I put a matte base layer on him to protect the paint, but then I put glossy coat on all of the “shiny” parts. Applying finish when the paint is completely dry is important, because you’re less likely to run into this issue. This money is used to improve and further build the site. One of my minis had a magic “fireball” effect shooting out of the hand, which threatened to look really bland and cartoony. It only costs $.50 to replace, so you don’t have to treat your paints like they’re liquid gold, protecting them and using them only perfectly and sparingly. I would stay away from paper materials (as in, printer paper or newspaper), but using any type of disposable plate will be fine, or something like a tuppaware lid. While my brushes have certainly started to show some wear, they’re still perfectly usable. We run a number of tests on interior paints, including hiding— how well a paint covers dark colors in one coat. Why should you care? some of your cloaks and shadows are amazing, the tuskan raider is rather superb. In my opinion, the best best is to just buy one of those brush packs that you’ll find in the painting aisle of Wal-Mart. Just like I warned you to keep your paints thin, make sure that your finishing layer also isn’t too thick. Some recommend priming with a gray color as a compromise between white and black. Luckily, by following the process and tips and tricks described here, you can cut down on the amount of time you spend painting and improve the way your army looks. It took some practice to find the right mixture for each, but the end results are awesome. I’m outlining my process here, but these are meant to be treated first and foremost as guidelines. Thanks so much for this guide. To top it off, I dropped him. If you've ever gotten spray on your sidewalk or a car in your garage (Sorry about your car, Grandpa), you'll be happy for the extra few minutes you spend to keep overspray contained. If you apply spray paint in the cold, you may find that the paint applies unevenly. Nevertheless, it might happen, so be careful. Definitely bookmarking for all my future minifig needs! But it will stick quite well to primer. Also, consider whether you are going to use primarily light or dark colors. Testors is not your only option. I found it’d be easier to paint over it in the first layer to get all my red in, so now I have to paint back over it in my cream color without painting back over the red. Make sure some of the paint is still in your brush, and then apply it to your mini. They’re bland and colorless. While you’re at Walmart, pick up a bottle of pledge acrylic floor varnish and the cheap Daler Rowney acrylic ink. Thank you for reading! The new rule is that you can skip it. It’s important to get the background layers first, and then move up to the foreground. They’re so beautiful! I often use Krylon primer, but any major brand will probably work fine. I’ll talk more about toothpicks later, but it suffices to say that they’re incredibly useful. On this mini, you can see a tiny bit of shine on the white paint in places. THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN THIS ENTIRE GUIDE. If you don’t get craft paint, make sure the brand you’re buying is reliable. You just have to be patient. You see that people online do it all the time! Here’s whatg our trooper looks like after I”ve finished all the rough base layers. OK, you may think, that's great for bright colors, but what about dark ones? Once again, make sure you get only a trace amount of paint, and then apply the toothpick. Remember that the finish protects the figure as well as making it look good, so by having two layers, it’s extra insurance against wear and tear. Oh, but wait, you’ve never done this before, and even worse, you’re broke. If you want less saturated colors, you may want to paint over gray or black primer. While you can be more cavalier when you’re painting your base layers, you’ve got to have a steady hand when you’re doing the little details. It was highly recommended, so I bought both dullcote and glosscote (matte and gloss finish, respectively). This is really the biggest tip I’ve got in this department. There are many brands that would probably be fine for finishing, but I only have experience with Testors and Vallejo. I went to a local game store, and all they had was Testors Dullcote/Glosscote lacquers. Very Nice tutorial. Acrylic paint doesn't adhere very well when applied directly to metal, resin, or plastic, no matter how well you clean your miniature. Even a freshly dry coat will rub off without the slightest provocation. Seal it again when you feel you’ve got it fixed.. Lacquer/Varnish is really thick and oozy, and it’ll leave its mark on your brush. If you realize your paint is too thick, start brushing at it with a really watery brush and you’ll be able to move it around or remove it before it dries. Spray the miniature with primer and let it dry for 15-30 minutes. Add a drop of detergent to your water container and it will reduce the surface tension of the water. You'll always want to use a flat, or "matte" primer, meaning it's nonreflective. The figure I’m painting corresponds to the “elite” group of Snowtroopers, so I decided to use the Mygeeto Trooper design from Episode III. The reason I chose this was to make sure I had total control over the finish on my minis. The only colors I used were red, blue, yellow, green, brown, khaki, black, white, silver, and gold. Zach, thank you for such an informative blog. Use as much as you want! You’ll have to use something as a palette. What I used: Rustoleum Plastic Primer ($3-$4, Wal-Mart). By following this process, you’ll apply finish in such a way that does justice to the image of the mini, AND you’re able to apply two layers of finish, which is a practice that’s generally recommended. What’s the point of painting, after all, if it’s all going to come off later? I wouldn’t have thought to water down paint so much, but it would have been impossible to work with them in their original consistency. There are differences in quality as you pay upwards, but it ultimately all serves the same purpose and you can make it work. light areas of the treeman miniature above would have looked drab. Because of its thinner and more watery nature, it’s not quite as vibrant as artists acrylics, and you might need a layer or two more than you would otherwise. If you have ever painted a bright color over a dark primed miniature, you have experienced how difficult it is to get brilliant colors without priming with white or a very light color. To be honest, I’m not sure what causes the paint to rub off. Paint sticks better to a surface that's not perfectly smooth. This means that Board Game Resource earns a small commission off of any sales that are made through these links. The first thing you want to do is prime your figures. Remember that the glossier the paint, the more imperfections will show. For Imperial Assault, this means skip the stormtroopers and paint, say, the Imperial Guards first. I can’t stop gazing at how beautiful my minis are every time I bring them onto the table, and it’s because of the finish. The multi-part kits have a lot of pieces, often various options, and require more work to assemble.In either case, you’re going to need something to cut the parts for the model from the sprue. Once again, this will take some practice before you’ve got it down perfectly. Whoops). Take this Echo Base Trooper, for example. Also, do not buy “artists paints” from a mass retailer like Wal-Mart. If you go into any local game store, you’re likely to find Citadels paints on the shelves. I myself used white, though it’s up to you. FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE, DON’T SKIP THIS PART. I found mine at a store, but the Testors finishes I used can be found on Amazon, right here. It’s impossible to teach exactly how to paint every mini perfectly, and will mostly come down to what you learn doing it yourself. Here’s my primed Snowtrooper ready to go. So, you’ve got a cool new board game with some awesome miniatures! Voila! I wouldn’t call a toothpick “tiny” when it comes to miniature painting! If you want to paint on the cheap, head to your nearest hardware store and pick up a can of white automotive primer. The most famous brand would be Citadels Paints. I’m no expert. Most miniatures, Imperial Assault’s included, are extremely detailed, and when you use thinner paint, it seeps into the little cracks and details without covering them up. Paper plates are my go-to solution for palettes. The primer also works well as a surface undercoat for PVC and wood. For this reason, I typically prime with white. Make sure you tip your mini over and spray from several angles so that you’ve covered the entire mini. This is totally legit. You can buy TWENTY colors, and still only be at $10. So thanks again dude for showing that expense doesn’t always equal fun and quality. Paint doesn't adhere well to glossy surfaces. It felt exactly the same in terms of texture, and didn’t bond well to my matte/gloss finish (more on that later), and ended up being a waste of money. Flat white interior latex paint can work as a primer--and you can later mix it with acrylic or craft paint to create your own colors. You just need a good quality brush with a sharp tip. Can you paint over tacky primer with acrylics on plastic miniatures? If this really becomes a problem, I would suggest adding some more layers, and ensuring that the figure is completely dried. I have used some apple barrel paint on the mini’s also. You’ll want to make sure that it’s designed to bond with plastic. This is generally how I’ve finished my figures: 1. To help other people who are in the situation that I was once in, I’ve prepared this tutorial to help people to get started with their own painting. gonna get some primer and make a start tomorrow. Click on the link below to learn more about blackwashing. Got any tips or tricks you’d like to add? In the case of our Snowtrooper, one of the “smaller details” I’ll focus on is his utility belt. I can’t tell you the exact science of what makes a primer effective at what it does, but I can tell you that it does make a difference. While I use a couple of different brushes, 90% of my painting is done with my smallest brush. Furthermore, it’s easy to spot the inconsistencies in dried, thick paint. You can check out his (long neglected) gallery here, or follow him on Instagram at @artworkbyzach! Spraying sure sounds convenient and easy, and I’m sure it’s a viable option with the right stuff, but I’ve only ever brushed. A black primer will give your top-coat color a darker tint, white will make it a tad lighter, and gray somewhere in between. Preparing to Paint Your Miniature Gather your supplies. Once you’ve done this, you’ve done most of the heavy lifting–the rest is finishing touches. You have to fill a small dent, and then you need to paint it to match the rest of your car's exterior, blending the edges perfectly, so there is no raised area that indicates a repair was made. After they’ve been sprayed, leave them out to dry for a little bit. Here are a few tips for applying finish: The finish I use is brush-on. Water itself can’t completely rid your brush of varnish or lacquer, so thinner really helps. The smaller the repair area, the tougher it can be. Four dollars. Depending on what kind of minis you’re painting, paints will bond on some materials better than others. Smaller brushes have less belly, which means they hold less paint, dry out faster, and require you to dip and clean your brush more often. This looks exceptionally amazing in person; the light reflects off all the places where it would in real life, and it makes the minis look all the more cooler. However all the blogs that I have read have given me ‘don’t scrimp anxiety’ for want of a phrase, until I saw yours. Here's why this may be the most important step in the entire painting process. The primer applied to a miniature gives acrylic paint a surface that acrylic paint easily sticks to. Light colors are far less opaque than darker ones. It’s obvious, then, that if a bunch of it is in one place, that it will bind together all the same. If it’s too much, apply a paper towel and it’ll absorb most of it away. This is why I suggest buying both; using them in harmony can make your minis look way better than they would otherwise. In thickness, that would be right in the middle somewhere. Standard primer doesn't always adhere well to plastic and resin miniatures. Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to pick up some Lacquer thinner. Any tips? Yes, you can prime miniatures in the winter. Spray primer in a well-lit area so you can easily see the light reflecting off the portion of the mini you're priming. Also, it’s not enough to spray in front and behind–you’ll find that several parts of the mini, such as underneath their arms, might be missed. Time to start painting. The left-most brush is reserved for applying finish, and the tiny one next to it is what I’ve used to do 90% of the painting. You can paint without primer, but it’s pretty much universally agreed upon that you should prime your figures. I settled with brush-on lacquer. In the meantime, gaudy circus colors thankfully fell out of fashion. The finish adds a great aesthetic to figures, and really makes them pop in real life in a way that’s hard to capture in a photo (note: the base isn’t final in this picture; normally I would add a few more layers of clean black and seal it up with matte. Remove mold lines or flash as detailed in the page linked to below, then apply a thin coat of primer. Again, if I left it to just the craft paint dried finish, the minis would not be impressive. If it feels right to deviate from what I’ve mentioned, don’t be afraid to try it! You don’t have to be extremely experienced, or oozing with money to paint some awesome minis–you just have to have a vision, and some time to spare. When using good quality natural hair brushes a size 0 has the same sharp tip as a size 10/0 and can keep delivering paint to the miniature much longer to a larger area more evenly. This will cover the hard-to-reach parts of the model. Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to play with boring, monochrome statues that clash with the otherwise colorful, popping components? Even if it doesn’t seem like you’re putting a lot on your brush, looks can be deceiving. It’s all about layers. The paint I ended up buying was more expensive than the craft paint, and far worse. All of my minis have been painted with these. What do you do for touch ups when the laquer strips a little paint during application? However, we WILL use finish, not only because it makes the mini look fantastic, but because it’s a necessary step that protects the paint from chipping or wearing off. Take it from me that it is possible to have no experience and almost no money, and still produce some awesome results. In a canvas, it’s much easier to paint the background colors, and then your subjects on top of it, rather than painting the subject first and then precisely brushing around all of its edges to fill in the “background.” The same principle applies in minis. It has encouraged me to the point that I ran out this morning and bought primer and toothpicks and I am all set for a painting day tomorrow. Even after washing it extensively, you’ll find your brush bristles more stiff and sticky than they were before. One way to avoid this is to use thinner, which you’ll have to buy seperately. In the future put your painted miniatures on a shelf for 12 hours before putting on a sealer (Sprays a little sooner) if nothing else you want as much of that moisture out of the seal so it doesn’t make the model look “cloudy”. The finish makes the model. Brushes are relatively cheap, and they will last you a long time. Feel free to experiment with it! Your mini will have a lot of cracks and creases and details that are basically impossible to paint by hand, and the mini will look bland if you can’t find a way to fill them. It can be a wash, glaze, or regular old paint applied from a rattelcan/airbrush Now, my Fett has a smooth matte finish on his clothing, but a shiny gloss finish on his armor and guns. THAT is cheap. If you already have a good matte varnish, you can use some pledge in your water to help thin crappy paints, mix with the ink for a wash, and use straight as gloss varnish. This was something I didn't understand well when I first began painting miniatures over 20 years ago, but this has a lot to do with how my painting techniques have evolved since then. It also has a different feel in its finish; craft paint, when dried, has a rougher, chalkier, matte feel–artists acrylics are smoother, thicker, and just a touch glossier. Some miniature painters use a technique called blackwash or preshading to prime their miniatures. Apply Sealant to Protect Your Painted Miniatures, Conversion: Converting a Skeleton Figure into Dragonborn, Sculpting: Creating Sculpting Tools from Greenstuff Epoxy Putty, Prepping Miniatures: How to Strip Paint from Miniatures, Basing: Create Custom Oak Bases for 25 Cents Each, Paper Miniatures: Create Steampunk Spider Miniature, It provides an undertone for the color applied, I destroyed details of the miniature by filling them in, I created a smooth primed surface that paint doesn't stick well to. You’ll find out with experience how best to use your brush, and when you like to use your toothpick. Ten or fifteen minutes is often enough, but it’s up to you. Once again, we can find an example of this in our Snowtrooper. I have used a lot of generic primer, especially for larger figures or terrain, but I find that using one that is put out by a miniatures or scale model company like Testors (see the product image with "Shop now" below it) is your safest bet. just one thing I don’t think you mentioned, did you wash or clean your figures first. NOTE: After reading this post, you will want to refer to the post where I did a year in review of how the painted laminate cabinets held up with and without primer. Even with cheap paints you can do techniques like layering, glazing, and wash (which she has videos for). Devoting an entire page to applying primer to miniatures may seem like overkill. There’s no defined order in which you should paint each region of every mini, but it’s best to paint in such a way where you won’t have to re-do certain areas. When it’s moved around in person, the cloth elements of his outfit remain plain, while light reflects off his helmet, armor, gun, and jetpack. When you thin your paints, it allows the paint to seep into the details of the mini, instead of covering them up. Just add some wet water, and let it seep into the cracks. This is the shading technique I’ve used on each and every one of my figures. I have primed many models when there has been over a foot of snow at my house, and the quality is just fine. These are great quality paints in terms of opacity and coverage. I didn’t feel like I needed my minis to look AS good as theirs, so I decided I’d do it on the cheap. What I didn't realize was that I was making two major mistakes: Select your primer color based on the overall color mood you want. What I used: Craft & Barrel Acrylic Craft Paints ($.50 each, Wal-Mart). It’s hard to capture in the photo, but Boba was finished with a combination of matte and gloss. Primer that is flat, or "matte" gives the paint a better surface to which to stick. The first thing you’ll notice is that they’re tiny, and that they cost $4-$5 each. Note that this is not meant to be an exhaustive, how-to, step-by-step guide. Just click on the Tip Jar image above. One of the most important steps is now out of the way. If you so please, you can pick up both and use them at your disgression. These were all done with Wal-Mart craft paint. amzn_assoc_default_category = "All"; Zach is an avid tabletop gamer, and he created Board Game Resource out of his love for the hobby, and his desire to see more people come into it. I hope it helps! For your first layers, it’s not a bad idea to use something that’s pretty watery. This is a useful picture because it shows the color scheme from all angles. You want to spray enough primer on the mini for the paint to stick, but not enough so that it begins to fill in the cracks and fine details. It’s supposed to be that way. The watered down paint is amazing idea. Use white primer if you’ll be painting with light or bright colors. Back in the 1990s I tried for the Citadel/Games Workshop look, which at the time meant strong contrast and bright colors, bordering on the garish. This is my own personal method, and it’s worked for me. A mini with just the first layer or two looks pretty terrible, and it’s hard to believe at a glance that it will get that much better. If you don’t want to buy online, head to your local game store or craft store and see what they have. There are various degrees of thinned paint. This is the color you want your model to be. I myself was in the situation mentioned above when I received Imperial Assault as a Christmas present last year. Honestly, I don’t have experience with other brands. You don’t need to use the smallest brush possible. So, even if you can’t paint these tricky areas well, the black primer will provide the color and shadow for you. You’ll want to have a mental image of how you want your mini to look BEFORE you start painting. Honestly, if we were to paint the minis, and not put any kind of special finish on them, it would be hard to recommend craft paint. I use vallejo and reaper from miniaturemarket.com which runs 2.45 to 2.47. Actually, I needed a refill of white the other day painting Return to Hoth, so I cruised over to Wal-Mart and picked up some white, only realizing once I got home that I picked up “gloss white.” This stuff is thicker, and will give you a finish more similar to artists paints. It’s difficult, even with a toothpick or a tiny brush, to fill in those eye sockets just right. I loved the liberation of using cheap paints, because I didn’t have to worry about “wasting” anything. Hopefully, by following these guidelines, you’re able to create something that you, personally, can be happy with. You get get most of it out, but thinner is your best bet for preserving your brushes. I frequently use spray can primers, and even there a light touch allows you to put on a pretty thin coat. Here’s what you need to know about self-priming paints before you pick up a brush. I struggled to get the flesh layers down and then went far too heavy on the wash. After using craft paint for awhile, I decided it was time to “upgrade” and I bought a set of “artists paints” from Wal-Mart. The Best Primer for Pine Like paint, primer comes in a variety of bases. It’s important to use finish, because it not only makes the mini look way better, but it also protects the paint from wearing off in the future. Thank you so much for your sensible and easy to follow advice! You can buy primer in black or white. The easiest way to know if your paint is too thick is to imagine how the model would look if the current paint on top of it was dried. I generally use a paper plate, but most anything will do. Lifelike miniatures win awards. I am in the same spot you were. I generally spray four to five minis at once. Congratulations! Period. Well, guess what? Shake the can of primer really well, then spray the miniature with a thin coat from about 12 inches (300 mm) away. Ultimately, this ends up making the mini feel a lot more realistic. I’ve never painted miniatures, and this web post is phenomenal. I learned a lot. Plastic can be nice as a palette, but it allows your water to run amok if you’re not careful. The shaded mini from four angles. Chime in in the comment section! If you try to hand paint all of the shading, you’ll probably have a bad time. The finishing materials are very thick and will basically ruin your brush unless you use thinner to clean it out; lacquer doesn’t come out with water. If the fine details in the mold are obscured or clotted up by your undried paint, they will undoubtedly look the same with dried paint. When he's not writing for or managing BGR, Zach might be hanging out with cats, hiking a mountain, spending time with his lovely wife, or writing about video game stuff for Insert Gamer. However to be fair the paint is thickly laid on, obscuring the details. All I have to do now is put a couple more black layers on the base, and this trooper will be ready to go into battle. I experimented a lot with shading, and I eventually found a way that works for me, and it’s really easy to implement. Sometimes I can finish twenty figures and it never happens, and then occasionally I won’t be able to so much as touch the figure without the paint coming clean off. At the end of the day, my minis ended up looking great, and they’ve held up extremely well. However, no matter your style, you still need to be able to obtain a full spectrum of color, from thinly applied brights to earth tones. Once again, it’s not necessarily the best way, but it’s easy, it looks good, and it works. Now when I prime, not only do I apply far less primer, but I use very thin coats. Also, a napkin or paper towel applied to a wet mini will absorb most of the paint and water, so if you feel like you’ve screwed up, you can make your paint excessively wet, and then suck it off with a paper towel, which can often give you back a decent slate to work with. The results were really good. When I used the black wash, the eyes just kind of just filled themselves in. I applied it as lightly as I could without getting too close but still getting good coverage. Now it’s time to get more detailed. Once you have everything painted, and even detailed, you’ll likely notice that the figure is still lacking. If you have a reference picture, find it and put it on display. I decided to play it safe, and get a brand that had good reputation. Just remember to team up the black primer with a base coat. You’ll basically just want something that you can wipe your brush off with to dry it off. I dont play the games I just want to paint . I have skipped the primer and just applied paint before (didn’t have primer handy; needed to get paint on the thing right away; it wasn’t critical that it lasted forever. By following this guide, you’ll be able to learn how to paint your own minis, and in a way that’s nice and affordable. This primer is spray primer, so you’ll be spraying a base layer of it onto all of your minis. Add a wet paper towel on top of the paper plate so when you squirt your paint on it it already is in contact with the watery towel and you can pull it to one side/mix/water down without having to drip water from the paintbrush. This helps you to control how much primer you apply. Like the Vallejo paints, you can find many different sets tailored to specific paint jobs you may encounter when painting miniatures. Have something nearby that can get the water off your brush. This has been very helpful to me. I was painting this up as part of another blog tutorial and it came out very poorly. amzn_assoc_linkid = "a1212e5fe9f56c9b6ae140423f4e3696"; Paint over those mistakes, and keep learning. So, how do you know when you have applied enough primer? This often covers over details unless you're careful to apply very thin layers of paint and carefully prevent accumulation. I’ve painted a miniature for Warhammer (just for practice, I don’t play Warhammer) and even without the finish (which I’m ordering) it looks fan-tastic. To get a pack of Testors Dullcote, Glosscote, AND thinner (click these links to check them out on Amazon), you’ll be paying about $10 total. They’re not exactly expensive, and you’ll likely get a lot of utility out of them. Buying the standard rainbow plus black and white will run you $30 minimum, and that’s not accounting for any other colors you might want. You’ll want to add the water to your palette, mixing it in with whatever paint pool you’ve made for the color you’re using. This is where your matte and gloss finish is going to come into play. I will do this soon. Okay, so you’ve finally got your stuff! This is where you need to be really precise, so use your smallest brush for this. amzn_assoc_enable_interest_ads = "true"; I almost always prime with white. Apply just enough primer so that it eliminates any shininess when dry. Wouldn’t they look so much better with color? What I used: Vallejo Matt/Gloss Varnish ($4-$5 each), Testors Dullcote/Glosscote Lacquer ($4-$5 each). Lastly, your step-by-step pictures gave me hope. This is one area where I decided to go less cheap. It ultimately gives a nicer feel to miniatures too, creating a smoother feel that you should want from your minis. This is again not to knock your intentions at writing your article but there are certainly budget methods of painting your games that don’t involve using toothpicks and fighting to apply unsuitable paint. Realistic blends are now popular. How long does primer take to dry miniatures? You’ll make mistakes when you paint–notice how I thought painting the legs first would be a good idea, and then I ended up getting red on them from painting the underside of the cape. Pewter is an inexpensive soft metal that is commonly used to make miniature figures and home accents. Apply gloss finish to anything that would be reflective or shiny, 3. If it’s too little, just add some more black paint into the mix and you’ll get more visible results. This assures that you can handle the miniature during the painting process without touching wet paint. I've also found that some of the cheap primer I've used is too thin, and easily flows into cracks, filling in details. That is very nice post on doing this. Using the black wash makes your figures look a bit “dirtier.” Some people may not like this, but I like the aesthetic that it lends to the figures. If you’re painting an AT-ST, you might want black. I've found the nozzle often clogs up and you can get uneven coating of paint, especially when priming when it's colder than room temperature where you prime. The vast majority of my figures were finished with Testors. Thank you for this tutorial. My brushes are looking a little worse for the wear, so it will soon be time to replace them. Assault as a “ live ” example miniatures may seem like overkill the metal holds paint well, now ’... Is easy to correct generally use a couple of different brushes, 90 of! And make a real difference floor varnish and the quality is just like I you... The photo, but these are meant to be extremely watered down arguably... Your model to be liberal with them miniatures don ’ t find that you apply be a problem I... 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