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"The 5 Painting Tips Every Newbie Should Be Told" Topic

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian31 May 2016 5:31 p.m. PST

What are the five tips concerning painting which, in a perfect world, every new member of our hobby would be told?

Winston Smith31 May 2016 5:44 p.m. PST

Don't forget to try as many techniques as you can, to find what works best for you. And if you find that some work better in some circumstances than your favorite, don't be dogmatic about it.
For example, I do not like black priming. But it works better FOR ME with Knights and tanks.
I dislike it with my style painting people.

So, experiment. Try new methods, but don't forget the old ones.

Coyotepunc and Hatshepsuut31 May 2016 6:37 p.m. PST

Using a painting service is cheating.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian31 May 2016 6:49 p.m. PST

get the paints that work for you, expensive is not always better
take care of you brushes
patience, you will get better
lighting, it can make it easier to paint

dBerczerk31 May 2016 6:55 p.m. PST

Don't drink coffee prior to painting.

cavcrazy31 May 2016 6:57 p.m. PST

You can always paint over mistakes.
Don't worry what people think about your work.
Enjoy the process.
Look at other peoples work.
Ask other painters for tips, I have always found other painters very eager to share their knowledge.

Mister Tibbles31 May 2016 7:01 p.m. PST

Buy a good #1 sable brush with a good tip and take care of it. It is the only brush you need. Pink Soap is your friend.

Don't always listen to wargame painters. Most can't paint or hate painting. ;-)

Eumelus Supporting Member of TMP31 May 2016 7:07 p.m. PST

(1) Some form of shading (highlighting, blackprime, wash, stain, dip, or some combination thereof) is the essential distinction between a believable miniature and a toy.

(2) A simple scheme, well-executed, is much preferable to fussy over-detailing not well done.

(3) Don't neglect terrain effects on basing (and parenthetically, average-looking figures on realistic terrain look far better than award-winning figures on craft-store felt with bits of lichen).

(4) Flags bend and wave; learn how to make your banners look like cloth and not a sandwich board.

(5) Use white glue _only_ for basing – at some point in the future you _will_ want to rebase.

thorr66631 May 2016 7:29 p.m. PST

Go thin

Winston Smith31 May 2016 7:29 p.m. PST

Paint to your own satisfaction. Screw what other people think.

William Warner31 May 2016 7:33 p.m. PST

Don't set your coffee cup next to your rinse water.

TNE230031 May 2016 7:42 p.m. PST

confirm the color in the can
BEFORE spraying the minis!

wrgmr131 May 2016 7:48 p.m. PST

1) create a good space to paint in. Preferably one you can just sit down at, turn on your light, open paint and get going. If you have to drag everything out it will prevent you from doing it.
2) research your subject to give you inspiration, proper colours and proper paints
3) get good brushes, brush soap, palette and paint, good tools make a difference. I use 3.0 reading glasses for painting.
4) paint up one figure to see how it goes, practice techniques and see in what order you need to paint various colors. Eg: you would not paint belts first and jackets second.
5) look at others paintwork and ask questions. Look at professional painters but don't get discouraged by not being able to paint like them. They started where you are!

Henry Martini31 May 2016 7:56 p.m. PST

Use an appropriate painting technique, and paint an appropriate level of detail, for the figure size; multi-based 15mm figures don't need triads, and you're wasting your time and energy painting eyes on 28mm figures.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP31 May 2016 8:16 p.m. PST

Have fun.

ced110631 May 2016 8:30 p.m. PST

Pick up a Reaper Learn to Paint Kit.
Pick up an Army Painter Quickshade Ink Kit.
Start painting terrain, not anything with pupils.
Don't try to buy all your supplies at once.
Nobody's going to look at your mini's up close.

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP31 May 2016 8:50 p.m. PST

Paint to your own satisfaction. Screw what other people think.
Sound wisdom, do that and you will be happy.

Take good care of your brushes, buy decent brushes.

Don't paint anything if your don't want to.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek
Bunker Talk blog

PrivateSnafu31 May 2016 9:07 p.m. PST

Use a wet palette.
Reaper Learn to Paint Kits, as ced said.

normsmith31 May 2016 9:51 p.m. PST

1) Paint for yourself, for your own pleasure, not for showcasing.

2) Keep acrylic paint damp and mobile.

3) Regularly stop and clean the brush

4) Use a good brush with a good point

5) Paint in short sessions of say 45 minutes to an hour, then take short a break, get up and move around.

Grunt186131 May 2016 9:58 p.m. PST

1. Paint what interests you most.
2. Good lighting, a comfortable chair and a good work area
are all mandatory.
3. Try to have your paints, brushes, tools and clean up
items close at hand.
4. Always prep your miniatures,(mold lines can ruin any
paint job) and use a good quality primer.
5. If your painted miniatures are going to be used in
games it is imperative that you protect them with a
good varnish. Nothing is more traumatic than seeing
flakes of paint left on the field of battle.

Tarleton31 May 2016 10:46 p.m. PST

De-flash the figure!!!

Green Tiger01 Jun 2016 2:09 a.m. PST

Just one rule – keep it simple.

Random Die Roll Supporting Member of TMP01 Jun 2016 2:44 a.m. PST

Brush soap and conditioner are worth the investment

Learn about inking and shading---not everything is drybrushing

Limit the number of colors used

Purchase a small vice or clamp to hold the mini

You will get better, just keep at it

TamsinP01 Jun 2016 2:50 a.m. PST

1. Buy decent brushes and take care of them – pink soap or Masters brush cleaner is your friend.
2. Experiment to find what techniques and styles work for you.
3. Bases and faces – get these right and you'll be forgiven a multitude of painting sins on the rest of your figure.
4. Have two pots of water on the table – dirty rinse and "clean" rinse
5. If you're happy with your figures, don't be put down by naysayers.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP01 Jun 2016 3:04 a.m. PST

If using 2 or more shades pr color make sure they work well together.
If you got a good triad getting the figures too look good is much easier.

Don't skip on the basing!

Find a middle ground in color. If you go realistic. Then union coats, French coats and prussian coats just look black. But don't paint the mid or light blue either.

Not all romans used red tunics.

Black primer makes it faster to paint horse and musket figures

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Jun 2016 3:53 a.m. PST

1 – Don't take too much notice of what people tell you is 'essential'. Many of the points above are nothing more than personal preferences, not golden rules. Worth taking note of and possibly trying but not essential at all.

2 – Brushes – buy the best you can afford and a small selection to determine which suits you best. Look after them but you don't need to be that precious about them. Even the best brushes cost no more than a dozen figures and they will last you through a 100 or more (often many more) if you just keep them clean and store them sensibly. Some people like cheaper brushes and work well with them, while I don't personally do that, it cuts costs if it works for you.

3 – If you are getting stressed painting then stop and come bask to that figure/unit later. You will almost certainly balls up a job that is annoying you.

4 – Primer I class as essential and I use grey. Black and white, even coloured undercoats, are all workable possibilities. Don't accept that what another painter gets good results with will work for you, try alternatives to find the best for you (and you may vary it with subject and scale).

5 – Do simple first. Single colour areas with careful detailing. Leave washes and highlights and 'triads' until later. For some this will happen as a quick progression, for others it will take more practice – accept that you may be one of the slow ones at the start and hope for a pleasant surprise.

razuse01 Jun 2016 4:11 a.m. PST

try your best to paint 30 minutes everyday…it becomes a habit.

Winsor Newton Series 7 or similar…do not skimp on the brushes

never be afraid to try a new technique

not every figure needs to be a work of art…rank and file vs. commanders or heroes, learn to paint for speed

always have good music or a movie you have seen at least twice in the background

Weasel01 Jun 2016 4:13 a.m. PST

A gaming table with okay terrain and two okay looking armies will look great in aggregate

Jeigheff01 Jun 2016 5:23 a.m. PST

1) Be patient and forgiving of your first efforts at painting.

2) Study miniatures painted by other people. Note the good things you like; note the not-so-good things you'd like to avoid. There is much to be learned by also studying two-dimensional illustrations and paintings.

3) Try to learn something about color choices, at least enough for you to apply to your own work. You don't have to be an expert, but making some effort is worth it. For instance, your Confederates will look a lot better with appropriate gray colors rather than "battleship gray."

4) Experiment with different techniques and paints. But at the same time, try not to get so bogged down that you're not completing figures or vehicles.

5) Have fun!

skipper John Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse01 Jun 2016 6:54 a.m. PST

Only odd people paint eyes. Don't be one of those…

Timbo W01 Jun 2016 7:17 a.m. PST

Remember that on the table they'll be viewed at arms length at closest, so don't stress too much about really fiddly details.

Lascaris01 Jun 2016 7:59 a.m. PST

1) If you want to paint eyes go ahead. This is your hobby and there are no "standards" that you'll be judged by.

2) Keep trying to improve. Even after you've been painting 20+ years you can get better.

3) There's some very decent books out there that can show you various techniques. Don't treat them like the gospel but as a source of things to experiment with. My favorite is Painting Wargaming Figures by Javier Gomez.

4) Echoing "look at other people's figures"…especially the basing. There's some incredible creativity out there.

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP01 Jun 2016 8:12 a.m. PST

Just do it. I've spent many a time stressing over a figure wondering how I'm going to tackle complicated bits and when I just dig in and start painting, I find it's much easier to do it than I ever suppose it will be when looking at it.

I've even let some figures sit for a long time because of this and it always is less difficult than I suppose ahead of time.

Also, to take what was said before- screw what people think. Paint to your own standard.

And finally, paint what you want, or use a service for what you want. If gaming is your preference and you just want to get figures on the table, using a painting service is certainly not cheating. Just be aware that if you mix the things you paint with those you had painted, they may not match well- depending on how well you paint.

Natural light trumps lighting when painting, if you can find a space to paint in natural light- do it.

rmaker01 Jun 2016 8:36 a.m. PST

Ignore Kevin Dallimore. He does not paint figures for wargaming. He paints figures for advertising photography.

Don't waste time on detail that would not be visible at a distance anyway (e.g., eyes). Wargame figures are meant to be seen at 3 feet/1 meter. That means that 15mm figures are at a distance equivalent to 100 yards/meters. Go outside and look at people (re-enactors if possible) that distance away – notice how little of that fiddly detail and shading you actually see.

Read Arthur Harman's article in the current issue (398) of Miniature Wargames.

ScoutJock01 Jun 2016 8:38 a.m. PST

Simple green is your best friend if you royally screw up and have to strip the mini and start over. An overnight soak usually does it for both enamels and acrylics.

Don't sweat getting the exact shade or color right: lighting, dirt, grime, weathering all can change the appearance of a color.

A good airbrush and compressor can't be beat for terrain and base coating.

Hirst arts has numerous tutorials that are a good place to start: link

When you see a nicely painted mini, ask the painter how they did it if they didn't explain it. Go to their blog, etc.

Doug MSC Supporting Member of TMP01 Jun 2016 9:36 a.m. PST

1. Ask one of the guys who paints his figures if you can sit and watch him for awhile.
2. Ask another one of the guys if you can sit and watch him paint for awhile.
3. Ask another one of the guys if you can sit and watch him paint for awhile.
4. Ask another one of the guys if you can sit and watch him paint for awhile.
5. Ask questions, take notes, make observations. Go try it yourself.

Personal logo FingerandToeGlenn Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Jun 2016 9:50 a.m. PST

Four things helped me immensely :
1) it's ok to use different primers for different figures. I use a green for orcs, red for demons, plate mail for armored figs, etc.
2) a dip is God's gift to the bulk of us.
3) paint for "tablevision."
4) it's a hobby. If your back hurts or you're bored, go do something else.

Martian Root Canal01 Jun 2016 11:08 a.m. PST

1) Keep at it. Practice and experimentation will improve your results.

2) Painted figures beat unpainted or primered figures every time.

3) If you're happy, that's all that matters.

4) Drybrushing and washing are your friends. Read, watch, practice all you can.

5) Pace yourself. Don't try to cram an army into a weekend. Let primer dry overnight. Wait until the last coat is dry before starting another. Patience.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Jun 2016 12:53 p.m. PST

1) Don't sweat the small stuff, that is, anything under 1:1 scale.
2) All great artists did practice runs, sketches, and experiments to hone their craft. There's probably something to that.
3) Good enough is good enough. Better is better.
4) The timeline you have set for your project does not affect how fast paint dries, what it takes to clean your brush, or how resilient from repetitive stress your eyes and hand are.
5) Take some time to appreciate what you did. And what other have done.

Don't sweat getting the exact shade or color right: lighting, dirt, grime, weathering all can change the appearance of a color.

Amen, brother! :)

Anthropicus01 Jun 2016 1:56 p.m. PST

Colour choice is more important than technique. Not everything is the colour you think it should be, look very carefully at reference photos and mix with earth tones. Use an eye dropper tool to isolate shades.

Neatness and blacklining is very important to the overall effect of the miniature, more important than shading and detail. Don't listen to people who excuse their sloppiness by saying they only care if their miniature looks good at 3', if your miniature is a mess it won't look good at any distance.

Paint it a lighter shade than you think it should be. No, lighter than that. No, even lighter than that. It looks different two inches in front of your face under a bright lamp than it does on a wargame table with dodgy lighting.

Don't neglect your bases. They take so little effort to do right and give the eye an appropriate contrast.

Keep multiple projects on the go, so if you get stuck on one you can take a break and try something else.

Kropotkin303 Supporting Member of TMP01 Jun 2016 2:00 p.m. PST

Bit unkind on Kevin Dallimore. I learned to do leopard skin horse furniture from him and the 3 shade method is one that works for a lot of people. Not sure if Kevin Dallimore invented that or if Foundry or others did, but he gets a lot of kudos from doing it.

Also I paint 25mm and add eyes to them last thing of all. Brings them to life for me. Boy have I got a lot of squint eyed chaps in my armies.

Bottom line. Enjoy the painting. Wait till you are in the mood.

DesertScrb01 Jun 2016 5:09 p.m. PST

1. Just paint.
2-5. See #1.

Timotheous01 Jun 2016 6:20 p.m. PST

Don't be discouraged that your figures, when painted, don't look like Kev Dallimore's or Scott McPhee, et al. Figures painted by you are always better than figures not painted at all.

CeruLucifus06 Jun 2016 2:11 a.m. PST

1. Thoroughly mix your paint; this means stir it.
2. Thin your paint.
3. Use brush soap.
4. Learn basic color mixing.
5. Flock your bases.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jun 2016 8:37 a.m. PST

Also I paint 25mm and add eyes to them last thing of all. Brings them to life for me.

I feel that adding eyes really "finishes" the figure as well.

Boy have I got a lot of squint eyed chaps in my armies.

I have a lot of figures with dinnerplate eyes. Between the two of us, on average, we're right on target! :)

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