Monday, April 1, 2013

Our Miniatures Painting Vacation: The Results

I skipped posting for a couple of weeks planned and unplanned. Originally I was going simply skip for our vacation. However, the week before I was selected for jury duty. Then after that finished, my young nephew stopped by just long enough to infect me with a horrible, blackout-inducing stomach flu that caught me bad for four days and then took my wife, Sherri, down for a couple more. I'm not good at being sick. 

More importantly, and more game related, we finally recovered enough to be able to take our vacation (although with a couple of days cut out or reduced). Our plan was to simply stay around the house and paint miniatures. That had been something we'd done pretty regularly before the house fire several years ago. The fire took all of our carefully acquired paints, brushes, and other supplies. We lost things like classic Armory Paints for Brass and Chestnut we couldn't replace. When we replaced things after the fire, painting supplies ended up far down on the list of priorities. We fixed and replaced other more important things. This year, however, we took a chunk of our tax refund and put it towards that. We eventually have a Reaper Bones KS coming, so we will have a ton of new figures to paint. Not that we have any shortage right now. 

We spent about a month watching various painting videos on YouTube, especially those Dr. Faust's Painting Clinic and the series We assembled a full list of everything we'd need: colors, brushes, files, pinning tools, flocking, lamps, etc. We ordered and got things together and finally sat down and started to paint. We went pretty much Saturday to Saturday, with two tables set up in the front room of the house. I was a little cold, which made some of the priming I had to do a little difficult. But most of what we'd planned on painting we already had ready from long before. 

Anyway, here are some shots of my favorite things Sherri painted:
1. Sherri painted four samurai for our L5R campaign. This is a shot of Alan's character, a former ronin. Sherri also painted her own character; Jacque's Kuni Witch Hunter; and the group's daimyo. Sherri did amazing work with the cloth and the faces. 
2. Six Lizardmen (from WHFB) she painted. They look awesome, especially the shields. Since we mostly use figures for RPGs, she went to the trouble of painting each with a distinct color scheme. 
3. The Frog Knight from Dark Sword Miniatures' line of anthropomorphic animals. The picture doesn't do justice to the coloring she managed below the figure's chin/throat.

Here are my favorite three things I painted this week:
1. I ended up painting eleven Barbarians from Confrontation's old metal line. I was pretty pleased with how they came out- the colors actually worked. I like the flesh tone I managed to come up with. 
2. Five Cryx 'things' from the Warmachine line. I wanted to have some steampunk/robotic undead and these fit the bill. The rust effects came out really well on them. 
3. I also painted a set of five Steam Dwarves from Confrontation's metal line. The detailing on them came out much better than I'd hoped. 


  1. You can't have too much paint. I don't know if that's true, but it is what we tell ourselves. 
  2. Before the fire, I painted very much using the Wargames Fourdry three abrupt layers system. I work well for units and looks good at a distance. On closer inspection it looks messy and chunky. This time I thinned my paints significantly and worked with many more layers. I ended up happier with the results. Sherri's always done this and consequently her stuff has always looked better. 
  3. Oil Washes are cool, but they are also a pain in the ass. I'll probably reserve them for highly detailed things (like the Confrontation Dwarves). I really don't like working with thinners and stuff. But the end effect made it worth the effort.
  4. Weathering pigments are awesome. I love the rust effect- and I'll have to make sure I don't go loopy with them. I'm anxious to try some other effects. 
  5. Malifaux figures are an absolute pain to put together. I won't be buying any more of those. 
  6. Painting with the figures attached to holders- rather than holding them by their bases- is much better. I feel incredibly stupid for not doing that years ago. Really stupid.
  7. Add a color paint to your base coat of metallics to make them adhere. It makes the next several layers look better as well.  
  8. Confrontation metal minis have crazy levels of detail. Samurai/Oriental figures vary in quality- hugely. Some of the L5R range are great, but others are weak. Some lines like Kensai, Perry Brothers, Hell Dorodo, and  Malifaux opt for super thin and wispy approaches. I wish someone would do a more interperative, more GW approach to these- like the old Dixon miniatures but larger and more detailed. 
  9. Pin Vises suck. Both the Squadron and the Privateer P3 had multiple different drill bits slip in the chuck after one or two uses. I have tried several different solutions with no good results. 
  10. Texture and dry brush your bases before painting. It makes the base finishing process easier and better looking. Static grass is much nicer than the flocking mix I'd used before. 
Here's a shot of everything we managed to paint over the course of the week: six Lizardmen, four samurai, one Frog Knight, one Elf Warrior, five Steam Dwarves, eleven Barbarians, four Minor Oni, one Ogre Magi, five Cryx things, two horses, one wolf, one Deep One, and one Dragonsnail from Runequest. 


  1. Looking awesome!

    Don't you feel freer coming back to it after a while away? I know I always feel much better at painting and more adept at new technique, when I've been away from the palette for a while.

    I'll get you a mag holder and a wet palette if you want them - I have extras. You'd be suprised how much control you can get with a mag holder and fender washers on the base of the figs.

    Did you black prime or white prime? I know you used to be a fan of the black prime with a white/gray dry brush (as did I) but I exclusively prime in white now - so much easier to wash for base coating over white prime, which helps blending efforts:)

    You're right about the Malifaux line - terrible pain in the ass to assemble. Hate them. Hate to assemble most metal figs anymore, much more prefer plastics. Easier to assemble, easier to convert.

    We'll have to get together and put the figs to work!

    1. I still have some of the figures on metal washes under the bases, but I some I haven't done that with. I've actually been really happy with the QuakeHold stuff I've been using in combination with a set of spice jars I'd bought a while back. They have just the right weight and feel for painting. I've read about wet palettes but I haven't used one- are they pretty helpful? We've been using glass and I'm probably going to pick up a couple of bathroom tiles to supplement- they have a better surface than the white plastic we used to use.

      Most of the surviving figs have a black base coat with the white drybrush. That originally was a cheat to make painting easier and to make them show detail on the table. But I found I've actually shifted back to working up from black. I'm painting up much more from the color right now- laying down a full base coat of whatever set I'm working from. You've always had a strong gift with inks and washes. I know that the Buypainted guy who does the airbrush guides on Youtube works up from white or grey- and it is pretty amazing what he gets out of it.

      We're definitely going to be painting more. Once I get some more things out of the way, I think I want to pick up from the of Skorne faction from Hordes. I like the way those look. I may strip the painting from some of the Warmachine figs I have that got smoke damaged (or ended up with melted bases) and try painting some of those.

    2. I use a wet palette mainly to keep paint - especially mixed pigment - surviving longer than on dry surface. I mix EVERYTHING with a 50/50 mix of water and Future floor polish to help thin and flow the paint. So a wet palette helps me in that regard. I'll give you one and if you don't like it, you can throw it out or give it back :)

      I still "underbase" with fender washers because of how I store all my figs these days: in Xmas light stackables on ductwork endcaps on magnets. Since we travel to three different locations to play, splitting the homes we invade, I need a way to carry the monstrous amounts of lead/plastic figs and I HATE foam trays. So, I still washer everything and I have some custom crafted magnetic posts to hold figures on, which allows me to hold them in any position to get to details, even upside down, if I need to.

      I have an airbrush but I never use it, becuase I'm afeared of the wreckage I'll create from the learning curve! But I reeally would love to figure out how to work with it, especially for my Dropzone Commander and MERCS figs.

      Are you spraycoating your base coat or priming black, then basecoating?

      Whenever you're ready - we regularly game Dropzone Commander and MERCS (which can easily be proxied), and can field Warmachine, Hordes, Lord of the Rings, Ge Koku Jo, Malifaux, and even 40K (eyeing the new starter set for 6ed, in fact), as well as, (soonly but can proxy) Warzone Resurrection (gonna get a bunch on Kickstater).

    3. Oh, and I forgot to mention: Bolt Action (in 15mm right now) and King of War:)

    4. That's a lot of games. I have to reassemble my AT43 Karmans too. I've heard the new 40K is decent, but I haven't picked up the rules (skippped 5e as well).

      I'm spraycoating with black- trying the Krylon Primer- and then filling in with thinned blacked paint.

      Last night I tried using the FFW/Water mix as my thinner/extender. Quite pleased with the results- thanks for the suggestion.

    5. Yes it is. You can't play too many minis games. And I forgot to mention Helldorado :)

      I never picked up 5ed, but the Chaos figs in the new 6ed are a must-have for me, for nothing else than to paint them. It's a disease.

      I keep a 50/50 mix of Future/H20 to thin paints and a smaller tin of the same to wet my brush when I'm really cooking on trying to blend or in the event straight paint from the palette needs just a nudge of thinning. Glad you found it useful!

      We still have all our AT43 stuff, too. Use them as proxies for stuff like MERCS (which I'm still working on comission for folks' figs) and playtesting Warzone rules, as the figs won't be in our hot little hands until June.

      We picked up KoW and really like it a bunch. Very simple to learn, but a good depth of tactical options and a ruleset/company that actually encourages uses whatever figs you like on the table, even for "tourney" play (not that that is any big deal for us, of course). Still, refreshing. And easy to proxy figs to actual units in the game, too: so I am working on "recreating" my Drune army with KoW stats and am eyeing all sorts of figs to represent on the table.

      And I missed the Kickstarter for Dark Lands, but the figs are wildy beautiful, with Drunes too boot!

      Of course...Confrontation is being re-released by another company. Confrontation Phoenix. The website is still "coming soon" and last year at GenCon they were selling some recasts in resin of figs. Too salty, but I'm hoping if/when the reboot happens, the prices come down.

      I read an interview from Parente (I think) who said the AT43 molds were all scrapped when Rackham fell, so there isn't much hope that game will be revived. But we can still play it (as wall as Conf2.0 or C:AOR).

      COME GAME WITH US!!!!! OBEY!!!!!!!!

  2. Thanks for the advice. I keep meaning to paint my Tyranids but never get around to it. Well, I've done a few with a base black colour, does that count? Yours are pretty cool looking.

    1. I have a decent-sized Tyranid force I haven't played with in some years. I like them because you can do anything with them. I need to pull them out and take some shots so I can compare how I did them then to what I'm doing now. I remember using bright colors, but I'm not sure of the scheme.

    2. Same reason I got in to Chaos Space Marines: you can do whatever the heck you want, both on coversions and paintjobs. Shannon (I know you didn't ask me) I think you'd find it quick and easy to base coat your Nids in white and use thin washes of paint to get very quick and beautiful results, especially with some simple highlighting/inking/drybrushing. Just thought I'd throw my unsolicited two pence in.

  3. A W E S O M E ! You surely give me and idea how I’ll spend my weekends with the old miniatures that I have at home… Thanks… Love you post…

  4. I love Sherri's eye for dimension and shades of color, shadows and just enough glimmer! Good work.. especially like the wolf...coz my sweet little niece painted it. I didn't know there were Red Steam dwarves, now that I do, I quite like them. =0)