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What would YOU say to a newbie?

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Well said, Kev. So many good points there, particularly the one about drybrushing. I feel the same way about it. That and paying for good brushes. I just shelled out another $50 for a few more sizes of W&N's and feel the investment is well worth it. Can't get over how even a #2 comes to such a needle sharp point. Yowsers!!!

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Many of the questions I have been asked by beginners deal with theory. For that reason I recommend they read about things like scale distance and scale color, and develope a good understanding of lighting so they know where to shade and highlight. Learn the stopsign rules for overhead lighting,etc.


I'm not saying I would dump a lot of research on someone and bore them away from the hobby but a general understanding of basic principles has to go hand in hand with proper techniques mentioned previously.

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(D'oh! Here we go!)


- DON'T try to use an empty windex bottle as an airbrush ( I'm still quite embarresed :unsure: )

- Don't use a toothpick for small details

- Don't buy GW paints

- Don't buy Pinesol to soak minis in

- Don't try to thin acrylic with Lacquer thinner

- Don't use enamels on miniatures. Don't even buy them period, n00b!

- Don't base your mini after you paint it!

- Buy more Reaper stuff

- Shut up with the GW!

- Don't use plastic watercolour brushes for paintbrushes, get Red Sable instead!

- Don't use brushes for glue, use toothpicks! :grr:


I'll think of more later.

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Here is my 2 cents, though if you count all the words, it might look more like 5 cents. Really it is just 2 cents though :)


Good brushes are key. Invest in a $15 Winsor & Newton Series 7 (NOT the miniature line), and your skills will increase dramatically. I probably went through 20 5-packs of golden taklon brushes from Michael’s (they are only $4) in my first few months of painting. Sometimes a brush would not even make it through a whole mini! But the W&N will last for months, as long as you take care of it.


To buy a W&N, you can get cheaper prices online, but usually the shipping will even out the cost. It might be cheaper to buy them at your local art supply store, even if they are $15 each. Just compare before you buy (good advice for life in general :)


Since all of the W&N brushes come to perfectly sharp points, you should choose the size of your brush by how much paint you want it to hold, not how much area you want to cover (not always the same). It’s possible to do very fine detail with a size 0, or a size 000. A larger brush will simply hold a lot more paint. Also, a W&N will hold MUCH more paint than a taklon. It will be very frustrating at first trying to control the paint (especially with washes), but with a little practice (took me about 10 minis), you will learn to get it just where you want. Now I can paint an eye socket white and darken the cracks with a wash without staining the white, but it took me some time to learn how to control the wash well enough. Practice practice practice.


Read the Whiz’s article on thinning your paints. Invest in some good products to thin your paints, such as Winsor & Newton’s extender and flow-aid.


Mix up your thinner (I and others use 25% flow aid, 25% extender, 50% clean water, thought there are other recipes out there) and keep it in a bottle which allows you to add it drop by drop. This way you don’t use your dirty brush-cleaning water to thin your paints. You can buy 2 oz bottles with a flip-top cap at Michael’s for about $1.


I had a friend who told me not to use Future in the paint mixture as with time it will become opaque. He told me to use GW 'ardcote (gloss varnish) in the paint mix to kill the surface tension for washes and glazes. The problem was, it became opaque too! (milky white in the cracks) Now I don't mess with anything fancy, just the W&N extender and flow aid, and haven't had any problems yet.


A wash usually goes on first to deepen the shadows. If you use an ink, thin with just flow aid and maybe some water, as it doesn’t need to dry slowly. These will dry glossy, so be sure to use some Dullcote at the end of your painting.


A glaze goes on last after all the highlights have been painted on, in order to bring together the layered highlights. Needs to be even thinner than the paints, and some glazing medium from Vallejo (or Vallejo glazes: white, smoke, tan, etc) will make your glazes work better.


Inks can be used to punch up the color of a paint, but it will then dry glossy. Two words: Testor’s Dullcote.


When you are beginning, don’t try to mix colors for base coats unless you are sure that you can finish the job in that sitting. If you don’t, it will be very hard to match the mixture that you came up with, even if you save the palette (since the color often changes as it dries). Instead, use thinned paint straight from the bottle, that way you know you can always duplicate the color with no problem. As you get more experience, then you can experiment with mixing new colors.


If you use a plastic palette with small wells, cover the palette with aluminum foil (shiny side DOWN) so that clean up is easy. My wife soon got sick of me soaking my palette for days in the sink so that I could get out all the dried up paint. More brownie points with wife = more possible painting time ;)


If you want to save your palette (keep your paints wet) just cover it with plastic wrap, it will keep a day or two like that. You’ll have to add more thinner mixture before you use it again though. Or you could buy or make a wet palette, but I have not used one before.


Blacklining is difficult but really makes a big difference in the way that the figure looks at the end. An easy way to do it is with washes (usually black, but sometimes brown for skintones), or you could thin some black ink with some flow-aid and with a very fine brush make lines in the cracks between two surfaces. Some have said that it is easy with micron pens, but I have not found it to be so, as the tip of the pen doesn’t go very deeply into the crack.


Micron pens made my eye-painting life so much easier!



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Just about everything I was gonna say has already been said, esp Kevin. Though I disagree on the drybrushing, it has it's uses. One must learn to crawl before walking. Learning to dry brush helps you learn about layering, highlighting, etc. Then you start seeing how you could do better with other techniques, or with more careful drybrushing. Carpenters who use a nail gun still own and use the trusty ole hammer.


This is supposed to be a hobby, ie something you do for fun. There are some who make money at at, but not many and they didn't wake up one day never having painted a mini and say "Hey! I think I'll make my living painting lil lead people!".


Yea the good brushes and paints are expensive, but worth it. I still use cheap brushes for some things and still use cheap paint for something but for the most part its all Vallejo baby.


Sean Connery said in Finding Forrester "A writer writes."


Same thing here, a painter paints. If you practice, you get better. Even I improve eventually. ^_^


There are tons of places online that you can go to for ideas and help. Use them.


Remember: this is FUN if it isn't fun, why bother?

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There are some who make money at at, but not many and they didn't wake up one day never having painted a mini and say "Hey! I think I'll make my living painting lil lead people!".

Why not? I did! Literally.




Any way, I would say that if you want to learn to pain you need to do the following things.


1. Find the type of models that appeal to you.

2. Invest in some GOOD brushes.

3. Learn how to thin you paint properly.

4. Try to find someone who paints in a style you like and see if they will give you some lessons. Or at least just let you watch them while they paint.

5. Learn about colour. You could be the best belnder in town and still turn out mini's that look terrible if your colours clash.

6. Learn how to layer and/or wet belnd.

7. Learn how to black line. It will ake the world of difference.

8. Decide on if you want you mini's to look cartoonish, or realistic. If you want them cartoonish, paint them however you like. If you want them to look realistic reasearch the subject. If there is a lot of armour look at pics of armour to see how the light reflcts of each surface. If it's a horse look at pics of horses to see how light reflects off their fur, etc...

9. Don't limit yourself to just 1 or 2 tchniques, if you like both metallics and NMM them have a go at them both. There is no reason why you can't become great at both.

10. Practice. It really is the key to getting better at any technique. The more you practice to more confidence you will have. The more confidence you hae the more willing you will be to push yourself and to try new things.

11. Never stop looking for inspiration. You will find it in the most unlikley places.

12. Ask every one to critique (sp?) your work, whether they are mini painters or not. You will be surprised what they may see that you never noticed before.

13. Don't let people tell you NOT to use a particular brand of paint, ink, flow aid, extender etc... experiment for yourself. Just because someone else didn't like the way it worked doesn't mean you wont.

14. Don't be afraid to experiment with colour. Make custom colours all you like, just remember to write down how much of what you used so you can duplicate it later if needed.

15. Hmmmm........I think I have run out of ideas for now.......I guess on a final note, never be afraid to ask other painters hwo they did something. They may not be able or willing to help you, but you'll never know if you don't ask.


Other than all that, enjoy it. If it get's to a stage where iti sno longer fun then simply put it away for a while and come back to it when you feel happier about it all. No one ever painted a master piece when they hates what they were doing!




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I've only been painting a couple of years, just kind of winging it, and thus, I am still a big newbie, but I'd like to add on:


- Eyes are not really that hard

Everyone will tell you that eyes are difficult. (I know I heard that multiple times, and even got a lot of bad advice on how to do them)

Sure they're tiny and can be intimidating, but with the right brush, and the right technique they are simple.

Well, Chas, I haven't been painting that long, either, but I'm asked about "how do you do eyes?" quite frequently. I'd say I get that question at least once every painting clinic I run.


It isn't that eyes are all that hard, but they take a certain amount of skill and the right equipment.


So the next time someone looks at one of your minis and asks you to tell them about how to do eyes, take it as an opportunity to talk about overall painting techniques. Because truth to tell, they are having problems with all their painting (whether they realize it or not), and it just shows alot more on they eyes.

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"There are some who make money at at, but not many and they didn't wake up one day never having painted a mini and say "Hey! I think I'll make my living painting lil lead people!". Hells Clown



"Why not? I did! Literally." death angel


(the above are quotes from two other people, I couldn't figure out how to do that quote thing u all do with the boxes and such:( )




How and where can I sign up!!! I knew this was a hobby, I didn't know it could be a job. Not that my parents are going to thrilled to see me drop out of grad school....and not that I would :rolleyes: , but, seriously, i would be interested to know....

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When doing a reply (not using the quick reply thing), there's a link under the smilies for BB Code Help. It explains how to do quotes.



There are a few ways to make money by painting minis. The first is to sell them on ebay or something like that. Another is to let it be known that you'll paint minis for money. You can do this on your website (if you have one), or by posting on bulletin boards (online or in a store).


I've found it easier to go the ebay route.

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Well in light of all this advice I think the best thing to do is find your own way.


There are a lot of good paniters out there and they all do things just a bit differently (some do it very differently) from everyone else.


Learning all those nifty techniques is nice but you gotta find your own way. There are people here who paint very well but don't thin their paints (painting from the cap!? *GASP*), or only use water or don't do xyz or whatever.


It doesn't matter. If it looks good, then you did it right. Are you happy with it? Then you did it right.


Not everyone wants to be a GD winning uber painter. Sometimes we get caught up in all that cuz we see it all the time, but do what you like, the way you like it.


Now then, stop reading this stuff and go paint.

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Paint it until it looks right.

Layering; think topographic.

A little Extender is great, but too much and you'll hate it.

Flo-Aid; get some.

Wash your brushes more.

Just because the professionals do it a certain way, doesn't make it right for you.

Anne is not god, Anne is Anne. (Sorry about the ego shot there Anne)

No matter how fustrating painting gets, just remember your dog will always love you, but you cat doesn't care one way or the other.

[and my favorite ...]

You are better than you think.

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