Miniatures I need some advice on how to paint miniatures

Leigh Cole

Private
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
Monroe, MI
I will, with the utmost respect to all, most politely disagree.

Paint-
The difference between craft paint and hobby paint is the size of the pigment in the paint. Hobby paint has larger pigments and perhaps a thicker 'carrier' that when applied to a figure can hide detail. I use acrylic paint for a number of reasons, the first is it's water based so I can thin the paint with water, clean my brushes with water, use water to retard drying, etc. When I first started painting figures 40 some years ago, acrylic were kind of new to the hobby, most painters then used either oil-based paints, or enamels. Now most have gone to acrylics. I never liked the idea of using a petroleum-based solvent to thin or clean the brushes due to the smell. And I'm largely self-taught; I never took art in school so everything I learned was from some wonderful magazines that used to be available. Now you can learn by looking at You Tube.
The specific paints I use are "Vallejo" which are kind of pricy, but they also have another line called "Model Color" and I don't notice a difference in the quality between them, other than the Model Color might be a little less expensive. Games Workshop also has a line of paints also called Games Workshop. These paints are more intended for role-playing figures, but I really like some of their colors. The company "Citadel" also make a line of colors, and I have some of those. When I first started in the hobby, I used a paint called "Polly S" which went out of business or changed their name years ago. Pretty much any paint you can buy from a store that caters to the role playing, "Dungeons and Dragon" crowd will work. But what I think sets the acrylics apart from oils and enamels is that they dry flat, where the others dry with a gloss or sheen that to my eyes, just doesn't look correct. Look again at the picture you posted of the large diorama. I'm assuming the Union troops were painted with enamels as their blue jackets and kepi's have a glossy look to them. When was the last time you saw wool with a glossy sheen? In most of the painting your going to do, you'll want a flat color because most of the clothing you'll be painting were made with natural fibers of either cotton or wool. In those few times where you want a glossy look, you can either add a gloss overcoat to the flat undercoat, or you simply buy a gloss color. The one difference maybe in a flesh color. With the natural oils on our face, a little sheen there is ok. Or maybe the hair on a horse, or some leather.

Brushes-
I'm pretty hard on mine and the finer the brush, in terms of how many, or few hairs it has, the faster I wear them out. I've got a few that are called "Short Liner" and are 18/0 and 20/0. the bristles are very fine, but also very short, so the paint on the brush dries out quick so I only use them for the finest detail work. I probably use brushes in the 1, 0, 00, and 000 size the most. They normally have synthetic fibers, as I find I wear out something like a badger hair or any natural hair brush pretty fast. These brushes have very fine points, but don't be afraid to trim them a little for your application. I also have a few flat brushes, and I think they call them a "shader" brush. I use this to help blend colors together and for dry brushing and when it starts to wear out I use it for I'll call "grinding." It's sort of like dry brushing, where you load the brush up heavy with paint them rub most of it off on a rag and then lightly run the brush over the figure. My "grinder" technique is somewhat similar except I'll actually use the brush and push it hard into the surface of the figure. It's good for shadows, adding a 5 O'clock shadow to a face, or by varying the pressure and layers you can make a pair of leather leggings looked like the color is fading from a dark green to a lighter one as you paint up the leg.

lighting-
Of course natural lighting is the best, then incandescent lighting, but when I paint at night, I'm finding I'm using LED lighting more. I find that I paint for awhile then stop and come back the next day for a critical look of what I've done the day before. I give the paint 24 hours or so for it to fully dry, even though acrylics dry to the touch pretty fast. I think a 24 hour drying period lets the paint cure and come to it's true color.

Misc.---
There's a lot of miscellaneous stuff to this hobby, and maybe that's one of the attractions for me. I use Yoplait containers to hold my brushes and as water containers. You'll want at least two water containers: one to swish you brush in to clean it as you change colors, and another with clean water to thin the paint. I put a small drop of liquid soap in each so the water flows better, (soap softens the water). My LED light has a magnifier in it, but I also use some high magnification reading glasses (like +300) more than anything. If my painting can pass the reading glass test, it'll look good to the naked eye. You'll need an ex-acto knife and blades. And a rag or two. The rag is made of cotton and I use it to dry my brushes, and to help blend paint with when I do "dry-brushing." And a couple of sheets of paper towels, to dry brushes with, because they do it faster. You'll want to mount the figure to something so your hands aren't touching it, and wash your figure with warm water and soap before you prime it. Oh, you'll want a primer to paint the whole figure with first so the paint will adhere to it better. I like white or a light gray primer, just make sure it's made for figures, again because it has small pigments that won't hide detail, and don't be afraid to prime the figure twice. It may go on heavy but it will thin as it dries. I also like to have a small cardboard box that has a paper town taped to it to use to help hold my hand steady as I try to paint fine detail. You'll want something to paint on. I use a 12" x12" piece of flat floor tile, and a white plastic tupper-wear type container top as my pallet. I'll drip a few drops of paint onto this, maybe a drop of water to thin it, or keep it from drying out, and use it to blend colors on.

Ok, this is enough for now.
In closing, first, thanks for asking. You can buy starter painting kits on Amazon, and they're probably cheaper than if you bought them in a hobby store. I know Vallejo makes a starter kit, and a kit for federal soldiers too, so you can get started with a basic setup for maybe $100.00 which would include a few fine brushes (from Hobby Lobby or Michaels), some paint and primer, and you'd be good to go. I'd start out with the basic colors and learn how to use a color wheel for blending two colors. I have over 100 different paints and washes, because I'm lazy and don't want to blend, but also I'll paint for a few days and then not touch the figure for a week or more. I don't want to try and remember how I got that shade of blue, (did I add 3 or 4 drops of ivory to the Prussian blue?).

As I said earlier, I'm self taught, and maybe that's a good thing. I've got my own way of painting and my own style. It's not better or worse than anyone else's, but it's mine. Someday I'd like to think that some of my figures will be handed down to my grandchilderen.
Booner is spot on. Vallejo is my primary, but I also use Tamiya paint. I do a lot of armor, so I have MIG, AK, pigments, washes, oils, etc. It all has its place and don't feel like you need them all at once. As time goes by, your paint collect will expand of its own accord. And don't forget the primers and dullcoats! Those things really help.
 

DixieRifles

Captain
Member of the Year
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Location
Collierville, TN
Vallejo is my primary, but I also use Tamiya paint. I do a lot of armor, so I have MIG, AK, pigments, washes, oils, etc. It all has its place and don't feel like you need them all at once.
As stated on previous posts, I'm trying to learn to use these thinned acrylics. My artillery piece is looking a bit better----not just a bland OD.
(Ignore the rubber tires)
Diorama 105mm.JPG
 

DixieRifles

Captain
Member of the Year
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Location
Collierville, TN
Looking great!
Thanks. I worked on this a few months ago and haven't made any progress.

I bought some dry paint media or whatever it's called. I can't get that to work. The instructions say to dry brush on lightly and then coat with a liquid sealer(?). But that just removes the dry dust paint.
 

Leigh Cole

Private
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
Monroe, MI
Thanks. I worked on this a few months ago and haven't made any progress.

I bought some dry paint media or whatever it's called. I can't get that to work. The instructions say to dry brush on lightly and then coat with a liquid sealer(?). But that just removes the dry dust paint.
Are you referring to pigments? I use them several way. For weather I put some white spirit down where i want the weather. Then I add the pigment. Allow to dry competely and with a soft dry brush, I begin brushing off the pigment until I have the right effect. This is very common in armor modeling and I am going to bring it over to my 28mm Perry artillery. Just make sure the pigments match your base!
 

Booner

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
May 4, 2015
Location
Boonville, MO.
As stated on previous posts, I'm trying to learn to use these thinned acrylics. My artillery piece is looking a bit better----not just a bland OD.
(Ignore the rubber tires)
View attachment 397204

Adding washes just take practice, and from that practice you'll gain experience in how much water to add to your base color. I use a plastic pallet, like a round lid from something, and take something hard like a paint brush to make some dimples in it to help the paint and water from running all over. If your artillery piece was mine, I wouldn't hesitate to give the whole thing a black water wash. I'd place a drop of black into one of the dimples I made in the lid, and a few drops of water into another dimple. Then I'd take my brush and use it to gather some black paint from it's dimple and drag it over to the water dimple. The brush would be a fairly full brush, one that can hold a good amount of paint, but I'd start out with just a bit of black and a lot of water mixed together in the water dimple and then brush it all over the cannon. The wash will concentrate in all the cracks and crevasses of the cannon. Let it dry, (you could use a hair dryer to speed this up). After it's dry, you'll see a small amount of black along the edges where two parts meet. If it's enough to your eye, leave it alone. But it would be better if you think it needs some more wash because I think it's better to layer the wash on, because you can over do it. Take your brush and dip it into the black dimple, but not too much (not enough is better than too much), and add this black to your water dimple and mix it up real well. Rinse your brush of in plain water, dry it a bit, and then dip it into the water dimple to load it up with wash and apply it to the cannon again. If you get too much was on, there's two things you can do. Take a paper towel and soak the wash up, and/or add more water to the wash and spread it out. Even if some of the wash has dried and you want to take it off, sometimes you can use a short bristled brush dipped in water and scrub it of. the water may sort of reactivate the wash but not the o.d. green. When I wash something, I want to do it over something I painted at least 24 hours earlier, giving the base coat of paint plenty of time to dry before I put a wash over it just in case I need to scrub the wash off.

--Ok? Give it a try. I think you'll like the way the wash helps to bring out the details of the model.

Our next lesson will be one my favorite techniques, that of dry brushing! Learn how to do this and your model will pop!
 

Leigh Cole

Private
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
Monroe, MI
Adding washes just take practice, and from that practice you'll gain experience in how much water to add to your base color. I use a plastic pallet, like a round lid from something, and take something hard like a paint brush to make some dimples in it to help the paint and water from running all over. If your artillery piece was mine, I wouldn't hesitate to give the whole thing a black water wash. I'd place a drop of black into one of the dimples I made in the lid, and a few drops of water into another dimple. Then I'd take my brush and use it to gather some black paint from it's dimple and drag it over to the water dimple. The brush would be a fairly full brush, one that can hold a good amount of paint, but I'd start out with just a bit of black and a lot of water mixed together in the water dimple and then brush it all over the cannon. The wash will concentrate in all the cracks and crevasses of the cannon. Let it dry, (you could use a hair dryer to speed this up). After it's dry, you'll see a small amount of black along the edges where two parts meet. If it's enough to your eye, leave it alone. But it would be better if you think it needs some more wash because I think it's better to layer the wash on, because you can over do it. Take your brush and dip it into the black dimple, but not too much (not enough is better than too much), and add this black to your water dimple and mix it up real well. Rinse your brush of in plain water, dry it a bit, and then dip it into the water dimple to load it up with wash and apply it to the cannon again. If you get too much was on, there's two things you can do. Take a paper towel and soak the wash up, and/or add more water to the wash and spread it out. Even if some of the wash has dried and you want to take it off, sometimes you can use a short bristled brush dipped in water and scrub it of. the water may sort of reactivate the wash but not the o.d. green. When I wash something, I want to do it over something I painted at least 24 hours earlier, giving the base coat of paint plenty of time to dry before I put a wash over it just in case I need to scrub the wash off.

--Ok? Give it a try. I think you'll like the way the wash helps to bring out the details of the model.

Our next lesson will be one my favorite techniques, that of dry brushing! Learn how to do this and your model will pop!
Booner has it down. Well done, Sir.
 

Booner

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
May 4, 2015
Location
Boonville, MO.
Are you referring to pigments? I use them several way. For weather I put some white spirit down where i want the weather. Then I add the pigment. Allow to dry competely and with a soft dry brush, I begin brushing off the pigment until I have the right effect. This is very common in armor modeling and I am going to bring it over to my 28mm Perry artillery. Just make sure the pigments match your base!

Mr. Cole,
I don't know If I've ever seen you post in this forum before. If you have, then my apologies for not recognizing that. If you just recently found us, then welcome aboard. It sounds like you have some experience and I would love to see some of the things you've done. If it's Civil War related put them in this section, but if they are not CW related, please put them in the non-CW section. That's about the only rule we have here.

I, personally really like "how to" postings, and I'd be interested in how you use weathering pigments.
 

Leigh Cole

Private
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
Monroe, MI
Mr. Cole,
I don't know If I've ever seen you post in this forum before. If you have, then my apologies for not recognizing that. If you just recently found us, then welcome aboard. It sounds like you have some experience and I would love to see some of the things you've done. If it's Civil War related put them in this section, but if they are not CW related, please put them in the non-CW section. That's about the only rule we have here.

I, personally really like "how to" postings, and I'd be interested in how you use weathering pigments.
I just started posting recently. I have mostly armor and big trucks. I just found Perry miniatures. Wow! I also have about 100 28mm cowboyys and Whitewash city buildings, but now that the boys are gone, I don't get to western game anymore. We used the Rules with no Name system. I will try to post some armor on the non-civil war page....
 

Booner

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
May 4, 2015
Location
Boonville, MO.
I just started posting recently. I have mostly armor and big trucks. I just found Perry miniatures. Wow! I also have about 100 28mm cowboyys and Whitewash city buildings, but now that the boys are gone, I don't get to western game anymore. We used the Rules with no Name system. I will try to post some armor on the non-civil war page....
Thank you! It's always nice to have "new blood" post some of their work.
I really like the Perry figures too, but I prefer the larger figures. They are easier for my old eyes than the 28mm ones.
 

Booner

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
May 4, 2015
Location
Boonville, MO.
As stated on previous posts, I'm trying to learn to use these thinned acrylics. My artillery piece is looking a bit better----not just a bland OD.
(Ignore the rubber tires)
View attachment 397204
One thing I forgot to mention regarding water. I keep a container of clean water on my desk which I use for my washes, and another container for washing my brushes. After washing my brushes a few times (I wash my brushes a lot), I'll empty the container and refill it. I guess you could get a little cross contamination of colors if the water got really dirty with all of those different pigments, but it's not that critical, it's just something I do. The important part: To each container I'll add a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid, as it helps to soften the water which helps it to flow better, (reduces the surface tension of the water).
 

rebel brit

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 7, 2013
Location
United Kingdom
The important part: To each container I'll add a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid, as it helps to soften the water which helps it to flow better, (reduces the surface tension of the water).
Now I remember why I have a small bottle of car screen wash on my shelf, I must have read somewhere that it too apparently also works to soften the water. :thumbsup:
Some great tips on painting washes.
 

Leigh Cole

Private
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
Monroe, MI
Now I remember why I have a small bottle of car screen wash on my shelf, I must have read somewhere that it too apparently also works to soften the water. :thumbsup:
Some great tips on painting washes.
The washes are so necessary to make details "pop." Booner uses acrylic washes, and sometimes I use them, too. My acrylic washes are mostly the Tamiya panel lines bottles. Black, dark brown, brown and skin. However, I usually prefer oil washes or enamel washes. My enamels are MIG or AK. But truly, I could simply use oil paint and white spirits. That will never fail you, and they are always effective. Mind you, I do a lot of 1/35-1/16 tanks and trucks. However, I just discovered Perry figures so I am taking a break from my armour models. I really want to get into Civil War dioramas, as the ACW and Western history genres are really my favourites. I started with the artillery and caisson kit in 28mm. I did a lot of Western gaming at one point so I know I like 28mm. I think I prefer figures in a smaller scale if only because my figure faces in 1/35 never come off as well.
 

Lincoln56

Corporal
Joined
Jul 24, 2016
Location
Texas
Mr. Cole,
I don't know If I've ever seen you post in this forum before. If you have, then my apologies for not recognizing that. If you just recently found us, then welcome aboard. It sounds like you have some experience and I would love to see some of the things you've done. If it's Civil War related put them in this section, but if they are not CW related, please put them in the non-CW section. That's about the only rule we have here.

I, personally really like "how to" postings, and I'd be interested in how you use weathering pigments.
Thanks to all that post these; agree one can't ever get too much "how to" information when it comes to painting. It validates or corrects things I may already be doing as well as picking up new information, whether it be materials or techniques which can translate to my own projects.
 

Kurt G

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 23, 2018
The washes are so necessary to make details "pop." Booner uses acrylic washes, and sometimes I use them, too. My acrylic washes are mostly the Tamiya panel lines bottles. Black, dark brown, brown and skin. However, I usually prefer oil washes or enamel washes. My enamels are MIG or AK. But truly, I could simply use oil paint and white spirits. That will never fail you, and they are always effective. Mind you, I do a lot of 1/35-1/16 tanks and trucks. However, I just discovered Perry figures so I am taking a break from my armour models. I really want to get into Civil War dioramas, as the ACW and Western history genres are really my favourites. I started with the artillery and caisson kit in 28mm. I did a lot of Western gaming at one point so I know I like 28mm. I think I prefer figures in a smaller scale if only because my figure faces in 1/35 never come off as well.
You could spend a lot of money on the various MIG and AK products . I primarily paint figures but am taking a break and doing some German armor . I use my oils from figure painting to do washes . I do use their pigments . Looking forward to seeing your work , especially the Perry artillery . I have the plastic set which looks really good , but it will be awhile before I get to that . As the others have said , welcome to the forums . It's nice to get a new member on board and it sounds like you have some great skills .
 

Leigh Cole

Private
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
Monroe, MI
You could spend a lot of money on the various MIG and AK products . I primarily paint figures but am taking a break and doing some German armor . I use my oils from figure painting to do washes . I do use their pigments . Looking forward to seeing your work , especially the Perry artillery . I have the plastic set which looks really good , but it will be awhile before I get to that . As the others have said , welcome to the forums . It's nice to get a new member on board and it sounds like you have some great skills .
Mostly my skills are tanks. Russian and Israeli's are my favorites. If I can figure out how to do it, I already promised Boomer I would post some in the non-CW thread. I will be back home early next week, so I should have some WiP photos on my CSA Artillery battery soon.

I agree, I probably didn't need to spend that money on MIG, etc. The reason I do it is I am so lazy! I don't mind mixing oils and white spirits, as that really is all you need. I buy that other stuff with the intent of being lazy but I find you usually must mix some white spirits anyways so it is a self-defeating venture I assume....
 

Kurt G

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 23, 2018
Mostly my skills are tanks. Russian and Israeli's are my favorites. If I can figure out how to do it, I already promised Boomer I would post some in the non-CW thread. I will be back home early next week, so I should have some WiP photos on my CSA Artillery battery soon.

I agree, I probably didn't need to spend that money on MIG, etc. The reason I do it is I am so lazy! I don't mind mixing oils and white spirits, as that really is all you need. I buy that other stuff with the intent of being lazy but I find you usually must mix some white spirits anyways so it is a self-defeating venture I assume....
Not meant as a criticism . I bet I have at least 200 bottles of Vallejo and AK Gen 3 paint on hand and enough kits and figures to last me another lifetime . Looking forward to the CSA artillery . I'm going to do mine as Union.
 

Leigh Cole

Private
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
Monroe, MI
Not meant as a criticism . I bet I have at least 200 bottles of Vallejo and AK Gen 3 paint on hand and enough kits and figures to last me another lifetime . Looking forward to the CSA artillery . I'm going to do mine as Union.
Yes, it is easy to collect paint, isn't it??? When the Lord took alcoholism from me a decade ago, I found I now had these extra funds!
 

Leigh Cole

Private
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
Monroe, MI
Thanks to all that post these; agree one can't ever get too much "how to" information when it comes to painting. It validates or corrects things I may already be doing as well as picking up new information, whether it be materials or techniques which can translate to my own projects.
Booner, I totally understand your questions. Yes I joined a a few years back, but never posted here. Life and college got in the way. (I am a 60 year old college senior at the University of Toledo where I am giving Senior all new meaning!) However, last October I was diagnosed with Leukemia. I have spent much time in Ann Arbor at the VA. I am back again, but just for a couple days for containment chemo. The Lord pulled me through the worst and now I am cancer free. But I still must do much inpatient and out patient work. Thank God I am retired! Hence, I now have all this time to post. I appreciate your questions. They were relevant for sure. And I did post some tank models for you, as requested.
 
Top