Thursday, January 31, 2013

Warhammer 101: Painting your army- the basics

Welcome back Warhammer gamers!

In my eternal quest to help new members of our hobby I bring you my next Warhammer 101 article, this one will discuss the first steps of painting your army.

Painting your army is what separates us from animals, yet many gamers stay away from this step.  Painting is important, it's part of the hobby, nothing ruins the immersion of a game like playing against an army of gray plastic and silver pewter.  Painting your miniatures shows that you are committed to your army and the game that you play.

Yes it does take time, but it's not as difficult as you think and painting can be very very rewarding.

I hear you cry, "Crazy Gamer, I'm not artistic and I don't have a lot of time!"

Here are my answers, young student:

1.  You don't have to be an artist or even artistic to paint your army.  I sure as hell am neither.
2.  If you learn evil tips and tricks from criminal masterminds you can paint an army quickly.

Young warrior, take heart, I am one of these evil masterminds! 

A story!

Once, ages ago in an era of dinosaurs and dial up modems, the Crazy Gamer painted a full army in two weeks.  Golden Daemon worthy?  Hardly, but it was quick and effective.  Now I will tell you how. 

First you need to decide a paint scheme.  Games Workshop, for all its flaws, does a good job in their army books and codexes of showing you options for color schemes to paint in.  I recommend that unless it's very very important to choose an established color scheme. 

For example, if you are playing Space Marines choose Ultramarines, Salamanders, Crimson Fists, etc.
Playing Empire, choose Hochland, Middenland, or one of their established provinces. 


Games Workshop already provides the names of what paints you need to use to paint those armies.  This takes some of the guess work out of the experience. 

Some tips:

Dark colors are easier than bright colors.  Yellow and white are both very difficult colors to work with, so Dark Angels and Crimson Fists are easier to paint than Imperial Fists and White Scars.  High Elves are more difficult to paint than Dark Elves. 

All things being equal choose dark colors over bright ones at least for your first paint job.  They take less time to look good and dark colors hide mistakes better.

Avoid yellow unless you really really really want a yellow army (i.e. Imperial Fists, Averland Empire, Biel Tan Eldar).

What paints to use?

This is tricky.  There are a bunch of companies that offer paints.  I recommend Games Workshop paints.  Are they the best?  They are average, but for your first paint job it simplifies the process of figuring out what paint to use. 

What paint brushes should you get?

Here are some types of brushes:

You don't need a lot of these but I recommend a big flat brush and several round brushes. 

Where should you get them?

For your big flat brush I recommend going to a big box art store like Michael's or Hobby Lobby.  They have brush sets for very low prices.  I bought one several years ago at Michael's that contained all the brushes above for $5.99.  They won't be high quality but with your big brush this isn't as important. 

How big should your big flat brush be? 

This may come as a bit of a surprise but a flat brush should be about half an inch in width.  For those of you who aren't big on how big stuff is, your miniatures are 28mm which is approximately one inch so look for one that his about half as big as your miniatures. 

This seems big, but I will be discussing the big brush method of painting and you need a big brush to employ this method (I know, you're shocked). 

As for your round brushes.  You need several, for your primary brush I recommend a 5/1 round brush made from camel hair.  Compared to the flat brush described above this will seem tiny.  These also are very expensive as a single brush of this type is probably $10.00.  There are several cheaper versions made from sable and or various artificial substances.  These will be cheaper but they will not last anywhere near as long as a natural hair brush. 

You will also need at least one fine detail brush,  labeled 10/1 which looks like this:

This is will be used for eyes and the like.  This paint brush will also be very expensive and I also recommend natural hair (camel is the best). 

Once you get all of this we will discuss the first step of the big brush painting method. 

Step one of the Big Brush Painting method.

1.  Choose your dominant color.  The dominant color will be the color that takes up the majority of the model.  Here are some examples:

These orks are predominately green so the dominant color is green.

Blood Angels:

This should be an easy one, the dominant color is red.

Empire State soldiers:

This is a tough one, you could choose either red or silver.

2.  Once you've chosen your dominant color (be aware I used basic color terms above, go to Games Workshop to see what the names of the paints are) get your big flat brush and your pot of paint.  You will also need a paper towel, a water cup (some kind of disposable container), and a paint palette (official ones can be bought at hobby stores.  In a pinch you can use a paper plate).

Also make sure that you cover the area you are going to paint in with newspaper or something to protect whatever surface you will be working on.

Take your dominant color and thin it down.  It is never a good idea to use paint right out of the pot.  Miniatures have a lot of detail and because you are painting miniatures and not bigs these details are very small.  The paint that you are using is acrylic which is just a fancy art word for liquid plastic.  This can cause several problems, thick paint will obscure fine details like noses, eyes, and fingers and the like.  Also, depending on how the paint is stored it can clump up. 

The moral of the story is thin your paint, it's cheap and easy.  Fancy artists will tell you to use an official paint conditioner (if you find it cheap I recommend it as well) but water can be used in a pinch. 

The amount of thinning will depend on the color of the paint.  Yellows and whites need less, black and flesh colors need more.  Try a drop or two of water (or conditioner).  Your paint should be the consistency of skim milk.   The color should still be clear, not watery.  If you thin the paint too much don't worry, you're much better off with really thin paint than paint that is too thick.  You can still use the overly thin paint, you will just have to apply an extra coat or two.

Take your big brush (the one that's about an inch in width) and pour (and thin) the dominant color.  Get your brush full of paint:

Paint the color on all the parts of the model that will be that color.  For example if you are painting Blood Angels, then paint the armor red. 

If you paint somethings that will not be the dominant color by mistake it's okay.  Your goal is to have a bright solid color on the largest surface and to do it quickly.

Your models should look like this:


Make sure that you paint ALL your models who have this dominant color.  Don't just paint one or two models.  Paint them all before going on to the next step.

Coming soon!  The next step.  Picking out details!

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