Painting Miniatures
Orc Captain
This is a list of notes to myself, saved in the most convenient way I know how with pictures.

Start to finish, here's a run down of my technique:

Photos for Web - reminder

Light box as shown, camera set up for 28mm set camera charged and on line with table, short lens on bristol sheet. Mini on (X). Transfer to pics bin, open with PS, crop, edit, save to web as JPG (Very High, 80 quality, new width 1680, new height 1050 (whichever is lowest.) Save to web as Gif width 200 for thumbnail. save to /images/mini pics/

Clean Prep and Prime

I prime most minis, metal and plastic. Open up the package, and take off the flash and mold lines with a knife or file. Scrape the knife toward you with the blade away from you, don't "cut" flash or you'll dig deep. Plastic minis can be sanded, or filed, or scraped with a knife. Just watch the mold lines digging. I do flash scraping twice, second time after it's washed and you can really see it. Hold lines up to lights from two angles, catch the shadow of flash lines, before your paint does that and it's too late.

Fill two warm bowls with water (tuperware, whatever) Put dish soap in one, and wash each mini with an old tooth brush. Rinse in the clean, and set aside. Wash them all, and let them air dry in a clear box with paper-towls on the bottom. Leave them for days till dry, and pat them off if they are soaked. Check flashing again, under a bright light, and sand if you have to.

Stripping paint: I use SimpleGreen, diluted 5:1 or more, no need for super concentrated. Fill cup, submerge fig, leave a day, brush off the paint goo with a tooth brush. Wash the figure with water, use a tooth pick to clear out details. Hit it with the compressor, and you're ready to prime again. SimpleGreen will not just remove paint it can remove primer too.
Primer. Touch up primer I use Acrylic Gesso, using Liquitex currently.

Primer notes: Krylon Fusion is primer and paint, works for metal well. Do not use on Bones PVC minis. Army Painter Primer is solid, works on everything. Prime in lower humidity and temp, nice day = nice prime. Distance from model is key, follow directions and try a test rock every time. Shake 2 minutes, set up spot outside. Spray across, don't start on the figure, start off and walk it across the mini. Shake between, and watch particle build up. Primer on humid days, or old primer, will spray tiny chunks of paint. It will look like sandpaper on the mini. You can brush the mini with a dry tooth brush and remove "some" of the texture without removing the primer. It works for areas you want to be shiny, it will buff up before you apply first base coat. Test primer before every job, prime a rock and toss it.

Still love Gesso for touchup, but I need to find a better way of priming. My way is too weather dependent. Try some new Gessos this summer.

Facts, put them someplace.

GUNK = 5:4:1 H2O: Flow aid: Retarder - currently using Liquitex Flow Aid (diluted 20:1 H20:Flow) and Liquitex Slow-DRI Fluid Retarder. Base coating is best done in layers, with a thin coat several times. Thick coats fill gaps, and make a great sculpt look average.

Brush care: Don't ever stand up a brush in a water cup, the bristles will form a hook, and it can't be fixed. If you are done with a brush: clean out the paint, dip in water and wipe on paper towels. Clean till nothing wipes off, dip it in the water cup, and leave it on the cup sideways till it's time to clean. Between colors same. End of the session, clean cup, palettes, in sink, using a sponge impregnated with prior dawn soap. Clean the brush in palm, under running water, not too hot (bristles glued in brush can come loose.) Wipe brush in B&J Brush Cleaner. Masters brush cleaner

I clean brushes with B&J every time I use them. I gunk them again after cleaning them, and shape the brush head and leave it to dry with the cleaner on it. If I come back to the brush five years later, it still has a good point. Clean a brush like you paint with it, don't crush the bristles. Don't leave your tips touching anything, dry or wet. It will save your brushes for years.

The PVC plastics used by Reaper for their Bones minis are hydrophobic. You can prime them with a primer that does not contain Acetone. Most spray primers do contain acetone, and acetone melts pvc. I use Army Painter primer for Bones. If you do not prime Bones, you can paint them, however you cannot use thin paint for base coats. You must use thicker paints, with low additives. Is the mini super important? Prime it. Is the mini for your daughter to paint 1 entire color? Skip the prime.

Here's some gems:

Things to get better at:

Wash Experiment 6-6-20

I am doing several sample washes over the same basecolor (P3 Menolith White Base.) Bases are made from Souffle Sculpey (300 for 20 minutes at least) and Greenstuff. Primed with Krylon Fusion. Side Note: Paint was super hydrophobic. Paint went on super easy on another K Fusion primed model, perhaps my primer is going bad.

    Expected outcomes:
  1. Golden paint leaves coffee rings because it has larger pigment chunks.
  2. Wet the area first with water to reduce coffee rings.
  3. Soap and flow-aid reduce the co verage of high points.
  4. Tap water < distilled water.
  5. Ink is transparent, and is better for glazing than washing.
The following applies to all below: Armor wash is P3 brand (PIP 93012), VD is Golden Van Dyke Brown Hue #2442-1 (Opaque, Gloss, Thin), flow-aid is Liquitex in my standard Gunk. Dist is distilled water, tap is obvious. Wash to me is a ratio of 1:10 of paint:water. I check a wash over typed print, to see that it is entirely translucent. It should not hold up on a palette wall, it runs back in with little left behind. All pictures are wet then dry.

1: Armor wash, tap

wettest 1
Dirty, wash stained the high points, clear coffee stains in holes after drying. High concentrations and low concentrations look the same shade. Armor wash has adhesion issues. It doesn't shade the walls of the hole, while you can clearly see its on there wet.

2: VD, tap

wettest 1
Dirty, lower areas do look more shaded. Golden at least offers adhesion to the hole wall edges.

3: Armor wash, dist

wettest 1
Dirty, less shade on high spots. You can see shaded areas in the center of the holes, with the edges lighter. Clearly the paint dried in the middle, not on the edges. Ruins the shadow look. Armor wash must have ink as it's acrylic color.

4: VD, dist

wettest 1
Dirty, still some rings. Same issue as 1, with shade equal in holes and channels. Holes should be higher shade than channels. At least it did shade the edge walls of the holes better than 3.

5: Armor wash, dist, wet area first

wettest 1
Dirty, lot of shade on high points. Wash clearly dried in the middle of areas, with almost no shading of edges. Probably too much water involved, it broke down the acrylic binder and the paint ink just fell out.

6: Armor wash, flow in Gunk

wettest 1
Least Dirty so far. Paint clearly fell off the high points and adheared to the edge walls of the holes. Considering what 5 looked like, this is a huge improvement. Flow aid gets a plus one.

7: VD, dist, plus a toothpick tip of Dawn soap

wettest 1
Dirty, looks like the wash covered everything. Really looks more like a glaze than a wash. Look into dish soap vs flow-aid properties.

8: Liquitex Transparent Burnt Umber ink, dist

wettest 1
Very Dirty. Looks like a glaze, with shade just as dark on the high points as the low points. If you are after a wash, this is not what you want. It did adhere to the hole edge walls well.

9: VD, dist, wet area first, plus a toothpick tip of Dawn soap

wettest 1
Golden plus soap makes the wash behave like a glaze. It is the same color high and low. Very little difference only edges and high points.

Breakdown of my understanding of Water vs Medium vs Flow aid:

Acrylic paint is some color from pigments (like burnt wood, dirt, or beetle shells) and some binder to keep the pigments from pooling up in and looking patchy.

Water changes viscosity without increasing the amount of binder. Too much water and the binder cannot function, and paint will be patchy. Too much water in a wash makes it behave like crap.

Medium is binder. So, matt medium or glazing liquid (like from Liquitex) is just paint without pigment. Matt medium added to a wash helps to make it behave like paint, with less pigment. That is what a glaze is.

Flow aid are surfactants, which help to reduce the surface tension of fluids. The paint can stay suspended in the binder, not floating on top or pooling.

Conclusion for 6-6 run:

  1. Golden does not seem worse for washes than miniature industry washes. In fact, Golden was better. Maybe I need better industry washes, but if you can make a wash from anything with the right proportions, why limit yourself to just industry mini wash colors?
  2. Wetting first is only good if you are directing the wash to miss certain places. You need to make the wash thicker to account for the added water on the surface. Try this with a cloak.
  3. Flow aid in Gunk makes for very good washes. Keep using it. Distilled vs filtered water made no noticeable difference.
  4. Skip inks for washes, use them for glazes.
  5. I have not improved my washing technique with this experiment. All my washes look dirty. I know how to make a more effective wash, but how do you keep highpoints from getting stained by the wash? Maybe it's not intended to ever hit the high points.

Wash Experiment 6-10-20

Stripped off the paint from the previous base pucks. Clearly I am doing washes wrong, however at least I think I understand the chemical composition of washes. I'll be using different colors, with the following set ups: tap water, flow-aid, 10:1 and 5:1. The following again applies to all below: Paints are identified for each trial. Flow aid is Liquitex in my standard Gunk. Wash to me is a ratio of 1:10 of paint:water, but I'll vary that to fit the next sentence. I check a wash over typed print, to see that it is entirely translucent. It should not hold up on a palette wall, it runs back in with little left behind. All pictures are wet then dry. I am doing several sample washes over the same basecolor (Vallejo Heavy Blue Grey (72.144)) Bases are made from Souffle Sculpey (300 for 20 minutes at least) and Greenstuff. Primed with Army Painter Matte Skeleton Bone. Side Note: Paint was super easy, way better than in previous experiment. Base color went on easily, and primer was thin and toothy.

    Expected outcomes:
  1. Learn to fucking wash

1: GW Base the Fang, 10:1 gunk

2: GW Base the Fang, 10:1 gunk, wet areas expected to be higher concentrations

3: Golden Phthalo Green (Blue Shade), 5:1 gunk

4: Golden Phthalo Green (Blue Shade), 10:1 gunk

5: MSP Sparkling Blue, 10:1 gunk

6: Didi's Magic Ink, straight

7: Army Painter Venom Wyrm (WP1461), 5:1 gunk

8: Army Painter Venom Wyrm (WP1461), 10:1 gunk

9: Golden Carbon Black, 10:1 gunk

Conclusion for 6-10 run: