Tavern Talk – Painting; Beginners and Beyond

Kuffeh asks:

A new starter to the hobby has approached you, their army has been selected (insert your own preference if needs be) and rather than ask you questions about how to game or army composition they instead ask you about painting.  Your reply is….

Basically, what tips would you give to a new starter in the hobby.  Everything from paints, to basing. What are your top tips?

The simple question here to start with must be: what do you want to achieve with your painting? If the answer is ‘to have awesome-looking miniatures’ then my advice would be to go see Forkbanger, so that’s nice and easy. If the answer is ‘to have a table-top standard army’, then that’s much more in my area of expertise.

I very much like simple, straightforward paint jobs so the first part is to decide on a colour scheme. It is important that it is one that you like, that isn’t going to require skills way beyond your ability and that you can live with painting on dozens or even hundreds of miniatures. I like to have an idea in my head of how I’d like the army to appear on the table, so then I can make sure I have the paints I want to use.

So the first purchase (or borrow) should be paintbrushes. There are many different brands out there, all with different qualities to recommend them. Although I have a load of paintbrushes, I find that I only really use three: a relatively big one for painting almost the entire miniature, a relatively small one for doing very fine detail (eyes in particular, but some miniatures do have other comparably tricky parts) and an old one I don’t mind wrecking that I use for drybrushing.

Next, we need paints. After picking out a colour scheme, it is a simple matter of finding somewhere that sells the colours of paint needed, and handing over money to purchase them. I’m far too lazy to mix paints, so my preference is to use a colour that looks good straight out of the bottle. For each part of the miniature, I like to have a dark(ish) base coat, a lighter coat for highlighting and then a wash or ink for shading. So in the case of the skin of my Beastmen, I use Astronomican Grey as a base coat, Badab Black wash to shade the recesses a little and the Codex Grey to highlight.

Now that we have all the required tools, it is time for the fun part of actually applying colour to our toy soldiers. I’m really untidy when painting, so I usually apply the base coat for whatever part I’m doing, then wash, then drybrush the area. If I get some colour on part I’ve already done, never mind. Once all the whole miniature is painted, it’s easy to go back and tidy up any mistakes. The important thing to remember is that even though any mistakes look horrendous when holding the miniature about 3″ from your eyes, or when blown up to giant size in a photo on a blog (as regular reader will know), they’ll look a lot cleaner when they’re in a unit of 30 guys on a table top 3′ away.

Finally, a little sand on the base will go a long way to completing the whole look, but even painting the whole base black will make the miniature look tidier by hiding the inevitable paint splashes.

So in summary:
1. Pick a colour scheme you like.
2. Get some paintbrushes.
3. Get paints that roughly reflect the picture in your head of the colour scheme you picked in part 1.
4. Paint the miniature, and have fun doing it.
5. Congratulate yourself on a job well done, then watch as they mysteriously perform better on the table top than unpainted miniatures.

In true Blue Peter style, here’s some I made earlier.

Categories: Painting and modelling, Tavern Talk | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Tavern Talk – Painting; Beginners and Beyond

  1. Thin your paints, clean your mouldlines, drill your barrels. I usually manage two of these things with my spacemen (I’m generally too lazy/stupid to drill out barrels).

    Thinning paints is the main tip, though. And practice.

    • Good advice. Strictly, I’d say that the mould-lines and barrel drilling are slightly outside the remit of painting, but they certainly improve the look of the miniature. Drilling out barrels is of limited importance in a Beastmen army, of course.

      I think your best point is the last – practice.

  2. Basing: it sounds like a drag, but you can do a whole regiment/ unit in one go. I used old and re-cooked espresso mixed with ‘grass basing’ for mine.
    Glues: very important. PVC glue= elmer’s glue.

    You need to love (or at least like) the minis you’re working on. Otherwise, you’re going to give up soon. Pick the models you want to go with.
    If you DON’T like them, get a unit filler. Minotaurs, Shaggoths, Ghorgons…all amazing unit fillers.

    • I’m right with you on the liking the miniatures you paint. Getting motivation to paint a miniature you don’t even like is so hard to do, especially when there are so many other demands on your time.

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