Saturday, March 14, 2015

Some Things You Should Know

I know I have only been at this whole “Painting Miniatures” thing for about two months now, but I really feel as if I have learn quite a bit since then. I have to say, much of that knowledge is thanks to many of my followers.

So here are a couple of things I've learned so far:

Make sure you have proper materials.

While I was painting my first few miniatures, I was using cheap brushes that lost bristles almost as much as I lose hair. That made painting very difficult because I would have to constantly try to pick out bristles and go over different areas two or three times to cover up the mistakes. Make sure you buy brushes that will last a long time and be sure to use the right types of brushes whenever you are using different techniques. What I mean by that is I have a designated dry-brushing brush as well as a washing brush. The brush I use when dry-brushing is smaller, with sturdy bristles that can handle this rough painting technique. The washing brush, on the other hand, is a larger, soft-bristled brush that can hold a decent about of wash. Make sure you do your research before you go out shopping for the right brushes for you.

Water down your paints!

Another mistake I was making with my first miniatures was not watering my paints down at all. This ended up making my miniatures look like they had layers upon layers of paint, when most of the time they didn't. I also noticed I lost quite a bit of detail by having the paint caked on. The small details are what make these figures look spectacular, don’t lose them! What I like to do is use a palate, add a few drops of paint then add a few drops of water. Citadel has what’s called Lahmian Medium that you can use to achieve the same effect. I happy with my water.

Don’t forget about your base.

While experimenting with color schemes on my Tyranids, it was pointed out to me by Oliver Bayley, that if I focused on my bases a little more, that would make a huge difference with how the mini looks as a whole. I couldn’t agree more! Simply by adding a few rocks and some greenery, my Tyranid went from mediocre to semi-decent. I feel that this is an easy step that can make your men look ten times better. I have also found that if you create a contrast between the top and the base and the sides, it makes the scenery you create really stand out. Don’t forget about your base!

Make sure each layer dries before moving on.

I’ve gotten excited and carried away many times, not allowing paint or wash to dry before applying an additional layer. As I’m sure you may have guessed, this did not turn out very well. This is especially important when applying washes. If you are looking for the most natural look, make sure you are allowing enough time before adding any additional paint or wash or else you will end up with unappealing lines.

Most Importantly: Have Fun!

No matter why you are painting, whether it is because you ultimately want to create the best looking army you can, or if you are like me and just enjoy painting, have fun with it! Never forget, this is a way to express your creativity and should not be viewed as a chore. If you wish to compare your work, compare it to your own to see just how much you have improved.

So, now I pose a question to you. What is one thing you learned while painting that you wish you knew before hand?


  1. That's a tough question; especially considering you have posted some great lessons here already! Learning how to use a wet pallet is at the top of my list; under most conditions it is *so* much better than the alternatives. It prevents paints from drying out and helps to water them down.

    A few more sneaky ones: using a spray undercoat to minimise the thickness of the undercoat (whilst maintaining coverage), learning how to predict paint coverage by observing the flow of paint down the walls of a curved pallet (for preparing your own base colour coats, glazes and washes), using drying retardant media to aid in wet blending (actually, wet blending itself was an important lesson...) and finally, learning how to decide between dry-brushing and hard-lining when you want to highlight something.

    1. I had never heard of a wet palette before you mentioned it, so I decided to do a little research. I found a video on youtube that explains how to make a wet palette, which I am absolutely going to do and use from no on!
      Thank you so much for the tip!
      Also, I would love to know how you prepare your own glazes!
      For anyone who needs an explanation of what a wet palette is, or how to make one, here's a video :)

    2. Great video! I wish I had seen it a long time ago :-) I use a sponge for the reservoir of water instead of absorbent paper; it is a little more stable.

      Glazes are very easy to make, they are just paints that you have thinned with water or medium so that they flow much easier (the same as a wash) and are particularly translucent. Washing is about letting your washes flow down into recessed detail, whilst glazing is about controlled painting over raised surfaces. If you have a pallet with wells, you can dilute the paint in a well, then run it up the side with a brush and watch how freely it flows back down. Keep diluting until it moves how you want it to move. You get a knack for it after a while…

      All paints are translucent to some extent; the previous layer shows through the layer you are applying. This usually freaks people out and they use paint that is too thick to compensate! You take advantage of this when glazing by gradually altering the appearance of the underlying layer with successive coats of the glaze.

      Some tips: If you thin the paint down too far it is hard to paint in a controlled manner, it just flows off the surface into the recesses. The less you thin it, the more opaque the glaze will be and the less gradual the layering will look. The most incredible effects are achieved by painting a multitude of almost colourless coats, each delivering very little pigment (allowing each one to dry before the next). Very zen ;-)

    3. Wet palettes changed the way I painted for the better. It's a must have in my humble opinion.

    4. Hi Stephanie, welcome to the world of toy soldiers. We should probably warn you that plasticrack is highly addictive. It's refreshing to see a new comers take on things that I take for granted. The wet palette, particularly, is a game changer. The ability to control the consistency of your paint is a skill that will improve your painting immeasurably. And it'll help keep those colours that you mix usable for heaps longer than if you just use a CD (as I used to). There are some expensive, top notch products out there. However, we're all on a budget, and so I did this:
      Good luck and keep up the good work.

  2. First let me say : Great report for starting miniature painters and even advanced ones.
    And you didn't forget the most important one : Having fun. That's the key to have very nice painted miniatures. Without having fun you don't get anything done. Painting should be a joy not a chore.

    Now for your question : When I started painting the use of washes was limited to making your own or maybe a few you could buy ( I can't remember exactly ). But it took me a long time to discover washes as in those days I didn't researched on the internet. Looking for new and better things or ways.

    So I learned when you start painting , do lots of research. Learn from the experienced painters ( If they are willing to teach you ) and very important : Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Even with plastic miniatures. You always can remove the paint and start over. Don't stop until you are satisfied and even then there is always room for improvement.


    1. I couldn't agree more! I feel that no matter where you are with painting, whether you're a beginner or advanced, you should continue learning and and improving your skill!

  3. Your 3rd point was a big hurdle for me, more broadly stated as "have patience." Letting paint, washes, glue, etc. dry before moving on is still a challenge sometimes. I'm a speed painter and I paint for tabletop, so I want to keep moving. :)

  4. Excellent advices and .... question !
    What I could say is that I don't put enough attention with the paint + water and don't take care enough of my brushes... after 4 years of learning !!
    but I'm a lazy painter, with more painted figures in my head than on my shelves !
    So : the best way for improving his painting skill is painting !
    That's what I will do .... tomorrow ! ;)