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2 - Planning, Cleaning and Priming the Slayers

Orc Slayers
Product #
Suggested Retail Price
19.38 EUR


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Revision Log
19 July 2002page first published

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3,764 hits since 19 Jul 2002
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Deane P. Goodwin of Goodwins Painting Services writes:

After discussing this project with Bill, I was excited to get the minis and begin the project. Unfortunately, they arrived right before my departure for Origins, so I could do nothing but look longingly at them before leaving. Some days, life is just that way.


Upon my return, I made a prominent place for them on my table, watching me furtively around the bases of their larger relatives and began to think about what they needed and how best to accomplish that. Generally, I like to have a color plan clear in my mind before starting, with paint selections made prior to painting. As Bill and I had originally discussed, the idea of making them look like fierce barbarian warrior types, complete with body tattooing and blue woad caked in their hair was an appealing thought.

Flesh Tones – Having decided that these guys were rather wild and leathery, my flesh tones would start with a darker than normal color. I selected Howard Hues Flesh for the base color, tinted slightly with Howard Hues Nubian. This would have the effect of laying a reddish brown base color down, which further washes and highlights would modify.

Clothing – Looking closely at these Dwarves, it was obvious that the bulk of their painting would involve the flesh, as they are wearing only loincloths and boots. I wanted the loincloth to have reasonably strong visual appeal, since it was the only real point of visual contrast on the entire figure. I wanted to keep it somewhat naturalistic while maintaining the visual impact that such a small piece of clothing would give on such a tiny figure. I decided to go with a patterned fur, since this would allow me to really draw the eye to the mini and contrast nicely with the darker earthier look that their tanned flesh would give.

I settled on something resembling a cheetah with a strong yellowish base, brown spotted pattern and a bright yellow highlights. For these little chunks of modesty, I chose Cel-Vinyl Golden Yellow for the base, Raw Umber for the spots and Cel-Vinyl Yellow for the highlight color.

Their little Dwarven work boots, while they would probably appear drab and dirty, I wanted to lighten, again for visual contrast. I decided to go with a Vallejo Basic Skintone, which would be highlighted with Vallejo Buff.

Hair, Weapons, and other Miscellany – Wanting to keep this portion of the painting relatively simple, I opted for the traditional approach. The weapon heads would be Vallejo Oily Steel, edged with Vallejo Silver. Weapon hafts would be a light brown base color. Hair would be done with Cel-Vinyl Brown, and the woad highlights done with Reaper Pro-Paints Ice Blue. Still pondering the final look on the bannerman’s standard, I think I have enough to start painting and hope for inspiration along the way.

Oh wait, he hasn’t said anything about shadowing all these colors yet! Ok, everybody pay attention while I dazzle you with this brilliant plan.

Vallejo makes a color called Smoke, which is a very dark brown but totally transparent color. When thinned to a wash, it will fill all the deep recesses beautifully, while slightly altering the color of the raised, soon to be highlighted areas. Every color chosen for these figures was planned to take advantage of this wonderful paint. After applying all the base colors, I will wash the entire figure in Smoke, thinned to a wash with one drop of extender and water. This takes some experimentation to get mixed properly the first few times you do it, but the results are nothing short of miraculous, as you shall see in the not-to-distant future.

Warning: to those unfamiliar with the Vallejo line of paints, shake prior to using until your arm falls off, then change hands and keep shaking. This paint has an incredible pigment load and is so finely ground that the pigment settles to the bottom of the bottle, requiring an act of God to dislodge. Well worth the effort, though.

Whew! Are you tired yet? No? Good, because on we go to:


After the energy spent planning the look, it is time for everyone's favorite activity - despruing, filing and straightening.

These Dwarves were generally very clean and required little in the way of preparation. A few vent sprues clipped, most notably on the weapons' heads, some straightening of pole arms, and quick filing of the bases, and our little dwarves were ready for a quick plunge into Lake Dishsoap. Ignore their complaining and grumbling, they really do need to be clean before painting. Washing them removes any mold release agents still on them, assorted oils, and other things you don't want to know about from being handled by humans. Time to put them on their painting bases and get ready to work.

Orc Slayers standardbearer and leader together on a craft stick

Bill decided he would keep the hexagonal stands that come with these guys for later mounting and flocking, allowing him to standardize the final look of the units, so into the box o’ stuff for some painting bases. These are simply shorter version of your basic Popsicle stick, generally sold as "craft sticks," and available at your local Ames, Wal-Mart, or any similar store. (Alternatively, you can eat a LOT of Popsicles.) The figs were glued in place with basic PVA glue (Elmer's or any other standard white glue), turned about 45 degrees to allow easier access to all parts of the fig.

After allowing these to dry overnight, it is time for:


There are a number of different methods of priming, all with their fanatic adherents. I will not presume to debate the relative merits of white primer v black primer or spray v brush on. If it works for you, use it. The following is my preferred method:

I use a brush-on primer, custom made by me. Starting with Folk-Art Glass and Tile Medium, I thin it 1:1 with water and add a very small amount of ink to the mixture - in this particular case, black ink. G&T Medium is a polyurethane-based primer, originally used by ceramic tile and decorative glassware painters as both a primer and sealer. This stuff dries perfectly clear, is completely flat and has enough "tooth" to hold acrylic paint without obscuring detail in the process. The addition of the ink will start creating the shadows on the mini, as it pools in the deeper recesses while only slightly altering the upper portions of the figure.

a primed Orc Slayer trooper

In use, this stuff tends to set up rather quickly, so mix only what you can use in about 5 minutes, mixing more as needed. The set-up time is definitely influenced by humidity and heat. I like to allow this mix to dry for an extended period of time, as even after it sets it remains somewhat fragile until it cures completely. My normal method of working is to prime the next day's work as my last official act of the day, allowing it to set overnight. If this seems like a lot of work to you, then feel free to spray away merrily.

Additional properties of this medium that I find useful:

  1. It makes a great binder for inks, keeping them in place where you want them without creeping into unwanted areas or forming those dreaded rings. As most "waterproof" inks really aren’t, this also seals them against bleeding.
  2. Living in a godforsaken place that allows winter, I can use this to seal finished work without the dangers of inhaling all those "kill ya quick" chemicals in spray sealers.
more primed Orc Slayers together on a craft stick

Ok, my fingers are tired now, so that is all you get for the moment. Stay tuned for Part 2 – Painting the Flesh and Faces, coming soon to a Miniatures Page near you.