Getting Started With Painting
Before You Paint
Wash your miniatures- use some warm soapy water and clean your mini with a soft toothbrush
Assemble if needed- use appropriate glue (plastic or super glue), use tweezers of you want to avoid fingers getting glue on it, keep acetone around to help clean off your fingers in case of a spill
Reshape any bent parts- run a hair dryer and then reposition the part into the right position. Make sure to hold that piece in the correct spot for a mew minutes until it cools. In extreme cases you can dunk a mini into boiling water, reposition and then dunk it in ice water. I personally don’t do this method as it puts you at risk as well as the mini. You can get burnt with the boiling method as well as the minis can melt if it touches the hot side of the pot/cup or if it gets put in for too long it can melt. Which ever method you choose be careful in this step.
Add “Green stuff” to fill in the cracks or gaps in between pieces or to fix details to your mini. Use sculpting tools to put details into the puddy.
Tidy up the mini- hobby /Exacto knife off burrs. Use a file to clean up the miniature. Smooth down any of the rough mold lines.
After these steps you can prime your mini!
Prepping Your Paint
When using bottled paint such as Army Painter, or MSP Reaper paints you will need to do a few steps to prep the paint for best use.
Shake the paint bottle lightly
Gently squeeze the bottle above a paper towel to empty top medium
Close bottle again and shake harder
Put the paint onto a paint pallet or wet pallet ready for paint
When using paint pots (such as Citadel or Vallejo in the paint night kits) you can shake the paint pot or use a tooth pick to mix.
When using speed paints or washes you only need to shake them up, there will be not top medium to squeeze out.
Some paints will have small metal ball bearings in the bottles to help with the mixing process. Some hobby spells sell these or you can also use things like an airsoft bb.
Priming Your Mini
It is important to check the paints that you are planning to use before choosing a priming coat- some paints (for example Turbo Dork or Speed Paints) require a specific black or white colored primer for the paints to work best. I personally find white, grey or black to be my go to primer colors.
The purpose of priming your mini is to give the miniature a layer of paint that the other layers that you put on can bond to. Some plastics are hard to paint with out that primer layer. For 3D printed models the primer is another layer to help fill in some cracks and layer lines a little more. Remember that priming your mini should be a very thin layer- we don’t want to take away details from the your miniature due to thick primer layers.
There are a variety of primers that you can pick and choose from based on your preference from paint with a paint brush to put on on, air brushing and aerosol spray cans. The large name brands of miniature paints have primers to choose from and for the most part it’s all up to you. Large war painting projects you can use the color that matches their armor for a primer for ease of use (green primer for goblins, blue/black/red/ white/etc. for armor color). Primer is not your base coat but using a colored base to match your ascetic can help make certain paint layers on top pop.
Some minis come pre-primed and you don’t need to put on additional primer and are ready to paint out of the box.
Adding Shadow Layer
There are a few ways to add shadows to your miniature. The first option and sometimes the easiest option is the step in between your primer and base coat. You can choose to put black, grey or a darker version of your base coat color and paint that into the deep recesses and creases of your miniature. An example of this would be painting the shadow layer into the joint areas (behind knees, inside elbow creases), inside muscle areas (creases on arms, legs, abs), inside the areas where clothes would be naturally shadowed (in the valleys of “moving” cloth, in between toes, and any large or deep spots within the plastic or metal of your miniature.
If you are doing a dark colored paint, such as a dark blue of the ice troll, for a base coat you can choose to use black as your shadow layer. If you are using a lighter color you can choose an appropriate grey instead.
I personally use a darker version of the base coat when I do my shadow layer. An example: I plan on using a red color for my Slaad, I will mix a dark red to use instead by putting one drop of my base coat and mix it with one drop of black paint to use as my shadow paint. When you mix your base coat 1-to-1 with black paint you get a color that is more natural and blends well when you put the base coat over it.
The idea of the shadow layer is to give your miniature some natural looking shadows (just as if you are standing in the sun you have a shadow as well). This layer gets covered with the base coat once dried but with the darker pigment still showing through slightly even when covered.
Shadows can also be added to your miniature via a wash later or through detail work/dry brushing if you do not want to do a shadow layer prior to base coat.
The Base Coat(s)
The base coats that you put on your miniature is the first layer of colors that cover the primer. The base coat is usually the darkest layer first with lighter colors put ontop of them in the next layers. You can have multiple base coats, with each area having a different base coat. If you do an owl bear your feathers might have a brown base coat where the beak/talons have an orange base coat or a person will have a skin tone base layer where their clothes will have a base color of something else.
Base coat colors should be thin, the consistency of maple syrup is a good reference. If your base coat is too thick of a paint it can take away / cover details.
Depending on the size of your paintable area on the mini, adjust your brush size. I find larger brushes easier to use when doing a whole mini one color but I use a small brush when doing smaller areas, such as feet/toes and eyes. Don’t do large areas with smaller brushes if you can help it; it will take longer and the paint doesn’t get distributed as nicely.