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Gary Pryor

Learning to paint with Bones Pt1

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I am teaching myself to paint to miniatures (via Bones III + Stoneskull + a few extras) and despite reading blogs and watching tutorial videos I feel like I am messing up some basic stuff. I started a couple of months ago trying to paint the base set from the newest bloodbowl edition*, then some incredibly difficult to pain Hero Forge custom miniatures (with the old porous and nigh impossible to paint material*). After getting a Bones III it has become my goal to learn how to paint well enough to not have a table full of unpainted figures at my gaming nights.

So far major challenges have been: Human like faces (especially eyes), flesh colors, Bright colors (they look good wet but dry barely visible), recovering from accidentally coloring outside the lines, and controlling the flow of diluted paints.
I have had mostly successes with: Metallics, dark solid colors, controlling the flow of very thick paint, being okay with the fact that everybody else's are going to look better then mine.
The things I feel like I am doing wrong but am not sure about: how much pigment should be in a wash, ruining my brushes, using a hair-dryer because I don't want to wait in between colors/layers, not having the proper supplies.

I have at my disposal: The Reaper MSP HD paint set#1 + reaper brand "new gold" + Vallejo brand: silver, bronze, red, indigo, green, blue, "dark flesh" "foundation white" medium thinner, and some blue based black.

A hobby knife/clippers/emery board/cut proof pad for work-space

A set of "craft brushes" that seem too large
Toothpicks (for putting spots of paint)

Blue Tac

Included are pictures of several things I painted recently:
Failures:Viking #105 & Hobgoblin Archer #236 (front & back)  Success: Knight #107 & Were-O-Dile Lycanthrope #168

I can't help but feel there are some foundational steps or techniques I have completely overlooked. Please help me out by telling me if you have any tips.

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First of all, These are nice!

The Croc is pretty good actually!

3D printed stuff like Heroforge is certainly not suited for a first mini, it could put you off.

 

There are a lot of tutorials around, tips and advice.

Youtube clips etc are a nice source of info.

 

Reading what you're struggling with I will throw in my two cents.

 

1,

Most important..PATIENCE.

Please do wait till a layer is dry or you will mess it up with the next brushstroke.

To make waiting easier most of us usually work on more than one thing.

Either another mini to paint or building a base or scenery.But do wait.

 

2.

Bright colours being to dull when they dry.

More highlights and Shadows will bring a colour out.

 

3.

Washes.

There are ready made washes out there, nothing wrong with those.

If you make your own.

Washes are meant to crawl into the nooks and crannies of a mini to provide shadow and depth.

Practice till you get a good mix.

Glazes are even thinner, basically if you make one and you would put it on pallet you would have coloured water, the pallet would shine through.

 

4.

If you have trouble painting with diluted paints.

I for one always wipe my brush a bit on a paper towel.

That way you have thin paint but lose a bit of the water.

Don't overload a brush either.

 

5.

If you use drybrushing

Use an old brush, it kills brushes.

Make sure to wipe a lot of paint off.

 

6.

I forgot the most important thing maybe.

Prep your mini properly.

Wash it!

Let it dry,

Remove flash and molds.

A mini not properly washed can hold residue from the mold release agent and will not take paint well.

 

I hope this can help you somewhat.

There are better painters around than me, look and learn.

 

But most importantly HAVE FUN!!

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Glitterwolf
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Great start, I think thinning your paints will work a big step toward cleaner painting. Remeber you want to apply the coats in about three passes not just one. So youll want your paint thinner to help build the coats evenly.

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If you are already trying to learn with Bones, I might think about getting Reaper's Learn to Paint kits. I'm about to work on the Layers one, and I've heard good things from other forum members about the basics one. But those look pretty good.

 

Also, I actually like your painted minis better than the WotC prepaints. :)

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Everyone above has great advice. You are already off to a great start. You're getting pain on miniatures, which is really the most important thing. Also your first paints look good. They are better than any prepaints I've seen, and better than the first minis I painted. The more you paint the better you will get. Trust me on that. 

 

An artist I know who paints professionally once said "I thought there was a magic bullet that would make me a better painter. There is. Practice." Of course I'm probably not getting the quote exact, but that's the essence of it.

 

Don't be afraid to ask specific questions. There are so many crazy scary talented people on these forums. Seriously. Also, there are some really good tutorials available on YouTube. Not all of them will be styles you want to emulate, but I think you can learn from all of them, even if all you learn is what you don't want to do. Try lots of things. You never know what might work out for you, and minis can always be stripped. I recommend checking out Sorastro and Dr. Faust. Prepping Bones is an art in itself, but luckily there are several threads here that deal with it in depth. 

 

Most of all, have fun and keep posting. Cheers. 

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5 hours ago, Glitterwolf said:

Most important..PATIENCE

 

I would also add Persistence.  Nobody was very happy with their first painted miniature.  Keep at it; it get better.

 

5 hours ago, Glitterwolf said:

There are a lot of tutorials around, tips and advice.

Youtube clips etc are a nice source of info.

 

Watch everything.  If you can swing it, pick up some of the painting tutorial DVDs or some instructor led classes.  There's no one single way to do this.  Everyone has their own way to apply the various techniques and you will develop your own style over time.

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Everything here!  Follow what these people are saying!  

 

I promote him a lot around here but I would suggest Dr Faust on YouTube.  You may not want to copy his style but he has some really good videos and emphasizes thin paints and many layers.  It took me a little bit to pick up on what he was saying but after getting my paint consistency better and having patience to let layers dry, my painting has come a long way in just a few months. Like @Glitterwolf said, maybe have two projects going at a time to keep you from painting over wet layers.

 

Maybe I am jumping ahead too far but I would suggest a wet pallet this will help with your paint consistency and will keep them flowing nicely.

 

One last suggestion that I think helped me a bit when I was painting my first minis was to search images both on Repermini.com and google.  You can find many images of Reaper minis on here that have been painted by some of the fine people of this forum or you can just find general fantasy pictures around the internet.  You can either closely copy some of these while you work on your technique or you can use it for inspiration.  It just helped me to go in with a plan and be able to focus more on techniques. 

 

 

Oh one more suggestion, which I think has been said but I want to emphasize, ASK QUESTIONS!!  This is by far the friendliest forum I have been a part of!  You can ask questions about technique, color choice, general mini information, etc. and someone around here will point you in the right direction.

 

Have fun!

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2 hours ago, Loim said:

Everyone above has great advice. You are already off to a great start. You're getting pain on miniatures, which is really the most important thing. Also your first paints look good. They are better than any prepaints I've seen, and better than the first minis I painted. The more you paint the better you will get. Trust me on that. 

 

An artist I know who paints professionally once said "I thought there was a magic bullet that would make me a better painter. There is. Practice." Of course I'm probably not getting the quote exact, but that's the essence of it.

 

Don't be afraid to ask specific questions. There are so many crazy scary talented people on these forums. Seriously. Also, there are some really good tutorials available on YouTube. Not all of them will be styles you want to emulate, but I think you can learn from all of them, even if all you learn is what you don't want to do. Try lots of things. You never know what might work out for you, and minis can always be stripped. I recommend checking out Sorastro and Dr. Faust. Prepping Bones is an art in itself, but luckily there are several threads here that deal with it in depth. 

 

Most of all, have fun and keep posting. Cheers. 

Loim pretty much hit on everything that I was going to say.

 

I'll reiterate that the Learn to Paint Kits are an excellent tool for beginner painters. The instructions in there will give you a great foundation and answer a lot of questions that you probably have but don't really know how to ask. It'll also cover some of the things that we don't necessarily know how to tell you.

 

I'll also hit on some of your specific concerns.

8 hours ago, Gary Pryor said:

So far major challenges have been: Human like faces (especially eyes), flesh colors, Bright colors (they look good wet but dry barely visible), recovering from accidentally coloring outside the lines, and controlling the flow of diluted paints.

Honestly, painting faces and especially eyes are advanced techniques. Every now and then, those of us who are used to painting eyes and are decent or good at them, they can still be a struggle. So don't worry, getting those right will come with experience.

Flesh colours can be frustrating because actual flesh is not generally all one colour. Just like faces and eyes, flesh colours will take practice.

Bright colours do often look much better wet than they do once they dry. I often feel like I am chasing that wet look. But hey, that leads to higher highlights and higher highlights are a good thing.

The ability to colour inside the lines is what we refer to as "brush control" and, again, it's just something that comes with experience. If you're having trouble fixing accident spots, that may be an indicator that your paint is too thick.

However, having trouble controlling the flow of diluted paints sounds like you're thinning too much. I'm going to guess, however, that perhaps you're talking about washes?

The thing about thinning your paints is that it's difficult to explain and just as difficult to understand without the proper frame of reference. Some people will tell you to thin your paints to the consistency of milk and for some people, that analogy works. For me, it never did and understanding how to properly thin my paints tormented me. It was always too thick or too thin and it drove me nuts. Part of the problem is that not every paint needs to be thinned as much (every once in a while you'll find one that doesn't need to be thinned at all) and some need to be thinned more than others. And guess what I'm going to tell you - yep, that'll come with experience. It's something that you mostly just have to get a feel for. And that's where I'm going to disagree with @Tjrez because I don't think that 3 passes should be a solid rule to aim for. Some paints are more pigmented and will only need one pass despite being thinned properly. Some will need 5 passes.

 

So, all of your major challenges are just normal challenges of being a beginner. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, it just means that you need to keep working until you're not a beginner anymore.

 

8 hours ago, Gary Pryor said:

The things I feel like I am doing wrong but am not sure about: how much pigment should be in a wash, ruining my brushes, using a hair-dryer because I don't want to wait in between colors/layers, not having the proper supplies.

I don't typically use a lot of washes, honestly, and if I am going to use one, I always go with a pre-made one. There tend to be ingredients in washes that make them different from just very diluted paint and I can't be bothered to fuss with that for something that I only use on occasion. My preferred pre-made washes are from GW and Secret Weapon though.

I also ruin my brushes, some of us are just brush ruiners. 1. Try not to let paint get into the ferrule (the metal part that holds the bristles together) as that will cause the bristles to separate. 2. Buy a good brush soap. Most people recommend The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver. 3. Buy better brushes that won't wear out as easily. There are a bunch of threads already talking about people's different preferences on brushes.

I don't think there's anything wrong with using a hair dryer to dry the paint faster, although I would recommend using it on the cool setting so that you're not risking overheating anything. However, if your paint is taking that long to dry on small figures, I would think that your paint is too thick.

 

Aside from a recommendation to buy better brushes, I don't think there's anything wrong with the supplies that you have. You can buy an endless amount of supplies in this hobby, but you only need what you're actually going to use. Check out the articles in The Craft section http://www.reapermini.com/TheCraft if you do feel like you're missing some things. Specifically this one: http://www.reapermini.com/TheCraft/32 and this one: http://www.reapermini.com/TheCraft/37

 

Edited by Guindyloo
Changed what I thought were links to actual links
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Something else that I will add:  you are frustrated now, but something you get to look forward to is one day you will realize that when you weren't looking things just gelled into place.  That's the high that we all chase and drives you toward learning even more advanced techniques.  

Edited by Clearman
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One tip I haven't seen anyone else mention:  If your paint is taking too long to dry, you might have too much loaded on your brush.  Sometimes less is more.  It took me a while to get the hang of thinning paint and loading the brush.  

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As a beginner, there are a some things you have to have if you want to turn out good-looking figures.  You have most of what you need already.  Improving requires practicing, asking questions, watching videos of painters, watching real-life painters, reading tutorials, taking classes, and practicing.  Guindy has pointed you to two good articles on what you need to paint, and there's a lot in there you don't need, at least not at first.  Vutpakdi makes that clear, IIRC.

 

If you haven't seen them yet, Wren wrote some great tutorials on prepping and painting Bones minis which you can find in Bones Miniatures and Legendary Encounters.  Below is the FAQ which has links to the others she wrote.

Some things I believe are crucial to success are:  

(1) Good lighting, either natural or with lamps.  I like to use two lamps with daylight bulbs, one on either side of the desk.  This helps prevent shadows.

(2) A good place to paint with a decent chair and desk or table, somewhere you can sit for a long time without getting too tired and sore from poor posture.

(3) Good eyesight or good glasses/contacts that allow you to focus on a miniature close-up without too much eyestrain.  A magnifier (such as a head-mount Optivisor or similar device) helps many people when working on tiny things like eyes, lips, etc.  Some use a magnifier most of the time.  For others a pair of reading glasses may provide enough magnification.  

 

Not as crucial, but very helpful, is a good camera so you can show others your work and get feedback.  It also helps you see your own work and spot things you missed.  A phone camera is often sufficient for this.

 

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9 minutes ago, LittleBluberry said:

One tip I haven't seen anyone else mention:  If your paint is taking too long to dry, you might have too much loaded on your brush.  Sometimes less is more.  It took me a while to get the hang of thinning paint and loading the brush.  

 

Both taking too long to dry and controlling application of thin paint depend really a lot on how much is loaded on your brush.

 

Thin paint is good when correctly applied, but it tends to wick up into a brush, then release a flood when you touch the figure. You want to release that floor before you get to the figure (by touching the brush to another surface), then paint with only the fluid that is left in the brush. It helps to have a larger brush for this (I use a good #1 or #2 for nearly everything, including freehand and eyes), because it will stay loaded for long enough to get some work done.

 

The other thing to think about when using multiple layers is that "dry to the touch" doesn't necessarily mean that a further application of wet paint won't reactivate the first layer. Dry enough not to reactivate happens well after dry to the touch. Here, it helps to be working on multiple areas of a figure (or multiple figures), so that the paint will have a chance to cure more fully before you return to a painted area, but without having to sit around waiting for paint to dry.

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33 minutes ago, Doug Sundseth said:

 

Both taking too long to dry and controlling application of thin paint depend really a lot on how much is loaded on your brush.

 

Thin paint is good when correctly applied, but it tends to wick up into a brush, then release a flood when you touch the figure. You want to release that floor before you get to the figure (by touching the brush to another surface), then paint with only the fluid that is left in the brush. It helps to have a larger brush for this (I use a good #1 or #2 for nearly everything, including freehand and eyes), because it will stay loaded for long enough to get some work done.

 

The other thing to think about when using multiple layers is that "dry to the touch" doesn't necessarily mean that a further application of wet paint won't reactivate the first layer. Dry enough not to reactivate happens well after dry to the touch. Here, it helps to be working on multiple areas of a figure (or multiple figures), so that the paint will have a chance to cure more fully before you return to a painted area, but without having to sit around waiting for paint to dry.

 

49 minutes ago, LittleBluberry said:

One tip I haven't seen anyone else mention:  If your paint is taking too long to dry, you might have too much loaded on your brush.  Sometimes less is more.  It took me a while to get the hang of thinning paint and loading the brush.  

 

These!

 

After I load a thinned paint into my brush I wipe it a couple times on a paper towel.  Don't scrub the paint out like a dry brush but just wipe a couple times just to draw some of the excess liquid out.  I do this every time I load the brush.  If you choose to try this I would recommend the cheapest paper towel since it has less lint on them which can cause all kind of other problems.

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Everyone else has pretty much covered what I'd have to add in general. They're good folks and won't lead you astray with their advice. My skills went up dramatically just from picking their brains and doing as instructed. 

 

When you get to faces and eyes, be prepared for a little bit of a struggle at first. I *always* recommend the Bette Davis eyes tutorial that's listed in the Painting Tips forum sticky. I start a figure with the eyes, then do the rest of it. I've since modified my technique, but that one gave me a lot of mileage and is a major influence still. 

 

Good brushes, balancing thinning and amount of paint on brush... yada yada. They already said that. 

 

I'd snag some easy figures to practice on. Basic kobolds, rats (I joke that they figures are ROUSs), and some elementals are nice. A figure that has a lot of chainmail is good for practicing washes. A basic wizard is good for shading cloth (most of them like wearing robes). 

 

Welcome to the forums! 

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My only tips.

1. Do your base colors and maybe some highlights and dry brushing.  This is the place to experiment.  Just remember to work from the inside out.  if you loaded too much on your brush getting a glob in the middle of an area that is all the same color is not as bad as getting a glob where 2 different colors meet and get some accidental overlap.  If you do get some minor overlap it's ok too.  The wash is your friend and it will help hide your minor mistakes.

2. Do your wash using some of the army painter or Citadel products (there are others..most are better than Reaper when it comes to washes).  I think they give you a better result than making your own...especially when you are starting out.  Just don't over do it.  You only want it in the cracks/hollows and you should avoid getting too much on surfaces if you can.  if you do get it on the surface don't worry about it too much.  That is what your next coat of paint is for! :)

3. After your wash drys start dry brushing and then highlights.  Highlights can be the same color you where using before because your wash probably darkened the colors you were using anyways.  You can go for a second or third layer of highlights after that with "brighter" colors if you feel that it needs it.  Keep it simple as you gain confidence you will get better at this.

4 . Ideally you should do the eyes first but I usually end up accidentally painting or washing them over a little bit and this always ends up being the last step for me.  After almost 2 years of getting back into the hobby I am still not good at this but getting better.  This is probably the hardest thing for me to do.

 

Don't use toothpicks if you can!  A good type 1 or 2 brush is totally capable of doing the details that you need.  It's all about loading the paint in your brush properly.  Don't be afraid to waste some on a towel or back to your pallet.  When you are ready, spending $20 bucks on a Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Miniature Watercolor Brush - Short Handle Round #1.  Worth every penny.  Just remember that you get what you pay for when it comes to brushes.  A good brush is going to cost you 8 or 10 bucks.  A great brush is going to cost you like $20.  It may seem like a lot but if you do proper brush care they will last a really long time.  Remember wornout brushes are still good for things like washes and dry-brushing they have their uses even after you wear them out.

 

Remember that the size of the bush should fit the size of the job!  Don't use a Size 1 or 2 brush to do the base color on a dragon.  Hell avoid using those brushes on the dragon all together if you can (unless you are doing obvious things like eyes and teeth).  You'll get a feel for this as you paint more things.

 

Finally don't get discourage.  You are doing great so far.  Your skills will improve as time goes on.  Checkout Robert Oren on youtube.  He has great videos about doing things simply and quickly to get good results. He paints whole board games in a week getting good results just using the basics.

https://www.youtube.com/user/seahawk8601

 

Also don't worry about the eyes.  You'll get there.  I just put in colored or white dots and i still get decent results.  Maybe one day I will figure it out lol.  Just remember to be open to trying something different.  Eventually you will find something that works for you.  Just keep painting!  It's a craft you only get better by doing....and watching a broccoli ton of youtube videos.   Seriously I self taught myself when I was a kid and got out of it as I was getting discouraged.  If youtube existed back then it would have been much easier.  

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