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This is a thread about getting started. From the very beginning.  Where would one begin their mini-painting journey?

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I'll go first. :)

First, there's no wrong way to go about this.  Get a brush, get a mini, paint your ass off.  Repeat.  You'll find what works for you, and part of the journey is finding the tools/methods/products that work for you.

With that disclaimer, here's a few opinions:

- PAINT -

We started with ArmyPainter and a few P3 and Citadel paints.  I found that I really hate getting from a pot and today I basically refuse to use anything but a dropper bottle.  

At PAX Unplugged, we latched onto a show deal at Reaper to fill a carrying case with paint for a special price.  I've really come to like their paint "feel" and prefer it over AP.  If I were starting today, I'd skip the AP and go straight to Reaper.  (I'll continue to use the AP we have, and love a few specific colors, but on the whole my opinion is that the Reaper paint is superior).  They sell starter kits, and also have "triads packs" so you have a shadow, base, and highlight color in one mini-kit.

At our recent Miniature Monthly boot camp, they had us using Secret Weapon paints (among other major brands). I was blown away by them, but their color range is far more restrictive.

- BRUSHES -

You can spend a fortune on brushes.  For the raw beginner, I really like the ArmyPainter "most wanted" kit.  Buy 2 if you can.  Then go raid your local Hobby Lobby and get one of the bulk packs of cheap brushes to use when you don't want to screw up an expensive brush.

Later, consider some of the higher end Raphael and similar sable brushes.  

- PRIMER -

I'm pretty much done with rattle can priming. Go see my thread on airbrushing.  HOWEVER, most of the airbrush-able primers can be applied with a hand brush, no expensive equipment required.  I've personally done this on underbits where the airbrush can't reach, but I've seen videos where the entire model is primed that way.  I use Vallejo Surface Primer and really like it.  At the start, I used a lot of white primer, because it was easier to end with a "bright" model, but in time I've begun to use black for almost everything.

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Hey so I have some questions? When you’re cutting the little guys out is it better to get the clippers as close as possible to minimize filing or clip kind of mid way, then use an exacto blade to trim off the end and then file or something else entirely? Also glue recommendations? I’m not sure how I feel about the one that came in my starter kit. 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, ElysianPeace said:

Hey so I have some questions? When you’re cutting the little guys out is it better to get the clippers as close as possible to minimize filing or clip kind of mid way, then use an exacto blade to trim off the end and then file or something else entirely? Also glue recommendations? I’m not sure how I feel about the one that came in my starter kit. 

Clipping: I generally get as close as possible but this does take some judgment. You don't want the gate (technical term for the sprue connection point) to tear and leave a void. Larger gates into round surfaces seem to to tear more for me. Having a good set of sharp flush cutters does help. I'll link the ones I use when not on my phone... they're great and were under $12 on Amazon.

After clipping, I usually scrape mold lines and gate tabs with the back of an x-acto. If that doesn't do the job I'll turn the knife around and use the sharp edge.  I try to trim and clean all the parts before I glue them. Nothing worse than assembling s model and finding a really horrible mold line you can't reach.

Glue can be a really emotional and controversial discussion for some. There are a lot of opinions and a lot of choices. If the parts are plastic, I recommend plastic cement. Most hobby brands are very similar, but I've recently fell in love with Tamiya thin cement. It flows really well and the lid has a little brush for a lot of control. I've also used armypainter and GaleForce9, and they worked fine, but with their nozzle I ended up with more gloops and oopses.

If they are resin you must use superglue (I use loctite brand from walmart).  If you aren't sure, glue some pieces of sprue together... If resin the glue will just peel off again.

Edited by Zoxe
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Wash your minis in warm (but not so warm it can melt/misshape the mini) soapy water.  I take a soft bristle tooth brush and scrub them down a little.  Before they cast the mold, they spray it with mold release.  That can get stuck in the little detail depressions.  After a wash, you'll see more detail lines.

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As a beginner, I bought one of Reaper’s starter kits which includes a lot of paints, several minis and a very useful booklet which walks you through painting the miniatures, explaining various techniques. It even recommends which colors to use, though you can use any color you wish. I purchased the first and second starter kits and found them very useful. Also picked up some cheap paints at Walmart which work well too. 

One of my tips is to practice on your less “important” minis first. Learn, make mistakes, then paint some more. Soon you will start developing the more advance techniques like washing and dry brushing. After you get the hang of the basics, then begin working on more important minis in your collection. 

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Also, you will get better as you go.  My first few minis are a tad, mmmmm, crappy.  After a while, if you still feel like you stink at this, pull your first mini out and compare it to the one you're working on now.  You will see the difference.  So save your favorite for last.  Hone your skills on some "cannon fodder" first.

My best advice for beginners (since I'm basically getting started too) is:

  • Stick with acrylic paints, at least to begin with
  • Get on youtube and watch a bunch of videos on mini painting.  If you luck out you will find someone painting the mini you are going to be painting.  Different guys use different techniques, so watch several.
  • Lots of thin coats is better than a thick coat. 
  • Typically it's better to work on the bigger areas first (e.g. the robes), and then go back and get the details.  The caveat to that may be flesh areas or places that are "underneath/behind/etc" the big area.
  •  Washes and dry brushing are your best friend, but it takes a little practice.  I really like Citadel washes (especially nul oil) because they ARE in a pot.  I don't care for the pots when painting, and only buy pots for the finishing paints.  If you do use a paint pot, take what you need out of the pot, and close the pot or your paint will dry out prematurely.  Vallejo has a box of washes that I bought and really like.  It was cheaper to get the box than buy the individual bottles.  They had black (but I like nul oil better for shadowing), red, green, blue, flesh, sepia, umber I think.  It will definitely get you started.
  • Citadel has some real cool paints I use to dry brush.  I use them for adding rust to metal, blood to blades, wear and tear to leather.  The names can make you gag a little, but they are fun to experiment with.  I like Typhus Corrosion (metal corrosion), Blood for the Blood God (add blood to the blade), Pink Horror for shading, and Leadbelcher to give you a different metal look.  You'll want several different metals: silver, oily steel, lead, gold, bronze, copper, etc.
  • There is no sin associated with going back and touching up.  The minis are small, and you are going to mess up an area you already painted.  It's OK.
  • Improvising is cheaper than paying for fancy painting accessories.  I went to a big local hobby store and bought some cheap candy molds to use as my paint pallet.  It was over 10 times cheaper.  Round pill bottles work pretty well for painting bases.  I get mounting clay to stick the mini to the top of the bottle.  A lot cheaper than a mini holding device.
  • Don't cheap out on your fine detail brushes, but only use them for the fine details to make them last.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for your advice guys.  I do appreciate it.  Do you have a recommended website/video/source of “how to paint for dummies”? (Me being the dummy ;) )

Edited by tgpumpkin

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25 minutes ago, RomyCat said:

As a beginner, I bought one of Reaper’s starter kits which includes a lot of paints, several minis and a very useful booklet which walks you through painting the miniatures, explaining various techniques. It even recommends which colors to use, though you can use any color you wish. I purchased the first and second starter kits and found them very useful. Also picked up some cheap paints at Walmart which work well too. 

One of my tips is to practice on your less “important” minis first. Learn, make mistakes, then paint some more. Soon you will start developing the more advance techniques like washing and dry brushing. After you get the hang of the basics, then begin working on more important minis in your collection. 

I started in the exact same way! Reaper's is one of the most affordable and best places you can start learning. My other suggestion to beginners would be to buy a wet pallet early on. Learning to dilute and blend your paints is one of the first big steps to reaching the next level of miniature painting and getting used to that right at the start is a huge advantage. 

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3 minutes ago, tgpumpkin said:

Thanks for your advice guys.  I do appreciate it.  Do you have a recommended website/video/source of “how to paint for dummies”? (Me being the dummy ;) )

Go to youtube.com and search with miniature painting tutorial, and just start watching.

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3 minutes ago, tgpumpkin said:

Thanks for your advice guys.  I do appreciate it.  Do you have a recommended website/video/source of “how to paint for dummies”? 

This website has tutorials for everything from basic techniques to competitive basing. I've used it as a resource a ton during my last two years in the hobby.

 http://massivevoodoo.blogspot.com/2009/10/tutorial-overview.html

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Question for you reaper peeps....I’m reading reviews that say reaper paint is more true to color on reaper minis than on non reaper minis.  I’m assuming it has something to do with the plastic.  Do you find that to be the case?

Right now I’m eyeing starter kits for both reaper and army painter.  Still going to read up on them before making a purchase.  Thanks for all the help :) 

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, tgpumpkin said:

Question for you reaper peeps....I’m reading reviews that say reaper paint is more true to color on reaper minis than on non reaper minis.  I’m assuming it has something to do with the plastic.  Do you find that to be the case?

Right now I’m eyeing starter kits for both reaper and army painter.  Still going to read up on them before making a purchase.  Thanks for all the help :) 

I'm not a fan of army painter.  1) I like the other paints better.  2) their colors are geared more towards battle fields than D&D characters.

Edited by Barb Bliss

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42 minutes ago, tgpumpkin said:

Question for you reaper peeps....I’m reading reviews that say reaper paint is more true to color on reaper minis than on non reaper minis.  I’m assuming it has something to do with the plastic.  Do you find that to be the case?

Right now I’m eyeing starter kits for both reaper and army painter.  Still going to read up on them before making a purchase.  Thanks for all the help :) 

I've never seen an issue with reaper mini paint but if I'm doing something for competitions I'll use SCALE75 paint. Honestly I wouldn't worry about it, there's so much technique to learn before worrying about the quality of the paints. 

I will say that I had a terrible time with Army Painter primer and I won't use it anymore. I haven't tried out the paints though I really like their brush set. 

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1 hour ago, tgpumpkin said:

Thanks for your advice guys.  I do appreciate it.  Do you have a recommended website/video/source of “how to paint for dummies”? (Me being the dummy ;) )

I have to plug Miniature Monthly on Patreon here. I subscribe at $10/mo and justify it as a magazine subscription that I would have been happy to pay 15-20 years ago.

Liz Beckley and Aaron Lovejoy are studio painters and have a long list of sponsors. Some of their vids are very advanced and made my hair melt and my brain run out my ears. But their content on model preparation, gap filling, wet palette use, and exposure to a wide range of products is entry level and very valuable.

They also have a pretty active discord channel, where you can ask questions direct to them and other users will jump in and assist. Similar vibe as the DMG forums here.

Maybe not for your first figures but something to consider. 

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46 minutes ago, tgpumpkin said:

Question for you reaper peeps....I’m reading reviews that say reaper paint is more true to color on reaper minis than on non reaper minis.  I’m assuming it has something to do with the plastic.  Do you find that to be the case?

Right now I’m eyeing starter kits for both reaper and army painter.  Still going to read up on them before making a purchase.  Thanks for all the help :) 

The armypainter starters for specific games are really useful and good value - removed the analysis paralysis that happens when staring at the huuuuuuge display of paints. 

One downside is that they change a lot of the names on the bottle. So "skeleton bone white" becomes "fang bone white," or whatever. With a few exceptions, these are the same AP paints with a different label and name. Which is fine until you use up your earthy brown and creamy white and have no idea what color to buy as single bottle. They do print a reference sheet on their web page but it's really buried.

Like I said, I started with the two game specific kits for Shadows of Brimstone, and it was a great turnkey way to start. But now 3 years later am looking at ways to convert over to Reaper.

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I didn't start with a kit.  I had Massive Darkness sitting there with all these minis and I just went to the hobby store and bought some paints after watching several tutorials on youtube.  I can't tell if what I did was better or worse than the starter kit users.  I just knew I was chomping at the bit to start painting MD minis.  And I'm still painting them, though I'm down to the last 20% or so.  One more (big) mob, a couple of bosses,  a handful of roaming monsters, and then on to my heroes!

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11 minutes ago, Barb Bliss said:

I didn't start with a kit.  I had Massive Darkness sitting there with all these minis and I just went to the hobby store and bought some paints after watching several tutorials on youtube.  I can't tell if what I did was better or worse than the starter kit users.  I just knew I was chomping at the bit to start painting MD minis.  And I'm still painting them, though I'm down to the last 20% or so.  One more (big) mob, a couple of bosses,  a handful of roaming monsters, and then on to my heroes!

After seeing your minis on the forums Mike and I dug up a copy of Massive Darkness and we are starting to paint them this week! Those minis are amazing!!!!

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Posted (edited)
54 minutes ago, Lindsey said:

After seeing your minis on the forums Mike and I dug up a copy of Massive Darkness and we are starting to paint them this week! Those minis are amazing!!!!

There are A LOT of them.  One thing I screwed up on was some of my bosses have different color robes/hair as their mob since I didn't do them at the same time.

p.s. I definitely want to see how you end up painting Liz Taylor, the thing, the unicorn, and the hell hound.  And I hope you have some prancing Walverines too.

Edited by Barb Bliss
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2 hours ago, Barb Bliss said:

I didn't start with a kit.  I had Massive Darkness sitting there with all these minis and I just went to the hobby store and bought some paints after watching several tutorials on youtube.  I can't tell if what I did was better or worse than the starter kit users.  I just knew I was chomping at the bit to start painting MD minis.  And I'm still painting them, though I'm down to the last 20% or so.  One more (big) mob, a couple of bosses,  a handful of roaming monsters, and then on to my heroes!

I too also have Massive Darkness and have been impressed with the minis.  Both those and the Zombicide have made me curious about the hobby but the miniatures I'm really excited about?  Rise of Moloch (another CMON game).  I LOOOOVVVVEEEE steampunk and the universe I think is so cool.  I've been eyeing it for a year and finally jumped on a kickstarter backer copy at a very good price with an ebay promo credit :)

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@Lindsey @Zoxe @Barb Bliss @RomyCat Thank yo so so much for the advice.  I won't deny some of the stuff you're sharing is going over my head but I'm sure with time and patience I will learn.  I will go ahead and jump in on a beginning Reaver set since they have minis to practice on.  I really like that a lot.

If you have any other suggestions of supplies or things for a ROOKIE, please let me know and share :) .  I will always take sage advice :) 

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23 minutes ago, tgpumpkin said:

I too also have Massive Darkness and have been impressed with the minis.  Both those and the Zombicide have made me curious about the hobby but the miniatures I'm really excited about?  Rise of Moloch (another CMON game).  I LOOOOVVVVEEEE steampunk and the universe I think is so cool.  I've been eyeing it for a year and finally jumped on a kickstarter backer copy at a very good price with an ebay promo credit :)

I am looking forward to painting the clowns.

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Of you want cheap minis to practice on, get on Amazon and buy a bucket of green army men.

I have a list of equipment I could link, but the temptation is to make it a checklist. Paint, brush, mini. Glue. Hobby knife. Clippers. Beyond that, a paper towel placemat, a Styrofoam plate to put out paint and thin it, and a solo cup of water to clean your brush. And an adult beverage for during/after.

Start small, don't over think it, and shut up and paint. ?

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