if you don’t want the hassle of trying to make them yourself.

Category: Miniture Bases

Painitng Miniatures

It seems that once in a while, even though the inks and washes have been mixed properly, they end up drying, not in the low spots like they should, but on the high contours. It has something to do with the density of the wash and the slickness of the surface; on matte surface the effect is more prominent than on glossy surfaces. It happens because a pool of wash in a recess starts to dry from the edges, then the rest of the paint in the wash adheres to the already dry paint, producing a ring of paint around the recess. There are four methods that can help solve the problem: 1. Add a small amount of rubbing alcohol to the wash. It lowers the surface tension, and dries faster. This may be a drawback for some painters. Some model railroaders have been doing this for a while now. (Thanks to Coyt D Watters for this tip.) 2. Add a little dishwashing detergent to the wash. It helps the wash stick better. (Coyt again…) 3. Use small amounts of wash, allowing each to dry before applying the next. Blow gently on the wash after applying, from the top, to keep the pools in the recesses where they belong. If the wash is thin enough, it’ll dry with a minimum of blowing. 4. Mix a new wash, thicker. It might work better, being thick enough to keep from creeping, or maybe with just a little different density.

Pick the colours you want for the major areas (skin, each piece of clothing and armour, hair, shield) and paint them on in layers. Think of dressing the miniature. Start with eyes, move on to face and hands, then clothing, armour, hair, lastly weapons. You aren’t going for massive detail just now, you’re only setting each area’s base colour. Make certain the paint goes on smoothly and remember to paint from top to bottom. Once you have this part done, it’s time for detailing. This is achieved by many different techniques such as drybrushing, washing, shading, and highlighting.

This question has sparked some vigorous discussion from two major camps: acrylics and enamels. First, a description of what these terms mean: Oil- or solvent-based. These tend to be a bit thicker than acrylics and require that you have “thinner” on hand for washing, thinning, and brush cleaning. These paints are often referred to as enamels, but some acrylics can be enamels as well, so when in doubt, read the label. Acrylic paint is water-base and tends to be smoother, though if it gets dry it can become grainy. All you need to thin or clean up with this stuff is tap water. Discussion on the newsgroup rec.games.miniatures has uncovered that more posters prefer the acrylics to oils. (This author uses acrylics.) Again, a matter of taste. The basic colours from which just about anything can be mixed are white, black, brown (you can mix this yourself, but it’s a pain), red, yellow, blue, and gray (same as above). Metallics, various shades and hues, practically anything you can think of is available through one company or another. Start with the basics and expand as you feel you need it. Soon enough you’ll have more paint than you ever imagined you’d need, and likely use every one. Most like-type (acrylic or oil) can be mixed regardless of brand, but be cautious at first as some brands are incompatible. Companies which manufacture miniature-formulated paints: • Rennaisance Ink (acrylics and Inks Primers and Finish) available from this site. • Ral Partha (acrylics and dragonscale metallic creams) • Floquil/Polly S (acrylics and oil-base) • Armory (acrylic) • Pactra (acrylic enamels) • Model Master (oil-base and acrylic) • Testor’s (oil-base) • Humbrol (oil-base) • Dragon Colour (acrylic) • Citadel (acrylics and specially-formulated inks Primers) available from this site. • Howard Hues (acrylic) • Tamiya (fine acrylics, almost transparent) • Gunze Sangyo’s Aqueous Hobby Colour (fine acrylics) • Horizon (acrylics for vinyl models – good on primed surfaces) • Accuflex (acrylics – formulated for airbrushing, also makes a good primer) • Folk Art (acrylic) • Apple Barrel Colors (acrylic) • Deco Art (acrylic) • Legacy 1837 (premium quality acrylic) • Delta Creamcoat (acrylic) There are other companies, of course, these are just the ones the author could think of right now. Most paints are available at your local hobby or gaming shop but two of the best, mentioned above, you can find right on this site. Paints may be bought by the individual bottle or in sets. If you buy a set from a shop, be sure that you can see all the paints before purchase. This way, you’ll assure that you get what you’re looking for and that the consistencies are good. SHAKE all paint before purchase, to make sure they mix up well. We examine our paints before sending them to ensure they are in optimum condition.

Primer is a must and not only assures for good paint adhesion, but it also brings up detail more starkly than on an unprimered miniature. Now that that’s settled, we go into another major area of controversy among painters: How? The only thing painters seem to agree upon is that a spray primer is best, and the primers specifically formulated for miniatures are better at retaining detail. Some folks use Krylon with very good results, but it takes a light and even spray to retain detail. Companies that put out good spray primers are Rennaisance Ink, Ral Partha, Armory, Floquil, Model Master, Testors, and Citadel. Krylon is the best of the non-hobbyist primers, but other store brands are in the same league. If you use sandable primer, be especially careful to use thin coats so as to not obscure detail. BEFORE APPLYING PRIMER you will need to clean up any bad lines on the miniature (use a small file, X-acto knife, or emery board), making sure you get rid of the bump under the base, if your miniature has a self-molded base (sandpaper is excellent for this), then WASH it in a little soap and water. Various substances are used on miniatures to make them come free of the mold, as well as the fact that hand oils get on the miniature as it’s handled, and these will interfere with paint adhesion unless cleaned off. Now, use a little white glue (or rubber cement – thanks Ed Sharpe!) and glue the miniature to a base of cardboard, cork, wood strip, popsicle stick, ruler, plastic bottle cap… Anything you can safely handle without touching the figure. This assures that you can handle the miniature during the painting process without touching wet paint. Even a freshly dry coat will rub off without the slightest provocation. Methods of applying primer are spraying and brushing on. If you’re using a brush-on primer, make certain it flows well without being too thin and use a semi-large brush to brush over your miniature from top to bottom. If you’re spraying, set up a large box enclosed on three sides in which to place your miniatures for priming. This will keep the paint from going everywhere and also tends to give a better coat. Make sure you have good ventilation, outdoors or in a window or set up a fan. Spray paint is nasty. On the subject of technique, the best advice I’ve seen came from Deep Six , as posted to rec.games.miniatures, and is edited and used here without permission: “First, be sure you shake the paint well. It says on the can you should shake it for a full minute, so I do it for two minutes. Shake during use, too. The second thing is spraying the figures with the `good’ stream of spray. You do this by starting the spray before it hits the figs and stopping the spray after it hits the figs. The spray that comes out of the can when you first start spraying and when you stop spraying is incomplete — it has too much or too little paint, and/or too much or too little carrier. What I do is put the figs out on newspaper and start spraying the newspaper to one side of the figs, when the spray has been coming out for a half-second or so, I pass the spray over the figs, and when the spray has passed over the figs, I stop. This assures that only properly mixed paint is falling on the figs. It takes longer and wastes some paint, but the finish is worth it to me. Next, keep the can as upright as possible, and keep the nozzle about 10 inches from the figs. Any closer and it’s too hard to control the amount of paint on the figs. Any further and the paint starts to dry before it hits the figs. And finally, IMO you should never use a whole can of paint (on figs anyway). It seems like when the can is about 3/4 of the way empty, the paint is really crappy, uneven and it comes out of the can in spurts. And Coyt reminds us to always make sure you get the underside of the miniature as well, particularly if it’s a figure in a cloak or the like. Spray upward and at an angle and make passes from all sides to assure coverage.

Not much. Something to hold your water/solvent (two of them if you’re working with metallics, one for the regular paint and one for the metallic – keeps flecks out of the other stuff, and change often to keep from muddying your colours), a palette of some sort (professional, ceramic tile, old plate, even the plastic bubble from a large miniature or two – John Stallaert suggests the plastic lid from a large margarine tub or the like covered with foil. When done, strip the foil off and discard), and GOOD LIGHTING. Against a window is ideal, if not a good overhead light or adjustable lamp is a must. Paper towels or napkins – some for blotting your brushes on and some extras for the inevitable spill or splatter. Time – never enough of that so learn to paint bits at a time (also good so that one layer can dry before you put on another). Ventilation; All paints give off noxious fumes, whether you can smell them or not, and unless you like having headaches, you’ll want lots of space, open windows, even a fan or two. The above are the needed things. Below are optional: A magnifying glass – useful for seeing fine detail. “I started using a magnifying visor (jewellers) which gives me 2x and flips up out of the way. Gee what a difference! Now I can easily detail those little things like dart feathers, buttons, and laces. They are a little expensive, but a good quality one can be purchased for under $20.00 and because it’s on my head, I don’t have to move around to get a good clear view, nor is a magnifying glass in the way of my brushes.” (J. Stallaert) An X-acto blade can be helpful, tweezers can be invaluable if you’ll be gluing, files and emery boards are used to remove sprue, mold lines, and anything else you don’t want. Nail scissors get into places larger ones can’t. As you get more practiced you’ll start finding other things to use in your painting pursuits (such as toothpicks, popscicle sticks, dentist tools, a Dremmel or Foredom grinder and small brushes), so you’ll acquire your own personal array in time.

These are techniques to give a little realism to your miniatures. Shading and highlighting give the illusion that there is light shining upon the figure. Shading details the folds and shadows and highlighting picks out the brighter, better lit areas. Washing, glazing, outlining and blending are all methods of shading. (See below.) Drybrushing is a highlighting method, and is simply accentuating the high spots with a bit of paint a bit lighter than the base. (See section 4.B.) Glazing is done with inks, as can be washing and outlining.(See section 4.D.) Outlining is simply picking out the line between two separate parts of the miniature (i.e. sleeve and arm) and painting or inking in a fine line of either black or a darkened shade of the base in order to bring out the division between the two sections. Blending is rather difficult and takes much practice. To blend one changes the tone of the paint as it crosses the surface of any non-detailed section, as Mech armour or unscaled hide. Darker shades are laid into any depressions and carefully thinned and blended into the surrounding areas using a damp brush. (This is NOT a technique for beginners. The author still has trouble getting his blending to look good, and finds nothing wrong with not shading miniatures at all. Again, try it and see if you want to practice the technique or not. Another personal-choice situation.) If you’re using acrylics, you can pick up several TONING MEDIUMs, which alter the brightness of the paint without the headache of black. I’ve started using a drop of white, a drop of black, and a drop of toning and mixing all four with equal parts of the color I’m using, so I get light – color – toned color – dark. My first attempt was on one of the mages in Partha’s Forgotten Realms set, and the cloak looks better than anything I’ve done, and I haven’t drybrushed or washed it yet. And a tip from Christian Widmer a fellow painter : “Use a slower on acrylic colours. This slows them from drying but they do still not cover if they didn’t before. Warning, oil colours tend to lose their colours and go brown-grey when I try this.” Nick Fogelson also shares his methods, which are far better than anything I could provide (used without permission): “The way I always do blending is to put a smudge of the two end colours in a strip, separated about 1.5 inches. I then use a slightly moist brush to mix them together into a spectrum. The colours near the original smudge will be closer to that colour, the colors in the middle should be fairly even mixes of the two. You then have a nearly infinite palette of colour to use. You can do a nice blend with only 5 or so shades that looks really good unless you magnify it. Alternatively: Say you want to go up red to yellow. Paint the entire area yellow. Put a block of watery red on the top. Slowly draw a moist brush down the area, drawing the red pigment with it. If you’re patient, this method will bring the best results (but if you’re not, you’ll get a big mess).” Kenneth Creta also has two good techniques: “This idea was suggested by Tom Harris and I added a little of my own touches. Let’s say you want to fade from green to black. Just paint the whole darn thing green. At the point where you want it to fade, wash with a black ink. When dry, wash again but a little farther down and so on until the bottom is black. The first ink is not a smooth transition so when the washes are done, go back and dry-brush green over the first ink line and this will smooth it out. The washes may be diluted to the desired consistency.” “Start by painting a band at the bottom in dark green. While it’s still wet, add some white and paint the slightly lighter green band above it. Use a second brush and paint along the line between. If the paint is still wet, they should blend together pretty good. I use a slightly damp brush. If you get enough bands, it’s looks like a gradual colour change. The hardest part is the blending between the bands.” Here’s another banding method from Roxanne Reid-Bennett a painter of Fantasy Miniatures: “I have a Water Elemental that was done in this style (Rafm). The typical way of handling this is to “blend” two colours together (which I have a LOT of trouble with). What I did was to paint the base (bottom 1/2″) dark blue (RP Paladin) then used graduated shades of blue (about 5 different) up towards the top of the figure where I used a light blue (Sky) for the upper torso of the elemental. After the bands were in place I went back and used mixed intermediates on the band overlap areas. I kept this up until the graduated shading looked right. Some of the intermediates I watered down some so they wouldn’t go on very thick. I really wish I could “blend” like the books and FAQ say – by mixing the two wet paints in the middle – but so far haven’t succeeded. “For finishing work I used a slightly darker blue for wash on the torso to bring out the muscles. I used white on the tips of the water waves and washed in blue. Just for final effect I washed the whole figure in Pearl White (RP). Gives the figure a nice wet look – even with a flat seal cover. “So the hard way is to literally to paint stripes on the figure in shades close enough to each other that our (human) eyes can’t see the distinct lines.” And here’s a rather advanced shading/blending/tinting method from John Colasante , (used without permission): “Lets say you want to paint an orange tunic on a figure. Mix the base color and plop a pile on your pallette. Next to it, plop down a dark tint and a light tint. For orange,lets say dark brown and yellowish-white. It doesn’t matter what kind of pigment you use, water base or oil base. Now, tint the base color with the dark tint and paint the entire tunic, or even drybrush the tunic if painting over a dark primer. When dry, paint the basecoat over the dark tint, BUT NOT ALL THE WAY TO THE EDGES. Also, leave tinted dark shade in the folds. Next, tint light and highlight the center and high spots. Note: this is similar to drybrush except you are painting color here, not actually drybrushing, so you get a certain effect which is different than pure drybrush. In fact, it often looks nice when there is a clear demarcation between the tinted shades on certain surfaces, almost like color contours. Use more than three tint levels for certain effects. It sounds tedious but if you use the palette it’s very fast and the results often look much better than the purely drybrushed highlights, especially for larger, flat areas where drybrushing might miss.”

Drybrushing is a highlighting method, and is simply accentuating the high spots with a bit of paint a bit lighter than the base.

No its not what you think! An overcoat is a coat of clear paint that protects those colours you so carefully put onto your miniature. Even an unhandled figure will begin to dull after awhile, and one in regular use will lose its paint even faster from hand and carrying case friction. So you should put a protective coat over the miniature to make sure the paint remains unmarred. Overcoats come in three (possibly four) types: gloss, matte, flat, and lusterless. Though four types are named, one company’s matte is another’s flat, flat and lusterless are often interchanged, and matte occasionally is labeled semi-gloss. When in doubt, test or ask. Overcoats also come in two different applications, brush-on and spray. Spray is easier to use when you want a uniform coating, brush-on is good for when you only want certain parts covered. Spraying overcoat on a miniature is much like spraying primer, though 3-5 coats is recommended for maximum protection. Remember to begin and end the spray beyond the miniature in order to get the cleanest application. Gloss is just that, shiny. It is most usually used on cars and other items that should shine. Semi-gloss (satin, sometimes called matte) is low-luster, and very durable on a figure that will be getting a lot of handling. Unfortunately, it tends to look artificial on humans and some animals. It’s excellent on scales, however, and hard leather. Flat (also sometimes matte) is nearly without shine. It’s a good all-around people coating, exceptional on animals, where it simulates fur’s natural shine. Lusterless is absolutely flat, it doesn’t even look like it’s there. It’s perfect for people and cloth and anything else that should have no shine whatsoever. Several coats can be applied and it never shows. A good method of overcoating a realistic-looking human/humanoid is to use a spray lusterless overcoat and put on 3-5 coats, then after the last coat is dry, use a brush-on matte or gloss to go back over all metallics, jewelry, eyes, lips, and anything else that should have a shine to it. This is the author’s favourite method. Companies making overcoats are ( denotes brush-on, = is spray): Armory (water-based acrylic): Glass – a high-gloss Matte Sealer – low gloss = Floquil (oil-based enamels): Flat Finish – completely lusterless High Gloss – very shiny, looks wet Crystal-Cote – not quite as shiny Al-Pro-Cote – flat finish Glaze – a lovely matte/satin finish Figure Flat – a low-shine matte = Floquil Flo-Stain (oil-based, for wood or over paint): Glaze – as above (I use this) Crystal-Cote – also as above Al-Pro-Cote – flat finish, no shine Humbrol (oil based): Dull Cote – flat finish Krylon (spray only) Clear Matte – low gloss = (I also use this)Available from this site. See Rennaisance Ink on the Paints pages. Model Master (oil-based): Lusterless – another lusterless = Gloss Finish – high-shine = Pactra (water-based enamels): Flat Clear – lusterless Gloss Clear – shiny Polly S (water-based acrylic): Gloss Finish – high shine Flat Finish – lusterless Ral Partha (acrylic) Spray Clear Matte Sealer – low gloss = Clear Sealer – matte finish Testers (Oil-based enamels): Flat Finish – again, lusterless Gloss Finish – shiny = DullCote – absolutely flat = There are others, of course, these are only what the author knows about.

Get in the light and give your miniature a good look-over. Usually a dot of paint or careful dry brushing will bring out the final details. Certain specialized questions have been asked, the answers to which are given below: 9Da. Does anyone have a decent method for painting torches? This answer came from D.R. Splatt : “The best I’ve personally seen was to paint the flames red at the base, orange for highlights, yellow for the bulk of the flame and a light drybrush of white (or black for a smoky flame). Try to get the flames predominately yellow, Also a ‘ragged’ orange layer looks good.” From Kent Reuber : “People doing micro-armor have been using this sort of thing to simulate burning tanks for quite a while. Paint the torch itself black. Then tear off a small bit of cotton, paint the upper part grey-black and the lower part red-orange. Glue this bit of cotton onto the torch.” 9.D.b. Can I use anything besides paint and ink for details? Of course you can. The simplest are decals, which are sold by the sheet and have many different styles to choose from. Technical pens can be used for a lot of intricate work, as can fine tip permanent markers. There’s a catch to the markers, though, they can bleed when overcoated. Alec Habig has a good remedy: “I used some fine tip permanent markers to do letters and lines on some miniatures. This works well, giving better results than painting the same sort of stuff. The problem – the marker would bleed when I coated the minis with the obligatory DullCote lacquer. The solution – I rubbed a little bit of good old Elmer’s or Lepage’s white glue on the spot that I’d lettered with the marker. Just a bit, and rubbed it around till I couldn’t see it anymore. This stopped the bleeding, without altering the finish in any noticeable way.” Mariano Flores gives these tips for decals (used without permission): “For best results of decals adhering to the surface of your miniatures: • 1. Spray miniature with a shiny gloss coat (I use Testors Gloss Coat). You will find that decals adhere better to smooth surfaces. • 2. Let gloss coat dry, maybe an hour or two. I usually let the coat dry for a whole day. • 3. Apply decals to model. It is suggested to use distilled water, since tap water is not that pure and may contain some contamination (i.e. iron). • 4. Let decal dry for a day. The wrinkling effect on decals is usually caused by applying the dull coat or semi-gloss coat to a decal that still contains some moisture. • 5. Apply dull coat to model. These procedures seem a bit drawn out, but patience is a virtue. These procedures work for me.” There are probably dozens of other common and unusual detailing tips out there that the author hasn’t heard of yet. We’d love to have them sent in for inclusion here.

A thousand answers exist for this one. The best advice available seems to be use what you prefer. White primer makes colours go on brighter and is best for anything on which you want that effect. Black primer gives good shadows and is commonly used to base modern military and skeleton figures. Gray is rather neutral allowing for brighter light colours and decent shading. The best tip so far is to experiment and see what you like. Also, and the author likes this effect, prime in black and then drybrush raised areas in white before painting. This allows for the depth of the darker shade but gives the lighter base for the brighter colours.

What are inks, should I use them, and if so how?

Yes! Primer is a must and not only assures for good paint adhesion, but it also brings up detail more starkly than on an unprimered miniature. Now that that’s settled, we go into another major area of controversy among painters: How? The only thing painters seem to agree upon is that a spray primer is best, and the primers specifically formulated for miniatures are better at retaining detail. Some folks use Krylon with very good results, but it takes a light and even spray to retain detail. Companies that put out good spray primers are Rennaisance Ink, Ral Partha, Armory, Floquil, Model Master, Testors, and Citadel. Krylon is the best of the non-hobbyist primers, but other store brands are in the same league. If you use sandable primer, be especially careful to use thin coats so as to not obscure detail. BEFORE APPLYING PRIMER you will need to clean up any bad lines on the miniature (use a small file, X-acto knife, or emery board), making sure you get rid of the bump under the base, if your miniature has a self-molded base (sandpaper is excellent for this), then WASH it in a little soap and water. Various substances are used on miniatures to make them come free of the mold, as well as the fact that hand oils get on the miniature as it’s handled, and these will interfere with paint adhesion unless cleaned off. Now, use a little white glue (or rubber cement – thanks Ed Sharpe!) and glue the miniature to a base of cardboard, cork, wood strip, popsicle stick, ruler, plastic bottle cap… Anything you can safely handle without touching the figure. This assures that you can handle the miniature during the painting process without touching wet paint. Even a freshly dry coat will rub off without the slightest provocation. Methods of applying primer are spraying and brushing on. If you’re using a brush-on primer, make certain it flows well without being too thin and use a semi-large brush to brush over your miniature from top to bottom. If you’re spraying, set up a large box enclosed on three sides in which to place your miniatures for priming. This will keep the paint from going everywhere and also tends to give a better coat. Make sure you have good ventilation, outdoors or in a window or set up a fan. Spray paint is nasty. On the subject of technique, the best advice I’ve seen came from Deep Six , as posted to rec.games.miniatures, and is edited and used here without permission: “First, be sure you shake the paint well. It says on the can you should shake it for a full minute, so I do it for two minutes. Shake during use, too. The second thing is spraying the figures with the `good’ stream of spray. You do this by starting the spray before it hits the figs and stopping the spray after it hits the figs. The spray that comes out of the can when you first start spraying and when you stop spraying is incomplete — it has too much or too little paint, and/or too much or too little carrier. What I do is put the figs out on newspaper and start spraying the newspaper to one side of the figs, when the spray has been coming out for a half-second or so, I pass the spray over the figs, and when the spray has passed over the figs, I stop. This assures that only properly mixed paint is falling on the figs. It takes longer and wastes some paint, but the finish is worth it to me. Next, keep the can as upright as possible, and keep the nozzle about 10 inches from the figs. Any closer and it’s too hard to control the amount of paint on the figs. Any further and the paint starts to dry before it hits the figs. And finally, IMO you should never use a whole can of paint (on figs anyway). It seems like when the can is about 3/4 of the way empty, the paint is really crappy, uneven and it comes out of the can in spurts. And Coyt reminds us to always make sure you get the underside of the miniature as well, particularly if it’s a figure in a cloak or the like. Spray upward and at an angle and make passes from all sides to assure coverage.

Start with the eyes. Then do the face in whatever shade you choose. Now add a touch of white to the flesh tone to get a slightly lighter shade and go back over the nose and cheekbones. A light orange makes defined but natural-looking lips. Remember, red lips are a product of makeup, not nature. Some painters prefer to put the eyes on last, but others say it’s too hard to keep from making the effect pop-eyed when done last. Try whatever method you prefer. Mustaches are best if dry-brushed, paint beards a slightly redder or darker shade than the hair and dry brush with the same colour you use on the hair. There’s nothing wrong with a 5-o’clock shadow on an appropriate figure, either. Dry-brush it on in a shade slightly darker than the hair. Once you get comfortable with faces, experiment with scars or tattoos. You might amaze yourself.

Depending on the size of the miniature, there are a couple of good methods. On a 15mm or smaller miniature, don’t try too hard for absolute detail until you’ve gotten a lot of practice in. On 25mm and larger, though, eyes can be done rather easily (with practice, of course). Below are several methods: Before painting the face, paint the eyes white. When that’s dry, dot them black. Then paint a slightly darker shade than you’re going to use for the rest of the face around the eyes to define them (mix a touch of brown or tan into the flesh tone for this). Then paint the rest of the face. % [This method is courtesy of Andrew Cameron Willshire: “Another easy way is to paint the white of the eye with a brush. Let it dry. Then, take a tech pen (architectural or engineering) and draw the iris. With another tech pen, dot in the pupil. Note that this requires a few different pens since you’ll want a few different colours – say black, blue, brown and maybe green. “This is a really easy technique, and since the ink is water based if you muck up you can just rinse it off (this is assuming you use enamels for the rest of the figure, like I do).” [Author’s note: even if you use acrylics, if the white is already dry you can still blot the ink off with a damp Q-tip or the tip of a damp, fine brush.] “It also works great on monsters, say orcs. However, they tend to look better with `reds’ instead of `whites’ in their eyes, then having a white iris and black pupil – very nasty looking! Tech pens may be a little pricey to pick up, but you can easily find sets with a few in them that are reasonably cheap. They also work magnificently for such things as flag details, shield heraldry and so forth.” Steve Harvey has some advice regarding affordable tech pens: “Most tech pens are obscenely expensive, but there are two brands of non- refillable tech pens that I am aware of. Sakura makes an excellent series of tech pens called Pigma – these come in a variety of colors, in sizes ranging from .005mm to .8, and cost about $2.00 each. I like these so much that even though I have a set of Pentel professional tech pens, I use these instead. Schwan/Stabilo also makes a series of pens called OHPen 96 (or at least that’s what it says on the barrel of mine…) which also come in numerous colors and several sizes. They are not as fine as a true tech pen, but they will write on ANYTHING – glass, plastic, etc. without the ink beading. The one thing to watch out for is that they come with either permanent or water-soluble ink; the latter are popular as overhead transparency markers, but for miniature work, the permanent is what you want.” [This method is given by Allan Wright and has been edited]: “I paint eyes on 25mm (and 15mm officers, standard bearers, etc) with a technique taught to me by a friend. 1. Fill the eye socket with white. I use an OOO brush, one stroke horizontally across each socket. Be sloppy, it’s OK. 2. Paint the middle of the eye, Black, Dark brown or Dark blue. Paint a vertical stripe down the center of the eye – taking up the middle third of the eye socket – don’t worry about going over the top/bottom edges. Again I use an OOO brush. In both let the brush ‘fan out’ 3. Eyebrow – paint with hair color of your choice. Paint the eyebrow on the ridge above the eye socket in a slight crescent shape, cover the white and black from 1

It depends on your paint type, mostly. For acrylics which are water-based, a good careful washing with warm water and dish detergent is fine. Remember to re-form the tips into points before storage. For oil-based paints, your best bet by far is to buy a bottle of thinner made by the same company as your paints. Not all paint is formulated the same and thinner is often product-specific. Also, Badger brand “Air-Opaque ready-to-use- cleaner” for airbrushes does a wonderful job of getting dried paint off of paintbrush bristles, either acrylic or oil-based. It costs $4 for 16oz. (Thanks to Bill Gilliland for that tip.) While we’re at it, there are three ‘nevers’ to brush-handling: • Never let your brush rest in the water or thinner on its tip. That’s the surest way possible to lose a fine point. • Never scrub a good brush across either miniature or blotter. • Never let paint dry on your brush. This’ll fray the bristles into an unusable mass. When cleaning a brush while painting, gently rotate it against the side of the solvent/water container until the bristles stop exuding paint. A gentle wipe across the blotter before washing the paint out of the bristles both saves solvent/water from clouding prematurely and helps get rid of traces of paint you can’t readily see. A clear solvent/water container is desirable so you can monitor its cloudiness and how clean the brush is becoming.

Dry-brushing is the best method of highlighting any large area or area with repetitive detail, such as armour. For faces, hands, buckles and the like, highlighting can be achieved by taking a slightly lighter shade of the base (mixed with white or a lighter tone) and going along the raised areas lightly. A fine brush point is required, as is a steady hand. For faces highlight the chin, nose, and cheeks. For hands go along the backs and each finger. For other detail, pick the spots that should show up best and give them the lightest highlights. It’s common to highlight twice, each time getting lighter in tone and finer in line. A bit of blending is required to keep things looking natural, but this blending is easier than the large-surface technique. Simply keep a damp brush handy and brush very lightly toward the darker areas. Again, this technique takes practice, but is worth the effort when the miniature is completed.

Shake or stir them often, put plastic wrap between the cap and bottle on paints that come in glass jars. Acrylics reconstitute fairly well with the addition of water and a good stirring. Oil-based do same with thinner. Try and keep your paints in a place where temperature remains fairly stable. Users of both Polly S and Humbrol have had good results from storing their paint upside-down. The paint itself augments the seal and keeps all air out.

It’s honestly not as hard as it looks, though you do need to both wash and drybrush it. Base in a good neutral tone for the colour you want (a dark yellow for blondes [tan, dun, khaki, yellow], dark red for redheads, lighter for auburn, orange for strawberry blondes, any shade of brown for brunettes, and black or dark blue for black hair). Then darken it or select something a couple of shades darker and wash. Let that dry, then wash thicker and darker. Let that dry and drybrush with the original colour. Then a lighter shade. (For black hair, drybrush in dark blue and leave it at that, drybrush in dark gray, white or light for salt-and- pepper, or don’t even bother to drybrush if you like the colour it ends up after washing.) Black hair can honestly be achieved with a dark, dark blue base, two black washes (one light and one heavy), then a very light dark blue drybrush. A royal blue drybrush achieves a nice punkish-look. Blonde starts out best with a dark base then lightening with dry brushes. Wash chestnut or light brown. Redheads are best if understated a little. Don’t use red unless you want something impossible to nature. Dark red-browns are best (Polly S Demon Deep Red is great, too) washed in brown and highlighted with first the original shade, then something lighter in that line, then perhaps a dark orange or yellow-brown brushed very, very lightly. Here are some extremely good tips from Chris Pierson for specific hair colors: “Golden blond: Polly S Canine Yellow-Brown, drybrush with Polly S Griffin Hide (don’t use the “real” yellow as a base coat. That oughta keep it from looking like Loni Anderson. 🙂 ) This one works well for elves. Ash blond: Sort of a Norse-type blond, very pale. Polly S Manticora Tan (a light tan), drybrush with Ral Partha Ivory. I’ve got three redhead styles: Auburn (dark redhead): Base coat Ral Partha Dark Brown or Polly S Kobold Dark Red-Brown. Drybrush with Ral Partha Red- Brown. Redhead (standard): Base coat Partha Red-Brown. Drybrush with Polly S Rust. Strawberry Blond (light goldy red): Base coat Polly S Rust. Drybrush with Polly S Manticora Tan. For the Polly S impaired, Rust = reddish tan; Manticora Tan = light sandy tan.” Griffin Hide = dusty yellow.

For fantasy and historical, some suggest not priming the miniature, then washing or drybrushing (or both) the bare metal, but to others this looks sloppy and unfinished. Besides, not much armour looks like lead, and lead certainly doesn’t make good armour (nor do any of the alloys of which miniatures are cast). Paint the armour a base-metal colour, usually silver or one of the like tones, and let it dry. Don’t be afraid to use bronze, or gild it, though. Then take a black wash (ink is excellent for this) and go over it carefully. Let that dry, then take either your original colour or a lighter shade and drybrush. Remember to use a separate water/thinner for the brush you’re working the metallics with, so as to not get flecks in the other colours. Steve Gill shares his method of painting chain mail: a) If the links are sculpted clearly enough that you can see the leather underneath then base coat should be leather (whatever colour required by the figure). If not ignore this step only paint leather around the edges where it should show under the links. b) The links are painted in dark metal. c) Drybrush the links in lighter metal. d) Highlight drybrush in very light metal. In general I would choose gun metal as the dark metal, steel as the lighter colour. Heroic figures could use steel with silver, but try to keep this rare. Darker chain mail is probably much more historically correct than the usual Hollywood style silver armour. Dan Evans has a method suitable for SF figures as well as fantasy: “I’ve come up with a way to get interesting results with metallic colors. (Maybe someone else has done this before…) Basically, the trick is just two steps: 1) paint your figure (or part of it) silver. 2) when it’s dry, apply colored ink (I have the Citadel set) over the silver. The cool part is, you get unusual control over the degree of tint by applying the ink straight from the bottle or by watering it down (a wash.) Another cool part is, you can blend one color into another. Suppose you have a warrior with a shield, and you want it to fade from metallic blue at the top to metallic green at the bottom. Paint the whole shield silver first, and then when it’s dry, apply blue ink to the top half. Next, apply green ink to the bottom half, mixing it up with the blue in the middle. “Yet another cool part is light-to-dark shading done this way: Suppose you have a Space Marine and three shades of silver paint. (The shades of silver may be sold as “aged metal” or “chain mail” or “gun metal” or “silver”. Use your eyes: buy a blackish silver, a dark silver, and plain old silver.) I’ll just call them dark, medium, and light. 1) Paint the entire figure with the dark silver and let it dry. 2) Drybrush the entire figure with the medium silver and let it dry. 3) Drybrush the entire figure again, concentrating on raised details, with the light silver and let it dry. 4) Right now your Space Marine should have a pretty nice shaded metal look. Now go over the whole figure with red ink, and you’ll have a shaded RED metal Space Marine. Hey, you could even try technique B at this point, maybe with purple or orange blended into the red.” There is a caveat to this, however. Be careful using inks with acrylic metallics. There is often a reaction between the two which give some nasty effects. At the very least allow the metallic to dry for 24 hours before adding inks. Some people have had only bad results from inking over acrylic metallics… Test it before you begin your masterpiece.

Two good methods have been presented in the rec.games.miniatures newsgroup. The first comes from Steven Loren Lane, and is used without permission: “Well, on top of getting the smallest brushes available, you can always cut them down to an even smaller size. I have several brushes that have only a few hairs on them. These are very useful brushes. I would also recommend for the very fine detail to set the object up so you can use both hands to hold the paint brush as still as possible.” And was followed up by Steve Gill: “Another useful tool is a 0.13 mm spirograph ink pen, a couple of splodges of colour in the right place and you can pretty it up with the pen. I used this technique for 6mm heraldry.” Yet another use for tech pens. They are also very good for shield devices and clothing patterning.

Dry-brushing is most effective when used with a colour a shade or two lighter than the base. White drybrushed over black primer also makes for a very good painting base. It also looks good as a stand-alone colour scheme on some figures. Take your desired colour and an old brush, as drybrushing wears brushes out and tears them up (the author has had good success in using cheap watercolour brushes for large drybrushing projects with acrylic paints, but for smaller areas a better-quality brush is still necessary). Dip it into the paint until the tip is saturated, then blot on a paper towel until no paint can be seen on a dark brush, or a light one looks pretty clean. Take the brush and gently draw it along the raised parts you want highlighted. A little paint will stay on the highest edges and give great depth. Many painters like to highlight in stages, lightening the shade a little with each level. This can be either overkill and a pain or an excellent technique for brightening and preserving detail. Practice yourself and decide.

The finest brush you can get, a steady hand, lots of patience, and good lighting. Fine detailing includes (but is by no means restricted to) faces, eyes, jewelry, shield devices and banners, small clothing details such as buttons, weapon decoration, insignia, and armour detail. For many of these, some of the highlighting/washing/drybrushing tips above apply, for others a whole new range of techniques are necessary.

Brushes come in a myriad of sizes and several different materials. Sizes range from 1″ to 20/0 or more. The more 0s the smaller the brush, generally, however companies vary in size so the only true scale is to look and compare. Materials are sable, fox, camel hair (which is actually squirrel tail, BTW), ox hair, and nylon. Round and flat are also available. Red sable is the painters’ choice, usually. A large brush for priming and large areas, something between a 000 and 5/0 for smaller areas, and anything from a 10/0 to a 20/0 for fine detail. See our excellent top quality ranges from Rennaisance Ink and Citadel. Drybrushing destroys good brushes so a couple of camel hair ones for drybrushing is a good idea. Again, look at them before you buy. Make sure the tips are smooth and end in a point and the sizes are right. A good brush retails anywhere from $3.00 to $12.95, so it’s a purchase to take time over. Brushes of the highest quality are available from this site or at hobby and game shops, and often at crafts stores though the price may be higher. 1.C.a. How should I clean my brushes? It depends on your paint type, mostly. For acrylics which are water-based, a good careful washing with warm water and dish detergent is fine. Remember to re-form the tips into points before storage. For oil-based paints, your best bet by far is to buy a bottle of thinner made by the same company as your paints. Not all paint is formulated the same and thinner is often product-specific. Also, Badger brand “Air-Opaque ready-to-use- cleaner” for airbrushes does a wonderful job of getting dried paint off of paintbrush bristles, either acrylic or oil-based. It costs $4 for 16oz. (Thanks to Bill Gilliland for that tip.) While we’re at it, there are three ‘nevers’ to brush-handling: • Never let your brush rest in the water or thinner on its tip. That’s the surest way possible to lose a fine point. • Never scrub a good brush across either miniature or blotter. • Never let paint dry on your brush. This’ll fray the bristles into an unusable mass. When cleaning a brush while painting, gently rotate it against the side of the solvent/water container until the bristles stop exuding paint. A gentle wipe across the blotter before washing the paint out of the bristles both saves solvent/water from clouding prematurely and helps get rid of traces of paint you can’t readily see. A clear solvent/water container is desirable so you can monitor its cloudiness and how clean the brush is becoming.

PAINTING

It seems that once in a while, even though the inks and washes have been mixed properly, they end up drying, not in the low spots like they should, but on the high contours. It has something to do with the density of the wash and the slickness of the surface; on matte surface the effect is more prominent than on glossy surfaces. It happens because a pool of wash in a recess starts to dry from the edges, then the rest of the paint in the wash adheres to the already dry paint, producing a ring of paint around the recess. There are four methods that can help solve the problem: 1. Add a small amount of rubbing alcohol to the wash. It lowers the surface tension, and dries faster. This may be a drawback for some painters. Some model railroaders have been doing this for a while now. (Thanks to Coyt D Watters for this tip.) 2. Add a little dishwashing detergent to the wash. It helps the wash stick better. (Coyt again…) 3. Use small amounts of wash, allowing each to dry before applying the next. Blow gently on the wash after applying, from the top, to keep the pools in the recesses where they belong. If the wash is thin enough, it’ll dry with a minimum of blowing. 4. Mix a new wash, thicker. It might work better, being thick enough to keep from creeping, or maybe with just a little different density.

Pick the colours you want for the major areas (skin, each piece of clothing and armour, hair, shield) and paint them on in layers. Think of dressing the miniature. Start with eyes, move on to face and hands, then clothing, armour, hair, lastly weapons. You aren’t going for massive detail just now, you’re only setting each area’s base colour. Make certain the paint goes on smoothly and remember to paint from top to bottom. Once you have this part done, it’s time for detailing. This is achieved by many different techniques such as drybrushing, washing, shading, and highlighting.

This question has sparked some vigorous discussion from two major camps: acrylics and enamels. First, a description of what these terms mean: Oil- or solvent-based. These tend to be a bit thicker than acrylics and require that you have “thinner” on hand for washing, thinning, and brush cleaning. These paints are often referred to as enamels, but some acrylics can be enamels as well, so when in doubt, read the label. Acrylic paint is water-base and tends to be smoother, though if it gets dry it can become grainy. All you need to thin or clean up with this stuff is tap water. Discussion on the newsgroup rec.games.miniatures has uncovered that more posters prefer the acrylics to oils. (This author uses acrylics.) Again, a matter of taste. The basic colours from which just about anything can be mixed are white, black, brown (you can mix this yourself, but it’s a pain), red, yellow, blue, and gray (same as above). Metallics, various shades and hues, practically anything you can think of is available through one company or another. Start with the basics and expand as you feel you need it. Soon enough you’ll have more paint than you ever imagined you’d need, and likely use every one. Most like-type (acrylic or oil) can be mixed regardless of brand, but be cautious at first as some brands are incompatible. Companies which manufacture miniature-formulated paints: • Rennaisance Ink (acrylics and Inks Primers and Finish) available from this site. • Ral Partha (acrylics and dragonscale metallic creams) • Floquil/Polly S (acrylics and oil-base) • Armory (acrylic) • Pactra (acrylic enamels) • Model Master (oil-base and acrylic) • Testor’s (oil-base) • Humbrol (oil-base) • Dragon Colour (acrylic) • Citadel (acrylics and specially-formulated inks Primers) available from this site. • Howard Hues (acrylic) • Tamiya (fine acrylics, almost transparent) • Gunze Sangyo’s Aqueous Hobby Colour (fine acrylics) • Horizon (acrylics for vinyl models – good on primed surfaces) • Accuflex (acrylics – formulated for airbrushing, also makes a good primer) • Folk Art (acrylic) • Apple Barrel Colors (acrylic) • Deco Art (acrylic) • Legacy 1837 (premium quality acrylic) • Delta Creamcoat (acrylic) There are other companies, of course, these are just the ones the author could think of right now. Most paints are available at your local hobby or gaming shop but two of the best, mentioned above, you can find right on this site. Paints may be bought by the individual bottle or in sets. If you buy a set from a shop, be sure that you can see all the paints before purchase. This way, you’ll assure that you get what you’re looking for and that the consistencies are good. SHAKE all paint before purchase, to make sure they mix up well. We examine our paints before sending them to ensure they are in optimum condition.

Primer is a must and not only assures for good paint adhesion, but it also brings up detail more starkly than on an unprimered miniature. Now that that’s settled, we go into another major area of controversy among painters: How? The only thing painters seem to agree upon is that a spray primer is best, and the primers specifically formulated for miniatures are better at retaining detail. Some folks use Krylon with very good results, but it takes a light and even spray to retain detail. Companies that put out good spray primers are Rennaisance Ink, Ral Partha, Armory, Floquil, Model Master, Testors, and Citadel. Krylon is the best of the non-hobbyist primers, but other store brands are in the same league. If you use sandable primer, be especially careful to use thin coats so as to not obscure detail. BEFORE APPLYING PRIMER you will need to clean up any bad lines on the miniature (use a small file, X-acto knife, or emery board), making sure you get rid of the bump under the base, if your miniature has a self-molded base (sandpaper is excellent for this), then WASH it in a little soap and water. Various substances are used on miniatures to make them come free of the mold, as well as the fact that hand oils get on the miniature as it’s handled, and these will interfere with paint adhesion unless cleaned off. Now, use a little white glue (or rubber cement – thanks Ed Sharpe!) and glue the miniature to a base of cardboard, cork, wood strip, popsicle stick, ruler, plastic bottle cap… Anything you can safely handle without touching the figure. This assures that you can handle the miniature during the painting process without touching wet paint. Even a freshly dry coat will rub off without the slightest provocation. Methods of applying primer are spraying and brushing on. If you’re using a brush-on primer, make certain it flows well without being too thin and use a semi-large brush to brush over your miniature from top to bottom. If you’re spraying, set up a large box enclosed on three sides in which to place your miniatures for priming. This will keep the paint from going everywhere and also tends to give a better coat. Make sure you have good ventilation, outdoors or in a window or set up a fan. Spray paint is nasty. On the subject of technique, the best advice I’ve seen came from Deep Six , as posted to rec.games.miniatures, and is edited and used here without permission: “First, be sure you shake the paint well. It says on the can you should shake it for a full minute, so I do it for two minutes. Shake during use, too. The second thing is spraying the figures with the `good’ stream of spray. You do this by starting the spray before it hits the figs and stopping the spray after it hits the figs. The spray that comes out of the can when you first start spraying and when you stop spraying is incomplete — it has too much or too little paint, and/or too much or too little carrier. What I do is put the figs out on newspaper and start spraying the newspaper to one side of the figs, when the spray has been coming out for a half-second or so, I pass the spray over the figs, and when the spray has passed over the figs, I stop. This assures that only properly mixed paint is falling on the figs. It takes longer and wastes some paint, but the finish is worth it to me. Next, keep the can as upright as possible, and keep the nozzle about 10 inches from the figs. Any closer and it’s too hard to control the amount of paint on the figs. Any further and the paint starts to dry before it hits the figs. And finally, IMO you should never use a whole can of paint (on figs anyway). It seems like when the can is about 3/4 of the way empty, the paint is really crappy, uneven and it comes out of the can in spurts. And Coyt reminds us to always make sure you get the underside of the miniature as well, particularly if it’s a figure in a cloak or the like. Spray upward and at an angle and make passes from all sides to assure coverage.

Not much. Something to hold your water/solvent (two of them if you’re working with metallics, one for the regular paint and one for the metallic – keeps flecks out of the other stuff, and change often to keep from muddying your colours), a palette of some sort (professional, ceramic tile, old plate, even the plastic bubble from a large miniature or two – John Stallaert suggests the plastic lid from a large margarine tub or the like covered with foil. When done, strip the foil off and discard), and GOOD LIGHTING. Against a window is ideal, if not a good overhead light or adjustable lamp is a must. Paper towels or napkins – some for blotting your brushes on and some extras for the inevitable spill or splatter. Time – never enough of that so learn to paint bits at a time (also good so that one layer can dry before you put on another). Ventilation; All paints give off noxious fumes, whether you can smell them or not, and unless you like having headaches, you’ll want lots of space, open windows, even a fan or two. The above are the needed things. Below are optional: A magnifying glass – useful for seeing fine detail. “I started using a magnifying visor (jewellers) which gives me 2x and flips up out of the way. Gee what a difference! Now I can easily detail those little things like dart feathers, buttons, and laces. They are a little expensive, but a good quality one can be purchased for under $20.00 and because it’s on my head, I don’t have to move around to get a good clear view, nor is a magnifying glass in the way of my brushes.” (J. Stallaert) An X-acto blade can be helpful, tweezers can be invaluable if you’ll be gluing, files and emery boards are used to remove sprue, mold lines, and anything else you don’t want. Nail scissors get into places larger ones can’t. As you get more practiced you’ll start finding other things to use in your painting pursuits (such as toothpicks, popscicle sticks, dentist tools, a Dremmel or Foredom grinder and small brushes), so you’ll acquire your own personal array in time.

These are techniques to give a little realism to your miniatures. Shading and highlighting give the illusion that there is light shining upon the figure. Shading details the folds and shadows and highlighting picks out the brighter, better lit areas. Washing, glazing, outlining and blending are all methods of shading. (See below.) Drybrushing is a highlighting method, and is simply accentuating the high spots with a bit of paint a bit lighter than the base. (See section 4.B.) Glazing is done with inks, as can be washing and outlining.(See section 4.D.) Outlining is simply picking out the line between two separate parts of the miniature (i.e. sleeve and arm) and painting or inking in a fine line of either black or a darkened shade of the base in order to bring out the division between the two sections. Blending is rather difficult and takes much practice. To blend one changes the tone of the paint as it crosses the surface of any non-detailed section, as Mech armour or unscaled hide. Darker shades are laid into any depressions and carefully thinned and blended into the surrounding areas using a damp brush. (This is NOT a technique for beginners. The author still has trouble getting his blending to look good, and finds nothing wrong with not shading miniatures at all. Again, try it and see if you want to practice the technique or not. Another personal-choice situation.) If you’re using acrylics, you can pick up several TONING MEDIUMs, which alter the brightness of the paint without the headache of black. I’ve started using a drop of white, a drop of black, and a drop of toning and mixing all four with equal parts of the color I’m using, so I get light – color – toned color – dark. My first attempt was on one of the mages in Partha’s Forgotten Realms set, and the cloak looks better than anything I’ve done, and I haven’t drybrushed or washed it yet. And a tip from Christian Widmer a fellow painter : “Use a slower on acrylic colours. This slows them from drying but they do still not cover if they didn’t before. Warning, oil colours tend to lose their colours and go brown-grey when I try this.” Nick Fogelson also shares his methods, which are far better than anything I could provide (used without permission): “The way I always do blending is to put a smudge of the two end colours in a strip, separated about 1.5 inches. I then use a slightly moist brush to mix them together into a spectrum. The colours near the original smudge will be closer to that colour, the colors in the middle should be fairly even mixes of the two. You then have a nearly infinite palette of colour to use. You can do a nice blend with only 5 or so shades that looks really good unless you magnify it. Alternatively: Say you want to go up red to yellow. Paint the entire area yellow. Put a block of watery red on the top. Slowly draw a moist brush down the area, drawing the red pigment with it. If you’re patient, this method will bring the best results (but if you’re not, you’ll get a big mess).” Kenneth Creta also has two good techniques: “This idea was suggested by Tom Harris and I added a little of my own touches. Let’s say you want to fade from green to black. Just paint the whole darn thing green. At the point where you want it to fade, wash with a black ink. When dry, wash again but a little farther down and so on until the bottom is black. The first ink is not a smooth transition so when the washes are done, go back and dry-brush green over the first ink line and this will smooth it out. The washes may be diluted to the desired consistency.” “Start by painting a band at the bottom in dark green. While it’s still wet, add some white and paint the slightly lighter green band above it. Use a second brush and paint along the line between. If the paint is still wet, they should blend together pretty good. I use a slightly damp brush. If you get enough bands, it’s looks like a gradual colour change. The hardest part is the blending between the bands.” Here’s another banding method from Roxanne Reid-Bennett a painter of Fantasy Miniatures: “I have a Water Elemental that was done in this style (Rafm). The typical way of handling this is to “blend” two colours together (which I have a LOT of trouble with). What I did was to paint the base (bottom 1/2″) dark blue (RP Paladin) then used graduated shades of blue (about 5 different) up towards the top of the figure where I used a light blue (Sky) for the upper torso of the elemental. After the bands were in place I went back and used mixed intermediates on the band overlap areas. I kept this up until the graduated shading looked right. Some of the intermediates I watered down some so they wouldn’t go on very thick. I really wish I could “blend” like the books and FAQ say – by mixing the two wet paints in the middle – but so far haven’t succeeded. “For finishing work I used a slightly darker blue for wash on the torso to bring out the muscles. I used white on the tips of the water waves and washed in blue. Just for final effect I washed the whole figure in Pearl White (RP). Gives the figure a nice wet look – even with a flat seal cover. “So the hard way is to literally to paint stripes on the figure in shades close enough to each other that our (human) eyes can’t see the distinct lines.” And here’s a rather advanced shading/blending/tinting method from John Colasante , (used without permission): “Lets say you want to paint an orange tunic on a figure. Mix the base color and plop a pile on your pallette. Next to it, plop down a dark tint and a light tint. For orange,lets say dark brown and yellowish-white. It doesn’t matter what kind of pigment you use, water base or oil base. Now, tint the base color with the dark tint and paint the entire tunic, or even drybrush the tunic if painting over a dark primer. When dry, paint the basecoat over the dark tint, BUT NOT ALL THE WAY TO THE EDGES. Also, leave tinted dark shade in the folds. Next, tint light and highlight the center and high spots. Note: this is similar to drybrush except you are painting color here, not actually drybrushing, so you get a certain effect which is different than pure drybrush. In fact, it often looks nice when there is a clear demarcation between the tinted shades on certain surfaces, almost like color contours. Use more than three tint levels for certain effects. It sounds tedious but if you use the palette it’s very fast and the results often look much better than the purely drybrushed highlights, especially for larger, flat areas where drybrushing might miss.”

Drybrushing is a highlighting method, and is simply accentuating the high spots with a bit of paint a bit lighter than the base.

No its not what you think! An overcoat is a coat of clear paint that protects those colours you so carefully put onto your miniature. Even an unhandled figure will begin to dull after awhile, and one in regular use will lose its paint even faster from hand and carrying case friction. So you should put a protective coat over the miniature to make sure the paint remains unmarred. Overcoats come in three (possibly four) types: gloss, matte, flat, and lusterless. Though four types are named, one company’s matte is another’s flat, flat and lusterless are often interchanged, and matte occasionally is labeled semi-gloss. When in doubt, test or ask. Overcoats also come in two different applications, brush-on and spray. Spray is easier to use when you want a uniform coating, brush-on is good for when you only want certain parts covered. Spraying overcoat on a miniature is much like spraying primer, though 3-5 coats is recommended for maximum protection. Remember to begin and end the spray beyond the miniature in order to get the cleanest application. Gloss is just that, shiny. It is most usually used on cars and other items that should shine. Semi-gloss (satin, sometimes called matte) is low-luster, and very durable on a figure that will be getting a lot of handling. Unfortunately, it tends to look artificial on humans and some animals. It’s excellent on scales, however, and hard leather. Flat (also sometimes matte) is nearly without shine. It’s a good all-around people coating, exceptional on animals, where it simulates fur’s natural shine. Lusterless is absolutely flat, it doesn’t even look like it’s there. It’s perfect for people and cloth and anything else that should have no shine whatsoever. Several coats can be applied and it never shows. A good method of overcoating a realistic-looking human/humanoid is to use a spray lusterless overcoat and put on 3-5 coats, then after the last coat is dry, use a brush-on matte or gloss to go back over all metallics, jewelry, eyes, lips, and anything else that should have a shine to it. This is the author’s favourite method. Companies making overcoats are ( denotes brush-on, = is spray): Armory (water-based acrylic): Glass – a high-gloss Matte Sealer – low gloss = Floquil (oil-based enamels): Flat Finish – completely lusterless High Gloss – very shiny, looks wet Crystal-Cote – not quite as shiny Al-Pro-Cote – flat finish Glaze – a lovely matte/satin finish Figure Flat – a low-shine matte = Floquil Flo-Stain (oil-based, for wood or over paint): Glaze – as above (I use this) Crystal-Cote – also as above Al-Pro-Cote – flat finish, no shine Humbrol (oil based): Dull Cote – flat finish Krylon (spray only) Clear Matte – low gloss = (I also use this)Available from this site. See Rennaisance Ink on the Paints pages. Model Master (oil-based): Lusterless – another lusterless = Gloss Finish – high-shine = Pactra (water-based enamels): Flat Clear – lusterless Gloss Clear – shiny Polly S (water-based acrylic): Gloss Finish – high shine Flat Finish – lusterless Ral Partha (acrylic) Spray Clear Matte Sealer – low gloss = Clear Sealer – matte finish Testers (Oil-based enamels): Flat Finish – again, lusterless Gloss Finish – shiny = DullCote – absolutely flat = There are others, of course, these are only what the author knows about.

Get in the light and give your miniature a good look-over. Usually a dot of paint or careful dry brushing will bring out the final details. Certain specialized questions have been asked, the answers to which are given below: 9Da. Does anyone have a decent method for painting torches? This answer came from D.R. Splatt : “The best I’ve personally seen was to paint the flames red at the base, orange for highlights, yellow for the bulk of the flame and a light drybrush of white (or black for a smoky flame). Try to get the flames predominately yellow, Also a ‘ragged’ orange layer looks good.” From Kent Reuber : “People doing micro-armor have been using this sort of thing to simulate burning tanks for quite a while. Paint the torch itself black. Then tear off a small bit of cotton, paint the upper part grey-black and the lower part red-orange. Glue this bit of cotton onto the torch.” 9.D.b. Can I use anything besides paint and ink for details? Of course you can. The simplest are decals, which are sold by the sheet and have many different styles to choose from. Technical pens can be used for a lot of intricate work, as can fine tip permanent markers. There’s a catch to the markers, though, they can bleed when overcoated. Alec Habig has a good remedy: “I used some fine tip permanent markers to do letters and lines on some miniatures. This works well, giving better results than painting the same sort of stuff. The problem – the marker would bleed when I coated the minis with the obligatory DullCote lacquer. The solution – I rubbed a little bit of good old Elmer’s or Lepage’s white glue on the spot that I’d lettered with the marker. Just a bit, and rubbed it around till I couldn’t see it anymore. This stopped the bleeding, without altering the finish in any noticeable way.” Mariano Flores gives these tips for decals (used without permission): “For best results of decals adhering to the surface of your miniatures: • 1. Spray miniature with a shiny gloss coat (I use Testors Gloss Coat). You will find that decals adhere better to smooth surfaces. • 2. Let gloss coat dry, maybe an hour or two. I usually let the coat dry for a whole day. • 3. Apply decals to model. It is suggested to use distilled water, since tap water is not that pure and may contain some contamination (i.e. iron). • 4. Let decal dry for a day. The wrinkling effect on decals is usually caused by applying the dull coat or semi-gloss coat to a decal that still contains some moisture. • 5. Apply dull coat to model. These procedures seem a bit drawn out, but patience is a virtue. These procedures work for me.” There are probably dozens of other common and unusual detailing tips out there that the author hasn’t heard of yet. We’d love to have them sent in for inclusion here.

A thousand answers exist for this one. The best advice available seems to be use what you prefer. White primer makes colours go on brighter and is best for anything on which you want that effect. Black primer gives good shadows and is commonly used to base modern military and skeleton figures. Gray is rather neutral allowing for brighter light colours and decent shading. The best tip so far is to experiment and see what you like. Also, and the author likes this effect, prime in black and then drybrush raised areas in white before painting. This allows for the depth of the darker shade but gives the lighter base for the brighter colours.

There are several, though probably not all publications will meet all painters’ needs. The best descriptions and information available at this time are listed below: Guide to Miniature Painting by Ken Carpenter, published by Alderac Entertainment Group, 1996. The cover price is $9.95. It’s a full colour, soft cover booklet of about 167×260 mm. It has 64 pages (excluding back and cover), of which 8 are full paged advertisements, and handles basic and advanced painting techniques. All is explained quite clearly and demonstrated on miniatures from several brands. As far as I’m concerned it’s one of the better books on the subject. Citadel produces a Painting Guide which is a $1 pamphlet. It was also reprinted in the back of Golden Demon Awards , which covers the finalists and many entries in the 198? Golden Demon Awards , and also in Fantasy Miniatures , which is likely a later printing of Awards. Citadel currently produces a book for its games called ‘Eavy Metal available from this site . The book has a lot of excellent information, if you remember that the only standards you need to adhere to are your own. Some people love the way GW- painted miniatures look, others hate them. It’s all a matter of taste. The first edition of BattleSystem (TSR, trademark, blah-blah) had a nice, though thin, intro to painting with pictures of a work in progress. The Armory Painting Guide to Military Miniatures. A 24-page pamphlet which costs $3.00 US. They also do a painting guide to horses which costs $2.00 US. Both are aimed at the wargaming audience. Building and Painting Scale Figures by Sheperd Paine, available from Kalmbach Publishing. Making Model Soldiers of the World by Jack Cassin-Scott pub: John Bartholomew and son Ltd 1973, 1977 Quite a good little book, covers design, sculpting and casting of figures as well as sections on painting. Due to it’s emphasis on 54mm Napoleonic figures it has a very good section on horses. The Encyclopedia of Military Modelling gen ed Vic Smeed, con ed Alec Gee pub: Octopus Books 1981, Peerage Books 1985 Large coffee table size book: has sections on all the major historical periods, the different types of figures available, equipment, vehicles, dioramas and displays. Sort of a collection of long articles from the Military Modeling magazine crowd. Buildings for the Military Modeller -Design

Category: PAINTING

What are inks, should I use them, and if so how?

Yes! Primer is a must and not only assures for good paint adhesion, but it also brings up detail more starkly than on an unprimered miniature. Now that that’s settled, we go into another major area of controversy among painters: How? The only thing painters seem to agree upon is that a spray primer is best, and the primers specifically formulated for miniatures are better at retaining detail. Some folks use Krylon with very good results, but it takes a light and even spray to retain detail. Companies that put out good spray primers are Rennaisance Ink, Ral Partha, Armory, Floquil, Model Master, Testors, and Citadel. Krylon is the best of the non-hobbyist primers, but other store brands are in the same league. If you use sandable primer, be especially careful to use thin coats so as to not obscure detail. BEFORE APPLYING PRIMER you will need to clean up any bad lines on the miniature (use a small file, X-acto knife, or emery board), making sure you get rid of the bump under the base, if your miniature has a self-molded base (sandpaper is excellent for this), then WASH it in a little soap and water. Various substances are used on miniatures to make them come free of the mold, as well as the fact that hand oils get on the miniature as it’s handled, and these will interfere with paint adhesion unless cleaned off. Now, use a little white glue (or rubber cement – thanks Ed Sharpe!) and glue the miniature to a base of cardboard, cork, wood strip, popsicle stick, ruler, plastic bottle cap… Anything you can safely handle without touching the figure. This assures that you can handle the miniature during the painting process without touching wet paint. Even a freshly dry coat will rub off without the slightest provocation. Methods of applying primer are spraying and brushing on. If you’re using a brush-on primer, make certain it flows well without being too thin and use a semi-large brush to brush over your miniature from top to bottom. If you’re spraying, set up a large box enclosed on three sides in which to place your miniatures for priming. This will keep the paint from going everywhere and also tends to give a better coat. Make sure you have good ventilation, outdoors or in a window or set up a fan. Spray paint is nasty. On the subject of technique, the best advice I’ve seen came from Deep Six , as posted to rec.games.miniatures, and is edited and used here without permission: “First, be sure you shake the paint well. It says on the can you should shake it for a full minute, so I do it for two minutes. Shake during use, too. The second thing is spraying the figures with the `good’ stream of spray. You do this by starting the spray before it hits the figs and stopping the spray after it hits the figs. The spray that comes out of the can when you first start spraying and when you stop spraying is incomplete — it has too much or too little paint, and/or too much or too little carrier. What I do is put the figs out on newspaper and start spraying the newspaper to one side of the figs, when the spray has been coming out for a half-second or so, I pass the spray over the figs, and when the spray has passed over the figs, I stop. This assures that only properly mixed paint is falling on the figs. It takes longer and wastes some paint, but the finish is worth it to me. Next, keep the can as upright as possible, and keep the nozzle about 10 inches from the figs. Any closer and it’s too hard to control the amount of paint on the figs. Any further and the paint starts to dry before it hits the figs. And finally, IMO you should never use a whole can of paint (on figs anyway). It seems like when the can is about 3/4 of the way empty, the paint is really crappy, uneven and it comes out of the can in spurts. And Coyt reminds us to always make sure you get the underside of the miniature as well, particularly if it’s a figure in a cloak or the like. Spray upward and at an angle and make passes from all sides to assure coverage.

Start with the eyes. Then do the face in whatever shade you choose. Now add a touch of white to the flesh tone to get a slightly lighter shade and go back over the nose and cheekbones. A light orange makes defined but natural-looking lips. Remember, red lips are a product of makeup, not nature. Some painters prefer to put the eyes on last, but others say it’s too hard to keep from making the effect pop-eyed when done last. Try whatever method you prefer. Mustaches are best if dry-brushed, paint beards a slightly redder or darker shade than the hair and dry brush with the same colour you use on the hair. There’s nothing wrong with a 5-o’clock shadow on an appropriate figure, either. Dry-brush it on in a shade slightly darker than the hair. Once you get comfortable with faces, experiment with scars or tattoos. You might amaze yourself.

Depending on the size of the miniature, there are a couple of good methods. On a 15mm or smaller miniature, don’t try too hard for absolute detail until you’ve gotten a lot of practice in. On 25mm and larger, though, eyes can be done rather easily (with practice, of course). Below are several methods: Before painting the face, paint the eyes white. When that’s dry, dot them black. Then paint a slightly darker shade than you’re going to use for the rest of the face around the eyes to define them (mix a touch of brown or tan into the flesh tone for this). Then paint the rest of the face. % [This method is courtesy of Andrew Cameron Willshire: “Another easy way is to paint the white of the eye with a brush. Let it dry. Then, take a tech pen (architectural or engineering) and draw the iris. With another tech pen, dot in the pupil. Note that this requires a few different pens since you’ll want a few different colours – say black, blue, brown and maybe green. “This is a really easy technique, and since the ink is water based if you muck up you can just rinse it off (this is assuming you use enamels for the rest of the figure, like I do).” [Author’s note: even if you use acrylics, if the white is already dry you can still blot the ink off with a damp Q-tip or the tip of a damp, fine brush.] “It also works great on monsters, say orcs. However, they tend to look better with `reds’ instead of `whites’ in their eyes, then having a white iris and black pupil – very nasty looking! Tech pens may be a little pricey to pick up, but you can easily find sets with a few in them that are reasonably cheap. They also work magnificently for such things as flag details, shield heraldry and so forth.” Steve Harvey has some advice regarding affordable tech pens: “Most tech pens are obscenely expensive, but there are two brands of non- refillable tech pens that I am aware of. Sakura makes an excellent series of tech pens called Pigma – these come in a variety of colors, in sizes ranging from .005mm to .8, and cost about $2.00 each. I like these so much that even though I have a set of Pentel professional tech pens, I use these instead. Schwan/Stabilo also makes a series of pens called OHPen 96 (or at least that’s what it says on the barrel of mine…) which also come in numerous colors and several sizes. They are not as fine as a true tech pen, but they will write on ANYTHING – glass, plastic, etc. without the ink beading. The one thing to watch out for is that they come with either permanent or water-soluble ink; the latter are popular as overhead transparency markers, but for miniature work, the permanent is what you want.” [This method is given by Allan Wright and has been edited]: “I paint eyes on 25mm (and 15mm officers, standard bearers, etc) with a technique taught to me by a friend. 1. Fill the eye socket with white. I use an OOO brush, one stroke horizontally across each socket. Be sloppy, it’s OK. 2. Paint the middle of the eye, Black, Dark brown or Dark blue. Paint a vertical stripe down the center of the eye – taking up the middle third of the eye socket – don’t worry about going over the top/bottom edges. Again I use an OOO brush. In both let the brush ‘fan out’ 3. Eyebrow – paint with hair color of your choice. Paint the eyebrow on the ridge above the eye socket in a slight crescent shape, cover the white and black from 1

It depends on your paint type, mostly. For acrylics which are water-based, a good careful washing with warm water and dish detergent is fine. Remember to re-form the tips into points before storage. For oil-based paints, your best bet by far is to buy a bottle of thinner made by the same company as your paints. Not all paint is formulated the same and thinner is often product-specific. Also, Badger brand “Air-Opaque ready-to-use- cleaner” for airbrushes does a wonderful job of getting dried paint off of paintbrush bristles, either acrylic or oil-based. It costs $4 for 16oz. (Thanks to Bill Gilliland for that tip.) While we’re at it, there are three ‘nevers’ to brush-handling: • Never let your brush rest in the water or thinner on its tip. That’s the surest way possible to lose a fine point. • Never scrub a good brush across either miniature or blotter. • Never let paint dry on your brush. This’ll fray the bristles into an unusable mass. When cleaning a brush while painting, gently rotate it against the side of the solvent/water container until the bristles stop exuding paint. A gentle wipe across the blotter before washing the paint out of the bristles both saves solvent/water from clouding prematurely and helps get rid of traces of paint you can’t readily see. A clear solvent/water container is desirable so you can monitor its cloudiness and how clean the brush is becoming.

Dry-brushing is the best method of highlighting any large area or area with repetitive detail, such as armour. For faces, hands, buckles and the like, highlighting can be achieved by taking a slightly lighter shade of the base (mixed with white or a lighter tone) and going along the raised areas lightly. A fine brush point is required, as is a steady hand. For faces highlight the chin, nose, and cheeks. For hands go along the backs and each finger. For other detail, pick the spots that should show up best and give them the lightest highlights. It’s common to highlight twice, each time getting lighter in tone and finer in line. A bit of blending is required to keep things looking natural, but this blending is easier than the large-surface technique. Simply keep a damp brush handy and brush very lightly toward the darker areas. Again, this technique takes practice, but is worth the effort when the miniature is completed.

Shake or stir them often, put plastic wrap between the cap and bottle on paints that come in glass jars. Acrylics reconstitute fairly well with the addition of water and a good stirring. Oil-based do same with thinner. Try and keep your paints in a place where temperature remains fairly stable. Users of both Polly S and Humbrol have had good results from storing their paint upside-down. The paint itself augments the seal and keeps all air out.

Two good methods have been presented in the rec.games.miniatures newsgroup. The first comes from Steven Loren Lane, and is used without permission: “Well, on top of getting the smallest brushes available, you can always cut them down to an even smaller size. I have several brushes that have only a few hairs on them. These are very useful brushes. I would also recommend for the very fine detail to set the object up so you can use both hands to hold the paint brush as still as possible.” And was followed up by Steve Gill: “Another useful tool is a 0.13 mm spirograph ink pen, a couple of splodges of colour in the right place and you can pretty it up with the pen. I used this technique for 6mm heraldry.” Yet another use for tech pens. They are also very good for shield devices and clothing patterning.

Dry-brushing is most effective when used with a colour a shade or two lighter than the base. White drybrushed over black primer also makes for a very good painting base. It also looks good as a stand-alone colour scheme on some figures. Take your desired colour and an old brush, as drybrushing wears brushes out and tears them up (the author has had good success in using cheap watercolour brushes for large drybrushing projects with acrylic paints, but for smaller areas a better-quality brush is still necessary). Dip it into the paint until the tip is saturated, then blot on a paper towel until no paint can be seen on a dark brush, or a light one looks pretty clean. Take the brush and gently draw it along the raised parts you want highlighted. A little paint will stay on the highest edges and give great depth. Many painters like to highlight in stages, lightening the shade a little with each level. This can be either overkill and a pain or an excellent technique for brightening and preserving detail. Practice yourself and decide.

The finest brush you can get, a steady hand, lots of patience, and good lighting. Fine detailing includes (but is by no means restricted to) faces, eyes, jewelry, shield devices and banners, small clothing details such as buttons, weapon decoration, insignia, and armour detail. For many of these, some of the highlighting/washing/drybrushing tips above apply, for others a whole new range of techniques are necessary.

Brushes come in a myriad of sizes and several different materials. Sizes range from 1″ to 20/0 or more. The more 0s the smaller the brush, generally, however companies vary in size so the only true scale is to look and compare. Materials are sable, fox, camel hair (which is actually squirrel tail, BTW), ox hair, and nylon. Round and flat are also available. Red sable is the painters’ choice, usually. A large brush for priming and large areas, something between a 000 and 5/0 for smaller areas, and anything from a 10/0 to a 20/0 for fine detail. See our excellent top quality ranges from Rennaisance Ink and Citadel. Drybrushing destroys good brushes so a couple of camel hair ones for drybrushing is a good idea. Again, look at them before you buy. Make sure the tips are smooth and end in a point and the sizes are right. A good brush retails anywhere from $3.00 to $12.95, so it’s a purchase to take time over. Brushes of the highest quality are available from this site or at hobby and game shops, and often at crafts stores though the price may be higher. 1.C.a. How should I clean my brushes? It depends on your paint type, mostly. For acrylics which are water-based, a good careful washing with warm water and dish detergent is fine. Remember to re-form the tips into points before storage. For oil-based paints, your best bet by far is to buy a bottle of thinner made by the same company as your paints. Not all paint is formulated the same and thinner is often product-specific. Also, Badger brand “Air-Opaque ready-to-use- cleaner” for airbrushes does a wonderful job of getting dried paint off of paintbrush bristles, either acrylic or oil-based. It costs $4 for 16oz. (Thanks to Bill Gilliland for that tip.) While we’re at it, there are three ‘nevers’ to brush-handling: • Never let your brush rest in the water or thinner on its tip. That’s the surest way possible to lose a fine point. • Never scrub a good brush across either miniature or blotter. • Never let paint dry on your brush. This’ll fray the bristles into an unusable mass. When cleaning a brush while painting, gently rotate it against the side of the solvent/water container until the bristles stop exuding paint. A gentle wipe across the blotter before washing the paint out of the bristles both saves solvent/water from clouding prematurely and helps get rid of traces of paint you can’t readily see. A clear solvent/water container is desirable so you can monitor its cloudiness and how clean the brush is becoming.

Starting Your first model

The common miniaturists glue is Zap-A-Gap, available at nearly all stores which sell paints. It’s thick, holds well on both metal and plastic, and fills gaps and cracks. Also of this type are a line of cyanoacrylates which come in various-coloured bottles, each coded to its type, and a blank space for the local store’s name or Wargames West (in the US, of course). Super glue is often used to join pieces; it dries brittle and a good drop might snap the connection. Its redeeming feature is speed of bonding. 5 minute Epoxy is excellent for permanent bonding and building up areas when modifying. The bonds it makes don’t break when jarred, and almost nothing will remove it once it has set (the author has never heard of set epoxy being removed, but refuses to use absolutes and be later proven wrong). Epoxy also comes in different formulas for different materials. Duco cement is a good all-purpose bonding agent. White glue, such as Elmer’s or Aleen’s Tacky, is good for adhering paper and ground covering to plastic and metal surfaces. White glue does fatigue, however, so if it is used, a sealing agent overall will help keep your pieces together. For building up areas and the like, nothing beats ribbon epoxy. For more information on cyanoacrylate see section 7.A.a. above. For glueing miniatures to bases I also use Contact Cement in a tube, this works well when glueing the smaller 15mm and 6mm miniatures to popscicle sticks for painting purposes.

Pinning is a method of securing multiple-piece miniatures by drilling small holes and inserting wire before gluing in order to reinforce the joint. Required are a pin vise, suitable size drill bit, thin wire (copper wire, paper clip wire, anything like that) and either cyanoacrylate model glue or epoxy. Complete instructions come courtesy of Bill Thacker : “Either adhesive, properly applied (that is, to clean surfaces) will give you a joint strong enough to withstand normal handling. Neither is guaranteed against serious abuse (poorly-packed figures rattling around the trunk of your car, or being carried `by the handful’). If you want a very strong joint, get a very fine drill and some piano wire. Using a shoulder joint as an example: drill a hole in the center of the joint, a quarter inch or so into the body of the figure. Insert the piano wire into the hole (you want a gauge of wire that fits well, but not so snugly that you have to force it in the hole) and, using side-cutting pliers, snip it off flush with the hole. This will leave you with a chisel-point on the piano wire, just slightly protruding from the hole. “Now take the loose arm, align it to the figure the way you want it set up, and press firmly. The chisel-tip on the piano wire will have left a nice gouge showing you where to drill the mating hole. Remove the piano wire and discard it; drill the mating hole about a quarter inch into the arm (or as deep as the figure allows). Cut another piece of piano wire, a half inch or more, and insert it into the figure; then attach the arm. You may need to trim this down until the arm fits flush with the shoulder joint. Epoxy or super glue this in place and the joint will never fail. “This technique is rarely needed for something like an arm or hand, but for assembling large figures (dragon wings!) it’s invaluable.”

Get the smallest file you can find, a pair of scissors, and some glue. If it’s a plastic miniature, you can use model cement or super glue, if it’s metal use Zap-A-Gap, super glue, or any model formulated cyanoacrylate. On plastic, first clip in as close as possible with scissors (nail scissors are excellent) then file. On metal, carefully file the edges. The goal is to get the pieces to fit together as closely as possible. Once they do, clean them with soap and water to remove all shavings, dry, and glue. Hold for about twice as long as is recommended for the glue to set. The innovative miniaturist can come up with a great many ways to clamp, fasten, or hold parts together until everything’s dry. A little note, if you’re working with super glue keep a wet tea bag handy. If you spill super glue on your hands wipe it on the tea bag and the tea bag will absorb it – tea bags are highly absorbent of chemicals. It works great for me and I don’t end up with shells on the ends of my fingers of dried super glue. If you do become adhered to yourself or pieces via super glue (cyanoacrylate), most of them can be dissolved with acetone. May take a little soaking, but it works. Unfortunately it also removes skin oils almost completely. Follow it with isopropyl alcohol to neutralize the acetone then lots of soap and water to neutralize the alcohol, and then a good moisturizing lotion to replenish skin oils and avoid those nasty dry skin diseases (eczema, etc.). A bit of a pain, and it eats most plastics, but a whole lot better than surgery to remove that battle-axe. A preventive technique is to use “barrier cream”, not a lot of mechanics in this country use it even though it is very common in the UK, but I have obtained it by asking for it in pharmacies/drug stores. You put it on like hand lotion before you get into something. It dries to a thin film that protects your skin from most solvents, gas, oil, etc., and washes off with soap and water.”) Note: If working with cyanoacrylate, have the acetone (nail polish remover is the most available form) on hand and nearby. When you aren’t prepared, you’ll end up stuck to something. Murphy loves modelers. Once the glue has dried, take an X-acto blade or razor blade and carefully clean off the excess glue, if any. A file or emery board will also do the trick. You’ll have to wash the miniature again before primering, to remove hand oils and glue remains. After you’ve gotten the basics of gluing your miniatures, the best stuff you can use is epoxy. It’s permanent, filable, and works exceptionally well on miniatures that will get a lot of handling.

Kitbashing is the colloquialism used by miniaturists to describe the process by which a miniature is converted from its original form to another permutation, such as taking a fantasy miniature and making it into a figure for superhero roleplaying, or changing gender. Most properly, it refers to the instances when two or more figures are used for components in the final version.

Some would say that its a no no for the novice …. and perhaps a couple of kits under the belt may be a good thing BUT you have to start somewhere! It’s an acquired skill. To convert a miniature requires a lot of imagination, steady hands, patience, and a few out-of-the-ordinary tools. Costumes have to be obliterated, faces changed, weapons removed or added or changed. In all honesty, the processes involved are more numerous than can be addressed in this FAQ. Therefore, only the most common modifications will be addressed. Tools: To properly modify a miniature, you’re going to need: files (round, triangular, square, flat), the smaller the better X-acto knife and several replacement blades glue, preferably Zap-A-Gap, possibly epoxy nail scissors or tiny wire cutters needle-nose pliers, the smaller the better sandpaper and/or emery boards and hacksaw, the finest you can get any new pieces you want to add (weapons, etc.) The most common modification is to change one weapon for another. For purposes of explanation, a fantasy figure will be used, the change being from sword to battle axe, assuming the sword had been molded as one with the hand. First, clip or cut the sword off on either side of the hand, being very careful not to damage the hand. The new piece may be one cut from another miniature, or one acquired from a weapons pack. If it is the latter, you will need to measure it against the hand and cut out part of the handle to compensate. The next step is to make holes in either side of the hand where the handle enters, in order to insert the new parts. An X-acto blade or file may be used. A pin drill would come in handy about now. Once the holes are made, a drop of glue is placed in each one, then the handles are carefully set in place. The glue should show, as the extra is needed to keep the parts in place. Hold until set, possibly reinforce with a little tape, a brace, or some sort of clamping arrangement, and let set. After the glue is thoroughly dry, a file or emery board can be used to clean up the excess, Avoid using a knife or razor blade, as you’re likely to take off too much glue and the weapon will simply fall off again. Another common modification is to make a miniature suitable for superhero use. The easiest way to do this is to file and sand the clothing smooth with the rest of the body, then paint on the costume of your choice. A note on drilling, thanks to Andrew Reibman: “A useful tip for figure converters and folks drilling out spears to replace them with wire. Before drilling (with either pin vice or dremel tool) dip the bit in Johnson’s tube wax (what the pros in the machine shop use), dried-out Simonize car wax (my choice), or other wax. Even a bar of soap may work. “Since a buddy of mine who spent his career in machine shop recommended this, I’ve cut bit breakage down by a huge fraction, and starting and drilling are both much easier. I use to break my .014 bits, used for starter holes in tough 15mm jobs, about once every ten holes – well that’s an exaggeration, but I did break a lot of bits… The wax lubricates the bit, and “keeps the flutes from filling/jamming”, allowing the cutting end of the bit to do the job more effectively.” Brian Oplinger says that turpentine, mineral spirits, and paint thinner also make good bit lubricants. If things get hot, though… And remember to ventilate.

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