Reaper - How To Paint Bones Class???

PaizoCon General Discussion

Liberty's Edge

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With the massive success of Reaper's Bones Kickstarter, i think it would be VERY cool if the Reaper folks would do a How To Paint Bones Class. I know Reaper often does How To Paint Minis classes, but since Bones minis are different enough from metal minis, a class specifically concentrating on Bones painting would be awesome!!!

I second this lol

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Third-ed. :-)

Liberty's Edge

Now we just need to make sure Paizo and Reaper are on board! :)

I was skeptical about my painting ability (based on previous experience), so I had no plans of painting all those minis I was getting from the Kickstarter until I went to PAX. Reaper didn't have a lesson, but they did have this room where you got a free mini and could sit down and paint it. After learning a few things about washes from the other people at the table, my giant worm mini actually looked really cool.

When the Kickstarter funding part came through, I decided to add some paint sets on top of my initial funding amount.

So, yeah, I would love to see more stuff like this! A lesson, class or workshop would be awesome.

Dark Archive

Same here that would be awesome!

Liberty's Edge

Somehow we must indeed get Paizo and Reaper in on this! This would be amazing!

Scarab Sages Reaper Miniatures

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We are still working out the details of our PaizoCon presence. I am sure we'd love to do a Bones class, and I know that we will have Bones at the Paint and Take with instructors there, at the very least, if we cannot muster up a class.

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Pretty sure I'm not alone in this, but I've got a MASSIVE order of kickstarted bones coming before too long, and absolutely no experience painting minis. A class would be swell, sure, but I don't think the next Paizo-con is going to come before my minis.
Our gaming group is pretty excited about the minis, and one player dug up her younger brothers old 40k brushes and kit from storage so we're pretty good on that end, but what we don't have is paints.

Or, more importantly, any clue about paints, really. I think I got two of the four kickstarter paint sets ordered to come with the minis? Is that enough for the massive load of minis? I'm guessing no, but I don't know how much more to order. I've heard something about them needing to be sealed, but don't know what to buy to do that with.
I've briefly browsed a lot of the articles on the reaper painting area, but a lot of it is pretty advanced stuff and most of it is for metal minis.

What would be really cool is a suggested paint kit for people just starting, tailored to the kickstarter bones line.
Bryan, I don't know if you're still watching this thread, and I hate to seem like a sucker, but if there were a kickstarter update that suggested a paint kit for bones, or a link on your main page that went straight to your store I'd probably not think twice about dropping more money. I'm already in for over $200 after all, and I can pass a collection can at the game table.

Liberty's Edge

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I can probably try and put together a painting primer (see what I did there?) as I have been painting minis and plastic kits for around 40 years. Note that I do not consider myself a professional etc. but a dabbler.
While I hate to toot another companies horn, there are a number of introduction to painting articles from such companies as Games Workshop, as well as a number of other paint manufacturers.

Basically with Plastic (or indeed any material miniature) you need to do the following steps:


1) make sure there is no flash on the mini.
Flash is a side effect of a poorly pressed/molded mini and needs to be trimmed off. Its often a thin film of plastic (or metal) where there shouldn't be anything, like a membrane between limbs and the head or weapons and the body etc.

2) make sure the mini is clean
wash in detergent if it looks like they have a greasy coating rinse and allow to dry.


You paint or spray-paint a very fine layer of an undercoat color - black, white or sometimes neutral grey. This should be a specialised undercoat paint; dont just use your regular paint. The undercoat is important as it bonds to the mini, and your paints bond onto your undercoat.
Also the choice of undercoat color will help determine the brightness of your mini. If you are planning on an overall dark choice of colours, use a black one. Similarly if you are having an overall bright mini then use white.

Once you have undercoated your mini(s) LEAVE THEM TO DRY (preferably in a dust free environment)!!!

(Part 2 will follow once I get back from work ETA about 5 hours)

Liberty's Edge

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Ok Part 2


One of the first choices you need to make is whether you will be using Acrylic,Enamel or Oil based paints.
Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and once you become an expert painter you will find that you can, and do use all 3 on the same mini.
HOWEVER each has different properties in the way that they flow onto a surface as well as different means of cleaning up so I STRONGLY recommend that you only stick with one.

My assumption in this article is that you will use Acrylic based paints because they are generally very available, there is a large market of miniature designed paints, and most importantly THEY ARE WATER SOLUBLE (which means that if you have a whoops moment and spill some on the painting table or across your hands etc. you only need to use water to clean up. Note please spilling some on the carpet will usually require some kind of carpet cleaner if it sets - no not from the paint, but from the blood stains due to the punishment your partner will inflict on you on making this mess. Actually yes from the paint too). Cleaning brushes also is a lot easier (and cheaper) if you don't need special thinners and solvents to remove the paint.
Also as there is an interest here in using BONES minis and there are actual BONES paint sets which are Acrylic based I think that this will best serve all who are interested.

Before you actually start painting you need to have a good idea (based on the mini as well) as to what colors you will use. In this case I am referring to the palette of colors. Generally for each color you wish to use you should have a base color, a highlight color and a shade color.
Now this can be dependent on the paint range as well.

Quick Definition:
Base color: The actual color in a neutral light.
Highlight: The color that the base color appears when a strong light is upon it, such as the folds of a robe.
Shade color: the color that the base color appears as when it is in shadow or obscured. Example the creases of a robe.

For example with some lines of paint you may need Orange as the highlight, Red as the base and Brown as the shade.
The obvious mono chrome (B&W) would be White highlight, Grey base and Black shade.
A Color wheel might be a good thing to have handy with this too. (just Google color wheel)

I do know that Games Workshop has produced some specialty how to books which basically are flogging their products only , but techniques there are still applicable.

So you now have an idea about the paints and colors you will be using? You understand the idea of using 3 colors to add realistic depth and height to the surfaces of the mini?

Ok Paintbrushes!

Now Im not sure if all paintbrushes follow the same grade standard globally. I do know that Australian and UK Art (and mini) brushes have a system where they start from a number like 10 (which is useful for painting your bedroom wall but not much else)down to 1 which is good for base coating a vehicle or monstrous sized minis (say Dragon, Light Tank, War machine and the like), but where brushes become really interesting is when they hit the grade '0'. At grade '0' you have probably your first useful brush for your BONES sized mini. '0' is good for a fast even overall color. Then you get smaller brushes like 00, 000 and 0000 and eventually 00000 which is basically an eyelash at the end of a stick. The finer the detail you want to add the smaller the brush and the steadier your hand and supporting surface has to be.

Liberty's Edge

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Painting Part 3

You have prepared and undercoated your miniatures.
You have appropriate paints and brushes.
You have a clean well ventilated well lit working area.

Now look through all your miniatures and select the most boring/ugly/damaged or uninteresting one (see also below about Green Army Men). Put ALL the others aside somewhere safe (for now)

This miniature will be the very first miniature you will paint because if you are reading this article then you are new to this AND YOU DO NOT WANT TO RUIN one of the better miniatures!

This miniature will give up its identity in order to help you produce better painted results.

You will practice adding layers of paint on this one so that you learn how much paint you can put on a brush, how to transfer paint to a small surface, how much paint is too much etc.

This is all via practice. I cannot tell you to add 2 mmm to the tip or whatever. Only YOU can gauge what works or doesn't. There is a HUGE amount of literature out there on the web about painting, paint strokes, holding a brush etc etc. Try everything until you are happy with the results.

If you are really interested in practice and not stuffing up your hard earned BONES, then I would suggest going to a toy store or hobby store and seeing if they sell any of those bags of mismatched 'green army men' and use those to practice on. The advantage here is that they are cheap and you don't care if you mess them up. The Disadvantage is that they are often made of a poor quality soft plastic that Acrylic paint doesn't hold very well on. Still better to ruin one of these than a BONES.

Ok a few hints:

#1 its is ALWAYS better to add many *thin* layers onto a mini than it is to add one thick one. Thin layers will not clog up the detail. Thin layers dry translucent and tend to build up a more realistic / purer color texture. Experiment and practice on mixing a bit of water with some paint (on a bathroom tile or other easily cleaned surface)until you find a happy medium of consistency.

#2 When you want to draw a thin line or dot some detail on a mini, place some paint on the brush and then rotate the brush while dragging it over a surface (NOT THE MINI) so you get a point on the brush tip.

#3 when you have 2 different colors next to one another always paint the lighter of the 2 first. If you end up painting in the area that you want dark then it isnt a big deal to paint over it. Then when painting the darker color be a lot more careful in making sure you don't go over the lighter color area. This is basically the techniques that gets used to draw strips and checks etc.

#4 When painting things like layers , shades and highlights ALWAYS MAKE SURE THE EARLIER PAINT LAYER HAS DRIED!!!!! If you don't you will end up smearing the layers which in the hands of a good painter is a useful technique, but for a beginner looks like someone made a mistake (unless you are lucky)

#5 Your first few painting attempts will look like Lark's Vomit. Big deal. EVERYONE'S does. Practice, practice, practice.

#6 See rule 5.

Liberty's Edge

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Painting Part 4

Sealing the mini

This part probably has the most variance because I know that there are a lot of different products out there and I'm not sure what availability there is in the various countries.

It goes kind of like this:

You have finally produced a mini or minis that you are proud of to use at a table. You want to show off your now useful and to your friends awesome painting skills.
You take your hard work to your next session and all your friends OOOH and AHHH appreciatively as they pass around the minis using their oily/greasy/food coated fingers.
All of a sudden you realize that bare plastic is showing through where only a short time ago was exquisitely painted detail!

Yes due to the handling of the mini (which is what is supposed to be done with them)the paint has been worn off. Disaster!
Obviously you shouldn't have to spend every post session week repainting your minis. That would get boring really quickly.

To combat this effect there are a number of matt varnish like products out there, both available in spray can or as a liquid which you use to protect your mini's paint job. I cant remember if the BONES sets have such a thing, but I do know once again that Games Workshop at least has a product called Purity Seal (in a spray can). I also know that a simple cheap can of no name spray matt varnish works ok with Games workshop paints which allows me to buy approximately 12 no name cans vs the one Purity Seal can (at least in THIS country - Australia).
Again I really don't know whether or not no name like products will work with the Bones Acrylics. (Bring out the Bozo Brigade of ex-Green Army men and test it out)

And that people is pretty much it! I hope there is enough in this to help people start to make more informed choices about what to do with painting.

Liberty's Edge

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Painting - The epilogue.

Something occurred to me as I was finishing this off.
The purpose of using these minis is to allow you to have epic fights on a table with figures that look like the parties in play.

In general these minis will be anything up to 4 feet away (1.3m) from members at the table.
So for heavens sake if the mini looks ok at 4 feet then you have done your job. You dont need to paint in the eyes.

The opposite of this is of course showcase minis - usually a dragon or BBEGs that you WANT to look as good as you can. These minis go to town on and paint as the very best you can. PC miniatures also should be a cut above the regular rank and file minis ("how do you know that they are PC's - easy they don't have S**t all over them")

When painting a lot of rank and file type mooks, like orcs or goblins, but not their leaders, paint them in groups of 5 or so in a production line. You will find that for just a little more effort in painting one, you will be finishing 5 at a time. So you paint all the chest pieces from 1 to 5. Then you paint all the heads from 1 to 5 etc. A nice side effect of this is if you mix in just a small amount of any other color to the skin color for example for each group of 5 you will have 5 minis that have similar skin tone but different from all the others. But when you pull out 20 or 30 in an encounter at random then they look like they are all different.

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Nikolaus, thank you so much, this is exactly the kind of basic info I needed.
I'm going to print this up and put it in our game room.

Liberty's Edge

119kudou wrote:

Nikolaus, thank you so much, this is exactly the kind of basic info I needed.

I'm going to print this up and put it in our game room.

You are most very welcome. Please if you need any further advice feel free to contact me or post here.

I am going to be helping a friend paint his BONES minis, so if we encounter anything noteworthy Ill add to this.

Similarly if ANYONE out there has any thing to add, (links, advice, questions) by all means post here.

cheers all and happy painting...

Liberty's Edge

Oh another helpful hint.

If you have made a big mess of a showcase mini or even got your hands on some 2nd hand and already (badly) painted minis, there is a nice product out there called Simple Green (or it may be Simply Green).

This stuff is AWESOME as it will remove acrylic paint off plastic surfaces without damaging the plastic. Plus its non toxic!!

Simply poor out some into a jar, enough to cover the mini you want stripped and leave overnight. In the morning use an old toothbrush and the paint will just slide off (ok it wont be all easy going but trust me its better than the alternatives)


Dark Archive

Hi Nikolaus first thanks for all the advice. Second I had a question I have been looking around to find advice on painting the bones minis and some people are saying that you don't need to do a primer coat cause the paint sticks to the minis nicely. Have you heard this and or is it better to just prime the minis anyways?

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brad2411 wrote:
Hi Nikolaus first thanks for all the advice. Second I had a question I have been looking around to find advice on painting the bones minis and some people are saying that you don't need to do a primer coat cause the paint sticks to the minis nicely. Have you heard this and or is it better to just prime the minis anyways?

In my experience so far, no primer was needed. In fact, when I used my normal primer (Duplicolor sandable black), it never set, staying kind of tacky and easily rubbing off. Citadel Skull White set normally, but I don't think it's needed.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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I've been talking to Bryan, and it looks like I'm going to be running a BONES painting class. Details to follow!

Dark Archive

Thats awesome Sean! Thanks and can't wait!

Liberty's Edge

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Sorry for the delay in answering to people.
As I haven't get gotten my hands on the minis Im afraid I cant offer any advice regarding the primer questions.
So for now I'd just have to direct you to what the others are saying.

I generally like to prime or undercoat my minis in general, but maybe BONES don't need it - once I start working with them Ill post some findings of mine.

@Sean excellent news!

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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Bryan says BONES don't need primer, and I believe him. :)

Dark Archive

I will definitely put this seminar on my list.

I can comfortably say that in my experience (I've painted several bones) you do not need primer.

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Do you know yet what slot the painting is going to be in? I didn't think it was going to happen and so now and signed up to judge the whole con. Is there the possibility of an afterhours or before hours mini tutorial for us dedicated GMs that really really want to know how to do this but have devoted our time to running PFS?

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

We haven't started working on the schedule for all the other events (staff are submitting events to Jeff this week and next week, after which he'll make a schedule).

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Oh please, oh please, oh please get video of this seminar and post it up. Pretty please with sugar on top.

Dark Archive

Since I too am waiting for my Bones to arrive, I'll be signing up for a miniatures painting seminar.

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Sean K Reynolds wrote:
We haven't started working on the schedule for all the other events (staff are submitting events to Jeff this week and next week, after which he'll make a schedule).

puts her vote in for a pre-con slot of this for con judges and a plate of brownies for the schedule dieties

Liberty's Edge

Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
We haven't started working on the schedule for all the other events (staff are submitting events to Jeff this week and next week, after which he'll make a schedule).
puts her vote in for a pre-con slot of this for con judges and a plate of brownies for the schedule dieties

I'll second PFCBG's motion. And add Tim Tams to sweeten the pot for the schedule deities

Liberty's Edge

Pendin Fust wrote:
Oh please, oh please, oh please get video of this seminar and post it up. Pretty please with sugar on top.

If we can't get a pre-con seminar for the dedicated GMs, this would be awesome.

Probably be awesome even if there is more than one seminar

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Oldish thread but...

Reaper forums has a Bones subforum. Especially see the "First Coat of Paint" sticky!

CLEAN YOUR BONES. The release agent and oil from your fingers can make your first coats of Bones difficult to adhere.

Reaper will be updating their Learn to Paint Kits with Bones figures. But everything you learn from the current Reaper Learn to Paint Kit 2: Beginning Skin and Cloth will be very useful.

Winsor and Newton Series 7 Round Size 1 paintbrush, Masters Soap, two rinse cups, DIY wet palette. Cheap synthetic brushes for drybrushing. Vallejo Model Air silver for metal. Matte Medium from Michael's will come in handy for making your own washes and glazes.

CoolMiniOrNot has two Bones painting tutorials and a Bones article on priming which works as a tutorial.

After LTPK2, I think a Bones class would be overkill, but I would suggest Reaper do at least their beginning classes with Bones miniatures and LTPK paints!

In a semi off topic but thought I'd share in case it encourages anybody.
Every once in awhile I paint minis, I'm not particularly good at it, but I do it anyway. Although I have not painted for at least a year if not two, I recently got back into painting as a warmup for Bones.

The first 7 pictures are an old set of MegaMinis Townsfolk I got at GAMA trade show ~9 years ago that have been sitting in their box ever since.

The last 2 pictures are from some other random minis that were sitting around that were partially painted, or painted particularly atrociously.

Pic9 (I made the cookie too)

If I can do it, you can to! Enjoy.

Sovereign Court

I know Bryan said 'no call for primer' but word on the street is that inking direct to bones is a bad call.

Problem is that I like to pre-ink my white-primed minis: what's a boy to do?

Liberty's Edge

Pre-Ink? What is this that you speak of Geraint?

Sovereign Court

Steel Forged Games wrote:
Pre-Ink? What is this that you speak of Geraint?

There's probably a proper name for it.

With my minis, I do a spray of Citadel Skull White (I live in the UK and Citadel stuff is the easiest to get here).

I follow up with a wash (washes having replaced inks... I know this but mixed up my words) in black or a dark brown.


1. Many minis have crevices which it is difficult to get a brush into. And often, when I do, my paint ends up on a part of the model where it doesn't belong.

So... pre-washing a mini means I never have to paint into the dark crevices: the black/dark-brown paint they need is already there.

2. The wash picks out detail on the mini, making it easier to see what I am painting.

Before one starts to paint the Bones figures. I soak them in a bowl full of warm water an dishwashing liquid. This takes off the film from the figures when painted, the paint does not bubble.

Scarab Sages Reaper Miniatures

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Although this thread was begun last year, and I'm doing a bit of threadomancy, Reaper will be at PaizoCon 2014 as well, Myself and freelance painter Shannon Stiltz. We will be running the paint and take and will be available for painting tips and advice throughout the show.

We do not have any official classes or panels lined up, but will be more than happy to teach you what we know at the Paint and take area!

Webstore Gninja Minion

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Huzzah! You guys are always an awesome feature at PaizoCon. :D

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