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Learning to Paint Mini Figures

2008/07/08

In recent months, my boyfriend got me interested in painting mini figurines. This was definitely one of the things that I thought I’d never be able to do, but with his encouragement, we picked up a Warhammer paint starter set last week and the Citadel paint book. Since Games Workshop is the most accessible place, we got our feet wet with Warhammer.

Getting started!

For anyone who is interested in learning how to paint minis, this may be a good spend to get started up. The paint set comes with three space marines, basic paints, decals, and a starter brush. Since it comes with several space marines, you could actually get some decent practice out of them. Or, if you’re like us, you could have a friend to paint with. As you can see below, the space marines are already assembled and positioned, so the only pieces you’ll have to glue together are the backpacks and the rifles.

For a $50 budget, it was worth to get this space marine paint set $25 and the How to paint Citadel Miniature book $25. For beginners, the book is well worth the money because it goes over the essential equipments, the various kinds of paints, brushes, and other tools, explains some problems that can come with the molds, painting techniques, explains color theory and gives examples of colors that work together, and it also includes a stage by stage how to paint some common models. I actually read some of the book to get a general idea on how to get started and found the tips and pretty pictures to be very helpful. Josh is the art guy, so needless to say he didn’t really need it all that much ^_~ . All and all it’s lots of fun and the marines can come out looking very satisfying.

Primed and ready to go

Since we had an X-acto knife (to detach the pieces from the sprue cleanly) already, we picked up a can of black spray primer, a bottle of poly glue (which supposedly is better than super glue because it actually melts the plastic pieces together), and a set of basic brushes. I’d suggest getting a pair of clippers to cut the pieces off the sprue, but you can manage with just an x-acto knife on these plastic pieces. Also, if you’d like to do highlights on your marine, you’d have to buy the proper color separately; the paint set does not come with anything brighter than dark silver and gold. Having an older brush that you don’t mind ruffling up for drybrushing is also a plus.  Other than that, this is all we really need to get started.

Better to paint them first before assembling the pieces

We also used a piece of steel wool to sand down the cuts from the sprues and the rough edges left by the molds.

You'll need lots of light to paint

At this point, they are already freaking badass 😀 It’s a good idea to paint the pieces separately, then glue them all together at the end. It makes painting the gun, the backpack, and other areas on the marine hidden by these items much easier. Next time, I’m gonna try painting the figures before gluing them on the bases, but I think that’s really up to you. Some people glue the figures onto the bases before they start painting, and some glue it on after.

Squad leader; forgot to use the fine detail brush instead @_@"

My first figurine! o/ The box and the instructions show you how to paint all the marines blue and silver, but obviously there are other alternatives, so if you like, have some fun! Originally this little guy was going to be all pink. I wanted to mix the deep red paint that came with the set with some white acrylic paint I had at home. Didn’t turn out to be a good idea. All the small details were covered up and it looked quite the chunky monkey. Sometimes in life, I wish I could just push Ctrl+Z. Not willing to erase all my boyfriend’s hard paint-mixing efforts, I left a big fat pink heart plastered on her right shoulder armor instead.

Second space marine, notice each marine wears unique gear

Josh started painting this one. He went with an all red armor with yellow/brown trims. He let me finish painting this one for him (10 hours of High Perch might have something to do with that ;P love ya baby). This guy is battle-worn red and gold. I learned that if you water down the paint, it becomes clearer, less opaque, allowing the color below to show through. I watered down the black and painted it over the red and gold; it think it makes the marine look like he’s been through rain and the dirt/grease is runnin down his armor.  Also, the watered down black will seep through the small details on the armor, so if you add a touch of it along those tiny lines, the details on the armor will become more pronounced (using washes will create that same effect, but moreso).  I’d like to find a way to scuff up his armor a bit and make it look like he’s walked through a hail of bullets.

Front view

Back view

Needless to say, I had so much fun painting these little guys and I can’t wait to get better! Thanks to Josh for all the fun times and being an awesome mentor ^_^ Third marine is on the way.

Hope this will help you too! Have fun! If you have any tips, techniques, or experiences to share, feel free!

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