Julie Guthrie mage face detail

The Solis Media
Guide to painting miniature figures


Updated 28 June 2000
  The Idea

Armour can be a problem. We need to make sure our figure doesn't look like it hasn't been painted! Of course you can cheat by painting coloured armour, you can aim for a smooth metallic sheen or a pock marked rusted affair, you can apply any or many techniques from ink wash to drybrush and everything in between. Hey, have fun!

Rust in Peace

Now it all depends on your perception of armour on the particular figure as to your choices. The old skeleton seen to the left and above needed rusty armour that appeared to have rotted with him. Here I dry-brushed quite a grainy silver, mixed with grey, over a dark undercoat. I then dry brushed (very dry) the straight grainy silver over the armour, and finaly dry brushed oranges, reds and browns in strategic places. A touch of gold on exposed edges gave a bit of shine but the overall effect was dull and ancient. The grainy paint gave a bumpy, corroded surface texture that subsequent drybrushing picked out.

  The Shining

Paladins... Shiny, goody goody, full plate mail, not a scratch in sight Paladins. Paint 'em in their religeous colours, it saves a lot of bother. Hmmm.... Alas, sometimes silver is the only colour for the righteous. Since the armour needs to be smooth and shiny, we cant really dry brush detail here. My favourite technique is to apply a dark undercoat, and then a thin layer of metallic silver ink. (These tend to be very silky, as they are intended for calligraphy, and are ideal for that smooth Godly finish). Wait for this to dry completely before applying a wash of mid blue ink (try and use the same brand). You may need several ink washes to build up the shadows, but always make sure the previous layer is bone dry before continuing. Mix a little blue and silver and start shading from the dark areas up to the highlights where you will be applying pure silver. It may sound odd, but a little gold or brass on silver armour adds a good shine - dont over do it though. I actually used sepia instead of blue for this chap.


If you are going to paint coloured armour, you have several choices. You could paint the armour as if the armour has been painted (eh?). I mean, add scratches and blemishes. Paint does come off you know, especially in the grand melee. This can look a bit fiddly though, but realistic if you do it right.

You could use ink washes over metallic base coats (make sure the metallics are DRY before washing) to give a shine to the finish, though I think this ends up looking plastic. Mind you thats great for space marines!

Or you could contour and shade in simple colours. Reds look good, as do greens. Blues can look a bit bright. I favour a matt finish for coloured armour

  Chain Reactions

An Old Citadel dwarf, done with silver and blue ink and a little Citadel silver acrylic

Chain mail is an easy one. Several ways here, from a simple silver main coat, with a black, brown or blue-grey wash over the top, or its inverse, a dark background with silver grey or silver blue dry brushing to highlight the rings. Experiment with the dryness of the brush for this purpose, you may find you get good results with quite a wet brush applied in a dry brushing style with lots of care. Then again it may flood into all those crevices and look terrible......


  Brassed Off
  Sometimes you may not want iron armour. You could try bronze or copper for 'ancient' armour. Dont always go for the pot that says copper or brass though. You may find the results are not what you anticipated. Mix your own metallics using named ones as a base. Add dark reds, greens and blues to obtain a good depth for base layers, then build up with less and less added colour, through until you need to highlight, where you may want to add some pale colours or other brighter metallics to the mix. Mix gold with dark reds and browns for a brass effect (good for Efreet), Add sepia and red to golds for a good copper. Bronze needs loads of dark brown and a bit of green along with a hint of gold ink. Add corrosion with greens, blues, ochres and off-whites.
  And Finally.....



Hint at 'shiny' by adding some gold highlights - dont over do it though.

Hint at dull and tarnished by applying a rusty coloured wash into crevices and around studs and joints.

If the figure still looks a bit flat, pick out some detail in a strong but complimentary colour (white rivets on silver plate mail, a painted helm, bright sashes and belts do the trick)

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