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I just came back to painting minis after a hiatus of 20 years, and discovered I am no better now than I was back in 1990.

 

I did get an art degree in the meantime and become a pro artist/illustrator, so it was kind of an embarrassing realization.

 

I am way out of the loop of current miniatures culture. Can anyone suggest where to start? At the moment I don't feel my painting skills are worthy of the minis.

 

These are, left to right, probably the best one of the batch I just painted, the worst one (ouch), and the dark elf mini I painted as a Githyanki for my player character.

 

post-8022-0-78102900-1346276518.jpg post-8022-0-03719300-1346276471.jpg post-8022-0-21740900-1346276613.jpg

 

At life size they look a little better, but still ...

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I can understand where you're coming from as it was almost 20 years for me as well but you're lucky having an art background so you know things I'm still learning (like color theory).

 

Here's a list of things that I had to learn, you can Google these or search the forum:

 

1) thinning the paints down. You shouldn't apply the paint straight out of the bottle (except on bones) and so you either should add a bit or water or use a wet pallet.

2) reading up on washes and dry brushing --these are the absolute basics on shading and highlighting. Your art background should already help you in deciding where both those need to be.

3) looking up blending skills like feathering and glazing.

4) learn brush control (shouldn't be hard for you) and practice getting use to the small surface--this can take several miniatures.

5) looking at other people's finished work and trying to copy something you like as well as asking how they did something.

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Here's a link to one of my step by step WIPs illustrating a few really simple and quick techniques that you should find pretty easy.

 

http://www.reapermini.com/forum/index.php?/topic/45214-choose-your-wip-adventure-part-one-ral-partha/page__view__findpost__p__624075

 

Then you can go beyond that to whatever level you're striving for. But that's my quick and half dirty method with explanations, and might make a good starting place. It uses pretty much all the basic need to know stuff and where I deviate from the norm I tried to note it.

 

I know it's super easy, because I can do it. :-p

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I feel your pain, as someone getting back into the hobby after a long hiatus. And I don't even have the benefit of an art degree!

 

Lots of good resources here and around the internets, do some poking around and ask lots of questions. Start a WIP here for your next project to get feedback while you're in the middle of a mini, I've got my current WIP in four place and still welcome more feedback, as tough as it can be to hear sometimes (but no tougher than I am on myself!).

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What brand of paints are you using? My first thought when I saw these was testors enamels, reinforced by the comment that your returning after 20 years. I automatically think of testors model paint when someone mentions returning to model painting.

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Here's a link to one of my step by step WIPs illustrating a few really simple and quick techniques that you should find pretty easy.

 

http://www.reapermin...post__p__624075

 

Then you can go beyond that to whatever level you're striving for. But that's my quick and half dirty method with explanations, and might make a good starting place. It uses pretty much all the basic need to know stuff and where I deviate from the norm I tried to note it.

 

I know it's super easy, because I can do it. :-p

 

WIP threads are very helpful and kind of embarrassed that I forgot to mention them.

 

What brand of paints are you using? My first thought when I saw these was testors enamels, reinforced by the comment that your returning after 20 years. I automatically think of testors model paint when someone mentions returning to model painting.

 

I agree, if you're using enamels you should really consider moving to acrylics

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Thanks, all. That's good advice.

 

It's not enamels, though. Even twenty years ago all I ever painted minis with was acrylics.

 

I've been using artists' acrylics, not specifically miniature paint. I'd like to keep using them, but clearly I have to think through how to treat them. They were pretty matte when finished, but a coat of gloss medium made them shiny and matte medium brought them back down to a satiny gloss (I think a proper matte varnish would help, but it wouldn't make up for the deficient painting.).

 

I guess I kind of assumed the WIP threads were for bigger, more complicated models. Most of my mini painting doesn't last long enough for a WIP. Maybe that's part of the problem? I painted 9 minis in 2 afternoons.

 

Anyhow, thanks for the advice.

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Also realize that paints for minis (like reaper's) are designed for better coverage using less paint. The pigment density is higher, I believe, because we have to put these paints on thin or obscure the detail of the mini.

 

Artists paints are usually put on thicker. More later when a toddler isn't underfoot.

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WIPS are a good place to look at what others have done, especially to see how feedback is incorporated to the figure. Many of the WIPS are smaller figures. Also look at other sites, like coolminiornot and brushthralls.

 

The time it takes you to paint a mini isn't a big deal provided your skill level is high. Jeramie Bonamant Teboul had a video of him painting a figure while skydiving. He was done by the time he landed. On the other hand, some historical painters spend an entire year on a 54mm figure they enter into competition.

 

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I took about a 6 year hiatus, not as long as yours though, and I agree with many of our fellow painters here, that the right paint is needed. The acrylics you are using are probably not best suited for use on such a small scale. I tried using a plain ol' craft white acrylic paint just to try and do free hand swirls on a cloak before... even with thining it down, it still looked chunkie :(

And practice, practice, practice.

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First up: Layers. layers and layers and layers. Not just "layering" but several coats of paint, then several more, then several more. All thinned, all ridiculously neat. And let it dry totally and utterly before the next layer. I think you'll get a major improvement out of this! It looks like you're trying to paint above your skill level? Like, you need to go back and work through some basics as though you were totally new, THEN merge in your existing skills, if you see what i mean?

 

Second: Remember miniatures are not a canvass or board, they're a little metal statue. Little poses problems of its own. So does metal. So does statue.

 

EDIT: even if you want to stick mainly to your artist's acrylics, you might be well served by some miniatures paints for initial cover... as undercoats, if you see what I mean. You might only need a few to create an undercoat of a close-enough colour and tone, whence you can build up the colour with layers of artist's acrylics. You might also invest in one or two Reaper "liners" and/or vallejo model colour "smoke" to ink-in some "darklining". Darklining would go a long way to tidying up those pieces. A warm black or super-dark brown from your existing supplies and knowledge might work, too.

 

On darklining:

 

Back when I attempted - poorly - fine arts, my first-year tutor for drawing said that the deepest shadow should be black and the highest highlight white; IMO the highlight bit doesn't carry over but the shadow bit does. Where there is a transition that would be undercut, darkline it almost to black (RMS brown liner or VMC smoke). IE hems to skin, wand to hand, trousers to boot, all in real life are undercut. There's a gap between your hem and your skin. To be crass, you're suggesting with shading that it would be possible to look up the mini's skirt, even though you and I know there's a flat plane of metal from the hem to the leg.

 

Also, transitions from gold to silver or metal to regular colour should be darklined. If there's embossing, encrustation etc decorating a thing, darkline that too. The old GW technique, that works fairly well, is that raised detail, especially raised gold or silver, should be blocked in black first, then drybrushed. This creates blacklining, and the blacklining creates an illusion of depth and additional dimensions.

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I just came back to painting minis after a hiatus of 20 years, and discovered I am no better now than I was back in 1990.

 

I am way out of the loop of current miniatures culture. Can anyone suggest where to start? At the moment I don't feel my painting skills are worthy of the minis.

 

 

I came to this section of the boards to post this exact same thing. For me it's also been about 20 years since I last painted and looking around on the boards I'm finding that the culture and standards have changed so much- for the better mind you- but oh my gosh I'm overwhelmed! Just the "basing" is crazy out of my league and I'm wondering if I should even bother getting back into it. I've been painting other things in the mean time, just not minis, so I don't think my skills with the painting are that far off but who knows....

 

I have caught on that there is "tabletop standard" and I guess something else... but I don't know what the "something else is" or when it would be used. Don't we paint them in order to use them on the table? I just paint them because I enjoy painting them, I don't actually game, so I don't know what standard I should be reaching for.

 

I'm rather lost about where to start too- perhaps we can re-enter this realm together so we don't feel so lost and alone. :huh:

 

And seriously... what happened to gluing them into the little square plastic bases and calling it a day?? What is a "broccoli base"?? What is this green something-or-other I keep seeing mentioned?? Is there a list somewhere of all the new "alphabet soup" floating around that is confusing me??

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Tabletop standard is considered a functional, half-decent standard which is not overly detailed or time-consuming to produce. My style fits into this category (there's subcategories too).

 

What's above that?

 

http://www.destroyerminis.com/gallery/

 

Art. That's what it is. Mindblowing art.

 

 

Broccoli bases are the bases you see on a lot of the Dark Heaven miniatures, so named because they look like . . . well, broccoli. A great debate has raged from the beginning about broc bases. I'm in the camp that loves em.

 

The green something or other could be multiple things. It could be Simple Green, a household cleaner that's useful for stripping paint off a mini. Or "a green" which is the master sculpt for a miniature (often green in color because it's sculpted from blue/yellow epoxy putty).

 

You'll get a hang of the lingo quick. Anybody confuses you, just ask. Somebody had to tell us about the cant once, too.

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Basing helps the appearance. A good basic base-up would be to glue down some fine sand, paint brown, drybrush tan, then glue on some bits of GW static grass. People who hate Broccoli Bases hate them because they preclude a quick, simple base-up. Instead you have to saw, file, drill, re-mount, swear, curse, weep, then glue it to a square base and do the base-up.

 

"Tabletop" means "I am not trying to win competitions". Painting for play rather than art. "Good tabletop" means neat, complete, with some shading, and looks good at arms length. That same quality also looks good on display. The next tier is for close-up photography and winning contests and getting higher than a 2 on "Cool Mini Or Not".

 

Broccoli bases are the annoying cast-on-the-mini bases that the Dark Heaven line come with.

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