21 March 2012

A Newbie Guide: Painting Miniatures part 2

Read part 1 here.

The plan

As you can tell from the image above I have racked up a lot of experience painting brown clothing. Because the long coats are usually the largest area on the models I tend to do them first. Our miniature of choice for this project, Francisco Ortega, has a similar long coat which I intend to paint brown, inline with the rest of the family. I will use a similar colour palette to the one I used for Santiago Ortega (above, two pistols and ginger hair) which I have illustrated below.

To simplify my painting process I have laid it out visually in a step by step process. Take into account this is an over-simplified process – there are often in between steps and I will make decisions as I go (for example, I may throw in an additional wash of Sepia to tweak the overall colour, plus I've recently started to paint darker shadows back in later on in the process). However, it offers a good starting point.

Step 1, which is illustrated as pure black, is basically the undercoat covered in part 1. As you can see I build up the colour until I have a pure brown, then move onto the mid-highlights each time painting less and less of the model.

Once I reach the pure Bleached Bone highlight I will usually wash the entire area in Devlan Mud to unify and deepen the layers so far. The process then begins again, rinse and repeat, this time with Bleached Bone and White. Once I'm at the pure White stage I may stop, if I've had enough or feel it's all working nicely. Sometimes, however, I need a stage 12 – another wash, followed by re-application of the final highlight – to boost things a little.

I use this same process with everything I paint by simply substituting the colours. By starting with black and finishing with white when I paint, I have a set of miniatures with a uniform look, even if they are totally different colours. This is great for my crews in Malifaux who are by nature individual characters.

Tools for the job?

I used to use Games Workshop products exclusively, for no reason other then I was only buying their models and it was easy enough to pick up paints and brushes at the same time. I quickly learned that I didn't like some of their stuff (superglue) but the paints and brushes have always served me well. The shift into Malifaux, together with greater exposure to some fantastic blogs, lead me to try Vallejo paint. I'm slowly expanding my collection of these and have recently moved to Kolinsky Sable brushes which do hold and maintain a point for far longer. Unfortunately, my lack of quality maintenance (it's the genes!) means they don't survive any longer than GW's cheaper alternatives.

My painting/construction tray

As for other items, I have limited space available so everything has to be compact. I use a ramekin for my water and the plastic lid from a Pringles tube as a palette. Why not use a proper palette or plate? I do on occasion, but when I need to clean my lid-palette I just turn it inside out and peel off the dried acrylic – no water or soap required. I don't use any fancy mediums or other liquid to mix in with the paint – I'm from the North so like things straightforward and that all seems very frilly and unnecessary to me, I just use paint and water. Having said that, I am quite intrigued by the wet-palette concept and can see a real use for this. Maybe one day.

Next, we may actually see some paint!…

Read part 3a here


  1. Man, I love, love, love your painting/construction tray! What was it before you enlisted it in your painting servitude? Shit, mine was a manky old towel dumped on any solid work surface, and everything else in a shoebox.

  2. This is a big help and it tells me that I'm more on track with the mini I'm doing now than with the last one. I love the Vallejo paints and I'm using the Kolinsky Sable brushes as well. For the final highlights you're going all the way up to a white. I'll have to try that and then do a final wash over it to see if I can get something that light to blend.

    Can you tell me where you got these figures at and what the series is called. I really like these and want to buy some of them.

  3. You see that's a proper painting tray...messy but functional!

  4. @Mark
    The tray is actually a Games Workshop "painting station" that I've had for over 10 years now – it's been a very worthwhile investment.

    The models featured are all Malifaux stuff, in particular from the Perdita and Lady Justice box sets (also available separately) that feature on a previous post of mine:

    Yes, try as I might it ends up messy in no time. This is actually relatively tidy, haha!

  5. I shall have to give your mixing ratio a try, i keep meaning to pick up some Vallejo paints, BoW go on about them quite a bit.

  6. Okay, it's the night before I post my next mini and I'm trying to do the cape like you did yours. I used the same method as you did here and am on the final stage. I hope I do okay. And thank you for this.