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TOPIC: Need advice on getting into mini painting

Need advice on getting into mini painting 29 Nov 2016 17:30 #239392

I've been toying with the idea of getting into mini painting as a way to pimp my games (and possibly help divert me from my collecting habit), but the barrier to entry has been so high and I've made no effort to start. The other day my wife asked me the other day for help with Christmas gift ideas and I suggested maybe getting me some painting supplies to kind of force me to give mini painting a try. She liked the idea, but we both need help on where to start equipment-wise. Since there's a fair amount of experience here, figured I'd seek out some advice.

First off, I'm not looking at high-quality GW stuff, mostly board game minis. I'll probably use my pile of Reapers models to get started, since I don't care about them. I've painted exactly one miniature in my life, about 10 years ago, as a gift using my friend's stuff. It came out alright. My ultimate goal is probably to paint my Cthulhu Wars minis, but not till I prove to myself I can do it well. And, unfortunately, I'm quite the perfectionist, so we'll see how neurotic I'll get.

So here are the questions I've come up with, but feel free to pepper me with unsolicited advice.

1) What's a safe primer to use? Doesn't have to be amazing, but generally is going to work. Also, I live in Houston, so something that deals with humidity well would be essential (unless I do all my priming in the winter or the odd days after a cold front). I understand that sometimes you want to use a dark color and sometimes a light color. Is black and white the two colors your should go for or does it really matter?

2) Any recommendations on a painting set as a starting point? i see a lot of Army Painter sets out there, just not sure if that's a good starting point. Or should I just go after a set of brushes and paint separately? What brushes are key to have?

3) Should I be looking for one of those stands with clips to hold it up? I'm thinking I should get one with a magnifying glass, but maybe it's not all that useful.

4) Any websites or YouTube channels to use as a resource to get started?

Thanks in advance.
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Need advice on getting into mini painting 29 Nov 2016 18:38 #239397

#1 piece of advice. DO NOT start cheap. That means do not think you can get going with shitty $1 brushes, whatever paint is the cheapest (like craft store acrylics), and crummy miniatures. You will NOT get good results and you will learn bad habits.

#2 piece of advice. You will not be able to paint up to 'Eavy Metal standards for a very, very long time. You will not have the experience, the equipment or the know-how to do that so don't look to that kind of stuff, the White Dwarf magazines and so forth, as a guideline.

#3 piece of advice. Don't worry about screwing up. It's a learning process and you will get a feel for things as you go. Like, many painters don't understand that paint isn't like other mediums. You have to push it around and work with its physical properties, its chemistry and so forth.

#4 piece of advice. Have fun or don't bother with it.

Now, your questions:

1) I would say start with a black prime because it's more forgiving. You will get darker results, but you also have some built-in shading and it's easier to get a good, tabletop-quality result with black. When you feel comfortable with that, move on to white or gray. Right now, I am using white on my Lizardmen because I wanted their colors to be really bright and not muted. I like to use gray too because it's neutral, obviously. Most folks here use something like Rustoleum Painter's Touch because it is cheap. It works and it's fine, but I have actually swung back to preferring to spend a couple of dollars more for something like a P3. That stuff has a nozzle that is WAY better for miniatures priming and I get a better finish with it. You might actually like brush priming better, especially starting out. Get a pot of Citadel Imperial Primer...mix it with just a dot of water and it will cover anything and you don't have to worry about the spray, the weather, etc. I would say avoid Armory primers- they are cheap and aren't as good as Painter's Touch or one of the hobby brands.

2) The Army Painter sets are decent, but I find their paints to be harder to work with. They aren't as consistent as I like, and I'm not a fan of the dropper bottles (you tend to use more paint with them, they clog up, you can't visibly see the paint before you put it on the pallet, etc.). I would HIGHLY recommend you try one of Citadel's starter paint sets- they come in a Space Marine or Stormcast Eternal set. You may not use the figures for anything other than practice, but they are really nice little sets to get you started with some good quality minis and great paints. They also include some good instructions that will set you on the right path of sorting out the order in which to paint things and which techniques to use (basing, washing, drybrushing, highlighting, etc.). I think I'd actually recommend the Space Marine set over the Stormcast because they are fairly easy to paint but give you a good range of skills to try. The Stormcast are actually easier to paint. Both of these sets give you everything you need for those figures, which is a downside because you don't get any, like, green paint. If you want a basic set of paints, try the Citadel "Build and Paint" set. It has cutters, glue, a brush, and a nice set of base colors to start with. All of that stuff is available online for about $25 a piece.

As for brushes, those sets come with a good "all purpose" starter brush. Which you will get use out of but outgrow quickly. Again, I like Citadel stuff a lot so I would recommend that you get all Citadel brushes (L Base, M Base, S Base, M Layer, S Layer, M Dry, M Shade would be the 'must haves'), But Army Painter brushes are quite good too and I use them as well. There's a really good "Most Wanted" set that has three core brushes- a good base brush (Regiment) a very nice angled dry brush and an "Insane Detail" thing that is SUPER small. Army Painter's Standard Hobby Brush is also really good and it could be regarded as a staple. Keep 'em clean and don't leave them in the water and they'll last.

3) I would say no. I paint holding the figure with a my iPhone up propped up on a shelf and using its light. I sit on the floor. It's really what you are most comfortable with, but I think you would probably not need that thing as much as you think. Starting out, you tend to overestimate how small everything is. With the right tools, paints and technique, you'll be surprised at how sometimes even the smallest details can be easy to pick out.

4) GW has a couple of great tutorial programs. They do one series with this girl (can't remember her name) that is more focused on the beginning painter. She gets really nice results and does so without a ton of paints- I think she usually uses the base sets with no layering or any of that. Duncan Rhodes' stuff is really good, but dude uses like 30 paints on a figure and gets into some advanced techniques that might be out of reach for a while. I sometimes skip his steps. His stuff is LOTS of layering, and it produces a look like what you see most modern GW stuff has. Which may or may not be a style you want to go for.

Now, advice piece #5...board game figures mostly are pretty bad for painting. Well, let me put it this way. Most of them are going to be fine at arm's length, but while you are painting them they can be a pain in the ass. Muddy detail, bad casting, poor definition...call it whatever you want, I find it is just harder to get a good look at my skill level. The Cthulhu Wars stuff is actually probably a good place to _START_ because they are actually quite good and I think you could get a good result with some basic washing/drybrushing techniques. Not Golden Demon quality, but looking at those figures (especially the big ones) they look pretty fun to paint. I like the plastic toy dinosaur look of them, so I haven't done mine.

I think the Reaper models SUCK. But if you just want to mess around with them, they're probably fine to start.

One more...don't be a perfectionist. Yet. Give that some time. Your first figures are going to look crappy, even if you spend hours on them. Simply because you won't have learned anything yet. You will also learn in time what really matters on a figure and what is not so important. If you REALLY don't like painting belts, then just base it and give it a simple drybrush- don't labor over layering it or anything like that. When it's done it won't matter. But you'd be surprised how a little thing can make a big difference...these Saurus Warriors I'm doing I was kind of meh on until I put a tiny little black pupil on their yellow eyes. THEN they had the character and look I wanted.
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Need advice on getting into mini painting 29 Nov 2016 19:04 #239399

Michael's advice points are excellent and still apply even when you have lots of experience.

My responses to your questions are slightly different:

1. Your area will suck for canned spray primers. Unless you have a garage that is temperature/humidity controlled, I would definitely recommend brush-on primers. I think Citadel's Imperial Primer is okay, but I would highly recommend Vallejo Surface Primer. It's significantly more resilient than Citadel's, spreads easier, and comes in a variety of colors and finishes. I'd recommend a matte black as a good starter for the reasons Michael listed. Get other colors if you want, I just use white and black.

2. As for starting with paints, Citadel's guided system is very easy for beginners to easily get started. All paint companies have gaps in their selection and all have some colors they just have problems with. I find Vallejo and Citadel to be the most consistent across the board and offer enough variety for most people. Both have starter sets that provide you with a base set of colors.

For brushes, Citadel makes quality brushes for pretty much their entire range, if a little on the pricey side. Michael's list is a decent selection of starter brushes, though I would also add their Glaze brush, which is great for spot washing. The only ones I would avoid are the Artificer brushes, which can be found for lower prices and higher quality from fine art companies (Kolinsky Sable brushes designed for watercolors).

3. I do not use one of the stands for painting (I do have one, that I primarily use for air drying brushes). I use a desk spot lamp with a 5500K bulb at my table and a 5500K fluorescent light in the garage.

4. GW makes some good tutorials, YouTube for whatever, Tale of Painters, there are plenty of different styles of tutorials out there. Before starting something, I usually search for guides online to see what other people have done to get an idea of problem areas or things I never considered.

For most stuff, I am painting GW miniatures. I like the aesthetic, the quality is great, and they are thing I always wanted when I was young and couldn't afford all the paints/brushes/options on a meager allowance.

I use a lot of Reapers when painting with my daughter (who is 3). They are generally chunky, flexible, and stand up to abuse. However, they are really hard to get good results with (at least for me). My Khorne Daemon Prince used Reaper wings and they were by far the hardest part of the model to work with.
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Need advice on getting into mini painting 29 Nov 2016 20:22 #239400

Both great posts above.

The only thing I disagree with Barnes is about starting not starting cheap in brushes. There are some good synthetic brushes for beginners on amazon, you can get the whole set for 20 bucks. They won't last long, but they are also great to learn. And then, when you get yourself an expensive brush, like Windsor, Kolinsky or GW - you will know exactly why you're getting that brush and what you're going to use it for (I also learnt that I really need to take good care of them, which doesn't come to me naturally).

I also didn't get the Citadel hobby knife and the Citadel sprue cutter, because you can get those things way cheaper on amazon and they work fine.

Brush-priming with black is great. White primer is awful for a beginner, because it has this spotlight effect on all the imperfections and that's very discouraging, while black disguises them as shadows. I've only recently started to use can spray for priming, and I'm not sure I like it. It is quicker, but I hate the fumes and the prepping, and I also get paranoid that I primed it too think and some details got lost. When brush-priming, you see exactly what you're doing and how much of the stuff is on the mini. One thing I don't like is the Citadel Primer, I think Vallejo has a much nicer consistency and is easier to apply.

But Citadel paints and their method is the one I like most. It is relatively easy to understand, and to learn. I still don't get how Vallejo paints work and have to use their guide every time I try them (and it is a very obtuse guide, too).

I don't use stands, nor the magnifying glass - but you absolutely do need a good lamp.

In terms of miniatures, I've been trying everything I could get my hands on. GW is the best. Malifaux (the new edition) is very close. I tried cheaper stuff (like Wrath of Kings) and it is cheaper for a reason. Painting boardgame pieces is fun, because I don't feel bad about screwing up. Reapers are kind of like boardgame pieces - like Barrowdown says, good if you have kids. But GW's minis are simply great. And if you get one of their boardgames, it kind of adds anther sense of purpose to the process.

As for tutorials, I started with Miniature Painting 101 (www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB0292071C3B38CAC). I think it is great for a beginner. Like the first 10 episodes or so he basically walks you through painting one miniature. There's basically 1 show per each paint used. And later, he focuses on specific stuff: like how to do horses, or hair or goggles, or skin. What I like about it is that the author basically teaches you how to think about painting - as opposed to GW TV tutorials where they basically say what you should do. Having said that, I like GW TV, too. But is is hard not to become a slave to their (color) schemes.

And, yes, the best way to start is to pick up one of these GW packs with marines or eternals, they have the paint and the brush. Or Battle for Vedros, if you're in a mood to paint a lot of orcs&marines (Battle for Vedros paints are pretty great too and for some reason it comes with a very good primer - I've checked with other two people).

Most importantly, what Barnes says about perfection. The little dudes are not going to be perfect, but guess what - only you will notice. Everyone else will think they're awesome and they will look awesome on their little battlefield, you'll see. As for the pictures in GW magazines, I choose to believe they're photo-shopped.
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Need advice on getting into mini painting 29 Nov 2016 20:23 #239401

This is from the newbie that's a little ways ahead of you at the moment.

- Simple Green does a good job of stripping off a messed-up paint job. Use nitrile gloves and goggles - it won't burn your skin, but it's a little hard on your hands.

- They're right about the brushes. Whether you want to buy the purpose paints or use the $0.99 Apple Barrel from Wal-Mart, the good brushes do make a difference.

- My resident miniature painting expert told me that if you're buying brushes from Michaels or Dick Blick, buy the watercolor brushes, not the acrylic brushes. The watercolor brushes are meant to deliver thinner paint than acrylic brushes.

- Get the Brush Cleaner and Restorer and The Masters' Brush Cleaner and Preserver. You will end up getting globs of paint in the ferrule, and you'll be convinced you ruined a relatively expensive brush in one day. The restorer will remove the stray paint from the ferrule, and the brush soap is a good everyday practice.

- Some boardgame figures have a plastic formula that will keep some primers (like Krylon or whatever they're selling at Wal-Mart) from drying. Last Night on Earth pieces have a reputation for this. The Vallejo that I bought seems to work fine, but be forewarned.

- If you want to ignore the cheap paint advice, like that dumbass I look at in the mirror, you'll need to thin craft paint. Water will work, but the acrylic thinning fluid seems to work okay, and an 8-oz bottle should last forever.

- I did this just because I thought it was a cool idea when I read it. Dipping miniatures.

- To take the shine off of whatever put that shine on, Dullcote is your friend.

- Even a crappy paint job will look lots better than unpainted minis.
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Need advice on getting into mini painting 29 Nov 2016 21:16 #239402

My understanding on the spray primer/PVC issue is it's the spray propellant that has issues, which is why Vallejo's primer has no problems even if you use an airbrush.
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Need advice on getting into mini painting 29 Nov 2016 23:31 #239407

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Need advice on getting into mini painting 29 Nov 2016 23:57 #239408

I think it ultimately depends on how "good" you want your paint jobs to be. If you want to work your way up to show level talent, then I've got no advice for you. However, if you ultimately decide that cheap and easy is good enough for you, then I highly recommend you check out Tom Hancock's long ago posting on this very subject: fortressat.com/articles-up-your-game/118...-painting-miniatures


I've painted a lot of board game miniatures using Tom's basic advice and you don't need to have any skill to have the effect make a big difference in how your game looks. I'd never painted a miniature in my life before I started a few years ago. Are they the greatest? Nope, but they're more than serviceable.

My first attempt was the miniatures from Hannibal: Rome v. Carthage: boardgamegeek.com/image/1435505/hannibal-rome-vs-carthage


Same goes for my next stuff, which were the minis from Ravenloft and Ashardalon:
boardgamegeek.com/image/1435507/dungeons...ravenloft-board-game
boardgamegeek.com/image/1435508/dungeons...shardalon-board-game




All of the miniatures I've linked, above, were done almost entirely with cheap acrylic paint from Jo-Ann's mixed with some future. I also used cheap synthetic brushes (and still do for a lot of work). Since I've started, I've added a couple of nicer sable brushes for fine detail work and have picked up a number of hobby paints because there are lots of times when I want to ensure that I'm getting a consistent color without having to mix paints.

As for my setup, I am also very cheap: an old folding card table; a cheap desk lamp for lighting, empty egg cartons to hold the paint; a baby food jar for my black ink; and golf tees with fun tak stuck into the top of an old box to hold the minis while I paint them. Like any hobby, you can make it as cheap or as expensive as you like.
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Need advice on getting into mini painting 30 Nov 2016 07:06 #239409

Of all the sets of paints I have, the Vallejos are the most reliable. The GW set I got is about 50% unusable garbage, the rest, besides the blue (which is good) is the usual, no better than Army Painter stuff. Side cutters are an excellent tool for plastic minis, and something of a revelation to me after only using scalpels.
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Need advice on getting into mini painting 30 Nov 2016 07:28 #239411

cdennett wrote:
1) What's a safe primer to use?

I gave up on spray primer and instead used watered-down base colour, slapped on with a brush. It takes slightly longer but leaves you with no annoying spray can issues and no risk of the paint clogging over details on the figure.
cdennett wrote:
2) Any recommendations on a painting set as a starting point? i see a lot of Army Painter sets out there, just not sure if that's a good starting point. Or should I just go after a set of brushes and paint separately? What brushes are key to have?

I buy all my paints separately. The going word is that the Vallejo range is best, and nothing in my experience contradicts that. I use two brushes because they're expensive and I can't be bothered to clean more than is absolutely necessary. The first is a good smallish brush, small enough for detail work but just big enough so surface coverage doesn't become a chore. The second is the same size but a stiff, old one that I use for drybrushing.
cdennett wrote:
3) Should I be looking for one of those stands with clips to hold it up? I'm thinking I should get one with a magnifying glass, but maybe it's not all that useful.

No. And magnifying glasses are only any use once you can hold a brush steady enough to do fine detail work with the eyes alone. Leave it alone for now. You will need a good light, but a table or angle-poise lamp should be good enough.
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Need advice on getting into mini painting 30 Nov 2016 08:15 #239416

And as you can see, there's not a pat answer for any of this- except "do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law".

In other words so what works for you. If all the Golden Demon dudes say "don't do it like that" but you do it like that are happy with the result...screw 'em! Some folks use the craft paint, cheap brushes, nail polish, Sharpies, whatever...but they like their result and as stated above anything is better then unpainted.

My cousins played with my AoS stuff over the holiday and they were blown away that I had hand painted everything. They were even more stunned when I told them I could paint a five man unit in about two hours- not two weeks. I just do tabletop quality (more than that and I feel like I need to be getting paid for the work) but yeah, once you get the figures on the table you'd be surprised at how even a simply painted one makes a difference.

Tools have been mentioned...this is where I part ways with Citadel. Their tools are WAY overpriced. Get a Michaels coupon and get a $4 pair of side cutters and a $2 hobby knife. While you are there get Testors plastic model glue in the black polygon bottle. Maybe a small file.

No one has talked about basing yet. You can use PVA (school or wood) glue and sand or flock, but I like Citadel's texture paints. Paint it on the base. The Citadel texture spreader,
which I mistook for an overpriced coffee stirrer, is essential. Then you drop a wash and a drybrush color on it. Finish it off by putting some stick-on tufts (I like the Army Painter ones) and paint the rim in a neutral color, brown or gray.
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Need advice on getting into mini painting 30 Nov 2016 08:21 #239417

In the early and mid-00s I used to dip miniatures. You would use a dark wood stain, dip the mini in, and aggressively shake off the excess. This would shade the minis and coat them with protection at the same time. It was fast, quick, and very easy. Downside is...all parts of every mini were shaded the same color. Here are some examples of my work from that era:







So, it's not bad. Then in the late 00's the mix in Citadels washes became the business so I moved to those to use the variety of shading color and allow things like these:





Anyway, I did a series of intro painting posts back with Space Hulk 3rd was released. This was after I had moved over to the Citadel washes. I break down all the sprays and colors used. Photos are terrible (I've come a long way there), but you may find these posts helpful.

fortressat.com/forum/34-pimp-my-game/604...quickly-genestealers

fortressat.com/forum/34-pimp-my-game/611...-quickly-terminators
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Need advice on getting into mini painting 30 Nov 2016 08:25 #239418

I've done a fair bit of painting and I prefer spray primer. My primers do double duty with figs and plastic models, so I'm looking for a thin coat. I've had good luck with automotive primers, as they seem to lay down well. I've also not had issues when spraying them on either plastic or metal.

Brushes are where you want to spend your money. If you are near a place like Hobby Lobby or Michaels, there are routinely 40% off coupons you can use on the decent brushes. When the brushes are worn out, they become ones you use for dry brushing.

Apple Barrel, Folk Art, and other craft paints are acceptable much of the time. You can thin them with an acrylic medium...not water. Also, the large tubes of canvas painting acrylics are great, but need to be thinned. I found the best yellow-green for a Striking Scorpion exarch I had done many years ago.

Good quality inks are a necessity as well. Those you don't want to skimp on. I've used calligraphy inks and the GW inks.

Some people swear by Simple Green for paint removal, but I have had the best luck with Brake Cleaner. It seemed to loosen the pain in crevasses on some old GW stuff better.

Above all, don't get discouraged on your first figs. Introduce new painting techniques slowly. I'm working on lighting effects from a held light source on a Reaper daemon right now.
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Need advice on getting into mini painting 30 Nov 2016 08:37 #239420

the_jake_1973 wrote:
Above all, don't get discouraged on your first figs. Introduce new painting techniques slowly. I'm working on lighting effects from a held light source on a Reaper daemon right now.

I'd love to see the results. I've shied away from lighting effects til now, but need to make a game attempt for some Silver Tower portals.
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Need advice on getting into mini painting 30 Nov 2016 09:54 #239429

The stuff I use to thin the cheap paint is Flow Aid. 20/1 with water. You might need a pile of these little bottles too, for when you want to mix a bunch of stuff and keep a little bit of it.
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