Miniature Painting 101


Miniatures


It's been so long since I painted minis that it feels like some things have changed; maybe they have. Back in the day it was all lead figures, and the process was always the same: prime it, paint it, wash or drybrush as needed, seal.

Now figures are made from pewter, "whitemetal", plastic, acrylic, latex, resin, etc. (here I'm including terrain, buildings, and set dressing like barrels and crates.) Do all these materials require priming? For any that can be painted without a primer coat, which work better with acrylic paints and which with enamel?

Also, this weekend I got a set of molds by accident; the picture and product description made it sound like I was ordering unpainted tents, but in fact I got molds to make tents. I have no experience with molding, so I don't know what to pour into these plastic molds, or whether different molding materials might be used with the same mold.

Help an ignorant brother out, wouldja?

Sovereign Court

For the casting stuff, you will want to check out the tutorials at Hirst Arts.

http://www.hirstarts.com/casting/casting.html

Contributor

Damon, you should basically dump your technical knowledge of lead and enamel and start over, just remember your actual painting techniques (washes, drybrushes, etc.).

All the mini materials you mention should be primed before painting. I just use white Krylon spraypaint.

Don't use enamels. Acrylics have advanced a HUGE amount in the past 20 years, and the ability to actually mix with water and clean up with water is an amazing change.

For your molds, you can use plaster of paris, but it's fragile. For more durability, you can use dental plaster, a similar sort of plaster called hydrostone, or pick up some casting resin from an art store, hobby store, or crafting store (like Michael's). I suggest trying the plaster of paris (POP) first, as it's cheap and easy to use, and once you get the hang of it you can switch to something more durable.

Liberty's Edge

When casting molds, you have a few different materials to choose from:
1) As mentioned above, Plaster of Paris. It's extremely fragile, but it's also extremely cheap and easy to find.
2) Also mentioned above is Dental Plaster. It's extremely durable, and if you know how to use Plaster of Paris, it's very similar to that.
3) You can use a 2-part resin mixture to cast your molds. It uses the same techniques, painting-wise, as miniatures, but requires vastly different techniques than the two Plasters mentioned above.

Now, with all of these, you can use the same painting techniques as you use for Miniatures (just on a bigger scale). However, be aware that plaster soaks up the spray paint like little else, and the models will stink for months if you try to spray prime the mini. However, this can easily be rectified by painting on a layer of acrylic paint before priming the miniature (something you'll also want to do if you're going to add foam to the models later, as the accelerants in spray paint eat through foam) with some cheap acrylic paint (.99 cents a bottle).

Other than that, the HirstArts website has a ton of excellent material on how to mold, paint, and assemble the models from their molds (though the ideas work with any mold medium).

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Damon Griffin wrote:

It's been so long since I painted minis that it feels like some things have changed; maybe they have. Back in the day it was all lead figures, and the process was always the same: prime it, paint it, wash or drybrush as needed, seal.

Now figures are made from pewter, "whitemetal", plastic, acrylic, latex, resin, etc. (here I'm including terrain, buildings, and set dressing like barrels and crates.) Do all these materials require priming? For any that can be painted without a primer coat, which work better with acrylic paints and which with enamel?

As SKR said, just use acrylics for all of the above. Acrylics are nice and easy and water soluble.

Otherwise, the process you describe is it -- prime, paint, detail, seal.

Priming and sealing are both technically unnecessary, but recommended. Priming particularly, as it gives a decent surface for your paint to grip onto. Priming is not difficult--most folks use spray primer; there are also brush on primers (I use acrylic gesso as a brush on primer).

There are loads of awesome online tutorials on the Net; beyond Googling and seeing what you come up with, Dr. Faust's Paint Clinic has some good articles to look at. Good luck!


Are there any other well-organized sites? I found a few that were up-to-date and nicely navigable from Faust's links, but I'm wondering if there were any other great resources out there that I'm missing out on.

I am searching through google, but my google-fu for this very specific topic isn't as strong as it should be. ;)

Contributor

I'd look at YouTube for videos (search for "paint miniatures").

I have some step-by-step simple paint jobs on my website (http://seankreynolds.com/rpgfiles/miniatures/index.html).

Now and then, http://www.theminiaturespage.com has user-created tutorials on assembly and painting, though the site is mostly about announcements of new minis from various publishers.


I forgot about your site! I talked about that Gelatinous Cube for about a year after the first time I saw it.

Cheers!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Another decent resource is How to Paint Citadel Miniatures. It's obviously Games Workshop oriented, but you can ignore the product endorsement in it. The general advice in it applies to all miniatures in general and most miniature paint lines pretty well (I don't actually advise buying a lot of Citadel hobby stuff because they're overpriced, though the foundation paint and wash lines are nice). Now, unlike the Websites, it's not free, but it's a good resource if you find a copy.


Thanks, everyone. I will take your advice to heart: prime everthing, stick to acrylics and check out the websites if I decide to get into molding figures (again, I hadn't intended to get those molds to begin with, and I may just return them -- though the price was so low it may not be worth the postage to do so.)

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