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Painting Minis, Print & Play and Other Creative Type Stuff.

TOPIC: Mini Painting Step-By-Step

Mini Painting Step-By-Step 19 Nov 2017 23:17 #257896

So there has been a lot of interest in mini gaming and painting here at the fort. Figured I could add my 2 cents to help questions and such by showing and explaining my mini painting process. Also to actually break it down and look at how I do things will hopefully help me (criticism and questions are welcome!) get better.

The other day I wanted to try skipping the midtone highlight on the skin tones to see how it looked on a 15mm figure. I'm trying for a more bright vibrant style than my usual wash heavy technique due to the smaller scale minis and that they will be used mostly for rpgs so colorful and characterful are good things. I took a break from my Warhammer stuff and grabbed a fun looking mini with a bit of skin to practice. After getting the skin tone practice done, it hit me that maybe I should do a step by step log of this mini... sure why not. Firstly here it is taken on my painting table.



It looks terrible because there is basically no light for photography, although there is plenty when I am painting. One of the things I've come to realize is that when posting models on the internet the camera work is a huge deal. I'm no photographer, but this small project won't make any sense if it doesn't look better than above. So I moved the model right under my main painting light.



Well that's a hell of a lot better, much closer to how it looks in real life. I took a 2nd pic to remind everybody of the scale we are working in, the soldier model is more typical 28mm heroic scale.



So at this point I focus on the model. I think the skin looks pretty good! for most of these 15mm I think I can skip the midtone highlight. This is a dark base coat, with a shadow highlight, and a finish highlight. When not blown up to 1000% on a cpu screen it looks even better. In a moment you will be able to see a non-highlighted skin to contrast the final look against. So lets move to more base coating other parts of the model.




Still nothing fancier done here just block coloring in base coat colors in different areas. You can now compare the finished skin to the non-highlighted version on the chest and arms. Its so dark before other layers it is tough to differentiate between the dark leather gloves and the arms themselves... but we know the final skin will look much lighter so that won't be an issue. Other things that stand out is I missed some primer near his right shoulder by the necklace, at some point I'll have to get back in there with the dark base skin tone. The cloak stands out as kinda ugly, but I have a plan for that and there is a reason it is such a bright off white. Also I didn't do the greatest job cleaning the model before priming. This doesn't really bug me in 15mm as tabletop it is WAY less noticeable, but note to self to be more careful with basing material and mold lines. So let's move on to fix that ugly cloak!




So that wash to make the cloak look more like fur, didn't work at all. Still looks pretty much like an ugly white coat with a little definition. At this point I realize I don't really have any sort of plan of how I wanted this to work... time to experiment! Looking at the mini I decide washing to change the color will be far to subtle and I need something a lot stronger. I have some old inks somewhere on my painting table, lets slop some of that on and see what it looks like.




There we go. I think it looks a lot better now, and after playing with the inks a little I came up with a plan. Bears! Polar, brown, and black, nice little mix of colors to make it more fur like. Only problem now is I made it really shiny, fur shouldn't be that shiny. I'll just put a little more paint on with some random drybrushing (drybrushing always seems to work best of fur/hair) to get that glossy shine away. While I'm at it I'll finish the base coating by adding the metal colors.




Good, its less shiny, the metals are on there, and a few tiny touch ups like the teeth on the necklace got basecoated correctly. I left the dagger black because I want to experiment with that a bit, much like the cloak experiment. I don't really have a plan but we'll figure something out... maybe jade or stone or something? This is my favorite stage of mini painting because with the base coats done, now I can add the fun little details that make it all pop. But that will have to be a different time because at this point my 5 year old busted into the room and seeing the paint out wanted to paint her LOL doll to look like herself. Barbarians always lose to daughters. Next time the fun stuff!


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Mini Painting Step-By-Step 20 Nov 2017 01:25 #257899

You should post this to tutofig
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Mini Painting Step-By-Step 23 Nov 2017 13:52 #258138

I have a question regarding priming miniatures (I'm a newbie). I just assembled a few Shadespire warbands and am looking to prime them. Thing is, it's too cold out (it's -8 celcius today) these days to use any kind of spray primer, and I don't have a space inside my place to do it either. Are there any other mediums that work good for priming?
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Mini Painting Step-By-Step 23 Nov 2017 15:23 #258142

I think Michael Barnes said he uses brush-on primers.
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Last Edit: 23 Nov 2017 15:23 by Mad Dog.
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Mini Painting Step-By-Step 23 Nov 2017 15:49 #258143

It is true.

Get some black Vallejo Surface Primer. Apply fairly liberally to the whole figure,
base and all, with a wet, flat brush. You really have to work at getting into alll the recesses and you will need to just go around the figure looking for bare spots- the paint is a little smear-y and will recede In places. When you are done brushing, it may look as though you’ve put too much and clogged up detail. But don’t worry- This stuff shrinks when it dries.
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Mini Painting Step-By-Step 23 Nov 2017 21:39 #258149

Great, thank you for the reply Michael, added a Surface primer to my Amazon order I was going to place tonight. Excited to get painting!
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Mini Painting Step-By-Step 23 Nov 2017 21:55 #258152

Michael Barnes wrote:
It is true.

Get some black Vallejo Surface Primer. Apply fairly liberally to the whole figure,
base and all, with a wet, flat brush. You really have to work at getting into alll the recesses and you will need to just go around the figure looking for bare spots- the paint is a little smear-y and will recede In places. When you are done brushing, it may look as though you’ve put too much and clogged up detail. But don’t worry- This stuff shrinks when it dries.

Hair dryer on hot setting will make it shrink more, if you find that you went at it too hard.
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Mini Painting Step-By-Step 24 Nov 2017 00:17 #258156

Huh, I didn’t know that.
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Mini Painting Step-By-Step 24 Nov 2017 00:56 #258157

Just go easy. Don’t get it too hot - just kind of wave the dryer at the model and then away like drying a kid’s hair. Scorching the primer isn’t awesome.
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Mini Painting Step-By-Step 24 Nov 2017 02:07 #258158

Alright. First about primers. I use brush on primer as well and actually I use Gesso not primer. It has always worked well for me, but it super shrinks which allows you to slop it on crazy and not lose any detail.... the drawback is that it shrinks away from edges and leaves raw metal sometimes. Look at the left foot of this miniature for an example. I'm planning on trying the primers Barnes mentioned to see if how that works in the near future. Now back to the step-by-step... it's a long one.

Firstly is my daughters paint job that interrupted last time. I tried to explain to her she needed to undercoat the yellow areas with a brown due to the light coverage of the yellow paint! She just jammed the ferrule into the paint then went to town ignoring my advice.



She is getting pretty good at "painting in the lines". We can actually use her work as an example... see how much better the pink paint covers than the green. The green is too thick and the pink about right, a lot of that is because every paint comes with different properties, or is older and more dried out, or more or less shaken up, etc. You'll have to figure each color out as you go, which is why it is so tough to paint straight from the pot if you want consistency. So where did we leave our barbarian.



Ah there he is, those metals need a wash to give them a little better look. I know I said I'm trying to use less washes, but metals need a wash lets do that.




There we go some nice color hue to metal. It is best seen on the sword from the back shot. Metallic colors are something I feel pretty weak at doing but at some point we want to go back with another metallic over that coat and make it pop a little bit more. First I want to tackle the skin and the other "non-special" highlighting like on the leather, red cloth, and stuff. I almost always paint layers like if you were getting dressed so skin comes first. I add a tanned flesh shadow color, but leave a border of the darkish red original skin tone.




Honestly that looks pretty good. I prolly could call it a day with just that highlight but to bring it up to the level of the face and such I'll add one more lighter version of the same color.




And I'm calling the skin done at that point. Remember way back when you could barely tell the difference between the leather gloves and the skin? Quite a difference from that point. The arms illustrate the highlight progression pretty well and I made a blow up of the chest to see it better on that part.



Although people talk about things like painting 1/3 shadows, 1/3 base color, and 1/3 highlight area... I generally just throw paint on there till I think it looks right. If you are off just step down a level and clean up the lines between the areas, pretty easy to keep playing with it until you are happy. This next step I'm going to do the same type of highlighting with just a little bit brighter/lighter color on things like the edges of the leather, the bones on the necklace, the red cloth edges, etc. Basically anything that isn't going to be painted in a special way or is metallic gets a layer or two of a highlight color that is a little brighter than the base.




Overall the highlights on like the boots and gloves came out hard to see, the red cloth and the necklace leather I think look really good, the teeth on the necklace I overdid the white, should've left more shadow. If I was going for a perfect figure everytime I'd prolly go back and try to fix some of that stuff. Since I paint for fun and it still definitely looks good enough I'm moving on to the more fun highlights and things to try. First up is trying to make those horns look like bone!




I've mixed the brown color of the base of the horn with my bone color and painted some streaks to give it like a line effect. These lines are pretty small and tough to make perfect... I have decent hand skills from my job so I likely have a leg up on that kind stuff, but just remember at this scale it just needs to be close. Very few of us are entering minis into painting competitions. If I can just convey the idea it will look good, and it will be cleaned up a bit on the next step... pure bone color.




Those kinda sloppy lines are already looking better with additional layers of kinda sloppy lines. A very small amount of pure white paint, and some cleaning up using all 3 of the previous colors on the bone horn should finish that part of the mini off.




So I'd say the horns are done and look good enough. I've actually never tried doing that before, so pretty happy with how it looks for the first time. Mini is turning out pretty good so lets screw it up by doing metals which I think I'm terrible at. I'm gonna go over all the handles and hilts with the same color, and on the sword and edges of armor highlight them up with a slightly lighter metallic silver much like I would on any other color.




Well I did too much on the front of the sword, but the hilts and back of the sword, belt, and helmet look good so I'm calling that a win. So I have one final little experiment to try. I want the dagger/short sword to look different than the other sword. I figure painting it black/grey will make it look either stone like or magical or at least cool and different and since I'm trying to get better with blending black looking stuff it makes sense to try. I start by mixing my pure black with a little blue/grey color and coating the blade.



Actually looks pretty cool (it might even look better here than what the finished product ends up looking like on a cpu screen). But since I'm experimenting still I'm gonna highlight to the extreme and add a bunch of little effects and such. On a 28mm mini I might have left it... but tabletop at 15mm the last picture those little subtle highlights won't show up. So lets make that blade stand out.



Just working in lots of black or white into the blue/grey and putting down on different parts until I was happy. Then as a final touch thin streaks of the lightest highlight color across the blade for a texture look. Final step I added some almost pure black to kinda smooth out the effect and give the scratch looking things a bit of depth. Now I didn't think about light source or how the scratches should go across blade if cutting etc. I just kinda faked it until I thought it looked kinda cool.



Looking at the figure I'm pretty happy. All the experimental stuff ended up working out pretty well, blends look better than needed for tabletop. I decide I want the dagger to stand out just a bit more so I'm gonna add some gold to the handle/hilt when I paint the mini base edge black as the finishing touches. I stick some blue tack to a popsicle stick and pop him on there so I can paint the base edge without touching anything.




A finished mini waiting a brush on coat of gloss varnish and then a dullcoat to make him not shiny, only about 10 million more until everything I have is painted. Its a bit of work to take all those photos as you go then edit them together so I won't be doing that again likely start to finish for a while. But I learned a good deal about stuff and hopefully it can provide a non-elite painters look at how to make some pretty decent looking minis. Happy to share any questions or here comments and its always inspirational to see other people's stuff so post em if ya got em.



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