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Subject: Q: What paints to use for miniatures? rss

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Yuliyan Kalaydzhiev
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Hi Boardgamegeeks!

I am not entirely sure that this is the right place to post a question about painting miniatures but I really did try to find a more suitable sub-forum..!

I am new to miniature painting, and by that I mean I have yet to paint my first miniature I have decided to start with my War of the Ring miniatures, giving them a dry brush paint job with only a couple of details in different colours.

Although I have read a dozen of courses and paint job "reports" there are still some questions bugging me. Maybe some of you could help?

1. Acryl paints or enamel? A friend told me you need "enamel" ("Lack" in German) and not paint/tin to color plastic such as polyethylene.

2. What kind of paint can I actually use? I have some normal acryl paints for drawing. Would that suffice? Are their special properties (like stickiness, less volume etc.) that make miniature acryl paints the only suitable type? I live in Germany, Munich and here they mostly sell Revell and Tamiya acryls (enamel, if I am not wrong?). Would they do for the small details or do I need something even more special (e.g. Games Workshop)?

Thanks in advance for your replies and happy gaming!!!
Yulian
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Nick R
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I am an acrylic man myself, I find enamels far too trouble some and mix and to get the depth of contrast I want.

Tamiya do a nice range of acrylics which do for me, I generally find GW acrylics more expensive and more tailored to their games (Warhammer, Lord of the Rings etc.) with respect to the colour range.

Regards

Gnome
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Susanne Hirche
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The husband and I have painted our LNoE miniatures (plastic), parts of Arkham Horror (plastic) and are currently painting the Westeros armies ...Lannister is done, Stark is in the works...they are plastic also.


We use the Aqua Color line by Revell which is widely available in Germany and have had excellent results.

After painting we use the Army painter quick shade system which is fast and easy and gets impressive results.

We learned that it is really important to wash plastic figures in soap water or paint may not stick and to invest in good, REALLY small paint brushes or you go crazy. Or at least I do.

If you have further questions, pm me.


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J J
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Depends entirely on the substance from which the miniatures are made.

For hard styrene or metals, pretty much anything will do (I would recommend Coat D'Arms acrylic - what Games Workshop paint used to be in the good old days, and much cheaper).

For soft plastic (polyethylene), the most important things are washing the miniatures to remove the releasing agent (keeps the mould from sticking to the plastic) and then sealing afterward.

I don't like Tamiya, it stinks and is too thick for detail work.
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Peter McAndrew
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FYI: Reaper Miniatures recently ran a Kickstarter campaign, which included paints at a ridiculously low price. They're going to launch their pledge manager this coming week and you can sign up to get a good (but not quite as good as those of us who got in on the Kickstarter) price. You can also get a bunch of minis for under $1 each. Link to sign up is https://www.reapermini.com/ks/

Judging by prices during the campaign and what they've said about late-comers' prices, I gather the paints will be around $22 for a 12-paint set with $5 or $6 per set for shipping if you're not ordering the bulk lot of minis. So roughly $2 per paint (compare to $6 per paint for GW paints where I live). Paint sets #1 and #3 are good for beginners.
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Jeff Miller
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I could be completely wrong but this is my experience as a relative newbie in mini-painting...

My understanding is either acrylic or enamel will work equally, durability wise, by playing it safe: wash the mini, prime, and seal it at the end. After that, it's a matter of taste.

I started using Testor enamels. Just block in the color and use the dip-meathod for and sort of detail. This worked great until I just recently decided to explore some more advanced techniques like dry brushing or thinning it down for washes. The drybrushing worked ok, but with as fast as the enamels dry, it was far from relaxing. Thinning for washes was a messy failure after which convinced me I want to try working with acrylic.

I supported the above mentioned Reaper's Kickstarter just for paint only and am hoping to have improved results with the more advanced painting techniques going forward. Now I'm just playing the waiting game for my #1 and #3 sets.
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Aron Clark
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I always recomend Dr Faust's Painting Clinc to new painters. Lots for the experienced painter as well.
http://www.paintingclinic.com/

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Scott B
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mildthrill wrote:
The drybrushing worked ok, but with as fast as the enamels dry, it was far from relaxing. Thinning for washes was a messy failure after which convinced me I want to try working with acrylic.

In general, these are the main reasons for using acrylic over enamel if you're an adult. Acrylic is water based and enamel oil based, so for children, acrylic is much preferred for clean up and lack of fumes (and maybe for adults too...). For what it's worth, I painted a TON of minis back in my WarHammer Fantasy and 40K days, and used a combination of acrylics. I worked at a hobby store, so I could get Citadel paints for a decent price. We sold tons of paint lines, so I also used a few Tamiya paints (BTW, if you're interested in plastic models at all, check out a few Tamiya models...). Finally, a company called Adiken made a line of very nice acrylics in some unusual colors, so I used a few of them. They all worked more or less the same, really, with some thinning required here and there. I could talk about this for days, but for now, I think I've answered your question.

BTW, your friend talking about the need for enamel, was probably referring to the fact that enamels "attack" plastic a bit, and sort of sink in to the material. This is true, but in general, you want to prime your models first anyway, and the acrylics sticks VERY nicely to the primer. Also, and this is not well known, if you use acrylics and are dissatisfied with your paint job, you can more easily strip the paint and not have a damaged figure.

----

Kurz, auf Deutsch:

Acryl = acrylic
Emailfarbe = enamel

Acryl ist am besten für "dry-brushing" und "washes." Dry-brushing ist eine Technik, wann mann bürstet sehr licht mit einen bisschen Farbe, mit einen fast trocken Bürste. Washes sind sehr dünn Farbe. Die verdünnt Farbe füllte die Abstand aus, und sieht wie Schatten aus. Acryl ist auf Wasser gründen, und daher licht zu putzen.

Dein Freund bezieht sich auf Emailfarbe. Emailfarbe greift Plastik an, und die Farbe dringt ein. Aber, du soll einen Primer am ersten benutzen. Acryl an den Primer ankleben. Und, wenn die Primer benutz, es geht lichter für Farbe abbeizet.
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Scott B
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aronbc wrote:
I always recomend Dr Faust's Painting Clinc to new painters. Lots for the experienced painter as well.
http://www.paintingclinic.com/


QFT. Excellent site.
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Fido Montoya
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Most people these days use acrylics to paint miniatures. They're easy to use and easy to clean up (water versus caustic thinners). You can use anything from hobby acrylics (Apple barrel, Dreamcoat, etc. to paints specifically designed for miniature painting (Reaper, Vallejo, P3, Citadel, etc.).
Wash your miniatures in water with a little dishwashing detergent before you paint them and don't forget to use primer (gesso is my new favorite primer).
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Robert Beachler
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Acrylics are what I have used almost exclusively. Whenever I use enamel it just seems like a messy hassle with brush cleaning and nasty thinners and cleaners. Much easier to go with the water based stuff.
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Robert Corrina
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Enamels were widely used for minifigure painting in the 1980's, and it was awesome. Sadly, they are now largely unwelcome.

One of the reasons for this is that the enamel paint has fumes, and the paint thinner (required to use the enamels) really has fumes.

So everyone will tell you to use the acrylic. Specifically to use acrylics that are made for miniature painting. (I know for a fact that the citadel line is available in Germany... for a price)

Whatever you use -- remember this -- you will distill a dab of paint down to at least 50%, otherwise you will turn your figure into a glob of paint.

P.S. clearly you are just starting out, so you might want to try a few bottles of generic acrylic paint, just something to test with.

P.P.S. Doctor Faust cracks me up because he sounds like the motel 6 voice over guy. but he always starts bemoaning his lot in life a few minutes into his videos and is a real downer. just type in "miniature painting tutorial" on youtube and you will see a wide selection.

Good luck and welcome to the hobby
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Yuliyan Kalaydzhiev
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Thanks a lot for the numerous replies and tips! It's a very nice feeling to see so many people willing to help!

So I will begin with normal craft store acrylics on some test minis. I guess I'll have to play a bit with the thinness of the paint before getting the right effect. Then I can buy some special acrylics from Tamiya or Revell to test metal colors etc., which I don't currently have in my set.

What lupine mentions is also one of my main concerns - I can't really imagine how applying (in the best of cases) 3 layers of coat (primer, paint and sealing agent) won't mess with the detail of the minis. But I suppose I'll have to find out Do acrylics like GW/Tamiya/Revell need additional thinning (excluding when washing) or are they good-to-go?

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Susanne Hirche
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We airbrushed the miniatures with Revell acrylic, which results in a really thin layer.

So far, after that, the paint, and the Army painter quick shade, the small details still stand out.

This may not seem the case, when applying a blob of paint, but as the paint dries, the details return. At least in my experience!

I hope you have success in your painting endeavours! Oh, and the colors usually don't need thinning. If you had them open for longer times while painting it may become necessary, then just add water!


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Robert Corrina
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BGOrion wrote:
Do acrylics like GW/Tamiya/Revell need additional thinning (excluding when washing) or are they good-to-go?


Yes, acrylics are thinned with water, (although some pro's add rubbing alcohol too.) When you use water on the craft acrylics you will notice that it becomes difficult to get the pigment to 'stick' to the mini (especially a metal mini.)

That is why some of us invest in paints like GW/Tamiya/Revell because they can be thinned without losing pigment. Assuming you are brush painting the minis you will need a 50/50 mix of water to paint. Sometimes the paint can be thinner but not thicker.

Keep in mind that you will sometimes be able to see through one of your very thin layers of paint, you dont actually have to cover the undercoat completely. Using patience and multiple thin layers creates mini's that are more professional looking.

enjoy!
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Jake Staines
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lupine wrote:

Yes, acrylics are thinned with water, (although some pro's add rubbing alcohol too.)


Personally, my use of alcohol would be very dependent on the paint I was using. Tamiya acrylics more or less require alcohol to thin, while in my experience GW paints don't react very well to it, for example. Although the last time I tried it with GW paints was a couple of reformulations ago, so maybe that's changed. Thinning with alcohol will also make the paint dry quicker, as alcohol evaporates much faster than water. That's desirable if you're airbrushing, but not so desirable if you're mixing up a custom mix of paint on a palette to brush on to your entire pike regiment.


That said: here in the UK I've not seen a product called "rubbing alcohol" on general sale, but more-or-less neat alcohol is readily available from chemists and pharmacies if you ask; it's generally labelled 'isopropyl alcohol' or 'isopropanol', the half-litre bottle I currently have is apparently propan-2-ol. Someone told me once that US rubbing alcohol has a significant quantity of water in it to stop it evaporating so quickly, which may account for why it's used more interchangeably with water for more paints?
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Robert Taylor-Smith
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70%+ Isopropyl alcohol = rubbing alcohol = (known in the UK) with added ethyl alcohol: surgical spirit
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Original Dibbler
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flapjackmachine wrote:
70%+ Isopropyl alcohol = rubbing alcohol = (known in the UK) with added ethyl alcohol: surgical spirit


Do you mean: 70% water and 30% isopropyl alcohol?

What is the advantage if you add alcohol? I could imagine that the paint drys faster which is bad side effect...
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Original Dibbler
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aronbc wrote:
I always recomend Dr Faust's Painting Clinc to new painters. Lots for the experienced painter as well.
http://www.paintingclinic.com/



Great side!
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flapjackmachine wrote:
70%+ Isopropyl alcohol = rubbing alcohol = (known in the UK) with added ethyl alcohol: surgical spirit
Surgical Spirit is not pure alcohol, it contains water immiscible component too (oils). If you add water to it is goes milky as a result of the oils. This may, or may not, have an unexpected side effect on your paints/minis.
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Scott
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Bichatse wrote:
That said: here in the UK I've not seen a product called "rubbing alcohol" on general sale, but more-or-less neat alcohol is readily available from chemists and pharmacies if you ask; it's generally labelled 'isopropyl alcohol' or 'isopropanol', the half-litre bottle I currently have is apparently propan-2-ol.



Rubbing alcohol is typically isopropyl alcohol which is also called isopropanol or propan-2-ol. The latter three all mean exactly the same thing.

Isopropyl alcohol
"Alcohol" means it contains an alcohol group, "-OH", an oxygen and a hydrogen atom bonded.

"Prop-" means it's a chain of three carbon atoms.

"Iso-" means "equal" as in "the functional group of this chemical is equal distances from each end". The distinctive part of the chemical is called the "functional group". In this case, the functional group is the alcohol group and that is located in the middle of a three carbon atom chain, that is, on carbon atom number two.

Isopropanol
The "-ol" suffix tells you it's an alcohol, as above. The other elements are the same.

Propan-2-ol
The "-2-" tells you the functional group is connected to the second carbon in the chain. The other elements are the same.

The "-yl" is a suffix that is often used for indicating the combining of groups of atoms to other groups, in this case it makes for a better sounding and more consistent name than "isoprop alcohol". The "-an-" indicates that the carbon chain has only single bonds between any pair of carbon atoms.

Rubbing alcohol can also be made from ethanol, which is also called ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol (because it's made from grains, although it's also the same alcohol in wine and vodka and mead and such). The ethyl alcohol is denatured, which is to say, in this case, it's mixed with noxious chemicals to make it unpotable by humans and isopropanol is quite poisonous on its own account.

It's called rubbing alcohol because it is a "rubefacient" meaning that it turns the skin red (from the Latin rubidus "red").
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Scott
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Originaldibbler wrote:
flapjackmachine wrote:
70%+ Isopropyl alcohol = rubbing alcohol = (known in the UK) with added ethyl alcohol: surgical spirit


Do you mean: 70% water and 30% isopropyl alcohol?

What is the advantage if you add alcohol? I could imagine that the paint drys faster which is bad side effect...


I believe he intends the "+" sign to be read not strictly as the addition operator of mathematics but as a quick way of saying "or more". "70%+" would be pronounced as "seventy percent plus" and would be understood as "seventy percent or more". That is to say, "Rubbing alcohol is at least 70% pure isopropyl alcohol".
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Jake Staines
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Originaldibbler wrote:

What is the advantage if you add alcohol? I could imagine that the paint drys faster which is bad side effect...


In my experience, the advantage is twofold:

- Some paints don't thin well with water - Tamiya acrylics in particular. (Equally, some paints don't thin well with alcohol.)

- The paint dries faster.


I've never thinned with alcohol for brush-work, and I've never used Tamiya acrylics for brush-work either. I've only used alcohol as a thinner when airbrushing, where faster drying times are a distinct advantage.
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Bichatse wrote:
Originaldibbler wrote:

What is the advantage if you add alcohol? I could imagine that the paint drys faster which is bad side effect...


In my experience, the advantage is twofold:

- Some paints don't thin well with water - Tamiya acrylics in particular. (Equally, some paints don't thin well with alcohol.)

- The paint dries faster.


I've never thinned with alcohol for brush-work, and I've never used Tamiya acrylics for brush-work either. I've only used alcohol as a thinner when airbrushing, where faster drying times are a distinct advantage.


Thanks. Than it is of no use for me. Vallejo thins well with water and I do not want paint to try faster than it allready does.
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Fido Montoya
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Another great thing to do with acrylics is to make and use a wet palette. This will severely decrease the amount of time that the paint on your palette takes to dry. It's easy and cheap. Get a Tupperware type container that seals nicely, a few sponges, some paper towels and a little wax/parchment paper.

You can find several videos on YouTube showing how to make one. Here's a simple explanation:
Put the sponges in the bottom of the container, put a few layers of paper towels on top of the sponges then fill the container with enough water to soak the sponges nicely (about even with the top of the sponges), cut a piece of wax paper to the shape of the container and place it on top of the paper towels. Put your paint on the wax paper and that's it (make sure not to get any water on top of the wax paper or your paints will run with wild abandon all over the place).

The water inside keeps everything humid and moist, and the paper towels constantly pull the water up from the soaked sponges to the underside of the wax paper. You can seal it up when not in use and put it in the refrigerator for long periods of time when you aren't painting.
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