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Subject: So you want to paint your War of the Ring set rss

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Daniel Karp
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So you want to paint your War of the Ring set

By Daniel Karp

I recently painted my copy of War of the Ring. I was a complete newbie when I started, but I got a lot of good advice from other users here on BGG, and learned a lot more along the way. Painting these figures was a lot of fun, but it definitely isn't for everyone. I thought I’d compile all of my thoughts and advice for other people who want to try to do the same thing. So, here is what to do if you want to paint your copy of War of the Ring (or some other game with a huge number of plastic miniatures).

Section I: deciding to do it

1. Don’t do it. Really. It isn't worth it. It is a lot of work, a whole lot of work. Now, I'm not talking about just spray painting your figures so that you can tell them apart--by all means, go ahead and do that. For the purposes of this article, painting refers only to the real deal--painting your figures by hand with details in multiple colors so that they look really good. It's almost certainly not worth doing--stop reading now, and go do something fun--play the game or something.

Do you still want to do it? OK...

2. Ask yourself why you want to paint your figures. If the answer is, "I want really cool figures like the pictures on the Geek," I refer you to step 1. If it's, "I want to be able to tell apart my figures," go get yourself some spray paint or some paint pens (to mark the bases) or something. Then refer to step 1. The only people who should consider this are those who can honestly answer, "I think it would be really fun to spend a super long time painting my figures." How long is a super long time? I painted these with the help of my girlfriend. We worked on them together, every night, for hours, and it still took the two of us six weeks to finish them. Expect it to take at least twice as long if you are working alone. And are you aware that an expansion with more figures is forthcoming? YOu are committing yourself to painting those as well.

Are you STILL reading? OK...

3. Be ready to spend money. This is aimed here at the newbie (like I was)--this will be cheaper, of course, for those who already own the paints and other equipment. If you are starting from zero, even if you cut the corners I recommend cutting, this will be an expensive project. Of course, the money will probably be nothing compared to the time invested, but still, expect to pay significantly more for the equipment and supplies than you paid for the game. You may then find yourself spending even more money at the end to store the figures.

4. Read all of the advice I and others have to give and take it seriously. I can assure you that the biggest problems I had in my painting came when I decided to ignore or cut corners on certain advice. I'll try to indicate exactly which advice I consider most important, but, for the things I did right, I may not know what would have happened otherwise. You can find the advice I received from other people in the journals linked at the end of this article.

5. Try to find a painting buddy. This will be tough--there will be two of you, but, in the end, only one set of painted figures (unless you want to paint two sets, and you don't). But it will be much more pleasant with company. We actually had a lot of fun painting these figures, but I suspect that if had to paint alone, it would have been a very different story.

6. Have other distractions. I recommend books on tape, available at your local library. I didn't realize how well this would work until well into the project, but we still made it through the first three Harry Potter books (unabridged) with no trouble. Music is also good, as is the radio, but I think books on tape work better than just about anything.

Section II: Preparation

Proper preparation is absolutely critical. If you are like me, you are impatient to get started, but cutting corners here could undermine the whole project.

1. Straighten your figures. Many of your War of the Ring figures will be bent; now is the time to straighten them. There are two ways I know of to do this. First, you can use hot water. You'll need to cups of water, one ice water, and the other VERY hot. We are talking near boiling, right out of the microwave or off the stove. Dip the bent part of the figure into the water, hold it there for a bit, then straighten it and put it directly into the ice water. Be careful not to burn yourself. You'll know that the figure is getting hot enough because you won't have to "over-bend" it much--you should be able bend it where you want it to go, and it should stay, with the help of the cold water. The other way to do this is by heating the figures with a hairdryer. This may be more dangerous--I've never had anything melt on me, but I could imagine it happening if I wasn't careful. Check all of the figures, and pay particular attention to figures leaning near the bases (at the ankles, usually), and the straightness of spears or flagpoles. If you miss one, you can also straighten it later in the process with a hairdryer and no cold water, but that won't work as well.

2. Now you need to cut off what is known as "mold flash." This is any extra bits of plastic that don't belong on the model, but are left over from the production process. If you are like me, you are looking at your figures saying, "Oh, these look plenty good. There is hardly any flash at all." You are wrong. I was very wrong, and in consequence, many of my bases still have mold flash on them now. I'm really sorry I didn't take more care with this step--don't make the same mistake I did. get an X-acto knife--I recommend blade number 11, with some extra blades. go through each and every figure and cut off the mold flash. pay particular attention to the bases and, well, the entire figure. What looks like "nothing" now will be quite annoying when you actually go to paint the figure. If this seems too tedious to you, STOP NOW, and don't paint your figures. After you prime, there is no going back.

3. Wash your figures. There are all sorts of residues and dust left over on the figures from the manufacturing process, all of which you want gone BEFORE you prime. I used a toothbrush and two bowls of water, one soapy (I used Dawn dish washing detergent--it's good stuff), and and clean, to scrub and rinse each piece thoroughly. There are over 200 of them--don't rush. Do this step right.

4. Mounting. You will want to mount each of your figures on squares of cardboard. [but see update below] This will accomplish a couple things. First, it will give you a way to handle models without having to touch the painted surfaces. Second, it will give them a broader base, so they won't tip over while you are painting. Third, it may make priming easier (see the next section--read it carefully before mounting your figures). Now, here is where I made my next big mistake: on BGG member suggested sticking the figures to cardboard with double stick tape. I stuck down long strips of double-stick tape, and spaced out the figures along the row. Don't do that. The problem? That double stick tape adhesive is gooey, and doesn't always stay on the tape. I am STILL taking an x-acto knife to some of the models to remove bits of the base where it is sticky, and I just can't get the adhesive off any other way. The main problem was that that the tape extended to the edges of the figure; if I had cut small squares of tape and stuck them in the middle of the bases, so that it didn't touch the edges, I think I would have been OK. But, if I had it to do now, I'd stick down each piece with a SMALL drop of Elmer's Glue. Warning: I haven't done this, so I can't be sure it would work. But I think it should be fine--I think Elmer's glue usually peels off plastic without too much trouble, and it doesn't stay sticky. As for the arrangement when you mount, see the discussion in the next section, since this is inextricably linked to the priming.

Update: for subsequent painting projects, I've had more luck mounting the figures by glueing them (with Elmer's Glue) to golf tees, which you can get in large bags quite cheaply. They will be easier to hold while painting, and you can stick a bunch of them in a styrofoam block for things like priming.

Section III: Priming.

1. It is not too late to turn back! having second thoughts? Don't prime! Once your prime, you are committed to finishing, and it is a long road.

2. Buy spray primer. I bought Krylon white spray primer--the label says "Dries in 12 minutes. Seals. Protects." It worked pretty well. However, I also bought black--for that, I used Testors Flat Black spray enamel. Based on how good that was, if I had this to do over again, I would use Testors Flat white enamel as my primer for sure. The black was so clearly a superior product that it wouldn't even be a question. The only disadvantage of using the Testors is that it doesn't dry in 12 minutes. It doesn't dry in 12 hours. It says 2 days on the label, but I found that my black figures didn't stop being tacky until 4 days after I sprayed them. OK, I've been told that I probably used too much paint, but it certainly didn't seem that way to me, and enamels usually take longer to dry than other paints. Nonetheless, the Testors is what I recommend, with the caveat that I've never used the white. Be aware that the Testors can doesn't actually say primer on it--it says flat white enamel. But Testors paints are made to paint plastic models--they'll stick to the plastic fine, and the paint will stick to it. Where do you buy this stuff? This is what stumped me the first time. I wanted to buy Testors, and settled for Krylon when I couldn't find Testors in the paints section or the spray paint section. You can find Testors paints in the toy model section of a Walmart or craft or hobby store (or maybe toy store). They come in little tiny cans, but you probably shouldn't need more than one can. they are a little more expensive, but this is not the place to cut corners. Get a can of flat white and a can of flat black. Even if you decide to use Krylon for white, use the Testors for the black, --I've been assured that the black Krylon "isn't black enough."

3. Choose your colors for priming. Here comes my next mistake: I decided that the Nazgul, the Mouth of Sauron, and the Witch King would be mostly black, and I primed those in black. Then I didn't know what I would do with the others, so I figured I'd just prime them white, and figure it out later. That was a mistake. If you look at my figures, you'll see that the the Orcs and the Uruk-Hai, at least, are very dark figures which would be better suited for black primer. How can you you tell what color to prime? Try to figure out approximately what colors your final model will use. Black, other very dark colors, and any metallics will work very well with black primer. Light colors require white primer unless you want to have a LOT of coats. But I could have saved days of work, I think, just by priming the orcs in black. Remember also what color your bases will be. Do you want Sauron's army to have black bases? Black primer will help, if the color scheme of the model allows it. When in doubt, go with white--you can always go from white to black. But try to decide--it could save you a lot of time.

3. The layout. If you try to prime each model individually, it will take forever, and you will waste a lot of paint. Better to prime in batches. There are a couple of ways to do this. I mounted my figures in batches on cardboard strips, maybe a row or two with 10 or 20 figures together, far enough apart that I could hit them all with the paint, but close enough to make painting easier--not more that 1/2 an inch between figures. I cut the cardboard into individual squares only after I was done priming. The convenient thing about doing it this was is that I could do just about everything in one coat. I didn't have to wait for one side to dry before going to the other side. However, if I had it to do over again, I might not do it that way. I might instead lay all of the figures out in a cardboard box, and spray them all at once. Then I'd let them dry for a bit, turn them, and spray again. This is the way I sprayed on the sealant at the end of the process, and it worked very well. If you do this, it may make sense to first separate the bases into individual squares. It may also be possible to prime in this way before mounting the figures--but in that case, you'd want to be certain to let them dry thoroughly before mounting them. The big problem with the "all in a box" method is that you may not get such good coverage from below, and, although it may not seem so, it is very important that you do so.

4. Spraying. I got advice from a number of people on priming, and ended up following the advice of Justin Fitzgerald here, who said: "Hit the models on all angles with a very short burst of paint. Start firing on one side of the model and pass the spray beyond the model. What I typically do is hold the base and spray the underside of the model from every angle. Then I put it on a board and spray every angle from above. This ensures complete one coat coverage." You do not need much primer--you only want to get enough primer on the surface so that subsequent paint layers will stick to the plastic. If you are spraying so much that you can't see the underlying color of the plastic, you are using too much paint. If you are using the everything-in-a-box method, you will not be able to prime all at once, since you have to turn the figures. But what you lose there, you gain in the fact that each coat will go very quickly. Again, though, make sure you get coverage on all sides.

4. Let it dry. This is of particular importance for people using the Testors enamel--it WILL dry eventually, even if it doesn't seem that way. You just have to be patient. Really, don't rush this step, as tempting as it might be to get started on the painting.

Section IV: Painting supplies

1. Paints. On the recommendation of several people, I used almost exclusively Apple Barrel acrylic paints. You can find these in Walmart or in a craft store (I got some at Michael's). They are VERY cheap--$0.44 a bottle at Walmart. However, it can be hard to find some of the more important colors--white or black, for instance. There are probably other brands that are equally good or better, but these are cheap, they come in many colors, and they do the job. Speaking of colors, buy a bunch. Although you will probably mix colors sometimes (I did quite a bit of that), the more colors you can use right out of the bottle, the faster the paint job will go. Buy several shades of the more important colors--browns, grays, etc, depending on your color scheme. The price adds up, but it it worth having plenty of colors. I had well over 20. If you buy fewer, you'll just find yourself heading back to the store before too long. The one place you will want to spend more money on paints is for the metallics. I haven't tested this myself, but I've been assured by several people that Games Workshop colors are the way to go for these. I bought 3 colors--Chain-mail, Dwarf Bronze, and some sort of gold. I used all three extensively, although I don't know how much use I would have had for even more metallics. They will cost you--those three bottles cost me as much as all of the other colors put together, probably--but they are worth it.

2. Brushes. Especially if you are a newbie like I was, you don't want to buy all of your brushes up front. We newbies simply don't know how to take care of brushes, and starting with good ones would just be a waste. In fact, you can get relatively decent cheap brushes. There are much better resources on the internet about brushes than I can do here. I found the following link very useful:
http://www.geocities.com/hobbycafe/articles/Paint-careofbrus...
Pay attention to what he says about caring for your brushes--you'll be happy you did. These are small figures, so you'll want small brushes. My main brushes were size 0, 00 (aka 2/0), 5/0, and 10/0. I used slightly larger brushes for the washes, sometimes--I had some big ones from a pack of really cheap Walmart brushes (10 for $4 or something). Most of my brushes were synthetic (nylon, I think), and I did indeed see a lot of hooking on the tips of the brushes. You can get an OK set of small synthetic brushes for not too much money (maybe $4 for 4). Frankly, the ones I used weren't very good. But I wasn't willing to spend more money for expensive brushes, since I considered this to be a one-time project, and didn't know enough about painting to keep them in good condition then. When I paint the expansion, I'll probably get some better brushes. If you get the cheap brushes, expect to go through more than one set, but it will still probably be cheaper than shelling out the big bucks for some really good brushes. If you do decide to go the more expensive route, I still recommend that you start with cheap brushes, to get a sense of how to use them and how to care for them. Again, read the information at the link above (Paintbrush selection and care by Bobby Wong), and pay attention. He knows a lot more about this stuff than I do.

3. Palettes. You can get cheap plastic palettes from a craft or art supply store. I recommend the circular 10 well ones. Between the two of us, my girlfriend and I had two 10 well and two 6 well palettes, and we regularly used all of the wells. Yes, you can use a ceramic plate for this--I tried that for maybe one day. I don't recommend it, and the palettes are cheap.

4. Other stuff. You'll need some cups or mugs for water, both for rinsing brushes and mixing with paints (keep these separate). A good light source will help--I recommend a desk lamp. Overhead lighting just won't be enough for painting. Brush soap will help keep your brushes in decent condition, although use it sparingly--you don't want to over-clean your brushes and reduce their lifetimes. You'll need something to mix paints--flat toothpicks or something. Mixing paints with your brushes is a very bad idea. it also helps to have some sort of dropper or something for adding water to paints.

Section V: Painting!

Yes, you are finally ready to actually paint some figures. They are primed, completely dry, still mounted on cardboard, and ready to go.

1. Start with something easy. I recommend the trolls--there are only 6 of them, and they don't have many details.

2. Paint a test figure. The first thing you want to do is paint one figure completely. make sure you like the way it looks and get all of the details right before you move on to other figures.

3. The order of painting. Here is the basic order of painting: Paint from the inside, out, and paint the light, translucent colors first. When these rules conflict, as they certainly will, use your own judgment. See also the Wash section--you may want to do a preliminary wash.

4. Thinning your paints. If you are using Apple Barrel paints, you should thin all of your paints, with the possible exception of the GW metallics. This probably will apply to other brands of paints as well. The problem is that thicker paint does not spread as easily as thinner paint. You can thin with water--that is what I did--or experiment with the magic water (see details in the wash section)--that never worked well for me. Experiment to see how much water you have to add--it won't be too much, but it makes a huge difference. I usually thinned paints right in the wells of the palette.

5. Two coats. My first impulse, when I heard the advice about thinning paints, was that I was just going to use the paint straight from the bottles, and use just one coat. That won't work--the one coat will be uneven, it will not cover well, and you will have to use two coats anyway. You will be much happier with the results if you thin your paints and resign yourself to using two coats of paint for just about everything. That second coat is like magic--it makes everything look 10 times better. The main exception to this rule is, again, the metallic paints, which will often cover just fine with one coat. Now, I've been assured that it IS possible to get decent coverage with one coat of properly thinned paint, or at least decent enough coverage that you can cover up the mistakes with the wash. I was never able to do it, but if you manage to get a handle on that technique, you will save a lot of time.

6. Keeping inside the lines. Be careful, but don't be too careful. It will be faster if you make a few mistakes and then cover them up than if you carefully try to get everything right the first time. You can cover up just about any mistake, although it can be difficult to cover a darker color with a lighter one. And if these are for playing rather than display, you'll find that what appears to be a big mistake while you are painting will probably not even be noticed when you are playing the game.

7. Choosing colors. This is one of the most important things you do. Decide what you want your figures to look like--do you want them to be bright, and to stand out? Do you want them to be more subdued? Choose your colors accordingly. The best way to choose your colors, I've found, is to look at pictures online, and steal what you like and change what you don't. You can experiment a bit on your test figure, but be sure you are happy with your colors before you move on to the other figures. When you have the choice, it is always best to use a color out of the bottle, since then you will have consistency between your figures, and you won't have to spend time mixing colors. But sometimes it is worth taking the time to mix. For example, for my orcs, I always mixed a little black in with the bronze for their armor--it made a huge difference, and gave me access to a color I wouldn't otherwise have. Paint may look different dry on the figure than wet in the palette, so be careful there also.

8. Details. Decide how much detail you are willing to paint. These figures have some details, and it can make a big difference in the appearance of the figure to paint in some of this detail. I find the the most striking details tend to be the strongly contrasting colors or the metallic details. Keep in mind how many figures you have when deciding on how much detail to include. If you add a difficult but interesting touch to the orc test figure, remember that you will have to do that 35 more times.

9. The other figures. Once you are done with the test figure, including the wash (next section) but not the base, it is time to paint the others. For this, the fastest way to paint the figures is assembly line style. First paint, all of the faces and hands (for example) on all of the figures. Go back for a second coat. Then the clothing, with the second coat. Then the armor. And so forth. It is tedious, but much faster. You don't have to do ALL of the figures at once this way for the larger groups (orcs, easterlings)--you can do them in batches of 10 or so. You will get most of the benefits of the assembly line, wit a bit less tedium.



Section VI: The Wash

A wash can make a big difference in the appearance of your figures. Honestly, I didn't really get the hang of washes until the end of the painting process, and I think my figures suffer a bit because of it. So my advice may be a bit suspect on this--there are plenty of other sources on the internet to check out on this. Basically, what a wash involves covering a figures with a very thin layer of paint. In theory, the paint will dry in the crevasses of the figure, creating a shadowy effect. It works pretty well.

1. The paint. You make a wash by diluting paint with a lot of water, so that it is very thin, then painting it over the entire figure.

2. Start thin. You can always redo a wash in darker colors, but you can't lighten up a figure if you go too dark--then you could end up with something like what we refer to as "The burnt soldier."

3. The color. Choose the color of your wash appropriately. Usually, you can get away with one or two wash colors for the whole figure. I prefer black or brown for most of my washes, except where the base colors are very light, in which case you have to go with lighter washes.

4. Magic Water. You can find other sources about this on the internet, but I was advised to make my washes with Future acrylic floor polish. Apparently, if you use maybe 4 parts water 1 part future to make your washes, they work much better. I never saw any difference, and I found it messy, so I went back to ordinary water, but people swear by this stuff. Can't hurt to give it a try.

5. Cover the figure. You should be able to more or less cover the figure with the wash, using a larger brush than usual. Be careful around the faces--too much wash there, especially if it is too black, can make your figures look kind of dirty.

6. Preliminary wash. This is something I didn't do because I hadn't heard of it, but it sounds like a good idea to me. When I was painting, I would often end up missing spots in the deeper crevasses of the figures. Now most of these should be covered up by the wash you do after painting, but since the wash is thin and the primier is generally light than the other paint, those areas can still stand out. One way to solve this problem is to do a wash BEFORE you paint the figures, right over the primer. Don't do it too dark, but the wash will fill in the cracks in a slightly darker color, making areas that you might miss while painting less of a problem. Then, when you do the second wash at the end, those areas will further darken, and look like shadows. Now, I've never done this, but I can bet you that I'm going to try it when I paint the expansion.


Section VII. Other techniques

These are other techniques which I didn't use much, but which were very useful in some cases.

1. Dry brushing. Dry brushing is another technique for bringing out detail. I didn't do much of it, so I suggest you turn to other sources if you have questions about this. But I will say that these figures are small enough that dry brushing may not be worth the time on most of them.

2. Blacklining. By drawing a thin line in a thinned darker color (somewhere between normal thinning and a wash) on the border where one light part meets another, you can really bring out some details in these figures. I didn't do much blacklining, but in some places it was critical. Most importantly, a lot of my light figures had grayish shoes. When I painted the bases light gray, the shoes seemed to vanish into the bases. But drawing a thin watery grey line around the shoes on the base improved them significantly. It makes it look as if the shoes are casting a shadow.

3. Eyes. Eyes are tricky, and in most cases, aren't worth messing with, especially for figures this small. If you want to try painting them anyway (I did for a few figures, and it did really help them, I think), the Painting Clinic link below has some advice on them.

Section VII: Finishing up.

1. Paint the bases. Decide what color you want the bases to be, and paint them. I painted all of my free peoples' bases light gray, and all of the dark forces black. Warning: Don't try to paint the bases white--it will be very hard to cover up darker colors with white, or certain other light colors. When you are painting the bases, take extra care around the feet--it is very easy to accidentally paint over them. Again, two coats on the bases, and again, thin your paint.

2. Look at your figures. Check them over one more time--you can still fix them further after spraying on the sealant, but it won't be as easy.

3. Spray on the sealant. This is just like priming. I suggest you get Testors Dull Cote as your sealant, if you want a dull finish. You can find it in the model section of a craft store, but not in a Walmart. It works very well, and one can should be enough for all of your figures. When I sealed my figures, I did it with them still attached to the cardboard, but if I had it to do again, I would take off the cardboard bases first, and make sure that all of the glue was off the figures. You can lie the figures in the bottom of a large cardboard box, spray them all, let them dry, then turn them, and repeat. Use thin coats. The Testors is good stuff, and should go on smoothly, but thick coats will make a mess, I think. I sprayed a couple of thin coats on both sides of each figure.

4. Let them dry. Once again, it will take a few days to dry fully, although you can handle them soon after spraying them.


Section VIII. Storage.

There are several ways to store your miniatures, depending on how much you want to protect them vs how much you are willing to spend vs. how convenient you want them to be. I honestly haven't settled on a method yet.

1. Throw them all carefully in the box. This is the method I ended up with. These lightweight soft plastic miniatures seem to do just fine that way--unlike metal miniatures, they don't seem to damage each other much from rubbing against each other Of course, I am careful not to shake the box or anything, and I haven't had them long enough to really test this method fully. If I find over time that my paint jobs are being damaged by this, I may switch to one of the other methods to prevent further damage. The real advantage of this method (for me) is the quick set up and clean up for games.

2. Bag them, and put them in the box. I DON'T recommend this method. I know, some people can't stand to have parts loose in the box, but I'm telling you, bagging will be worse for them. They will take a beating going in and out of the bags, and the plastic bags will put pressure on spears and other points, causing them to bend a lot more then if you just throw them all in the box.

3. Use foam trays. This is the method recommended by serious miniatures gamers. You can by foam trays--Figure Foam from Sabol Designs seems most practical for these miniatures. Foam trays should keep your figures safe, but it has several drawbacks, drawback which were serious enough that I decided to try the "throw them in the box" method first. First, they are expensive. Expect to buy at LEAST 4 trays at $6 or $7 each. This is a small investment considering how much time it takes to paint, but there are a lot of small investments that go into this project, and they add up fast. Second, they take a long time to use. It takes a long, long time to put figures into the foam cases, and take them out again. It is already a long game--the last thing you probably want is to decrease your likelihood of playing the game by making getting the figures out and putting them away too time consuming. Third, they won't fit back in the box. Obviously, if you keep your figures in foam, there is no way you will get them back in the box, even if you discard the plastic insert--I know, I really tried. Again, if using foam trays will keep you from bringing the game to a game day and actually playing it, well, I think it is better to risk a little damage to the figures. But obviously many people disagree with me.

4. Other foam solutions. You might decide that you want to use foam, but don't want to pay for the foam trays, and want to make your own. I think that is a big waste of time. Buy the trays, or don't use the foam. They aren't that expensive.

5. Tackle boxes. According to Justin Fitzgerald, "Nothing destroys miniatures faster." I don't have any experience with them myself, but consider that one very strong vote against them.


Section IX. Further reading and links

There are a lot of great sources of information on painting on the web. Right here on boardgamegeek is an article on painting miniatures with speed on the War of the Ring page:
How To Paint.pdf

There was a lot of good advice in my initial journal articles about painting:
War of the Rings simple base painting collective
Well, now I'm in trouble (War of the Rings painting)
The continuing story of the War of the Rings painting project by a painting newbie

Some of the best other sites I've seen are listed below. And these sites have links to other useful sites--you should explore--you will probably find better links than I have listed.

http://www.paintingclinic.com/
http://ravensbranch.allen.com/howto.html

How to select and care for your brushes:
http://www.oocities.org/hobbycafe/articles/Paint-careofbrush...

Figure Foam:
http://www.saboldesigns.net/figurefoam.html

Finally, some pictures of the finished product, as painted by my girlfriend and me:







Edit: 3/4/2005: Added section VI.6.
Edit: 4/1/2009: Suggested mounting figures to golf tees rather than cardboard.
Edit: 12/20/2011: Fixed broken links.


Note: Feel free to copy and use the painting guide however you see fit. All I ask is that you give me credit and that you let me know if you repost it. You are also welcome to change it, but make a note of your changes. Also, if you find it useful, I'd love to hear from you! You can reach me at www.boardgamegeek.com. My username is dakarp.

Edited to fix some broken links
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the scrub
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Let me preface by saying I have no intention of doing this. But I must applaud the effort of just writing this guide -- nevermind the actual *painting* of the figures.
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Christopher Taylor
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Outstanding article! Thank you...
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Good job, very informative - to the point where even an impatient person like me (with no time on his hands anyway) wants to start painting minis. I especially like your article because it's written from a newbie painters standpoint and you talk about things you ran into that many of us other newbie painters are likely to run into as well.
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It was nice reading your guideline.
I am also a newbie painter and want to get starts to paint my minis..and working on my workflow
plan now before i start this long painful project. It takes me a week to consider if I
should start it, but i feel it worths... =P

I have worked out the a list of stuff a need to buy

6 fine brushes
Primer ( black and white)
six bottles of aryclic paint with colours ( black, white, brown, dark brown, gray, blue)


Here are some questions I need to seek advice from...
1) i want to use coins (money coins), stick the minis with double side tape, instead of those
cardboard to mount my minis for the primer spray...
anybody think it will work?

2) I got some paint from the Lord of the Ring collection from Game workshop..Can anyone tell me
if those paint will work fine? Or else I need to consider buying extras paints.. =(

3) let me get the sequence of work correct
1) spray the minis with base colour with the primer
2) colour the minis
3) colour wash
4) sealant it with another spray.

Did i miss out something?


I really need help before I start...thanks for anyone who can give me an advice...
 
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Daniel Karp
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cowchai wrote:
6 fine brushes
Primer ( black and white)
six bottles of aryclic paint with colours ( black, white, brown, dark brown, gray, blue)


If you are a newbie painter, I suggestion you start with cheaper brushes--don't buy good ones until you are sure you know the difference, and know how to use the good ones properly.

Quote:

Here are some questions I need to seek advice from...
1) i want to use coins (money coins), stick the minis with double side tape, instead of those
cardboard to mount my minis for the primer spray...
anybody think it will work?


I don't really know, but I think it is probably not a good idea. Remember, the bases are temporary--you remove them at the end. I really think cardboard will be easier to handle, depending on the sizes of the coins. Also, if you must use double stick tape, be careful. See my warnings in the article. I really recommend glue instead.
Quote:

2) I got some paint from the Lord of the Ring collection from Game workshop..Can anyone tell me
if those paint will work fine? Or else I need to consider buying extras paints.. =(


Those paints will work fine, but they are so expensive! like 5 or 6 times more for a much smaller amount of paint. I think you should get more paints, but get cheap ones. I don't know if you can find the Apple Barrel paints I used in Taiwan, but you should be able to find some cheap paints in a discount store. Really, I paid $0.44 a bottle (big bottles!) for paints, while Games Workshop paints would cost over $2.50 for a little tiny pot.

Quote:

3) let me get the sequence of work correct
1) spray the minis with base colour with the primer
2) colour the minis
3) colour wash
4) sealant it with another spray.

Did i miss out something?


Before step 1: you should: Trim the flash. Straighten the miniatures. Wash the miniatures. Mount the minis on something (cardboard, or whatever you decide to use). Otherwise, that is the right order. Oh, one more thing I forgot to add above (and I'll edit it now): I didn't do this, but doing a wash on a figure that you are going to paint with bright colors BEFORE you paint it will fill in the cracks, so that spots you miss will just look like shadows.

Good luck! Feel free to ask other questions here.
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Quote:
According to Justin Fitzgerald, "Nothing destroys miniatures faster." I don't have any experience with them myself, but consider that one very strong vote against them.


Out of curiosity, why do tackleboxes destroy miniatures? Is it because they bounce against the walls?

Great article, by the by.
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BilboAtBagEnd wrote:
Out of curiosity, why do tackleboxes destroy miniatures? Is it because they bounce against the walls?

Great article, by the by.


Thanks! I don't really know what the problem with tackleboxes is, but I assume that the miniatures get banged up too much when they move. Those boxes tend to be made of hard plastic, hard enough to damage paint, and even if you put foam in the bottom of each section, the miniatures will probably end up getting knocked around.
 
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This is an excellent article, and just the kind of article that I'm afraid is going to get buried. What is the best way to handle excellent articles like this so that they remain easy to run across in the future?

Or maybe I'm just not used to the new BGG layout, yet.

Just wondering...
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Daniel Karp
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Thanks!

Well, it is posted in the "Gaming Articles" section of the forum, which is supposedly reserved only for longer articles, so at least it won't get buried on page 6 of the General forum. Beyond that, I posted a link to it on the War of the Ring page (in the articles section of that page). In theory, it could probably be linked on other miniatures games pages, but that seems like serious overkill. I hope that that will give it enough visability that it won't get lost in the noise. Of course, it also helps when people post replies to the thread, since it brings it back up to the top of the active section, but this is not the sort of thing that generates a lot of replies. Maybe if I had instead called the article "It is more fun to watch the paint dry on your War of the Ring set than it is to play any Reiner Knizia game" I would have gotten more commments.
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BilboAtBagEnd wrote:
Quote:
According to Justin Fitzgerald, "Nothing destroys miniatures faster." I don't have any experience with them myself, but consider that one very strong vote against them.


Out of curiosity, why do tackleboxes destroy miniatures? Is it because they bounce against the walls?


Yeah I told him he might consider adding that. Having went through tens of thousands of miniatures from practically every company known to man, I feel I can call expert opinion and say tackleboxes kill miniatures. The main reason is the bouncing off the walls. Miniatures need to be separated from each other in a non-abrasive foam, cut in such a way to allow a minimal ability to move around. Tackleboxes provide none of these.

For cheap ass single flexible plastic single piece items without paint, chances are the tacklebox would work. For anything you value, consider something else.
 
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Excellent article Daniel!

I'll be following your advice when I paint my WotR minis. For practice, I'm going to paint my old Battle Masters minis. I never play the game but the pieces are excellent.
 
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I may add this into the actual article if I get a chance, but I wanted to mention this now, while it was fresh in my mind. One of the problems with using Dullcote as a sealant is that it takes the shine off of everything, including things meant to be shiny. This is particularly a problem for metal armor and weapons.

When I painted my War of the Ring set, I decided to leave the armor as it was after the Dullcote, but I just finished painting my Shadows Over Camelot set, and decided that I really wanted to bring back some of the shine. I accomplished this by painting over the shiny parts with a satin finish sealant after finishing with the dullcote. I chose, more or less at random, the acrylic satin finish from Delta Ceramcoat. It worked quite well, and I recommend it. I assume that if you wanted the armor to be even shinier, you could go with some sort of high gloss sealant, but this seemed about right to me. In fact, it worked so well that I'm considering going back and using it to "shine" the armor and weapons in my War of the Ring set. Be careful with the sealant, though--if you accidentally get some on a part that is not meant to be shiny, it can be sort of obvious--this stuff really works to make things shiny, whether they are meant to be or not.
 
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Thanks for the excellent article, Daniel!--it helped me
to decide I definitely don't want to paint my
pieces. ; )

(beyond a dab of paint on all the helmets to
tell the "nations" apart).
 
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Inspired by Daniel's article, I'm in the midst of painting my WOTR figures. One problem he had was attaching the figures to the cardboard bases. I asked my wife, an avid scrapbooker, and she gave me mini glue dots, which work like a charm. Check your local scrapbook store!
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Good article...

I'd also point those interested to the Games Workshop web page for a quick guide on how to create near-professional models quickly. They do a lot of layered drybrushing, which is often the fastest way to nicely painted models. They also talk a lot about starting with a base primer color and working towards your finished model.

As for painting figures for the War of the Ring game, I'd go straight to the GW LOTR mini's battle game page -- all the LOTR characters with numbered steps on how to paint them:

http://us.games-workshop.com/games/lotr/painting/painting.ht...

I also like a lot of the tutorials in the various Warhammer 40k guides for painting too...



 
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We've never met, yet somehow your terrific article was written for me.

Quote:
1. Don’t do it. Really. It isn't worth it.

Sound advice, I expect. But they look so good, and it'd be fun!


Quote:
We worked on them together, every night, for hours, and it still took the two of us six weeks to finish them

Now I'm getting nervous.


Quote:
If this seems too tedious to you, STOP NOW, and don't paint your figures.

I find myself strangely drawn to it, like a heavy weight around my neck. And there are these ghostly voices intoning, "Paint... paint..."


Quote:
1. It is not too late to turn back!

As a kid, I really did lick a telephone pole to see if it were true.


Excellent post, thank you!




Now where is my old X-acto blade?
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Has anybody else had a problem getting your sealers to work correctly? I have tried both the Delta sealer and a spray matte sealer I found at Hobby Lobby, and both of them leave the figures sticky! Even after weeks of drying they stick to my hands!!

any suggestions?
 
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Thanks for this awesome (and amazing work on your minis - they look great!). You convinced me to hold out for the factory-painted collector's edition rather than paint my own...
 
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I would add an additional suggestion for anytime you're painting plastic figures; one that can potentially eliminate the need for section VI (Wash), section VII.3 (sealing) a lot of the risk of paint job damage arising from storage conditions (not to mention play).

Use Minwax "polyshades"
http://www.minwax.com/products/onestep/Polyshades-color.cfm
to give a simultaneous inking / dark-washing effect, and a long-lasting high wear seal to the miniatures. You can either dip the entire figure and then brush off the excess (use an older or cheaper brush for this since you will need to use solvent to clean it), or simply brush on the sealant depending on how large and area you want to cover and how dark you want the shading effect. I've had good luck with the "Tudor" shade on most figures, but others may be worth trying depending on the shading effect you're going for.

In my experience it takes deliberate effort (or something like accidentally stepping on and crushing a figure) to chip through the seal this gives to a mini's paint job. This seal does have a "satin" finish to it which gives the figures a "toy soldier" sheen, but this can be removed by a subsequent spray-on dull-coat if you desire.

A small jar of the stuff will cost perhaps 5 dollars at your local hardware / home improvement store, and will last you forever.
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Markus Hietava
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Just wanted to throw in a comment and steal an idea from a friend who's painting his figures... Ever had trouble with the Nazgul figures falling over? Just glue a coin (A 0,05€ coin works wonders) to the base. While it may not seem much, the weight of the coin is enough to keep it from ever falling down -- unless you keel them over, of course.
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twilightdruid wrote:
Thanks for this awesome (and amazing work on your minis - they look great!). You convinced me to hold out for the factory-painted collector's edition rather than paint my own...


That's precisely the reason why I'm holding out for the collector's edition as well.
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Ratio wrote:
twilightdruid wrote:
Thanks for this awesome (and amazing work on your minis - they look great!). You convinced me to hold out for the factory-painted collector's edition rather than paint my own...


That's precisely the reason why I'm holding out for the collector's edition as well.

Thanks everyone for the kind words! Maybe I should get a commission from Nexus for the extra sets they sell because I talked people out of painting their own.
 
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Since this seems to be turning into a general painting tips post, I wanted to add something I haven't seen mentioned here yet. I'm painting my War of the Ring minis (despite Daniel's sage advice), and I have been VERY happy that I picked up some strips of small resealable paint cups. I use the palettes for colors straight out of the bottle, but whenever I mix anything I use the little cups, for a couple of reasons:

1. The cups hold more (in case I need to adjust the color by adding more paint).

2. The cups keep the paint from drying out if I'm not painting an entire set of guys at one time. Once my test figure is done, I know I've got the paint ready to do all the rest of the guys. (I am writing down the color mix, too, but this makes it really easy and saves paint.)

Thanks for all the great advice, Daniel!
 
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I agree... this article must have taken you and your girlfriend another 6 weeks.
 
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