Sunday, 12 August 2012

How to prepare Miniatures for painting: Step by Step

I think its quite often overlooked what a difference good preparation can make to your final results.  Its true for examinations and its true for painting miniatures too.  A well prepared miniature improves the quality of your paint job.

Step 1: Before priming

The first thing to do is to trim off any rogue flash, this is the additional material that seeps between the two mould halves.  I find this is easiest with a craft knife, be careful because you can damage the model.  If you drag your knife blade along flash lines with the edge facing away from you and pull it towards you you will shave off the raised edge, be gentle, its easier to go back and do it again than it is to replace a chunk you've taken off my accident.

Glue any peices together or better still use Green Stuff or Milliput.  The advantage over glue is you can fill in gaps that might otherwise be noticable.  Green Stuff/Milliput can also be used to fill up gaps in the base.  With slotta bases there can often be a hole between the end of the model's base tab and the plastic base and miniatures that have a built in base will need this disguised.

Step 2: Basing
There are lots of ways to base a model, the simplest is to just to paint it green.  The next easiest is to superglue the model to its slotta base and use pva glue after painting to stick on some green flock.

As i'm preparing models for tabletop roleplay I want my bases to fit in and not look out of place both indoors and outdoors.  I glue rough sand to the base before priming and glue static grass in small patches after painting. 

It works for me but i'm sure you'll find a look and level of effort that you are happy with, don't be afraid to experiment.

Step 3: Priming

You can use brush on primer or spray primer, you have a huge range of choice when it comes to colour with Black seeming to be the most common choice.  Personally I prefer white spray primer as it gives a very clean finish and helps the colours stay vibrant.  I'm not suggesting this is the best way to do things, just the way i'm comfortable with.  Shake your can well, really well, I can't stress this enough, if you don't agitate the primer sufficiently there will be gloopy primer in the can when you spray and your finish will be poor.  Don't spray in the wind, even a light breeze can make the spray uneven and you'll get a gritty finish.

When you spray your model never begin spraying directly onto the model, spray just to the left or right then move the spray over the model ensuring an even but light coat.  Let it dry completely before you start painting.

A note on preparing models that have already been painted.

If you don't like the paint job you've done or if you've picked up some models second hand you'll want to get the old paint off.  I highly reccommend Fairy Power Spray.  Compared to the alternatives (brake fluid, Nitromoors Paint Stripper) its clean, safe, cheap and reliable.  It also works on both metal and plastic miniatures.  Just put your miniature into a bowl spray it on and leave it for 15mins (longer is better but we're all impatient) then brush with an old (and I stress the old!) toothbrush rinse with soapy water so your primer will adhere properly. Voila, clean miniature.   

I hope that's helpful.

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