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  1. #1

    Default Veteran newbie

    Hi everyone,

    Back in the day, I painted a lot. I wouldn't say I was great, but I wasn't bad either. As I became an 'adult', I found that I had less and less time to paint, and eventually I stopped completely. This was 12-13 years ago, I guess I had about ten years of experience before I gave it up..

    Last week, me and my fiance found that we wanted a table top game that we could play with just the two of us, something that both satisfied her need for simplicity and my desire for complexity, and we ended up with Zombiecide (if you haven't tried it, you should consider doing so, it is great). However, we quickly found that the minis are frustratingly similar, despite having different colors. So soon, we decided that I need to buy paint (I threw out my old, completely dry paint last time I moved) and paint them. This suits me just fine, since I've been dying to get back to painting again, just never found time. Now I can paint while she knits. Score!

    However, my skills are old and rusty and a lot of stuff has happened since the nineties when I did most of my painting. I'm just not up to speed. Back then, I did a lot of washes and drybrushing, and was pretty pleased with that, but I see there's a lot more going on now and I feel a little daunted by all the tutorials and articles I can find online.

    Any help would be appreciated, I've already poked around Massive Voodoo and these forums for a bit, but I feel the need for something *really* basic - a good beginners guide would suit me fine. I'll be painting for gaming, not for contests or display.

    Thanks in advance - I am really looking forward to bringing out those brushes again!

  2. #2


    First off, welcome back!!!! You came to the right place. You won't get more exposure anywhere than here with your questions and your work. So you are already on your way to improving simply by joining CMON!

    As far as a beginner's guide, I know that these exist, but I do things a bit
    different. I can give you some good ideas for some tutorials to read first, and then move on to tutorials that are specific to what you are currently painting. So, I'd start with reading some tuts on thinning your paint and blending.
    This is the basic stuff that is used on every mini. Also, read up on some materials to buy. Paint brushes, wet pallets, glaze mediums, slow dry, etc. At a minimum get a good Kolinsky sable brush before starting.If you're really serious about painting, you will come around to this eventually.
    Ok so this is enough to start, but future tutorials should be based upon your current project. So if it's a mini with a lot of skin, look up how to paint skin tones, faces, and eyes. If it's got a lot of armor on, lookup NMM or TMM. Get specific as to what you're painting. This is how I learned, anyway. But use your google machine, search the articles on here, MV, Tutofig, and many many other sites. The info is out there, it's just a matter of patiently finding it. If you ever have trouble figuring out how to do ANYTHING (the tutorial doesn't exist or is poorly worded) just go back to this forum and ask away. Wait 24 hours and you'll have a multitude of answers. Good luck to you my friend!!
    Last edited by Dragonsreach; 08-04-2014 at 11:56 AM.
    ​You are ranked 1 out of 9149 artists.
    BloodFather's Axis of Chaos

  3. #3


    Hey Oistene,

    Welcome back aboard.

    My family and I are right into Zombicide. And we have also gotten sick of grey plastic on the table. I currently have 96 of the creeping dead midway through painting (20 Z dogs and 76 Z's). My usual style of painting is make it as good as I can preferably better than the last mini I painted. That's fine for a single mini or display piece. But when you have 200+ Zombies, 20 or 30 odd survivor and zombivor figures to paint and more on the way (we signed up for Season 3 with enough cash for a lot of the options) that just doesn't cut it. We want to play with painted figures sometime this year afterall.

    My first decision that departs from my usual practices was to not clean the mold lines off the figures at all. I tried on one, the casting was pretty nasty and the plastic is quite soft making cleaning more difficult than I've experienced on any other minis. That and 200 figures worth of cleaning up is a lot of time. I did give the minis a good clean in soapy water and with a toothbrush to remove any mold release residue. Pretty important with any figure but the Zombicide figures don't take well to paint as a mate of mine discovered. His Zombies flake paint if you look at the sideways.

    You'll want to get a good primer to try and avoid this flaking issue. Don't use GW Chaos Black or White from a can. I have an airbrush and used Vallejo model air grey primer on the ones I'm painting. They are getting a lot more handling than my display minis get and no flaking or rubbing yet. If you search for primer in this section of the forum you will find a heap of threads with other recommendations.

    Another thing I've done with my Zombies is glue a washer on the bottom of each one. This helps them stand up better and is part of my plan for storing them once painted. We are going to get a set of drawers and line the bottom with magnetic rubber mat.

    In the CMON store there are a couple of Tutorial DVDS about painting Armies. It might be worth picking them up to get an idea about good methods for painting bulk lots of figures.

    Now onto my recommendations for actually painting the suckers. If you can afford the setup cost and the time to learn a little before starting on the figures, an airbrush will be your good friend. I have one and was able to get primer and a couple of set up coats on all 96 figures we are working on in about 2 hours. If an AB is out of the question then I suggest you look into the Army Painter line of spray cans and get a couple of different colours in those and spray your Zombies with the colours that are going to be most prevelant on the figure. You'll want a rotting flesh type colour for the ones with lots of exposed skin. And a couple of other colours for the ones with a lot of clothing.

    I spent yesterday evening doing multiple colour washes on the flesh tones of my zombies. I wanted to set up the shading and get a bit of grunge into my otherwise clean bright slightly green fleshtone. My next stage is to base coat their clothes. We plan on varying up the colour schemes but in a basic way. The S1 box has 8 of each Zombie so we are going to for the runners for example do this. Paint the shorts and pants of say 2 in blue and the jacket/shirts yellow. On another 2 we'll flip that so the pants are yellow and the tops blue. If we use the same colours on other figures we can paint maybe 8-10 using the same colours but with slightly different schemes and get good variation. The clothes will then get some washes to establish shading and grunge factor. After that all areas will be hit with some lighter toned versions of the base coats on the high areas. We might hit the shadows with a darker tone also. These would be thinned so that the wash layer will show through. The final stage would be to go back and paint eyes mouths and any shoes and accessories.

    Hope some of that wall of text is useful.

  4. #4


    Sounds like you have a good basic grasp of the fundamentals.

    Washes, dry-brushing, highlights/shadows, and black-lining, are the basics. Most other techniques are a derivative and/or combination of these basic techniques.

    And as the others have said,.. if you have questions,..ask!! the people here are always happy to share what they know.
    It's only a flesh wound!!!

  5. #5


    Yes, welcome back.

    I'd look into Army Painter Dip or Minwax Polyshades. These are tinted polyurethane vanishes that can settle into cracks and provide shading easily. I know a elite painter might poo-poo this, but it gives decent results with a very low labor investment. It also protects the figure with a pretty tough coat. It will be super glossy do follow up with a coat of Dull-Cote or similar.

    I'd also set up a bit of an assembly line, doing 10-20 at a time, and then 10-20 different models. This leads to lower quality as I tend to cut corners when I do this, but let us face facts: you're going to add color to models for playing a game; you're not attempting great works of art. The trick is to work in sets where you're not overwhelmed by, but big enough to make progress. You'll need to strike a balance between soulless factory labor and real art where you complete your project in a timely fashion and more importantly, complete your project.

    Finally, since you're paint game peices, I'd go for a uniform scheme. Sorry, not a Zombiecide player, but if all the basic zombies are green plastic and the "fast" zombies are yellow plastic, then paint them in green and yellow clothing respectively. Realistic? No, but a buddy who comes over won't confuse your color scheme with the purpose of the models. No point in pouring effort into the models to the game harder to play.

  6. #6


    Thanks for the welcome, and for the tips, everyone. A lot of good tips here... in the meantime, I've been doing a lot of reading, and I see that my skills aren't as obsolete as I thought. I've also been out shopping, and I now own more brushes than I ever had as a kid. I have far less colors though, but will fix that later.

    Currently, we have Seasons 1 and 2, and every mini box except the dogs. We also signed up for the kickstarter, but I got there late and only got the after closing pack. Shame that I don't have the time I used to have back then, but I guess the lack of time is why I have a proper income now.

    Last night, my fiance also expressed a desire to paint, so we can probably get a lot of zombies done quickly. I've considered how to color code them, but nothing's been decided yet. I'm leaning towards a simple color code around the base at the moment.

    For now, I have a couple concrete questions:

    1) I see some people use washes in what seems to be *lighter* colors to create highlights. I'm used to wash for shadow, then drybrush for highlight. How does this work? Can you link me to a guide that explains this in a way my old brain understands?

    2) While brushing my teeth this morning and thinking of minis (yeah, I'm there already), I realized that I'm running into a problem - I have no idea how to paint zombie flesh. Like so many of us, I started out with Warhammer and RPGs back in the day, and did a lot of skeletons back then. At the end of my career, I did a bunch of minis for Deadlands and the Great Rail Wars, and painted a lot of walking dead for that, pretty much using the same technique I'd used for skeletons. This fit well with the dried up, dusty cowboy look for Deadland's Harrowed, and I consider this some of my best work, so I was thinking that I had this covered. But... that look won't the right for the modern, urban look in Zombiecide. So can anyone point me to a good guide for zombie flesh? I also need help picking colors. Local hobby store has Vallejo, local game/comic book store has GW and Army Builder (or something, a Danish brand), so I can get pretty much anything.

  7. #7


    Regarding your first question... Highlights can be gradually, and seamlessly, built up by glazes of successively lighter colours. A glaze is similar to a wash in that you use heavily diluted paint in both cases. The difference is in how you apply them. When you do a wash you apply paint abundantly and let it sink into any recesses of the model. A glaze uses only very little paint that you stretch out like a very thin film over a surface. This will slightly change the colour of that surface. If you do it repeatedly, you can build up stronger effects in a very controlled way. It can be used for many purposes, including highlighting. Learning to handle and control glazes takes a bit of practice and is not as easy as washing. It also is quite time consuming, but it can give you very nice results.
    Combibo vestri peniculus quod fio a melior pictor.
    My gallery - go have a look!

  8. #8


    For your second question.

    The GW range will have a zombie like fleshtone. In the old range it was called rotting flesh. A kind of greeny grey fleshtone. I'm not sure about the new range as I haven't bought any of them.

    I mixed up my skin tone from what I have. I used a tip of green, a tip of red, a brushload of grey all mixed into a a heap of A bone colour. On the first few I overdid the green but some glazes of the mix for the rest sorted them out. I've then chucked on some washes of purple, blue, green and brown pretty randomly to help bring out the shadows. I plan to do some heavy glazes of the flesh colour over the top. Hopefully this will end up with mottled looking final tone with the wash colours showing through the transparent glazes. I've also fiddled with putting on some veins in blue and purple and then glazing over them with the fleshtone to make them look like they are under the surface of the skin.

    I'm currently only painting the standard zombies so I haven't implemented anything to differentiate the types yet. I'm doing dark bases for the standard type. I'll go a lighter base with maybe some water effects with a bright green or yellow mixed in for toxic goo on the Toxics. And maybe a red brown base (similar to the plastic colour) for the beserkers with some scattered metal bits. I'm in for S3 but not sure what I'll do with the new types from that.

  9. #9


    Ritual - So far the best explanation of washes I've seen, until now, I didn't grasp the difference. So the difference between a wash and a glaze isn't as much in the properties of the paint, as it is in the way you apply it, am I correct?

    Stew - Thanks. Heading down to town today, so we'll see what I'll end up with.

  10. #10


    There's occasionally debate on the wash/glaze thing here. I agree with ritual. You can use the same consistency of paint to apply either a wash or a glaze. A wash floods the area and allows the paint to settle. A glaze is applied very thinly so that the start of the stroke is drying as you lift the brush off at the end (very little on the brush) and gives much greater control. Others like their glazes to be thinner than their washes. So what you said is about the bones of it (to me at least).

    Good luck with the shopping.

  11. #11


    Exactly, and you may want to use different dilution rates, both for washes and glazes, for different purposes. Sometimes, when doing bases, for instance, you might want to do a quite heavy wash with less diluted paint and at other times you may prefer more of "coloured water" and build up effects by mulptiple washes. Same for glazes. Never lock yourself down to certain dilution rates and say "this is how thin a wash should be, this is how thin a glaze should be" etc. Dilution rate is a tool, so don't be afraid to experiment with it and see what works best for different situations.
    Combibo vestri peniculus quod fio a melior pictor.
    My gallery - go have a look!

  12. #12


    At my (theoretical) intermediate level, will I be good using just water for dilution, or should I buy thinner?

    I broke down yesterday and bought a box of Quickshade dip - I was convinced by Sorastros amazing painting guide for Zombiecide, and it will let us get that horde up and running fast. Doesn't mean that I won't have use for washes and glazes, though, devil is in the details.

  13. #13


    Water is fine as a thinner, just make sure to use distilled water if your tap water has a high mineral content. If you want to get more complicated look into "Gunk" recipes. It's a combination of water/flow aid/slow dri that works well and once you start making it you can easily modify the proportions to fit your use.

  14. #14


    Water is fine. I've used tap water my whole life. I am not sure how bad your tap water needs to be to become a problem. You'll have to test that for yourself.

    The only time I put any "stuff" in my paint is when I'm doing very transparent glazes. I then put some glaze medium in my paint. Glaze medium is similar to the stuff that is used as a binder in the paints. If you dilute your paints really, really much the binder might not be enough to keep the pigments together, working as a paint. It can lead to uneven results. Of course, since the paint is so thin, it will not be a strong effect, but it can build up over consecutive layers. By adding glaze medium when thinning the paint that much it will be easier to apply smoothly. It is not necessary, lots of people do fine without it, but I find it makes life just a little bit easier.
    Combibo vestri peniculus quod fio a melior pictor.
    My gallery - go have a look!

  15. #15


    Sounds like something I can pick up when I get at least back to my previous level, maybe even need to advance a bit for that. I'll note everything in my Evernote for later use. Thanks!

  16. #16


    If you're taking notes for later, look into Liquitex when you eventually go to buy Flow Improver/Slow Dri/Matte Medium/other additives (specifically Slow-Dri Fluid retarder, they make a few different slow-dri products). They are reasonably priced, have many different sized containers (4oz to 1 gallon for their medium) and are great in general. The only problem I've ever had is with their gloss varnish sometimes remaining tacky, although if you're looking for a paint/airbrush gloss, Vallejo makes the best gloss imo. The liquitex products mix well with every paint brand I've tried it with and the matte medium mixed with water is great for revitalizing paint that has partially dried out. has all their products, as well as a lot of other artist supply stuff (Brushes, brush soap, containers etc) that might come in handy as you acquire things at very good prices.

    One thing I would highly recommend is getting a porcelain palette (Blickart as a lot of these in different configurations but any local art store should carry them, either way they're < $10). They are an absolute dream to clean in that most paint will just wipe off after you've soaked them a bit and they save a ton of time and aggravation on cleanup.

  17. #17


    I've been slowly switching over to Golden Artists acrylics for my paints. Big tubes for anywhere from $9 -$40 depending on the pigments in them. When I say big. Big enough that I expect it will be years or nearly all of my current stock of models before I have to replace some/any of the colours. Now to the point. They are a little different to use so I have watched a few tutorials for canvas art etc. In one of those the artist was talking about thinning paint and recommended never adding more than 30% water to any of your paints. She said if you want any more dilution than that add in some medium. I have noticed that since I began using matte medium (and a good primer) in my paints I have less/no issues with handling causing paint to rub/flake off. Not that I handle my minis much anyway. But I used to lose paint really easily especially on those minis where I had experimented with super thin paint thinned only with water.

    On palettes. I recommend experimenting with a wet palette. Mine is a cheap lunchbox with a kitchen sponge in the bottom. You wet the sponge, (mine works best if no water pools around it) and then lay a piece of baking paper over the top of the sponge and lay your paint mixes out on the baking paper. The wet sponge keeps the paint cooler and slows the drying process that way. The paint also takes up water at a fairly slow rate through the baking paper also keeping it wet. I can paint for hours with the same puddle of paint providing it doesn't run out. When I'm done for the day I can put the lid on and stick it in the fridge. The paint will usually be useful for days. It will eventually sop up enough water to become too thin to use.

  18. #18


    I have to say, the OP was treated with some great responses here from some excellent artists. Thread is a general painting guide-sticky worthy.
    ​You are ranked 1 out of 9149 artists.
    BloodFather's Axis of Chaos

  19. #19


    I feel honored. And I do indeed feel that I've learned more the past few days through this forum and others I've found to this forum, than I ever did through a decade of practice (I did get a steadier hand, though). Still haven't gotten around to actually paint anything, but I've prepped many and primed a few, all I need now is some time to actually sit down.

    If this post IS made sticky, I'll collect some of the other helpful tips and tutorials I've collected, and make a post to sum it all up. Maybe with some feedback on what worked well and not.

  20. #20


    My advice: Have fun! Be patient! And never paint something you don't like

    Nothing wrong with drybrushing. You can get really great results with drybrushing, mixed with some washing. As you said you want your minis for gaming. Set your goal high, but somehow realistic.
    I'm not familar with this Zombigame, but if there are hordes to paint maybe get two colours of cans for basecoat (black and maybe a military green or sandbrown). This way you can spray them all at once. Coat all black first and then spray slightly from above with other colour. This way you get some nice basic result to start painting. After using many brands I find the Armypainter spraycans very good (Just not the "gun metal" one...). For me painting whole units is a pain in the .... If you paint them one by one it's really time consuming and annoying. Painting them all at once, Ford production style, saves time and energy for the real nice character models

    If you are starting to buy paints again I would get the Vallejo ones for painting, not much difference in the price, but I think Vallejo have slightly more pigments and I like the bottles more (god knows how many GW bottles I spilled on the floor...). I just recently tried Scale 75 and AK paints, they are great too. The washes and glazes from GW are great though, bought a pack of them once and never had the feel to test others since...

    Finally! PROTECT your painted artworks! Get some kind of spray to coat them. As you will play with them, paint will chip off eventually. Just recently I painted some Descent characters for my friends and forgot to protect them before we started to play....all the work was for none, as the paint chiped of from noses, weapons, just about anywhere where I invested the most time painting ;(

    Anyway, as said in the beginning, have fun!
    Last edited by Jike Ichi; 08-11-2014 at 04:39 PM.

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