Upping my skillz
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Thread: Upping my skillz

  1. #1

    Default Upping my skillz

    This is my virgin post on this site, though I have admittedly obsessively used this site of late. But now I am compelled to go from spectator to an active participant in this awesome community. I'd like to quickly tell you about my painting history and open up with a how-to question.

    I have maybe painted 10-15 minis. And the majority of these were citadel marauders of chaos, so you can understand that I have been creatively limited. I did paint a Chaos Lord on juggernaut using a cool flame and lava technique that makes the mini look pretty cool, but really my technical skill was overall lacking on the piece.

    However, recently, something clicked. This site and other tutorials really taught me the secret to being a great painter. And, all in all, it is really very elementary. In essence, water down your paints for an even flow, and try to obtain as gradual a change from shading to highlighting as possible. That's it! After this, it's all graduate level stuff, more subjective based ideas, rather than technical skills. It then becomes about telling a story or conveying a mood through the medium of contrasting tones, and this is where the fun occurs.

    So my chief concern, then, is what to do with my poorly painted minis? I want to use them to play Warhammer Fantasy, but I have suffered from a sudden and stark epiphany of painting skills that clearly delineates this difference in my minis. Up until now, my minis are overall horrible. And now, if I must say so, armed with my newfound skills, my minis are awesome. So do I strip them and start over, despite the days of painting to come up with such poor products? Or do I hide the marauders, being rank and file, in the back and hope their poorly painted surfaces just sort of blend in with the better pieces in the front row? I painted 5 chaos knights with virtually zero shading or highlights. They look ridiculously clean. Not horrible, and the color selection at least lends to their being presentable, but still...I could maybe clean them up with some washes here and there. But, as a perfectionist community, how should I tackle improving ugly models that so obviously display my learning curve??? Thanks for any advice.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  2. #2


    Well, stripping them would be best. I'd keep one just to remind you of where you came from when you get discouraged on a project in the future, though. It's very hard to "fix" old paint jobs and often WAY more effort than to just strip and start over
    "Remember, you can't spell paint without a little pain."

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  3. #3


    Welcome! That's looking really nice, especially if you're just starting out. Unfortunately CMON doesn't resize the pictures so yours is pretty big. If possible use another program to shrink them down before posting. It'll make it a lot easier for people to view and post feedback.

    My advice is don't worry about the first batch of figures... at least not right now. If you're painting a whole army you're going to keep improving. Odds are the last models will be better than the first no matter what. When you're army is actually done (or at least you're taking a break from adding new figures to it) then you can think about stripping the ones you're not happy with and redoing them. Until then just keep them in back and let them be the first to get killed off.

    Oh, and if you do strip them I'd recommend using Simple Green. Just let them soak in it for a day and then scrub the paint off with an old toothbrush.

  4. #4


    Sound advice. I think I will save it for when my army is near completion. I really have a lot to give back to this site, as it completely rewrote the rules for me. GW tends to want their customers to base paint, wash, drybrush highlights. Their tutorials say little or nothing about feathering, wet blending, "juicing," or glaze painting. I actually had a manager of a local GW tell me that citadel paints are supposed to be ready to use out of the pot, and that the only reason one should add water is for when the paint ages and thickens. This confused my instincts in the beginning, and resulted in thick, chalky, uneven skin on my poor barbarians

    I did consider maybe distracting from the poor composition of some of these figures by adding elaborate tattoos. I purchased an artist's pen of the finest point recently, and it goes on faint and matte rather than glossy like a normal pen. Wondering if anyone has any experience free handing with a tool like this? Or do I step it up and grab a 20/0 brush and go to town?

    Apologies for the oversized images, and thank you for pointing this out. Unfortunately, all photos come courtesy of my iPhone 5 for the near future. Would it then be in poor taste to continue seeking advice or showing off my work with this format? I suppose prudence would suggest that I limit my images to those that are absolutely necessary until I get my computer and camera back.

    Ah, Simple Green. Fortunately for me, as a US Army infantryman, I have access to this property in abundance. We literally clean everything with this formula. I'll have to see my supply clerk. It will soon be time to strip some minis courtesy of US taxpayer dollars. Victory.

  5. #5


    Yeah, GW wants to be your one stop shop for everything. Minis, paints, and even info on how to paint.

    I haven't used pens to freehand but I know there are people who do. If it works for you, go for it! I read a tutorial the other day where someone was using a watercolor pencil to do fine details.

    Oh, definitely keep posting and looking for advice even if it's with big photos. In my experience you're going to get more responses with resized photos, but if that's not an option post what you've got. There might be some online places that will let you resize but I don't know of any off hand.

    You can also dilute the simple green with water (maybe 50/50), though if you've got an endless supply thanks to Uncle Sam I suppose there's no need to.

  6. #6


    Are you on BoardGameGeek? I find it easy to upload pictures, and the view gives four different sizes. Just pick the right size and direct link the picture.

    I only use them for tabletop shortcuts, but I have a set of Prismacolor brush-tipped pens from Amazon. $16 for a set of eight. I use them to ink monster eyes and the occasional tabletop jewel.

    I've been fiddling with washing the figure before painting to tabletop. The wash layer makes a good guide for basecoat / highlight / shade, so when I'm painting, I focus on reinforcing the colors on the model, rather than getting rid of the white color of the primer. Here's an example: http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1921628/sam-and-max
    Last edited by ced1106; 02-25-2014 at 03:12 AM.

  7. #7


    Hey Ced,

    Actually, just started a photobucket account so that should do the trick of stopping these oversized images.

    Interesting, the technique you are referring to of washing a figure and using the resulting shading as a guide is called underpainting and is used quite a bit in oil painting. Did you discover it intuitively or did you happen upon a tutorial or something? Either way, it resulted in some great shading for you, as evidenced by the link you provided.

  8. #8


    A few other things Ced. Have you considered gloss varnishing your lizard folk? Might give them that just-out-of-the-swamp look. Certainly the fish in the right ones hand would benefit from a slimy appearance. Also the texture of the right lizard man makes him look more realistic than the one on the left. Is this just because I can't see the front of the left one, and you made the texture of the back of their skin different? Thx.

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