These articles were written for use in different publications in the late 80's. They are provided here unedited nor updated ..... Jay
GETTING STARTED by: Jay Wirth This article will cover all aspects of painting miniatures for gaming and display. Before one can start painting outstanding miniatures you need to start with the proper tools.
CRAFT KNIFE a Sharp craft knife is one of the most useful tools you may have. The knife can be used for many jobs such as cutting sprues, trimming flash, and even sculpting.
RAT TAIL FILE Also known as a jewelers file the rat tail will be the most used from a set of files. Though there are other shapes this is the one you want first.
PALLET It may seem trivial but you will need a good service to put your paint. Open containers will dry out your paint so it is best to use some type of pallet. I use an old ceramic plate from a diner.
BRUSHES There are many different manufactures of paint brushes and they all want you to buy theirs. I will use this space to destroy the biggest myth in this hobbies history. Most any painter / company will swear that red sable brushes are the best to use. This is however totally, 100%, completely, unargumentally WRONG!!!!!!!!!!! Though it is true that red sable brushes are the best for painting pictures they do not withstand the poking motion when used to paint miniatures. The best brushes to use when painting miniatures is nylon. These man made bristles last longer and are cheaper (though not by much) than red sable. I paint an average of 500 figures a month and because of proper care the white nylon brush I use daily is over one year old. Brushes come in many different sizes. The ones you will want to start with are a flat, #1, #001.
PAINT As with brushes there are many different manufactures of paint. I can only recommend to the hobbyist to use the paint they are most comfortable with. : Acrylics - cheap, fast drying, many color choices, easy to use. ***** : Oils - expensive, slow drying, many color choices, a high degree of skill is needed to use. **** : Enamels - cheap, fewer colors, slow drying, high degree of skill is needed to use. *** : Inks - a must for any serious painter. cheap - expensive, slower drying, moderate degree of skill needed to use. ***** When beginning it is good to start with acrylic paint. Pick yourself the following combination. Start with the primary colors also get black and white, gold and silver, light and dark brown.
PAINTING AREA Lastly you will need to set up a painting area. It is best if the area is permanent such as a desk and away from others. Your painting area will need a good light source, sunlight is the best but when burning the midnight oil I have two lamps one a standard 100 watt and one a two bulb florescent. This combination offers the best artificial light giving the truest color to your eyes. After collecting the above materials you will have the basic tools needed to begin painting miniatures. In the next article I will discuss prepping and painting a miniature.
THE LAYERING TECHNIQUE by: Jay Wirth
Last issue We discussed the 3 step technique. Today we will discuss the Layering Technique. Often referred to as The Old Timers Style this style produces great looking miniatures.
BEFORE YOU PAINT
Once you have found that perfect miniature and opened the package you will need to prepare you figure. As With the 3 Step Technique this process is the same. Use a rat tail file and craft knife to clean up any flash and lines left from the molding process. Pay special attention to areas between the arms and legs. Once your figure is cleaned up base your figure if desired (when doing stands of figures skip this). At this stage many people mount the miniature to a roofing nail to easier hold while painting.
At this time prime the miniature. I have found that white paint applied with a flat or shortened old brush works best. A separate primer is not necessary. You are now ready to begin painting. Unlike the 3 Step Technique you will add the blacklining at the end.
When using any technique paint the miniature as if it where dressing. Start with the flesh and continue with pants, shirt, belts, coat. Leave the armor and hair for last.
The Layering Technique uses a colors tone to create the depth in painting a miniature. Often thought as a quicker method in painting this technique does not use inks or washes to create depth. The layering technique starts with the darkest color as a base coat. The middle color is then applied to all but the deepest areas. And last is the lightest color applied to the highest areas. Throughout the steps I will use painting flesh as my example. The steps are the same no matter what part you are painting.
For flesh the colors I would use are a dark brown, flesh, light flesh (almost white).
STEP 1 BASE COAT
Start with your dark brown and paint all flesh areas. Do not worry about painting to the edges as this will be fixed at the end with blacklining
STEP 2 MIDDLE COLOR
Once the brown base is dry you are ready to apply the flesh color. Similar to drybrushing apply the flesh color to all but the deepest areas. You will see
how the dark brown now creates the shading.
STEP 3 HIGHLIGHTING
When the middle color is dry you are ready for the highlights. This third step is similar to painting hair and fur. Simply drybrush the lightest color onto the raised areas creating the depth desired.
The three steps show the most basic way to complete the Layering Technique.
The first advanced technique is the Never Wash Your Brush Style. By placing
your three colors side by side on your pallet you can blend the colors as you
load your brush, never needing to wash between layers. This blending gives a
quick, professional look to your miniatures. You may paint as many layers as
you wish to create a gradual transition from shadow to highlight. The second
technique requires a quick hand. Holding a clean second brush in your hand
apply the middle color as normal and with the second brush wet (not dripping)
blend the edges into the dark area. When I am painting in this style I lick
the blending brush using spit to blend the edges. Repeat the process with the
This technique is very similar to painting with oils (definitely a future article).
Repeat the steps for the rest of the figure. Paint fur and metal by first painting the area black and drybrushing with desired color. Black line with paint or ink all areas that meet such as cuffs, sides of belts and straps, along seems and edges. This will separate and define the areas of your miniature creating a professional finished look.
Lastly once completely dry apply a clear protective finish. I have found Krylon matte finish #1311 to be the very best. This clear spray can be found at professional art supply stores.
As you paint more you will find that you will develop a style of painting. Most styles are a combination of techniques and happy mistakes.
The Layering Technique is a good style for beginners as it shows in the simplest way the basics of creating depth and quality in painting miniatures. This style of painting is easily adaptable with other techniques (such as the 3 step) in creating a quality painted miniature.
In my next article I will address an area not yet touched upon: Finishing the
Base, and other cool type stuff.
Until then, Good Painting,