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Cimmerian76

Miniature Painting Learning Plan

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I was reading through Cash's workbench thread in the WIP forum and came across an insightful post by galladril

 

If there were to be a miniature painting roadmap, I think it would look something like this:

 

1) Basecoating

2) Shading (with Washes)

3) Highlighting (with Drybrushing)

4) Layering

5) Wet Blending (Optional?)

6) NMM

7) OSL

 

As I understand it, proper layering techniques lead the way into NMM, which is where I ultimately want to be. I have almost no desire to wet blend.

 

I have gotten to the point where I am beginning to look at washes *ALMOST* as a crutch, and I would rather paint the shades in myself, using the washes as sporadically as possible.

 

With that all being said, Cash, I don't think your "style" resembles "children's books." I would personally call it *very* clean painting, and I love how some of your minis come out "bright." There may be slight whimsical elements with eyes on figures (the pirate king, specifically,) but whatever you are doing, keep doing it!

 

It made me think a little bit about how disorganized hobbyists can be about our skill sets. We tend to jump in, and just try things. That is something to be applauded, but it is like trying to run before you can crawl. Sure, we get where we want to go eventually, through trial and error, but we take a lot of painful falls along the way.

 

I am someone that takes painting classes at every convention I go to, to learn new techniques, and what I find is that I'm constantly trying to do things that are not suitable for my skill level. I could get more models painted to an acceptable tabletop quality, and go through a lot less simple green if I just took a step back, and looked at my progress in painting from a more academic angle.

 

When I start to look at a new degree, I get a course listing. This outlines the prerequisites I need for each step in the field. The closest thing I can find for this as it relates to miniatures is Wappel's Painting Pyramid, which I find is really deigned for someone with a background as an artist.

 

To that end I decided to modify galladril's list to suit my needs. I also decided to add in other aspects of the hobby that I think go hand in hand, but are in reality separate topics that we learn alongside our painting. I have used a different numbering system for each field, and plugged them into the list in the order of mastery that I think makes the most sense. Of course, we can dabble in items up the chain, but I believe true prowess will only come by mastering the underlying techniques first.

 

Without further ado:

1) Color Theory
i) Model cleanup/flash removal, gap filling
2) Basecoating (sharp transitions, smooth paint)
3) Drybrushed Textures
4) Shading (with Washes)
5) Highlighting (with Drybrushing)
ii) Basic conversions and sculpting (purity seals, scrolls)
a) Basic scenic basing by this point
6) Airbrushing (optional)
7) Lining
8) Layering
9) Glazing
10) TMM
b) Advanced Basing techniques by here.
11) Wet Blending (Optional?)
12) NMM
13) OSL
c) Full narrative bases
d) Dioramas
iii) Complex sculpting

Please, help me add to the list, or rearrange it as needed. Once we have something that is more or less final, I will start looking for tutorials for each topic. Between this, and the established tutorials thread, I think we can really help each other to excel.

 

 

Version 1.2 (Leaving original version for reference)

 

Breaking them out into categories and skill level.

 

Painting Topics:

 

Beginner:

Brushes (Using them, and the differences between them)

Paints (Brands, types, uses, consistency)

Preparing models (Flash removal, Assembly, Gap filling, and removing release agent)

Priming (Moved this up, because unless you are using enamels or Bones, you really need this before basecoats)

Basecoats

 

Novice:

Basic Color Theory

Drybrushing textures

Shading with washes

Drybrushed highlighting

Army Speed Painting (wet palettes, Colored Primers, Dipping)

Larger detail painting

Stripping

 

Journeyman:

Lining

Layering

Glazing

Zenithal highlights and shadows

Blending (2-brush/feathering, wet optional)

Paint Mixing

Smaller detail painting

Eyes

Skin Shading

Hair

True Metallic Metals

Airbrushing (Optional)

Weathering (Pigments and battle damage)

Basic Gems (3, 5, and 7 layer gems)

 

Master:

Non-Metallic Metals

Sky Earth Non Metallic Metals

OSL

Freehand

Makeup

Crystals, glass, gems and other reflective/transparent surfaces

 

Conversions and Basing:

 

Novice:

Basing with flock

Basing with textured paints

Conversion using existing bits
Journeyman:
Scenic Base composition

Basic conversions using putty (Purity seals, scrolls, etc.)

Weapon swaps and similar small figure modifications

 

Master:

Sculpting

Dioramas/vignettes

Edited by Cimmerian76
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While I do agree that a more... academic approach where you focus on one technique until you can feel 100% confident (vs jumping around trying things) is the most efficient and the best way to excel, I believe the list, and the order, is pretty much personal when you get past drybrush and washes.

 

I mean, I just love scratchbuilding and converting. I am fairly confident I can do that at a high level. But I still need to conquer Color Theory, and blending; and I never did any NMM.

 

But then, I approach the hobby as an engineer and son of a woodsmith and generally very creative parents. Not from the "art" side. So I get a lot of pleasure in converting, and the least in tabletop minis for gaming.

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But I still need to conquer Color Theory, and blending; and I never did any NMM.

 

 

I find it amusing that you feel shaky on color theory. I was just sharing your Dragon Diorama post with a friend as an example of the type of things I think go into good color theory.

 

I agree that we can jump around. That is healthy and keeps us from getting too bored. I just think we tend to throw ourselves off of cliffs, intending to learn to fly before we hit the ground. (This is why I'll be stripping my first attempt at wet blending today) I think we often forget that there is a foundation that great painting is built on, and we can get very frustrated when we can't make our minis turn out like something out of Studio McVey. I mean, I have Dioramas listed last, even though I fully intend to start one long before I get to that point. I view these levels as mastery steps, not strict prerequisites. Try it all. But you will never get OSL right if you don't understand glazing. It doesn't mean that you can't try stuff out ahead of time. I just wouldn't count on winning any competitions with a diorama if you can't handle OSL. Let alone drybrushing.

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I mean academic color theory. I have a grasp, perhaps even a solid grasp, on what looks "good", but I am yet to make an educated decision. However, this last months I have read and learnt a lot and that reflects on the dragon. Thanks for the kind words.

 

Sure, I think we are just dancing around semanthics. If I were to do a list, I would actually separate categories. If you cannot paint you still can do amazing dioramas, and the opposite is true. You can do incredible blending yet suck at choosing colors, or shadow placement. We can master tiny things, and yet the "best" is a collection of skills very few people achieve.

 

I would lump 1 to 5, 7 and 8 into a "basic" package you need to master to paint a mini. And can think of some sub-categories for basing and dioramas, for example, since painting is such expanded :)

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Sure, I think we are just dancing around semanthics. If I were to do a list, I would actually separate categories. If you cannot paint you still can do amazing dioramas, and the opposite is true. You can do incredible blending yet suck at choosing colors, or shadow placement. We can master tiny things, and yet the "best" is a collection of skills very few people achieve.

 

I would lump 1 to 5, 7 and 8 into a "basic" package you need to master to paint a mini. And can think of some sub-categories for basing and dioramas, for example, since painting is such expanded :)

 

I am inclined to agree. I had set these up in the order I was planning on tackling them overall, but the multiple numbering system is very confusing. I can also see the benefit in grouping them into tiered skill sets. I will revise this as we get some more input. And I think I will split out the list here, and keep my overall list on my desktop as a reminder. I know some sculptors have no interest in painting, and that some painters are content to use preformed resin bases all their lives. My main concern is that I'm missing a skill or 2 in the list that I'm just not thinking of. Weathering should probably make its way in there. That would teach people how to use weathering pigments, carve battle damage etc. There is a lot to the subject, and I don't think we ever stop learning. Nor do I believe that everyone will use every skill. But if we can all help each other learn as much as we can, the hobby only gets more beautiful. I'd like to see enough decent painters in this world, that we never see an unpainted miniature hit a gaming table again.

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Here's a first cut of the way I see it (there are more topics, of course):

 

Ultra-basics

  • Holding a brush
  • Paint consistency
  • Base coats
  • Flash and chunk cleanup

Basics

  • Tools
  • Mold-line cleanup
  • Priming
  • Painting largish details
  • Basic basing
  • Drybrushing
  • Washing
  • Production line/army painting

Journeyman

  • Highlight and shadow positions and depths
  • Blending
  • Paint mixing
  • Base sculpting and decoration
  • Feathering
  • Weapon swaps and similar small figure modifications
  • Painting small details
  • Skin shading
  • Hair

 

Master (all of these are optional and the ones you pick up depend on what and how you want to paint)

  • OSL
  • Freehand
  • NMM
  • NNN
  • Dioramas and Vignettes
  • Sculpting
  • Painting textures
  • Make-up
  • Crystals, fluids, glass, etc.
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Also, I would be willing to try to set up a camera and do some basics... if anyone is interested. My level, from Doug's listing, is probably mid-level Journeyman so nothing too fancy... and with the proliferation of youtube videos I don't know if I can help any further.

 

But perhaps if someone has an specific question, like "how did you do that?", answering in video would be useful. I don't know.

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James Wappel had a pretty good break down/list of some techniques in his video KS

 

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/891905985/discover-the-painting-pyramid-with-james-wappel

 

SEMM is one you don't see most places..

 

I've pretty much written off wet blending.. I know there are some things I want to try it on, but its too far above my pay grade at the moment..

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Doug's list is very good. I think building off of that might be the way to go. I would put myself in Journeyman as well.

 

 

I've pretty much written off wet blending.. I know there are some things I want to try it on, but its too far above my pay grade at the moment..

 

Yeah. Wet Blending is something I'm experimenting with right now, because I think it could be useful when my Relic Knights stuff shows up. But really, I think I can get similar transitions with airbrushing and some glazing.

 

I do think wet blending is nearly essential for large flesh heavy busts. You can do it with glazing I suppose, but I don't think it would look as natural.

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IMO Lining should be a basic skillset. It's really easy and improves the appearance of a miniature by magnitudes. You can optionally just prime black too but you lose the brightness of your colours. As well, any sculpting tutorial should be optional, barring gap-filling.

 

 

It would also be nice to see relevant sections distinguish between Bones techniques and metal techniques. Priming, washing and base coating are sufficiently different in Bones that they require special attention, and you shouldn't need to look up Wren's FAQ.

 

Things missing from everyone's list:

 

* Protection/Varnishing

* Sheer fabrics

* Gems

* Rust and other weathering/damage
* True Metallic Metals (TMM)

 

As well, I always found it frustrating that certain techniques are only taught with a single example. You go on the internet and search for NMM tutorial and everyone's got one, but they usually only do gold. What if I want bronze, or Silver, or Steel? What about using NMM techniques for non-metallic surfaces, like wood and leather? There's not very good tutorial coverage in these areas.

Similarly, each major colour should have its own example. I've searched many times for "How to Paint Black" and "How to Paint White" because those are very hard to do well. Reds and Yellows are likewise difficult, and that really leaves only blues, greens, greys and browns as "easy" colours...and even then really bright blues and greens suffer the same problems as reds and yellows.

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IMO Lining should be a basic skillset. It's really easy and improves the appearance of a miniature by magnitudes. You can optionally just prime black too but you lose the brightness of your colours. As well, any sculpting tutorial should be optional, barring gap-filling.

 

 

It would also be nice to see relevant sections distinguish between Bones techniques and metal techniques. Priming, washing and base coating are sufficiently different in Bones that they require special attention, and you shouldn't need to look up Wren's FAQ.

 

Things missing from everyone's list:

 

* Protection/Varnishing

* Sheer fabrics

* Gems

* Rust and other weathering/damage

* True Metallic Metals (TMM)

 

As well, I always found it frustrating that certain techniques are only taught with a single example. You go on the internet and search for NMM tutorial and everyone's got one, but they usually only do gold. What if I want bronze, or Silver, or Steel? What about using NMM techniques for non-metallic surfaces, like wood and leather? There's not very good tutorial coverage in these areas.

Similarly, each major colour should have its own example. I've searched many times for "How to Paint Black" and "How to Paint White" because those are very hard to do well. Reds and Yellows are likewise difficult, and that really leaves only blues, greens, greys and browns as "easy" colours...and even then really bright blues and greens suffer the same problems as reds and yellows.

I agree whole shriveled litlle blackheartedly with all of this. But really, I view Lining as journeyman. Your typical sparmytop guy is going to get an effect that is "good 'nuff" from washing or dipping. Also, TMM. not missing from MY list :blues: I infact have studied my TMMs under the Arrogant Bastard himself, Matthieu Fontaine. Let's let this linger a bit longer. We'll get some more concensus, and then parse it out into a list we can more or less agree on. Then we can start filling in resources.

 

As for your NMM frustrations. Try this site:

http://www.blackmoor.ca/articlesnmm.htm#Black/silver%20Armor

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I think there are really two schools to lining. the journeymen skill school, where the lining is laid down before or during the basecoating, and the far simpler, but less professional looking school of doing it after. I fall into the second group, and do most of my lining with a pen

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I've got a list similar to these and I try to pick one thing at a time and work on that until I get a handle on it. Then I coast for a little while before I try something new. If I don't lay back a bit between learning new techniques I come to see painting as "work" and I'll begin to see it as a chore rather than as something fun and relaxing. Right now I'm working on learning weathered metals and I'm finding that technique most enjoyable. On the other hand, I'm avoiding NMM because I think that will be really hard and am afraid I'll become irritated and will lose confidence when I can't do it properly.

 

I've never taken a lesson and will likely never be in a position to either so all my learning is online. Written tutorials are great, but I spend a lot of time on the Youtube looking at vid's. Those can be great and I subscribe to a lot of good channels. So if anyone has a video let me know and I'll watch it and add it to my Favourites list.

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I like your list and I'll add mine and my comments tomorrow (er, today) when it isn't almost 4 in the morning and my brain is actually functioning. ^_^

 

Huzzah!

--OneBoot :D

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A 4:45am call from a customer site has me awake and trying to figure out what to do with myself. So I edited the original post into something a bit more doug-like. Hooray for being on call!

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