Preparing Your Model
With a sharp small blade (craft knife etc) remove the excess 'flash', or bits that have leaked out of the mould around it's edges. See Here what flash looks like. Be careful now, try to cut away from yourself, wear a thimble if you slip a lot to avoid bleeding all over your piece. Don't freak if you cut off small protrusions by mistake, we can rebuild them!
Sand the flash edges smooth with small files or fine sandpaper. See Here what mini files and hobby knives look like.
Wash lead or plastic figurine in dilute soapy water to remove oil or stuff that would inhibit the paint (or all your careful work might flake off later.) Try to wash your hands before touching pieces now, as there is grease on fingertips.
Build up your model, with carefully whittled toothpicks, fuse wire etc to make spears, bracelets, cover the fact that you chopped off its hand earlier.
Glue any bits, like wings etc in place. May have to paint first if gluing would make it too hard to access an area, but looks better if you can glue now (I think.) Mix up glue well, let it dry thoroughly. I have tried Araldite, Super glue, plastic and metal glues and a whole range off other stuff. But for some reason, there is always the odd model (usually the dragon wings and tails) that wont glue. Humph. Any ideas? (I am willing to learn soldering as the next step.)
While the glue is drying a verity of items can be employed to keep the glued edges together. Clothes pegs, lucky bands, props under the wings/cannon, brought clamps, plasticine or play dough. Many pieces need several of these. Try them out.
I use enamel paint to do my figurines with, because that is what I have available. But there are inks and other stuff you can use as well. Also, I use some nail polish, because it comes in colours you just can not get otherwise. I like the pearls the best.
To avoid putting your greasy fingers all over your piece blue tack or plasticine it to a small wooden block, or 'base'. Then you can rotate your figure and get at all the angles without touching it. Best of all you don't have to put your freshly painted masterpiece down and risk smearing the paint.
Let a coat of paint dry well before applying the next one. Try not to put too thick a coat of paint on at once, as this can obscure the details of your figurine. However an all-over base coat of one colour is a good idea, just to start with.
Over a dark coat of paint use an old brush to 'dry brush' on a lighter colour. The idea is to only put the second colour on the raised edges or ridges of the figurine, i.e. scales, chain mail, armoured plate. This second coat looks best if it is lightly applied, i.e. remove most of the paint on the brush first by running it over a 'wipe off' sheet. This can stuff the brush totally, which is why an old one is used. J This is how I do chain mail: on a black base coat I dry brush over a silver, steel or gold metallic colour. It really makes the links of the armour stand out. For realism splotches of bronze and matt (matt is 'non shiny' in enamel speak) brown can be added as rust. J A very light bronze over dark tan, highlighted with a light tan makes a nice leather look as well. A pastel colour over black or dark brown can look surpassingly good, giving an almost metallic highlight.
Paint a light base and 'wash' it with a darker colour to create shadows. A wash is done using a paint that has had a thinner added, so the colours only puddle in the crevices. This is good for doing faces, that can be to small to dab on blobs of colour without looking like the French Second Guard wore make up. (Actually, some of the noblemen commanders did.) J I use a matt flesh base paint with a tan wash for faces. J Also this looks very nice on cloaks, dark blue washed over pale blue.
To 'wipe off' is a technique used for similar results as a wash, but you don't have to add thinner. (you still can if you want.) Paint your base coat. Let it dry well, or it may wipe right off in the next step, a real pain in the bum. Apply the second, darker coat, and then quickly wipe it off using a soft rag. Paint will be left behind in the crevices, creating shadows.
Highlighting can be done to the point of fine art with inks, but even acrylic can be employed to a degree. Put on the base coat (or paint around the outside of the area to be highlighted with the base colour if you don't want to lose details in a build up of paint.) Now add a small amount of a paler colour (yes, white is best, but experiment, other colours like yellow can look great too.) to the base and mix it well. Re-do the painted area, but not all of it, leave the original colour showing round the edges. Add more pale to the original and do the same. Repeat as often as the paint will allow, or looks good doing. If the paint will let you, blend the gradual colour shifts with a dry brush. This is done on large flat areas of the model to make it look like light is hitting the area. J This looks good on clothing. I have seen ink models do fading to white from brown/orange bases with horns and tusks, it looks really good.
Briefly, to mix up a steal/iron paint put one part black mixed with two parts silver over a black base. Gold and brass stand out on a brown base. To do the skinny lines needed for belts etc do a black/white base coat, covering the belt etc fully. Then paint in the jacket around the belt, i.e. you don't do belt and other fiddly bits last, but first. Ahhh. That's how they do it. Smaller lines can be drawn in with an art marker or similar ink pen.
Store mini's carefully, do not over handle them or the paint may flake off, or, as happens to me all the time (grrr) the wings and tail fall off. Wrap in tissues to travel, or the pieces may rub against each other. There are carry cases you can buy with little compartments. My stepfather has twenty odd of these in several styles so he can take the entire Napoleonic army, with foe of the month, away with him. Do not dust them regularly; keep (if possible) in a sealed area, like a glass cabinet.
Care for your tools well. Clean files after use and store/use paints as directed. Clean brushes as soon as you have applied the paint, and store them in a jar with the bristles in the air. Be aware that mice and things will eat brush bristles, so it might be a mistake to leave them in a shed to store. Brushes come in small sizes. I like to use 00 or 000 for fine work. Sponges, toothpicks, makeup applicators and things can also be use.
Air brush. If you can. Looks good. Never tried it myself, but seen others do it. Nice.
Mix and match the painting techniques, use them all at once if you want.
A magical look for unicorns and cars is to paint first with white or black, then put a pearl sheen over it (I use a nail polish, there other things out there). This looks good over metallic red also. A nice look for reptiles is to use all the painting techniques listed above, but in just metallic paints. And a good scaled look can be achieved using a green 'sheen' or 'shiny' paint in a wash over a matt green counterpart.
See some of my figures Here.
Still Under Construction.
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