- Figure painting (hobby)
Figure painting is the
hobbyof painting miniature figures and/or model figures, either in its own right or as an adjunct to role-playing games, wargames, military modeling, etc.
Because of the small scale of these figures, the often finely sculpted detail can be lost by simply applying solid color. Many of special techniques allow the painter to emphasize the detail in the figure and make it "come alive".
Most hobbyists use
acrylic paint, maybe artists' paint (such as Daler Rowney's "Cryla") but more often that sold especially for painting minis and other scale models (such as Acrylicos Vallejo's "Model Color" and "Game Color" or Games Workshop's "Citadel Colour"). Some mini painters use enamel paint(e.g., Humbrolor Testors) or even artists' oil paint. Some hobbyists use synthetic Lacquerpaints, such as Gunze-Sangyo's "Mr. Color" paint line. Lacquer paints are less commonly available in the United States do to safety issues.
Because the properties of oils, enamels, lacquers, and acrylics differ, different techniques (see below) suit different paints.
Each kind of paint has a different thinner, used to thin the paint for a smoother coverage, and maybe to clean brushes.
* acrylic: water
* enamel: enamel thinners or white spirit
* lacquer: lacquer thinner
* oil: white spirit
Thinners for thinning should be kept separate from thinners for cleaning to avoid contaminating one color with another. Ideally, thinners for thinning should be added to the paint using an eye-dropper (
pipette) or something similar; paint brushes must be kept out of the thinners bottle!
Water-based inks can be used for washes (see below).
Different agents can be used with different kinds of paint.
* retarder: makes paints slower drying
* flow aid: used with acrylics and inks, this reduces the surface tension of the water, to improve washes
Figures are very often
varnished (especially if they will be used for game play).
Gloss varnishes are harder wearing than matte varnishes, but matte varnish often gives a more realistic finish. (Exceptions are naturally glossy materials, such as polished leather and metals, and wet surfaces.) Some enthusiasts use matte varnish over gloss varnish. This can also minimize the tendency of matte varnish to form a whitish residue when applied directly to paint.
Sculptors can pack an incredible amount of detail into these figures, and painting may require the finest brushes... maybe as fine as "00000" ("5/0"). Most painters will use a range of different brush sizes; "1", "00", and "0000" is a likely minimum set.
Good quality brushes are important for the best results.
Kolinsky sablebrushes that take a fine point are preferred, although hog or synthetic brushes are better for "rough" work: undercoating and dry brushing (see below).
Airbrushis also a commonly used tool. Airbrushing facilitates leveled painting surfaces and allows for effects like gradiants and soft blended edges. Because of the detail work involved, airbrushes with a small tip diameter are considered more useful.
The number one rule is to clean brush frequently and thoroughly to avoid contamination of one color with another. For other brush care, see
A palette is essential for mixing and thinning paints before application. It doesn't have to be elaborate: a plain
ceramic tilewill do. But it should be non-porous to avoid "sucking" the solvent out of the paint.
A wet palette is especially useful with acrylics that dry quickly on a dry palette. A wet palette is a sealable container with a layer of absorbent material (such as tissue paper) that can be soaked with water and a
semi-permeable membrane(such as greaseproof paperor baking parchment(silicone paper)) over that. The paint sits on the membrane and is kept wet by osmosis. Wet palettes can be bought, but are easily made.
Undercoating, commonly known as priming, is essential to good results. It provides a better surface for the paint to adhere to and – with
white metalminis – inhibits corrosion of the alloy.
The undercoat may be any color. Some painters always use black, which provides the deepest shadows in hard-to-reach areas that later painting might miss, but which can be difficult to cover with paler colors.
Highlighting and shading
Highlighting and shading are complementary techniques used to emphasize the light and shade across the surface texture of the figure, such as creases and folds in fabric, fur, etc.
Highlighting is the application of lighter tones than the base color to raised areas. Shading is the application of darker tones to recessed areas.
Blending ensures the smooth transition of the different tones into one another to improve the verisimilitude of the faux light and shade. This different tones are simply worked into one another on the figure while the paint is still wet.
Blending works well with enamels (and oils) but not with acrylics, which dry too quickly, unless a retarder is used.
Layering and feathering
The same effect as blending can be achieved with acrylics by applying successive layers of color in smaller and smaller areas ("feathers"). The layers of paint build up a "hill" of successively lighter (or darker) tones.
Dry brushing is a highlighting technique that works especially well with finely textured surfaces such as fur, feathers, and
chainmail. After applying the base color and initial highlighting and shading, a very light tone is applied by lightly dragging an almost-dry brush across the surface.
Washes of thinned paint or inks can be used to "fill in" the shadows.
A very diluted transparent layer of color can be applied to soften harsh contrasts.
Outlining and edging
"Outlining" is painting a solid dark thin line that separates areas and defines details by acting as a bold shadow. The darkest tone should be used. Black gives the greatest contrast and might suit minis rather than larger-scale model figures; this would be "blacklining".
"Edging" is a less-often used complementary technique with the lightest tone.
Metallic paints are available in all kinds of paint and can be used for metals. Some blending etc. may be required; for example, "gunmetal" might be highlighted with "silver". Black or brown ink washes can provide suitable shading and can be particularly effective for large areas of metal such as plate
armour. Most of these paints, however, are relatively dull and lack the "lustre" of true metal.
Some painters use
alcohol-based metallic paints that have a brilliant finish... but these need to be used with care, especially in conjunction with acrylics, as contact with water can cause tarnishing.
Bright steel can be achieved with
white metaland pewterfigures by burnishing and gloss varnishing the unpainted metal. This works particularly well with swords, axes, etc.
Non-metallic metals (NMMs)
Many painters prefer to simulate the appearance of metals using non-metallic paints.
For example, steel can by mimicked by using various shades of grey from black to white. The aim is not to define light and shadow but the play of light across a polished surface. This is really the same technique that
airbrushartists might use to simulate a glossysurface, but applied to a 3D model.
Some figure producers promote Figure painting through competition. As an example,
Games Workshopruns their Golden Demoncompetitions at Games Day events, which is restricted to Games Workshop's own figures or scratch-built figures for Games Workshop game settings.
* Sheperd Paine, "Building and Painting Scale Figures" (ISBN 1-85310-496-5)
* Jerry Scutts, "Modelling and Painting Figures" (Osprey 2000) (ISBN 1-902579-23-2)
* Alex Castro, "The Art of Painting Miniatures Faces & Figures" (Compendium Modelling Classics) (ISBN 1-902579-62-3)
* [http://www.acrylicosvallejo.com/ Acrylicos Vallejo]
* [http://www.airfix.com/paints.asp Humbrol]
* [http://www.testors.com/ Testors]
* [http://theminiaturespage.com/paintserv/ Directory of Painting Services at TMP] , directory of professional painting services
* [http://www.alexcastro.com/ Miniature Masterpieces] painted miniatures by Alex Castro
* [http://www.jrn-works.dk/ jrn-works.dk] , painted miniatures by Jakob Rune Nielsen
* [http://www.blackmoor.ca/ Angela Imrie] , gallery of painted figures
* [http://www.brushthralls.com/ BrushThralls] , gallery and tutorials
* [http://www.coolminiornot.com/ CoolMiniOrNot?] , a huge gallery with minis voted on by visitors; forums and tutorials
* [http://www.steve-dean.co.uk Steve Dean]
* [http://www.djdminis.com/ DJD Miniatures] , Gallery of painted figures, tips, tutorials and more
* [http://www.jenova.dk/ Inge Mygind Jensen ("Jenova")]
* [http://www.hot-lead.org/ "Hot Lead" - Laszlo Jakusovszky] , gallery and tutorials
* [http://www.necrotales.com/ Necrotales.com] , gallery and tutorials by Kep Pump
* [http://www.slavetopaint.com/ Slave to Paint Studios]
* [http://www.spencerkeen.com/ Spencer Keen]
* [http://www.groundforge.co.uk/ Groundforge]
* [http://www.dansvillewargamers.com/ Dansville Wargamers]
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