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Bones, Stonehaven and a return to painting

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Hi! This will be long. I have never been able to explain in 10 words what I could do in 100.


I have recently returned to painting after a long absence. I first started painting minis in the 80s with my gaming group. None of us were particularly good, but even a lousy paint job looked better than an unpainted mini. We were pretty much all basic painters, I think we all used testors enamels, techniques like shading and highlighting were unknown to us. Over a decade or so we probably painted 50 or so each, enough to field most games. I still recall the pinnacle for me, Alias and Dragonbait from the Forgotten Realms. No subtlety, but nice solidly painted minis.


I stopped gaming and painting for a while when I moved to another city, then wizards came out with their skirmish game and very useable minis by the time I moved back, so I never felt the need to start up again. Combined with the fading eyesight that comes with age and I never expected to paint again.


But then along came Stonehaven's dwarves and Reapers bones, and I was pulled back in. After pledging, I went looking for painting advice. I read about blending, and how to highlight, and looked at some fantastic minis, painted to a level I never dreamed about in the 80s. Knowing my limits, I looked for simpler painting styles. After all, the bar wasn't set high with my group of friends, something that looked decent on the table top would be good. One of the methods that looked very appealing (read: easy) was the dip method. So I purchased a small can of dark walnut minwax wood finish. Knowing that the dip would darken up my minis, when I bought some vallejo paints off of ebay I picked very light colours. I didn't buy too many paints as I am getting a bunch from the Reaper kickstarter. I bought white, black, light yellow, light orange, light green, vermillion, andrea blue, medium fleshtone, silver and natural steel. 10 paints, I figured enough to get me started.


Of course the best laid plans, etc., etc. Before I got any kickstarter rewards I really wanted to try my hand at painting bones. I ordered a batch of minis from reaper, including two bones, the troll and purple worm. They arrived, and I discovered my first problem. I forgot to buy purple paint. Even I know enough to mix red and blue, but then I thought what would happen with purple dipped in walnut? I had (and still have) no idea. So I decided to try this whole darker base, medium main and lighter highlights thing I learned this from browsing the Reaper paint sets and their matching colours, one of the most intimidating things I found around these parts. Drop of red, drop of blue, drop of black, thick dark goop. Perfect! Paint the first coat and wow, is this thing dark. 'Probably supposed to be like that,' I think, so I try a damp drybrush of red and blue. I can definitely see the difference, but it's not really purple. Purple adjacent perhaps. Also, I discover all drops are not equal, as the base is bluer, main coat is redder, and drybrush is bluer again. The colours also blend a bit, so my purple worm is kind of dark and bland. So I add some reddish highlights, glob some red and sorta white in the mouth, and I have my first painted mini in 15+ years:




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Welcome back! I think there are quite a few forumites (myself included) that took a 15 or 20 year hiatus from painting after high school and since returned to painting. Nice job on the worm!

Edited by Jabberwocky
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Thanks! I was not going for dark, but then I remember my minis always seemed on the dark side.


The story continues:

It doesn't look great, but it is the best mini I've ever painted. By a wide margin. I discovered my eyesight sucks, so I bought a pair of cheapy +2.75 magnifying glasses from the drug store. I also discovered a thread here named "how to blend by olliekickflip". Start with a light shade and then go darker? Seems weird, but worth trying. After all I am playing with these guys as practice before the kickstarter gets here. I decide to do the troll this way. I finish him and fall in love, it is the best mini I've ever done, and it is a lot better than the worm. So then I am afraid to touch it, and suddenly remember I need to coat minis before players get their grubby paws on them. I read up and discover a gloss coat followed by a dull coat is a good way to protect minis. I buy vallejo gloss varnish and msp brush on sealer. I really want to protect the troll so I coat him...generously. So the gloss varnish is fine, but I had a hard time with the brush on sealer over the gloss, because my eyesight is so poor I couldn't be sure where I covered the shiny stuff with the wet stuff. And since I was so proud of him, I wanted to really cover him, and I bet most of you can guess where this is going. He wound up with chalky residue in the crevasses. Still, I love the way he turned out:


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Part three: The little guys.


I am still afraid to try and paint a human sized mini, and I just got a box full of even smaller dwarves from stonehaven. After weeks of procrastinating, I finally decided to try one. I look through the minis for one I don't really like, as I figure I won't feel as bad if I mess it up. I pick the male cleric, as he is a solid mini, but not a lot of variation and I won't really care if he's on the back of the shelf. I look around for some ideas online for colours but I run into a major problem. I only have the 10 paints, and nary a gold or brown in sight. I glue him to his base and tackle him anyway, and play around with trying to make brown for the wood and leather. He has some serious flaws, as the end of a couple fingers are missing, and after the fact I can see some mess in the painting. He looks amazing on a desktop though, and I am quite happy with how he turned out. Still using the olliekickflip thread for inspiration:



Edited by Suden
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Part four: A little girl.


Next I try one of the smallest minis, this time the stonehaven witch. She has some funky hair, including some in an eye. I decide I won't even paint her eyes as there is no way I can make them match. I do end up changing my mind half way through. Also, looking for colour inspiration I come across some colour theory stuff on complementary colours and with my limited palette decided on blue and orange for her clothes. I am not really happy at all with the colour scheme, but over all I am still very happy with how she turned out. I messed up on the orange, I forgot one sleeve, and couldn't recreate the colour so one sleeve is decidedly more red than the rest of her outfit. This is also the first mini I ever did anything extra on the base, and I really like how that turned out, especially as I did a poor job on her feet.


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Part five: Shiny and flat.


The last mini I painted is the miner, another stonehaven guy. This is the latest mini I've painted, but definitely not the last one I will paint. I am really feeling the palette crunch, I need more colours. I don't want to invest in any more though, as I am getting three of the four kickstarter paint sets. For this guy I was stumped for colours, as I'd just done two in blue, the troll is green and the worm is kinda-sorta purplish. A miner wouldn't be wearing bright light clothes, and thanks to my poor selections of light shades I didn't have many options. I decided on dark grey, but combined with the silver and steel I was worried he would just look like a grey blob. I decided to make him a fiery red head so at least something would pop, and I gloss coated the metallic bits while dull coating the rest. I once again regretted not buying brown as I needed to make some for his pick handle and leather helm. Also, his base isn't quite as good as the witch, though I still like it better than just a coat of paint.



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Wow, nice work for such a long hiatus. And that is an impressive eye on that dwarf witch.


I'm a hiatus person too. I hadn't painted anything since circa. 1990 until last September, when the Reaper Kickstarter inspired me to get back into the hobby and I bought some figs from my FLGS to paint and play with. I have many of the same issues as you.


Here's a weird tip. You can sometimes approximate a purple by painting brick red, then when it is dry putting a thinned down, translucent coat of white over it. You have to take care with the texture of the mini, since if the white is too runny it will settle in the crannies. If you thinly drybrush the white on, it will look like purple with brick red blacklining.

Edited by Pingo
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Thanks for the kind comments. In defense of the bones, I posted these in the order I painted them, and months have passed between first and last. Time spent reading and watching painting tutorials online, I don't think I even attempted eyes before the cleric.

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