Sunday, June 5, 2011

How to: Step 3 - Painting

After priming the 28mm miniature, letting it thoroughly dry, the next step is painting. Don't buy cheap brushes. Some folks use nylon but it appears for most people the nylon bristles are to stiff. Try to get red sable hair brushes. Use only the tips for painting & don't let the paint get more then halfway up the bristles. Clean the brush in water often while painting. When finished rinse the brush in luke-warm water with soap. Remold the brushes bristles in your finger tips.

Use small red sable hair brush
 Base coat

There are several ways to do the base coat:
1)  Paint the entire figure in black/dark brown. Then layer the chosen color from dark to light.
2)  After painting entire figure wash each area with darkest color.
3)  Base paint in dark color chosen, then layer the highlight areas with a shade lighter, then lighter a second time.

If one only has the base color of paints, use white and black paint to get the shade of color desired. Problem with this is making sure one has mixed enough paint for the project.

In hind sight I should have painted the small inner areas first & the little details. It is okay to splash paint beyond your target area. Later when painting that area it will be corrected. If one needs to remove extra paint use a cotton swab. Don't apply the paint in streaming amounts, over painting will clog up the fine details. As for painting highlights, chose the areas where the sun light would hit if shining straight down. To help in this place a light overhead and see where light strikes the figure.

I was going to paint a hem pattern on the bottom of the figure holding the sword, and on the sword scabbard, but with out a magnifier, forget it.

Figure brushed in black wet wash
 Wet Wash

The step after base painting and painting highlights is a technique called wet washing. Take the dark base color and dilute it down with water 2 parts water to 1 part paint (this is trial & error, perhaps more dilution is wanted, experiment). Another way of wet washing is dipping the tip in black paint then dip it into water, then run the brush over the figure with the wash. Either way chosen, layer the washes.

Theory is that the dark wash with run into the lines and crevasses and make them dark giving better shading to the figure. I tried the black wash style and did not like the results. To me all it did was mute the colors and make the flesh area grey looking. I went back and touched up the flesh colored areas (notice figure at left has no eyes) My understanding is this takes practice by doing it and modifying to one's own style. I have a lot of practice!

  Dry brushing/washing

Dry brushing, didn't work to well
The second to last step is called dry brushing/washing. This is taking a dry brush dipping in lighter paint or just white, then wiping most of the paint off the bristles, then quickly flick the brush over the highlight areas. Again this is to help in shading. It appears to me that I need to practice this a lot too!

My first figure painted isn't to bad considering I did this without a magnifier, which I highly recommend! In my old age the eye Doc gave me bi-focal eye glasses, which I hate to wear, and usually don't. My vision is still 20/25 without them. I also wish the colors were brighter, and the washing both wet & dry need a lot of work. Oh yes. The eyes, mine suck because I needed a magnifier, and a hand hold one won't do! Also finish the base off. I haven't done this cause I'm still trying to figure out bases, which shall be my next post.

The final step is using a sealer, most folks use a spray matte finish. The sealer protects the paint job. Matte is preferred cause it looks natural, where gloss does not.

Thanks to Ray and Paul for their help. I'll keep posting my learning how to paint and we shall all see if I improve.


  1. A good start, I like the look of the figure you wet washed, I don't think it dulled the colours too much, it has created a look of depth. I can't tell by the photo but for the dry brushed figure you've either used a colour too light or you've brushed too hard and wiped the paint off.
    Good job keep persevering!!

  2. It´s not an easy thing painting little figs...I would show you some of my attempts from 6 years ago but I won´t...far too embarrasing :-D
    You seem to be doing ok...and practice makes perfect.
    PS...good to see you on Bennos...there you will get loads of friendly advice

  3. That's a great start Garry,
    For your 1st 28mm figure very impressive.
    I'll keep an eye out for your future figures.