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Need Help! Taking the PLUNGE into Painting!
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TOPIC: Need Help! Taking the PLUNGE into Painting!
#44266
Need Help! Taking the PLUNGE into Painting! 2 Years, 9 Months ago  
OK, I've come to a dreaded decision to finally give in to painting my own dungeon accessories!

After reading many of your posts indicating it's not that difficult, I figure I might as well give it a shot since I can't seem to find the accessories I want at a reasonable price on eBay.

I need EVERYTHING; paints, brushes, magnifyer glasses, and minis to start.

I value everyone's opinion so please tell me the best and worst of painting my own minis and how to get started.

For those who've been doing it a lifetime, I certainly want to hear from you where I should start.

Thanks.
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#44268
Re:Need Help! Taking the PLUNGE into Painting! 2 Years, 9 Months ago  
I am new to the hobby myself but there are a few things I have learned in the short term.

1. Brushes. I began with some cheap brushes and almost immediately the hair started falling out. Within a few weeks I switched to some Windsor & Newton Series 7 brushes and the difference is huge. Right now you can get them for cheap: Windsor & Newton 7. I went with sizes 3/0, 2/0, 0, 1, 2. I use the size 0 and 1 the most but the small ones are fantastic for very small detail.

2. Cleaning product: I went with Windsor & Newton Cleaner and Restorer coupled with Master's Brush Soap. I followed this method to clean them: .

3. Paint. The hobby paints like Apple Barrel are cheap, but they have to be thinned and they don't look as good. I believe the pigment particles are too large. I invested in some miniature paint. I bought a mix of Coat D'Arms, Reaper, Citadel, and Vallejo Model Paints and again the difference is huge. I don't have to use that many coats to get a good base coat on. I started with the basic colors: white, black, blue, red, yellow, green, brown, purple, orange, grey. I just add a little white or black to get different shades for dry brushing.

4. Primer. I have used Krylon and Games Workshop. Krylon works well but I had two cans fail on me (and yes I cleaned the nozzle and turned it upside down and sprayed till clear). I have had zero problems with the games workshop and I don't have to spray as much on to get a good coat. However, GW primer is $15 compared to $5.

5. Washes. I make my own buy I may invest in some because it is a pain to make. I use a brown and black wash the most.

6. Glazes. I just make it with flow improver (future shine floor polish), matte medium, and my base color.

The steps I paint with are:

1. Clean and dry.
2. Prime (white for bright things black for dark and dingy).
3. Base coat (main colors on the model).
4. Wash (to darken crevices).
5. Light dry brush (lighter shade of base color).
6. Apply glaze (super thinned out base color to soften highlights).

There are other methods but this works well for me. Then again I am a noob at this. But I did loads of research before I started. For a glossary of painting terms see: Glossary. That helped me a lot.

So far I have used megaminiatures, PSOM miniatures, and thomarillion models. I was very happy with PSOM and Thomarillion stuff. Mega miniatures were okay but good for practice (I painted tons of tables and chairs).

I hope this helps.

EDIT: I almost forgot clear coat. I use Krylon craft semi gloss (2 coats) and then 1 coat of Krylon craft matte. The semi gloss provides more protection and the matte kills some of the shine.
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#44274
Re:Need Help! Taking the PLUNGE into Painting! 2 Years, 9 Months ago  
Dndgamer,

everyone here probably already knows which company I work for, so I will try to keep it in general terms as not to let it sound like an advertisement.

1. Tools
First off, no matter which miniatures you choose to paint you need to prepare them for undercoating/painting. For this step you will need the right place, which means you want to have good lighting. Either near a window or using a light that has those nice 'daylight' lamps. This space you choose for painting will have to be protected against the occasionally upturned painting pot and will also find itself immersed in deflashed mould (not sure about the vocabulary, will explain later).
Whatever brushes you use, there are some things to remember. Don't ever use a brush which you didn't immerse in water beforehand unless you use the drybrushing technique. Never let the paint reach the brush hairs closest to your hand (when holding it), I mean the part which usually is under some kind of small metal tube. Even while painting make sure you clean it in between painting several times to not let any paint dry on the brush hairs. And use only water nothing else. I never used any soap or somesuch for my brushes. In general I prefer not as expensive brushes since they will be gone one day anyway. Never let your brush rest with your tip inside upside down in the water glass. This destroys its tip.

2. Preparation
Before you start painting, you need to get rid of all the excessive flash on the miniature. I looked in an online dictionary and it said it's called deflashing. The miniature is cast with 2 molds and it always leaves some flash once around the whole miniature. Depending on the quality it can be smaller or greater. To deflash it, I used a scalpel (the one from Games Workshop, don't know how it's called in english).
I always glue the whole miniature together before undercoating it since where undercoat exists glue will not work. For plastic miniatures I use plastic glue, for everything else you will need super glue (works in a few seconds). Glue that can be applied with a small brush is nice.

3. Undercoating
For this step you will need a primer. I always use the GW one. As Jericho said white for miniatures you want to have bright and black for those you want to be dark and dingy.
You always do this outside of your house, never inside. The best way is to take an old box you don't need anymore and put the miniatures inside with the opening facing you. Put them close and next to each other so that not much of the primer is wasted. Then you spray them in short bursts not in one long burst. From the front, let it dry 5 minutes and then turn them around and do it likewise from their backsides. Let it dry 5-10 minutes (outside, it stinks). Then they are ready for brushes.
You will notice that the primer didn't reach all small spots of the miniature. This is the time to paint these small spots with slightly watered down black paint. If you got a texture like milk for the paint, that's perfect. Just paint all parts that didn't get primer.

4. Painting
I am not going to explain how to paint exactly here since it's impossible to do it without seeing what I mean. But I want to brag a bit about the different kinds of paints. I always use GW paints and those only.
From what I see, there are 3 different kinds of paints. First are the so called foundation paints (the ones with the white cap on the painting pots). These colors have more color pigments and thus are excellent for putting on a base color on a miniature. Even diluted with water, their effect is such that the primer won't be seen beneath. Second are the other paints which have less pigments and thus less opacity (not sure about this word), but are brighter and more colorful in lack of a different word. You use these for techniques like highlighting. Finally there are the washes. These colors are extremely liquid. They are used to darken an existing color or to make the transition from one color to the next smoother. While the first 2 colors are always used watered down by mixing them with water to get the milky texture (as described under 3.), the washes never are. You use them straight out of the pot and always a lot of it. In theory, you could turn all non-foundation paints into washes, but the washes have a better flow and thus reach the recesses better.

5. Finishing touches
Please consider doing a nice base for your miniature, too. This gives the finished result an extra WOW effect.
Concerning the gloss at the end which Jericho mentions, I advise to only use it on non-plastic miniatures. I never do it on plastic ones.

Well, that's all that comes to my mind about it for now.

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#44275
Re:Need Help! Taking the PLUNGE into Painting! 2 Years, 9 Months ago  
Fantastic, fantastic advice. I'll only add a few small points -- so much has been said, nobody needs my two cents, so here's my halfapenny....

1. Do not underestimate the importance of washes and drybrushing. They're surprisingly easy to learn, especially using inkwashes. You don't have to use a special product if you don't want -- I tend to use diluted acrylic paint, just Golden Fluid acrylic from an art supply store. I've never tried diluting Citadel or Reaper paints with water, so I'm not sure if it would work, so I'll leave that alone. But adding an inkwash to a mini is absolutely the way to leap from "adequate" to "impressive." All the details suddenly leap to life, the lines are crisper, it just sings. Plus, while a regular brown wash is a good idea for most figures, as it gives a good fleshtone and adds dark lines and so on, experiment with other colors for great effect. You can get fantastic detail on green surfaces by painting the base coat in a strong yellow-green and then inkwashing with a darker green. Leaves, grass, moss, etc. really pop when done that way. Similarly, if there is ever a surface that you want to paint that features detail, like embroidery on something purple or blue etc., starting with a base coat that is a much brighter color than you want and then adding the inkwash to bring it into the tone you're seeking is really effective.

Drybrushing is a little harder to learn, because it's more subtle, but don't ignore it. If nothing else, learn how to use it on surfaces like hair and fur, because there's really no substitute there. It also works well on armor -- when I first started painting armor, I didn't want to try drybrushing, and every single figure I painted back then I can't even look at now. A basic dark base coat over plate mail, chain mail, etc., followed by a few passes with a silver drybrush will give you some gleaming armor with all the little details in crisp relief. With a little practice, you can see a huge leap forward in the results.

2. Don't rush. The first coat will never look the way you want the final coat to look, and it takes a few passes to reach your goal. But patient, slow and steady building up of layers is the only way to go. Accept that it will take awhile, work on several minis at once if you feel the need to keep busy and don't want to wait around for a coat to dry.

3. Almost anything can be fixed. Even the best painters occasionally slip up and get a little overspill, some brown on the tunic under the strap you're meant to be painting. Don't think that just because it happened, it can't be fixed. Even if an area was painted by building up layers over layers meticulously for days, a small overspill can be remedied with just a dab of a color that approximates what's there. It will be barely noticeable, and a LOT better than the globby mess you get from a detail that spilled over onto another surface.

4. If you don't like the results, DON'T GIVE UP. See point 3. Some of my favorite minis started as rejects that, for whatever reason, just didn't turn out the way I wanted. They were just ugly, or boring, or whatever. I sat on them for ages, and then decided "Why not repaint that green cloak in purple?" or "why not turn that blonde into a redhead?" and BAM!, suddenly it looks awesome. Even when you have made a lot of technical progress, you can find that sometimes your color choice or whatever effect you were seeking just doesn't result in a figure that really stands out. If that happens, just give it some time and try again. Never give up, never surrender. The difference between mediocre minis and great ones is sometimes just the difference in who gives up on a figure sooner.

5. Last point, but important as a context for all the points above: add paint SPARINGLY. Do not add too much paint at once, always use the smallest amount you can. With all the layers you're adding, you don't want to start obscuring details. When I said "ALMOST" anything can be fixed, probably the one thing you can't undo (without stripping the whole mini, of course) is having used too much paint to allow for fixes. Past a certain point, adding more paint won't solve the problem. But if you add extremely thin layers, methodically and patiently, you'll find that all the details are still there, and it's not hard to fix some overspill, or change a color, etc.

That's my thinks!

Good luck all new painters!
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#44279
Re:Need Help! Taking the PLUNGE into Painting! 2 Years, 9 Months ago  
I can't add anything to the already given excellent advice. However, let me add this handy tip that can save you some $ and grow your mini collection quickly. Pine-sol is an effective stripper of paint from old metal minis. Buy listings of old painted minis on ebay. The paint jobs are often so inferior and terrible, and quite often done with enamel paint. So no one buys the listing or bids it very high. So you can snag a variety of minis, toss them into a glass jar of pine-sol for a day or so and voila, nice new metal minis to practice on, and cheap! You may need an old toothbrush and water to clean the stripped minis of the paint left in tiny crevices etc but it comes right out.
Enjoy your new hobby!
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#44284
Re:Need Help! Taking the PLUNGE into Painting! 2 Years, 9 Months ago  
Arcarius2001 wrote:
I can't add anything to the already given excellent advice. However, let me add this handy tip that can save you some $ and grow your mini collection quickly. Pine-sol is an effective stripper of paint from old metal minis. Buy listings of old painted minis on ebay. The paint jobs are often so inferior and terrible, and quite often done with enamel paint. So no one buys the listing or bids it very high. So you can snag a variety of minis, toss them into a glass jar of pine-sol for a day or so and voila, nice new metal minis to practice on, and cheap! You may need an old toothbrush and water to clean the stripped minis of the paint left in tiny crevices etc but it comes right out.
Enjoy your new hobby!


I second this. If you do move from dungeon dressing to miniature figures this is the way to go. I got a bunch of hand me down reaper minis from a friend, stripped them in pine sol, and repainted. I also, bought a bunch of mage knight figures, rebased them, redid their faces, and painted over their faction colors. In an evening I would put up 10 mage knight figures and redo their faces in an assembly line manner. My face work has improved substantially because of this.
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#44287
Re:Need Help! Taking the PLUNGE into Painting! 2 Years, 9 Months ago  
You only need to pratice dry brushing and "wet paint" With thse 2 simple techniques, you can do wonders
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#44291
Re:Need Help! Taking the PLUNGE into Painting! 2 Years, 9 Months ago  
I'm so grateful to everyone on this forum for providing such great support! Thank You!

After reading all of the recommendations, tips, and tricks I feel more confident in my decision to pursue the painting of minis. Albeit, I still feel a bit tense but like everyone has said, I need to be patient and work slowly at first. Being patient will be the hardest for me but maybe I can think of painting as Zen Therapy???!! ;)

I will put up pictures of the minis I buy to paint and how they turn out.

I'm still a little unsure about certain techniques such as drybrushing and layering and have some concerns about caring for the paints and brushes.

Should I start with a large or small figure? Does it matter? How about manufacturer -- which are best for details and eas of painting?

So much to ask, so little time!
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#44292
Re:Need Help! Taking the PLUNGE into Painting! 2 Years, 9 Months ago  
Good questions! Sadly, I don't think they have easy answers.

Minis manufacturers: it really depends on your personal preferences. Reaper is one of the dominant companies, and they have a huge range of minis, most of which appeal to old-school collectors like me who like "classic" D&D styles. GW is another big player, obviously, and one good thing about them is that if you want to "army build" generic figures like skeletons, orcs, etc., GW has boxed sets of 6-20 figures or so that allow you to customize poses and accessories. BUT they use plastic -- which leads to point #2...

As far as "big v. small," I'd say that they can't really be compared. Painting tiny details isn't like painting broad surfaces, and painting chain mail isn't like painting hair, and painting a backpack isn't like painting robes, and so on. (and painting plastic isn't like painting metal) Each distinct feature is something to practice, and some people find some easier than others...

Definitely start with cheap minis, the cheapest you can find, because you're going to get much better, probably pretty fast, and you won't want to bother keeping your first efforts except maybe for nostalgic purposes. :P
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#44297
Re:Need Help! Taking the PLUNGE into Painting! 2 Years, 9 Months ago  
Start with skeletons.
paint one black, and bry brush it white
paint the other with, and use black "wet paint" (very diluted paint)

Experiment a bit and you will have mastered 2 basic techniques

After that you will be able to use them both in combination for more complex minis.
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#44299
Re:Need Help! Taking the PLUNGE into Painting! 2 Years, 9 Months ago  
Crioux is right. Start with skeletons. Just prime them white, then use Gryphonne Sepia wash on the dried primer for all the bones. Bones are done. Repaint armor and weapons black, then drybrush them with metal color. Done!


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#44300
Re:Need Help! Taking the PLUNGE into Painting! 2 Years, 9 Months ago  
I could be wrong but I believe the OP was talking about painting his own dungeon scenery not miniature figures.
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