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"15mm, wow. Humbling!" Topic

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2,252 hits since 16 Apr 2012
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Cdude9316 Apr 2012 6:54 p.m. PST

Haha I just took my first crack at 15mm, and wow. I feel all demoralized like Hudson, I'm freakin' out man!

Seriously though, wow. Either I'm really out of practice, getting old and my eyes are going, or these minis are really tough to paint! Maybe all three! hehe

I've got an opti-visor coming in the mail (godspeed, USPS) and I've been reading over some beginner tutorials around the net, so hopefully that will help, but man. I consider myself an old hand at minis painting, and like to get my figures to a pretty nice tabletop standard, nothing crazy, but yeesh. I just did not like how my guys were coming out last night.

Any advice from people who have transitioned from 28mm/20mm to 15s?

malleman16 Apr 2012 7:07 p.m. PST

It sounds a little crazy, but I find that if I sit for a little while looking at the mini before I paint, my eyes become more focused. I also prime my minis in gray and sometimes use a little ink to give it more distincion.

Nathaniel16 Apr 2012 7:29 p.m. PST

I actually find them easier than 28mm. I use the side of the brush a lot and then rely on washes for shading. The quality of 15mm castings has gone up a lot over the last few years, but they still look great painted up in a less exacting style.

My process:

Prime white (as I'm going to shade with washes)

Base coat major colours with a large brush (usually a #2 round)

Do minor error correction

Wash with a brown/black wash (20:10:2:1 water: glazing/matte medium : sepia ink: black ink). This is the same as a premix Vallejo, Coat D'Arms Reaper or GW brown wash. You could also just water down paint.

Repaint with base colours as the highlight (same brush)

Pick out details and correct final errors (#0 round)

clkeagle Inactive Member16 Apr 2012 8:09 p.m. PST

Here's another tip – paint in brighter colors and lighter shades than a similar 28mm figure. I'm talking mid-80s comic book bright colors! It seems very counterintuitive after painting larger figures, but it works shockingly well at 15mm.

My process is pretty much the same. White primer (sometimes followed by a thin black wash to bring out details), block out basic bright colors with a #0, pick out a few details and touch up mistakes with a #3-0, then use washes to add final layering.

After a bit of practice, I was painting entire squads in the time it would take to do a single 28mm figure.

-Chris K.

Little Big Wars Inactive Member16 Apr 2012 8:18 p.m. PST

Drybrushing is also most definitely your friend…

corporalpat Inactive Member16 Apr 2012 8:28 p.m. PST

I use a similar style to Nathaniel and find I leave a lot more for the correction phase than I used to. I also must have a lot more light, and the Opti-visor is a necessity (sucks getting old). I like to "warm up" anytime I paint. There are usually minis in all stages of painting on hand and I work from priming to block colors or horses, to finer and finer detail as the session progresses. Still, I have to say, most of my figure painting has simply gotten more Impressionistic than anything else!

Good luck!

ancientsgamer Supporting Member of TMP16 Apr 2012 8:55 p.m. PST

Reading glasses work too.

I hit the age a few years ago too ;-) Funny, but I see better with my glasses off or the magnification. My current prescription is really for normal vision; not for reading.

I need a new reading prescription. My son has managed to break two sets of my glasses. Nothing like wrestling around with a 4 year old ;-)

Oh, I use either the Optivisor or a magnifying flourescent work light I got years back. I don't need either to see the figures, just causes less fatigue. Keep in mind that even the best 15mm has less things to paint than the bvest 28mm ;-)

Grabula Inactive Member16 Apr 2012 9:10 p.m. PST

I'm with Nathaniel and corporalpat, on 15mm it's easy to get god looking minis with less effort than 28's. Block in the colors, wash, clesn up.

Nathaniel16 Apr 2012 9:54 p.m. PST

A friend of mine chooses miniatures with large uniform areas (like military fatigues) when given the opportunity. He primes grey, dry brushes the figure white and then washes it all with a olive, sand or khaki paint wash. Then he paints a bit of flesh on them, paints their guns and equipment and calls it done. Turns out pretty nice on the table top.

GypsyComet16 Apr 2012 10:38 p.m. PST

Also, for most examples, 15mm are playing pieces, not nascent works of fine art. Paint to "what's that unit over there?" standard, and don't beat yourself up over it.

Henrix Inactive Member16 Apr 2012 11:22 p.m. PST

What the others have said.

One of the problems I have when I switch down in scale is that I hold the figure close and try to paint it like it was a 28mm.

Put it down on the table and look at it from the angle and distance you have when you play, and see what strikes you.

Paint it in lighter colours than you ordinarily do, and take care with the base, it seems a larger part of small minis.

Cdude9316 Apr 2012 11:30 p.m. PST

Thanks for the great tips, guys! After reading these I went at them again, and this time they came out looking much better (I think!). I went back over the khaki pants with a lighter coat than I'd intended, then dry-brushed some highlights onto the grey/black armor and kit before going over everything with a watered down black wash. That really seemed to help, I have to agree that at this scale it seems like you kinda need to let the mini's sculpting help you out as much as possible haha

Did a quick blue and highlight for the faceplates and this is where I'm at. Not gonna win any awards, but I'm not ashamed of em either. I'll give the grey a quick drybrush of highlight over the wash, even after reading the need for striking contrasts with the highlights and keeping that in mind, it's easy to under-do it! But these seem ok for a first try I think XD


I also put it up at the humble little blog I've started to chronicle my 15mm gaming blunders if anyone's interested :D

Cdude9316 Apr 2012 11:35 p.m. PST

Nathaniel, I think in the future I'll do what your friend does as well in regard to minis selection! I love these ARC Recon troops, but man, it may have been a bit rough for my first try, and I found myself wishing for some nice smooth sleeves! haha XD

Still, I love the overall look of these figs, I'm blown away by the detail packed into the 15mm ranges.

Nathaniel16 Apr 2012 11:54 p.m. PST

Those guys turned out great.

As for picking things out like the raised parts of sleeves, try pulling back and hitting the area with the side of the brush rather than pushing the brush tip forward onto it. I don't really know how to explain this, but if you can put your brush near the surface but perpendicular to it, and not get any paint on the miniature and then pull the brush back with a short movement, touching it to the miniature, you'll find accidentally painting the highlight into the recesses will be much, much harder. Also, don't overload the brush when highlighting as paint can run off of it into the deeper spots.

I don't know if that explanation makes any sense. I can't really make a video nor have a digital camera, so I can't really demonstrate.

Etranger Inactive Member17 Apr 2012 2:58 a.m. PST

Cdude – they've turned out nicely.

Nathaniel, you're describing something akin to dry brushing.

Samulus Inactive Member17 Apr 2012 5:18 a.m. PST

Good job, I've been painting these on my blog as well, I went for a bright red and a dark grey. You can see what I came out with here, not brilliant in the closeups, but at arms length its looks pretty darn striking.


more pics here link

I paint them crimson red and then hit them with the dip (strong tone, brushed on). I paint the midtone crimson red, then highlight with vermillion and crimson 50:50 and then final highlights with vermilion (this is very bright but works at tabletop distances).
The dark grey is german grey mixed with progressive levels of white. I make sure to take the final highlight brighter than I would on a 28m because 15mm thrives on high contrast.
The helmet was standard 'gemming' altho I dislike it now and will repaint it a bright green or blue.

freecloud17 Apr 2012 5:55 a.m. PST

I, er, reduce my quality level as at 2 feet you can't see much :-)

I have my trademarked "Spray, Wash, DryBrush n Go" method :)


corporalpat Inactive Member17 Apr 2012 5:59 a.m. PST

Those look fine to me. Don't be so hard on yourself! Lately, I've been using a dry brush technique like Nathaniel describes for details on my Napoleonics. I use an old #0 brush and just sort of hit the high spots with the appropriate color. This is where good figure detail really helps! Like you say, let the figure guide you in your painting.


DonLeg Inactive Member17 Apr 2012 6:23 a.m. PST

Feeling the same pain. The eye sight is not what it was: reading glasses and a bifocal RX the new norm.

I've come over from 28mm to 15mm. Also I used enamels or artists oils for my 28s, now I have made the jump to acrylics for my 15's.

Primed my Peter Pig Marines with Tamiya Fine Metal.

So I put some paint (GW) on my palette , thinned (dish detergent as a wetting agent) it a bit, grabbed a #4 and was rewarded with a runny splotchy mess of a miniature.

Smaller brush, less thinning…a bit better results. Two base coats are still needed. A Devlan Mud wash after the base. Then picking colors with a #1. Getting better, but more of a learning curve than I expected. I'm suffering from what Henrix mentioned above.

I do notice, I have better results with Vallejo or Testors than GW. I'm sure it's more me than the paint.

With my Space Demons, I used black gesso, washed and dryburshed silver and gunmetal all over them, and very happy with those results.

Now to include some of the tips in this thread.

Lead Space Inactive Member17 Apr 2012 7:50 a.m. PST

I find 15mm easier to paint since the scale is quite forgiving. I use magnifier sometimes and it helps alot but mostly I don't use it. I base coat with black or white and with white basecoat I sometimes use a guidelayer which is done with a thinned dark wash that flows in to the recesses and brings out the details.

After basecoat I do main colors and 2 highlights and washes, glazes as needed. In my opinion it just takes time to adapt to the new scale. After sometime it gets easier so dont give up !

But as said before the scale is forgiving and you dont really need many highlights since you can achieve good results with basecolors and washes and glazes.

Some of my work can be found here

MASKFXCAMO Inactive Member17 Apr 2012 7:56 a.m. PST

I think your doing yourselves down guys those figures look pretty good to me. Easily on a parr with my gaming mini's. I only slow down to paint the nicer sets for the website pictures.

My preferred method for getting alot done is still base coat all the colours, peat brown ink (the original dip) the lot then re-basecoat leaving inked areas for shading followed by a couple of highlights if needed.


Cdude9317 Apr 2012 10:27 a.m. PST

Thanks a ton, everyone! The awesome replies here have helped me out a ton. And thanks for the kind words, I'm really happy that I seem to have things sorted and can experiment a bit now!

Oh and Nathaniel, I did find myself using the side of the brush quite a bit as I was working on them, it seems to be really useful.

Seriously, the minis in that pic look way better than they did when I first posted this thread! lol

It's funny, I always avoided "gem" paintjobs, mostly because it looked very difficult (the effect looks very nice, so I just assumed it was very difficult) but I recently gave it a shot and it isn't so bad. :D I think I'll do that on my Art Crime nationalists when they get in!

Samulus – I really like those minis! Your Arbiters remind me a bit of old school Crimson Guard from G.I. Joe (they were my fave, so that's intended as a compliment hehe), and those autosentia are awesome as well. Very reminiscent of Geth type synthetics from the Mass Effect setting.

And wow, Lead Space! I had no idea there were space dwarves/squats for 15mm! Those look really good.

One downside of 15mm… the more ranges I check out, the more armies I want to build! XD

RTJEBADIA17 Apr 2012 11:27 a.m. PST

Can't wait to see your rogue trader marines, Lead Space… you going to use Retained Knights from 15mm or something else?

Nathaniel17 Apr 2012 11:28 a.m. PST

@etranger – I'm definitely not talking about dry brushing. When I say there's less paint on the brush, I'm not saying it's a dry brush. Or even a damp brush. Just not loaded to the max. Enough paint that if you painted normally, it'd still paint-- just not run off like how the brush is often loaded for base coating.

Drybrushing is also best done with the tip of the brush being swept across the detail. I'm talking about using the side of the brush in a pulling manner. Painting normally but using a pulling motion with the side of the brush and hitting the raised detail that way as you have finer muscle control when you retract than when you extend.

I think Cdude93 is probably already doing what I'm talking about.

SpaceJacker Inactive Member17 Apr 2012 3:28 p.m. PST

I use citadel, vallejo, hobby craft paints, basically anything. I dont use a magnifier (although my macro photos often surprise me with things I hadnt seen) but came from a mainly 28mm background. My tips:
1: if you cant accurately highlight it, use a wash. You can wash small bits without doing the whole figure, I always do this a little.
2: dont bother blending.
3: make the shades of your highlights much harsher than you would normally on a 28. My rule of thumb starting out was "if it looks too harsh, its about right".
4: dont use drab colors and make sure there's plenty of contrast
5: dont be afraid of a black undercoat to create blacklining by avoiding the deep bits.
6: the minis are really small, stick to a 3-4 color pallete or less.

Lead Space Inactive Member18 Apr 2012 1:58 a.m. PST

Can't wait to see your rogue trader marines, Lead Space… you going to use Retained Knights from 15mm or something else?

I have a few options for the marines. I will post those soon ;). Dont want to hijack the tread so wont talk about that here

Cdude9318 Apr 2012 9:36 a.m. PST

I've been using vallejo paints, I really like those. The girl at the game store said the new citadel base white is really nice and actually works over a black undercoat without multiple coats, so I may need to check that out.

I usually undercoat black out of habit, but I may try something lighter with a dark wash for guys with an overall lighter look sometime in the future. Hmm… Hopefully I can knock out some more of these minis in the next couple days!

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