New to painting and a bit confused
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Thread: New to painting and a bit confused

  1. #1

    Default New to painting and a bit confused

    I was very intrigued when I was shown this site. I started painting minis last summer and am still very much a beginner. I was prepared for low scores, but have been amazed at some of the snide comments made. Is this normal?

    The people that make the nastiest comments do not have pictures up of their work. One comment complimented the painting but said the miniature was a waste of green stuff. They gave me a 3. Does this mean my painting was a 3, they thought the style of mini was a 3 but the painting was better, or that they are just nasty people with far too much time on their hands.

    I was hoping for comments that would help me be a better painter. Some people have been kind yet instructive.

    I am trying to decide if I will post more or not.

  2. #2
    Thri-Keen Priest

    Default Feedback

    :idea:I see a steady progression among the pieces shown here. They need some work in the shading department. Are you using enamels? Acrylics may be much easier for you to control. Study up on washing and highlighting. However, I like the pearlescent colors you\'ve been using. How about Acrylic or ink washes over those? Experiment!

  3. #3

    Default Not so new to painting but still confused

    The Internet is a faceless media at times; when people cannot directly interact with the artist (unlike they might in a normal gallery), the distance between the subject and person rating the work, mixed with anonymity offered by the \'net, has the tendency to bring out the worst in human nature. WWW forums, Usenet, MU*s -- the same pattern is everywhere.

    This tends to get even nastier when this is mixed with Brand Loyalty (or its extreme variant, Brand Fanaticism). When that happens, it is just time to pick up flame-proof clothing and duck and take cover.

    However, back to the topic which should be the beef: How to be a better painter? Gods know that I\'m not one of the greatest. I do not entertain any illusions of that. :) (The nickname I picked for this forum is a joke someone cracked in our gaming table and I ran out of ideas while registering) But, perhaps there is something I can do by offering my own insights of the miniatures you have posted so far?

    The girl with a dragon (#2120) resembles some of the earliest miniatures I painted; a friend of mine instructed me patiently as I painted... and painted... and sometimes grew frustrated with the painting process. The colors are somewhat muddled; the hair is a bit difficult to tell from the robe -- perhaps a bright red robe with brown hair would work better?

    The green dragon (#2119) shows that you have a lot of potential ahead; I like this miniature enormously, it is in my opinion \'just right\'. The only advice I can really offer is shading those bony bits a bit more to give them more depth.

    Dancing girls (#2118) -- I already tucked my comments with the picture, and the only thing I can add is to shade the flesh a bit more. But there you go -- if you have painted only for a year, you are already better than I was at that point :)

    Amber and dragon (#2117); this miniature could use a layer of matte to reduce the shine. Her skin could be hued a bit more with other colors to give some depth, too, but it is hard to apply color over sealer in my experience.

    Catherin O\'Mannon (#1959): this miniature has several strengths -- one of them is the sash on her shoulders. I love it. It gives a very lively, rustic look. One of my miniature rating principles is \'if I look at this miniature, am I able to imagine a story about this thing?\'. And this one fills that criteria very well. I can almost smell the heathers now. It evokes a certain mood successfully. Hence, in my opinion, it is a good miniature. Painting techniques aren\'t the be-all-the-end-of-all in this world.

    While some people get nitpicky about the Angel of Mercy (#1958), I will apply my \'artistic defense\' and \'it evokes a mood\' to this one. Although it doesn\'t sport details others prefer, this angel has almost porcelain look to it -- it is easy to imagine an elderly lady who would keep an angel like this on her table next to her bed. Sure, it looks a bit kitchy in that aspect. But, so? It works for me.

    Elladan, the elven ranger (#1957) could be painted with more clear color theme; it is hard to tell where one color ends and where new one begins, but this also seems to be amongst the first ones you have painted? The facial detail is slowly getting there (like I am the one who should talk about that), which is good. Perhaps applying a layer of matte would also improve his looks.

    Aziz Al-Jawar (#1952) could also use some matte, but right now I can\'t offer much of a useful advice; some things you just have to test out and see if they are your style or not.

    The one named as \'Reaper Miniature\' (#1897): see my comments about Elladan.

    Lizardman (#1896): again, you\'re showing your true potential here; I like the colors you have chosen and they work well for this miniature.

    Blue Dragon (#1885): the wing detail is good, but the body perhaps could have some lighter areas to show the detail better?

    Osama bin Goblin (#1884) is humoresque; the vest detail is excellent and it surely brought a crooked grin on my face. Also, painting the goblin *blue* was a nice touch. Perhaps toning the beard with some shade of white, gray or black might enhance it some more?

    Forest Dragon (#1659) is great. At the moment the only advice I can offer is applying some matte to reduce the amount of shining.

    You can find instructions from the Net regarding painting techniques, but sometimes you\'ll just have to test out things to see if they work for you. There is no One True Way of Painting, despite what some people claim; remember, if the results do not please you, you can always soak the paint off with solvents and such (assuming that you didn\'t paint a plastic miniature) and then paint it again. Or you can buy a new one and see if you can make it better.

  4. #4

    Default THANK YOU!

    Thank you So Much! The suggestions are really good.:flip:

    I have gotten matte finish (finally) and will be using that. A lot of what I have been trying is experiment (I wonder what happens if I do this....eewwww)

    How I got into painting is rather funny. I wanted a loom (for weaving) for Christmas. Hubby says, \"If you get a loom, I get to paint minis.\" \"Sure, no problem.\"

    So he gets some minis and the tiny box of warhammer paints. Last summer, I look at the paints and think, hmmmm.. I have that unpainted mini from the game that just ended. What can it hurt if I screw it up really badly. So I painted it. And was hooked. This Christmas he got me the big box of paint.

    I am working on a hydra right now, and am trying for better contrast and shading.

    Thank you so much for the words of encourgement and constructive cristicism!

  5. #5


    I wouldn\'t worry about people giving overtly negative feedback. Most likely these people were dropped on their heads when they were a baby.

    I can\'t help much with being a \'better\' painter. That is all way to subjective to me anyways. Do you mean paint like the \'eay metal team or something? White dwarf has articles once in a while with heavy metal masterclass articles. They are really full of cool tricks and things I never would\'ve thought of. My minis still don\'t look like theirs but I don\'t care anyways. I paint to enjoy myself. I am certain I will never be as \'good\' as them but I don\'t care anyways. I think everybody wants to be that good too, and I wish I could be that good, but then I remember these people have been doing it for twenty years. Then I remember I have been doing it for a couple of months, so I am happy with my results in the comparison. Maybe in twenty years I\'ll get that good too, who knows. The key to happiness is not trying to hard to copy somebody else but do it your own way. Than, at least I am happy because, yeah it might suck but I did it and had fun doing it. In any case, good and sucky are all subjective in the long run. I could go on and on about why it\'s pointless to even worry about these things.

    I think the most important thing I learned is to have an idea what you want the model to look like. If you have a picture of it (like a warhammer orc) than that is taken care of. It\'s good to visualize how you want it to look. I always visualize my minis far far better in my head than I can get my chunky fingers to paint it. Another thing is looking at artwork to get ideas about colours and ideas. This is the most important step to me. I have a grand vision of the mini and than I try my best to recreate it. So far I never come close to how I wanted to because the process of painting gets in the way, but you keep trying at it.

    One cool thing I can teach you is if you make a mistake, have another brush handy. Dip it into water and wash the area. Then dry the brush and soak up the water. All the paint gets sucked up into the brush and you don\'t have to paint it again. At least, I learned this myself. I got tired of ruining all my attempts to highlight by getting paint in the wrong place.

    Another thing I can pass on is learn how to control the brush. This is a zen thing. Start paying attention to how you hold it and apply the paint. This is a weird concept but I really saw lots of \'improvements\' in my styles after I started doing this. Basically I try to paint the highlights on by hand, so when I do this zen thing I am getting the paint better where I want it and not in the cracks and things that were supposed to be dark. But the trick is not to think about it too hard, just enough. Once in a while I remind myself to be one with the brush.

    I\'m just kiddin\' with you. Have fun.

    If you think you are a master painter, than you are. It\'s all attitude kid! Hehe. Just be real cocky and confident in yourself. Everybody has a different idea of what is good and bad from what I\'ve noticed anyways. I personally like alot of the ones that get bad ratings. The wacky colors show alot of imagination. I don\'t think comparing these to some \'standard\' is good for the hobby in general. There shouldn\'t be a standard. It is after all an art form. There is no reason why an orc has to have greenskin if you don\'t want him to have it right? It\'s really what your goals are anyways. I see two styles, classic and personal. I am on the personal side of this hobby, I do it my way. So everything I do I feel is a 10 because that\'s how I think of it. Who\'s standard are we comparing to? If I feel my guy is a 10, than he\'s a 10 dammit. Who cares if I\'m nuts. If somebody votes me a three, I wonder what standard they had in their head to compare it to. It\'s really a very interesting thing to me for some reason. Which brings me back to why some of these minis here only get 4\'s when I think they are pretty cool looking because I can see the idea the person had visualized when they tried to do it. I think that is the ultimate technique is to be able to paint exactly as you visualize it. When you can do that you are truly a master than.

    Oh there is one more thing I was thinking of. Everybody has a different idea about what a good mini is. Some people like crisp, neat lines and things like that. You know, total rigid and anal retentive style. They look real nice because they are neat but they have no soul to me. The other style is personal style. This is more freeform, and it doesn\'t look perfect. When I am judging my work I think about both of these classes to compare it to. Mostly I am just an amateur by any standard. I will be a master when I can paint what I visualize. That is the only thing I can personally tell you about it anyways. But you might be the other kind of painter, so this advice is worthless to you then. In the long run my advice could be worthless altogethor so who cares.

    Just have fun and decide what goals you have to be the type of painter you want to be. If someone votes you a three, wonder why? What was their standard? To what were they comparing it to? Skill? That just takes practice. Imagination? You can\'t really judge imagination. Ask them what THEIR opinion was, and then you find out if you agree with them. If the person is a judge oh well, you lost the competition. But it doesn\'t mean your mini sucked. It just means you were competing against a different standard. I guess if you really want to be a master you need to master both styles of painting.

    That\'s my ranting how I feel about it in general. Dunno if it is any helpful to you. If you just want to learn basic techniques the book Wargames Armies by Games workshop has a lot of information in the back about techniques like drybrushing and highlighting. If this is all you wanted to know than sorry for my maniacal ranting. I just get frustrated because when I was just starting a few months ago I had the same problems, and then I started thinking about these things, and I was like who\'s standard am I comparing it to? If I am comparing it to \'eavy metal I am not close. But if I take a step back and look at the whole picture, than I am really happy with where I am at, and that\'s all that is important anyways. It\'s just a hobby.


  6. #6


    A couple of simple tips I wish I would have known about or had someone tell me about earlier are:

    1. Always shave / file the flash off your mini and wash it before primer and painting

    2. Thin your paints, thin your paints, thiin your paints! Five layers of thinned light paint in the end looks 100 times better than 1 layer of thick gloppy paint that too aay all the sculpts details!

    3. Try and shade or highlight from the base color plus white, instead of trying different colors (example, basing with dark blue and highlighting with light blue, and then again with lighter blue, just use same base color paint and add more and more white with each layer)

    4. Get into basing early and ofter. This is the finishing touch of your creation! It adds a fourth dimension most other minis rarely boast.

    5. PRACTICE. Your latest figure will always be your favorite and your best work. No kidding.

    Hope this helps, dont give up, I have been there, done that, you will get better as you learn and practice new techniques!

  7. #7

    Default feeling like painting again!

    Thank you again for your suggestions and encouragement.

    I have seen by looking at many of the other minis here, some really great ideas as well as cheap shots by people who seem to glory in belitteling other people\'s work.

    I really do enjoy the painting for the fun of it. I also like the zen part of it too. When I get my next one done, I\'ll get a pic up and we\'ll see what suggestions you all have.


  8. #8


    Keep at it.

    BTW I was just kidding before I was in a mood. You have to learn the techniques to get a good looking table top mini. It\'s not hard at all it\'s a simple steps you learn to develop. Here is the way I do it:

    1. Remove flash and mould
    2. Prime
    3. Paint shades
    4. Highlight and blend, drybrush, etc
    5. Light Washes and washes
    6. Touchups, final details, light highlights etc

    You will eventually find a routine that works best for you. Most important keep experimenting and trying things. I invented blending on my own before I learned that other people did it. I did it by realizing I could mix the colors into each other while they were wet and get a smooth transition between shades. It\'s really easy to do actually you\'d be surprised and it looks very good when you do it right.

    Remember it\'s just practice. The more you do it and develop your techniques the better they will look. I started a couple of months ago and I have grown leaps and bounds. I just keep at it, keep trying new things. I have gone from 4\'s to 5\' and 6\'s now, and I am happy with 5\'s. Since I am a gamer a 5 or 6 is all I really want to achieve anyways.


  9. #9


    Another technique I picked up is to follow what you see in life. For instance, take a table cloth or just a solid color sheet and throw it over a chair. Study how the light interacts with the folds and ridges. For skin tones and faces, it may seem odd at first, but look in a mirror and experiment with light sources to see where shadows and highlights appear.
    Also, for the shading and highlighting, white and black aren\'t always the answer. I highlight red with yellows and ivory; blues with light purple and ivory, etc. Using white with some colors just makes a lighter shade of that color (ex. rid is pink) and doesn\'t allow for the pigment\'s vibrance to come through. As for shading, I rarely use black. Black can either be cool (blue based) or warm (brownish). This has a tendency to distort the color being darkened. I prefer to use opposite colors on the color spectrum. If you have a color wheel, take a look at it. It\'s actually one of the only supplies I used the whole way through art school.

    Just the fact that you want to improve upon what you do is commendable, and I applaud your courage. Ignore the crap (whick is indeed difficult) and just try your best. I just can\'t wait to see your work in a year from now. Just don\'t lose heart.

  10. #10

    Default Painting

    I think of it this way, it is pretty impossible for anyone to get worse at painting over time, so this means that perseverance can only result in improvement. I have been very happy with the progression of my own painting skills over time. (You won\'t be able to see this in my own few submissions as my camera is awful). I think the key to a good model is in it\'s basing.

    Bases can make or break models and deserve some attention. A good base can vastly improve an average paint job and give the finishing touch to a great job. So they are really worth spending some time on. I tend to theme the bases of my armies and flock/texture them all in a certain way. My current 40k deathwatch army has the small fish tank type rubble on it\'s bases, I have painted and highlighted these rocks a red colour to give a martian soil kind of effect.

    As for nasty comments, ignore them. Bad painters who insult others through comments are just trying to compensate for their own lack of talent. And good painters who insult those who they believe are \"inferior\" to them should know better. Keep up the good work. :)

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