Articles Up Your Game The Boardgamer's Guide to Painting Miniatures

The Boardgamer's Guide to Painting Miniatures Hot

If you really love your dudes on a map, you will paint them.  Well painted miniatures can vastly improve the look of a game and make it more immersive and impressive to look at on the table.  Despite this, you don't see that many board games with painted miniatures.  Why?  Well, mostly because people don't understand how easy (and enjoyable) painting stuff is.  People think it is physically difficult, expensive, and time consuming.  Painting can be all of those things, but it doesn't have to be any of those things.  This guide aims to show you how to paint miniatures cheap, fast and easy.  I have tried to add a lot of detail to this guide, so that you don't need to do much added research, but not every step will be needed for every miniature.  How much or how little you want to do is up to you.

Before I started, I viewed painting minis as a chore, but you know what?  After I did a few, I started to enjoy it.  You will see yourself getting better after just a few figures.  There are few things in my life that don't involve sex or alcohol that I find as relaxing as painting miniatures.  I love putting some music on and sitting down to paint.  It is a great way to escape the ever present laptop or TV screen and requires minimal thinking, so it is great when you aren't in the mood to game.  You will be surprised how good your results turn out, with a little pre-planning and some simple techniques. 

1.  Prep the miniatures

The first thing you want to do is get those miniatures ready to be painted.  A lot of new painters skip this step and pay for it later.  Even a well painted mini looks like crap if his sword is bent or if there is a big ass line down his back.   Prepping involves three steps at the most basic level. 

First is to clean the mini(s) of flash and mold lines.  We've all seen the little line on a miniature where the mold that created it was.  You can take an Xacto knife, or any sharp hobby knife, and carefully cut this extra material away.  The technique is, you place the knife against the flat part of the mini and scrape the blade down the mini.  The flash will come off before you start whittling away at the trooper's leg.  While you are at it, look over the rest of the model for any other pieces of flash (a term for the extra plastic on a mini) and remove them with your Xacto.  Some people prefer fine sandpaper, but that is only for the truly anal.  Removing flash and mold lines with an Xacto is pretty easy.


The second step is to straighten any bent parts of the model.  There are several schools of thought on how to do this.  I use a bag of salt, heated up in a nonstick pan on the stovetop, and submerge the miniatures in that to get them hot. Don't eat the salt afterward, just save it for the next time you do this.  If I am doing one or two minis, I will stick them in microwaved hot water so I don't have to mess with the salt.  The water isn't as good (or clean) as salt but I'm not going to the trouble of heating up the salt for two dudes.

If you break something, you can stick it back together with model superglue.  My preferred brand is zap a gap, because it dries quickly and is designed for miniatures.  There are several different brands available at craft stores and most game stores.  DO NOT buy rubber cement or something like that. 

 The third prep step is to wash the miniatures in warm soapy water.  This serves two purposes.  First, new miniatures are coated with an invisible powder used at the factory to get them to release from the molds they were created in.  This is basically a powder lubricant.  As you would imagine, paint doesn't stick to it very well.  If your minis are not fresh from the factory, you have probably either been playing your games or fondling them while reading about them online.  The oils from your fingers now coat the miniature, and paint won't adhere to that either, so wash it!


2.  Primer

The inital coat of paint should be a spraypaint primer.  You want to get a can marked "flat"  so it isn't shiny or glossy.  Go for the basic stuff, don't try any of that "bonds to plastic" spraypaint unless you want to watch frodo's face melt off.  Don't get "rust tough" unless you want Frodo's face to look like look like he was stung by 1,000 bees.  I go for Krylon Flat Black Spraypaint.  Not semi-flat, but flat or extra flat if you can find it.  Cheap and easy, like Steve Avery. 


First, a discussion of color.  This is a much debated issue amongst painter geeks.  Some swear by white, others always prime black, some prime all the colors of the rainbow.  I am a "prime black" guy.  My reasons are simple:  any spot I miss with paint later will appear like a shadow.  In effect, priming black does some of the shading work for me.  It is the ultimate lazy ass painting tool.  It also makes colors less bright and lends itself better to the sci-fi and fantasy themed stuff, which looks good dark and gothic.  If I was painting Dora the Explorer, or the BGN action figure set, or Barney, I would prime white for the brighter, happier look. 

I would only recommend colored spraypaints if you are going to do a lot of models in a one-color scheme.  For example, if you are doing your DOOM demons and they are all going to be based off of a dark red, you might want to consider priming them that color.  I'm still not a big fan of colored priming, because it just results in more time spent doing shading and details which happen naturally with a black primer. 

 The technique you are looking for with the spraypaint is a thin, even coat.  Not enough paint and you will have spotted dudes.  Too much and you will obscure the detail.  Shake the can up well.  The five minutes of shaking suggested on many spray cans is a minimum.  The arm workout will make you look even more impressive when you wear your tanktop to gaming conventions.  Spray in an area with low humidity and not much dust floating around.  Keep the can around 6 inches from the minis.  I like to place the minis on a shoebox lid or piece of cardboard and move the minis instead of the spray can. 

3. Base Coats of Paint

Okay, your dudes are primed and ready to go.  First, I want to talk about what paint to buy.  Nearly everyone uses acrylic paint, because it is easy to remove if you screw up and can be thinned with water.  There are basically two schools of thought on what brands to buy.  Many people swear by expensive miniature paints.  Citadel (games workshop), Tamiya, and Vallejo game color paints are the top brands.  Citadel's foundation line is especially high quality, and is the best model paint you can get in my opionion.  You can find these in miniatures game stores, train hobby shops, and some regular hobby shops.  Once in a while they will show up at a craft store.  The only paints where I really consider the expensive stuff are metallics and inks. 

The other option is to buy craft paints and thin them down.  Craft paints are a lot cheaper, but require some thinning down for use on miniatures.  You can thin them with straight water or with a mixture of clear acrylic floor cleaner and water.  I know some people that go for Apple Barrel brand, which is the cheapest crap wal-mart has to offer.  I prefer delta ceramcoat, which is available at some walmarts and nearly all craft stores.  They are still way cheaper than Citadel or Vallejo, but look a lot better than Apple Barrel and some of the other crap out there. 

You want your paint to be thin.  If you buy paint designed for models, like Citadel, you may not need to thin it, but if you go for the cheaper craft paints, you need to think them down because they are too thick.  You can do this with straight water, or if you want a little better results you can use a flow extender product.  There are several miniatures specific flow extenders out there, but the best thing I have found is actually floor polish called Future.   floor_pol_max200w.jpg

This stuff is miniatures painting gold.  It is basically a clear acrylic paint mixed with a substance that destroys the surface tension of water.  This makes it ideal for clear coating miniatures and thinning paints.  Johnson & Johnson probably sells more of it to mini fanatics than they do as a floor wax.  I mix 80% water and 20% Future and keep it in a water bottle.  That substance gets used to thin my paints down, clear coat stuff, and create inks (discussed later).  Like I said, 95% of my paints are Delta Ceramcoat cheapos from Michael's craft store.  I use an old egg carton as my paint mixing station and with a squirt of delta and 10-20 drops of my future and water mixture, it creates a paint that is just as good or better than the incredibly expensive modeling paints people buy.

Once you've got the paint you want, you need to apply it.  Get soft bristled, small brushes.  The size you need depends on what you need to paint.  I am a big fan of sable hair brushes, but I also have some synthetics I use. 

It is tough to describe the proper technique.  Practice makes perfect.  You want to apply thin layers of even paint to the minuture.  You might need to do more than one coat, that is no big deal.  Try not to get too much paint on the brush, and apply short, even strokes in the same direction when possible.  Paint from the inside out.  Skin first, then clothes, then armor, then weapons.  This will let you cover up mistakes without having to go back, although that isn't a big deal if it happens.  Honestly what seems like a big mistake will probably be totally unnoticable once you are finished and especially once you look at the miniature in a group of minis.

A big part of the base coats of paint is just planning what you are going to do.  Planning makes it easy, like paint by numbers.  That also lets you assembly line paint the minis.  Paint all the horses brown one day.  The next day you go back and do the rider's pants.  This method is slightly more repetitive, but much much faster than painting individual models.  Painting one individual as a test dude is pretty common practice though, mostly to be sure you like your paint-by-numbers scheme's end result before you paint everyone that way.

4.  Details

This is the part that tends to scare people.  Anyone can do steps 1-3 and be looking good.  The details on your model will turn a basic color by numbers scheme into an actual piece of art.  If you stick to the easy techniques I describe here, adding details to your miniature can be easy, fast, and look good too.

battlespider.jpgDrybrushing.  This is the easiest technique there is, and has been my "go to" highlight since I started painting.  Load your brush up with a lot of paint, then wipe it off on a napkin or newspaper.  You will be left with a bunch of wet bristles.  Now you rub the bristles of the brush roughly over the surface of the model.  YES, this is as easy as it sounds.  Your brush will deposit paint sort of randomly over the flat surfaces and will also deposit a lot of paint on any raised details.  This will give the flat surfaces a weathered look, and will give the raised details lots of paint. 

Choose your drybrush color wisely.  The mini above went with a totally different shad to show weathering.  Often you will want to do a slightly lighter version of the color you are drybrushing over.  If you are doing a gun, I paint it black then drybrush it with a metallic.  For hair, you can paint it brown and drybrush to add grey or do a lighter brown to bring out the 3D depth.  For bones, tusks, and similar stuff, I will paint them light brown then gradually drybrush up the length of the bone with successively lighter colors going from bone to white.  That is probably more detail than you need, but it gives you an example of things people do with drybrushing.

The model to the left was in the top images on boardgamegeek.  It looks like the painter painted the rivets individually, then went over and drybrushed the whole model to add some weathering.  You can also see where he drybrushed the edges of the armor plates, which brings out the detail edges and makes the corners look more weathered than the flat areas. 

Drybrushing is also great for painting metals.  Leave swords and guns black, then drybrush on metallic colors.  This comes out wonderful, and avoids the super-shiny-sword-syndrome you see on so many models.  Chain mail, dragon scales, and textures like hair also really benefit from drybrushing.  The raised areas get a little more color than the recesses and it comes out looking very natural.

Inking.  Take your black paint and water it down a lot with Future/water mix until you can see through it.  What you have is a black ink.  It is so watery, it will flow into the recesses of the model and provide additional shading.  Because it flows naturally to the low areas, it comes out looking nicely 3D.  You can also use it to cover entire models with a semi-transparent shade.  Brown ink on metals looks like rust.  Flowing into the low areas makes them look more rusty and comes out very natural.  Dark Red ink over an entire red model (like a demon or dragon) followed by a black ink for shadinng is a fast way to turn a red spray painted model into an instantly finished model. 


Check out the ink job on this dude.  Black ink has given him a dirty look, and you can see where it ran into the recesses between the ropes on his chest.  They black inked his face then followed that up with drybrushing a lighter flesh tone and it looks pretty good.  Black ink running into the little details under his kneecaps were probably the only viable way to get any color into those. 

Inking is just about the only way someone as unartistic as me can get a face to look OK.

Highlighting/Edging.  This is probably the most difficult detail technique I will discuss here.  Basically, you take a slightly lighter shade of paint than your base coat and freehand it onto the high areas on the model.  It needs to be very slightly lighter.  Sometimes I use a series of progressively lighter highlights.  You can see a little pink paint used to highlight the space marine's shoes and his sword arm on the above model.  Some brighter gold highlights were used on his backpack too. 

5. Basing

If there is one stupidly easy technique that will make your miniatures look 1000% better, it is proper basing.  Elmer's glue + little rocks + sand all around your dude's feet makes a huge huge difference.  Something about the completeness of it tricks the human eye into ignoring paint problems and seeing the mini as a whole and it will really improve how your stuff looks.  It is also very easy. 

Coat the base in elmer's glue - just thick enough to be opaque.  I use a toothpick to move it around.  Stick whatever stuff you want on.  Let it dry.  Drybrush it with a little paint if you are feeling saucy.  It is that easy.  I am a big fan of sand and kitty litter for fake rocks.  If my wife has bought the grey kitty litter, I drybrush it tan and that comes out really well.  I've bought static grass and even fake snow and glued those on, they look good too.  You can find that stuff in model train stores or online for reasonable prices.  Pebbles or rocks from outside work.  Smash them with a hammer if they are too big.  Some folks use aquarium plants. 

6.  Sealing and Storage

I am not a huge believer in sealing your minis.  Too many sealers on the market alter the look of your paintjob.  Besides, it isn't like you are playing crokinole with these, if you are careful with them your paints won't come loose anyway.  If you do want to use a sealer, I recommend Testors Dullcoat matte sealant.  You want to look for a matte sealant because non-matte will make your stuff shiny.  I prefer just to be careful with my stuff and store it well, and I have minis that are 10+ years old and have never been repainted and show no chipping. 

For storage, get some sort of soft foam.  Plano boxes plus soft foam or cotton batting does the trick for small miniatures.  For bigger stuff, a cheap solution is egg crate bedding foam.  Place the pieces of foam so the top is slightly offset from the bottom and doesn't match exactly.  If they match up too closely, they will crush your figures.  Walmart's fishing section is a great place to get cheap plano boxes and the craft section of walmart sells a soft foam you can cut up and stick in the boxes.


Painting miniatures is not as hard as people think.  It can be a little time consuming but if you plan it right and don't try to create a Golden Demon Winner with every piece, you can really pimp out your games.  Sticking to simple fast techniques and using cheap materials can result in pretty good stuff.  With so many excellent minis on the market, games that don't even have them can be pimped out.  If people enjoy this article and are interested in this topic, I might buy some pulp era figs and paint them for my Arkham Horror set and do a step by step.  If you would be interested in reading that, let me know in the comments. 


Screw Ups

Forgot to include this when I initially posted the article, but this is good information.  Stripping miniatures you have screwed up is tough when they are plastic.  I love to use metal minis as test miniatures for this reason.  You can strip a metal miniature with good old paint thinner and water. 

If you screw up a plastic mini, or your test miniature looks like crap, the best way to strip it is the cleaning product Simple Green.  Most paint thinners will melt frodo's face off.  Simple Green also does this, but for some reason it is a lot slower.  This lets you soak a mini for a few hours and pull it out and try to get the paint off with an old toothbrush.  Other than painting over stuff (which obscures detail) Simple Green is about as good as it gets.  

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Comments (35)
  • avatarAarontu

    Great article. That bit on how to water down cheaper acrylic paints would have been good to know back when I played WH40k. All I knew was that the cheap paint looked like crap so I bought all the Citadel ones I needed.

    If you do like to base minis with a color instead of black/white, Citadel spray paints are great. I've tried cheap spray paints and Citadel spray paints, and the difference is as distinct as the difference between the acrylics.

    Someday, I'll paint my Talisman minis.

  • avatardragonstout

    Thank you a friggin' ton.

  • avatarSpace Ghost

    Awesome article, Tom.

    I do offer a word of caution -- start with a game with just a few minis so you can get some practice. I finished Shadows over Camelot first (mainly because I don't really care about how it looked). Now I am in the throes of Descent and WotR --- minis as far as you can see and I have no idea when I will be done.

  • avatarMad Dog

    Ha! In the latest comments section this article is titled;

    The Boardgamer's Guide to Pain.

  • avatarDr. Mabuse

    AWE-FUCKING-SOME!! and it couldn't have come at a better time. My daughters are in the process of painting their female minis for HeroQuest (thanks Uba for the suggestion!).

    Great work Tom!

  • avatarShellhead

    Great article. I have zero experience painting figures, but I really want to paint my Fury of Dracula figures. I was a little unclear about two parts in your article.

    First, when dry-brushing, I assume that I would use the same color paint as my base coat, and that the dry-brushing is just a different technique of applying that color of paint. Or should I be using a slighly off tint or shade for that dry-brushing, or maybe a neutral color?

    Second, the inking part worries me. Won't that black inky paint get all over the other parts that I've painted other colors?

  • avatardakarp

    Excellent article. I wish I had your article when I was painting my War of the Ring set! I agree with you on just about everything, especially using cheap paints (and good ones for the metallics).

    A couple of tips that I would add--after you was your minis, glue them to golf tees with Elmer's glue. you can then stick them in blocks of styrofoam for priming several at once, and the golf tee makes it much easier to hold and rotate the mini while painting it.

    Get some cheap clip-on lamps, and attach them to your table. you'll want a lot of extra light when painting.

    I do seal my minis with Dullcote, and I agree that it is the best for most purposes. However, if there are metallic areas that you want to be shiny, you can accomplish that by painting on a layer of clear semi-gloss sealer (by hand, not spray) after the sealant coat.

    I have to disagree with you on priming black. I prime white on most figures, and my experience is that, while black priming gives you minis that look good in isolation, for terms of playability, it helps to make the minis slightly brighter than you would expect.

    Oh, and one more thing I disagree with you on--painting miniatures for a reasonable large game IS difficult, expensive, and time consuming. Especially time consuming. I always tell people it is absolutely not worth your time to paint if all you want is painted minis at the end--you have to actually enjoy the painting as well to make it worth doing.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    Karp?! Shoot, welcome aboard, son.

    I rebel against the idea of painting miniatures. All of my DESCENT people are grey, monsters come in French Vanilla and Wild Raspberry versions. While I'm playing, the unpainted figures become a canvas upon which my mind paints them in vivid colors. It's more immersive that way.

    Richard Launius has turned me against painting minis. That man shows up with EVERYTHING painted in EVERY game. It's ridiculous. "Hey Mike, you want to see how I painted my STARCRAFT figures"? No Richard, I don't. It makes me sick. He re-painted his MARVEL HEROES figures to suit his tastes, and once I was playing one of my beautifully un-painted games and he came over to the table and announced "Folks, we're playing a fully painted version of this game over at the other table". All of a sudden, my game looked like crap. Then, one time, he got this little girl to come over to our BSG table and proclaim how my unpainted set looked "awful".

    So there, no painting for me. Give me the look of plain old plastic!

  • avatarAarontu
    So there, no painting for me. Give me the look of plain old plastic!

    I see how that can be extremely annoying, and I don't think most games need painting at all, but some games can really benefit from it.

    DOOM the board game, for one. The Marines and the monsters are all the same colors, and the minis are nicely detailed but you can't really see the detail unless you paint them (at least base and then drybrush or ink the whole thing). At the very least, I'd like to paint just the marines, so they stand out from the rest of the minis.

  • avatarhancock.tom

    Shellhead, I added a bit about drybrushing color choice to clarify. You want to be drybrushing a different color over whatever you painted before. Off-tint is a good way to put it. If I am just drybrushing for a highlight (as opposed to adding weathering or soemthing) I will just drop a little white paint into the color I was using, mix it up with a toothpick, and use that.

  • avatarGrudunza

    I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to the painting minis level of geekdom yet... but if I do it'll probably be to paint my Last Night on Earth figures. Practically speaking, it would be easier to tell some of them apart when playing if they were painted. So if I end up doing that, I'll definitely refer back to this article, and regardless, thanks for sharing this info, Tom.

  • avatarGary Sax

    awesome. THANK YOU.

  • avatarMattDP

    I had no idea there was an appetite here for this sort of material. As a former Warhammer nut, I've been here many times before :) I have a couple of things to add. You highlight Citadel paints as your preferred choice, but most WFB painters I know (including me) prefer Vallejo. Go figure! Second, I couldn't disagree more about sealing (varnishing) miniatures. There's nothing more dispiriting than spending all that time painting up figures only to see the paint job damaged in an accident or even just in normal wear and tear. I hate a gloss finish, but it is the most durable type of varnish, so I add two coats - one of gloss first, for protection, and then one of matte (NOT satin) for a nice finish.

    I painted for years and I never found that I speeded up, although I did get a lot better with practice. It would still take me 60-90 minutes of work to do a single figure to this sort of standard:

    Worth mentioning also that in my experience a lot of board game miniatures aren't up to the sculpting standards to be worth painting. FFG is generally the exception to the rule, but even some of those aren't up to scratch. If a sculpt isn't worth lavishing this sort of effort on, you might find a very basic flat-colour paint job and a quick ink wash will still look a lot better than flat plastic.

  • avatarmjl1783

    Nice article, Tom, the front page content has been very well-rounded lately.

    One thing I think you should have mentioned is the following: TAKE IT ONLY AS FAR AS YOU WANT TO. If you find inking and basing to be a chore, fuck it. Just don't do it. If you dislike doing shading and detail to the point where thought of dealing with it prevents you from painting, don't waste your time with it. More often than not, a half-assed paint job is better than nothing.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    I wish I had pictures of my pal Manchel's WARMACHINE Cygnus miniatures to show y'all. He primed them all black and then painted them about 20% of the way with Miami Dolphins colors. Then, the black primer started chipping off. So they were black, silver, turquoise, and orange. They were a laff riot every time he brought them out.

    At AGF, I actually did get into painting a little. I mean, I was there 15 hours a day and during school semesters there was rarely anyone in the store before 4pm. So I'd break out my little paint kit and paint WARMACHINE and CONFRONTATION figures. I had a SWEET looking Khador army, all olive green and red, Soviet kitsch-styled.

    Vallejo paints are definitely the way to go, to hell with GW paints. And screw every single painting/modeling product that GW has ever sold. Everything they make is garbage and way over priced. The $15 bag of sand is a great example.

    Vallejo has a better consistency and I find that their pigments have a lot more "pop". I do think some of their colors are a little thin, but strangely their reds and yellows cover WAY better than other brands.

    You do get faster as you go on, you kind of learn shortcuts and tricks to get the effects you want. You've really just got to kind of experiment. Painting big groups of similar figures (like those Empire WHFB figs) will really cut your teeth on a lot of the basics. Start with plastics, that's for damn sure.

    Drybrushing will go a LONG way to making your l'il guys and gals look good. Once you learn to drybrush well, you'll see that your figures look a hundred times better regardless of the actual quality of the paintjob. Another key trick is inking, or watering darker paint down so that it seeps into adds SO much dimension to a paint job.

    A good way to start, I think, is to just get like a starter paint set of 8 basic colors (I like the Vallejo ones, and their FLAMES OF WAR sets are really good if you're doing military-ish stuff) and a box of whatever 40K plastic minis you care to paint. Space Marines are actually a good start- they have a couple of textures, some fine detail, big areas of color, and a general comprehensive quality that I think will give you a good feel for technique. Plus, they're little or no skin or eyes, which I think are the hardest parts. Paint those bastards up. The first four or five will probably look like shit, but by the time you're through the box you'll have some cool looking guys. Play with the colors, play with different brushes, play with different paint consistencies. Most of all, just play with it until you have a feel for it.

    That's what I did. Somewhere out there there's a box of really crap looking Space Marines that sort of documents my learning to paint.

  • avatarmjl1783

    Eh, I jus buy the $.69 tubes of paint from the craft store. They're not made for minis, but they're paint, and they get the job done and using a wet brush will thin them enough.

    They're a little too bright for some folks, but I like my minis bright. I spent too much time painting them to have them fade into the scenery. Besides, if you base black it won't matter anyway.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    Some of those paints are fine, I think. I was getting Vallejo at cost, normally they're like $5-6 bucks a pot. If I weren't doing that, it would have been Apple Barrel Colors all the way. They're a great choice for colors you're going to use a lot.

    I _always_ primed black. a lot of shade work is done right there.

  • avatarhancock.tom

    I buy delta ceramcoat, not GW/citadel, Vallejo, or any other model paints. If you thin it properly with some future and water, it looks just as good. I did mention GW foundation paints in the article, because people rave about them online. I've never tried them myself.

  • avatarMattLoter

    Great article. If you have the time, I'd suggest adding something about dipping. It's the hotness for table play quality in minimal time and works petty well even if you suck at painting.

  • avatarMr MOTO

    Tom, since you enjoy painting minis now, can I send you all my board game miniatures and some paint so you can paint mine too just for the pure pleasure of knowing how happy our gaming group will be when using them all dolled up? ;)

  • avatarDogmatix

    Great stuff tom. On a side note, if you've got a garage full of old shit for cars that you now make enough money to NOT have to work on yourself, brake fluid is also an effective paint stripper [however, I have no idea if plastic survives that dip; my '77 Grenada went the way of the Dodo, but the gallon of brake fluid I had to keep on hand was great for stripping my crap paintjobs of my old Ral Partha metal minis :)....]

  • avatarHatchling

    Thanks a million for this extremely informative and useful article!

  • avatarStephen Avery

    Man Great article. Its a big difference between reading it and doing it though. Its like anything else, the more ya do the better and faster you get. Good advice like yours goes a long way.

    Cheap and easy, like Steve Avery.

    Oh Yeah Baby~!

    Steve"Cheap'n Easy"Avery

  • avatarhancock.tom

    Matt Loter mentioned dipping... I have never tried this technique, because I get a similar effect from ink washes and I'm pretty fast at that. If someone else knows how to do this, that would be a great article or forum post.

    My understanding of dipping is that you prime, paint the base colors on the mini, then dip it into colored wood stain (like minwax) which does a lot of shading, blending, etc. on the mini.

    Here is a link to a guide with great before and after shots:

  • avatarmikoyan

    when I'm painting, I use Tamiya paints (from my model days). They are an acrylic paint and look really nice. I'm glad I learned about drybrushing because it makes my models look nicer (when I do paint them). doing the wash is pretty good too.

    Thanks for the thing about basing. I'll have to try that when I finally finish my Citadel figures.

  • avatarAlmalik

    I'm about 2/3 the way done the Descent figures from the base game (I'm pretty much the world's slowest painter), and I'm really tempted to pull the trigger on the dipping method for them (since the sculpts aren't the greatest anyways), but I worry that it'll hide some of the paint details on the figures (not that they are works of art). I've also heard that you should paint lighter/brighter than you want the finished product to look if you are going to be dipping them. I might try dipping my painted Fury of Dracula figures first to see how they look.

    I also recommend/use Vallejo, but only cause I got a great deal on a bulk lot of all the colors on eBay (and I've never tried the craft store brands - the only brands I remember using as a kid on D7D figs were the little testors bottles).

    Do they sell Future floor wax in Canada? I don't know because I have a wife (ducks!)

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    Matt Loter mentioned dipping... I have never tried this technique, because I get a similar effect from ink washes and I'm pretty fast at that. If someone else knows how to do this, that would be a great article or forum post.

    Branham dips his stuff, it looks pretty cool. He uses some kind of super toxic, not meant to ever be touched stuff from an old timey hardware store near where we live or something like that.

    A year or two ago, he did a DESCENT modelling/painting article on BGN. It's probably still there somewhere.

  • avatarhancock.tom

    Do they sell Future floor wax in Canada? I don't know because I have a wife (ducks!)

    It is an SC Johnon product. You don't need it if you are using Vallejo. You should be able to get it at Wal-Mart, whether you are in Canada or USA. If not, check this site out for a bunch of other names for future:

  • avatarjoseaguerof

    great article, as a fellow miniatures painter let me congratulate you for succintly revealing the most important steps towards a painted miniature.

    Perhaps you could do a follow up with advanced techniques or paint dripping for those prepainted figures or army builders.

  • avatarhancock.tom

    If I can get my wife's digital camera to take decent pictures in my man-cave, I plan to do a how to with photos, showing me painting minis from an as-of-yet undetermined board game.

  • avatarCitadel

    Great Article. Speed has got to be key with painting for board games. I have talked a lot with friends about how to paint faster. I think one important thing is to paint very cofidently in lines. Don't be tentative and put little bits of paint here and there or dart the brush. Instead, draw the brush across large areas at a time leaving a sharp line at the edges between colours. You make mistakes but I think you learn faster that way.

    The fastest painter I know paints like lightning and makes me very jealous. He paints about 90% of a model using dry brushing. He is amazing at it. His models look amazing. He has sent me so many pictures over the years but I can't find them at the moment. I have this one. It is a scratch built model of his own creation. It is a big model so he has painted some sections in layers, another good technique for speed.

    He taught some useful tips for dry brushing. Dry brushing ruins brushes. The bristles fan out. So get an old brush and cut the bristles about half way down with a pair of scissors. Take a dab of paint on the bristles and rub it in circles on newspaper until almost nothing comes off and the flick it across the surface of the miniature and paint will get transfered staying especially on raised areas. He also always did a final light dry brush in white from the top of a miniature to give a positional lighting effect.

    I had mentioned layers. Here is a model I painted in layers. From a distance it looks like I have done something fancy like blending but almost all the miniature just has two layers of paint on top of a black undercoat. The main exception is the skin where I think people look more closely so an extra layer really pays off. I like having very high contrast. Exagerating shadows makes things look more realistic to my eyes. I find painting in layers like this faster than ink washes as the paint dries so fast that you don't need to stop. Altough, I do faff when I do washes 'cause I'm no good at controlling the ink.

  • avatarCitadel

    Wow, that Warseer dipping guide is incredible. My Starcraft Zerg are getting dipped as soon as I get a chance.

  • avatarhancock.tom

    Yeah I haven't tried it but for something like starcraft, maybe even TI3's minis, I think the dipping technique would be great.

  • avatarvandemonium

    Fantastic article! One of these days, I'll work up the gumption to actually try it out...

  • avatarjspoto

    Great guide!

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