Whenever I talk to people about starting out in the wargaming hobby – specifically as it relates to painting miniatures – I usually get one of two “I don’t think I ever could…” responses. In one of these, that sentence ends with “… because my eyes can’t see things that small/my hands shake,” which, I admit, is pretty legitimate.
The other answer I usually get is “… because I don’t know where to start.”
Less legitimate, to be sure, but I totally understand their quandary. While there are resources, tutorials and products out there for the intermediate to experienced painter, there’s not a lot of comprehensive help out there for beginners.
So, what I’d like to do in this series of pieces is, hopefully, give some folks who might not know where to start on their hobby journey a leg up.
Especially if you’re just starting out, you don’t need fancy brushes, to be honest. Later, when you’re more confident with your hobby skills, some detail brushes (those with the teeny-tiny pointy bristles) will be good. However, for now, a bargain pack of brushes from your local art supply store will do just fine. Just make sure there are varying sizes and shapes of brushes.
While the kind of subtle colors you’ll find on the Citadel paint racks can make you crazy with desire once you’ve really started out painting and got things down, when you’re a beginner, it can absolutely be overwhelming to look at hundreds of different shades and textures of paint.
But, first thing is first. Often the kind of paint that is sold in craft stores in the modeling area (i.e. near where the model cars and planes are sold) is enamel. You don’t want that. You want ACRYLIC paint. I started out using Testors acrylics (they also make a better-known line of enamels, so be careful and double-check what you buy) which are very good paints, and I found them to be cost-effective, as well. However, the brand is up to you.
The colors you’ll need are as follows:
And a fleshtone
This selection of colors will see you through for most things you’ll want to paint, and you can also mix them pretty well to get about any shade you’d want.
What’s this, you might ask? Well, it came as a shock to me as well when I started painting in high school, but minis, especially metal ones, need to be primed before painting so that successive layers of paint will adhere to the mini and not slough off like so much dead skin.
Now, there are two ways that most people prime their minis – either by hand (using a brush and some watered-down paint) or with a spray can. Some minis, like Reaper Bones, don’t take to spray primer because of the plastic they’re made of, so for those hand-priming is usually best.
If spray priming, I recommend a matte black acrylic spray. There are hobby specific sprays like the Games Workshop brand but something like Krylon spray primer is a great alternative and easily found at most hardware and big box stores.
About the Author;
Peter Kuebeck is a writer, gamer and award-winning mini-painter living in the Midwest. He wages a constant battle against the ever-growing tide of unpainted minis in his basement, and occasionally GMs role-playing game sessions with friends. Catch his hobby shenanigans on Twitter at @popculturecube