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Basics of Miniature Painting

On a hill, overlooking the vast valley stands the Army of the Republic, dressed proudly in their silver uniforms, wearing the silver skin cover known throughout the land. At the far end of the valley stands the rebel forces, also dressed in silver with their own brand of silver skin covering. The battle is about to begin.

Is this how your miniatures battles look? Two unpainted forces facing each other just ready to let the, most likely, silver blood flow? It's time to get out some brushes and paints and bring the battle to life. The following five step guide will help you get started.

  1. Glue and Clean - If your miniature must be assembled, put it together using a standard "super glue", making sure that there is enough glue to hold the parts together, but not so much that it comes oozing out around the edges (affectionately known as Elmer's gush). Once completely dry, take a hobby knife (like an X-Acto, not your family's best pairing knife) and carefully trim off any parts that don't belong such as the flashing from the molding process. Finally, clean the miniature as paint will not stick well to dirt or grease.

  2. Prime - Yeah, I know you want to start painting, but first you have to put a light base coat of primer onto the miniature so there is a good base on which the final paint can adhere. Primer comes in spray bottles in either white or black with white being used for those figures that will have a bright color scheme, while black is used for those of a darker nature. When applying, make sure you position the can a suitable distance away so that you get a light coating and do not fill in the details on the figure.

  3. Apply Basecoat - You've chosen your paint scheme and it's time to bring the figure to life. You want to paint the area that is most recessed first, most likely the flesh or, on a mech, areas such as windows and inner surfaces. Continue painting each area from the innermost out. This allows you to cover up any mistakes you might have made on the previous surfaces. Many people have a tendency to really load up their brushes and go at it, but this can lead to runs and splattered paint. Try using a dry brush technique, where you dip the brush in the paint, wipe the excess off on the top of the bottle and swipe the brush a few times on a piece of scrap paper. You will be left with a small amount of paint that will be easier to control.

  4. Detailing - Now you're into the precision work. There are two ways to add detail. A wash is a thin version of paint that can be made by thinning the original paint yourself or purchasing paint specifically made for a wash. You lightly brush the wash version of your base color or a complimentary color (one close to the base to show gradient of color) along crevices and the wash seeps into the area giving a feeling of depth.

    The other detailing work you may want to do is highlighting. This is where you place a lighter color on areas such as edges or ends of teeth to give the appearance of light striking the surfaces. Once again, make sure you use a dry brush technique as you can always add more color, but it is much more difficult to take some off.

  5. Sealing - OK, not everyone agrees that this step is necessary, but it depends on how rough and tumble a player you are. Painted surfaces can chip. By applying a light coat of spray sealer to the figure, you can prevent some of this chipping and make it easier to clean the figure. Others feel that this takes away from the natural look of a painted miniature by giving everything a "gleaming" look. Try out both techniques on a couple of miniatures that are not your masterpieces and see what would be your preference.
Painting your miniatures can be time consuming, especially if you have a large army, but the detail and depth it adds to the game more than compensates for the time invested.


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Last Modified on Friday, 22-Oct-1999 19:21:24 EDT