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Category Archives: Beginner

A reader asked what epoxy I am using to assemble the FIB tanks. I use Liquid Nails Perfect Glue 3. It is a 5 minute epoxy, I prefer to buy the small tubes as the big ones tend to dry out and/or crack and leak all over the place before I use them up. This product is available more-or-less everywhere in the U.S. (Lowes, Home Depot, Ace, Wal-Mart, etc.)

SANY1030

A recent post on the Dakka forum go me thinking about miniature painting from the perspective of a newcomer to the hobby, or the perspective of a gamer that has “given up” on painting because it is too hard. Without getting into specific techniques, here are my thoughts on having the right attitude:

  1. Mini painting is a function of developing technique first, and "artistic" ability second (or never). Generally, you will have a roadmap to follow given YouTube tutorials, painting articles in forums and so on. I cannot overstate how helpful it is to have a guide. It can be very difficult to dream up a paint scheme from scratch if you aren’t artistically inclined (I’ve been painting for better than three decades and I still can’t do it). Once you have a roadmap, it is all down to technique.
  2. Technique first and foremost requires patience. The worst thing you can do is give up after a first effort or heaven forbid during a first effort. My mini’s look like crap right up to the moment that they don’t. If you watch tutorials, you’ll see this phenomenon play out even with the most talented artists. Don’t give up, give yourself a chance!
  3. One does not fly into flying (Nietzsche). Work on your basic technique first – get comfortable thinning paints and painting in multiple thin coats. Get your basecoat smooth and even. Pick out detail as cleanly as you can, and don’t be afraid to touch the same element more than once. Assume that you will have to "touch up" colors – don’t expect perfection, just steady progress! Don’t try blending or advanced shading techniques until you are confident that you can get the basic elements painted cleanly. Once you can do that (and believe me, you can do that) the rest is just a matter of repetition. You can’t build reps if you quit every time a model isn’t "perfect".
  4. Washes can really suck the life out of a model. If you find yourself saying "these look a*s" and giving up, my first question would be "did you use an acrylic wash over unsealed paint". A wash will not just fill gaps when used this way, it will also stain the paint you are covering. It is a common mistake to consider an all-over wash a fix-all finishing technique. On an unvarnished model you are adding shadows and definition, but you are also killing highlights and contrast, that is part of the deal. Depending on the wash you are using, you will also stain the paint and muddy-up the figure. A muddy model without highlight or contrast will de-facto look like crap, expect it and don’t panic. Or better yet, stop mopping acrylic washes over unvarnished models! If you watch many painting tutorials, you’ll note that the better painters start painting after the basecoat and wash method, they use it as essentially a multi-part basecoat. When washes are used as a finishing step you’ll see the real pros painting over a varnish coat and using more complex techniques, such as oil-washes.
  5. Speaking of the “pros” – don’t get hung up on comparing your models with top level commission work, Golden Daemon entries, White Dwarf entries, and so on. Begin at the beginning – a painted army, no matter how basic, looks an order of magnitude better than grey plastic or bare metal. And, if you don’t go crazy with the washes, your models can be improved over time as your technique improves. I go back to finished units all the time to add detail …
  6. Set realistic goals. Get a unit finished – that’s a good first goal. Improve your ability to keep color groups separate – practice and experiment with brush sizes and paint thickness. You will be surprised how accurately you can paint if you don’t handicap yourself with under-thinned paint and tiny little brushes.
  7. Don’t get hung up on tools. Good brushes last longer. That’s it, they don’t magically paint models for you. Tiny brushes suck, unless you are painting something tiny. Hobby paints have a few advantages over craft or generic artists paints – they offer specific intermediate hues to make "paint by numbers" shading and highlighting easier, they make mixing colors unnecessary, and they are easily cross-referenced when following a recipe. You will hear a lot of talk about the medium and binder and pigment load and pigment quality and blah blah blah. Don’t believe everything you read, paint is for the most part just paint. You’ll notice differences once you have some experience working with different vendors, but once you have the experience the paint no longer matters anyway ;->
  8. Talented artists have been doing amazing work on miniatures for a long long time with all kinds of paints and all kinds of tools. Don’t worry if you don’t have the “right” stuff – you can do excellent work with craft store brushes and Wal-mart craft paint that costs less than a buck. I have painted many good looking armies doing just that.
  9. Regardless of how much you spend on them, you need to keep your brushes clean. Never let paint dry on your brushes. If you are properly thinning your paints and you are working with a palette, this won’t happen. Don’t paint straight from the pot, it is only a matter of time until you dip a little too far and overload your brush. Paint will dry in the ferrule. You will be unhappy with the results and blame cheap brushes ;->
  10. Every figure on this blog has been painted with a broad spectrum of materials ranging from the “latest and greatest” to the stuff others might say can’t be put to good effect. I don’t paint award winning armies, but I paint armies that look nice on the table. What I can say for sure is that the paints and brushes don’t matter at all.