The Basics

Dredd Times

Administrator
Painting and collecting Mongoose Publishing miniatures is as rewarding as playing the games themselves and many people get into the hobby from seeing the excellent miniatures on display at games conventions or here on the website.

Of course once you have your first set of miniatures you will need to get them ready for painting and will need a few things to help you with the hobby. This is only a basic guide to painting your miniatures and each area will be addressed in a seperate thread.

The Basics
Apart from your miniatures you will need a few items to help you get the most out of the hobby, some of these such as brushes and paints are of course essential, others are great for such a time that you feel you are confidant to use them. Here is a short list of a few materials that you will need to get you started:

Paints: They come in many colours and sizes but the best to use are acrylics. Acrylics dry very fast, don’t smell awful like oils or enamels and wash clean with water. WARNING Acrylic paint is essentially plastic and as such will stain any material it comes into contact with, ensure that you are not wearing clothing that you are worried about ruining by accidentally spilling paint.

Brushes: Again in a wide range of sizes, the best brushes used for painting miniatures tend to range from size ‘2’ down to a size ‘00’, though they can go down smaller than a ‘00000’. The smaller the size of brush the finer the line it can paint, but at the cost of less paint on the bristles. Remember however that it is not the size of the brush that is important, but the point it keeps.

Needle Files: Used to clean up the miniature and get rid of any mould lines or excess material that may be left over from the casting process.

Scalpels, Cutters and Modelling Knives. Precision blades used to clean a miniature before painting begins. WARNING As with all bladed objects always cut away from yourself and never towards when using a scalpel as these are often razor sharp and can be lethal if used incorrectly.

Superglue or Cyanoacrylate: Extremely strong and fast acting glue used to stick metal to other materials. WARNING As with all solvents please use in a well ventilated area and always use caution when using glues.

Spray undercoats, varnishes: Used to get an even coat on which to put down the base colours on your miniature. Also used to protect your hard work.

There a four simple steps in painting your miniatures and if followed will help you get the best results possible. Each step is straight forward and shouldn’t cause any problems even for the most novice among us.

Step One: Cleaning and Preparation:
After purchasing your miniatures you will know doubt want to get to grips with painting them and getting them ready to put on too the table-top so you can begin your games in earnest. Before you begin painting your miniatures it is advisable that you prepare them first. Using a sharp craft knife or scalpel clean off any excess metal or plastic that may be on your miniature, always cutting away from yourself and carefully avoiding causing damage to the model itself! A needle file can help disguise any mould lines if needed.

Once your miniature is cleaned up it is best to undercoat your model to give the paint something to adhere too. Some acrylics and inks wont stick to many plastics and metals and will simply pool off leaving little more than a mess behind them. A spray undercoat (available from hobby and game stores) can rectify this and will allow a base for which you can apply the paint. Use sprays in a well ventilated area (preferably outdoors) and hold the spray around 6-9 inches away from the miniatures to get an even coat. Wait until the spray is completely dry before touching to avoid getting finger prints on your models. To save spray and therefore money, try to undercoat a few miniatures at a time.

Step Two: PaintingOnce your miniatures are completely dried it is time to get the fun part underway and begin the process of actually painting them. There are lots of different techniques that are used in painting miniatures and models but the main ones we tend to use over and over again are as follows:

Blocking: Blocking is when you place the base coats onto your miniatures. Much akin to painting-by-numbers, one simply puts a layer of paint taken from the pot onto the model. Always start with the darkest colours first and work your way up.

Drybrushing: A very simple technique that can give startling results when used. Drybrushing is when the brush is charged with a small amount of paint, which is then all but wiped clean from the bristles and then dragged back and forth over the model, bringing out the detail below. Drybrushing can often sound very daunting but is a very simple technique to get to grips with.

Washes: Using thinned down paint or artists inks, a wash is when an area of a miniature is coated with thinned medium which then flows into all the recesses and creates natural shadows. Washes are very simple to apply and are great for those who are learning the hobby.

Highlighting: There are various ways of highlighting a miniature, such as blending, shading, etch, but each with give more or less the same results. Highlighting takes the base colours used in blocking and adds a small amount of a lighter shade to them (often white) to give a naturalistic look. Care however must be taken when highlighting not to use to much of a lighter shade or the effect can be lost.

Step Three: Basing the miniature:
As with painting there are many different ways to base your miniatures, some modellers prefer to use static grass or gravel (found in most hobby stores) to base their miniatures, others use fine or course sand, or even go as far as adding a three dimensional look to the base itself. Of course you can leave the base blank if you so desire or just paint it in a neutral colour, but by adding a texture you can really bring out the paint job on your miniature.

The easiest way to base a figure is to carefully paint the areas you need with a neutral colour such as green for grass or grey for concrete, etc, and then while the paint is still wet dip the model into the static grass or scenic scatter. Once this is done just gently tap the models base on the sides and it will loosen any excess material. Care of course should be taken not to get the paint onto your miniature.

You can also use PVA glue and sand to give a textured look to the base of your miniature. Simply water down the glue and paint the area that you wish to cover and then dip into the sand. Again tap off any excess and allow to dry. Once completely dry water down some more PVA glue and paint gently over the sand to give an even surface for the paint and again leave to dry, this avoids the base looking cracked once painted. Finally using a combination of blocking, drybrushing and washes you can build up the texture of the base and get great effects.

Three dimensional bases can look spectacular, with added scenic motifs that make a miniature really stand out from the crowd. They can contain anything that one would expect to find on the floor from road markings, gutters and pavements, too twisted roots of trees or clumps of grass and vegetation.

Step Four: Finishing Touches:
Now that your miniature is finished it is time to make sure that it stays safe from harm. The best way to protect your models is to ensure that you seal them with a varnish or lacquer. The best results are obtained using a flat varnish and acrylic sprays are ideal for this. Again as with undercoating the model please take care to use sprays in a well ventilated area. Always allow a couple of hours for your model to dry before applying the varnish as this will avoid paint running or scenic scatter sticking to places you don’t wish it too.

As an alternative to spray varnishes you may wish to use women’s hairspray, found in most supermarkets around the world. This is very cheap and unlike some commercially available modelling sealers it won’t yellow or crack with age, again take care when using and use in a ventilated area.

And that is that a very simplistic guide to preparing and painting your miniatures. Of course there are much more complex things one can do with miniatures, but those are best attempted once you are confidant with the basics. Now its time to tackle your first miniature.
 

Utgardloki

Mongoose
Let me be the first person to say "Thank you." I've been meaning to paint all my miniatures, but just haven't been able to find the time, space, and materials to do the job. (Well, the materials should be available from any well-stocked hobby supply store, but it's nice to have a nice shopping list.)

Maybe this summer I'll be able to set up a "painting station" for myself.
 

Lyta

Mongoose
But the GW (acrylic) colours are definitely the best ones around for newcomers. ;-)

They're quite expensive in comparison to others, but they're good. Other colours I've tried came from these companies:

- Revell (may be good if you don't use undercoat spray)
- Vallejo
- Marabu (may be good if you don't use undercoat spray)

Revell and Marabu were not very good really. The best colours for TT miniatures, as far as I know, are Vallejo and Games Workshop.

Now, since I like to just open something, put my brush in and paint my miniatures, GW is better. But most people, especially the professionals in miniature painting, use Vallejo colours. So, if you want to stay clean and don't mix your colours a lot: Games Workshop. If you don't mind dirty fingers and want mixed colours which makes your miniatures look better, take Vallejo. Vallejo is not as liquid as GW though. It's more like gouache colours, so if you want Vallejo colours to be more liquid, shake them (before opening of course :p).

We've tried a few undercoat sprays and the one from GW is definitely the best. And it's not even expensive - at least the spray... :) And another effect from the GW spray: You see nice colours and your head explodes - so open the window or if you have a garden, go out for spraying.
 

Shadow Queen

Mongoose
"And another effect from the GW spray: You see nice colours and your head explodes - so open the window or if you have a garden, go out for spraying."

make sure its warm and not frezzing or the mini with the undercoat will crystallise and youll have to strip (the mini) and start over
 

Lyta

Mongoose
Yeah, that freezing is bad.

Oh and if you paint a miniature and then decide that it looks really crappy, you can easily scratch the whole paint and undercoat off with a needle (only with metal miniatures as far as I've tried).
 

mthomason

Mongoose
No matter how tempting it is to use a thick coat of paint to save time, use lots of thin ones (even if you have to water down the thicker paint). I used to purposely avoid thin colours like yellow wherever possible because of how long it took, but now I realise what a huge difference it makes.

Firstly and most importantly, you don't lose detail on the model when a thick sludge of paint fills in an area.

It's easier to mask mistakes because you're painting over a thin barely-visible coat.

It covers more evenly when finished - thick coats tend to cover unevenly and leave patches, and as you used a thick coat you don't want to add a second one to fill in the patchy areas.

You don't end up with paint streaks because you can paint in a different direction with each coat.

You can use more variety across the many coats to give a gradiented set of colours instead of just one flat one.
 

Rob_A

Mongoose
or use colours up to the one you want. Yellow and red for example are pigments, meaning they pick up whatever colour is under them. Basicallly you will never get pure red on a black undercoat, you will need to re-paint that part white. Either that or build up from another colour, I use GWs dark flesh up to scab red then from scab red to blood red in a series of highlights. For yellow I use GW's desert yellow up to golden yellow, then up to Sunburst yellow. its a good colour to start at. Its all logical thinking.
 

Rob_A

Mongoose
@marc: I suggest starting with the lowest part of the model to the top, e.g skin-armour. You dont necesarily have to start with the darkset colours first. I often do it in any order that I see as sensble, normally largest to smallest.
 

MechaLucha

Mongoose
Try sticking to just a few colors for your figures. Believe it or not the least amount colors you use will actually look better. Stick to tints and shades of only 3 or 4 colors and your model will have a better harmony and be pleasing to the eye.
 

Buggrit

Mongoose
Lyta said:
Yeah, that freezing is bad.

Oh and if you paint a miniature and then decide that it looks really crappy, you can easily scratch the whole paint and undercoat off with a needle (only with metal miniatures as far as I've tried).

I can personally recommend a good soaking in Dettol for quick and easy stripping. (I was skeptical when I heard about it, but it works fantastically) Put some neat Dettol (or similar, I use Morrisons own brand) in an old jam jar or something similar and pop your mini's in. Leave for 24 hours and then take them out and give them a quick brush with an old (or somebody you don't like's) toothbrush et viola... you've got a small violin. erm... the paint will just slide off. Safe with plastics too, unlike more aggressive regular paint strippers which will just melt your mini and leave you with a gooey blob.
 

Shadow Queen

Mongoose
I have Cellulose Thinners and use an "OLD" brush anything from games workshop will do and it comes off in seconds and youd need to wash the mini off after and let it dry.
 

Rodders

Mongoose
Lyta said:
But the GW (acrylic) colours are definitely the best ones around for newcomers. ;-)

They're quite expensive in comparison to others, but they're good. Other colours I've tried came from these companies:

- Revell (may be good if you don't use undercoat spray)
- Vallejo
- Marabu (may be good if you don't use undercoat spray)

Revell and Marabu were not very good really. The best colours for TT miniatures, as far as I know, are Vallejo and Games Workshop.

Now, since I like to just open something, put my brush in and paint my miniatures, GW is better. But most people, especially the professionals in miniature painting, use Vallejo colours. So, if you want to stay clean and don't mix your colours a lot: Games Workshop. If you don't mind dirty fingers and want mixed colours which makes your miniatures look better, take Vallejo. Vallejo is not as liquid as GW though. It's more like gouache colours, so if you want Vallejo colours to be more liquid, shake them (before opening of course :p).

We've tried a few undercoat sprays and the one from GW is definitely the best. And it's not even expensive - at least the spray... :) And another effect from the GW spray: You see nice colours and your head explodes - so open the window or if you have a garden, go out for spraying.


gw and vallejo colours have the same pigmentation coulor mix consistancy and are basicly the same paint ( i think they are even produced in the same factory) the difference is the price gw paints are £2 for 25ml and vallejo are £1.40 for 20ml
 

gameguy1957

Mongoose
Here's a good tip for newcomers to painting (or someone who doesn't have a lot of brush control like me). Paint from the inside out. That is, paint the deeper areas first.

Some people are good enough to paint in any order but I've found that if I paint the uniform, helmets, etc. first and then try to paint down into the areas like the face and eyes I always get paint on the finished parts.

If I do it in the other direction it usually turns out fairly well the first time and I don't end up having to do a lot of touch ups.

Hope this helps.

-JM
 

Buggrit

Mongoose
I totally agree with the inside to outside technique, far easier to paint a face first and then the helm that's on it than to try and paint the face under/through an already nicely painted helm.

Another good tip is to paint the darkest areas first and work your way through to the lighter colours.
 
I mainly use oil based paints as they are the remanants of my airfix days. I have found that the Revell paints are absolutly s*** as paints, so the couple i have are now used as washes or inks. Humbrol paints on the other hand are very good, just take a while to mix. They are cheaper than GW paints and despite being in smaller pots last just as long if not longer. i would recommend them to anyone on a budget. also a great variety of colours and shades of greys and greens.
 

Dredd Times

Administrator
Rodders said:
gw and vallejo colours have the same pigmentation coulor mix consistancy and are basicly the same paint ( i think they are even produced in the same factory) the difference is the price gw paints are £2 for 25ml and vallejo are £1.40 for 20ml

GW Paints are acutally 12ml rather than 25ml. The old pots where 25ml but they havent been around for a long time now. Vallejo are perhaps the best value paints around with great colour coverage and excellent value for money, or you could always try the new formula P3 paints from Privateer Press they cover really well and are in a wide range of colours.

Marc
 
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