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60079: Lyrie Akenja

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This is almost my first mini in 20 years. I painted one batch in a burst of renewed enthusiasm last month, then decided I wished to hunker down and really try to improve (yeah, they weren't that great).


This mini was one of the most notable failures last month, so I stripped off its paint and am trying again.


I don't know much about painting minis beyond what I knew twenty years ago, using artists' acrylics mixed myself, with some washes. But I am an artist, so I know a lot of the technicalities of paint and painting on the macro scale. Maybe I can help or get help translating it to the micro.


To begin with, I only have artists' acrylics and various mediums to mix them with. For now, please assume I can't easily get my hands on paint formulated especially for miniatures.




(There is no actual orange or yellow on the mini; that's a side effect of the lighting which I plan to fix in later photos).


The priming is several coats of Golden brand titanium white thinned with its matte medium (which I am finding insufficiently matte). I did not go for an opaque white coat, just complete coverage. I brushed, of course, instead of sprayed.


I started with the lining of her cape. I'm planning to do her in muted earth tones, but I wanted a bit of purple. The cape is going to be white lined with a muted purple (I've seen one like that in real life; it was gorgeous). The color is a mix of Winsor & Newton ultramarine violet, a beautiful color but very transparent and rather weak (i.e. it gets subsumed easily in color mixes), mixed with Golden burnt sienna and titanium white.


I used the transparency to shade the folds, but I'm not sure I like the effect. Also, in the photo I notice I've missed a bit in the hood by her left cheek, which I'll have to fix.


Any comments would be appreciated.

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1) Paint is not primer. Primer is formulated to micro-etch the surface of a metal miniature to provide additional adhesion. If you don't handle the figure, paint will probably work just fine, since there won't be any rubbing. If you handle the figure, you're fairly likely to rub the paint off of surfaces easily if you don't use primer.


2) Subtle shading on a miniature (grayish-brown to grayish-violet, for instance) is very technique dependent. I'd recommend mixing your shades on your palette and using very thin feathered layers rather than trying to wet-blend (I don't know what technique you're using).


3) For that matter, since the ultramarine violet is so translucent, you might try laying down the violet first and then glazing with the brown afterwards. I've found it very difficult to use glazes of low-intensity colors to tint stronger colors effectively.


Hope that helps.

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Thanks, Doug. To date I haven't had problems with paint rubbing off, but your point about primer proper is a good one. The only thing in my experience like that is acrylic gesso, which I suspect would be too coarse for something as small as a mini. I'll see about getting some of the real stuff for my next project.


I did do a wet-blend of the violet. I'm planning to focus on other areas for the moment, but I'm probably going to get back to that later.


Out of pity for my poor eyes I washed a very thin coat of burnt umber over the figure. Now at least I can see where things are.




It looks shinier than it really is because it was still slightly wet when I took the photo. It will dry lighter as well as less shiny.


I really am making this up as I go along.

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That umber wash gives a very sepia-tone-photograph look. I kind of like it. :;):


I haven't used gesso myself, but I know people who swear by its use on miniatures. It's reported to go on very thick but to shrink down tight to the mini as it dries.

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I like the sepia-toned effect too, now you come to mention it. With it the figure looks like a little statue, and it gives me ideas for grisaille effects.


However, for now I'm trying to paint it fairly standardly.


I have painted in the skin (but not yet shaded it) and the eyes. Her skin is a simple mix of burnt umber and titanium white, both matte. Her eyes (and hair) are painted in non-matte black with a touch of light grey.


On the figure her skin looked a lot less flat. Clearly photography is pretty good for showing one's painting flaws. Also I just noticed there's a brush hair on her left cheek. Sigh.



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On the subject of primer: I find that the primer does wonder for being able to pick up detail on a mini, that it in metal form doesn't show. I'm playing with black primer atm myself, and haven't come to a full conclusion on it yet. Though it seems neat so far. Neat from a "That's different" perspective.

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Here I have worked on the figure's face and skin. I've been using Golden matte fluid acrylics, which work really well. Her base skin tone is simply burnt umber and titanium white, and shadings and highlights were done with various mixtures of yellow ochre, ultramarine blue, red oxide, and carbon black. I will probably wash some darker glazes over her skin later.


I still don't have any paints formulated specifically for miniatures painting. So far my artists' acrylics have done okay.


Her hair was painted with a shiny black. but in photography at least I am really beginning to see the virtues of matte paint. The highlights in her eyes are painted in, but the rest are the effects of the flash on the paint on her hair.


This is the first mini I have painted in what I think of as the "new" style, with full shading and highlights and blending. It's very different from how I used to do it, and I am begining to wonder if my remembered minis collection of childhood would look less impressive now.



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