Painting minis; getting started

payn

Legend
Greetings,

I know many of y'all EN Worlders are mini painters. About 10 years ago I used to do a bit of painting myself. Mostly figures for PC/NPCs and monsters for fantasy RPGs. I did kickstart at least 2 and maybe 3 Reaper Bones events. I have also collected recently a bunch of Battletech mech minis. So, I do have piles of minis and some free time to paint at this point. What Im hoping is for some advice on getting back into the game. I plan to paint Battletech minis to start. So, I'm looking for mostly cammo blends and metallic effects. Nothing too finely detailed obviously, but maybe ill work my way up later.

I got a few questions for y'all.
What paint kits do would you recommend? Specifically for mecha to start, perhaps expand to fantasy later. I hear good things about Vallejo brand.

What brushes do ya'll like? I hear good things about Artis Opus.
 

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Retreater

Legend
Vallejo is a solid choice. I prefer the dropper bottles to the paint pots of Citadel, and it comes out to a bit cheaper too.
Because I'm not fancy, I use a lot of Army Painter's stuff. It's also in dropper bottles and even cheaper than Vallejo. It just took some effort to get the paints the way I like them. They came out a little thicker than I liked and took a lot (a LOT!!!) of shaking to be able to paint with them. Putting some medium and ball bearings in the bottles really helped this.
The Army Painter brushes are also a good mid-point in quality and price. The Regiment and Character brushes are the ones I use for most things.
Army Painter makes a Speed Paint as well. I don't like it as well as Citadel's Contrast paint line. However, I don't think either would work well with mechs. There are no metallics in the lines and they don't do great on flat panels (but work better on cloth, fur, leather, etc.)
 

Mad_Jack

Hero
For mechs, either Vallejo or Army Painter are fine - and both have a really nice selection of military-ish colors and metallics. Most folks end up going with one particular brand based on the way it behaves (thickness, blendability, coverage, etc.), then cherry pick a few colors from other lines to cover some of their more occasional needs.
For any paint line that comes in dropper bottles, you'll want to get on Amazon and find a bag of tiny beads - made of something heavy that won't rust - to put inside the dropper bottles as shakers.

If you're just painting for tabletop or fun, I'd say go with the Army Painter brushes as well. Don't waste money on good brushes unless you plan to get serious at painting as a hobby. Do go to your local art store and pick up brush soap - taking meticulous care of your brushes will greatly extend their life span.
One thing to think about: Don't bother buying any of those ridiculously tiny "detail" brushes - the 5/0, or 10/0 sizes... Especially for mechs, where you'll be doing a lot of edge highlights, it's better to have a larger brush with a nice sharp point to it. It'll hold more paint and won't dry out in the middle of a stroke like trying to do it one tiny drop at a time on a brush with only one bristle on it.

Also, it'll save you a lot of money if you go and buy a color wheel to help you start mixing your own colors instead of having seventeen shades of purple.

Since you've backed a couple of the Bones KS's, you're probably aware that us folks on the Reaper forums is good people, so feel free to come hang out with us. A lot of the professional painters and sculptors hang out there from time to time, so whatever questions you may have, they can give you guidance. And according to the big stompy robot fans on there, there aren't nearly enough folks posting painted big stompy robot pictures... :cool:


EDIT: These days there are TONS of tutorials on YouTube...
 

I will give some super basic feedback. I am not expert. For terrain I go with cheap stuff. Apple barrel stuff at wal mart—-and use mod poster to firm it up (look up black magic craft!).

For minis, Vallejo, army painter…and maybe some washes for. Citadel. I prefer dropper bottle for paint.

Watch tutorials! I bought up so much Star Wars legions stuff and only got a start. But found army painter with perfect match between primer and paint was a nice start. Primed stormtroopers in white and then shaded and painted in the dropper bottles that. Matched the primer. Base coat and primer in one!

Now I am going to do some skeletons. Looking to army painter and Vallejo.

Interestingly, had a very brief love affair with flames of war. We ok perfectionistic, and with few tutorials back then I gave up!12+ years later the paints are still good!

These were flames of war colors by Vallejo. 12+ years…

About to use them in my skeletons…
 

payn

Legend
Thanks for the replies! I went with a 16 color WWII kit and a 16 color Fantasy collection from Vallejo. That saved me about 50% off Army Painter. Was debating a metallic kit but it had like 5 shades of grey that I could tell apart. Seemed like a lot of bucks for like 3-4 colors.

Turns out I still have some Reaper paint that looks pretty good. Bonus.
 

Mad_Jack

Hero
Turns out I still have some Reaper paint that looks pretty good. Bonus.

Short of drying into a solid block of pigment or getting frozen so that they completely discorporate, acrylic paints are damned hard to kill. I still have old Ral Partha paints from the 1980's that I occasionally bust out because I like the colors.
As long as they're tightly sealed, basically no matter how long they've been sitting around you can generally rehabilitate a bottle of old paint by adding a couple drops of water or flow improver and some hardcore extended shaking.

For the metallics, different metals can be fairly close in color, but have vastly different levels of shininess, and also the undertone of the individual color can make a big difference in the way the color comes out - a steel color with a hint of blue in it gives a different look than a steel color with an undertone of grey. For a tabletop piece, a lot of times it's fine to have one shade of silver to paint everything metal, but once you get into painting vehicles to mil-spec where aluminum and steel need to look different or doing high-quality fantasy pieces with four or five layers of highlights, that little bit of difference can end up with a widely different result when you're done.
 

MGibster

Legend
What paint kits do would you recommend? Specifically for mecha to start, perhaps expand to fantasy later. I hear good things about Vallejo brand.
After a while, you'll find that you prefer some brands over other for certain colors. I don't tend to favor Army Painter because I think it's a little watery, but a lot of people don't like Citadel (Games Workshop) paint because it's fairly thick.
  1. Army Painter: Good paint and reasonably priced.
  2. Vallejo: Good paint and reasonably priced. (Vallejo has a line of paints specifically for mecha.)
  3. Pro-Acryl: Good paint and reasonably priced.
  4. Games Workshop: A little pricey, but worth it for some colors. Their shades (washes really) are good and I love a few of their gold colors
Here's a secret, no matter which paint you get it won't make you a better painter. But you might find some paint you prefer to others. Don't be in a rush to buy all the paint at once, but give new brands a try once in a while. (For terrain, I also use Apple Barrel paints.)

Emperor.JPG

Emperor Paplatine and his guards from Star Wars: Legion. Painted with Citadel

Brushes: I go with the cheap brushes from hobby shops like Michaels. Just look at their brushes and you can find packs of small brushes for anywhere between $7-12. And keep your bad brushes around for a while, even the bad brushes might be good for stippling, painting special effects, or using certain products that could ruin a good brush.

Have fun. Don't compare yourself to other painters, other than to look at their paint schemes or techniques to get some ideas of how you might apply them to your work. Be realistic about your progress and what you expect to accomplish. My very, very best paint jobs aren't going to win any contest and would be seen as high quality table top standard rather than display and I'm comfortable with that. I try to push myself from time-to-time, but I don't really have high aspirations. Start with basic techniques, get those down, and then start working on more advance techniques (glazing, wet blending, dry brushing, etc., etc.)

There are a wide number of excellent tutorials available on YouTube for free.

Dana Howl has some great videos designed for absolute beginners.
Goobertown Hobby has some good videos for beginners.
52 Miniatures is hosted by a Swedish dude and has some good videos covering the basics and sometimes he just talks about miniatures hobby in general.
Don Suartos has, you guessed it, good videos for beginners but also quite a few advanced techniques.

Base Practice.JPG

Base for my Armiger Wardog for Chaos Knights (Games Workshop)

Don't ignore you bases. You can paint the best miniature in the world, but it will look even better if you do a decent job on the base. I used crackle paste (but in the paint section of an art store) applied some GW dark brown, GW light brown, then used some pigments to add a little extra color and finally some little grass tufts. You can't have a base without little grass tufts. It's the law. The wreckage came from a GW Sector Imperialis large base detail kit which means I paid entirely too much for some plastic.

Speaking of paying too much, there are some good places to get miniatures.

Reaper Miniatures makes some decent metal and plastic models that are very reasonably priced. Great for practicing on, and they have a good selecting of larger minis that are fun to paint. Look up CAV, it's their line of mecha.

Star Wars Legion (or Imperial Assault) from Fantasy Flight Games are reasonably priced and they're Star Wars so what's not to love?

Wizkids makes a good selection of unpainted miniatures of various sizes such as the T-Rex below which I'm especially proud of.

T-Rex.JPG
 


MGibster

Legend
As far as mecha go, what are you looking to paint? Are you looking for Battletech sized miniatures, or are you looking for something a bit bigger? I've been painting Imperial/Chaos Knights from Games Workshop, but they're rather expensive with the cheapest models coming in at $85 for two. I'm tempted to pick up Liberty Prime for Fallout: Wasteland Warfare even though I don't play the game. It's a good looking model, but it's $150. I suppose at that point it's debatable whether or not you're painting a miniature or just a scale model at that point.
 

payn

Legend
As far as mecha go, what are you looking to paint? Are you looking for Battletech sized miniatures, or are you looking for something a bit bigger? I've been painting Imperial/Chaos Knights from Games Workshop, but they're rather expensive with the cheapest models coming in at $85 for two. I'm tempted to pick up Liberty Prime for Fallout: Wasteland Warfare even though I don't play the game. It's a good looking model, but it's $150. I suppose at that point it's debatable whether or not you're painting a miniature or just a scale model at that point.
I have a large amount of current Catalyst BattleTech minis. I'm starting with those.
Example.
 

MGibster

Legend
I have a large amount of current Catalyst BattleTech minis. I'm starting with those.
Back in the 90s, I painted my Panther pink. And for my Crusader, I painted him dark blue and gave him a little bat symbol inside a yellow oval on his chest. I find BattleTech miniatures challenging because of the scale.

Duncan Rhodes as a decent tutorial for painting a Mad Cat (one of my favorite mechs).

 


Not great but….able to
Use primer As first coat since army painter matches the primers
With little bottles of regular paint!
 

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payn

Legend
I have a Vicktor model assault mech. I think I'll start here with this Davion field paint job. Should be easy with the WWII paint set I got coming. My models pose is very similar, but the arms are in an upright forward position.
fedsuns_federated_suns_armored_cavalry_color_palette-674x1024.png
 


Aeson

Legend
I find, I lack the patience and focus, not to mention steady hand to paint. I think about it from time to time. I've invested in Kickstarters for unpainted miniatures in recent years. Amazingly, some of them actually were shipped and arrived. Damn you Blacklist Games. shakes fist One day I may give it a go.
 


Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
One thing I learned using speed paints is that it’s really important to prime your minis with dark recesses, then dry brush lighter color over it. See the aboleths in this picture as an example. Most paints are more opaque so you don’t need to do this with them, and single color primer is fine (like the purple worm). But speed paints? You’ll want to do the layered primer.
E208AC2A-BFB3-4926-B406-2FFBFD7D13F3.jpeg
 

One thing I learned using speed paints is that it’s really important to prime your minis with dark recesses, then dry brush lighter color over it. See the aboleths in this picture as an example. Most paints are more opaque so you don’t need to do this with them, and single color primer is fine (like the purple worm). But speed paints? You’ll want to do the layered primer.
View attachment 257387
Do drybrushing before the speed paints?
 

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