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A Q For All You Figure Painters


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#1 HR Crowley

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 03:42 PM

Howdy y'all,

The othere day while playin' this wonderful game it became quite apparent the figures just 'sat' all gray and whatnot. So I started to thinkin' of perhaps painting my minis. But, I've never delved in this realm before and would like the communities thoughts on how to persue this endeavor. Is there a particualr 'starting set' anyone can recommend? If not where should I start? And if all fails is there any way to 'wash' the figures (almost as if I never tried)? Thanks all for your time.

--me



#2 Bonesaw

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 03:50 AM

You are in the same boat I was about three months ago.

I have a buddy who used to work for Reaper and has won multiple miniature painting contests at Gen Con over the years. He gave me good advice.

I started by buying Testor white spray primer and some good Winsor Newton brushes. For actual paint, I bought a nice set of Vallejo on eBay that looked like it captured a full color scheme according to what I needed. At that point, I primed my minis and started painting starting with the simple ones (frogs) first. As I progressed I realized that I was missing a few colors that I could not create by mixing so I researched a nearby shop that carried Vallejo paints and picked up what I needed. I also bought a matte-clear coat spray for finishing.

Now, I wasn't attempting to produce award-winning miniatures, but I feel like they are turning out just fine. You can actually see the progression of improvement as I painted. Right now I have about 4 left. I'll post pics when I'm done.



#3 Feldrik

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 05:03 AM

I'm not a master mini painter by any stretch of the imagination but I have had satisfactory results (good enough for my own use) by following some guides on line. Try 'Hoty Lead' and there are many good pieces of advice on these boards and if you google some key words you can find lots of step by step approaches.

I reccomend starting with the toads, they are big and simple so you will get a feel for how the paint handles and can experiment with some different things.

I also hear (but have not tried it) that Pine Sol will remove paint from plastics with out damaging them. If you do make a botch you can erase it and start again.



#4 wormwoode

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 08:58 PM

I've been painting for a long time now. Here's a (believe it or not) brief breakdown of the process:

Before anything else, you want to hit a well stocked nerd-shop, if possible. You're gonna need some tools. (If you've got no hobby shop, gamer store, or model train store around, a trip to the hardware store and a bit of internet shopping does just fine).

You'll need:

Xacto knife. Just the standard model, usually comes with a few "no.11" blades.

Small files and/or very fine sandpaper.

A spray-can of Black model primer. "Armory" and "Citadel" (Games Workshop) make good Black primers available at most game shops. "Model Masters" do as well, and are often available where model car and train kits are sold. White primer is also an option, as is Gesso, but you'll likely need to work up to these. They tend to be more tricky and much less forgiving than Black.

Decent mini brushes. Don't go crazy buying super-nice brushes until you're pretty confident in their use. You will ruin your first several brushes over time. Get a small cake of brush cleaner (for Acrylics) if you find it, and have the spare cash.

Vallejo brand paints. These are fantastic, inexpensive, and come in "eye-dropper" style bottles that save a lot of time and money in the long run. Get your four Primary colors, Black, White, and anything else that strikes your fancy. I highly recommend getting a few flesh tones. Mixing them from primaries can be tedious. The Talisman characters (if you want them to look remotely like the images on the cards) have quite a bit of Green, Purple, and Brown going on. You may want to get a few shades of those if you've got the money on hand. Vallejo Inks are also recommended (Green, Purple, Brown, etc.), but not totally necessary for a reasonable paint job.

A spray-can of clear-coat. Same brands as listed above for "Primers" should be just fine. Decide on Matte or Gloss. Matte retains more of the feel and color of the paint, but offers a bit less protection for the finished mini. Gloss does just what it says. It leaves a hard shiny coat over the finished model, more durable that matte, in general. 

The actual process:

1. Clean up the minis with an Xacto knife, small files, and/or very fine sandpaper. You want to get rid of any extra plastic left over from the molding process. Careful, young Jedi, some of the Talisman figures have little details that can fly right off should you get carried away. (A "cardless" Gypsy is no Gypsy, at all.) 

2. Wash them up a bit (finger grease can be a real pain for priming / painting), let them dry completely, then take little a bit of Blu-tac (poster putty), a tiny amount of plain White Glue, or even a very (very) small amount of chewing gum, and stick several of the minis on piece of carboard (standing up). You'll want four or five inches between them, in a row, as you'll be spraying them on the cardbaord this way.   

3. Take the cardboard tray of minis outside. Shake the holy hell out of your can, and spray them with the Black primer. Spray in several, thin, even, coats. Let dry totally between coats. At least a half hour between coats. Two or three light coats should more than do it. Too much primer in one spray will puddle up, drip, run, and actually fill in the fine details of the mini. If you find that you've missed a few "hard-to-spray" spots, don't sweat it, don't keep spraying the whole thing just to get behind a shield or under a cape. You can wait till the minis are dry, then touch up those spots with a bit of black paint. 

4. Once the models are totally dry (I'll often let them sit overnight, just to be sure) you now have "Primed" minis, ready to go. You'll notice that there is now a very fine grainy texture to the minis. That's what primer does. The paint now has a bit more to cling to. It should be a very, very fine texture, however. If you see bigger chunks, or the minis visibly look like sandpaper, you probably didn't shake th can well enough (or got a bad can). You'll have to strip the minis, and head on back to square one. (I'll get to stripping here in a bit). Once you're satistfied that they're dry, take them gently from the cardboard, and mount them (again with a little Blu-tac or something) on plastic soda-bottle caps, or something similar. This will give you something to handle (other than the figure itself) when painting.  

5. Paint your base colors. If a cape is hues of Blue, get out the darkest Blue and carefully paint it in smooth, even, light coats. Like the primer, you will need a few light coats to do this right the first time. You'll cover the whole surface of the cape in this darkest Blue. Later, once you've done the base colors for the whole model, you'll go back and add the lighter colors and highlights that give the colors depth.

6. "Layering-up" from dark to light. You can often achieve a pretty decent layering effect by simply adding a little bit of White to your base color. When you think of it in terms of the draped folds of a Blue cape, think of it in three simple layers: First, Dark Blue, over the whole cape. Second, a slightly lighter Blue, covering just the curves and folds blowing "outward", away from the mini's body. Third: an even lighter Blue, going in almost a thin stripe down the center of the blowing folds. The trick to this is finding a comfortable middle-ground between each of your highlights. If the Blues are too similar, the effect is negated, if they're too drastically different or too bright, they'll look like stripes printed or painted on the cape. Remeber: when mixing colors, "not enough White" can be fixed easily: let it dry, add a bit more white to your color, try again. "Too much White" means you may have to cover the whole area in your Darkest shade again, and start over. Start over too many times, and the model begins to lose detail for all the paint thickening upon it.

7. Details. Now is when you pull out the tiniest brushes and do the tiniest bits. Buttons on coats, eyes, weapons, whatever. This is the stage that chases many folks away from the hobby. They don't get it right the first time, so they assume the second time will be a bust, too. The internet is a goldmine, my freind, google "miniature painting", and look at the techniques different people use for fine detail. Make note of the best. Practice, practice. 

8. When you're happy with the mini, let it dry well. Then, you're going to shake the hell out of the Clear Coat can and spray it in even gentler, thinner coats than the primer, letting each coat totally, totally dry. I can't stress that enough. If you soak it, your whole paint job will look like shiny, glossy, crap. Also, watch the weather. If its too hot and humid, or damp at all, your clear coat may "fog". It is just what it sounds like. A murky film will magically appear over your proud new paint job. 

 

There are, of course, a great many more things and techniques you can try, but those are the basics. There's a lot of trial and error, and a lot of patience. Here's a few simple tips:

Assembly Line: With something like a Talisman set, you have the luxury of getting a lot of mini's at once. So paint them at once. That is to say, clean and prime them on the same day. Prime them in a few groups of four or five. Get out your character cards and break them out in groups of "These quys all have a lot of Green" and "These use a bunch of Blue", etc. You can do the base colors on one "Green" character, and move on to another while it dries. This will save you a lot of time, and keep things moving. You'll also likely see a few things you did "wrong" on one model, and be able to correct it on the next.

Layering and Highlights: I gave a simple example of Three layers. This is by no means a limit. Once you get the hang of color theory and blending, sky's the limit. Just don't put too much time into your mini's when doing a whole set, especially one that's gonna get played with, dropped, and potato-chip-fingered like a properly used Talisman set surely will.

Fleshtones and Hair: These can be problematic for new painters. Save yourself some time and drama by just buying a few different fleshtones / standard hair colors. Get ones that will "layer up" easily, so you don't spend a lot of time mixing and layering them for each figure.

Inks and Washes: These are often used to bring out details in a figure or to enhance their colors. A "simple" tutorial on their various uses and aplication techniques would make this missive look tiny. Do some research. You can use ink and washes to cut corners, or accentuate a prize worthy paintjob. Here's my only contribution to the process: Dish Soap. Get Googling. Someone else has surely stumbled upon it, as well.

Basing: If you want to add a nice touch to any mini you paint, get some "ballast" and/or "static grass" from a hobby store. These give texture and scenery to the the "ground" your model stands on. They're often super-easy to apply, and can make the difference between a cool mini and an awesome one. 

Stripping old paint: If you purchase an old model that someone painted poorly, or you've passed the point of no return with one of your own, you can strip it. There are many suggestions from many sources about how "best" to do this - but here's one that works. "Super Clean". It's a degreaser sold in many auto parts stores. It's a massive purple bottle. You can get one for five or six USD in most megamart-type stores. Pour a few inches in a bucket, dump in the mini, let it soak. Then, get some gloves, an old toothbrush and go nuts. You can soak metal minis forever, plastic should be monitored, though. Softer plastics like the Talisman minis may begin to soften further if left in the purple soak for too long. 

Practice: If you'd like your Talisman figures to look like a coherent set, and not necessarily like a visual progression of your ever improving painting skills, grab a few cheap minis at a game shop or online to play with first. It's like anything else that takes practice: Your first few mini's will likely suck. Possibly hard. Do you want them to be your Assassin or Sorceress, or some random plastic Warhammer dwarf you got in a bargain bin? Hell, should you turn out to be a natural, your little plastic dwarf will come out fantastic, and you wind up with "Thwakax: Chopper of Knees". Roll up some stats, make him a card, and unleash him upon the Talisman board.

 

Too much information for a simple question? Probably. Enough info to answer all of a freshmen painters concerns: Not likely.

 

 

 

 

 



#5 Conejo

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 07:21 AM

i've just used the minis paints i have to slap a coat on them.

it's not the greatest paintjob in the world (the plastic doesn't hold as well as pewter), but they're noticable from each other now.



#6 wormwoode

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 07:53 PM

Conejo said:

i've just used the minis paints i have to slap a coat on them.

it's not the greatest paintjob in the world (the plastic doesn't hold as well as pewter), but they're noticable from each other now.

 

Sure. If you are somehow having trouble keeping your figures straight while playing, you can even dunk them in house-paint. If you're trying to add a some more depth to your games, or just get a bit more value out of your purchase, you can paint the figures with a little bit of detail - and have fun doing it. If you'd like to simply "wash" the figs to bring out detail, try this:

Clean 'em up as I mentioned above. Knife off the stray plastic and wash any finger grease off with detergent.

Spray paint them in a "light" color. White, Yellow, Grey, even a metallic (like Bronze or Silver). Be sure to use light, even coats. I would still recommend using model paints for this, as traditional spray paint can gum-up your models pretty badly, even in very light coats.

When they're all very dry, get some "dark" model paint (water-based acrylic is what you're looking for). Black, Brown, maybe even a Green for the metallic colors. (Vallejo ink would work better for this, but this is a quick and dirty method. Use what you've got.)

Put a bit of paint on you pallet (a plastic lid will do nicely) and add a bit of water. 1 part model paint / 3 or 4 parts water, should do the trick. Experiment with this, though.

Take a Medium sized brush (about the size of your pinky-nail) and load it up with your wash. Swipe this over the minis. The paint-wash should be thin enough to spread easily over the model without actually turning it in this new color, and thick enough to settle into the crevices and details evenly. Like I said, experiment with a paint-to-water ratio that does this well with what your working with.

Let the figures dry really, really well. This may take longer than regular paint, as the wash that has settled into the details is effectively  a series of tiny "puddles". Seriously - let it sit for a few hours, if not even overnight. If, when super-dry, the wash doesn't feel dark enough - you can add another coat. 

When all is said and done, Clear-coat them as I mentioned above. Your work will eventually come off on the players fingers (and then your cards) if you don't.

The effect of a good wash-job is undeniably cool. You can even go as far as getting some little round bases from a game shop. Glue your newly washed figures to these for a more "chess set" look and feel. My Talisman set is painted (mostly, I'm still getting through all of them) and propped up on bases with small weights in them. If you've got the time, go wild.

The biggest problem with a wash-job, is that it can be so easy, and the effect so striking, that you'll likely want to do more when you've finished. In which case I recommend purchasing Descent. The Descent box is some trick of physics - there's way more stuff in that beast than should logically be possible to fit in it.

 

 



#7 BanthaFodder

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 12:11 PM

Excellent descriptions, thankyou. Any chance this can be archived on Talisman Island if Jon thinks it is a good thing to have? 



#8 talismanisland

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 12:12 PM

Would be cool if someone could take some pics of the process. Then it would be ideal to feature...


Harbourmaster at Talisman Island - 15 magical years and counting!

Sometimes I even update the Talisman Island Facebook Page!

#9 wormwoode

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 12:13 PM

I'm a big Talisman Island fan. I've been able to utilize several of it's features in the past and would be glad to contribute something. I'll get some good pics together over the next few days, and we'll see if they'll make for a more appropriate feature.

Just yesterday I sat down with someone who'd never painted mini's before and went through the basic process described above. We each started with a primed figure (a couple of Orcs from an old HeroQuest set) and went to town. After a few hours (more time was spent letting things dry than actually painting), She produced a figure that was just as nice as my own - on her first try. The results were so encouraging to the both of us, that I went and cleaned up the remaining HeroQuest Orcs I've horded over the years... all 25+ of them. I'll likely Prime them tonight, and working assembly line style (with a decent movie to keep us company), I have no doubt that we'll be able to crank out the whole lot of them to table-top standard in just a few sittings. 

Thanks for your compliments. I hope my little descriptions help someone have a good time getting a few figures nicely painted, without too much of the trial-and-error inherent in the process. It's the "error" part of the deal that tends to discourage folks, and often has them playing with flat-colored game pieces when they could have nicely colored figures instead.



#10 talismanisland

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 12:23 PM

I look forward to seeing what you come up with and we can then liaise to produce something for the site. Please contact me directly (email, Messenger, PM) and we can sort it out!


Harbourmaster at Talisman Island - 15 magical years and counting!

Sometimes I even update the Talisman Island Facebook Page!

#11 Feldrik

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 12:55 PM

Thanks for the advice on the metallic paint job, it seems like a classy look from what you describe. I will try it on some of my other minis that I have collected over the years.

Have you attempted using Pine Sol to remove pain? I do not have any in the house or I would give it a shot myself.



#12 wormwoode

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 07:24 PM

Feldrik said:

Thanks for the advice on the metallic paint job, it seems like a classy look from what you describe. I will try it on some of my other minis that I have collected over the years.

Have you attempted using Pine Sol to remove pain? I do not have any in the house or I would give it a shot myself.

I actually did try it a few years ago. A friend needed an army painted. When they were all (45+ of them) painted and ready for a few final ink washes before the clearcoat, he decided that the little plumes on their helmets and insignia on their shields needed to be Yellow, rather than the already painted Red. I told him we could just paint them black and start over from there, he told me of the Pinesol quick-fix. It was a mess. The "wetter" figures (those most recently painted) had slightly less disatrous results than the rest, but overall, it was an epic fiasco.

Pinesol is a Ronin cleaning product. It is masterless and meets any attempts at "control" with abject defiance. Basically, no matter how skilled your brushwork, it tends to go where it wants. It doesnt so much "remove" the paint as much as it "softens it up" just enough to be a problem. I really can't recommend it.

If you've made a blotch or unwanted dot with a hasty brush stroke, grab a dry brush or bit of paper towel and dab at it to remove any excess you can. Let it dry and paint over it. It's really that simple. If you've just totally gone wild and can't live with the paintjob as it has so far progressed, try the stripping method I mentioned above. It kills all the paint, but it works every time.

 

 



#13 Feldrik

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 08:04 AM

Here is another method I stumbled across.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/43744

Board Game Geek...endless information!



#14 meggypeggs

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 10:00 AM

I used to work for Games Workshop many moons ago and looking forward to painting my figures...when it arrives!

I enjoy painting mini's and have done since 1983 (some of my paints are that old and still fine!)

I painted up the metal figs for Talisman years ago but swapped them and the game for Blood Bowl and many teams...bit gutted I did now

I will post up some images when they are done...



#15 JoyrexJ9

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 10:11 AM

 Hi,

I'm new here but not new to the hobby (been wargaming/boardgaming/RPG-ing for over 20 years). I've just picked up Talisman and was thinking about painting the minis. One thing that immediately struck me was how bendy the minis were. Now that's great so bits don't snap off - but how does that work with paint? I was thinking that the paint could very easily flake off something like the staffs and the swords if they get bent...

Am I worrying about nothing?



#16 JCHendee

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 04:30 AM

I'm not a miniature painter, but wow, that's a good question I would have never thought of.  Interested to hear what some of the masters of the art have to say.  Maybe there's a special type of paint that has some resilience or something?



#17 Zozimus

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 04:41 AM

The paints I use are Citadel paints; they're acrylic-like and somewhat plastic in texture when dry...they bend, too, along with the minis.  I'd think you'd really have to haul on the miniature to make the paint flake off.  If it did, it'd only be on the stress point; I don't think it'd be tough to touch it up.  When I've had to re-touch is when the mini rubs against something before I've had a chance to seal it.   In other words, unless you're a lot rougher on your minis than I am, you shouldn't worry too much.   


Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play. - Heraclitus


#18 scottindeed

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 09:30 PM

Hi all, I'm new to the forum and recently bought Talisman 4th Ed.  I used to play 3rd ed way back when, along with loads of other GW stuff.  Anyway I'm busy painting up the models and the moment and thought I'd share.

 

WarriorProphetessPriest



#19 Velhart

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Posted 05 August 2010 - 12:26 AM

Nice painting

It looks very good



#20 Steve-O

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 04:05 PM

JoyrexJ9 said:

I'm new here but not new to the hobby (been wargaming/boardgaming/RPG-ing for over 20 years). I've just picked up Talisman and was thinking about painting the minis. One thing that immediately struck me was how bendy the minis were. Now that's great so bits don't snap off - but how does that work with paint? I was thinking that the paint could very easily flake off something like the staffs and the swords if they get bent...

Am I worrying about nothing?

I haven't had any problems with the figures I've painted (Descent and Doom figs, but it's the same kind of plastic.)  I suppose the brand of paint you use might make a difference, but I'm mostly working with Citadel and Vallejo and I haven't had any flaking problems from regular use of painted figs.  I would imagine most standard brands work the same.






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