Model Painting
By VRaider

The Basics

Painting can be as fun as it is easy once you get the hang of it. I my self like to paint models. In this tutorial I will attempt to teach you some things for painting your own custom models. You can e-mail me at for questions or comments.

Part I

Painting Your First Model

Models can be expensive now a days! They range any were from 10- 50 US dollars for a good one. But I suggest you buy the 15-30 dollar ones to practice on. You'll also need:
-Water pot
-Primer (Spray paint)
-Super glue
-Acrylic Paints
-Brushes, 0 is a good standard brush, 0/3 is good for fine details 
-Good working space
-This putty stuff (I don't know the name) that lets you fill in gaps.
-It helps to be able to read and have at least some way of seeing.

Painting Snap Together and/or Plastic Models


As you see, your model is (I hope) all ready put to gather and has a base color. But This Plastic will NOT let your paints stick probably making them peel off and fade easily. But we can fix this! That's what the Primer is for. First decide what kind of colors you want to use. If there mostly light then 
take out a white primer, if there mostly dark use a black primer, and if your not really sure (I don't recommend it) get a gray primer. Then spray it all over the model covering 100% of it. Spray in 
Bursts and NOT in a long blast because it will waste the paint inside it. Then wait about 20 min and come back and do another coat for a total of 2. If you missed any spots you can go over it with that color paint. Still with me? 
This is the easiest part. 

Good, now you need to decide what color you want to use as the base color. For my marine I used a dark green. Once you've decided on that, take that color get some on your brush, dip it on your palliate. What you've just done is know as thinning your paint, never use it strait out of the jar because it will be to thick and wont come out nice and smooth, more like clumpy and nasty. Cover the hole model except the gun and face. Still with me? Good. Wait for the paint to dry (if you have it under a fan it will dry quicker) and lets go on to the next step...


Ok, good now that you have your paints (for all you other people who are just reading, look at the colors of your model and get the acrylic equivalent paints, i.e. if there's red get red paint) Now make sure you thin out your paint (Dip your brush in the paint, the strait in the jar of water and then 
on the palate, if its still thick, dip the brush in the paint and back on the palate) and paint all the parts over with the right colors and remember, be neat!

Well that's it! Your done with the basics! If you have a pewter (metal) model fallow all the steps but make sure you clean your model for Flash (lines left from the casting) and other parts that don't belong there. And make sure you give your model a bath! That's right, a bath. Scrub it with soap and water and rinse it before you prime it, this will take off any flash and mold on the pewter piece.

In the next section I'll talk about advanced things you can try. I hope to get a digital camera in May so I can take pictures for you! 

Part II

Just a some terms you should be familiar with before you move on to the next tutorial...


Load your brush with paint, wipe most of it off on a damp rag so that only a few pigments is left on the brush. Then quickly but gently brush across the desired areas. Notice how these few pigments stick to the miniature and create a kind of highlighting effect. This technique is good on hair, hands, armor of all kinds, and especially weapons. 

Washing is what you do when you water down the base colour, or a darker shade of it and apply it on top of the base colour. The mix must be thin enough to flow down the recesses of the miniature and leave the base colour shining through on the raised areas. If you're feeling advanced at this stage you can use ink instead of watered down paint for this procedure. Any art shop should have a good selection of inks in different colours. The most useful however are red, green, yellow, brown, black (for black lining, covered later) and blue. Inks flows smoother into recesses and leaves a more shiny result than watered down paint. 

Highlighting is a technique that requires some practice to master. It's important to have the correct amount of paint on the brush, if it's too much you'll get a somewhat dry and powdery effect, if the paint is allowed to dry too much before the procedure is finished it will look dry and crisp also. I usually water it down a little bit, not as much as when you make a wash, just half a brush full or so for 6-7 brush full of paint (A brush full is my term for dipping the brush in the paint pot and putting it on my mixing plate instead). I then take _very_ little paint on the brush, sometimes even wiping it off on a rag, and brush ALONG the raised areas, not across them as you do when you dry brush. This way the paint doesn't dry as quickly and it's easy to erase any mistake you do with the highlight by brushing the fresh paint off with a damp brush.

Black lining
As miniatures only are 25 or so mm high, light does not create shadows on them as on normal clothing. I and many with me use black lining to create a contrast between different parts of the miniature which creates the illusion of heavier shadow on these areas. Paint a thin black/red/brown line between all areas on the miniature, the beard and tunic, the sword blade and handle etc. I use black ink for this procedure as it flows better and it's easier to make thin straight lines. I recommend it for all who wants to be serious about this. 
- full credit is given to the actual author(s) of this section.

Now, on to the tutorial!


Deciding What to Do

Ok, you've painted your model but there's something missing... or is there? At this point you need to decide if you really -want- to use these advanced skills. This is because it's very easy to make a small mistake and mess up the whole model. Also I use  a specific brand of paints, there called -Citadel- paints, the war hammer people. I use their painted because they're the best (IMO) and I like the names of the paints :). Ok well you've been warned here's what you'll need:

For dry brushing (it's another form of highlighting):
-A worn brush or a brush that you don't mind getting messed up.
-A lighter paint color (lighter then what your dry brushing) for your dry brush.

For highlighting: 
-A lighter color of your base coat (table below).
-A fine and -very- strait brush for precision highlighting (my name for it).

-A darker ink of your selected color (below).

What Paint to Use for Different Colors and a Little Info on Why

Black, Red, and Blue highlights. Use gray or white for a standard highlight. Use a metallic gold for a royal looking soldier or metallic for rusty highlights.

Green highlights. Use a lighter shade of green or yellow of a normal highlight.
Gray highlights. Use a dull white or bright gray.
White, guess what! You don't need to highlight a white model because white is the brightest color in the color table!


Not a whole lot to this, just get the same color of your base coat but get it in an ink and a shade darker. For white you can use a dark blue, and for red use brown.

Ok, now take out the model you just finished base coating. That's all you did, base coat the colors on it. But now were going to have some fun. Get a darker color of you base coat. And PLEASE remember (and I'll cap's it)...


I can't even begin to tell you how many people don't remember this rule. When you shade only shade the color that it was meant to get shaded. For example, after you've shaded red with a brown color.

Part III

Few things are as rewarding as having a finished, inked and or CG enhanced drawing. One of these is having a High Lighted, shaded, and very well detailed model. When I first tried these things they were not easy and were not called advanced skills for nothing. For the first few times you try its going to be hard but I'll try and explain it as best as I can. Please try and visualize what I'm talking about because it will make it a lot easier for you to understand.

Painting Tips
(I got from all over the web, friends, and my own tips)

What are the steps to painting a good model?

You spray them black, then you 'wash' which means use watered down paint (most of the times it refers to ink though). You wash "Dark Angels green" all over the model then wipe off brush and absorb paint from the detail. After it dries (in less than a minute) you'll have green tinted black then you dry brush which is dipping a brush in paint then wiping most off in a lighter green like "snot green". Then you let that dry then you 'highlight which is taking a color like 'bleached bone' wiping  it off the brush so there is only a residue and then going over any texture with that.

1) Primer; which one is best?

There are two ways of painting: the first one I learned I suggest to you as a newbie which is black primer as this allows you to add realistic shadows, color tones, and metals.

2) Shading. Washes, and highlights... how do you apply them and when should you use them?

Models take a lot of steps to look like they do on the front of the box. A model that is red for example requires several shades of red.  The first stage I call the wash you take the paint brush and dip the tip in water after the paint is on it, slop it all over the model, then make sure to soak it up from the detail (don't want it to fill in the cracks).

Shading is basically building up colors; i.e. starting with a dark color; then working up through the different shades that the color comes in (example: a red figure would be Scab Red...Red Gore.. Blood Red) *Note from me, you don't all ways have to start with the darkest color. You can take your primary color and take an ink and make it darker that way instead of working your way up from darkest to lightest.

Highlighting is like shading on space marines you want to highlight their you dry brush a color (I suggest light green for a green marine) right on the cracks of the armor.

3) Pewter people seem to give me a hard time when I paint them. Any advice on how to get a good solid paint color, and not make it look thin and somewhat messy on some areas and dark on others?

Make sure the model is completely primed and the primer is dry on pewter models.  And follow the following steps like I said before to get a consistent color.
1st coat        Water + paint
2nd coat       No water...less paint
3rd highlight   No water....almost no paint

4) Should I get ink? What kind?

Ink when your a newbie (trust me i did) you can really fuck up your models color by misusing ink. If you learn how it can save a lot of trouble in some cases (like my battle fleet gothic fleet) heavy ink on top of white primer can actually serve as a base coat. If you get ink the most versatile I've ever seen is "Flesh ink". Flesh ink is great for skin but that's not all. Its also good to make armor look even more shaded (rusty)...especially on reds.

5)As a hard core newbie I mess up a lot and I know that I wont become an expert over night but how can I improve my skillz? Is there something I'm doing wrong?

The most important thing is not to use a lot of paint and to make it consistent. Too much paint obscures detail so on any surface with texture (you don't have to do this on swords, flat places, etc). You should limit yourself to watered down paint or dry brushes. You should never just open the paint and paint with it.
The first color definitely needs water in dry brush and highlighting no water its your choice whether to add a second wash after the 1st.
If you want tan/white guys you can do a base of "dark flesh". Make it a really light layer but don't water it. Then take "bronzed flesh" and dry brush it over. Be sure not to get it in the muscle cracks. That's it and they look good.

Additional Info:
Thanks Steve "MadCow" Miller, I wouldn't be as good as I am now with out his help.
***Instruction provided by VRaider. All rights reserved.***