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  • Basic Tools

    There are many tools of the painting trade. But they can be whittled down to the bare necessities to be able to supply you with a good range of painting implements. I think that the basic ones are:

    Working area
    Light Source
    Newspaper
    Brushes
    Sharp Craft/Hobby Knife
    Needle Files
    Water Receptacle
    Mixing Palette
    Old Paint Pots or Cork Pieces


    Working Area: To be able to paint effectively and with minimal 'stress', a large, clean working area is ideal. It can range from many different things. Such as a desk in your bedroom, to the dining room table (if mum and dad will let you). You should be within easy reach of all your painting materials, and most important, you need to be comfortable. You will not get good results if you you are constantly having breaks to stretch your back muscles from bad posture. Just make sure that your working area is around the level of the bottom of your rib cage. It works for me. If you can get your hands on one, an adjustable height chair can be the best thing since sliced bread. Once you have set it to a desired height, you won't need to constantly change your posture.

    Light Source: The next important item on the list is your light source. If you can place your table near a window that lets in a lot of sunlight, then this is the best. But, if you are like me, and paint around the clock, then the sun isn't going to always be there for you. So a desklamp is going to be needed. Light that is produced from ceiling globes just doesn't cut it. There are many types of lamps on the market. The best type to get are the ones that have moveable parts so that you can move the lamp where needed. The lamp that I have clamps onto the side of my desk, and is made up of arms and springs. I can place the light where and when I want to, so I can't complain, really. The idea of the light source is to be able to see what you are doing, obviously, but it will be no good if the head of the lamp is in your way. The best place to position the head is about 2-3" away from your forehead. This is mainly so you don't look like you have been to Hawaii for a holiday. This way the light will be shining directly onto what you are trying to paint. Any other position and you will only cloud your miniature in shadows (you may aswell paint in the dark).


    Newspaper or any surface covering: To protect your work area from paint and water spillages, some type of covering will be needed. As I constsantly buy the local paper, I have an abundance of paper protection, not to mention some reading while I wait for the paint to dry. But you can also use an old table cloth, folded a few times to be able to soak up any moisture, butcher's paper, or if your really desperate, mum's favourite party dress (just kidding!!!). You should always keep your paints and washing water on the paper, just in case you knock them over. Better to be safe than sorry. A good trick is to have a wad of paper that you are working over, say 20 sheets. That way, when the top few become to congested with goop, you can just slide them out, and use the next few layers. Just save a few papers from the recycling bin, so that you don't run out.


    Brushes: Now for the interesting stuff. Brushes. What do I use, I hear you ask? Well, I think it comes down to your own personal taste and methods. Brushes come in all different shapes and sizes, so the choice can get a bit hectic. I prefer round brushes, but I know that other people prefer flat ones for specific tasks. But I seem to get away with it anyway. The main sizes that I think you should look out for are 3/0, 5/0 and 10/0. The higher the first digit, the smaller the brush. 3/0 are good, large brushes for painting your base and undercoats (see The Basics). 5/0 sized brushes are good for putting paint on reletively large areas, like Space Marine armour and large clothing areas. They can be a bit more precise than the 3/0's. Finally, the 10/0 is a very good fine detail brush, and you should use them for just that. The most common use for my 10/0 is painting eyes on miniatures. They can get the pupils just right (so long as my hand wants to play steady for me). You can also use them for painting intricate patterns and designs that you invent yourself, such as chapter and craftworld badges, icons, text, whatever you like. Just make sure you've been off of the coffee for atleast 24 hours.

    To maintain a good life for your brushes, there are a few things that you should remember. Never immerse the brush so that the bristle clamp gets paint on it. If you do, over time the base of the bristles will become clogged and cause them to spread. You want to keep them forming a point. Keep your brushes upright in an empty jar or cup when you are not using them, so that they are not in contact with another surface. If they are, the bristles will be bent and out of shape the next time that you go to use them. When cleaning your brushes (see Water Recepticle), make sure it is done thoroughly. Most of all, don't run the brush head through your fingers to wipe away excess water. Use a tissue, or paper towel of some kind. Place the bristles on their side and drag them 'back', across the tissue, giving a slight twirl as you do so. That way the bristles will form back into a point and you won't need to touch them. Just stand them back up in your jar or cup. Most hobby stores supply these brushes, and if in doubt, go to your local GW store and buy them there (amongst lots of other goodies).


    Sharp Craft/Hobby Knife: To be able to remove miniatures and vehicle parts from their sprues, you will need this device. WARNING: Never cut towards yourself, or towards another person. Direct the blade away from your body and downwards, and make sure that you control the cut. KEEP YOUR FINGERS OUT OF THE WAY!!! When removing models in this way, always make the last cut in a place that will not be seen when the model is complete. So if, for example, I was to remove a Space Marine from a sprue, I would leave the tabs at the base of the model until last. As the model may tend to move around after cutting several tabs, the last cut can be a bit messy, and may scar the model. Leaving the last cut at the base, it can be done without having to worry about the 'look' of the model, as it will be under the base when complete.


    Needle Files: No, not Needle Sniper Rifles. Needle Files! These aren't a neccesity, but make the process of cleaning mould lines and flash (bits of lead that just don't belong on the model) a whole lot easier. Needle Files come in all shapes and sizes, just like brushes, and you can usually find one to fit into that nasty hole to clean it up. Again, most hobby stores should sell them, individually or in packs of varied shapes. They can be worth every penny. I know mine are. I show what Needle Files are used for in the Preparation section. Below are a few different types of Needle Files and a miniature for comparative size.



    Water Recepticle: To be able to clean your brushes from paint, you will need a clean glass or cup of water. Just make sure that the water IS clean. If you leave it too dirty for too long, you will find that the disgusting colour of it may enter your paint, in some horrible fashion. Yechhh!


    Mixing Palette: Some times you may want to paint your miniature a certain colour that you just don't have. This is where the palette comes into the picture. An old bread and butter plate or an old, clean tile from a demolished bathroom or kitchen can be ideal. All you need to do is transfer some of the paint from your pots to the palette, and stir. Just make sure that you clean your brush between pots. The best thing about a palette, rather than the newspaper, is that the paint will stay wet for a longer period. NOTE: Try and keep the palette out of direct light from your desklamp, other wise it will be dried up before you get to use it.


    Old Paint Pots or Cork Pieces: What ever you do, don't throw away empty pots of paint. They are ideal for mounting your miniatures on while you paint them. Just stick them on the top with some Blue-tac, or other poster mounting product. That way you can keep your grubby mits off of your miniature while you are painting it. Until you have emptied your first pot of paint, corks from bottle tops, or craft stores do the same job. They are just a little bit lighter than a pot, so be careful when you put your miniature down so it doesn't fall over and chip your fantastic paintjob.
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