So, last week when Sunny went to the local game store to buy a battle mat for our DnD game, we also picked up a couple of minis. After deciding that plain, unpainted minis simply wouldn't do we returned a few days ago and I bought a 'Reaper' brand 'learn to paint' kit.
It wasn't very expensive and comes with paints, brushes, two minis and an instruction booklet. I'd never painted a mini before, so I figured this was the way to go.
I figured it would be interesting to do a step by step of the process...although I didn't bother taking any pictures of the process with the first two minis I painted, because I assumed I'd just about ruin them on my first attempt, but they came out pretty well, so I got the camera out for my third one.
Here's the guy we're going to be painting. A 'Barrow Rat' that came with the kit. You can click all the pics to embiggen:
As you can see here, I've already primed the actual figure, although I didn't bother priming the base as I planned to leave it silver. I changed my mind later, however...but I figured that this pic shows what the mini is like before and after priming.
Here, I've applied the base coat (intense brown) to the fur. If you enlarge the picture, you'll see I've been pretty sloppy. This is for two reasons. The first is Acrylic paint is really easy to paint over, so there's no need to worry about going 'outside the lines', as it where...and two, these minis are fucking tiny and I have really bad eyesight and shaky hands.
To reiterate...this isn't a tutorial or to show how awesome I am at painting minis. This is only the third mini I've painted in my entire life, I'm only writing this in case someone finds it interesting.
Next, we apply a much darker brown 'wash' over the area we've painted. To do this you mix your paint about 1 to 1 with water. What it actually does is make the paint run off the raised areas of your mini and collect in the deeper areas,which exaggerates the shadows for a more realistic look. You can't actually see it too well in this picture as the effect here is pretty subtle and the lighting isn't great. Later, you can see the effect much more clearly with more contrasting colors.
The next effect is achieved using 'dry brushing'. Once the darker wash has dried, you load your paint with a lighter color, then sweep the brush back and forth on a piece of paper until it's just barely leaving a mark. Then, you sweep the brush over the mini against the 'grain' of the texture (as you can see in the fig, the fur runs front front to back, so I dry brush in an up and down motion).
This does the opposite of a wash, making paint only stick to the raised areas. Essentially, the base coat supplies the mid-tones, the darker wash created the shadows and dry brushing creates the highlights. I've still not completely got the hang of dry brushing, but if you enlarge the above picture, you'll see the overall effect which gives the fur a more realistic look.
Nothing much to say here, I just paint the legs, face, ears, tail and warts (eew) with the 'tanned skin' color.
Next, I apply a dark brown wash to the skin areas. In this picture you can really see what applying a wash does, especially if you enlarge the picture. The tail in particular suddenly takes on a much more realistic look as the paint gathers in the crevices (That sounds dirty)
Next comes more dry brushing with the tanned skin color to add highlights to all the skin areas. To be honest, I overdid it a bit (as I said, I haven't quite got the hang of dry brushing yet). It still looks reasonably good, but I liked the 'dirtier' look that the wash provided (Hey, it's a wart covered rat!)
Speaking of warts, that's what we do next. I repainted them carefully with the flesh color to get rid of any brown from the coat, then after a light red wash I mixed some tanned skin with pure white and dabbed it on to make a 'head' on the pustule (Damn this rat's disgusting.)
This led to a happy accident. As you can see, I used a little too much red wash, which went into the fur. It's an easy fix, but I decided to leave it, because it looks like it's nasty-ass warts have been bleeding and it's stained the fur...making this disgusting monster just a little more disgusting.
I forgot to take a picture of the next step, but it's really simple so you're not missing out on anything. I simply pained the eye socket a dark, walnut brown, gave it 30 seconds to dry and added a drop of red for the eyeball. I hate painting eyes (they're about three human hair's width across and my hands and no where near steady enough), but these worked out quite well. Next, I painted the teeth pure white and added a brown wash which gives them an unhealthy, rotten look and helps highlight the shadows.
Next is the tongue, which was really simple, if a little fiddly. You paint the tongue with the tanned skin color, then apply a red wash to get the tone right and give it a more realistic appearance.
Here we see another happy accident that you'll have to enlarge the image to see properly. I used a bit too much red wash, which leaked off the tongue and onto the teeth on one side. Again, this is an easy fix, but I wanted to leave it. What's scarier than a lion sized rat? A lion-sized rat with blood oozing out it's mouth, that's what.
After that, there was only the base left, which was easy (except for the parts under the rat). This used pretty much all the techniques I've explained so far. After priming (and letting the primer dry), I painted the grass green, left the rocks as they were, and then applied a walnut brown wash over the whole base to add some shadow and depth to the grass and give the rocks some definition and color. After the wash dried, I dry brushed the grass with some more green to add some highlights and then dry brushed the skull with just a touch of pure white.
At this point, I was just about done. One of the things about taking pictures is they really highlighted anything less than perfect work. You're looking at extreme closeups here, (the actual mini is less than 1.6 inches from the tip of it's nose to the end of it's tail), so something the size of a speck of dust that you can't see with the naked eye, looks like a glaring huge mistake on the screen.
In fact, after letting it completely dry, so I could handle it without worrying about rubbing off any paint, I took more pictures of it to see see where I needed to touch it up (I should really invest in a magnifying glass.)
After touching it up, I took on last picture:
Here's the finished Barrow Rat (Who I have now named Cedric), on my desk next to a quarter for size comparison. As with every mini I've painted so far (all three of them), I was reasonably pleased. Not as good as I'd hoped, but better than I expected.
It's actually a lot of fun and very relaxing to do as well. Make a cup of good coffee, put an interesting podcast on your iPod and it's a great way to spend a couple of hours.
Now I need more minis.