Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How My Painting Evolved

My painting has evolved over the past two decades.  I painting Ral Partha Miniatures as a teenager.  But I really didn't get into learning how to paint until I was in college.  I discovered WH40K in 1990.  I then starting priming figures and highlighting miniatures.  My painting was horrible.  I used paint that was too thick.  I learned how to paint 30mm Redoubt Zulus in 1994-1997.  That is when my painting became much better.  But I didn't use inks and washes until the early 2000's. 

When I first started painting, I primed all my figures black.  When I painted my 28mm samurai and British colonial figures, I primed them white.  My Zulus and Darkest Africa figures were primed black.  My 28mm Medieval Koreans were primed black.  Priming makes a difference in how brillant the colors shine. 

After I prime a figure, I then do base colors.  I start with the unifom or clothing and then work out to armor, equipment, leather, hats, gun, and finally metal trim.  I use inks or washes on a figure when I do a particular color.  So I'll use a green ink for green paints, brown washes for flesh, black washes for armor, etc.  Once I've used an ink or wash, I then allow the figure to dry overnight.  I'll then come back the next day work on doing more base coats.  Once I'm done with all my base colors.  I then go back and work on correcting individual mistakes on a figure. 

However, I favor industrial style/assembly line painting to get units of figures done.  I am wargamer.  Not a collector.  I want to get as many units painted as possible.  I want them to look good.  But I want to get things done.  I don't believe in dying with a mountain of unpainted lead.  I have several rubbermaid containers of unpainted figures.  I want to keep it that way.  I don't see the point in hoarding unpainted lead that will never get painted.

But I digress.  I believe I now paint decent looking armies.  Part of it is due to the fact I use short cuts like inks and washes.  They make my life easier and allow me to cheat dry brushing.  I've never been a fan of dry brushing.  I can do it.  But I like to let inks and washes do my work for me.  I don't paint eyes anymore.  I use washes on faces and dirty up the figure's features. 

I use a variety of paints.  I've used the Delta Coat and craft paint available at Walmart for horse flesh and texturing bases.  I've also been a big fan of GW paints and Vajello Game Color.  I've also recently discovered Privateer Press P3 paints, too.  I also have a range of brushe available from Michael's and Games Workshop.  For fine detail work, I swear by Winsor & Newton Series No. 7 000 brushes.  This is what I use for fine detail work.  The Series No. 7 000 brushes take much abuse and last a long time.  I don't mind spending money on good brushes.  For the amount of paint I do, the Series No. 7 brushes are worth it.  I buy mine directly from Dick Blick Art Supplies online. 

GW has reformulated their paints.  I haven't broken down and bought their new paints, yet.  I still use a combination of paints for my various projects.  The GW paint pots require you to use matches to hold them open.  I also use a paint palette for the Delta Coat and Vajello paints that come in dropper bottles.  I still use the GW washes for highlighting flesh colors.  I use the old GW inks for some of my colors.  Though I mainly use the Winsor & Newton drawing inks for my miniatures.  The Winsor & Newton drawing inks give contrast to the figures and make a particular color stand out after it's been inked. 

I'm going more to the P3 paints to replace my old GW paints.  I like keeping a supply of paint on hand so I have something when I run out of a particular color.  I also use the Folk Art craft paint to prime my figures.  I use a brush on primer.  But I water it down with water so it isn't so thick with I apply to to a miniature.  I also a Krylar Gloss finish to seal my figures.  But I also generally use Woodland Scenics grass to flock the bases of my figures.  It gives a good look to particular army and matches my Geo-hex mats.   


  1. Thanks for sharing Blake. I will have to try out the W&N 000 size brush.

  2. Blake, Tim is also a big fan of the W&N brushes (I think he must put them under his pillow for safe-keeping at night). :)))

    Thanks for sharing your techniques Blake! These days, I'm thinking that the basing elements are becoming almost as important as the figure paint-jobs themselves (or should be). This has caused me to gravitate towards rules that are unit-oriented, and that allow figures or vehicles to be mounted for maximum action/diorama appeal, rather than on individual stands used primarily to facilitate casualty counting. I think it's visually counter-productive to do lots of great miniatures painting, and then have to cram the models together on tiny stands that destroy any chance for the figure(s) "personality" and great paint to come through. Just some thoughts (out loud). ;)