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  • Painting Reaper Bones -- Dire Rats


    This is the second in a series of articles dedicated to painting the Reaper Bones Kickstarter in order to help out new painters that may find their way to CMON to learn to paint. Welcome, new and old.

    For this How-To, I'm limiting myself to the paints that were offered as part of the Paint Set 1 in the Kickstarter. These aren't the paints that must be used of course, but as they should be available to a wide number of painters, that's what I've done. Substitute what color you would wish, and whatever brand as well.

    As of this writing, the Kickstarter Bones figures are not available, but I did have the metal figures for the Dire Rats (02889). Now, these aren't specifically called out on the Kickstarter, but they are part of the Dungeon Attack swarms. The first article was on whether or not to prime the Bones line using some already released Bones figures. You can read that one here. I prefer my minis primed, and use gray automotive primer, but in the interest of complete disclosure, here they are cleaned up for priming.

    Here they are after the grey primer. This is the state that the real Bones figures will be in once I start in on them. They also have temporary bases attached. These are simply a cut up piece of cheap wood flooring and some poster tack putty. I did this to set up a small travel kit, so I could paint while on vacation. This held up rather well, and survived a lengthy trip. The temporary bases were attached with more tack onto a larger piece of flooring and placed in the bottom of a tool box. Normally I wouldn't do this. I've got a large spice bottle that I tack the figures to the top. Makes it easier for me to hold.


    At this point, there's not much difference in if these were metal or Bones. I mixed up a small amount of gray paint using 2 parts Pure White 9039 to 1 part Pure Black 9037 and painted the cobble stones. I start with those instead of the rat fur because I'm planning on making the rats black. It's easier for me to paint the black over any stray brush stroke of gray than it is to do the opposite. Not much to show at this point, but if these were unprimed Bones it would show better.

    Once that gray is dry, I mix up some wash. My forumla for this is water thinned paint with a drop of acrylic floor polish (called Future here in the US). The floor polish is intended to break the surface tension and allow the wash to flow into the nooks and crannys. I'm using Green Grass 9014. My intention here is to add some little detail to the base, such as small algae bits or the like. I've just slopped this on over the bases as shown. The tails of the rats have a greenish tint, but that will be painted over later.

    Next off, I'm going to highlight things on the cobblestone a bit. I'll dry brush with Pure White 9039. Dry brushing is a technique that gives a quick highlight, but can also give a chalky appearance after it is done. Put a bit of paint on a brush and wipe off most of it. Do NOT use a nice brush! Dry brushing will destroy a brush. Many painters use older brushes no longer suited for detail work, but I prefer children's nylon brushes. I've got kids, so have a ton of them sitting around. Lightly brush over the tops of the surfaces to just give a bit of paint. This will take some work to get correct. I usually screw up the first time with too much paint, so try it out on your finger print or other ridged object. It should just touch the tops of the surfaces and leave a broken appearance, not a solid color.

    Finally, it's time to start in on the main figure. This is simple enough, Pure Black 9037. I suppose it is a bit hypocritical to paint the black before the tails, if one follows the logic I used on the base. Honestly, I didn't think of it until writing this. Eh, that's okay. It worked out for me.

    Now, again with the dry brush technique, I decide to highlight the fur a bit with some Sapphire Blue 9016.

    And I went too overboard with that. I did mention I screw it up a lot. The first rat (top left) has way too much blue on him, as he was the first one I worked on. I wanted it to look more like rat #3 (bottom left). So, to fix that, I mixed up some wash using Pure Black 9037 and went over the rat fur with it. While I was doing that, some dropped on the cobblestones, and I liked the look that it gave them. So, the picture below also shows the result of adding the black wash to the bases. I went very lightly with the wash, unlike the green from before. I just wanted the slightest of black that I could, and put it only on the tops of the stones but not in the cracks.

    Time to get down to more of the details. The black rats need pink skin! I originally was going to mix equal parts Fair Skin 9047 and Blood Red 9003, but that was too red. Added two more drops of Fair Skin to get a 3:1 ratio and that looked right to me. Mileage may vary, so get the color you'd like there.

    Now with the pink on the brush, I did the tails. For the feet it was a little trickier. I used the side of the brush rather than the tip to get to those spots. I did use the tip of the brush to poke paint into the ears, but did the noses with the side again.

    Nearly finished! Two details remain: the eyes and teeth. For the eyes, I went with Blood Red 9003 and the tip of the brush. Eyes are one of the hardest things to paint for many people, and these super simple ones are no different. I did the eye on one rat three or four times until I got it the way I wanted it. When I've put some paint on where I didn't want it, I immediately rinse the brush and get a drop of clean water on the tip, soaking the spot repeatedly to get the paint off. I also had to use my dry brush to gently scrub the paint off. I'm not sure I would recommend that technique, but that's what I did.

    For the teeth, I used Yellowed Bone 9143 and again used the side of the brush. I was able to hit the teeth in one or two strokes and leave the black gap in between the front teeth.

    Finished! The top right rat is overexposed to show the eye a little better. You can really see the gap in the teeth on the bottom left rat.

    From here, I normally give it a spray of gloss clear paint, after everything is dry of course. Then a follow up with matte. This was a tip I got a long time ago and its meant for gaming miniatures. The theory is that once you can start to see glossy areas of the minis, it would be time to give them a light cleaning and another coat of matte paint before the players have a chance to wear through the clear and start rubbing off the colored paint. I don't game, so just a simple matte coat would work, but I still do this anyway.

    So there you have it. In all, I probably spent two hours on these four figures. That's very short compared to what I usually would do, but not surprising considering that I didn't do a lot of details, and shortcutted a lot of the work by dry brushing. Your results may vary, but have fun with it!
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. ced1106's Avatar
      ced1106 -
      Thanks for the tutorial! This n00b would *really* appreciate tutorials on the other Bones sculpts once they arrive, starting from easiest. (Yeah... that's not asking for much...
    1. PegaZus's Avatar
      PegaZus -
      Quote Originally Posted by ced1106 View Post
      Thanks for the tutorial! This n00b would *really* appreciate tutorials on the other Bones sculpts once they arrive, starting from easiest. (Yeah... that's not asking for much...
      Well, originally, I was going to have so, so, so many done by the time shipping started. I've whined several times about why I haven't, but I'll not repeat myself. Desperately trying to get some time to paint more.

      Unfortunately, it looks like my Kickstarter shipment will be one of the later ones. I ordered in everything under the sun! However, don't let my slowness hold you (or anybody else) up. Paint away! You can always strip them of paint and redo it later. Take pictures, too. There's a thread here somewhere where people post before and after pictures of repainting minis they did at the very beginning. Those are always motivational gold.
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