Looking for advice on a few things regarding advanced techniques.
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Thread: Looking for advice on a few things regarding advanced techniques.

  1. #1

    Default Looking for advice on a few things regarding advanced techniques.

    Hey there, I am a pretty new member to the CMON community and am a novice painter at best. On that note, I have done quite a bit of research into the techniques and theories involved in the art of mini painting and am excited to put them to use, but the techniques I want to use in my painting will take some time to master, mainly layering and blending/wet blending. I feel it presumptuous of me to assume that I could master techniques like those over night, but I am looking for advice on a few things regarding those particular styles that I can implement to help me speed the process of learning without butchering my costly Dark Angels. Namely;

    1. What is a good way to practice without ruining my army by practicing on it/ where can I find cheap "waster" test minis?

    2. How many shades of each color should I deal with? What should I use to dilute and to what consistency? I have seen quite a bit of speculation on this, general consensus being to dilute to the "consistency of milk" and to use a minimum of 3 colors and mix my highlights/shades from those colors.

    Not a laundry list of questions, but I feel I could take my painting to new heights with a nudge in the right direction as far as those few things are concerned. As it turns out I am a firm believer in the "perfect practice makes perfect" theory and as such, I don't want to waste my time practicing techniques which I don't want to use or won't leave me satisfied with my work. (why I am also the type to choose the hardest way possible to do... everything, is beyond me.)

    I know that art is not an exact science, but I am the type that I would like to have a good foundation before I just start flinging paint willy-nilly. As I mentioned above I have done a pretty good amount of research into the topic of how to use the techniques, but what my eyes perceive and my brain can comprehend vastly differ from what my hands can accomplish (for now...).

    I welcome all advice and CONSTRUCTIVE criticism regarding this (and any other) topic and greatly appreciate your time and consideration. I hope to have some finished Dark Angels to post in the coming weeks! Thanks again!

  2. #2

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    A good place for cheap starter minis is Reaper's line called Bones. That bring said, work on figures you like. If you spend all your time on practice minis you're not interested in then this becomes work instead of fun!

    As for diluting, I just use water. The consistency takes some trial and error, but you want semi transparent coats. So thin it down, use a paper towel to blot off the extra paint and then try painting a line on your hand. You should be able to get some idea whether its too thick or too thin from that. For a base coat you want to be able to cover the mini in 2 or 3 coats. For shading and highlighting you'll want the paint to be thinner than that (maybe 5 or 6 coats for complete coverage). So experiment and you'll start to get a feel for things.

  3. #3

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    1. I'd say any cheap metal figure is great for practice (for example the reaper metals are great imho, not only for practice but for general painting too, or hasslefree if you are in the EU). If you don't like the paintjob, simply remove it with nail-polish remover (with aceton) or for example in the US with simple-green.
    Other than that the cheap reaper-bones are great for practice too.

    2. I'd say 3 is about enough (1 base, 1 highlight, 1 shadow), but can be less, as you can use other colors to shade/highlight too. For example taking a green: can be shaded for great look with a dark blue and highlighted with a yellow.
    For dilution use either water or some acrylic medium (matt medium, glaze medium, or if company specific, then gw-lahmian medium ), but I really-really rarely use anything but water.

    As it turns out I am a firm believer in the "perfect practice makes perfect" theory and as such, I don't want to waste my time practicing techniques which I don't want to use or won't leave me satisfied with my work.
    there is no technique, that's not useful. Even the simple humble drybrush has it's place.

    for DA:
    - I'd say you should practice layering and edge-highlights. With a bit of glazing to help transitions
    - colors: well VGC-DarkGreen as base would be great, here black is good for a shade (DarkGreen is a dark enough color) for highlights... either a light green or a medium green + VMC-Ivory. For glazes/washes VGC-BlackGreenInk is a good color (later for other dark greens too).

  4. #4

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    Bones, yeah I've worked with those, (the goblin in my portrait for example) feels weird not to prime and I don't like how inks, washes and diluted paints seem to bead right off of them but they are good for practicing on, not to mention fun to paint! (I defer back to my portrait again). I seem to recall there is some sort of clear coat you can put on them before painting that alleviates that problem, I'll have to check reaper's site again and look into that. Also, thank you for replying! by the by, how do you feel about Citadel's new washes? for the life of me I cant seem to get them not to streak and or leave rings on my minis. I love using them to give my minis an initial wash that picks out the detail and darkens the shadows, but I usually cover everything but the very darkest recesses after that and don't apply any more (due to the rings and such) is there something I am doing wrong? Is it the nature of the washes? Again, thanks for the reply and thank you for your input, I am very grateful.

    MAXXxxx, thanks for the tips, I'll have to try using complimentary colors for shades and highlights. I'm still exploring color theory and such so my knowledge on that is fairly limited as of yet, so again thanks for the advise. As far as other techniques go, I agree with you entirely! if it wasn't for drybrushing my old Chaos Iron Warriors (from about 12 years ago) would probably have stayed primer black. lol
    I'll have to go give these robes another shot and see how they come out. I'm using VMC Iraqui sands and VMC Ivory. I have a choice between GW Seraphim Sepia and GW Agrax Earthshade to use for the shading/ glazing but I'm not sure which one I want to use or how I need to manipulate them to get the desired effect. I'll have to go give it a go and see what happens I suppose. The only thing that gets me is the depth of shade on the robes are hard to achieve without a darker brown and im not sure what I can do short of just going out and finding a darker shade that I like.
    Ok, done rambling. Thanks again, I appreciate your inputs and am eager to have a go at these minis again! Cheers.
    Last edited by Burtondn85; 05-31-2014 at 01:32 PM.

  5. #5

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    The last batch of GW washes I don't have, only the older ones (devlan mud and such). But those were quite good, and the few times I tried the new ones I found them good too.
    To avoid the rings:
    - don't water them down, they are not really designed for that
    - don't let it pool on the surface. I think this is important, because without pooling the rings can't really form. A quick tip is to apply the wash to the whole area starting from a side, but 'remove' as much of it with the brush (push away to the recesses) as possible. This way it'll tint the surface a bit, but it'll still be dark enough in the recesses. And as there is no rim/border there is no place where the ring can form.

    - and of course the 3rd option: avoid washes and layer the shadows in too. But it can take a lot if time and effort, so it's not always an option.

    edit:
    and don't write those rings entirely down. They have their uses when making marble effects Didn't try it yet, but I saw some really great, realistic marble effect painting in a book, that is mindblowingly simple and depends on the formation of the rings.

  6. #6

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    Mind. Blown. I didn't even thing of that for marbling! Kinda makes me want to paint up some sort of marble elemental or some such. I'll have to look for a video or something on how it's done. Thanks again for the info!

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Burtondn85 View Post
    without butchering my costly Dark Angels. Namely;

    1. What is a good way to practice without ruining my army by practicing on it/ where can I find cheap "waster" test minis?

    2. How many shades of each color should I deal with? What should I use to dilute and to what consistency? I have seen quite a bit of speculation on this, general consensus being to dilute to the "consistency of milk" and to use a minimum of 3 colors and mix my highlights/shades from those colors.
    I'd probably just jump straight in with your space marines, if you happen to have any metal space marine figures. Easiest to strip if you don't like how your model is coming together. But I'd just practice on your basic models starting with simple line troops, not heroes, or assault marines. If you hate the result, soak the model in Simple Green for 12-24 hours to strip off the paint and start afresh. Or just touch it up.

    I like this approach because you get started, rather than having hundreds of dollars of marines gathering dust. Don't be overwhelmed, just start.

    But, if you want to develop specific techniques, I focus on two different things: 1) Hard surfaces of the marine armor and guns and 2) soft surfaces of the white robes. Assuming you go the Reaper Bones route:

    http://www.reapermini.com/Miniatures...s/latest/80016 is marine with some armor plates and big gun. More more like an imperial guard than a space marine
    http://www.reapermini.com/Miniatures...e/latest/77068 is a woodelf in a robe, with pretty good folds.

    If you're willing to use undiluted Reaper paints, you don't need to prime. I use Vallajo and thin them, so I need to prime Bones.

    I use this product with just a few drops of black ink to prime my Bones:

    Folk Art Glass & Tile Medium - in the US (at least the northern plains where I live), you can find this at JoeAnn Fabrics.


    Since it has ink, it outlines the details as it settles more into recesses.


    OK, on to how many colors and thinning -

    I use Vallajo model colors, which are on the thick side. Undiluted, they'll hold brush marks on your pallete. I add water until it is thinned to the point where it doesn't hold brush marks anymore but still is fairly opaque when spread to a clean part of your pallet. This is at most 1:1 water and paint for a base coat, and I might thin it a little more as I go be rinsing my brush often. This will cover a model based-coated white in two passes most of the time. But giving ratios is a bad idea, and I shouldn't have done so. Yellows, for instance, probably need less thinning. (I don't paint many thing yellow,,,)

    For layering, I want a thinner paint. I use a premixed bottle of 1:1 water and Liquitex glaze medium and paint, and I'll use 2-3 parts or more of the glaze to paint. I thing paint in the high-lights. The paint looks more opaque before it dries. Layering was very intimidating for me but I have found it fairly easy to get decent results. The real trick is not to load up your brush with too much paint. If it looks like a drop about fall off your brush, you have too much. If it floods all over your miniature, well, that was too much also. (Quick moisten and dry a bigger, cheap brush and wick up the paint.) Once I learned not to use way too much paint, I started getting great results with layering.

  8. #8

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    One more suggestion.

    Keep a notes on technique, color combinations, etc. This is a good rule of thumb for any painter (how did I do that auburn hair on the sorceress again?) along with notes of what worked and what didn't.

    But for a fellow painting an army, this is especially important. In two years, there might be a must-have model. Yes, you'll want it to look like a Dark Angle, but more importantly, you'll want it to look like YOUR dark angles.

    I keep notes that look like this:

    Infantry Germans – European Uniform
    1. Basecoat black. Be thorough.
    2. Uniform and bustina
    - Wet-brush 830 German Field Gray
    - Dry-brush 2:1 830 German Field Gray:884 Stone Gray – Keep the contrast modest – don’t build up sharp edges, but lighten the model significantly.
    3. Flesh
    - Base-coat 875 beige brown
    - Hightlighy Reaper Tanned Skin
    4. Helmet (bare, otherwise, use splinter)
    - Base coat 995 German gray
    - Drybrush 1:1 996 German gray: 870 Medium Slate gray


    I am noting order, base coat (black for masses of 15mm models, otherwise white for me.) I include the colors by name and part number, mix ratios, and advise. This is cut-n-pasted out of my own painting german infantry document.

    So I painted ~100 15 mm german infantry last year. You'd think I'd remember how, but when I wanted to add some additional troops, I had to refer to my notes to recreate a consistent view. You may also note a complete lack of glazing and layering and more than two coats of paint. First 15mm figures need contrast, not blending/layering. Second, 100 models just need less detail than a few heroes or show case pieces. The same logic applies to 28mm line troops. Build enough contrast to have a good unit - consistent painting techniques and base/ground work is really important for painting armies.

  9. #9

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    If you are looking for some cheap minis, since you want to paint Space Marines, GW sells packs of 3 marines that are solid pieces (might have to put on the backpack) and sell for about 5 - 8 dollars. You could use those to practice on since that is what you are going to end up painting.

  10. #10

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    mjs101, thanks for the tips! I have heard rumors of good things about some of the products you mentioned, (simple green, folk art glass and tile medium, liquitex glaze medium) so i think I'll try to branch out and give those a shot. Also thanks for the link to those minis, the robes have been giving me headaches because I really want them to look nice so having a robed figure to play with should be good. Just to clarify you said your ratio for actual layer painting is 2-3 glaze mix:1 paint, right?
    Ekipage, I think I do remember seeing those minis of GW's site. I should look into purchasing some, I have some things I'd like to do for my armor that might require a little work as well so they should be quite helpful.
    Thanks agian you guys. when I get these minis done I'll post em, cheers!

  11. #11

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    Burton, it seems you are a bit more well read than I took you for. A lot of what I had to tell you changes immensely when you are working on an army for play. I started out with ambitions for building an army, but then the painting bug bit me. I realized that painting was way too much fun. So eventually I resigned myself to painting my army-mostly-but at a display quality (attempting for this anyway). I realize that it will take years to do this. But over time things will get much faster, I am sure. So I suppose I would layer, but not at such a watered down glaze as other find necessary. The more elite the figure, the more time I'd spend on it. Maybe take a month on your general. Try to do a rank and file in 4 hours. I don't think you can expect to do it much faster than this and still achieve the results I think you are after. So be patient. You may not have that 3k point army for awhile. That's okay, your Army won't be just another hastily thrown together Space Marine chapter. Do you want to play with what everyone else has? Of course not, you want a beautifully painted, well based, fully customized Army. So while good blending is damn important, so too is good converting. Break out the greenstuff and give it a try. See what others have done to make their Army unique. If they did something out of control awesome, then shamelessly copy them. But try to come up with something out of control awesome on your own.


    Ill tell you one thing you are doing very well at. Researching the hell out of painting. That's what has helped me go from a god awful painter to just an awful one That and friendly advice on forums, especially on CMON.

  12. #12

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    Bloodfather: thanks for the tips. ever a wonderful resource. Just to pick your brain (and anybody else's) I own some GW washes (ooooh aaaah) if I were to use those for my layering, or blending or glaze layering or whatever is popular to call it this year, should I use them around the consistency they are at (my goal being around a 5:1 wateraint ratio) or do you think i should thin them a bit? On that note, I assume (I know the formula is different) that their washes are pretty much pre-diluted paint anyway... but I still use them to achieve the desired effect, or is their formula off enough that I should go with regular paint and a bit of water? I would like to reiterate that I understand that art cannot so much be quantified, as it is up to each painter's individual taste, but there are a lot of "oh my God don't do that to those poor minis" kinda moves novice painters tend to make by assuming... anyway thanks again all for your time to help me out! I will repay you all with pretty stuff to look at! (one of these days.)

  13. #13

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    http://forum.reapermini.com/index.ph...olliekickflip/

    This artice is fantastic, it has so much information, from techniques to how to thin paints.

    I aslo found priming black and giving a short spray of white from aboe helped me learn where shadows and highlights should be placed. Getting this right even if your technique is rough really helps how the minis look.

    Start with layering, there's loads of tutorials. Then try other techniques like wet in wet blending (Try this on a scrap bit of plastic before going near a mini) and two brush blending. Eventually you will find that all these techniques are useful at various times.

    Read step by steps - This will improve your colour theory knowledge by seeing how others have approached their minis.

    Finish a mini and set it aside - you can return to it as a gauge of how well you have improved. Don't go mad buying all sorts of paints etc. pick them up bit by bit.

    For thinning it's very hard to give a definite answer - but at least 1 -3 parts water to paint. It depends on the colour (Reds/yellos tend to have pooer coverage then blues) the range of paints and also what you want to do with it. One way of smoothing out you layers is to paint a very thinned layer over the area, this should be coloured water, this will help hide the transitions between layers.

    Practise, practise, practise and dont get disheartened if it doesn't work out, it will eventually click.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Burtondn85 View Post
    Bloodfather: thanks for the tips. ever a wonderful resource. Just to pick your brain (and anybody else's) I own some GW washes (ooooh aaaah) if I were to use those for my layering, or blending or glaze layering or whatever is popular to call it this year, should I use them around the consistency they are at (my goal being around a 5:1 wateraint ratio) or do you think i should thin them a bit? On that note, I assume (I know the formula is different) that their washes are pretty much pre-diluted paint anyway... but I still use them to achieve the desired effect, or is their formula off enough that I should go with regular paint and a bit of water? I would like to reiterate that I understand that art cannot so much be quantified, as it is up to each painter's individual taste, but there are a lot of "oh my God don't do that to those poor minis" kinda moves novice painters tend to make by assuming... anyway thanks again all for your time to help me out! I will repay you all with pretty stuff to look at! (one of these days.)
    We understand that you understand that their are varying opinions on a lot of these topics

    First, I'd say the 5:1 ratio you mentioned may be a bit much if you want to get an Army together in decent time. I don't think some people realize how much water to paint that is. You'll figure out what works for you faster than you think. It doesn't take long to realize the mix that allows you to keep thin coats that don't cover up the sculpt's details yet don't require a million coats. Advanced tip: I read once that you need to stop adding layers earlier than most people think. You might think that your coat isn't opaque enough, and this keep building up layers. So what often results is an almost glossy finish from too many coats. Knowing when to stop keeps a nice matt finish and also keeps the number of layers down which optimizes "smoothness." For me, this is what I am currently working on.

    Washes-To dilute or not to dilute. Many painters will tell you not to dilute. They explain that to do so to an already diluted pigment will only compromise it's purpose. Maybe they are right. I actually rarely use washes, and more often than not I make my own my adding glaze medium, matt medium, a bit of water and of course paint. But I do use washes for some things, like to shade my NMM gold I use VMC smoke. To make black blacker I'll wash with Badab black. But when using GW washes, and maybe others, I always dilute with Matt medium. Reason being is that the new GW shades leave a glossy finish. The Matt medium reduces this. And I often add water too because it just feels too thick most of the time. But again this is a preference and it may be technically unsound.

  15. #15

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    breff007: thanks for the link, I'll check it out as soon as I get a chance!
    Bloodfather: I guess I do have a bad habit of repeating myself, don't I? >.< well, I have been practicing, I got a really smooth green on one of my guys, given it took me waaaaaay too long because I had an issue with the darn VMC bottle (they tend to spurt sometimes with little to no warning) and didn't know how much water to put it, (all the details will be in my blog when I have time to update it) but it came out great. I have been painting some gnomes for a Pathfinder game I'm playing and I'm pretty sure I know what my ratios are now. I'll have to play a bit with it just to fine tune I'm sure but they look pretty nice. the only issue I'm having is that they don't really have any detail, i think it was a bad batch, but the particular ones I'm painting seem to be a bad batch or something because a lot of the detail was gone before I ever touched a brush to them, that and I can't seem to add the kind of depth I want to the flat surfaces, work in progress I suppose. Thanks again for the advice! cheers.

  16. #16

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    Excellent!!! I'm glad you are starting to see results. Notice how the first few layers seem to leave water spots and look bad? But as you build them up it takes on a smooth solid layer? As soon as you start to get the opaqueness you need, maybe even a little bit before, stop layering. This will keep the layers down AND keep it from over glossing. Something to do with the pigment in its binder when adding so many layers... Idk. I just think that this is a secret to mini painting that often goes un-discussed.

    As you start to enjoy painting more and more, you'll likely forget about putting together an army in time, and instead focus on finding and painting the most beautiful minis. If they can be used on the gaming table, great, but if u end up like me you'll just want the best sculpts to work with. I am building a warriors of chaos army, for instance, but I'd hate it if that meant I had to ignore some of the beautiful high elf sculpts or Empire figures. Hope you fall in love with painting.

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