The beginner’s painting tutorial.
*This is going to be a tutorial using the products and techniques that I
personally use when painting miniatures. I don’t pretend to be a great
mini painter, but I do consider myself to be a fairly adept utility
painter. There are more expensive/better brushes and paints that can be
used, as well as additional steps that can be taken, but this is more
of a nuts and bolts kind of tutorial.
Painting miniatures is just like anything else skill based, some people
are going to be naturally good at it, and with a little work and
practice, will be able to do amazing things, while other people are not
going to start off at the same level, and will take more practice to get
One of the things that is very appealing to me about painting figures
for HeroScape, is that while the quality of the official paint jobs
aren’t terrible, it’s not very difficult to duplicate official looking
paint jobs, or paint them just a touch better than the originals, paying
more attention to the little details, and have an end result that
doesn’t look out of place with the official figures. This also makes it
great for the beginning painter.
A Trip to Wal-Mart to Get Supplies
(*For those of you who don’t shop at Wal-Mart, these items can be purchased elsewhere, but not everything at 1 store)
When you get to Wal-Mart, head to the Craft section, if you don’t know
where that is, look for the old ladies cutting fabric, and you’ve found
the right place.
For non-metallic colors, I use Apple Barrel brand acrylic craft paint,
available at Wal-mart for $0.44 a bottle, and a bottle will go a long
I hear people talking about more expensive paints? Why should I buy this cheap paint? Isn’t the more expensive stuff better?
I’ve personally never used Vellajo paint, but, from what I understand,
it’s just about the best paint there is for minis, but, it’s about 10x
the price of the Apple Barrel. I’ve been painting minis for almost 10
years, and I used to be a big Citadel (another expensive, high end mini
paint) guy, until a fellow painter introduced me to Apple Barrel, and
I’ve never used any other paint since. I feel, for normal paints (not
inks, washes, or metals), Apple Barrel is on par with Citadel’s paint.
The one disadvantage to using Apple Barrel, is that there are not quite
as many colors, but, since Apple Barrel mixes easily, you can make
pretty much any color you could ever want. And, you may start painting,
and like many people, decide you hate it, or that it’s too time
consuming, and it’s a lot easier to swallow a 10 dollar loss versus a 30
or 40 dollar loss.
You’re going to want to buy several colors. I suggest getting primary
colors (red, green, blue) as well as black and white. I would then get
several shades of brown, and possibly several different shades of the
primaries. Don’t be afraid to splurge, since 10 bottles will end up
costing you around 5 bucks.
As for metallic colors, I use DecoArt Metallics, which run about 2 bucks a bottle. I would suggest getting silver and gold.
For brushes, I use cheap Plaid brand brushes, available in the craft
section where you’ll find the afore mentioned paints. You can purchase a
5 pack of brushes that will include any brush you’ll need for less than
5 bucks. The sizes you’re looking for are Round 1, Round 0, and Round
0/3. Personally, I’m not at a level of expertise where I can really
tell the difference between a 1.00 brush and a 10.00 brush. I’ve
painted with expensive Citadel brushes before, and I honestly can’t tell
After you get your brushes and paint, you’re going to head over to the
hardware section. You’re going to buy a cheap baggy or blister of nuts,
get smallish ones, which should set you back 1-3 bucks depending on the
quantity and size. You’re going to want 2 nuts for each bottle of
paint you just bought. Why nuts? You’re going to put 2 into each
bottle of paint to make mixing easier.
After you find the nuts, you’re going to head to the spray paints.
You’re looking for Krylon brand Matte Spray Coat. This should be around
2.89 or so a can. You’ll only need 1 can. (you need to be 17+? to buy
any spray paint product in GA, not sure how it is in your state, so you
may want to have mom/dad go with you if you’re under 1
So, depending on how many colors you’re buying, you’re going to spend
anywhere between 10-13 bucks on all the supplies you’ll need, which is
equivalent to 1 “good” expensive brush. Not bad, eh?
Where to Paint?
Now you have your paints, your brushes, and you’re ready to roll. So
where do you paint? I would suggest choosing somewhere with hard floors
(easier to clean up paint), bright lighting, and water. If you can’t
guess, I paint in the kitchen. If you choose to paint in the kitchen,
make sure you put down plenty of paper towels in case you have a spill.
The garage would also work, or anywhere else you feel comfortable, but
it may require you to get some additional lighting. A lamp with the
shade tilted works fine, and they make clamp lamps that also work great,
but that’s extra money. I think the kitchen is the best place to
paint, and if you can’t paint in the kitchen, use your judgment in
finding a suitable substitute.
Time To Paint
So now you’re ready. As of now, you’re sort of on your own. I’m going
to walk you through some basics, and try to answer some general
questions, but it’s easier to show than to tell, so I’ll be adding a
step by step picture guide as I paint a figure sometime in the next few
Where to start?
How much paint do I put on my brush? For starters, as far as preparing
your paint, make sure you shake it very well, then twist off the entire
top. With Apple Barrel, there will always be a good amount of fresh
paint in the top if you twist it off. This is the paint I paint with.
When it starts getting low, I put the top back in, shake it up, open it
up, and start painting again. Now, to the original question… how much
paint? It’s relative, although, you’re never going to bathe your brush
in the paint. At most, you’ll use ¼ of the total brush bristle length.
When you’re painting a larger area, you’ll get more paint on your brush
to save time, when you’re painting smaller areas with a smaller brush,
you may just get a single small dip of paint. You’ll get a feel for it.
If you’re repainting a pre-painted figure (HS figure, MK figure, D&D
figure, ect) I would not recommend adding a base coat. A base coat is
when you paint the entire figure a solid color (usually gray or white)
before repainting the figure. The reason I personally don’t base my
repaints, is that the details on a prepainted, mass produced figure are
generally somewhat muted to begin with, adding an extra layer of base
coat can mute those features even more.
I would suggest starting with something on the bigger side with minimal
extra details, such as an extra Mimring. The number of colors you’ll
use to repaint Mimring will be minimal. 1 for teeth, claws, and horns.
1 for the tongue. 1 for scales. 1 for under belly. And possibly
another color for the wings, if you want them to be a different color
than his scales or belly. And of course, you could always add or
subtract the amount of colors you use depending on how much you want to
put into it. Add in a wash, and you’re talking about a pretty simple,
yet big, repaint. Why big first? There are less small details to worry
about. No buttons or knobs or glasses, just flesh and bone, and the
areas where the different colored paints will go are fairly defined.
When painting, I use a bottom to top method. Meaning that, I paint the
lowest layer of a figure first, and work my way up. Let’s say we’re
repainting Carr. I would start with his skin. Then I would paint his
shirt. Then his pants. Then his boots, then his jacket, then his gun,
and finally the glasses and hair. When you paint this way, you’re
generally painting smaller things last. It’s a lot easier to touch up a
big spot that gets a little paint on it than it is trying to touch up a
small spot on an already small area, does that make sense?
Use a wash. Always use a wash. What’s a wash? A wash is a mix of
(usually) darker colored paint, mixed with a lot of water. Want to know
the difference between a figure with and without a wash? Look at
Einar’s Flagbearer and a Tagawa Samurai side by side. Notice how the
Tagawa have much more detail? That’s because they’ve been washed. For
some reason, the Flagbearers didn’t receive a wash, or a received a very
light one. Basically, it’s a simple, final step that will add a ton to
your paint job. You take around 8 parts water to 1 part paint. 1
tablespoon of water to 1 drop of paint, roughly. Mix it thoroughly, and
you’re ready to roll. Dip your largest brush into the mix, and run the
brush over the side of your index finger. If your finger print turns
black, and the rest of your finger remains just a shade darker than
normal, you’re in business. If it’s too thick, add a touch more water,
too thin, add some more paint. It’s a trial and error thing. After you
have the mix ready, you’re going to dip your brush in, and go over your
entire figure. What this will do is add darker color to the recesses,
those adding more detail and shadow. It’s super quick and really,
really easy, and adds a ton to your finished product.
When you’re completely done painting, and everything’s dry, you’re going
to spray your figure with the matte spray. Holding the mini by the
base, you’re going to dust over it a few times with light burst sprays.
You want it to look wet, but not dripping. Again, trial and error.
This will dry with a very light sheen, very similar to the sheen of
official figures. This also protects your paint job.
WASH YOUR BRUSH AND DRY IT! Very important. After every color, clean
your brush. They cleaner you keep your brushes, the easier they are to
use and the longer they’ll keep their pointy-ness.
Stay away from glossy paints, stay away from enamels (Testors).
Hope this was helpful!
This tutorial will continue to grow as more things are added to it!
As I suggested, we’re going to start with Mimring. Why Mimring? 1,
he’s big. 2, you probably have a few to spare. 3, he doesn’t have many
different parts which require different colors.
So what parts of Mimring are going to require different colors?
Well, there are the scales, which cover most of his body(1-dark blue).
His skin, which is on his face, feet, and wings (2-light blue). Of
course, you could opt to paint these the same color as his scales, but
let’s take it a step past the official paint job. His claws, teeth, and
horns(3 bony white). These can all be painted the same color, or, you
could opt for a bony white for the claws and horns, and go for white on
the teeth, your choice. We’re going to paint them 2 different colors,
so (4 white). His tongue will be red (5), . And finally, his under
belly(6 dingy yellow-cream). So 6 different colors, but you could get
away with 4 different colors.
I like to paint in a bottom up method. Which means I paint the lowest
part of something first, then I work my way up. So we’re going to start
with Mimring’s underbelly.
I mix 2 parts yellow with 1 part brown and 1 part white to get a dingy yellowish color:
I then mix it together using my large utility brush. This is a high quality
Crayola brush I took out of one of my daughter’s painting activity
things a while back, and I love it. I use it for mixing, washing, dry
brushing, and painting really large areas.
After the paint is thoroughly mixed, I get my middle sized detail brush
and I start painting Mimring’s underbelly. I’m going to dip a little
more than the tip of my brush into the paint, and use short, strong
strokes in a side to side direction, to ensure that I get all of the
cracks and crevices in Mimring’s underbelly scales.
One of the benefits of painting from the bottom up, is that you can save
a little time by not being overly careful, since you’ll be painting
over the surrounding, “higher” areas with a different color.
Also, don’t stress yourself out trying to paint underneath something or
behind somewhere that no one will ever see. I tend to try to cover the
whole figure, even spaces I can’t see, but I’m not going to take Mimring
off the base so I can paint the pads of his feet, know what I mean?
Once you have the entire underbelly painted, go back to the part you
started on and work your way back, checking for anywhere the paint is
too thin. Once you do that, you should be left with this:
Before going on to the next color, don’t forget to clean your brush out!
The next step, and this is optional, but I think adds a lot of contrast.
Get your smallest brush and your black paint. This is a good lesson,
learning to let the model do the painting for you. The figure will have
raised portions and indentations that serve as brush guides. As you
see here, I’ve painted the outline of Mimring’s mouth black, using his
lips as a brush guide to keep any black paint off of the yellow I’ve
After this, make sure to clean out your brush. Then it’s on to the next
level up, the skin. I’ve opted to paint the skin a lighter blue, and
the scales a darker midnightish blue, for some contrast.
2 Parts blue, 1 part white
[img] http://img256.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1001670ek5.jpg [/img]
I take my smallest brush, and start outlining the areas of the skin
where it touches the yellow using the light blue I just mixed. Once
this is finished, I can move on to a larger brush to paint the larger
areas, and finally my big yellow brush to get the wings.
You may find that lighter colors require more than one coat. Mimring is
a prime example of this since he is not only a darker color to begin
with, he has a finish on him that may cause the first coat you lay on to
streak a little bit. So you may have to go back over what you already
painted. In the end, you should have something like this:
Now comes the fun part, where you’re going to have to pay a little bit
more attention. We’re going to paint Mimring’s scales. I’m going to
mix 2 parts blue with 1 part black to get a deep blackish blue.
I’m going to begin by using my smallish brush and outlining everywhere
the dark blue will touch anything I’ve already painted, including the
few plates on Mimring’s head. This is my end result:
Next, I move onto my next larger brush to start painting the larger
areas of the scales. This takes a few minutes, but by getting the more
difficult painting out of the way first, I can take my time painting the
larger areas. When I’m done, everything will be painted aside from the
small details, such as the claws and teeth.
I will start out with the tongue, painting it red. From there, I’ll
take my smallest brush, dip just a tip into white, and dot the eyes. I
want cold looking white eyes on this Mimring. Then, I get just a smidge
on my brush, and using very light strokes, I paint the teeth, being
careful not to get any paint on the face.
Next, I mix 2 parts white into my yellow mix from earlier, and I come up
with a nice off white color, perfect for the claws. I use my middle
sized brush, and using the figure as a guide, start from the base of the
claw pulling my brush to the tip. I repeat this with all claws and
So we’ve painted everything, kept colors where they belong. And we’re done. Here’s our finished result:
But something’s missing. It looks ok, but looks sort of flat. Let’s add a wash! A wash is really watered down paint.
I’ll add a couple of drops of black paint to my little dish.
I’ll add some water and mix. Here’s what I get.
Testing it proves that the wash is too heavy. I use my fingerprints as a
guide. It it goes into my finger prints, and doesn’t do much else
besides turn my finger a shade darker, while detailing my prints, it’s
Add some more water, and it’s just right.
So now I use my large brush, and I just slather the whole figure with this wash.
Here is the end result detail of a wash and no wash. Can you tell the difference?
And here is my final result:
After finishing the wash, I’ve decided to dry brush Mimring some. When
you dry brush, you’re basically just dusting the figure with a highlight
color to bring out the raised portions. It’s sort of time consuming,
and I’ve never really been very good at it. Regardless, I’m going to
walk you through the steps. We’re going to dry brush Mimring’s skin
with white, and his scales with blue.
First, get your largest brush, and dip the very tip into the white.
Then, using a paper towel, we’re going to wipe off a lot of the paint.
You’re left with a dry, white brush, ready to dry brush
Make strokes against the raised surfaces of Mimring’s skin. This will
leave the raised portions white, but, since the coat is so light, almost
like powder, much of the under color will come through as well. Go
over everywhere, then rinse your brush, and go to the blue. Repeating
the process on the scales. Here’s my end result (sorry for the poor
After the dry brushing dries, it’s time for the matte spray coat. Take
the figure outside, hit the entire model with a liberal amount of the
spray, try not to stay stationary, instead keep the can moving as you
make passing sprays on the figure. Bring it back inside, and allow it
15 or 20 minutes to dry. This step will make your figure smell pretty
musty, but that smell will fade with time.
The end result
Now, this really is the end of the Mimring repaint. If you have any
questions, feel free to ask. I’ll be the first to say that I’m not
completely happy with my color choices for this repaint. And I didn’t
intend this to be a 100% follow me step by step repaint, but rather a
step by step tutorial showing the steps I take and the techniques used.
Experiment with your own color palette!