• Painting Tabletop Quality Rank and File Models

    In this Article I am going to show you my technique for painting rank and file models for wargames.  This technique will not allow you to win any Golden Demon contests any time soon, but they will allow you to create very bold paintjobs that stand out and look decent enough for the tabletop.  They don't look very good from up close, but they look awesome from a foot or two away.  In this article, I am going to show you some techniques that contradict the "conventional wisdom" of miniature painting, but remember the goal of this technique: To produce tabletop quality minis in a short amount of time.  I noticed that mattsterbenz has actually posted an article with very similar techniques.  His method however, seems more advanced than this one, and he seems to mix paints (a topic that is out of the scope of this article).  My method uses paints that are already produced by either Games Workshop or Vallejo.  So if you would like to see a more advanced technique, check out mattsterbenz's article, entitled "Speed Painting Lesson 2."  With that in mind, let's begin.The first thing I would like to talk about is the thickness of the paint.  This technique takes advantage of the natural shading that black primer already provides.  If you slap some paint on a model that has been primered black, your shading is almost already done for you.  This saves time and makes "washing" your miniatures unnecessary.  This technique requires that you use black primer on your mini.  (If you would like to see an article on how to paint miniatures with white primer, please see "Painting Tabletop Quality high elves."  **Most people will tell you to always water down your paints.  If you want a nice smooth paintjob, that's exactly what you want to do.  But watering down paints makes them more transparent, and decreases their coverage.  And since we are using black primer, using watered down paint means that you will most likely need to do a couple coats of each color.  That's why in this technique, I either water the paint down very little, or not at all.  In most cases, I use the paint right out of the pot.  But if you would like to add a little water to it, that's okay too.  Just make sure the paint is thick enough to cover the black primer with one coat.  It takes quite a bit of experimentation to find that happy balance between paint and water, but once you find it, you'll be able to paint your minis with only one coat of each color.  Once again, keep in mind that keeping your paint thick does have a drawback.  The finish on your mini will probably not be as smooth, and if your paint is too thick, you will get globs of paint that will dry up on the mini.  This is okay, since we are using the "three foot rule" (if it looks good from three feet away, then it's good enough.)  After a bit of practice however, you can get a paintjob that is actually pretty smooth.Here is a picture of the flesh color I used for the mini.  Notice that the paint is watered down enough to put onto the miniature, but thick enough to cover black primer without being transparent.  Another random tip: A lot of people like to use tiles as their pallets.  Of course there's nothing wrong with that.  But if you're lazy like me, and don't like cleaning your pallet after you're done with it, then you can reuse the plastic containers that the miniatures come in.  I believe I used the plastic containters from a Games Workshop Empire Greatswords box.  I like using them because you can put water in one of the trenches, and put paint in the other ones.  So let's start with a primed miniature (remember, we use black primer for this technique.)**Most people will tell you to use two thin coats of primer, rather than one.  The reason for this is because a thick coat will obscure some of the detail.  But as you can see from the picture below, one thick coat will not obscure the details too much, and for our purposes, it's good enough.Notice that there are some spots that are not covered by the primer.  So take some watered down black paint and cover up the unprimered spots.Now, let's move on to the flesh.  Remember the discussion about the thickness of the paint.  Keep the paint thick enough so that you only need to do one coat.  For this model, I used the Vallejo color Beige Red.  I painted the face and hands, being careful to leave certain features black: the space between the fingers, the area around the nose, the mouth, and the eyes. Now, let's move on to some simple highlighting.  I took Elf Flesh (Games Workshop Paint) and dotted the tip of the nose and the knuckles.  I also drew lines under his eye sockets, on his mouth, and on his chin.  That's it for the flesh.  Now, let's work on the eyes.  Take some white paint, and carefully draw white lines in the eyesockets.  Notice that I messed up on his left eye, but that's okay.  I will fix that later.Now, take some black paint and dot the white part.  Also fix up any mistakes you made when you painted the white.  Dont' be discouraged if you cannot paint the eyes very well right away.  I ahd to go through many minis before I was able to do the eyes well.Now, onto the metal parts.  I wanted the armor on my mini to look new, so I decided not to drybrush the armor.  Instead, I took Mythril Silver (Games Workshop Paint) and painted his helmet and armor.  Again, I made sure to keep the paint thick enough to cover the black part with only one coat.  A trick for the little grooves on the top corners of his armor and on his helmet (above his right eye) is to avoid the area around the groove.  I then dotted the groove with paint.  As you can see, a black outline remains around the grooves.  Next, I took Burnished Gold (GW Paint) and did the fine details of his armor.  I also drybrushed his spear.  Now, onto his clothing.  To tell you the truth, I think the ruffles and clothing of the Empire miniatures make them look like pansies, or look like they're celebrating marti gras, but they allow for some very bold shading and highlighting with a minimum of effort.  I took some Scab Red (GW Paint) and painted his right side.  Notice that I made sure to avoid the dips in his clothing.  The trick to doing this is to keep the paint thick, and have good brush control.  Avoiding the dips in the model should be easier than if the paint was watered down more, but it still requires a little bit of practice.  **Optional:  Next, I used some Red Gore (GW Paint) to lighten the edges and bumps on his clothing and his spear tassel or whatever the heck that thing is.  Scab Red and Red Gore are very close to each other in terms of shade, but this step does help.   You can actually skip this step if you'd like to save some more time. Now, onto a not-so-subtle detail.  I used Blood Red (GW Paint) to highlight the very edges of his clothing and tassel.  Notice that the lines stand out, but they are very neat.  The key to this technique is NEATNESS.  This technique abandons subtlety and smooth color transitions and uses bold, (but neat) outlines instead.**Optional: One last step is to use Blazing Orange (GW Paint) at the very very edges.  I also dotted the end of the tassel strands.  The mini already looks decent in the last step, so to save more time, you don't have to do this step, but I decided to do it anyways.  Now it's time to move on to his left side.  I took some vomit brown (GW Paint) and painted the raised areas of his left side.  The shading is more striking when yellow is used.  Remember to keep the paint thick so that you only have to use one coat.  I cannot stress enough that brush control is necessary to obtain this effect.  Notice that the recesses are left black and the lines are very clean.I now repeated what I did with the red side of the mini.  I took some Golden Yellow (GW Paint) and painted some neat lines where the raised areas are.**Optional: Now, one more highlight at the very edges with Sunburst Yellow (GW Paint) To tell you the truth, I didn't really notice too much of a big difference at this point.  So if you notice that a step didn't make that much of a difference on one mini, save yourself some time and don't do it on the rest of your minis.  Now, on to the leather.  I took some Scorched Brown (GW Paint) and painted his hat and boots.  Notice that I left the area around the raised portion of his hat and the lines on his boots black.Now, draw more neat lines (I know I said "neat" a lot, but I can't stress that enough) around the edges of his hat and boots using Bestial Brown (GW Paint)The next step is to drybrush the feather Codex Grey (GW Paint) and paint his spear Bleached Bone (GW Paint).  At this point, you can use some techniques to add some artificial texture to his spear (Check out the other articles on CMON), but since this is just a rank and file model, I decided to just paint his spear a flat color.And now, to finish off the final details.  I drybrushed the feather once more using Fortress Grey (GW Paint) and I noticed that I didn't paint his hair, so I went ahead and colored his hair Vomit Brown.The last thing we need to work on is the base of the mini.  I took some watered down Elmer's Glue, and glopped it onto the base, being careful to avoid his feet.  I then dipped the model in a sand/gravel mix.  I got this mix from Games Workshop.Sorry, folks.  That's all I have time for right now.  I will finish up the article at a later date.  Until then, please let me know if there's something else I can do to make the article better.  Happy painting :-D
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. wamphyri's Avatar
      wamphyri -
      i have to say i like the black in between the fingers as it saves a lot of highlighting as for the palllet s i find the bottom of plastic milk cartons great. I hate cleaning the pallet as well. great paint job wish i painted half as good. Keep it up.
    1. harchunk's Avatar
      harchunk -
      I will try this, many times after i have primed my mini's black i have thought to try this but didn't. Now that i see it wow!!!
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