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UnreliableNarrator's unreliable paintjobs: C&C needed

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Hey! So I've been putting paint to minis for about two months, and I've yet to finish one up satisfactorily. So I thought I'd come here and ask y'all for some C&C for a struggling newbie.


The Tiefling is an NPC baddie for my DM, and I'm struggling trying to get more detail on his face. I tried adding highlights to his t-zone to make it less flat but getting detail in such a tiny space is driving me mad. I'm also not happy with the highlights on the tail. How do ppl do faces on minis without much detail to the sculpt? 




I've been struggling with transitions and blending/glazing. On the mouseling the transitions are supposed to be glazing but it just comes out more of a wash with a heavy load of pigment where it settles. I've tried wet blending, but I don't know how to get that on smaller or more detailed/textured areas.




I'm a lot happier with my skelly boys, and I'm going to try NMM on the swords. I'm wondering how to reduce the shininess on the varnish (the middle one). I'm using Vallejo matte varnish, but there are still reflections under light.


Thanks so much if you've read down all the way here! I know I've got a long way to go, so I'm looking forward to any and all C&C.







Edit: Cut this down to just the ones I'm not happy with, and need advice on.

Edited by UnreliableNarrator
Edited for Clarity and Conciseness
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I think, overall, you just need to practice more.  You're getting paint in the right places but need finer control to tighten up the details.  Maybe a smaller brush and more patience. 


Some washes and inks are glossy, unfortunately. If you used that on your skels it will show.  Also matte finish is not the same as flat finish.  There can be slight shininess.   Have you tried Testor's Dullcote? 


And, sorry to nitpick, but "varnish" is a resin product used on floors, not miniatures. :) 

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9 hours ago, Inarah said:

Some washes and inks are glossy, unfortunately. If you used that on your skels it will show.  Also matte finish is not the same as flat finish.  There can be slight shininess. Have you tried Testor's Dullcote?


I used Army Painter's Strong/Dark Tones on those, are those known to be shiny? I didn't know that about the finishes. I'm trying brush-on for primers and finishes, so got the Vallejo bottle. I'll look around for flat brush on finishes. 

::P: And I'll try not to use floor varnish on my minis, I guess.


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First of all, welcome to the forums! You are doing great for starting out, even bravely tackling eyes! 


In regards to the face, I use a magnifier head set (optivisor) and a really bright led lamp. This is also one of the few times that I find having a fairly small brush to be useful. A size 00 to 1. Push highlights up to his cheeks, just under the eyes. If it gets too bright, glaze your mid tone over it. Otherwise, it really is just practice.


Painting in details that are not sculpted in very well is challenging, so I would temper my expectations at first, because it is an uphill battle. There are others with more experience who can provide advice. 


In regards to glazes, your brush will always deposit a little more at the end of your brush stroke. If you are getting a wash effect, that means you have too much liquid loaded in your brush. Continue to dab your brush on a paper towel until it is only damp, and not soaking wet. I tend to try to use glazes on flat-ish surfaces, such as faces or the flats of cloaks, and not on ridges where the paint can "run off" (another sign that too much liquid was loaded in the brush).


Blending or obtaining a smooth gradient can really depend on what color it is. Red behaves differently than Green. Blue behaves differently than Yellow. So giving advice is very much color centric. What color are you wanting to highlight the tail with? Is it supposed to be like a demon red, or closer to a really ruddy red/brown?


Finally, in regards to finishes/varnish/clear coats. Model Masters/Testors Dullcote, AK Interactive Ultra Matte Varnish, or Army Painter AntiShine will all knock out the majority of the shine from glossy inks or washes. Also, most washes usually aren't glossy, but can become glossy if you don't shake them. The finish won't eliminate all of the shine, but the vast majority.


11 hours ago, Inarah said:

And, sorry to nitpick, but "varnish" is a resin product used on floors, not miniatures. :) 


Are you sure about that? My bottles of AK Interactive and Vallejo varnish (printed as such) disagree with you. ;)


Wiping varnish is also used in woodworking, so perhaps the name has been somewhat relegated as a catch all.

Edited by Al Capwn
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Skeletons and Hellhounds and Procrastination, Oh My!


Been trying to work out a good way to do weathered bone. Tried a couple of variations here, but can't seem to get the dry brush technique to come out right. The bone white plus dark wash combo works pretty nice on these small fry, but I'm worried that it won't work well on the big boy looming in the back. 


Does anyone have advice on getting dry brushing to not look so chalky? Or should I do the big one with more traditional layering for shading and highlights? I'm excited to do a WIP step by step for it, as I learn new techniques.



20191124_213544_HDR-01.thumb.jpeg.1bbba214d0837e4e06f2cdd9e427a355.jpegI also wanna show off my first attempt at translucent paints, on a hellhound, and my first actually completed, varnished, and ready for basing miniature. The wizard from the LTPK; I spent two months agonizing over him before forcing myself to declare him done and move on. Does anyone else have similar trouble with continuous minor tweaking, or is that something that experience and confidence gets out of your system?


Ugh, the reflections really mask a lot of the work, I need to read more of the Shutterbug subforum to learn how to properly photograph my minis. 

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Good start !


On the subject of glazes.

A glaze is not a wash.


To create a glaze, you can use water, but it might be easier to use glaze medium from Vallejo.

Now take a white plastic party plate or something like that.

You need to mix the paint and the medium, maybe add a drop of water to create the glaze.

To see if you have thinned it enough, take your brush and wipe it through the mix on the plate, you should see the white of the plate immediately.


Glazing is also something that takes up a lot patience.

You aply ONE layer, wait till dry, see how it looks, apply the next, wait till it dries and so on..

You might need up to ten layers of this almost watery mix with just a hint of colour.

That's the idea of a glaze, after a while it starts to show.


Pretty useful for putting tattoos under the skin or warpaint etc.


A wash is thicker and usually one or two times is enough to get the desired effect.


Another trick.

Keep a damp brush at hand, if you apply too much paint/ wash etc...immediately use the clean damp brush to suck it up.

That way you can avoid having to repaint much.

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@UnreliableNarrator I agree with everything @Glitterwolf said so far.  Excellent advise, especially with regard to glaze consistency.


A few suggestions (all of which I had to learn myself and some I still try to master).


Two brush blending - maybe an option?


Another technique, that I successfully tried, is to put down a slightly thicker glaze, so that one coat gives a slightly translucent area of paint. Then you take a second brush (or rinse the current one), remove excess water on a piece of paper towel and feather the areas where you want your transition. This is basically two brush blending.


I always add Glaze Medium and a bit of Thinner Medium. Almost no water. Especially the Vallejo Glaze Medium became a standard tool for me. It really enhances the paint consistency and makes it much easier to get translucent coats.


The key here is to not have too much paint on your brush at all stages. Using a wet palette is also extremely useful.


This is a very relaxed way of painting. Wet palette and glaze medium prevent your paints from drying immediately, so that gives you a 10 to 20 seconds of working time. Even afterwards you can always go back in, given the coats are so thin and correct hue etc. with further glazes. So you never really can "ruin" something.


Chasing contrast


Generally speaking contrast is key, so if you can deepen the shadows and brighten the highlights your miniature will pop more and even faint detail on the face may read as such.


On Anirion for instance, I would suggest to apply controlled washes between the individual fingers and the mouth slit. Reikland flesh shade can work or also a thinned down tan brown, to increase contrast and to differentiate these areas. The folds of his coat would need to be darker, here you can use  purple, green or blue mixed with a dark red. Each giving you another feel to the miniature. The main idea is to never go too far into yellow or orange with the highlights. Equally the shadows should not be too brown. Currently it looks a bit splotchy, presumably due to the wash and lacks depth.


The trimming of his coat would also benefit from either a contrasting colour or something close to red in the colour wheel e. g. a golden yellow. 


Brush quality


I don't know what kind of brush you use, but it should not be too small. A size 1 is fine, it needs a good tip, however, that keeps its shape. With a fine tip you can paint everything. If it splits after a few uses, you may need to invest in a better brush. Usually the tool doesn't make the artist, but cheap brushes can be very frustrating. Brush control is important, but then the brush needs to hold its shape so that you can put the paint exactly where you want it.




To reduce chalkiness when drybrushing you can always apply a glaze. I would the technique sparingly, especially if you feel the texture requires smoothness. If you go for stone or rough surfaces, drybrushing is a valuable tool in the box and should not be relegated to a beginners technique. Very important: Not too much paint on the brush. If you get smearing, remove more paint on a paper towel.


To summarize:


Increase contrast, use controlled washes, give two brush blending a go and try to really delineate surfaces.  

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On 10/7/2019 at 6:29 AM, UnreliableNarrator said:


I used Army Painter's Strong/Dark Tones on those, are those known to be shiny?

Army Painters washes have a matt finish. I really like they're washes. 

But if you want to be sure to have a matt finish, you could use AK Ultra-mat.

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