New to painting, thoughts and advice welcome!
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Thread: New to painting, thoughts and advice welcome!

  1. #1

    Default New to painting, thoughts and advice welcome!

    Hello Everyone,
    Brand new to painting like the title says, painted up an old adventuring board game piece and wanted to get your thoughts, opinions and tips to improve.

    I know the picture quality isn't great but it's what I have to work with currently. I started off using some cheap paints from my local WalMart, Apple Barrel mostly but the metallics are Folk Art. I still haven't based the piece, wanted to focus more on the painting itself than anything at this point.

    Also I noticed that my primer (I primed black) seemed to crack a bit on the back, could this be from putting too much primer or perhaps from doing the priming out in the sun?

    Thanks for all the feedback, advice and comments!
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  2. #2


    Welcome! Ah, I remember painting one of those figures a long while back. Good times. =)

    First let me say you're off to a good start. Looks like you've got nice coverage with your colors and the application looks pretty smooth (not caked on there). There are a couple spots where one color got a bit outside the lines (like at the sleeves) but overall the brush control looks good and you'll get better at that with practice.

    As for offering advice, a lot of that depends on what you want to do with your painting. Is your goal to paint up board gaming figures (or war gaming figures) so they look good on the table? Do you want to make display pieces and perhaps enter them into competitions? Are you just looking for a new hobby and don't really have any more planned than that? Or something else?

    In most cases, I'd say the thing to focus on for your next project (and many more projects after that... it takes a while to learn) is shading and highlighting. You can find articles and tutorials online about zenithal lighting. Basically the idea is you imagine there's a halo of light above the figure and then paint shadows and highlights based on that imagined light source. One quick way to see it is to prime with both black and white. Start with a complete coat of your black primer, like you did for the orc. Then get a can of white primer and spray the mini from above. It works best if it's not directly above, but at a slight angle. Repeat as you rotate the mini (so above and slightly in front, then above and slightly to the left side, right side, and rear). Here is an example of a piece I did this on, from the Zombicide board game. I've repainted some of the skin, but you can see the primer has created light and shadow for me.

    Some people add another step, grey primer from the sides, before the white. That probably gives you smoother more gradual transitions. This can be a great guide as you paint the figure. Or, you can just use glazes or shades (thinned down paint) over the black/white priming to tint the figure. That way the underlying white and black shading shows through, but is tinted the color of whatever it's supposed to be. The end result probably won't win you any competitions, but it is a quick way to get some decent looking gaming figures. As you get more ambitious in your painting, you can work on various blending techniques and do your own shading/highlighting. Correct placement of highlights and shadows along with good smooth blending takes a long long time to master. Most of us here are still working on it! So don't get frustrated. Just keep painting and try to make each project just a little bit better than the last.

    You may already have a bunch of figures to paint, but if not, check out Reaper's line of Bones figures. They're not the greatest figures, but they are cheap and useful for practicing. Once you feel like you're getting the hang of it, you can invest in some higher quality figures.
    But, most importantly, paint what you want to paint. If it's not fun, what's the point? There are a ton of mini companies out there (Games Workshop, Privateer Press, Infinity, Malifaux, etc), so find figures that you like and work on them.

  3. #3


    Thank you for the reply Bailey, I'm actually looking into shading now as it is something that I am lacking at the moment. My goal is to paint up Warhammer 40k miniatures. I've got a decent starter box (Dark Vengeance) but eventually want to branch out into Imperial Guard as my primary army choice. I figured I'd start with some of these orc models that I had laying around to get used to painting, priming and all that before I moved on to the more expensive models.

    I'll do some reading and watching on shading and highlighting and post into this thread here with my next piece so that I can get some comments on how I've improved and where to go next.

    I find it difficult to keep a steady hand when painting fine details and where it transitions between belt and robe and skin and robe. Any tips on steadying yourself better, I usually brace myself on the desk in front of me but I still find a bit of a shake going on.

    I'm looking forward to improving and showing off how things come out.

  4. #4


    Others may have more suggestions on how to keep your hands from shaking while you paint. I tend to brace my arm on the edge of my painting station right around the wrist. I've usually got some sort of temporary base/holder for the figure and I may also brace the side of my hand or pinky on that while I paint. I'm often turning the figure or changing how I hold it so I get the easiest access to whichever part I'm painting... so how I try to steady my hands keeps changing. And I'll still make mistakes and have to go back and clean them up.

    One thing I've seen people do for really small details like eyes is use their non painting hand to help steady the brush. Of course you can't be holding the figure at the time, so you need some sort of stand to keep it from moving. Hold your brush like you normally do. Then take your non painting hand and place you're index finger against the brush just below the tip. You still move your brush like you normally would, but that other hand provides some resistance and helps keep it steady. Experiment using a brush without paint and see if you feel like you have more control. Or take a piece of scrap and try to paint your name.

  5. #5


    I actually got some decent shots of how i paint in my last video (actually more than i would like - stupid staying in frame). You can see in this video how I place my hands...
    I often rest my elbows on the table and then brace my pinky and/or ring finger on my brush hand to my thumb or what ever i am holding the mini with in the other hand, for really really fine work (eyes) I will brace my forearms on the table and then brace my hands palm to palm and use only my brush fingers for the smallest of movement.

    Hope that helps
    "Remember, you can't spell paint without a little pain."

    Instagram: almost_zab
    DeviantArt Handle: AlmostZab
    Art Amino Handle: Almost Perftec Painting
    P&P: Neil Szabo

  6. #6


    Thanks for the advice guys, I'll try that out when I get some time to paint again. Unfortunately weekdays are always busy so it might not be until next weekend that I get some free time.

    Do you happen to have any tips on thinning paint, do you usually use thinning products or water? I used water on my first piece and applied it directly onto the paint with a dropper bottle but it seems to be too watery. Should I put the water next to the paint and mix it in gradually maybe?

    Also what products do you use for basing your miniatures, I've seen static grass and sand. What about the adhesive for the base? Anything specific that works well?

    Thanks so much for the tips and the video! Looking forward to learning and improving.

  7. #7


    For most of my thinning I just use water. Some people use distilled water because, as I understand it, if the tap water has a lot of minerals in it that can create a chalky end result or something like that. I use tap water and haven't seen any problems. When I want to really thin the paint to create a glaze (something to tint the existing paint) then I'll use water and a glaze medium. Some people like to add in a bit of matte medium. I suggest you experiment and see what works best for you.

    You should also consider creating a wet palette. You can make one with stuff you probably already have. Here are two links to how to articles. You can find many more and video ones on google.

    There are lots of different materials you can use for your bases. I recommend checking out the tutorials over on Massive Voodoo. They have a lot of basing ideas and you can hopefully find some that relate to whatever scene you're thinking of creating.

    Sand can make a nice rocky texture, baking soda will create a finer looking texture (more like sand at that smaller scale). People also use actual dirt too. Cork can be torn apart to create some nice basing texture and built on. I find the cork trivets from ikea are great (cheap and nice and thick). I'm not a huge fan of static grass, but it can still be useful.

    For larger pieces I'll use superglue to attach them to the base. For smaller texture stuff (like sand, baking soda, static grass, etc) I just use regular white glue (like elmers). I squeeze some onto a piece of foil and then use an old brush to apply it where I want it on the base. That gives you a lot more control over where it goes and the result isn't as thick as just squeezing it onto the base.

  8. #8


    I'll second the tap water. I use various mediums too for various effects, but when you are just starting water is fine. What water you use depends on the quality in your area. Basing, dirt sand cork bark slate - dude your imagination is completely unlimited. I use watered down carpenters glue or super glue or gorilla glue fro various effects - again the sky is the limit, just play around and try out things to see what you can do
    "Remember, you can't spell paint without a little pain."

    Instagram: almost_zab
    DeviantArt Handle: AlmostZab
    Art Amino Handle: Almost Perftec Painting
    P&P: Neil Szabo

  9. #9


    Ahhh, this thread made me happy. I also started out with Heroquest minis! (The first time I started, that is)

    And then Bailey posts a Zombicide mini, which is what I started out with the *second* time I started painting. Good times.

    For making bases, watered down PVA glue of any kind is your friend. Use less water when first placing the sand (or whatever you use), then thin it to 50/50 and apply it to everything. This will seal the base so that no small bits come loose.

  10. #10


    Been a busy week and weekend what with work and family coming out to visit, but I did manage to paint up another miniature using some of the techniques you all talked about above. I find that bracing a finger on the model is giving me much more control over my brush, thanks for that tip! I also tried the zenithal highlighting using a black base coat of primer and then a 45 degree spray over the top with a white primer.

    I tried to keep things smoother this time, and the primer went on without cracking on drying which I'm pretty sure was from putting on too much primer. I also attempted some highlighting on the model's robes with a lighter blue base coat and shading it with a darker blue once it dried. I did similar on the skin starting with a medium green and using darker to highlight the shadows and lighter where the light would hit it more.

    I think it turned out well, it looks much better than my first attempt in my opinion.

    Comments, critiques and tips are welcome!

    Note: I'm still using cheap paint (Apple Barrel and Folk Art), I'm thinking of going and getting some higher grade paints (reaper, vallejo, citadel, etc) to try out on a few remaining orc and goblin miniatures I have before I move on to some 40k models I had bought early last year. Any tips on colors/washes I should pick up for a starter set?

    Also tried out a wet pallet, I like it quite a bit, I've put it in a small square baking foil tin with a plastic lid, keeps it pretty moist throughout the painting process!
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