19 March 2012

A Newbie Guide: Painting Miniatures part 1

Scales of Justice - one of my first Malifaux miniatures


This series is dedicated to Anne of Anne's Attic blog who recently painted her first gaming miniature. She was rather unhappy with her first attempt and asked her viewers for feedback. Naturally the comments were all positive as she had actually done a pretty fine job for a first timer. It made me remember how I felt when I first started painting miniatures and the unwarranted frustration that I could not get close to the models I saw in magazines (long before the internet and blogging).

My first minis – flat colour only

I'm not a great painter. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy with the quality of the models I produce and, blowing my own trumpet, they are usually better than 'gaming standard' (whatever that actually means). However, I am no expert; I have never entered/won a (serious) painting competition; I have never had lessons or been employed to paint. I have my painting style, it suits me and produces results I am happy with and a lot of gamers I know admire.

Yet, I have a daily battle with my genes. I have one parent who has a definite "that will do" attitude to everything in life, putting tools down once the minimum amount of effort required has been expended. My other parent is a perfectionist, to the point of obsession. I have inherited both of these aspects, so fight to navigate a middle ground in everything I do. When it comes to painting this usually means I'm slow to finish anything and I'm rarely completely happy with the final product, but I'm learning to cope.

Painting Blood Angels

In the last couple of years, since starting my Blood Angels, my painting has improved. Learning to blend shadows through to highlights on all that red armour (as well as reading lots of blog posts) helped me develop my technique to get results that I liked. Once I moved onto Malifaux I decided to do away with metallic paint and try the NMM (non metallic metal) route. This built upon what I had learned with the armour, with mixed results to this day. I am constantly looking to improve, but that is not what this article is about.

The Executioner – with NMM blades and backpack

Yes, this article is about going back to the beginning. If I was coming into the miniature painting scene a complete newbie I want some help. As I mentioned earlier, I'm no expert but I will demonstrate how I go about painting a given model and if the newbie painters can get anything from it then it will be a successful series. The more established painters may find this all very familiar or frown at the techniques I employ. Whoever you are, get out of it what you can.

On to the painting…

The miniature in question will be Francisco Ortega, member of The Guild in Malifaux. Due to his mediocre showing in games he has fallen to the back of the queue and now spends his time as a proxy Desperate Merc for which I don't yet own a model.

He was clipped from the metal tab at his feet and pinned to a resin base as described in my Newbie Guide for resin bases. Mould lines were filed and gaps filled with greenstuff. He was sprayed lightly with Chaos Black spray from several angles to make sure the paint didn't clog the detail. Once thoroughly dry I took a brush to him and gave him an all over coat of diluted black, to fill in the missed bits and make sure it was even colour all over.

Next, we move on to some colour…

Read part 2 here.


  1. I love your painting style. Where do you get these fantastic figures from? I thinkthe Scales of Justice figure and the big bellied guy with the blades are wonderful.

  2. Thanks Mark. These are all Malifaux miniatures by Wyrd. The link for Francisco will take you to their store.

  3. Oi! You're a good painter, that executioner is spot on (I find NMM really difficult, nice work).

    Looking forward to seeing your techniques in future posts (there will be no frowning ;) ).

  4. Some really excellent painting, nice one!!!

  5. I've been offline for a few days and just got back and saw this. Thank you so very much. And I have to say that you're being far too modest, you are a great painter!! The subtle shading on The Executioner is fantastic.

    I'm working on my second figure now and am using the layering of colors like you did on you Blood Angels and It's coming out so much better. I plan on posting in on Friday and I'll mention this tutorial with a link when I do the post.

  6. I have to say that I love your painting style and you can outpaint the 20 odd years experience I have as well!

    I still can't pull of NMM and every time I try it's something that should not be done.

  7. Thanks all, very kind.
    I have to say I'm really enjoying the painting at the minute and looking forward to this series of posts.