Sunday, 11 December 2011

So you want to start painting miniatures, Part 2

When I first started painting I used the Humbrol enamels that are used for the plastic model aircraft kits. Whilst for the beginner these are ok, they can be a little too thick and you will lose the finer detailing on your model. They also limit what you can do with detailing effects. The enamel paints are notorious for shortening the life span of your brushes, as they have to be cleaned with white spirits.

Tamiya paints are acrylic, although they do smell as though they are spirit-based, personally I’ve never done too well with Tamiya paints, and again, I find them too thick for miniature painting. Also if you try to thin them down it can be hard to judge the right amount of thinner to use. To be honest I personally have had great success with Citadel Colours. These paints are acrylic and water-based, also and more importantly they are non-toxic. The paints are easy on the brushes and clean up easily. Because they are water-based it makes them easy to thin down and this makes them perfect for washes, although Citadel do produce specially designed inks for just this job. You will also need to buy undercoat. Citadels Colour starter kits provide a good range of colours and also supply some plastic miniatures to get you going.

Once you have your paints you’re ready to find yourself a miniature to apply the pigment to.

Finding the right piece.

Now you have your tools and your paints, you need to find a miniature. If you are new to the gaming fraternity, then the best place to find your models is the shop where you buy your games and dice. Again Games Workshop stores have a wide selection so as you buy your paints, browse the miniatures as well. Choosing a suitable piece can be quite difficult as you will be trying to find one that you like the look of plus finding one that has an interesting characteristic. If you are preparing to paint your first model don’t pick one with heavy surface detail. A highly detailed model may look good but if you’re new to the craft then you will find it quite daunting. This also goes the other way round, even if you are new to miniature painting, don’t get a model that’s too plain as there will be no challenge and you will not enjoy your time. The first miniature I painted was a fighter figure wearing a cloak; a helmet that comes over the eyes and it held a scimitar in its right hand that rested in the left. It also had a shield bearing a Celtic knot design. Ok so you have your tools, and now you have your model, you are ready to start painting.

For me painting a model is like colouring in a picture. I also find it very relaxing. Painting can be time consuming, but if you have the right motivation towards it, it is time well spent.

The first thing you need to do is find the right location. The ideal spot is in the kitchen, preferably when it’s not in use by other members of your household. Although sitting in the kitchen may get you roped into chores like tea making and washing-up. There are several good reasons for using the kitchen one is the fact that most people have a large table in the kitchen, (be sure to cover the table before you start work.) another is that kitchens tend to have large windows. A big window is great for painting as it allows lots of natural light to paint by. Lighting is an important factor to consider when painting. A figure painted under artificial light may not have the same lustre when displayed in natural light. So you have a good work area and now it’s time to set up. Put the pots of paint on the table then spread them out a bit so that you can clearly see each colour. You will also need some water. I tend to use three containers of water. One is for the light colours; another is for the dark colours and a third for the metallic colours. Yoghurt pots are perfect rinse pots.

The first thing you need to do after set up is clean the model.  Once you are happy that the piece is clean leave it to air dry for about an hour. When you return to your work you will need to remove any flashing and mould lines. Using needle files and you craft knife carefully scrape away any parts that don’t belong on the model. When using the knife always work away from your body, NEVER towards you, firstly this can result in a severe injury, secondly you may get a very interesting colour scheme. Now that you have removed all the flash and lines it’s time to undercoat your figure. I find that the best method for undercoating is a spray can. Different people hold different opinions on undercoat. Some say that a light or white undercoat is best, others tend to go for black. I like grey, I tend to buy the grey acrylic spray primer from a local car repair shop, it’s cheaper than GWs sprays and the cans are larger.

In order to apply the undercoat you need to be in a well-ventilated area. A spray box can be easily constructed. Place the model on a separate piece of card so that you can turn it as you spray. Hold the can about 20-30 centimetres from the model, then spray in quick short bursts. When you have completed the undercoat leave the model to dry, again for about an hour.

Now your undercoat is dry you are ready to start painting proper. You will need to attach the piece to something so that you can move it around without touching the painted areas of the figure. An empty paint pot with a large lump of blu-tac type stuff on it is ideal.

Start with a base coat picking out the larger surface areas. Your base coat should be a darker shade of the colour you want to end up with, so if you want a light blue cloak for instance, then the cloaks base coat should be a dark blue. Once you have applied the base coat to the model you can start on the smaller areas, such as boots, gloves and the like.

After you have completed the base coats you can move onto the more technical stuff like washing and drybrushing. For the wash, you need to use either ink a a wash. If you do not have ink or ink or a wash then you will have to thin down some of the paint. A wash should be darker than the base coat you used initially. To apply the wash you will need to use a large brush; a size 2 should suffice. First place a drop of ink onto a white surface, then dip your brush into some fresh clean water and drip the water into the ink. This will thin the ink out a little more and make it run easier. Before you apply the first wash, work some of the ink out by painting it onto the plate. Then apply the ink to the recessed areas of your model. You should see that the ink runs into all the grooves and folds on the figure. You can apply 2-3 washes, lightening the shade as you progress.

After you have applied the washes you will, again, need to allow the figure to dry. Make sure that the ink is completely dry before you proceed to the next stage.

Now that you have completed the wash you need to apply a drybrush to the surface of the model. Drybrushing is a simple but effective method of highlighting the detail on the model. A drybrush starts with a shade that is a little lighter than the last colour you used before you washed the model. You need to lighten the shade with each application. To apply a drybrush take a small sample of the previous colour then add a tiny amount of white to the colour. Add the same quantity of white for dry each brush application. To perform the drybrush you need to use an old brush. This is where those nylon brushes come into play. Pick up some paint on the brush then using a piece of kitchen towel or tissue wipe off the paint on the brush. You may have to do this two or three times to achieve the right effect. When you have wiped the paint off the brush paint over the model, being quite firm and rapid with your movements. You will begin to see that the paint that is left in the brush is adhering to the surface of the model, picking out the raised areas as you go. If you want to achieve a good effect for a sword or armour or an axe-head, paint the area with a dark metallic colour. Citadel Paints BoltGun is perfect for this. When the base coat is dry, run over it with a drybrush of the lighter ChainMail. Repeat this with a lighter metallic colour i.e. silver. You will see that you have created a convincing area of light and dark patches on the piece. With time and patience you will create some incredible effects with your paints, and you will soon want to move on to larger models.