ACTA minis - base coating by brush not spray....


Hi all,

I'm tidying my flat to make space to try and build then paint my minis. Lack of an outdoors location suitable to the task means Ill be basecoating by brush rather than spray so what hints/tips can you offer?

1) Should I thin my paints? What with? In what ratio?

2) Best techniques and colours to use for basing which colours?

I'll mainly be using GW paints, but possibly some Rackham paints as they have some nice pastel colours (I'm thinking....pastels :lol: )


Always use white undercoat unless you want a real quick job or the ship will eventually be black/dark gray anyway.

Lighten your paint a bit but not much. Search me for the ratio, I do it by instinct and trial and error.
lastbesthope said:
So just use water for thinning? (Is thinning what you meant by lightening?)


Yeah thats what I mean. Get a bit of paint (only a small amount), mix in a bit of water (again only a smallish amount) until you are satisfied then do as many coats as it takes until you are satisfied.
lastbesthope said:
Thanks xeoran, sorry for such noobish questions.


No worries, I still remain oen of the slowest, worst painters out there. I'm neat but not much else...


LBH is painting minis?!?!?!?!?!


Okay, here's my tips for after you've got the basecoat on - you'll be surprised what effects you can get from a simple drybrushing followed by a wash - a very, very thin one! Then do it again if it's too thin until you find the right consistency for that particular paint.

So - undercoat, basecoat, drybrush, then wash. Then varnish and you're done :) Sometimes you'll find the drybrush works better after the wash - you'll need to experiment a bit to find out what gives the effect you're looking for.

Also, it's probably worth grabbing some plastic sprues of something (non-ACTA, obviously) to try out first - something you don't mind throwing away once you've messed it up ;) (that said, I don't think I've ever messed up so badly painting that a figure that it was unrecoverable, still it's good for confidence when you're not painting an expensive metal mini)

Don't skip on the varnish stage - you'll regret it later. You can get GW varnish in a pot if spraying is a problem.
On the plastics front I advise hunting down copies of Battle games in Middle Earth magazine as they are cheap as chips on e-bay and often have lots of plastics.
LBH, buy an airbrush (just cheapo one). Get some of the Model colour acrylic underscoat, and hey presto, odourless undercoating with a spray ;)
Or if you are using paint on undercoat try and get it at about a milk like consistency and after putting on the first coat let it dry and then recoat it. I found when I was using a paint on undercoat that sometimes just one coat (making the mini look kinda chalky) would be okay, because you're priming the mini, not trying to paint it white.
I've read that some people are using artist gesso to prime with, so I gave it a shot. I ended up trying to paint it white instead of just thinly coating it.

I think that's the key. Don't try to paint it white, just put a thin coat on.

But the gesso worked great. Next time, I'm gonna invest in a jar of black jesso, instead of white.
I undercoat by brush all the time. (not a huge fan of spray paints). just use water to thin your undercoat colour of choice (I prefer black) slightly so it runs into the cracks and crevices and then do two or three light coats on the mini. I tend to use a GW tank brush to cover as much of the mini in one go as possible. Easy as 22/7.
Reaverman said:
LBH, buy an airbrush (just cheapo one). Get some of the Model colour acrylic underscoat, and hey presto, odourless undercoating with a spray ;)

Its not just the odour, it's the inevitable overspray, but thanks for the advice guys, keep it coming

(Slightly drunk)
lastbesthope said:
Its not just the odour, it's the inevitable overspray, but thanks for the advice guys, keep it coming

I have spray undercoated indoors, in a small room quite successfully. You just need to take precautions.

With aerosols, open windows as far as they will go. Get lots of air moving through the room, and wear a DIY dusk mask.

To catch overspray get a large cardboard box (from any good corner shop etc.) make sure any holes in it are covered over (freebie newspapers are great). Place the box on its side with the open end towards you, then place an object to boost the height that you can spray the models (an ACTA fleet box or something). If you are really worried about overspray, then put down some more newspaper on the desk, and prop open the flaps of the box.

Place the models you wish to spray onto a firm, flat object, something that will take the weight; an off-cut of fibreboard, a double thickness of currugated cardboard. This is what you will be turning and moving the models on.

Transfer the models into the box and place on the booster. Spray the models with two quick passes, and then turn a bit, repeat until each face of the modle has had two or three light coats to undercoat.

I would recomend spray undercoating over brushes anyday.

If you are dead set on hand undercoating, get a cheap largeish (Size 1 or 2) brush, and thin the paint. If your using GW or Rackham paints, then use water. You are looking to make the paint 'mobile' the consistency of milk is about right. Put on multiple thin coats on the mini, and allow to dry between coats.

The only time I hand undercoat is when touching in after spraying.

As to colour of the undercoat, it really depends on the final colour of the model. I find white undercoat makes for a brighter finish, while black deepens the colors a lot.

For White Stars I would go for a black undercoat, for Abbai, Vorlons and early EA I would likely use a white undercoat.

When painting, I advise you to use a palette. Transfer a bit of paint from the pot and thin down a bit with water to make the paint more mobile. Build up the colour slowly, sometimes an area may need two or three coats to make it an even coverage. Just allow time for each coat to dry before adding another.
I spray prime all my minis and spray the base coat color as well and then brush on the details and such. I find that I can get much smoother finishes in a faster amount of time, something that with 2 kids, is in short supply. I do all my painting after they go to bed. :D