Teaching Painting


So, a few of my friends have really been interested in getting into figure painting, but didn’t really know where to start.  I figured a reasonable thing to do would be to get them to paint some of the more detailed models from board games they already owned.  No need to sell them on board games, they’re already bit by that bug.


I figured if they snazzed up some of the board game minis and had a good time, perhaps I could get them into more heavyweight wargaming like Infinity! One of them is a talented artist already, but hasn’t really delved into mini figure painting.  I didn’t really need to argue with either of them about thinning paints, so off we went!


Lesson Plan

Everything that follows is purely my opinion.

  1. Choosing a model – Both of them wanted to paint the minis from Mice and Mystics, so that was easy.  It’s important to pick a model that you’ll enjoy painting, IMHO.
  2. Assembling your model – The Mice and Mystics figures are pre-assembled, so this was easy.
  3. Cleaning your model – Really the big thing here is removing flash, mould lines, and other side effects of the manufacturing process.  I recommend gently scraping at the offending material with a scalpel or xacto knife.  A file for pewter minis is definitely handy as well.  Be careful to not obliterate any detail, and use a sharp (new) blade!  I also had them run the models through a diluted bath of Simple Green in my ultrasonic cleaner.  Not strictly necessary for these models, but a must for resin models with release agent, like those from Forge World.
  4. Priming your model – In general, I prime in white.  I use Army Painter‘s white rattle can (spray paint) primer for most of my minis.  It’s affordable, got a reasonable pigment size even for models as detailed as those from Infinity, so I use it.  I wouldn’t use normal spray paint, the pigment isn’t the right size and might obliterate the finer details.  I generally like priming in white.  I had some bad experiences starting out with my WH40K Tau and priming them in black, and I like that it’s easy to tell what’s unpainted if I prime in white.  The colors stand out more as well.  I find I get the best results priming in cool, dry weather.  I gently pulse the rattle can, starting the paint stream to the left of the model held at arm’s length, and finishing to the right.  The middle of the stream is the most consistent.  Generally you don’t want the primer to thickly coat the model, remember we’re trying to preserve detail here.  A light dusting is sufficient.  You should be able to tell what the original material’s color is through a light dusting of primer.  Make sure to get all the nooks and crannies of your model!
  5. Painting your model – I use a wet palette, Reaper paints (with the occasional Army Painter or Vallejo).  THIN YOUR PAINTS.  Seriously.  There’s so much more to painting that I can really cover in a short blog post, but here are the basic premises:
    1. Do your basecoat in the relevant colors, then highlight up in lighter shades.  Reaper’s triad color packs are great for this.
    2. If your model has fur, like the models they chose, drybrushing is your friend.
    3. Don’t over-wash stuff, or it’ll look dirty.  That may be what you want in the end, but know what you’re going for.

That’s it for now, there are a lot of things to cover, but that should suffice for a first venture into painting!

The Results

So neither of them finished.  They painted for about 4 hours before we broke for dinner and then everyone went home.

The painter decided the hammer head was going to be made of stone, and hasn’t really started drybrushing the fur with lighter shades of grey.  The gloves are also unfinished.The other painter (the artist) has had a few more projects under her belt and worked a bit faster.  She didn’t know I had metallic paints, but the buckles came out quite nice regardless.  Some more drybrushing, highlights, targeted washing, and the eyes, and I think she’s done, sans basing.


I primarily play Infinity and Heavy Gear nowadays, but I dabble in plenty of other game systems.

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