Anyone here into painting minis?

How-To/DIY

I've never had much interest in painting minis, and therefore very little interest in games that heavily feature them, but my wife has shown some mild interest in it. Does anyone have any thoughts or tips on this adjacent hobby?

Games we currently own that have minis:

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Supporter4 days ago

From blood rage a couple of years ago. THe mini is not entirely finished here, just found the picture I had in hand. 

4 days ago

That looks sick

Supporter5 days ago

I have been painting miniatures for a while now.  I paint to table top quality but I'm definitely not one of those guys that can create masterpieces like you can see on the coolminiornot web site.  (I do recommend checking it out though.  There are some real works of art on there.)

I'll give you a few suggestions to start out with but certainly there are others more knowledgeable than myself:

  • Don't start with the board game miniatures.  I know I was super nervous to paint board game miniatures even after quite a bit of experience.  Start with something unrelated so you can get some experience in and be a bit adventurous.  Reaper bones are inexpensive but you could probably even get something at the dollar store.  (I would go with reaper bones so you get something with some good detail on it.)
  • Prime your miniatures.  I used to airbrush on a layer of flat black but I find just getting a spray can of black primer (or grey primer if you are planning on painting it in really light colours) is easier and quicker.
  • You can use cheap acrylic paints.  I started out with those and still use them depending on the colour I am looking for.  They cost a buck and work just fine.  I find the more expensive paints will tend to need fewer coats and tend to control better.  I prefer to use them because they are easier but I wouldn't buy a bunch of them before you know you are in to it.  You can definitely achieve the same results with the cheaper paints.
  • Don't go cheap on the brushes.  You need brushes that are reasonably stiff but not so stiff that they splash paint in use, they should come to a fine point, and you are going to want some really fine brushes.  You can get some pretty inexpensive brushes from amazon.  You want at least a 0 size brush but go down to 000 if you can.  (Eyeballs...oh the eyeballs.)
  • Youtube is your friend.  There are so many good videos out there.  (Washing, dry brushing, eyeballs, making your own washes, all kinds of stuff)
  • I personally find board games can be mentally hard because doing the same figure 10 times in a row is a bit boring to me.  Potentially look at putting them in to sets of 3 or 4 different figures OR doing a very "low res" paint job on the grunts and saving the real detailed stuff for the more unique figures.

I find it a very relaxing hobby, especially if you can not put too much pressure on yourself to be "perfect".  I hope she gets in to it and enjoys it!  Maybe you can join her as well. :)

Edit to add: You will want to spray your miniatures with a finish.  I recommend a matte finish for most of them unless you want them to be shiny in which case go with gloss or semi-gloss.

Supporter5 days ago

wow these are great points. Can't stress enough about the primer and cheap vs expensive paints. I personally use grey and tan primers (spray can) and then add a thin layer of white acrylic paint. I also have a bunch of higher end paints but definetly complement with cheap acrylics. Also, I always thin my paints with some water, this is specially important with expensive paints that are way more concentrated in pigment. I'd like to add that a wash of nuln oil (citadel) makes a world of difference to have instant highlights/shadows on minis and is probably the least complex technique.

Supporter5 days ago

Do you use pigments or the citadel/vallejo type paints?  I've never used pigments/inks.  What are they like?

I tend to prefer the dropper style paints now when I buy the more expensive ones as I have a wet pallette.  For the washes citadel works well in my opinion.  But really I think it depends on what you like as pretty much anything will work to make things look nice.

Definitely agree on the washes but I don't feel like I do them well enough to teach anyone else.  I try highlighting and dry brushing too to various degrees of success.  

Also doing some flocking on the base is nice and I've gotten in to that a bit more.

I look at people doing OSL (one source lighting) and NMM (non-metal metal) and it might as well be sorcery to me.  I don't have the inclination to learn it and that's ok for what I'm going for and why I'm doing it.  

Love the hobby and love that there is so much technique and learning you can do if you choose to but it's still great for someone who just wants to do some painting now and then.

Supporter4 days ago

Yes, I do use citadel paints mostly and a few vallejo too. They are great, personally preffer citadel but theyre both good. I've never used the pigments/inks line of paints though, what I meant by concentrated pigment is that they are thicker and should be thinned down for more coverage, better finish and better handling with the brush. 

I also do dry brushing from time to time. Highlighting after washing I usually skip since I feel the most time consuming part of the whole process. 

lol, yeah those lighting techniques are a bit advanced. Same here. 

Yeah, I read a lot of people usually thinking that painting minis to be table top ready is way harder than it is. Its really not and following a lot resources out there helps a lot. 

Supporter4 days ago

I think you and I are very similar.  I prefer the droppers but have a lot of citadel as well.  I haven't been watering down the paints though so I'll try that out next time to see if it works better for me.  

I like the dry brushing but only when it's a highly textured surface.  It's easy to do in that case.  (And for chainmail, so good for chainmail!)

But I generally keep it pretty simple.  If I hit a point and I like how it looks I'll just skip the advanced techniques out of fear of making it worse! :)

5 days ago

Wow, great tips! Thanks! I'll definitely take these into consideration!

6 days ago

Wow, this is all fantastic work and great info. Thanks for sharing!

Supporter6 days ago

Oh, this one might be easier to see:

Supporter6 days ago

I used acrylic paints that I already had, after priming. I like to be able to layer translucent colors, then seal with a clear coat at the end. 

Supporter6 days ago

Metal D&D minis, acrylics (translucent layers allowed for aged leather or worn metal looks)

Supporter6 days ago

The cloak on the right has layers or oranges/reds/yellow, similar to the leaves on the trees here now. Darker washes for the low parts, a little highlighting (and metal/opalescent paint) for the chainmail/gem in the staff. Painting these showed my background in watercolors, building up layers of colors.

Supporter6 days ago

Nope! I would love to paint Imperial Assault but I am negativley talented at painting.

6 days ago

Haha, you could always try it with just one little guy and see how it goes.

Supporter4 days ago

the right attitude! Stormtroopers are just 2 coats of paint!

Supporter6 days ago

Oooh Horrified and Western Legends seem like great candidates. I have zero interest in painting minis but I am highly interested in painting the #Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar gears. Both for personal use as well as for content. I'm thinking of getting a copy and showing the full process on a video.

Supporter5 days ago

What if someone else were to paint them for you?

6 days ago

That would be cool! I've seen pictures where people have done that and it really looks great.

Supporter5 days ago

If I had the time (and space) I would love to paint my minis.  I don't have many games with them (because I prefer Meeples), but I think it'd be super fun to bling my minis for #Star Wars Imperial Assault, #Western Legends, and #Scythe.

5 days ago

Oh yeah, the Scythe mechs look awesome when they're painted

Supporter5 days ago

I bet.  If I had lots of money I'd even consider picking up the metal mechs.

5 days ago

I didn't even know they made metal ones

Supporter5 days ago

They aren't cheap that's for sure.

5 days ago

Ah, yeah. They're definitely cool. If I had the game and was planning to get tons of plays out of it, I'd consider it, but I'd have to really be confident in that, haha.