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Kersus

Advice on 15mm minis

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So I have a couple armies of 15mm units as well as various packs from both Rebel Minis and Splintered Light minis. I've never painted ones at this scale before and wondered if anyone had tips for painting these little buggers. 

 

Barbarian Army, Wild Elves, Otter Archers, Dire Wolves, Henchmen, Kobold Rangers, Infiltrators, and some singles.

 

They're so tiny!

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What dsmiles said. I can't recommend a high quality magnification visor enough! Don't try to "save money" by getting a cheap one; I tried to do that, and the optical quality was too poor for painting tiny minis. So I ended up spending more money to buy a good one. Optivisors are the best! My brother-in-law is a jeweler, and that's what he uses.

 

The next most important thing is high quality brushes that come to a sharp point. They will be a little pricier, but it will be so worth it. Especially at such a tiny scale, having the tip of your brush go right where you want it is even more important. Having that nice, sharp point will help with this immensely.

 

Best of luck to you! I have a few 15mm minis I haven't been brave enough to try yet! ::):

 

Huzzah!

--OneBoot :D

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Dsmiles and OneBoot give wise advice. A good magnifier and good brushes make all the difference.

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Flames of War is 15mm, and my experience with those the past few weeks has been different from my experience with larger ones. Shade washes seem to be the key for the smaller scale, even though I don't use them often on larger figures.

 

I should, however, note that at 15mm and as game pieces I'm not exerting a great amount of attention to detail so your mileage may vary.

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I generally do basecoat/drybrush/pick out highlights, or white prime/ink/highlight. Experiment with flow improver and brush-on sealer to thin your inks when painting over white. I like 1:1 ink:sealer or 1:1:1 adding flow improver, depending on what I want. All the details are important in 15mm, but the best way to pick them out is usually by cheating.

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 All the details are important in 15mm, but the best way to pick them out is usually by cheating.

At 15mm, I'm not sure it still counts as "cheating."

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All the details are important in 15mm, but the best way to pick them out is usually by cheating.

 

At 15mm, I'm not sure it still counts as "cheating."

In art there is no cheating. There is only what works.

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Buglips has it right. The real key is to hint at the detail and the mind will fill it in. Block in your colors, apply a wash then highlight your major areas. Then you can go in an hit a few of the smaller details. It does depend on what your ultimate goal is. You mentioned armies and on the table any intricate detail you try and paint is not going to be seen. And holding one of these up 2-3 inches from your nose is going to reveal that most of them really only hint at detail. There are certainly exceptions to this there are 15mm minis out there that will blow your mind with their exquisite detail, again the problem is once its on the table you won't see that detail. Jen Haley has a couple of 15mm miniatures out there that she painted that you would never guess were 15s. They are amazing, but again on the table from 2 feet away they are just as blob like as anything else out there.

 

DAK211RGHT.jpg

This is a 15mm PzKfw IIIJ that I painted for Flames of War that I expended a lot of time super detailing. The problem, you can't make out half of the work that I did. This one is from Battlefront.

 

2012-01-10_22-14-30_20.jpg

 

There are 150 ACW Union Troops in this photo. Speed painting is this key to doing this. Temporarily mount the minis on popsicle sticks (jumbo ones) about 4 - 6 minis per stick. Paint one color on all of them. By the time you are done the paint is dry and you start back at the beginning with the next color. Repeat till all your main colors are on. Wash, drybrush the highlights and then hit some of the smaller details. Faces and hands in particular will make a mini stand out in this scale.

 

2012-01-10_22-14-53_675.jpg

 

A close up, maybe a bit to close.

 

2012-01-11_19-28-16_74.jpg

 

There are 160 British Napoleonic troops in this photo. A bit more detailed than the ACW troops because the number of belts (white belts argh!) and the complexity of the uniform. But the same techniques apply.

 

2012-01-11_19-28-38_173.jpg

 

Another close up. There are 8 minis mounted on each "stand" of troops.

 

I don't use an Optivisor or any other type of magnification when painting 15mm. I have found that it encourages me to spend to much time painting details that can't be seen.

 

GZG.V01.ADmin.3.jpg

 

Mounted for painting. I could probably have put two more minis on this painting stick.

 

GZG.Group%252520Shot.3.jpg

 

I paint a lot of 15mm minis at the same time, even when they are "uniform" in nature. It pushes me to get them done. These are minis for use in the Traveller RPG.

 

GZG.Scale.1.jpg

 

The real size you are dealing with

 

GZG.V05.Security.8.jpg

Not bad work at all. The key is to keep it simple.

 

I forgot about brushes. You don't necessarily need to use your good kolinsky with the razor sharp point on it to paint these guys. If its good enough to block in colors it can be an older brush. I actually find that the GW brushes work just fine for painting 15s and I only rarely bring out my Kolinsky brushes for this work.

Edited by Heisler
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Yeah, I used a worn-out Reaper synthetic 0 for most of my Flames of War stuff. And truthfully the only reason they don't look as good as they could is that I was rushed more than anything.

 

But those Battlefront shade washes, those are bottled magic.

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Thank you for the responses!!!

 

It does seem some do shade washes and some don't wash 15mm at all (I even know someone who uses Wood Stain as the wash). I will probably try both on a couple test pieces. Perhaps test first on a Porter (henchman) and some Spy/Infiltrators before hitting the armies - plus I need my Bronze Skin Triad to come in for my Barbarians.

 

For whatever reason the loupe-magnifier web site is not accessible to me but I get the visor concept and have checked Amazon.ca out as well as this guy - I do own a magnifying glass on a stand with alligator clips (like this) but I find perspective/distance hard to see and it's weird not holding what I'm painting. My biggest weakness (besides inexperience) is very shaky hands. 

 

I see what you mean by price, the Loupe ones seem about double the price of say Donegan Optical.

 

Any cheats, even if plain illusions, are helpful :) These won't be for contests but for myself and hopefully the occasional skrmish play.

Edited by Kersus
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Buglips has it right. The real key is to hint at the detail and the mind will fill it in. Block in your colors, apply a wash then highlight your major areas. Then you can go in an hit a few of the smaller details. It does depend on what your ultimate goal is. You mentioned armies and on the table any intricate detail you try and paint is not going to be seen. And holding one of these up 2-3 inches from your nose is going to reveal that most of them really only hint at detail. There are certainly exceptions to this there are 15mm minis out there that will blow your mind with their exquisite detail, again the problem is once its on the table you won't see that detail. Jen Haley has a couple of 15mm miniatures out there that she painted that you would never guess were 15s. They are amazing, but again on the table from 2 feet away they are just as blob like as anything else out there.

 

<clip>

 

Speed painting is this key to doing this. Temporarily mount the minis on popsicle sticks (jumbo ones) about 4 - 6 minis per stick. Paint one color on all of them. By the time you are done the paint is dry and you start back at the beginning with the next color. Repeat till all your main colors are on. Wash, drybrush the highlights and then hit some of the smaller details. Faces and hands in particular will make a mini stand out in this scale.

 

I don't use an Optivisor or any other type of magnification when painting 15mm. I have found that it encourages me to spend to much time painting details that can't be seen.

 

<clip>

 

The key is to keep it simple.

 

I forgot about brushes. You don't necessarily need to use your good kolinsky with the razor sharp point on it to paint these guys. If its good enough to block in colors it can be an older brush. I actually find that the GW brushes work just fine for painting 15s and I only rarely bring out my Kolinsky brushes for this work.

 

Wow! Thank you! This helps immensely. The pictures and your process! Cheers! I'm both looking forward to, and dreading the armies. If all goes well I will be investing in some 15mm Napoleonics (I have a few singles to start with).

Edited by Kersus
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I also do 15mm Flames of War minis, and I have found that hot glueing each soldier to the head of a nail, and pushing the nails into a sheet of styro foam when not actively being painted works well, as I have access to the whole mini. I tried the toungue depressors and popsicle sticks, but the number of minis got in each others way while I was trying to paint them, as it were.

 

I do Uniform, Black wash, drybrush Uniform, then pretty much the same for all equipment, belts, boots,  faces, etc. When you are looking at them from arms length, There just isn't the need for hyper detail....

 

Some Pics of My Troops:

US Armored Riflemen

inf2.jpg

 

Some German Pioneers

Pioneer5.jpg

 

US Artillery

cannon4.jpg

 

Some Panzergrenadiers and their Tracks

HQ2.jpg

 

An Objective

BT2.jpg

 

Hope that Helps!

 

The key is to try, experiment, and find a way to paint that looks good to you!

 

George

 

 

EDIT--- A battlefield shot:

bg4.jpg

Edited by knarthex
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RAFM-Traveller-15mm-002.jpg

 

These are very old RAFM Traveller miniatures (now being produced by somebody else, but I forget who.

 

As you can see, I undercoated them in white, and then block-painted them in heavy washes — the paint needs to be just thin enough that it pools in the creases, but thick enough still to stain the highlights. Then I used Citadel washes — Agrax Earthshade (sepia/umber), mainly, but occasionally Nuln Oil (black) — to make some of the shadows more definite. The last step was a bit of highlighting, but not every figure needed it.

 

Here are the results:

 

RAFM-Traveller-15mm-001.jpg

RAFM-Traveller-15mm-003.jpg

RAFM-Traveller-15mm-004a.jpg

RAFM-Traveller-15mm-004b.jpg

RAFM-Traveller-15mm-005.jpg

RAFM-Traveller-15mm-006.jpg

RAFM-Traveller-15mm-007.jpg

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Wow, some great inspiration and help there. Thank you. 

 

If all goes well with the Barbarians and Wild Elves from Rebel Minis, and the various stuff from Splintered Light, Flames of War and Napoleonics are certainly on my todo list. I have a sampler kit for Napoleonics and a Ram Kangaroo for Flames of war as well as a Maus.

 

I have a basing kit but It will also be a new journey as I've never done bases before.

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